Nathan Rees is both a former police chief and a current cannabis medical dispensary proprietor. This week he played an important role in bringing together medical patients and law enforcement in a very important training for cops and communities.
The Muskogee regional airport was transformed into a road course for demonstrating the impairment impact of 3 subgroups of drivers:
Norma Sapp & Chris Moe were there to observe and report.
We're posting both Nathan's article (posted to social media) and the video report that Chris and Norma posted.
I had the honor and privilege of taking part in something truly special today. You guys need to read this story. I was invited to come down to Muskogee to take part in a joint (no pun intended.. yet) training operation between some of the Oklahoma cannabis industry and the local law enforcement officers. The event was supposed to be about how texting, drinking, and or cannabis affect your ability to operate a vehicle. What ended up happening was something much larger than anyone could have expected. Most of you know who I am, and that I have lived both sides of this coin. What I got to witness today was something truly amazing.
My role today was to be a driver in the medical cannabis user group. Essentially, they wanted me to medicate and then operate a vehicle on a closed course followed by standardized field sobriety testing to measure my level of impairment. All of the participants got there, started "getting into character," and everything was going fine. And then the cops showed up... Instantly the atmosphere in the cannabis users tent went from happy and carefree to a ghost town. No one wanted to be the first one to test out smoking in front of the officers.
Flash forward one very intense hour and then the magic started to happen. I was sitting in the cannabis tent watching the other driver's go when a high (no pun intended again..) ranking member of the local PD came over. Up until this point the LEOs had pretty much stayed to themselves and not interacted much with smokers in the canna tent. He pointed to the array of concentrates that were being displayed and asked a question that I couldn't believe I was hearing. "Is this that "cannabis crack" I've heard so much about?" I wanted so very much to correct and educate him. However, it wasn't my event and I was a guest at someone else's table. I sat back and watched to see how it was going to be handled. The young lady that was setting up the cannabis consumption sprang into action and began to educate the officer on the usage, effects, and safety of the different forms of cannabis that were on the table.
Again he called it "cannabis crack" and again she shut him down. Right about now, you are probably thinking that this is a typical cop/stoner interaction. The LEOs think of cannabis one way and the consumers have a completely different thought process about the benefits of this plant. Those two thought processes finally merged today on a scale that will actually make a difference to the residents of this local area.
The first clue that I had was when the officer began calling the concentrates by their correct names. In a matter of minutes, the tent was full of nine officers, black, white, male, and female alike. All there in the same tent with a bunch of cannabis patients getting a class on cannabis. The young woman spoke with conviction and knowledge and she was able to get through their mental roadblocks that had been programmed into society's heads with this plant. For 45 minutes, they stood and learned. They interacted like it was show and tell. They had questions about the different forms of concentrates. They wanted to know how they were used. They asked why it needed to be so potent. They smelled products (not burning) and handled glassware while asking questions about the effects and length of exposure of the meds. They learned about the endocannabinoid system and how the different terpenes and cannabinoids affected it. The most important part of it was that they were receptive to the information being provided to them and willing to actually learn. I could see that they had no clue there was so much information involved in the cannabis fight. When they walked in that tent, they came in with the understanding that they were dealing with a bunch of stoners. When they left there, they were educated well enough to know that they were dealing with something far larger. More importantly than that, they left with a new found RESPECT for cannabis patients.
Then it was my turn to drive....
I knocked out the course, with no issue. 2:16 seconds was my official time. Not to shabby for a medicated patient if I do say so myself. At the end of my drive, I was subjected to a field sobriety test. Of course I had all of the necessary clues for the officer to say that he suspected me of being intoxicated, however that was not where it ended. Most people think that this is the same thing different day. This time it was different. There was a gentleman there that is a certified Drug Recognition Expert. Essentially they are specially trained DUI experts that are called in when a subject is showing signs of impairment that is not always alcohol related. He had a message to pass on to the other officers that were there and it further added to the new level of respect and knowledge floating around. His message was, just like a DUI for alcohol, just the smell of cannabis and the drivers admission of using cannabis are not enough to arrest and convict a driver of impaired operating. Not only were they willing to learn about the products and usage and how they affected the body, but they were more than willing to learn from one of their own about how tell if a cannabis patient is truly impaired or not. That's a HUGE leap forward from, "He said he smoked marijuana so he must be high!"
I could continue talking about this all night, but it's time to wrap it up. Today I got to witness men and women of several colors come together PEACEFULLY with people who would not so long ago have been considered enemies. The cops had their guns, the texters had their phones, the drinkers had their tequila and beer, and the medical patients had their pipes and papers. Everyone got along just fine and the day was an awesome success. One tiny step in the right direction. Hopefully the first of many more to come. What I learned from this was that the Leo's don't hate cannabis or the smokers. They hate the lies, stigmas, and misinformation that they have been taught to believe. We will be working with Oklahoma Natural Grass to help support this program and bring more training and awareness to the LEO community here in Oklahoma and surrounding states! We all have our differences, but we can all work together as one!
***Special thanks to the people that put this on and attended!***
Oklahoma Natural Grass
Muskogee County (LEOs, Airport, EMS)
Muskogee PD (LEOs)