Henry’s story!

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I fled to California eighteen months ago from an abusive relationship that was destroying me more daily. I feared I’d die if I didn’t leave. Having already had one heart attack as a direct result of an HIV medication, I was not willing to risk my relatively good health to my constant companion stress.. My mother was newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and frankly, after going to more than fifty funerals of friends who died from AIDS, I refused to stay around Cleveland and watch somebody else that I loved detoriate before my eyes. Unfortunately, more than one sybling accused me of being selfish, I can’t change how they feel but can reiterate myI needing to protect my already troubled mind and rest my body.
 
I  briefly considered Florida with its abundence of Latino men as a destination but quickly changed my mind when my friend Alan pointed out that California, unlike Florida, had a medicinal marihuana law and Latino.men. I was soon boarding a Greyhound bus with three suitcases, my friend Chris and an ill-fitting prosthetic foot. Everything else that I owned had already been given away.
 
Four days later, I arrived in San Bernaradino; tired and inspired. I had witnessed the beauty of thousands of Joshua trees while traveling through New Mexico. I knew then that I had made the right decision. Seeing hundreds of windmills at the California boarder confirmed my initial feeling. I had reached my own Promised Land. I would regroup,collect my thoughts and again concentrate on editing my autobiographical novel. Maybe, I’d even write some more.
 
There was a cockroach infested motel directly across from the Greyhound station. I’d stay there until I could get an appointment with the offices of section eight. But, there was a snag in my plan. I’d not be able to get an appointment with section eight for at least sixty days, delaying my search for permament housing and deleting my limited funds more. The motel cost more than my disability check. I was soon calling my former pastor asking for financial help.
 
I was given the run around by two different AIDS service agencies, unsble to even get an appointment for more than a month. My medical insurance needed changed and so I was unable to get needed prescriptions. Nor was I able to have my prosthesis adjusted. A deposit that I expected didn’t arrive in my checking account. I soon found myself alone and not knowing a soul when my friend Chris went home unexpectedly.
 
A week later I was out of money, not knowing where I’d end up. I called multiple drug rehabs, believing I could at least find lodging and maybe even treat my multiple addictions. I was more on edge than normal when calling around because I didn’t sleep one wink the previous night. Calls to non-existent homeless shelters proved futile. I becoming more upset by the moment. I mentioned to one rehab that I was going to take a tranqualizer to calm myself down. Moments later there was a knock on the door. I ignored the knock, thinking it was the motel manager seeking payment. The knock grew increasingly louder. I looked outside and saw two uniformed police officers. They were there to do a safety check on me and incorrectly determined that I was a threat to myself. I was soon in handcuffs being taken to a psych ward.
 
It was at Arrowhead Hospital where I met a nurse with the charm of Atilla the Hun. She insisted that I remove my prosthetic foot and instead use a wheelchair. I refused, arguing that I would not become more of a target than I  already was and instead wore my prosthesis while sleeping, fearing it would be confiscated,
 
I’d be kept for three days observation but was instead kept for nine days. Although I was allowed to use the phone, I didn’t know any numbers off the top of my head. I The end result was my being more isolated than ever. The social worker that I was assigned refused to release me until she found temporary housing.
 
I was placed in an unlicensed board and care facility, where I stayed for almost a month. It was almost as chaotic as the psych ward. Fellow residents often stayed awake all night smoking crack, disturbing my sleep. Two hallucinated without the aid of acid. I was charged nine hundred dollars a month for cold sandwiches three times a day and a toilet that was off limits during sunlight. I often missed my HIV meds because I was given little to eat and feared nausea as a result.
 
I read of a group of HIV-positive writers that met once a week. I began attending their meetings and making friends. One new friend, Jonathan, opened up his heart and home to me, where I was able to stay until I found housing of my own. I also met Tom Place there. Clearly, Tom was obsessed with marihuana because that was all he spoke of. Or, so it seemed. But, after listening to his story, I began to better understand that there was more to cannabis than a mellow high. It had healing power that could be harnassed and manipulated.
 
