Fillmore is an organizer with the Michigan Cannabis Action Network (MCAN) which sponsored the Millennium Marijuana March in Traverse City.
NE: What is the Cannabis Action Network?
Fillmore: The Michigan Cannabis Action Network is a group that is trying to educate the people about the use of cannabis, be it marijuana or hemp, and the laws that apply to it.
NE: What are some of the projects of the MICAN?
Fillmore: We register voters. We go to festivals and we organize marches. Basically, we are an information group and we share in the effort to try to change the laws here in Michigan. We work closely with Benzie County NORML.
NE: Can you give me any statistics on what the drug war is costing our area?
Fillmore: In our area, no I couldn‘t. Basically, my angle on this is medicinal and that is where I put most of my interest.
NE: OK. Can you tell me some about the medical angles?
Fillmore: I was just reading today that over in England scientists have discovered that cannibadiol that comes into your brain from smoking marijuana could slow down the aging process in the brain. It‘s one of the news things -- they are discovering new uses for the plant all the time. They are basically calling it the new aspirin because of its many uses.
NE: Do you know anyone who has had legal problems because of their medicinal use of marijuana?
Fillmore: My friend Renee Emery Wolf is well known -- she is from Ann Arbor and
she has been jailed. Dr. Joan Bello, she is an author. She uses it for her son for seizure related problems and her and her husband have been jailed numerous times. Basically what it comes down to is people who try to use it in a positive way
can still go to jail and that should not be.
NE: Some states have legalized medical marijuana,
Fillmore: Yes. I think seven states have and the federal government says they can over ride it, they can override states rights. Last year we protested the DEA down in Saginaw because the DEA on June 6th last year went and raided the compassionate cannabis clubs in California that give away this product to people that have a
NE: I have read that a federal management office gave the DEA got a zero for effectiveness. How do you feel/think about the DEA‘s approach to managing drugs?
Fillmore: To be honest with you, I think that they should reevaluate some drugs, basically marijuana, and change the ruling on that. I am against highly addictive recreational use drugs such as cocaine and heroine. I hate to see people ruin
their lives. The same with alcohol. The point is that it is a civil rights thing. We should be able to do it. It is our bodies.
NE: Can you tell me more about why people would want to use marijuana medically?
Fillmore: Prevention of seizures, in multiple sclerosis it helps to stop muscles spasms. It is also a lung cleaner, believe it or not, even though you are
inhaling smoke... it is a lung cleaner. It‘s good for chronic pain. It is really good for, as you know, cancer and AIDS patients, it helps them to gain weight and be able to eat (while undergoing chemotherapy)... mental well being, a sense of hope -- it does lift your sprits.
NE: What are you hoping will be the outcome of this march?
Fillmore: I hope this will interest more people in speaking up. We would like to get it in on the ballot so that people can vote on it.
NE: Are you discouraged at all by the ballot measures that have failed recently?
Fillmore: No. We have to expect ups and downs.
NE: Maybe there will be some parents reading this article wondering how they ought to look at their kids experimenting with marijuana. From a health standpoint, should this be a matter of concern?
Fillmore: Personally, I don‘t think children should be allowed to smoke it unless it is used in a medical manner such as for ADHD.
Fillmore: It is a definite advantage for ADHD. It allows the children to rest, relax -- they‘re not as hyper and it also allows them to channel their thoughts. You find many ADHD children are extremely brilliant. When they get interested in
something they learn everything about it.
NE: I imagine this therapy isn‘t available for people in this area.
Fillmore: Unfortunately. I don‘t like that idea of pumping kids full of synthetics drugs. All that is going to do is ruin the insides of their bodies as
they go down the road of life. It gives them a head start on liver and kidney disease.
Natural drugs like marijuana, personally I think that
is really the safest way to go. I take anti-convulsant, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant... if was legal I could cut my pill intake in half.
NE: How long have you needed to take these drugs?
Fillmore: I started having seizures in ‘91... it‘s been a long hard road... I didn‘t know much about it for a long time.
NE: How did you first learn about the possibility that cannabis could be useful for your condition?
