Phil the Former Texas Police Officer and Jailer’s Healing Journey with Natural Medicines Episode 8 of the Psychedelic Timeshare

Phil is a former jailer and police officer in Texas for 13 years who found natural healing through yoga, cannabis and other earth medicines.

We cover PTSD, suicide, childhood trauma, the War on Drugs, asset forfeiture, police reform and funding, and what needs to change in Texas and nationally going forward to reclaim our country.

Mark:               Up next, we have Phil, a former cop, who does not self-identify as a cop, and he’s going to share his story of awakening, living with PTSD, and where we move forward in our lives and in policing.

Ian:                  As a matter of fact, that’s what’s happening. We’re having fun talking over the intro thing, but it’s going to get cut out, because we’ll drop those channels. And then yeah, what a slick way to let people get comfortable in the show, Mark. You did work in AV.

Mark:               I like it.

Ian:                  Is this your creation?

Mark:               Yeah, it is.

Ian:                  That’s a video of him playing the song that we’re listening to.

Phil:                 Nice.

Ian:                  This is sweet.

Phil:                 I say, keep it.

Mark:               Recorded that last night.

Ian:                  Yeah. The best intro we did is we just started talking to the guy because we called him and he’s like, “Call me back.” And then we called him and then he was just talking about smoking two ounces of weed a day after taking the super, like a whole one ounce down [crosstalk] at one time.

Mark:               Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. [crosstalk] That was the guy that you had last time.

Ian:                  That’s how he just cut in from that part. We’re going to edit later, like, “Yeah, this is all the good shit that’ll never be on the podcast.” Like, man. That’s really sweet Mark.

Mark:               Thanks.

Ian:                  I told Vay Noss about the Richie Hawtin thing. I said, “This is how connected the universe is.” Said, “Mike made some really nice music. Yep. That sounds really sweet. Kind of makes me think of Richie Hawtin and the guy he made it with.” He’s like, “Oh yeah, me and him met at a Richie Hawtin show.” I’m like, “Exactly. That’s why the universe is in charge of this.

Mark:               Welcome to The Psychedelic Timeshare. I’m Mark Couilliard.

Ian:                  And I’m Ian Benouis.

Mark:               And we got a special guest here.

Ian:                  Tell them who.

Mark:               We’re not going to. We’ll slowly figure out more about who and what he is.

Ian:                  Mystery man. So, we can say your first name, right? You’re cool with that part.

Phil:                 Yes. Absolutely.

Ian:                  Okay. So, today we’ve got as a wonderful guest, Phil. And Phil is originally from California and moved to Texas where he was in the police force. Basically, the police operations for 13 years, of which, the first year and a half was as a jailer in Travis County, then spent the next 11 and a half years as a police officer, right?

Phil:                 That’s correct.

Ian:                  Awesome. Yeah. Since then has been on his own medicine journey of healing with cannabis and other natural medicines.

Phil:                 Cannabis is where the journey started. That was one of the first steps.

Ian:                  Yeah. That seems to be the case for so many people these days. Well, yeah. Tell us, when did that first step happen?

Phil:                 I had experimented with cannabis and smoked pot and in high school and college.

Ian:                  Because you were in California, right?

Phil:                 Correct, but it was not legal at that time.

Ian:                  Got it.

Phil:                 Even medical was actually later than when I was experimenting with cannabis, but I’d used it in a recreational sense at parties and stuff like that with friends, like a lot of people do. And it had been so long, it had been 20 years since I had used cannabis. I had been a police officer for 13 years and was not using cannabis during that time [crosstalk].

Ian:                  Sure.

Phil:                 Or a long time before. So, I had experienced cannabis a lot, working as a patrol officer. I mean, obviously, it’s one of the easiest substances to detect, the smell is very distinctive and that’s usually its downfall with young people getting in trouble with it.

                        But my experience with cannabis as a police officer, I mean obviously here in the Austin area, there’s a lot of cannabis in the area. It’s what it’s known for. You encounter it constantly. I had arrested a lot of people for cannabis and was pretty indifferent about it. I didn’t really have an opinion as far as like I was saving the world or anything like that. It was kind of like, just doing my job, but it was easy and finding people with cannabis in Austin is easy. And so-

Ian:                  Buyer’s market.

Phil:                 When I had my own breakdown, I guess I would call it, at the beginning of 2019. Had some suicidal ideations, and that was the last day that I worked. I went home and called my doctor and left work. I went out on medical leave and then after a period of time ended up deciding that I didn’t want to be a police officer anymore. After I had resigned, it was actually pretty soon after, because of the time that I spent on medical leave was a few months and then by the time I actually resigned and was officially no longer a police officer anymore, I had the opportunity to use a cannabis tincture.

                        The effects that I got from that made such a massive difference. Because I had PTSD, still have PTSD, is something obviously that I still struggle with and work on all the time. But at the time, my chief symptoms were a lot of anger, a lot of irritability, a lot of anxiety, all those things that anybody that’s dealt with PTSD, especially now. A lot of the people I know that I’ve met through the veteran community and with the cannabis community have a lot of the same stories with their experiences. And that’s where I found such a community, was with the veterans that I met through Texas Veterans for Medical Marijuana.

Ian:                  A lot of acronyms, just like in the military. Yeah.

Phil:                 Yes. Yeah. Exactly.

Ian:                  Were there certain events that that correlate to your leaving the police force as far as you know, like this PTSD, or like you said, suicidal ideations, or was there something specific that connected you to cannabis or is this… How does that kind of path go?

Phil:                 My understanding of it now is so much clearer than it was obviously at that time. At the time the problem that I believe it was PTSD and the conditions of the workplace had led to this. If I stayed, I was going to end up killing myself. I was also drinking myself to death at the same time. That was another big problem was, as a police officer, my only options was either if I go tell my doctor I’m suicidal, what are they going to do? The first thing they’re going to do is you’ll be removed from duty. I mean.

Ian:                  Yeah, yeah.

Phil:                 You’re most likely, especially if you tell anybody at work, “Hey, I’ve not been feeling good. I think I have PTSD. And then you get labeled and-

Ian:                  The same thing in the military, right?

Phil:                 Yes.

Ian:                  Is that you’re compromising your job, your pay, your rank, all that stuff. Exactly. So, everyone’s dis-incentivized from seeking treatment.

Phil:                 The advantage for me in leaving and I think it’s the way that I was able to successfully do it, was that my identity wasn’t tied up in that job. It was a part of my identity, but it wasn’t my entire identity. I had a lot of support from outside the job. A lot of people, the way it can alienate you from friends and family. A lot of times the only people that police officers associate with are other police officers. I mean, I can only tell my own story and experience, but now looking back at a lot of those friendships. Those weren’t friends, they’re people I knew, people I worked with, and they’re people I could get drunk with and talk about that stuff and just wallow in it, but I didn’t know any different.

