Cannabis Awakening: A Matter of Life or Death


In this edition of Cannabis Conversations, former municipal court judge Doug Bench discusses his transformation from ardent prohibitionist to healthcare cannabis advocate.


Project CBD: Hi, I’m Martin Lee with Project CBD and currently we’re going to be speaking with Doug Bench, a retired lawyer and municipal court judge from Ohio, who’s been rethinking his concepts about cannabis. This is however a further 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 knowledge with cannabis when I was a juvenile court referee and created quite adverse 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 made use of 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 typically, had been these offenses for possession, or offers, or what?

Bench: Never ever for offers. Municipal Court is for misdemeanors. So it was never ever huge amounts. It was typically 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 alter 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 extended 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 vital oils, which I made use of to bitch about for the reason that they’re high-priced. But frankly, her interest in vital oils saved my life for the reason that she went dwelling and stated I’m going to obtain an vital oil that will repair my husband. I ain’t performed with him. And 4 months or so of study, she located cannabis oil as the “quintessential” vital oil. My wife flew to Colorado from Florida – she knew my attitude about cannabis – and she lied to me. Her actual cause for going was to invest in some cannabis oil in a predominant higher-THC strain. And she committed a felony, brought it dwelling on a plane, came to me and stated, “Take this, I believe 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 vital oil,” she stated. Correct! I told her to get the hell out of the house.

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 residence. 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 undertaking? 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 never ever 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.

Bench: Yes.

Project CBD: So what occurred when you initial took it?

Bench: It tasted awful. Place a drop beneath 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 initial time in more than a year’. I stated, ‘Holy crap! I’ll take a further drop.’ I never ever 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 receiving my strength back. And in 5 months, I went back to that similar 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 performed 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 obtain any scar tissue’. I stated, ‘I know.’ He shut the door and stated, ‘What are you doing?’

Project CBD: And you told him?

Bench: I told him I’m committing a felony just about every day – for the reason that it wasn’t legal in Ohio then. And I’m going to retain undertaking it for the reason that I’m getting 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 causes for the reason that I can not danger my medical license.

Project CBD: So going via this knowledge, 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 difficult. 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 needed classes for the state of Florida.

Project CBD: You are speaking about building contractors?

Bench: Yes, plumbers, roofers, basic contractors. And, I stated I’ve got to inform them, honey. It may well save a life. These guys are all old farts like me – it may well save a life and you can not inform them, you will shed your license. I’ve got to. If it saves 1 life, losing my license, I do not care. That was the starting for the reason that I’ll never ever overlook the initial 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 undertaking webinars. I knew how to do webinars, I’d written many books on the brain and how to boost functionality of your brain, I knew how they worked. So we’ve got to begin undertaking 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 gorgeous name. So that is our web-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 people.

Project CBD: Apart from these seminars, are you interacting at all with the state government in Florida? It does have a healthcare marijuana system, at least on the books, I do not know how considerably in reality. But are you interacting with officials? Since, your story is quite effective. You come from the criminal justice program, and you bring a specific authenticity that is difficult to match. It is indisputable what you’re saying.

Bench: Our initial step, we went about the state speaking at Rotary Clubs, Lion Clubs, advertising passage of Amendment two, which was our healthcare cannabis law – not law, but Constitutional Amendment. And, immediately after it passed it became quite apparent that the legislature, and the governor in particular 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 for the duration of the session. There’s some great persons from NORML and other organizations in Florida that have what they contact lobby days, exactly where you go and lobby, and they set up appointments with all the legislators – and I’ve been undertaking that now for 3 years for the reason that they nonetheless do not have it proper. It is a mess. The initial issue that was a mess, they wanted to impose a three-month waiting period. You can get your card producing certain 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. Since of that requirement, persons had been actually dying, waiting their 90 days. So we got that thrown out. And other modifications have been produced, not the actual fantastic ones that safeguard personnel and safeguard employers with a healthcare card, and so on. So we’re going to be back in Tallahassee initial of every year.

Project CBD: So you are in Florida now, if persons in Florida or elsewhere, as an educational organization Rethink Green delivers, how do they get in touch with 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 facts there, our get in touch with facts there. Or they can e-mail me [email protected], and that is our web-site,, which would give all of our get in touch with facts and almost everything they will need 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 wants 1 – persons are dying. I’d be dead proper now. I do not know, I believe I’m still kicking!

Project CBD: We’re glad you are not dead! Thank you quite considerably Doug Bench.

Bench: You’re welcome.

Project CBD: It is been a further edition of Cannabis Conversations. We’ll see you next time.


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