Ten years ago while wasting away due to advanced, untreated HIV, I remembered that marihuana stimulated the appetite. My friend Loretta would often bring smoke for me to sample. I was soon eating more and regaining much of the seveny pounds that I los in the previous two monthst. When I agreed to finally start meds I learned that cannabis successfully relieved nausea. I’d learn much more about marihuana’s medicinal value from Tom.
 
He spoke of cannabis being made into a liquid tincture. Due to Tom’s help, I was now using tincture daily and feeling better physically and mentally. My chronic back pain lessened in intensity and frequency so much that I was able to stop taking my prescription pain medicatin. That in itself is a godsend as I’d often be unable to sleep as a result of using my medication . Sleep deprivation would more often than not set off the manic stage of my bipolar disease, keeping me awake for four of five days at a time. Proper rest is vital to a healthy immune system and mind.
 
I have since cut the number of prescriptions that I take daily in half. And have more energy than ever. Sure, I have good and bad days still where I am stightly disminished by still present pain. But, I am thinking more clearly, am more focused than ever and at more peace internally than ever. I am healing my Self daily, taking in sights and sounds of our Creator’s gifts and being fully aware that I really am truly blessed.
 
 

 

Catrina Falbo

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    I entered in to the medical marijuana industry because of my dislike of pharmaceutical drugs and the fact that I enjoy helping others. I started a small delivery service in December of last year and invested all I had in to it. The business still hasn’t reimbursed me for my investment but I continue on because of the bond I’ve formed with some of my clients. In April of this year an undercover detective from the local police department decided to join my collective with all of the correct documentation, and it was verified. After the third delivery he served me a warrant for reason to believe I was making a profit and raided my apartment. My collective is so small that I only had nine plants and approximately 5 oz. of medicine confiscated. It doesn’t sound like a lot to loose but it was all I had. I received a letter from the DA a few weeks ago and they are now charging me with 5 felonies including sales, transportation, and cultivation of marijuana. I found an attorney, Scott Well, who has agreed to take my case for a small down payment and is working with me for the remainder that I’ll owe. This is a blessing because I have nothing left and my last unemployment check is on the way. I need and have been looking for work for months. Had I never gotten raided, my medicine would have been done and I would be in a financially stable place. Law enforcement has cost me all I had, and for what? I have no criminal record, set my business up according to state law, and truly care about my patients whom most of are truly housebound. So to law enforcement and the DA….show me the money because I don’t have it!

Matt Johnson

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Heres my story…. December of 2009 I was job searching and came across many job listings working for collectives. I had been unemployed for a year and was excited to recieve interest from one of the post. I was called by one of the head directors of the collectives and informed me that they were interested in scheduling an interview. I was told they worked with the local sheriff’s department regularly and were in complete compliance with 215 and sb420, It was also stated they worked closely with a prominant attorney who was a judge (Joe Allen) for Santa Barbara county and some years ago made marijuana the lowest priority for Law enforcement. At this point I did not know too much about the details of the law but I never thought or suspected at any point any of actions of the 12 collectives/dispensaries within walking distance from my home were doing anything illegal or were illegal. I went in for an interview and was told details about the job as a transporter of medicine for collectvies that the collective grew medicine for. I was showed contracts, growing agreements, collective agreements from the attorney and was assured all details were 100% legal. I was then told the job paid $20 an hour, my gas was to be reimbursed and after some time I would be able to recieve benefits. The collective had been growing medicine for a few years for collectives in Santa Barbara, LA and OC. I recieved a call back a few days after my interview and after several interviewee’s i was informed they wanted to hire ME! I was excited to finally have work again! I started work and I felt great knowing I was helping people who are sick and needed this medicine to improve thier quality of life or to keep them alive. 7 days into work I was transporting medicine to a local collective while introducing the collective meds to others that would like to join. In Costa mesa during this time cops were wasting tax dollars investigating all the dispensaries and collectives in the area, one day I was to transport medicine to a collective as was pulled over by a cop, he stated he stopped me for tint as I do not have any on my driver and passenger side windows. He smelled the medicine and asked me to get out of my vehicle. He searched my vehicle and called the NARC unit. We engaged in conversation and it was so typical that these cops knew nothing about marijuana as medicine. I showed them all the contracts and growing agreements and transporting agreements. They wanted nothing of it and arrested me and deatined me for 10 hours. During my detainment they raided my home and destroyed my 8 plant grow and destroyed my house. They left trash everywhere from the pizza they ordered. They seized 1100 of my money I had been saving for a year and seized more of the collectives medicine. I was finally released from detainment and they didnt know how to charge exactly and I didnt have to post bail. I recieved a complaint letter in the mail a month and a half later being charged with 11359 posession with intent for sale a FELONY!! I have now been to court 10 times for pretrials, I recieved one offer of 120 days jail and 3-5 years probation. The prosecutors never really looked into my case, we kept putting the case over to prolong it to see what would happen in the November elections. At one point they notified my attorney Chris Glew that they had my case under review pending outcomes of the elections. Thats pretty much my story I never once thought what I was doing was illegal, I never thought I could be arrested and treated like a criminal. In my mind and heart I know im not, I know i have done nothing wrong. This is has been very trying and stressful in my life and at times I find I can barely keep fighting. But I know what is at stake besides my freedom, but the freedom of all patients who should never have to be put the justice system unjustly. I appreciate any support from my fellow friends, actovists and patients. This is my story, my name is Matt Johnson