                        That part of the PTSD from the job, as I understood it then, I thought that was the whole problem. As I progressed through this journey, I mean, I start with cannabis and I found cannabis to be hugely beneficial, just as far as day-to-day functioning. Especially with anxiety, and irritability, interacting with my family. That was the biggest thing. I could go out, we could go out to a restaurant, we could go to the grocery store. We could start doing everyday life things that most people take for granted, people that don’t have PTSD because people don’t understand what being in those conditions is like. And you don’t want to have a blow up in public, in the middle of the grocery store, end up causing a scene, getting the police called on you, something like that. A lot of people with PTSD, especially veterans and former police officers and first responders, they isolate. And that was my default was to isolate and drink.

Ian:                  Because you got to quarantine yourself, right? From these experiences you’re having that you’re saying aren’t getting processed in the Whole way you guys are operating.

Phil:                 Yeah. And if you seek treatment, you risk losing your job, or you risk losing your position, or getting labeled. I already know my options when I go to the doctor, they’re going to want to put me on antidepressants, which I’ve done. I’ve been on a number of them and same thing with anxiety. I don’t want to be on Benzos. I know what that does. I know what it does to your brain and how it’s not a short-term thing. So, I don’t want to be fried on Benzos and I don’t want to lose my job. But then, once I started realizing how little of my true identity was tied to that person who I thought was me, that’s where I started distancing and when I finally understood I can leave this and leave it behind clean.

                        But, cannabis just was really for day to day, it also made and makes me much more compassionate, much more patient. Perfect example, on my way over here to record, you notice, I might’ve been running a few minutes late. I stopped at the Walgreens up the road a ways and ran in. I figured I was five minutes early. So I was like, “I’ll be perfect on time. I’ll just run in and grab something.” And so I go in, and of course, there’s a line and I just grabbed a drink and a few snacks. I’m standing there waiting and I finally get to the front and the lady in front of me is paying, she’s paying with loose change.

                        And by this time I’m already running behind, and I thought about that in that moment, I thought about my old self, the person I used to be, and then the person I am now. I’m not saying I didn’t get frustrated and I didn’t start to go there, but I’ve also now have the tools to catch it and I understand where it comes from. I’m looking at her counting the change and then the clerks counting it and it’s taking forever and I’m just trying to go. I look a little closer and I realize it’s a lady she’s buying medicine, like children’s Tylenol or something like that, a little thing.

                        Before I would have just gotten mad thinking about myself. Now I look across, I look at this lady and see who she is, see her and feel empathy. That’s what cannabis does for me. I’m able to slow down and love people. I mean, really. I see that person, I’m like, “This lady’s paying for a kid’s medicine with loose change, and I’m in a rush to record a podcast. I mean, that’s not important”, but I can see that in that moment and I can catch myself.

                        That’s the huge thing that I had with cannabis. And like I said, alcohol was a massive part of my life. It was when I was a cop and then it was when I wasn’t and I would say that towards the end of my career, probably the last four or five years, there wasn’t a day that I didn’t get drunk. There wasn’t a single night that I didn’t get drunk because it was all I had. It was my only tool. And unfortunately, again, as people with PTSD, or more specifically people, family members or loved ones understand, is what it’s like to live with somebody like that.

                        It’s miserable because, it’s easiest to treat the people that are closest to you, the worst, especially when you’re an abusive person and I can see now, like with how angry I was and how reactive I was. I just didn’t see it. You don’t see it when you’re in it. It’s like one of those you don’t know until you know, and then you see it. Alcohol continued a year after, actually to the day, coincidentally, I continued to drink alcohol a full year after I had left and I was also using cannabis, which actually reduced my alcohol consumption significantly.

Ian:                  What did that open up for you? Because you’re talking about in the way of tools, right? You’re using this culturally approved tool, alcohol. Said you guys weren’t using it to process, you’re sharing the information about the tough stuff on the job, but you’re not necessarily processing it. Like you said, you’re wallowing in it. So, you start to access cannabis at the same time and it starts to down regulate the amount of alcohol and what does that? Yeah.

Phil:                 Yeah. And they call it, the police term for that would be choir practice. They call it choir practice. The old school guys always talk about like, “Oh, back in the day.” And these are the guys that would be retired now, but they would always say, “Oh, back in the day, we used to have choir practice. On our Friday, we’d get off and take the beer that we took from the kids overnight and meet up at the ball park and have choir practice.” And they’d drink the beer that they took from the kids and then drive home in their police cars. That’s a legit thing, guys brag about that, but the discussions that went on in choir practice or in any kind of social drinking stuff is not the therapeutic type. It’s more of the bragging, and BS-ing, and a lot of ego inflation type of stuff.

Ian:                  Got it. Well, we know then how these substances can be used to influence group’s behavior and want to give people the coffee and the cigarettes so they’ll work hard and pay attention. You said it took you a year on alcohol after you’d gotten out to be finished with that and just to-

Phil:                 To finally completely put down alcohol, I finally had gained the clarity to realize how destructive it was both to my health, mental health and wellbeing, and my physical health. When I was still a cop, I was starting to have a lot of serious medical problems. I’m 40, but at the time I was probably 35, 36 and they did some, a bunch of medical tests and stuff. My triglycerides were over 2000, I think a hundred is high, and that’s all alcohol. It’s straight up alcohol, but then all my cholesterol, all that kind of stuff. I mean, from then until now I’ve lost 50 pounds.

                        The next step after cannabis and the benefits of that, and then reduction in alcohol consumption. It significantly reduced my consumption. I think, at my high point I was drinking… My drink of choice in my worst times was Popov vodka, plastic bottle vodka. And I started buying that because there was like some Playboy podcast or not podcast, Playboy YouTube video of somebody that’s reviewing plastic bottle vodkas blindfolded, right? And he got to Popov because I think we were drinking some other like cheap vodka, you know?

Mark:               Some Skol or McCormicks. Those were my go-to’s during the alcoholism.

Phil:                 As long as you can squeeze the bottle to get it into the cup faster. But this Playboy thing, the liquor expert was like, “Popov, oh, this stuff. This is pretty good.” So, I started drinking it because it’s not bad. It wasn’t bad. My drink of choice was Topo Chico or some kind of sparkling water and fill up one of those big insulated Yeti cups about half full of vodka, half full of water and some lime and have four of those in a night and that was for years.

                        I reduced my drinking to maybe a couple of drinks a night during that year after I had left and I had started being able to medicate with cannabis. But the big thing was, when I left was in January of 2019, I think it was January 23rd if I want to say exactly, but January 23rd the following year exactly after is when I stopped drinking. And that wasn’t on purpose, it just happened that way because at the beginning of the year, my wife somehow convinced me to go to a yoga class with her. It was actually a new year’s day yoga class. What was that?

