An open letter to the Non-Civil Judiciary committee hearing HB722

Professional PictureHonorable Committee members,
To those of you supporting HB722, kudos!! To those of you who are trying to pick it apart and stonewall it, shame on you!! I am a retired AF Veteran. I am also a retired Georgia Peace Officer. Most importantly at this stage, I am a supporter of HB722.

I am 65 years old. I enlisted in the Air Force in 1971. I was a young, dumb Alabama boy. My dad was a stern Southern Baptist preacher (which is what brought him to Georgia after I left home). I didn’t know what marijuana was. It was the last few years of the Vietnam War and it didn’t take long to find out about it in the Air Force.



I smoked marijuana socially for 14 years, from ’71 to ’85. During that time I grew into a strong Non-Commissioned Officer, graduating from two NCO Schools at the top of my class and taking 3 out of 5 awards in each of those schools. Then Operation Golden Flow kicked into high gear and I realized “Hey dumbass, you have 6 years left until you can retire and have a little pension for the rest of your life”. So I quit.

This was just months before I was meritoriously promoted to Master Sergeant for a cutting edge software program I’d helped develop for the Reprographics field (among other accomplishments). That promotion got me an assignment to HQ Strategic Air Command in Omaha Nebraska. I went on to retire in 1991. I moved to Georgia, because that’s where the folks were. I bought a place in East Dublin and started looking for work.

I went to the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office and was hired that day. I worked there from Jan 1992 until June 1998, becoming a Patrol Sergeant. I took a break from Law Enforcement for a couple of years, then was appointed Chief Deputy by Sheriff Rusty Oxford of Johnson County in January 2001. I held that position until January of 2008 and my Peace Officer Status is Career Retired.

Having been a recreational user, I never got heated up about marijuana cases. To the best of my recollection I never made a less than an ounce case. I dumped a lot of it on the side of the road and sent some folks packin’ to the house though. Discretion is at the point of contact, and I saw what Georgia’s misdemeanor Marijuana Laws did to young lives. I couldn’t, in good conscious, do that to someone.

During the course of the years I’d developed some chronic back pain. Turns out I have some herniated disks. I also developed sciatica and several other “old man” problems. The VA was happy to put me on hydrocodone, tramadol, gabapentin, tamsulosin, ambien, trazadone, flexeril. zoloft and keppra as time progressed. All of these medications carry that pesky “may cause dizziness or drowsiness” warning. I was, for all intents and purposes, a zombie.

In 2011 I moved to Nebraska to spend some extended time with my two daughters and five grandchildren. My son-in-law was on the back deck smoking a bowl one morning and I decided “Why not”? Nebraska is a decrim State and any risks were essentially non-existent. The first thing that struck me about it was the fact that I didn’t even think about my pain meds that morning. My back is ALWAYS painful, even with the opiates, and it’s still painful with the cannabis, but the “high” .. technically Euphoria .. that so many of the fear-mongers are concerned with, let’s me deal with it. It INSTANTLY makes it better. It makes me want to get up and DO something, instead of sitting around in a narcotic induced fog as I was on the VA meds. I know from experience that THC works for me. I’ve figured out my own dosing requirements and I stick to them rather strictly, although I admit to blazing one up socially on occasion.

Using cannabis allowed me to get off ALL the medications I listed above. I’m no longer the lackadaisical, fat slob that I’d turned into. I’ve lost 90 pounds over the past few years. I’m more active, more engaged. I honestly feel better than I’ve felt in 10 years, but …. I had to move back to Georgia to help care for my 90 year old mother who is eaten up with arthritis, so now, instead of a “civil infraction”, I face a misdemeanor charge if arrested for possession.

What’s this got to do with HB722? Everything!

This is a cry to let the FULL benefits of this plant be examined, in Georgia, under controlled conditions, so that we know what levels of CBD/THC work best for what conditions and we are absolutely positive that the medicine is SAFE. It is a cry to give these “legal” patients the full access that they so desperately need. As for me, none of the conditions I suffer from are on that very restrictive list, so I’ll be denied access to CBD/THC Oil unless “the list” is expanded, even beyond what HB722 asks for. I’m not really worried about that. I’ll continue to get my medicine (which is what I use it for) illegally if I must.

I really don’t give a damn about a misdemeanor pot charge. As I’ve stated, I’m 65, an honorably retired veteran and honorably retired Georgia Peace Officer. My record of service to both this Country and this State speak for themselves. I’ve never been arrested. Hell, I haven’t had a speeding ticket in over 20 years. I don’t CARE if I’m arrested for a misdemeanor marijuana charge.

More and more Georgians are developing that attitude, also. 84.5% of Georgians are pro-medical. 62% are in favor of full legalization. A bad law is a bad law, and I’ll put my trust in the jury nullification process if I’m ever arrested. There won’t be a plea for me. I’ll take it to a jury. If you were going to Vegas and had a 62% chance of winning, would you roll those dice? I will. The worst you can do is give me a year in county. I’ll get 2 for 1 off the jump, so that’s 6 months. You’ll have to address my medical issues, and it’ll be costly. I’ve also survived two heart attacks, including a triple by-pass. The meds alone will cost the county an arm and a leg.