Joe Grumbine

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MCJ: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us here at Medical Cannabis Journal.  Let me start by saying congratulations.  We all know that it was not easy to take on the burden of a case like yours.  I know the way you dealt with this is a model approach in my opinion.  Your organization and coordination with the support group is really exciting.

JG: Well thank you.

MCJ: Can we go ahead and dig in?  Being that we have a conclusion and we can speak of it more positive and it seems in comparison to what it may have been before.  First, let me get some history.  What made you help people the way you do? I have spoken to you in the past about your long term dedication to helping the ill and even the elderly.  What sparked this for you?

JG: You know, it’s just my nature.  I’ve studies herbal medicine for 25 years or so and always, not just cannabis but many other herbs.  I’ve just always used them for myself.  I started making compounds and tinctures about 20 years ago. Initially I made a traditional Mexican rub remedy for arthritis and came to find out, quite accidentally, that cannabinoids have significant medicinal value.

I happened to aid a cancer patient at that time who was elderly and really having a hard time with chemotherapy but didn’t have any interest in smoking.  I asked her to try some of this and it just turned out to be a huge improvement for her.  That’s when I realized early on that [cannabis] has got some real medicinal value.  I would estimate that to be around 1987.

Since that time it has developed into an enjoyable activity for me, working with people.  When you work with people, you attract people; so I’ve taught classes on medicinal herbs, organic gardening techniques and things like that for about the same amount of time.  I’ve met a number of AIDS patients and dabbled in baking edibles for easy administration.  I’ve really come to find out that there’s really a tremendous value in this medicine.

I’ve treated myself for mild back pain that I’ve had from my injury years ago and I use it for general well being.  It is something that people look down upon and they say that it’s just recreational use.  My answer to that is every sort of medication that provides a quality of life improvement is a benefit.  Drugs from Aspirin to Xanax, Prozac to pain relievers; drugs like this don’t necessarily fix the problem but rather provide symptomatic relief.  Those are considered to be, in any pharmacopoeia, a legitimate medicine.  So, I’ve determined that so does Cannabis by the same standards.

I’ve stayed underground most of this time, up until about 3 years ago.  Three years ago a dear friend of mine, the guy who actually taught me how to grow many years ago, was diagnosed with brain cancer.  He consulted his physician and received a recommendation for cannabis, but couldn’t grow anymore.  At the time I was in Real Estate, so I’d stopped growing so I didn’t have any access to medication for him even though it provided him a lot of relief.

He ended up getting a recommendation from his oncologist and that’s when I came to discover some of the collectives around.  I was with him the whole time and watched him degrade until the point when he finally passed away.  Towards the end they had him on morphine and all kinds of things and he didn’t want to take it.  Yet I could place a couple of drops of tincture under his tongue and it provided him relief.  That’s when I really started looking around at the law.  I mean obviously I voted for the law back in 1996, but I didn’t feel that it really carried any weight just yet.  They were doing raids and there wasn’t anything really standing behind it.  Once he got a recommendation I started exploring the whole scene a little.  After becoming familiar with the process I considered providing for patients myself.  So my partner and I decided, “Let’s give it a go.”  When I first opened it up, I was thinking that it would be a way to do something I’ve always enjoyed doing.