Ian:                  Was Alexa trying to jump in there somewhere?

Phil:                 She’s listening.

Ian:                  Or the lizard people, there’s multiple options, right?

Mark:               Yes.

Phil:                 Where was I? Yoga.

Mark:               Popov vodka!

Phil:                 We can go back to Popov. So yeah, my wife convinced me to go to a yoga class and I think I was, my condition at the time, because I was still drinking and it was decent. I was in an okay place, but I certainly wasn’t on any healing path. It was kind of like status quo at that point. And I don’t know why I agreed to go, man I must’ve been feeling nice and generous.

Mark:               Was it the hot yoga, so that the Popov is just like leaking out of your body during it.

Phil:                 Actually, coincidentally, it was a yoga Nidra class, which is kind of like an odd ball thing that not many people know about. It’s like yoga sleep. It’s a real quiet meditative thing.

Mark:               Is that where you’re kind of bringing your attention to different parts of the body?

Phil:                 Yeah. That’s exactly what it is. And it’s a quiet, soothing voice. It’s like a guided meditation, but it’s almost a state between waking and sleep. It’s not sleeping, you have awareness, but you’re pretty disconnected if it works right. That was the class we went to and that was on January 1st. It was on new year’s day of 2020. Anybody that knew me before knows that’s not me, to go to yoga and I had all the typical misconceptions. Yoga was a bunch of thin women’s stretching and that was it. I thought it was a women’s exercise class. Because my wife had done yoga in the past, but I just thought it was a women’s exercise thing, like an aerobics class or something.

                        I didn’t know the history of yoga. I didn’t really know anything. So I went in, this blank canvas, and that first time I guess you say it’s like getting a peek behind the curtain. I didn’t know what it was, but now I just see it as that was just a little hint of peace. And for somebody like me, I suffer a lot anxiety, a lot of anxiety just around being a perfectionist, not being good enough, all this kind of stuff, performance and just stressed about stuff, lose sleep. That was the other thing about cannabis, especially. Cannabis enabled me to sleep. I was having nightmares, would wake up completely sweating, head to toe. Yeah, violent nightmares, repetitive stuff, like real graphic vivid stuff. That was, especially with alcohol, I would just try to get myself drunk enough to go to sleep and not have to wake up to those. But, you get so used to the default being a mild hangover at a minimum.

                        And that’s what I found when I quit drinking was like, “Wow, I don’t have to make so many excuses, like blaming it on allergies.” You know, in the Austin area the allergies are horrible. And so it’s like, “Oh, it must be my allergies is why I have this headache today.”

                        The yoga class, that was my first taste of… It was like, I guess the Sanskrit term, Shanti. That it was a taste of peace. And I was like, “What is this?”

                        So, I started going to regular yoga classes, going to Vinyasa flow classes, and some restorative stuff. I found during Shavasana, the corpse pose, the final resting pose, I was waiting to get there because I want to see it again. I want to touch it again and I want to whatever it is. And of course, I don’t have a vocabulary for any of this at the time because I don’t know what it is. I’m not seeing this as some kind of spiritual experience or spiritual practice at that point. I was completely closed off to something like that. But just getting that quiet mind, that’s really what was such a draw.

                        That was January 1st and somewhere around the 20th to 23rd, that’s the last drink I had. And it was just a, “I’m not drinking anymore. I’m not doing this.” And that was again, the yoga gave me something to do instead of sitting at my kitchen table, drinking vodka, watching YouTube, or whatever. Instead of this nightly routine of getting drunk, it became going to yoga class. That went, and I found a lot of benefit. I mean, just overall, physically. Obviously, like I said, I’ve lost 50 pounds and I didn’t think I had 50 pounds to lose. I’ve started gaining a little bit back, but it’s healthy. It’s again, gaining more balance, which obviously yoga is just brings everything into balance is what I’ve found now.

                        So, once I was doing yoga, not drinking, and able to use cannabis, I started getting a lot more balance in my life, but it would kind of be in these cycles to where I would think, “Yeah, things are good.” And I’d fall off, I’d blow up, I’d get suicidal again and kind of do this cycle. And like David Bass, who I met through Texas NRML, Texas Veterans for Medical Marijuana, like when he was on your podcast and he’s talked about the veteran Olympics, that’s something that resonated because it’s like, that’s exactly what it is. It’s like, you, you go and it’s like every time you’re just back. You find yourself back again.

Mark:               Oh yeah. The PTSD Olympics.

Phil:                 Yeah, that’s what it was. I’m sorry. Did I say veteran Olympics?

Mark:               Yeah, its okay.

Phil:                 PTSD Olympics, I’m three steps ahead of my words. But the PTSD Olympics to where you’re in this trench. Before I understand again, a Sanskrit term like samskaras, these pathways and it’s almost like neural pathways, are these effects of things that have happened in the past and you fall into these patterns. I never recognized the patterns before until once I, again, you don’t know until you know, and then you start seeing it.

Mark:               Alcohol definitely clouds the patterns, seeing the patterns.

Phil:                 Yeah. Again, I was in this cycle where I would kind of fall back off and I wouldn’t feel good and then I would get my feet back under me. But that gets old after you do it a few times and you start thinking, the point I was at probably by last summer, I was kind of at the point at the end of the summer. I’d been working as doing contractor stuff, handyman stuff, making good enough money. That wasn’t an issue and we had taken a couple trips, we’d go to Colorado, go to the mountains, go camping, all this like cool shit. Stuff that you’re supposed to be happy at and I’m still not drinking, but by then the pandemic had kicked off, and really started a lot of isolation. So, I wasn’t able to practice in studio.

                        And what I understand now is again, even at that time, I was too proud to admit that I needed community, that I needed just to relate with other people, and needed to love people and have them love me. And just those interactions with people with a common, just positive thing going. Whatever it is, whatever you want to call it, but that community and when the pandemic started and they stopped, they shut the studios down, they shut the gyms down, they shut the yoga studios down. I was even practicing before they shut down. We were starting to practice in masks, which is really hard to do when you’re doing, pranayama breathing exercises and all kinds of stuff, and you got a mask on your face, and I’ve got a beard. So, its riding around on my face and it’s just awkward.

                        But I was even willing, I didn’t care. I was like, “I need this. This is something that I need.” Studios closed and I started falling off again because, you try to practice at home, but it’s just not the same. I can’t find that disconnect to where I can just let go. And that’s what it is. It’s really letting go. I started falling off again and I just wasn’t again, here we go with this cycle. It was a rough summer, when the yoga studios and gyms opened back up again, I guess in August, I think they may have opened limited type stuff. Came up, they were going to host a yoga teacher training and it was like, “Man, this yoga has been like really good for me and being away from it has been tough.”