Fillmore: I run sound for a band and I met a gal who turned me on to “The Emperor Wears No Clothes“ by Jack Hare. It is basically the marijuana/hemp Bible. I went through and read about the medicinal aspects of it. I went to the Hash bash and I met Dr. Joan Bello and her son who has not had a seizure in the 20 years he has been using marijuana medicinally.
When I was younger and I went to rallies I always thought that it was just about ‘legalize marijuana everybody, let‘s get stoned!‘ and flower children but it is not about that. In fact it is really a personal subject; to a lot of marijuana users
it is a spiritual thing
NE: Tell me about that.
Fillmore: It allows you to look at things in different perspectives to a point of another perspective, more accepting, less judgmental. Since I‘ve started using it again I have found that I have become a different person.
NE: How so?
Fillmore: Like where I live, I am the neighborhood psychiatrist in a lot of ways; people come to me and they talk to me and they feel comfortable. I don‘t think that is what they would‘ve seen years ago because I was stressing out. I‘m really relaxed now and that gives me time to look at things.
NE: So you feel like you have become more of an asset to the community through your marijuana use?
Fillmore: Yes, I really do.
NE: That is quite the contrast with the message that the government puts out.
Fillmore: Right. I am more concerned now with what is going on for everybody than I am just for myself. It has given me a chance to open my eyes and take a look around.
NE: Do you think that the laws will change soon or do you think peoples? attitudes are going to change? Do you think with all the other wars going on they will let up on the marijuana, what do you think is going to happen?
Fillmore: With the current dictator right now?
NE: In the next, yeah, couple years.
Fillmore: You‘ll have to pardon my French, but under dictator Bush I don‘t see anything changing. This guy wants to clamp down on the country and build a wall around it and suppress the people. I don‘t see anything really going anywhere
right now in the United States.
Other countries are showing the way. European countries and Canada all started with hemp and now they are easing up on their marijuana laws and they are not having any problems. You‘ll find that if you ease up on marijuana laws you see a decrease in the use of harder drugs. If marijuana is there and you can use it at your leisure whether it be in the privacy of your home or in an establishment like a coffeehouse or bar type place, not walking around in public, I don‘t think that is a good idea...
NE: You think that if people could use marijuana in a safe, regulated atmosphere they would be less likely to take things like cocaine and heroine?
Fillmore: Yes. In the countries that have eased the laws you see less people taking drugs, even less people smoking marijuana because the taboo is gone and for kids, it has nothing to do with rebelling.
NE: What do you think about those ads that say that if you are buying marijuana you are supporting terrorists?
Fillmore: I think if the government would allow people to buy marijuana it wouldn‘t be a problem. I still don‘t think marijuana supports terrorism. The United States government might support terrorism. Flying jets into the World Trade Center, that has to do with the government and not with smoking marijuana.
NE: Why is the government so interested in trying to keep people from using marijuana?
Fillmore: Marijuana and its sister plant hemp. With the hemp plant, anything you can make out of petroleum you can make out of hemp oil, so there‘s one big hurdle. Wood and paper products are another hurdle. When you get to marijuana the pharmaceutical companies don‘t want it because they would loose billions. No more Prozac. No more Ritalin. Industry stands to lose but a lot of people stand to gain, especially farmers. This is a weed; you don‘t have to worry about dumping tons of chemical and giving it to the public and killing your topsoil.
NE: What did you think about this business with Judge Gilbert? (District Judge Thomas Gilbert sought treatment for alcohol abuse after admitting he smoked marijuana at a Rolling Stones concert last Fall.)
Fillmore: My opinion is that if they are going to let him back in then I think that he should have to take random urine tests and I think that he should have to blow before work, after lunch and after work.
And I think that should hold true for all judges, people in the court system and police officers. Yes. We pay their wages. If you were to do a job for the government then you would have to be tested. Now these are government employees, how come
they are not required to be tested?
NE: Why do you think?
Fillmore: I know why... (he laughs)... they are not going to do that.
NE: Because they want to be free to use drugs?
Fillmore: Yes, I really think so, plus it would crumble the governmental infrastructure if they had to get rid of half the people in it because half the
people show positive.