MCJ: Sure.

JG: Without the pressure of Real Estate and finance.  What a cool job it would be, and I’d be able to help out people.  We figured that the law was the law and we’d be protected so we went forward. I came to find out pretty quickly that we were really something that was needed.  Since that time I’ve met hundreds and hundreds of terminal patients and patients with everything from glaucoma to MS to cancer to AIDS to opiate addiction to anxiety, everything you can think of.  You talk about a miracle plant.  I’m not one of those crazy people jumping up and down for “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”, although you know, the truth is for some reason or another, this plant is amazing.  It provides an element of relief to so many people in so many ways.  Again, it’s just in my nature to help people so I just began to develop a desire to help.  We’ve taken a number of terminal patients that we have just taken under our wing and we’ve decided to even take on some accessibility issues.  We’ve got patients who are bed ridden or having difficulty getting around.  We’ve gone into their houses and built ramps and handrails and done other things.  Not huge home remodels, but little things to help out.

MCJ: Wonderful!

JG: We’ve run a food drive for a while now.  I know we’ve got a lot of patients who are on hard times right now.  When this medicine is an important part of your life and if you don’t have it, it can put you in a place of either pain or discomfort or inability to sleep and eat that a lot of patients have.  It’s sort of a necessity.  When you get down to where you don’t have a lot of extra income, you evaluate your needs.  You have your rent, your power bill, your food, and your gas.  Somewhere after that list is your medicine for a lot of people.  When it comes down to the people who are really in need, often times I’ll tell them they can have some medicine, but they have to take some food too.  It kind of takes the edge off of the pride factor.  It’s turned out to work pretty well.

MCJ: Great.

JG: We have Charles Monson too.  He is the founder of the organization Wheels of Mercy, and also a quadriplegic.  He is an advocate who has been a huge help in my court support, kind of my right hand man.  He’s been a big part of keeping up with the current legislation and making sure our collective is following guidelines to the best of our abilities.  One of the things that helped us defeat this case is that we were following state law and finally this judge was able to see that and decided not to proceed with an unnecessary trial.

MCJ: Sure.

JG: It’s very rewarding.  I get more hugs per day than I’d bet any 10 other people do.  It’s just simply for doing a good job as a necessary servant.

MCJ: That’s great.  I’ve been to Unit D and it is one of the most professional places I’ve seen in my travels.  When did it actually open up?

JG: It opened up; I think it was just after Easter in ’08, at the end of April.

MCJ: Okay, great.

JG: We ran into some problems with the city.  Garden Grove proposed a ban back in September.  That’s when I came to realize that we actually had a bunch of support.  That’s when I came to hook up the folks from Americans for Safe Access.  We brought a big force down to the city council meetings.  That’s when my advocacy work sort of began.  We actually lost the battle, they voted the ban. It was our opinion that since we were there long before ban in the legitimate fashion that they had to grandfather us in. It took some time.  We didn’t give them any trouble.  The Garden Grove PD have been through our place a couple of times giving them a tour.  I’m hoping to work with the police departments rather than against them even though, I obviously have a bit of a disdain for law enforcement in general.  I still think that they are a necessary part of society, and if we can get them trained to serve and protect as they are supposed to, maybe that can happen.

MCJ: Sure.  So I know just from talking to you that you were not arrested in Orange County, you were actually arrested in Riverside County correct?

JG: That is correct.

MCJ: What caused the arrest for our readers that don’t know?  Can you explain that?

JG: When we first opened up, we took a place that used to be an old massage parlor and it was a scourge, and it was a dump.  We took it and turned it into what it is.  Well, we did that piece by piece.  We had no budget.  We built this place on a shoestring so naturally we didn’t have a big budget to put security features in initially.  We had hired a security guard as most of the other places did.  That was kind of our first line.  As we became more successful we were able to build up amenities and security into what it is now.  So at the time of my arrest, we still didn’t have even a big safe.  So what we were doing is one of the managers or the owners would literally package up the contents of the collective and we would take it one of our homes.  It just happened to be my night.  In essence it was just kind of a perfect storm.  This just happened to be a day where we had done some significant purchases because I had much more medicine that we normally carry.  Then, literally, a mile and a half from my house when I got pulled over for having a trailer ball on my bumper.  No moving violation.  I haven’t had a moving violation in 20 years.