                        We said, “Forget about it. We’ll just put it on a credit card, we don’t have the cash. Well, we’ll just put it on a card, not worry about it and go do this teacher training. It’s going to give me something to do, give me a goal. Maybe this is it.”

                        So, I started that training just blank. I just liked doing yoga. I found some peace in it, but still I was hostile to any idea of spiritual stuff. I had some hangups from I was raised not religious, but now that I understand how lost I was like as a teenager and as a young adult, which I just didn’t acknowledge at the time. I experimented with Christianity, with what you would consider a modern Western Christianity, conservative, that whole kick. That was in my early twenties, maybe 23 to when I was a police officer for a while, we were still going, doing the church thing. I had some hang ups on that, like a lot of people do.

                        I was hostile to spiritual stuff. I didn’t really consider it, but on the book list for the yoga teacher training was anatomy stuff and yoga books, but then there was also the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, and I’m like, “Oh, what is this?” And I think that the book is, obviously a translation, because it’s all written in Sanskrit and the sutras are real brief. This book is, I think it’s called The Path of the Yoga Sutras, Bachman. I got the book and I was like, “Ah, whatever.” I started looking at it like maybe two weeks before-

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:31:04]

Phil:                 … book. And I was like, “Ah whatever.” And so I started looking at it maybe two weeks before the class started. Right when I got the book list, I ordered them and got the books. And so I started looking through this book and reading it, really casually dismissing it and just like, “Let me look at what this stuff is. I know what the anatomy book is and whatever.” And so when I started reading it, I started seeing descriptions of things that I had been experiencing through yoga, but just didn’t have the vocabulary for. And so that’s when I started saying, “What is this? What am I doing?” And so from there, that’s what really increased, I would just say my awareness or the way I perceived a lot of the things that yoga was doing. So during that time now I’ve got cannabis, no alcohol, yoga. And I had started-

Ian:                  So you got the practice, you got the medicine, you got the manual. You got all three of those things together now.

Phil:                 And so in the meantime, I had also come across some stuff about micro-dosing psilocybin. And so, especially with treatment of depression and that kind of stuff. And so, I tried micro-dosing for probably a month, maybe doing real small, a 10th of a gram or something like that and I didn’t really notice anything. I mean, just things seemed to be the same. Then I had started experimenting with taking larger doses of psilocybin. Nothing too heavy, but started experiencing that and found psilocybin enabled me to, I guess I would say be more empathetic, but I guess empathy isn’t a big enough word. I don’t know that there would be a proper word for how it opened me up.

Ian:                  Well, more connected, right? And it was not only just feeling the feelings of other people, but feeling connected to them as well or more to the whole.

Phil:                 And so again, it was just another pathway that I’ve started finding these changes in my own self and my personality and started. And that’s where ego starts reducing. And through this whole time, I mean, my wife and I are real close. We’ve been married over 20 years. We’ve been through all this together and she stood by me when she should have left me, but she’s been there the whole time. So she’s an instrumental part in the growth of this journey. It feels like she’s finally getting the real person who she deserved from the beginning and was deprived of through no fault of any of our own, but that further on in the story. We do therapy together. My talk therapy rather than with a therapist who, because I’ve tried talk therapy with a therapist, I’ve talked to psychiatrists, psychologists, whatever, and it’s always hard to have any kind of trusting relationship to really be able to tell somebody what you think or what you feel.

                        And I found most of the time when I talked to those kind of people, I just told them what I thought they wanted to hear. And most of the time it was the typical western idea of, I just want to get to this psychiatrist so they’ll give me the antidepressants. I won’t be depressed anymore. And I don’t really want to do the talk therapy. I just want the drug that’s going to make me feel better. Which of course it didn’t. Those drugs they have a lot of bad side effects, particularly for your sex drive, weight gain, all the kind of things that-

Ian:                  Suicidal ideation.

Phil:                 Yeah. It’s funny that when you’re suicidal, they give you a antidepressant that one of the listed side effects is suicidal ideations. Especially, it also says don’t mix with alcohol, but we seem to be good at that, at least I was.

                        I guess back to talking-

Ian:                  No, you’ve got your practice, you got your manual, you got your medicine, you got your spiritual battle, buddy. So right?

Phil:                 So that’s where this journey really started taking off. And so, deeper understanding, lessening the ego, and through these practices, start to come to a deeper understanding of self. I finally got to the point right around just before Christmas this year that I was like, “I think I’m broken or something,” where I was finding peace, I was finding stuff, but it was still those samskaras. I was falling back into those pathways or those cycles and being a victim to them. I was seeing myself as a victim of my life. And that’s really what… When you’re stuck in that victim mentality, all you see is victim-hood and all you perpetuate is victim-hood. That’s why like the police stuff and even the PTSD stuff is such a small part of my story.

                        I didn’t see it then. You don’t see it then when you’re in it. But now with my awareness, my understanding, my seeing a lot more of the big picture, that clarity. It’s like, “How did I not see it? How did I not see?” And I really want to say my major awakening, whatever you want to call it came after. And so during this time I had also started introducing LSD. And the third time that I did LSD… The strange thing about LSD for me, my personal experience is that it was like a different substance each time. These are three gel tabs off the same strip from the same everything. It’s legit. And so [inaudible] the same substance, but three different experiences are vastly different drugs and vastly different experiences.

                        And I understand now it’s because the medicine was giving me what I was nearly capable of understanding at the time. But with that, it took a lot of work. But I mean for me, really LSD was the most, I guess, visceral would be the right word. I’ve seen some of the stuff they say about the toad and that stuff. I don’t know because I don’t have that experience, but LSD was very visceral and it was very real.

                        But the first time I did LSD, the first probably half was just a good time. I mean, I felt good. It was a nice time. I felt light, had a good laugh, a lot of good connection and an enjoyable time. And then I don’t know, the four-hour mark hit and it was like, “It’s time to do work.” And it got, I won’t say dark, but-

Ian:                  Shadow work.

Phil:                 … but challenging. It got challenging. But that first time, so the best way I can describe it was I felt from the perspective of my own family, my wife and children, the people I love. I experienced the trauma of my own suicide. And I experienced the emotional weight of that. And so it was like a total breakdown. I mean, total emotional breakdown, sobbing just for probably 30 minutes, 45 minutes. And it was like, “Now I get it.” And so, I mean, I’ll say that experience and that understanding really was a great tool in fighting suicidal ideation. I won’t say it completely solved it, but it gave me such a clear perspective. And then when I’m able to reevaluate through that lens and see more clearly, it can take me out of it. And so in some of these experiences and journeys I’m receiving, I don’t know, I guess you’d call them messages. Some stuff that makes sense and some stuff that doesn’t. And really where I found was the integration practice where I was really able to decode that stuff.

