In this edition of Cannabis Conversations, former municipal court judge Doug Bench discusses his transformation from ardent prohibitionist to health-related cannabis advocate.
Project CBD: Hi, I’m Martin Lee with Project CBD and right now we’re going to be speaking with Doug Bench, a retired lawyer and municipal court judge from Ohio, who’s been rethinking his tips about cannabis. This is but one more edition of Cannabis Conversations … Welcome to Cannabis Conversations.
Bench: Thank you, Sir. It is an honor and pleasure.
Project CBD: Now, you are with a group referred to as Rethink Green. You are the founder and co-director. We’re going to speak about your altering thoughts about marijuana – or as we choose to say cannabis. Inform us about your attitudes toward cannabis when you had been a judge and a lawyer.
Bench: When I was a judge and lawyer in Ohio, in 1 word: I was a prohibitionist. I had some expertise with cannabis when I was a juvenile court referee and created pretty damaging feelings about it. Went to judicial college – was told it was horrible, it was negative, it wasn’t medicinal, it was addictive, it is a gateway drug – all the crap we utilized to get fed. And as a municipal judge, I place more than 300 persons in jail for marijuana offenses, some of them for a year.
Project CBD: And usually, had been these offenses for possession, or offers, or what?
Bench: Under no circumstances for offers. Municipal Court is for misdemeanors. So it was in no way substantial amounts. It was ordinarily individual use, frankly. They got it at college or they got it on the street corner, and we didn’t want them going the route that everyone we had been told was going. So, we gave them some shock therapy in jail. I stayed a prohibitionist most of my adult life.
Project CBD: So what precipitated the transform in your attitude toward this?
Bench: I went to our spot in Colorado and attempted to repair the deck and couldn’t breathe. Came back to Florida, went to the medical doctor, and did all sorts of tests, and the medical doctor stated you have a terminal illness. You have COPD [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease]. You are late stage. We’re going to place you on oxygen. You are going to get steroids. We’re going to have to do this and that. And I begged him to inform me how lengthy I had, and he told me up to 20 months. There’s no remedy. And, when my wife and I left that workplace, I was feeling sorry for myself. My wife was angry. He had no proper to inform her husband that he was going to die. And my wife was into crucial oils, which I utilized to bitch about mainly because they’re pricey. But frankly, her interest in crucial oils saved my life mainly because she went household and stated I’m going to come across an crucial oil that will repair my husband. I ain’t carried out with him. And 4 months or so of investigation, she discovered cannabis oil as the “quintessential” crucial oil. My wife flew to Colorado from Florida – she knew my attitude about cannabis – and she lied to me. Her true purpose for going was to purchase some cannabis oil in a predominant higher-THC strain. And she committed a felony, brought it household on a plane, came to me and stated, “Take this, I assume it will support.” “What is it? “It does not matter what it is, honey, take it.” “What is it?” I asked. “Well, it is primarily an crucial oil,” she stated. Proper! I told her to get the hell out of the home.
Project CBD: You knew what she had brought back at that point.
Bench: Yes. I stated that is unlawful. You just broke the law. It is unlawful to have it in this home. Why do not you leave with it. And that went back and forth for about a week. Then she’s coming down our spiral staircase with two suitcases. I stated, what are your carrying out? She stated, ‘I’m leaving you, unless you take this.’ I stated, ’How do I take it?’ And that evening – I had no notion, I’d in no way touched it. When I was in judicial college they’d place it on a plate and burned some so the judge would know what it looked like.
Project CBD: You are speaking about flower? But oil is distinct from flower.
Project CBD: So what occurred when you 1st took it?
Bench: It tasted awful. Place a drop below my tongue. I told her it tasted like crap and I sat up in bed and stated, ‘Am I going to get higher?’ She says, ‘Honey it is eight in the morning, you just slept eight hours for the 1st time in more than a year’. I stated, ‘Holy crap! I’ll take one more drop.’ I in no way felt any higher or something. And in about two weeks my wheezing and crackling in my voice was dissipating. In about 3 months I was acquiring my strength back. And in 5 months, I went back to that very same medical doctor and stated I want you to do all these tests you did on me, that pulmonary function test, chest x-ray, almost everything. I want it carried out once again. He stated, ‘Why?’ I stated, ‘Just do it.’ He did them all and came back in and stated, ‘I do not know what to say.’ ‘What are you speaking about, Doc?’ ‘Well, your lungs are clear. I can not even come across any scar tissue’. I stated, ‘I know.’ He shut the door and stated, ‘What are you carrying out?’
Project CBD: And you told him?