MCJ: Wow.

JG: This cop was just sitting on the side of the road.  Everybody thought, of course, that I was set up.  I was just the way that they reacted.  It wasn’t a set up.  They had no idea what they were doing much less expecting me.  They didn’t have any clue what to do.  I showed them my documentation.  There’s no paper that you can get that says I’m allowed to carry 10 lbs of marijuana in my trunk.

MCJ: Right.

JG: Even though I can prove that I have a legitimate collective and that this medicine is the collectives.  But there is no document that is a bullet proof solution to that.  This cop didn’t know what to do, so he took me in.

MCJ: If I remember right, didn’t you have clones with you at the time as well?

JG: Yeah, I had 66 little clones in 1” rock wood cubes.  So I had a basically a little rock wool tray.  It was in a box, on my front seat of my car.  I had duffle bags.  Mostly everything was sealed up.  When they asked, I didn’t make any notion I just said “Yeah that is medically necessary and here is the seal.”  I didn’t have any reference with me.  I didn’t have any other kinds of drugs.  I wasn’t intoxicated.  There were no DUI charges or anything like that.

MCJ: Right

JG: Just a technical infraction.

MCJ: Wow.  Now when you were dealing with the court system were you able to acknowledge to the jury that you were not only a patient but also a caregiver?  Did you have that right?

JG: It never came to a jury.  Initially it went to a pre-trial hearing before a judge and their case initially was that I was just a street hood driving around with a bunch of pot, selling it.  Obviously this stuff was packaged with medical labels on it and I had documentation about the collective and my recommendation as well.

In the DA’s words, “It’s just bullshit.”  They didn’t buy it.  It’s just a pot store, even if it was a collective; it’s just an excuse to sell pot.  It’s not legitimate and that was their contention.  At this pre-trial hearing I brought forward 4 or 5 witnesses that were all extreme patients.  One patient who came to court for me had flesh eating disease and was partially blind and also a diabetic.  Another patient came forward who had MS.  Another patient that witnessed has one leg, hepatitis C and sclerosis.  Lastly, a patient who deals with chronic pain and is a quadriplegic came to witnessed for me.  These are some of the extreme cases.

MCJ: Sure.

JG: Even then they were grilling these people.  They treated them like criminals.

MCJ: Right.

JG: So that was the closest to a jury we got was the first judge who was at our pre-trial.  He didn’t know anything at that point.  Their whole case was that I had pot in my trunk.  We just laughed at them, and said, “yeah, of course.”  It said so right on the bottle.

MCJ: Right.

JG: At that point, the judge didn’t know anything about the medical law and so he had to take a recess and check the law books.  At that point the DA was saying, “We weren’t claiming primary caregiver; we were saying we were a collective.”  The AG Guidelines were out already at that point and that was the deal.  We were a collective.  If you’d have been in there, it was a joke.

MCJ: Really.

JG: So the judge decided that the evidence warranted it to go to trial. 

MCJ: I bet that was such a roller-coaster.  So fast forwarding, so to speak; through the costly defense that ran your life for the last year.  Why do you believe you got the surprise ruling in your favor on November 2, 2009?

JG: Well, I tell you what.  It was a lot of reasons.  Number 1, I have an excellent attorney.  Christopher Glew just did a fantastic job.  Part of our strategy was to try to time this right.  Against my heart I was ready to go to trial.  I knew I was right.  I just wanted to get in front of a jury.  We had 4 prosecutors.  The first three were obviously biased by their personal convictions and weren’t interested in how state law supported the facts of the case at all.  Nobody had offered a deal.  They just basically said, “Too bad, you are going to trial.”  A year later we finally got this prosecutor, Tristan Frost, who was a lot younger than the others.  We quickly recognized that he at least understood the Compassionate Use Act and had some kind of positive opinion on it.  My attorney always tried to initiate a discussion with the prosecution and it never happened.  They really weren’t interested in talking and this guy started to.  We started turning over bits of the case to him, and he started requesting more.  At the same time, this had gone on for almost a year and I’ve spent a lot of time rallying support and getting my witness list together.  I had 30 people willing to testify on my behalf including expert witnesses, doctors, and the owner of the collective.  I had a multi-faceted defense.