                        And some of it, I mean, it’s six months later. Six months later, I mean today, I can’t tell you… I mean, it’s daily realizations that my wife and I… I mean, we’re on our way out of Texas. We need to leave Texas for a multitude of reasons. We’ve sold our house and we’ve got a little tiny bit of downtime in between this stuff. And so we’re spending these mornings just talking and just experiencing stuff. It’s special. It’s a special time. Now I got lost to where I was going with it before, but having that connection and being able to decode some of the things and just have continued re-evaluation of a lot of experiences, but I would say the last LSD experience about six months ago, just before the New Year’s, because I felt like I need something.

                        And that’s where I said I was at a place where I was like, “I can’t get it. Something’s wrong. I think I’m broken because I feel like I have the PTSD stuff pretty well under control and I still keep falling off.” And every time it would be back to the bottom. Isolation, no alcohol. I haven’t relapsed on alcohol one time, but isolation and darkness. And it would just go to, because you’re so used to dealing in those such negative spaces and you’re used to being there, it’s easy to go back. And that’s the common experience I found with a lot of veterans that I’ve talked to, people. And that’s what’s cool about the veteran community is they’re so open.

                        There’s so many people that are so open about their stuff and it gives you hope when you’re like, “Okay, that guy was doing good a while ago, but he’s doing pretty bad now.” But then he’s doing good. You see other people’s cycles, but you’re able to help each other through it again and that was that community aspect, that community aspect that’s missing from so much.

Ian:                  Wow. So you’re able to get these, excuse me, cosmic downloads and keep them in your source drive. And then they naturally flow down to you in future connections. And then you’re able to process them, integrate them into your life and enjoy the simplest things available.

Phil:                 Yeah. And that’s really what it is, it’s that all the cliche stuff, the living in the moment and all that stuff. I mean, it’s true. And especially that I’m not such a hard person anymore. I can stop and appreciate it, but my biggest breakthrough I would say as far as decoding this whole thing was when I finally came to the realization, and this again was aided by LSD and some of that stuff that I downloaded but didn’t understand, was able to be decoded and really reaching back further when I had the realization that when I had my breakdown and really got suicidal and ended up leaving. That’s when… I’m trying to think of the best way to say it.

                        I’m not sure of the best way. Let’s come back to it.

Ian:                  Well, you’re on this path now where you have the tools that you didn’t have before and the support system and the motivation, enthusiasm, the life force. And yeah.

Phil:                 Where I was going was the realization was that when I was broken, when I finally thought I was broken, I was supervising a criminal investigations unit. So a unit of detectives that specialized in persons crimes. And so there was a lot of child abuse stuff. There was a lot of exposure to stuff. It’s different than for patrol officers because you get to see the full story. You get to see the whole backstory, the families and all that stuff. And I finally came to the realization, my big breakthrough was that break as a police officer and thinking that my nervous breakdown was the PTSD was really response to stuff that was way further back in my own past that through the busy-ness life, because I knew something was broken in me back when I was a teenager.

                        But you get into the adult life and you get married and have kids and a job and you get busy and all of it. That was something that was messed up in me and it finally broke through that. And so seeing that and understanding how being a victim of abuse as a child really fucks you up. And it’s like, “Now I get it.” But with that realization and the full weight of that came the realization of how I treat my own kids. And so the most instrumental thing in this all was those conversations that I had with my children. I had to sit my kids down and apologize. I would spank my kids and I always used the excuse that like, “Oh, well I got my ass beat when I was a kid and I turned out fine.” I mean, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that.

                        And now with my understanding of so much more and gaining the reduction of ego, but the reduction of ego is what allowed me to admit my own abusive tendencies. But the amazing thing is the timing of this and the age of my own children. I can still make a difference. I can still have a positive impact on my kids and they can not repeat this process, this brokenness, this darkness that gets passed from generation to generation, this anger, this violence, and it’s all too common. Again, you don’t know until you know, and now I see it. I see such a bigger picture of why where my stuff comes from. I mean, really my message is it takes work.

                        But now the relationship with my family and my kids, I mean, it’s night and day. And it was like that day that I had the realization and all that happened and I confronted it. Like you said, shadow work. They talk about shadow work, but it is really confronting that stuff. And so now the last six months have been just processing it and really digging deep and understanding me and understanding what’s damaged and understanding where it comes from. Now it’s the realization that it’s not… You don’t get better, you don’t get rid of it, because it doesn’t go away, but it’s that reprogramming. Those samskaras, those deep imprints. The more you reprogram your own everything. And there’s a lot of science behind all this too.

                        It’s not just what people say, woo-woo stuff and for me what’s so remarkable is that I’m not that guy. I don’t believe in this stuff. I don’t believe in this stuff, but I’m living it. And that’s what was like when I finally had the realization of what was going on, especially the connection to yoga. It’s just like, you can’t make this shit up. And I don’t believe in it, but here I am. And I can say, I mean, it was funny when things started really coming from all directions and I was making a lot of discoveries, I’m trying to write this stuff down. I need to write this down. I see myself, I’m like that guy… What’s the guy with the map and the points on the map and all these strings connecting the characters.

Ian:                  Some red yarn tying everything all together.

Phil:                 And I’m thinking, “People think I’m crazy anyway.” If I’m trying to explain it like a crazy person, they’re really going to think I’m crazy. It’s just it is what it is. The only proof I need is the proof that’s at home with the people I love, my relationship with them. Just the difference with all that. But it’s been work. I see stuff online, like YouTube videos and people say this one thing, because psychedelics are having a huge resurgence and there’s popularity, but it’s also you have to be ready to do the work. And if you’re not, you’re going to end up in a bad place. If I didn’t have the tools that I had to decode a lot of this stuff and gain the understanding, it’s just work. It’s being willing to do the work.

                        And I don’t think there’s any one ingredient in this that it would come out the same if I was missing any of it. And of course every journey is the individual’s and I feel like there’s a lot of pathways. There’s a lot of pathways to peace. It’s just a matter of finding your own, but I mean, there’s a lot of hope. So that’s where I’m at now. I’m ready. I’m just finishing up that yoga teacher training program. And so I’ve had a lot of inspiration with that and we’re going on the road.

Ian:                  Yeah. Where are you going to move to?

Phil:                 We don’t know. We don’t know.

Ian:                  Where are you going to head to?

Phil:                 We’re hitting Colorado first. Do Rocky Mountain National Park and explore around.

Ian:                  And hit all the dispensaries, we know.

Phil:                 Yeah. I think we’ll drift around Colorado a little bit and then it’s really no reservations. No plans, no itinerary. We’re going to try to do Disneyland if it’s possible. So we might [crosstalk] Los Angeles.

Ian:                  [crosstalk] How’s this, let’s make up a fictitious state. We don’t even have to give it a cannabis themed name or medicine, but if you’re leaving this state to go explore others and we’re supposed to have these laboratories of democracy, what would be either your criteria for going to the state or maybe your utopian [inaudible] dream?