Bench: I told him I’m committing a felony every single day – mainly because it wasn’t legal in Ohio then. And I’m going to hold carrying out it mainly because I’m acquiring much better.
Project CBD: How did the medical doctor respond to that?
Bench: He place in my chart, he stated I can not place in the chart that you are cured, we’re not permitted to do that, but I will place in your chart that you are now asymptomatic for unknown factors mainly because I can not threat my health-related license.
Project CBD: So going by means of this expertise, how did that turn you about in terms of the way you had been living your life and speaking to persons about cannabis?
Bench: I’ve got to inform you, that was challenging. I imply 45 years of prohibitionist – now all of a sudden seeing personally, it saved my life. So my wife and I talked about it, the only audience I had had been the contractors I was teaching Continuing Education necessary classes for the state of Florida.
Project CBD: You are speaking about creating contractors?
Bench: Yes, plumbers, roofers, basic contractors. And, I stated I’ve got to inform them, honey. It could save a life. These guys are all old farts like me – it could save a life and you can not inform them, you will drop your license. I’ve got to. If it saves 1 life, losing my license, I do not care. That was the starting mainly because I’ll in no way neglect the 1st class I told was on April Fool’s Day, April 1, 2016. And, I told them my story, and they had been all conservative contractors, and what began taking place is that they began coming up to me at the breaks – “Doug, my wife has COPD, can you support?’ ‘Doug, my husband has renal cell cancer, can you support.’ And, I kept saying, no. Till the contractor that came up, 6’4” guy, tears coming down his cheeks, can you support our daughter, she has intractable epilepsy, 20-25 seizures a day. I stated, shit, yes I can support. And that was the starting. I told my wife we’ve got to begin carrying out webinars. I knew how to do webinars, I’d written many books on the brain and how to strengthen overall performance of your brain, I knew how they worked. So we’ve got to begin carrying out these to educate our database list about cannabis. And that is how it began. And my wife came up with the name “Rethink Green.” I believed it was a lovely name. So that is our internet site. That is our organization. That is our Facebook web page. And we just have these webinars – we began out five or six persons, and my wife and I sitting there teaching them all about cannabis. And then, 10-12 persons.
Project CBD: Apart from these seminars, are you interacting at all with the state government in Florida? It does have a health-related marijuana system, at least on the books, I do not know how considerably in reality. But are you interacting with officials? Due to the fact, your story is pretty potent. You come from the criminal justice technique, and you bring a particular authenticity that is challenging to match. It is indisputable what you are saying.
Bench: Our 1st step, we went about the state speaking at Rotary Clubs, Lion Clubs, advertising passage of Amendment two, which was our health-related cannabis law – not law, but Constitutional Amendment. And, soon after it passed it became pretty apparent that the legislature, and the governor specifically who was anti-cannabis (owned many discomfort clinics, picture that!) and they didn’t want it. So I stated, I’ve got to begin going to Tallahassee. So we began going to Tallahassee throughout the session. There’s some excellent persons from NORML and other organizations in Florida that have what they get in touch with lobby days, exactly where you go and lobby, and they set up appointments with all the legislators – and I’ve been carrying out that now for 3 years mainly because they nevertheless do not have it proper. It is a mess. The 1st issue that was a mess, they wanted to impose a three-month waiting period. You can get your card generating positive you are eligible for 1 of the situations that is been authorized, you can get your card, but you can not get your medicine. There’s a 90-day waiting period, cooling off period. What a crock of crap that was. So I went in front of the hearings the Division of Well being had and to their face referred to as them murderers. Due to the fact of that requirement, persons had been actually dying, waiting their 90 days. So we got that thrown out. And other alterations have been created, not the true great ones that safeguard personnel and safeguard employers with a health-related card, and so forth. So we’re going to be back in Tallahassee 1st of every single year.
Project CBD: So you are in Florida now, if persons in Florida or elsewhere, as an educational organization Rethink Green gives, how do they speak to you, how do they know about you?
Bench: They can go to our Facebook web page, referred to as Rethink Green. It is on Facebook, there’s tons of data there, our speak to data there. Or they can e-mail me [email protected], and that is our internet site, Rethinkgreen.org, which would give all of our speak to data and almost everything they require to know to get a hold of us. We are going to expand beyond Florida. There are lots of states that have no such law that requires 1 – persons are dying. I’d be dead proper now. I do not know, I assume I’m nevertheless kicking!
Project CBD: We’re glad you are not dead! Thank you pretty considerably Doug Bench.
Bench: You are welcome.
Project CBD: It is been one more edition of Cannabis Conversations. We’ll see you subsequent time.