I’m also a certified jailer, so I’ll be watching things like a hawk, keeping notes, so I can expose any Civil Rights violations I observe (and they are RAMPANT in Georgia jails). I might just wind up rich. I’m a retired cop, so they’ll have to house me separately. I’m pretty sure the Sheriff where I live doesn’t want me in his jail! So you go ahead and play your silly games with the recreational “boogey-man”. I’m not asking for your PERMISSION to use the only option you’ve left me with, regardless of the risks and regardless of any law restricting my access to it. BUT, you need to give the folks that will be covered under an expanded HB722 what they need.

I heard testimony yesterday that lets me know I’m not the only one who feels this way. I’m engaged with YOUR constituents, all over this State, who feel the same way I do and there are folks lining up to run against you if you don’t get this right. I’m not just a “keyboard commando”. I almost, ALMOST, want to apologize for the tone of this letter. I appreciate the fact that you are doing what YOU consider best for Georgia, but some of YOU need to be listening to your constituency, a concept some of you apparently ignore. 62% is a majority, and it will increase. 84.5% is an even clearer majority. Run your own polls. The writing is on the wall. It’s now just a matter of how long you want to delay it, and how quickly that 62% or 84.5% can be brought to bear and get you out of office.

Nah, I won’t apologize.

Sincerely,
Jerald T. (Tom) McCain
Tom is a Retired USAF Master Sergeant, Retired Peace Officer, Peachtree N.O.R.M.L. Advisory Board Member, CEO of Georgia Hemp Industries Association and Executive Director of Spartacus Legal Foundation

About Author

Sharon is a wife, mother, caregiver, business owner and life long resident of Georgia. Her eyes were opened when her family was traumatized by the “War on Drugs”, she uses her ears to listen to other victims and her voice to tell their stories and educate others on the direct and indirect harms of prohibition and how it affects us all.

Sharon has been a guest on numerous radio stations across the country as well as local and regional TV news affiliates. As well as LadyBud Magazine, HighTimes Magazine and Main Street. She was recently nominated by Mass/Cann NORML for National Female Activist of the Year. Sharon has traveled the country speaking on various topics including drug policy, activism, southern strategies and harm reduction. She produces a segment on 420radio.com highlighting the stories and work of other women in the fight to end marijuana prohibition.

(9) Comments

  1. Janet Goree

    You sir are my hero!

    1. tomdajester

      Thank you ma’am. I ain’t not hero though. The real heroes are those kids and their parents!!

  2. Dana Coffey

    I retract my previous lamentations of “fuck the police,” kind sir. 😉 Seriously though, I agree with you, appreciate your candidness, courage and activism.

    1. tomdajester

      Well, to tell you the truth, I’ve said Fuck the Police several times in the last couple of years. Thanks for the kind words.

  3. Mike Ameye

    Nice Tom. Well said and to the point. I LIKE the part about actually listening to their constituents – something that is lacking in MOST representatives in Georgia (both Federal and State…) Sometimes chasing the all mighty dollar to get re-elected is NOT a smart thing to do…

    1. tomdajester

      Thank you m’friend. I believe we can make a difference in them listening to us. We are more vocal, less fearful, more determined and our numbers are growing. We just need to keep spreading the word. As Sharon Ravert always says, “When we’re talking, we’re winning”. I’ll add a hearty Press the Fight to that!!

  4. kim

    Boy that was really to the heart 🙂 , me I got sever arthritis, server RA and degeneration of the spin in past 3yrs had two surgeries on my back got rod and screws in my back funny screws lol, still looking surgery in my neck( ,if it wasn’t for a wake in back in morning )it real help to shower , witch is really painful and helps me to do more. I]
    m not a Georgia Peach anymore but what Tom is stand for should pass. SO PLEASE GO VOTE FOR YOUR RIGHTS ……

    1. tomdajester

      I wish you less pain Kim, and I’ve asked The Master to comfort you. Thanks for the comment. Perhaps one day soon you could get some relief through cannabis.

  5. Greg

    I am right there with you! I have major back issues and am in constant pain. I had a tumor removed from my spinal cord 2 yrs ago and recently told I have another. I’ve had multiple spinal taps, about 9 injections, and multiple “tests” to see if I qualified for a nerve block, I’ve been through chemo, walking with a cane, you name it. All this within the past 3 yrs. I lost my job, so no insurance and of course I was on a “cocktail” of pain meds, muscle relaxers, trimmers, etc. I was taking 8 pills four times a day just to live. I’ve since, thanks to the benefits of marijuana, stopped all meds and too have lost weight. Unfortunately, my conditions are NOT one of the 8 conditions approved. So, like you, I am having to break the law for some relief. Why does the government feel the need to ignore us? We are hurting every minute of our lives, yet as others have posted, they aren’t doing anything but wasting tax payer money and in their position only for them and whatever BS THEY deem the important issue and ignoring what they should be doing. I guarantee if one of the lawmakers needed it or had a child that needed it to survive, they would be all over it and decriminalization of marijuana would be at the top of their list. What the heck happened to “We the people”? WE THE PEOPLE are and have been TELLING YOU its needed! Listen to “The People” cause you may not have a job too much longer if not!

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