Phil:                 I mean, certainly a requirement, a definite requirement is a state that has a legitimate medical marijuana program and that you can home cultivate with.

Ian:                  Okay. If it has a list of conditions, does that satisfy or do you want to be able to have full discretion with your doctor?

Phil:                 I’d like to have full discretion.

Ian:                  Okay. So then you said right to grow.

Phil:                 Yes, absolutely.

Ian:                  How many plants?

Phil:                 Ideally?

Ian:                  Yeah, really.

Phil:                 Six in flower. Is that Colorado is six in flower?

Ian:                  I know in Colorado they’d recently reduced it actually from the original numbers, but… Okay, so right to grow and you have to be, if it’s a medical or a recreational, is that any different for you? I know you can get more plants if you’re medical. If you go to another state, are you going to look into being a medical patient or just go rec?

Phil:                 Medical patient. Yeah, absolutely.

Ian:                  [crosstalk] That’s the way to get the good medicine. Yeah.

Phil:                 Right to grow I think is a big thing. I’m a gardener. I’ve grown my own tomatoes for, I don’t know, 20 years. I love planting tomatoes every summer. I like growing peppers.

Ian:                  So the gardening kept you alive. I see.

Phil:                 And yeah, gardening’s a huge thing. There’s a lot of peaceful really cool gardeners.

Ian:                  Yeah. How do we explain this to people? Gardening and getting to grow the plants specifically as well can be a really therapeutic thing. People have cats and dogs and they take care of them, but plants are things you can take care of and work with too.

Phil:                 Also that connection with the earth and that’s a yoga thing. But that grounding, that connection, getting out there, getting your hands dirty. But it also teaches patients. You see the lifecycle of a plant. You see that cycle that you can… You make something positive with it. It’s rewarding. You get to the end and it’s not just an activity that you did, a hobby, it’s a hobby with a reward. And so with cannabis, if you’re able to grow your own medicine, you have your hobby, which is therapeutic and aids with your medical condition, and you also have your medicine and homegrown medicine is always better. And so, something that has intention behind it, not something illegally imported from another state through unknown criminal means. I mean, what’s happening with any rejected cannabis from California when it comes positive for pesticides or mold or whatever?

Ian:                  Black market.

Phil:                 And I mean, it’s coming to Texas. Exactly. I mean, it’s from any of these states that, especially if they’re testing, that’s what a lot of people are getting and it’s going somewhere. That’s just common sense and somebody’s going to profit from it, but then the cartels, the way they profit from Texas. I mean, look at this place. Texas is a huge market and I mean, we’re not even talking about other illegal substances, we’re just talking about cannabis.

Ian:                  So if you go to another state, you’d have medical, you’d have a right to grow and ability to have full discretion with your doctor to agree upon what you to do to get a prescription. And what else? What around other medicines or other things with cannabis would…

Phil:                 Quite honestly, I’m not worried about government approval of other medicines. But I mean, obviously in Oakland, everything we hear, like I say, in the cannabis community and people that talk about this kind of stuff that I talk to, that’s all you heard was, “Oakland decriminalized. They decriminalized.” So you think it’s this natural medicine paradise.

Ian:                  But not exactly.

Phil:                 But then I listen to your podcast and it’s like, “Wait a second. There’s not only somebody with psilocybin mushrooms getting raided, but a church.” That’s interesting, the difference between what you hear in the news or what people talk about and the reality of it. Much like you hear of all this stuff, “Oh, they decriminalized in Austin.” And all this, just because the Austin City Council said they were going to deprioritize.

Ian:                  Yeah. Decrims can be a word that can be used lots of different ways, but you have in Oregon where they’ve said all drugs personal use are decriminalized, not even just natural medicines. So is that important to you for a state to have that? And I know California just introduced a bill I guess they’re going to consider next session for legalizing all these medicines statewide.

Phil:                 I think it’s the right direction. With Oregon, yeah I agree 100%. We need to stop wasting resources on jailing people and the drug war’s failed. It’s been failed, but there’s still people. There’s still adherence. There’s still true believers.

Ian:                  Yeah. What keeps the momentum going in the drug war?

Phil:                 Asset forfeiture.

Ian:                  Okay.

Phil:                 It’s a big business.

Ian:                  How’s this, instead of us just trying to dig into that because that’s such a massive topic, how would you like to see that changed, improved, modified?

Phil:                 To be reasonable and balanced on it, I can see how it might be beneficial in certain circumstances to have it, but the irresponsible use of it and-

Ian:                  Sounds like drugs.

Phil:                 But it’s even used in a punitive matter to where even, let’s say you had somebody in a law enforcement agency, because in Texas, Texas [inaudible] code of criminal procedure. It’s in there, the penal code, but it’s been a minute since I’ve read them. I mean, any felony drug case is going to qualify for asset forfeiture. So basically if want to paint you as a drug dealer, it’s like, “Oh, well, he had a scale and he had some bags and he had drugs, so he’s a drug dealer and he had some cash.” And so it’s real easy to paint things in a certain light.

Mark:               It’s okay to take his stuff now.

Ian:                  Yeah.

Phil:                 And so, yeah. And so they’ll take cars and it’s like, “Run the title. Do they own it?” They own it, take it. What about the Harley? Take it. What about the Ninja? Take it. What about all this sound equipment or these speakers or whatever, things of value, and then even the property. If somebody owns a property, is there some equity in it? Is it worth seizing? And then it goes to these hearings. These hearings that decide the disposition of the property. And most of the time it just goes back to people. And that’s in a lot of the cases that I’ve personally seen and experienced, it just goes back to people and it gets tied up. So it’s a lot like when they say, “We’re going to decriminalize cannabis,” or they make it a Class C misdemeanor. Well, Class C misdemeanor in Texas is still a arrestable offense.

                        You can be arrested for any Class C misdemeanor except speeding and open container. Those are the two laws you can’t be arrested for. You have to be offered a promise to appear, like a ticket. If you refuse to sign the ticket, you have to go before a judge, which means you get arrested. But you can be arrested in Texas for not using your turn signal. You can be arrested in Texas for having a brake light out. I mean, and it happens to people. So if you say cannabis is a Class C misdemeanor, but you have some old school true believer in some small town in Texas, you better believe they’re going to take people to jail. They’re going to tow their cars. They’re going to do all the hard things that they can do to you, and that’s going to continue with any criminalization of cannabis, particularly in Texas.

                        The unfortunate thing is Texas is going to drag their feet so long on this and then once big business gets involved, all of a sudden it’s going to be okay. Once they’ve written out all the small, independent growers and anything that would support real business here, not just corporations.

