Barry Vogel Interviews Richard Johnson — Part 3

Radio Curious
Originally broadcast February 19th, 2008
Transcribed by Dave Smith
Parts 1|2|3|4
[Full Interview on MP3 available for download here]

A Revolutionary’s Memorial In His Own Words (cont.)

Barry: Richard, I want to stay with marijuana for a bit. Some people have said that the concept of medical marijuana is a political ruse… that many people enjoy marijuana just as many people enjoy wine… but we don’t hear of medical wine. Why do we hear of medical marijuana? Why not just allow marijuana to be?

Richard: I don’t know. I favor complete decriminalization. I believe medical marijuana was sold to the people of California in Proposition 215 as a half-way step to decriminalization in order to benefit people who are suffering, who needed medical marijuana, for example, on their way to die, or undergoing chemotherapy… and it is compassionate. So the voters of California said ok, for these suffering patients we will decriminalize marijuana, but only in this way. However, because it is only a partial decriminalization, it has created the situation that you noted before… the crime, the environmental abuse, the foreigners coming in, under the guise of medical marijuana… because partial decriminalization of a banned substance creates the anomalous situation of ample supply and high price simultaneously which contradicts a lot of economics… that’s what partial bans do. The way I state it is that medical marijuana is a government-granted franchise for a banned substance which is highly popular… I call it an absurd disaster in that way.

I am in a coalition of medical marijuana people to defeat Measure B, so I don’t want to sit here and trash medical marijuana. Personal use is what has been overlooked in the debate, and all marijuana has been equated with medical marijuana in the debate. But the debate needs to include personal use because that was what the people of Mendocino County approved in Measure G.

B: Let’s talk about Richard Johnson. You said that you are little understood and seldom appreciated. How would you like to be appreciated?

R: As an innovator, as a free thinker, as a guy who is willing to accept criticism and ostracism in order to break new ground in thinking and action… I’m really into action.

B: How would you like to see that appreciation expressed?

R: Oh, I don’t care about being remembered as a great guy. I just think that people should seek political power and elect environmentalists to office and create permanent organizations to protect the environment. I’m a member of the Green Party which could be such an organization. But my fellow Greens have resisted being organized by me pretty strongly. Greens don’t like to be organized, and I’m an organizer. There’s a lot of tension there.

B: Do you feel that their resistance within the Green Party membership is to you personally, or to the concept of being organized?

R: Well, to me personally also. Nobody likes the guy who knows something. You’re familiar with that, I think (laughing)? The person who knows something more than other people are expected to hide their talents under a bushel… that’s a biblical concept. People are expected not to show how educated or how competent they are in order to be accepted socially. This is a very tribal kind of culture here in Mendocino County. I think marijuana growing has a lot to do with it. Groups of growers up in the hills have their members of their little societies. Anybody who’s new is put on a trial period and if they act like a loose cannon, for example, or a problem… a guy who’s more trouble than he’s worth, then you end up being like Richard Johnson.

(To be concluded in Part 4…)
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