MCJ: Right.

JG: In addition to the records obviously that demonstrate the legal compliance of our collective that I also had.  We created a coalition of advocacy groups that we took to the next level.  I took different pieces of groups, the pieces that were actually interested in being active.  We got together and started doing letter writing campaigns and phone call campaigns.  There were hundreds of letters written and hundreds of phone calls and emails made.  Not only the District Attorney but to assemblymen, council members, and the sheriff’s departments.  We worked with groups like the THCF clinicMAPP, and MPPNORML and ASA.  Working together with all of these groups we put together the Freedom Fighters Fundraiser.  We wanted to raise some money so we can start our non-profit.  Hopefully we can get some good work out there.

With the combination of a lot of mobilized local activists, I had over 300 people that were helping me, supporting me in this.  The collectives stood behind me.  I honestly believe that there was a little divine intervention too.  It was just a lot of people praying for my freedom, knowing that my actions were just.  Finally this judge was able to see the truth.  Ultimately what happened in the chambers was that we filed a motion 995 and a 1375 motion to dismiss on two different counts.  My attorney, the DA and the judge all met in the chambers and apparently the judge, upon reviewing our documents, asked the DA what its official position was. He replied that they were opposed to this motion.  Then he asked the prosecutor what his personal opinion was.  Apparently the prosecutor realized that I had acted in good faith of the Compassionate Use Act.  That must have obviously had some sway with this judge as well.  He granted the motion.  My attorney said it was a one in a million shot since this never happens.

MCJ: Was it safe to say that you were surprised?

JG: I was out of my skin, yeah.  I was battle ready. I was completely ready to start the trial.  That’s what this hearing was to submit our motions and show we were ready for trial.  I was expecting this week to be picking the jury and getting it started.

MCJ: Wow, wonderful.

JG: So it was a huge, huge surprise.  I know many other people who are in the system right now.  Court support is a huge thing.  When I had people show up at my hearing.  It’s powerful.  I would encourage anybody, if you care about this movement at all, or if you think that you have the right to medicate with cannabis- please be willing to stand up for it and make sure that people don’t go to jail for it.  There are still a lot of people in jail and are going through this.

People have no idea.  The best thing in the world happened to me, right?  I won.  But I lost a year of my life.

MCJ: Yeah.

JG: I lost all my money that I have ever earned in my life.  I have done nothing but fight this case for the last year.  Many parts of my life have fallen to the way side.  It’s been devastating in many ways.  At the same time, I’ve decided to take this terrible thing and turn it into something good.  I’m now the poster-boy for not only having fought for my rights, but to stand up for people that are going through the system that don’t know.  I’ve met many people out there that are all by themselves.  They don’t have money for an attorney and don’t know what to do.  I’ve been able to counsel them a little bit of what this is about and bring them into the support group that I’ve created and we’ve been working on a lot of good for a lot of folks.

MCJ: Great.  The support group that you are speaking of is The Human Solution?