Ian:                  Well, we know our current president was a big architect of the drug sentencing, the three strikes you’re out and the disparities with crack cocaine and powder cocaine. What’s the reality here in Texas with cannabis flour and then this over-felonlization of the process where anything that’s concentrate is a felony?

Phil:                 Anything that’s not flour is a felony.

Ian:                  Yeah, exactly.

Phil:                 Anything. [crosstalk]. I mean, even the Kief in the bottom of your grinder. If you have a grinder that has the little screen-

Ian:                  If you press two trichomes together, you just made hash and you’re a felon.

Phil:                 You hear the high school kid… Where was that? In Cedar Park? I want to say it was in [crosstalk].

                        And it was a second degree felony because it was the aggregate weight of some cannabis brownies. It was probably made by kids. They probably didn’t decarboxylate the flour and they weren’t going to get high anyway. But I mean, it just shows you the absurdity of the law that somebody can have… They can take cannabis flour and have that same amount and in Texas under two ounces would be a Class B misdemeanor that’s punished by up to six months in jail. Usually people don’t go to jail for a Class B misdemeanor amount of cannabis, but there’s lots of exceptions. But generally in the Austin area, that’s not going to be a thing, but as soon as you take that same cannabis and put it in some brownies, it’s a felony and it’s the aggregate weight. So it’s a total weight. So this kid had these-

Mark:               Don’t forget the time you’re serving for the eggs, the chocolate chips.

Ian:                  The butter, the sugar.

Phil:                 Yeah. So it’s all of these ingredients and that kid.. I say kid, I think he was an adult. In Texas, 17 is an adult criminally, but he was looking at a second degree felony, which is up to 20 years in prison.

Ian:                  Which is worse than rape…

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [01:02:04]

Phil:                 Felony which is up to 20 years in prison.

Ian:                  Which is worse than raping somebody or probably some felonies.

Phil:                 Well-

Mark:               I think it was even more-

Phil:                 Well, and that brings up-

Mark:               I think it was up to… It was crazy, like 60, by the time they were done with it, if I remember right.

Phil:                 And, that brings up… You say it’s not like it’s rape, it’s like there’s so much focus on a lot of the things that we’re talking about, by law enforcement, but it’s been in the news all over the place. Austin had a real big thing in the news about the mishandling of rape kits in sexual assault cases and all these rape kits. It wasn’t even like there was mishandling. I know there was a lot of issues with the crime lab that they talked about in the media, but there were test kits not even getting tested. You have victims waiting and these are real human beings. But they’re willing to shoot a little stamp baggy that’s got a white residue in it. They’re willing to send that to the crime lab to test for cocaine because cocaine residue, any amount under a gram is going to be a stage L felony. But you can’t test a rape kit.

Mark:               Rape is not a big moneymaker for them.

Phil:                 Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Once that stuff came to light… But it’s almost like maybe cannabis will get a little traction with a lot of the social justice issues that are being raised right now. But like you said, with our president, I don’t think he’s open to changing federal law.

Ian:                  Well, what do you think needs to change here in Texas? If the cops are incentivized to pull people over with cannabis, especially concentrates, turn it into a felony, where they can do asset forfeiture and seize their car and seize other money, how do we fix that?

Phil:                 One thing would be stop letting them keep the money. I think a reasonable solution would be, if asset forfeiture did continue and maybe possibly in some kind of responsible manner, because I can see, certainly, circumstances where it would be necessary or beneficial, legitimate proceeds of cartels and stuff like that, multimillion dollar homes and stuff.

Ian:                  Sure, yeah. And if it’s going to the police force, it creates this incentive where they’re going to keep doing it as long as they can if it’s going to help fund them.

Phil:                 It’s usually a deal. From my experience and what I’ve known, is usually it’s the DA takes half. So the district attorney’s office or the county takes half. They split that with the department and then, those funds, because they’re not… It’s drug seizure funds. So drug seizure funds, they can buy stuff with it like gear or… I understand if you have a budget that’s short and you want military equipment or whatever kind of stuff. They use that for a lot. Or somebody crashes a car and it’s unexpected drug seizure funds.

Ian:                  I’m just trying to understand the incentives here. So the DA has a perverse incentive because if they have a… They’re supposed to be representing the interest of the state or the county or whatever, the citizens. If they making money from asset forfeiture, they have an incentive to go harder on the defendants because that’s going to affect their budget, just the same reason as the cops. So that puts the cops and the DA on the same side of the incentive algorithm.

Phil:                 I’d say you put that rather articulately. I can’t say who gets the money at the county. Is it the DA or is it the county or who?

Ian:                  Oh, so no, it’s like probation.

Phil:                 Yeah.

Ian:                  So they put someone on probation, the person who’s on probation pays the county. And [inaudible] it pays the state and then some of that money goes to the county. So, it’s like you get to be taxed by that county for part of that money. It’s all statutory for a certain amount of time. So-

Phil:                 Well, and then-

Ian:                  It’s like having someone live in your county part-time and pay county taxes without living there. It’s literally taxation without location, or co-location.

Phil:                 Well, and so, the drug seizure stuff, it gets even more interesting when you start with these task forces. And that’s a popular thing, is these task forces joining up with DEA. And so, again, it’s arrangements of how the money is going to get split up on seizures and stuff. So, they’ll want to raid, do a drug house or something when they know there’s a lot of cash there. And it’s funny because there’s usually not a lot of concern for how much drugs are there, but there is about how much cash is there.

                        But even with the DEA, so there’s federal resources going towards criminal cases in Texas where the DEA is working with local agencies and they have the way they cut these deals up. But typically, there’s agencies in this area that basically land officers to DEA task forces and then they go work with the task force. And again, they just cut the stuff up. They split the money up, so the federal government’s benefiting in those instances. I don’t know where the money goes, what happens to it, how it’s accounted for, but the money gets divided up. So a big part of this is money.

Ian:                  So there are at least these agencies are… Okay, when people talk about defund the police, we know that’s ridiculous. But if we say defund asset forfeiture, that actually sounds reasonable that you would get that incentive out of the system. Would cops, whether they’re true believers or not, would there still be an incentive if it was going to schools or hospitals or roads?

Phil:                 Well, your average cop doesn’t know anything about this stuff. This is narcotics unit, investigative stuff. Your average cop doesn’t know much about asset forfeiture. It’s a required class in the police academy, something they teach you and then you forget immediately. It’s more of a higher level investigative tool, I guess you’d say in finger quotes, higher level. But it’s used a lot. It’s used a lot and it’s really easy. If you think of it, if you read the statute, it’s a felony. So what about a felony DWI?

Ian:                  Sure. Okay. So, the Supreme Court justice, Gorsuch, recently said that almost every citizen in the United States has probably committed a felony in some time in their lives. So, with this over felonization through the laws, yeah, why are we risking people? You know what I’m saying? Having their lives ruined for, yeah, for money to keep the same departments going.