JG: That’s correct.  It all started out of me attending meetings.  Obviously I became a spokesman for my case looking for support.  I’d get out there and I’d attend a NORML meeting or an ASA meeting or anybody’s meeting if they’d let me talk.  A lot of people walk around and they thing they are safe.  They have their recommendation and they have less than an ounce.  They think that nothing bad can happen to them.  They are growing their six plants.  They just have no idea that law enforcement doesn’t always follow the law.  Many people have been arrested and been put through the system for acting to provide for their own medicinal needs or providing safe reliable access to patients.  Some of their cases are still going.  I know people who are on probation right now for acting within the law.  I wasn’t willing to do that.  I stood strong and said, “I’m not guilty of anything so we’re going to let a jury sort it out.”  I know plenty of people who buckled and took the plea and now are saddled with 3 years of probation.  That’s where most of the people who are in jail now on drug offenses, not for possession or sales of drugs, but parole violations and probation violations.  It’s a slippery slope.  Once you get into this system, it’s hard to get out.  It was 10 miracles stacked on top of each other.  Not only did I get out of the system unscathed, but I didn’t even have to pay into it, I didn’t even get hit with a fine or fees of any kind other than my attorney fees.  My attorney was very gracious to me as well.  So what we did, out of my speaking I came to meet the leaders of a lot of these groups and chapters and in talking to them, they saw my passion and my willingness to get out there and do something not just sit around talking about it.  So I said,“Well, let’s work together. Let us stand up and make a difference.”  So we called ourselves the Coalition for a while.  We got together.  Maybe there were about 7 or 8 of us initially.  We got things started; letter writing committees and all sorts of other outreach committees.  We started meeting regularly.  Court support was a big part of that.  I’ve met Steele Smith and Ronnie Nauls, Drew Hayes and a lot of guys that are in the system right now, through this experience.

MCJ: Right.

JG: We’ve decided to this fundraiser, kind of just to see if we could.  It turned out phenomenal.  We raised some money and we got a lot of people together, had music and guest speakers and we showed what could be done.  It was actually well organized, it went off extremely well.  Out of that we started meeting more regularly.  I started picking up more and more people that joined us.  Included in these people were more patients who were really in need; cancer and terminal patients; and others who had financial strains and no resources.  Our numbers just kept growing.  We decided, well if we have all these people coming to meetings for court support, what are we doing to end the stigma?  Medical marijuana is a legitimate resource that should be available to anybody who needs it and there is such a stigma still attached to it.  We all believe that is why we have such problems with the laws and the enforcement of the laws.  It’s not because of facts, but because of misinformation and lack of information.  We decided that’s what we want to do, let’s fix this.  So we set out to create brochures that were sent out to health care professionals.  One of our group members, Charles Monson, is going to be speaking at the hospice convention in November.  We’ve been dealing with many doctors who were previously afraid to deal with this in fear of losing their license and educating them.  Dealing with some retired doctors, who don’t have anything to lose who are standing up and getting really vocal now.  We are going to be bringing some attorneys into this.  We decided to start up this non-profit, and we did.  In our quest to do that, we decided not to put cannabis in our name because doing a non-profit it seemed to be problematic.

MCJ: Sure.

JG: We threw out a whole bunch of names and The Human Solution was one that they gave us, which we really thought was just tremendous.  We just got our paperwork and we are going to begin doing some fundraising and doing some outreach.  Part of our mission is to offer support to all of our members.  That support can be in the form of fellowship, food, advice, court support, and medicine.  This non-profit is not a collective.  It’s just a grass roots organization.  As a non-profit we are not a lobby group but we are affiliated with ASA and NORML so we’ll be able to have that sort of arm.  We are actually working on a couple of local recalls.  We are getting more involved in the community, getting voter registration and gathering signatures for the voter initiatives that are pro-cannabis right now.  We are doing everything we can in a real way and our group is set up for people who truly want to do something that can effect real change.  I went to every group, and said, “If you are one of these people who come to meetings and become an armchair quarterback, hey, that is great. At least you are out here, power to you. But if you’re someone who really wants to make a difference? Come, join us. That’s what this group is made of is people who really want to make a difference.”  You will see, in a very short period of time we are going to start shining pretty brightly out there. So, keep your eyes open for The Human Solution.

MCJ: We will.  We at Medical Cannabis Journal were very excited to hear about your victory and we hope that his will be a trend.  I’m sure you do as well.  Do you have any hope or faith that this might be a turning point or trend in the system?

JG: I know a lot of people that have gone through the system and as soon as they got out they buried their heads in the sand and go underground.  I’ve taken the opposite tact.  I’ve taken the shield and I’m going to stand even taller.  I know that the people can make a difference.  We are still America.  As much as I am dismayed and frustrated with our justice system, I am damn proud to be an American.  The thing that makes me most proud, is that the people that I am with right now are made of the same stuff that our founders had, a willingness to stand up for individuals rights, regardless of sacrifice.

MCJ: Yeah.

JG: You really do.  I put myself out there to be raided every single day and I show up for work every day.  Even though I have been in the justice system charged with felonies I’m out there speaking to people.  I’m saying, look, you know what.  I believe in this strong enough.  I have everything to lose and really, not that much to gain.  I could grow my own medicine any time I wanted without any of this.  I’m not going to get rich off of this. I’m making a modest living but nothing more.

I feel that we are finally at a point where, if we push back hard enough we can make that difference and get these court systems to finally realize that this is ridiculous.  Why are we spending tax payer money on arresting patients acting within the law?  Why are we tearing apart families and draining their financial livelihoods over a medicinal plant?

I just talked to Marty Victor today.  He’s in the middle of a case in Riverside County as well.  He’s also a member of our The Human Solution. He was in pre-trial yesterday.  The scuttlebutt is that the judges are getting really sick of these cases being tried because they are starting to wake-up and realize this is a poor use of resources.  In a time where we have over-crowded jails, it’s about the worst possible way to add to them.

MCJ: Yeah.

JG: In the worst case scenario, if this was a crime; it’s at very least a victimless one.  If we are going to start getting crimes to be prosecuted, then why not start with the ones that hurt people?  There are certainly plenty of those unsolved and un-prosecuted.

I honestly think that we are in a position to make a difference.  I think if we stop pushing, they’ll push back and we’ll go away.

MCJ: Right.

JG: I believe that we are in a critical mass point of this.  Now is the time more than ever to really stand up and exercise your right to vote.  Get out there and support.  I’m not really a huge fan of rallies.  They are fun, and a way for people to get together.  I don’t think they accomplish much.  Show up at your city council meetings.  Have conversations with the elected officials.  These are the people that actually do make a difference.  Participate in recalls.  If you’ve got an elected official not doing what they stood for, not doing what they promised to do, get them the hell out of there.  We have our right as citizens to do that.  Unfortunately, we are a fairly stereotypical bunch.  People often times won’t get off the couch and put the bong down to actually do something about it.  Not just sitting around and whine about it.  That’s what I’m trying to encourage folks to do.  Get off the couch and make a difference because you can.

MCJ: Right.  Well, we all know the world could use more people like you Joe.  Like you said, you’ve kind of become the poster-child, and we all appreciate your dedication to fighting to defend patients’ rights.  Is there anything else you want to add before we wrap this up tonight?

JG: I would like to say that I look forward to our success as The Human Solution and I mean that in every possible way.  I believe that people want to get involved.  Get on Facebook and look up Joe Grumbine.  Give me a shout out and I’ll tell you when and where and how to get involved.  I’ll give you my phone number if you want, or email, or anything.  Unit D Collective is where I’m at a lot of the time, if you know where that place is.  Come and call on me.  I’m available to anybody and everybody.  If I can be of help, I certainly will be of help.

MCJ: Wonderful. 

JG: I’ve had so many people there to help me that I’m there on demand.  That’s all I can say.  I appreciate all the kindness and compassion of many of the patients.  When I talk about the solution, I mean that in a big way; you’re either part of the problem, or you are a part of the solution.  I firmly believe that.  The more of us that take the time to pass on a little bit of caring, a little bit of love, a little smile.  Give a gift to somebody, do something nice for somebody.  Be part of that solution.  If you have energy to take on something big like this, then please come and join us, I’ll put you to work.

MCJ: Right.  Wonderful, thanks again Joe and congratulations on your recent victory.

JG: Absolutely.  I’m walking on air right now.

MCJ: We appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today at Medical Cannabis Journal.  We wish the best to you and your family.

JG: Right on.  Well, I wish you the best.  Hopefully this is the beginning.

A NOTE FROM RON NIEHOUSE – MEDICAL CANNABIS JOURNAL:

Please see: http://the-human-solution.org/ for updated information on the wonderful work being done by The Human Solution. They are very progressive and in a constant forward motion so check in often.

Thanks again to Joe and everyone at The Human-Solution, from Medical Cannabis Journal for taking the time to help make this interview possible. You are all a wonderful example of how responsible, sensible adults should think and act.

© This article is copyrighted by Medical Cannabis Journal 08-09-2010