Phil:                 Yeah. And I’d have to look closer. I don’t know that state jail felonies qualify for asset forfeiture. I’d have to look to say for sure, but any cannabis that’s not flower is going to be a minimum of a state jail felony, so like those vape pens. And that’s another thing, all these Delta 8 cartridges that are floating around, that people say gets you high. I don’t know. I’ve not tried it. Because I’m sketched about what might be in them.

Mark:               I tried it, they get you high.

Phil:                 And so that’s the thing is, what’s really in them? I’d like to see a true lab report from somebody reputable, because again, and this is the result of an illegal market. You have a black market where people just want, they want to alter their state of consciousness for whatever reason it is, whether it’s a medical reason or because they’re an adult and they can do that responsibly. And now, they’re turning to unsafe means, and that was the whole, the vaping crisis with the stuff. They found it was limited to those certain number of all black market stuff. If you have stuff that’s going through legitimate dispensaries from trusted sources, it’s a different story.

Ian:                  So, if you’re, let’s say, the mayor, or some level where you would have police working for you and you could change that asset forfeiture law, because you’re going to have to be the same person explaining to these people. Like you said, it’s more in the narcotics or drug enforcement division. So, yeah. Where would you send that money to and what would you tell them?

Phil:                 I think a reasonable thing would be to send it to a general fund of, say, the city or, say, the county. And I’m not going to pretend that I have a lot of faith in any level of government-

Ian:                  Sure, sure, sure. At least it would be an alignment. In other words, the state is the one prosecuting these cases, going into a general fund is fine too. Because that’s what you’re saying. Public safety is the reason we’re going out to these people.

Phil:                 Yeah. Removing the direct profitability of it. So where it’s a direct benefit to that department and a direct benefit to certain people. And that could even be down to individual officers. Let’s say you’re working in a narcotics unit and you’re making a lot of seizures and a lot of money is coming in. And all of a sudden, you always have a lot of nice trucks to drive with a lot of nice equipment that you get, and a lot of nice night vision and military type stuff. But cool toys would be basically what it comes down to. And if your budget sucks because it’s mismanaged or whatever, and you can blame whoever you want when budgets don’t work. But, I’ll give you an example of why, if some police officers are listening, and why they might not understand.

                        I was driving in Round Rock a few weeks ago and traffic was all snarled up, it was a big mess. And we got up to this intersection and there had been a crash that was cleared, but I don’t know what they were sitting there for, crash investigation or whatever, but there was four Round Rock police cars, four. And there was two on each side of the road. And this was on Chandler Road, which at that point, is our university. It’s a one lane road in each direction. So this is no passing, no nothing. And these guys are parked up by the intersection and there’s four cops.

                        And I’ve worked a lot of crashes, so I know how this stuff works, but there’s four guys and they’re not directing traffic and traffic’s just snarled and it’s a total mess. And they’re just standing there talking, and there’s not a supervisor. And I can say, as a former supervisor, I would find that to be unacceptable. But, this is what people see. And that’s just a minor example of the wastefulness in government. You could go to any city department in any city in this country and see the wastefulness of government. So, they say defund the police. Which, of course, I think the reality of that is ridiculous. My wife had an incident, because you hear stuff downtown, “Oh, the homeless problem has gotten really bad.” Or whatever term you want to use.

                        But, my wife takes our daughter downtown for her birthday and to stay in a hotel and have a nice girls weekend. And, the first thing they see is a half naked man going down the middle of Second Street in Austin. Now, I’ve been in Austin [crosstalk]

Ian:                  Happened on Sixth Street-

Phil:                 I’ve been in Austin for 15 years. Second Street’s always been really nice, when they really cleaned up that area down there, and they built those high-rises. That was a really nice area. Now, there’s not a cop to be seen. And there’s a homeless man, screaming at people, being legitimately scary, somebody that needs help. So, you say, defund the police. And I don’t think the police are the right person to deal with that. So, that’s defund the police, take that responsibility away from them. But that doesn’t… That guy might get dangerous.

Ian:                  Sure. So let’s say that we can take the drug war part of it out of there. And so, with the asset forfeiture, so they’re not going after to create drug defendants and to get those monies, you then… Okay, less money for the budgets, but then you could have smaller forces and they could focus on, obviously, other things we want to care about, violent crime and rape kits and stuff like that. So, how much smaller could a force be if you take out the drug war?

Phil:                 Well, and you hear police officers say constantly, because I’ve heard it. I’m sure I’ve said it. We’re not social workers. We’re not social workers. We’re not social workers. But police officers are social workers. They’re the epitome of social workers. They’re there to solve people’s problems. When you call 911 and need help, or when you pick up the phone, you need help, the police come, regardless of what that is. And there’s the reality of that.

Ian:                  So, how do we go from there?

Phil:                 I don’t know… I think I got lost in the weeds again.

Ian:                  No, that’s good. This is super deep, man.

Mark:               Let’s say you, people find out Walmart is selling some clothing that’s been made with slave labor, sweat shops or something-

Ian:                  They wouldn’t do that.

Mark:               You boycott Walmart and they take it off the shelves and apologize, and things happen rather quickly. But when things are funded via taxation or asset forfeiture, you don’t have a lot of responsibility to your customer or your clientele at that point.

Phil:                 Current policing in America is, it’s actually in direct violation of the principles of policing. If you look, Sir Robert Peel, the father of modern policing, the father of the English bobbies, came up with the municipal police force in London, the first organized police force, and all this stuff. And that was the principle, is the police are of the people. But if you see, police now just resent the people, and police now just abuse the people.

Mark:               And the people resent the police.

Phil:                 And, so the connection’s been lost where the police aren’t of the community. And this is evident in this thin blue line stuff. And, I was always sensitive to that. Again, because I said, I never really associated my whole identity as being a police officer. So I always thought the thin blue line, I’m like, “Gosh, that sounds like…” They say the thin blue line of silence. People don’t get that. So, I was always sensitive to that, so I got it. But, sometimes I just don’t get it. I don’t know where I was going. Oh, oh, to go back to the asset forfeiture, the defund the police, all that stuff-

Ian:                  Yeah, just budgeting. What should the police… Here’s a question. What should the police forces be doing in the future if we know we’re going to have self-driving cars? So you won’t be able to pull people over for DUI. Cannabis will be medical or recreational. So you won’t be able to pull people over for the smell of weed and then find other stuff in their car or see if they have warrants out for their arrest or whatever. So, when that goes away, what’s more of the future of policing? Because, yeah.

Phil:                 Well, to go back to what happens to that budget. If you do reduce police forces and take responsibilities away, I go back to, remember the shootings in Dallas and all that stuff. And the police officer said like, “You all put too much on us. It’s too much. It’s too much.” And so you hear that coming from both sides. Y’all are doing too much. And then the police are saying, “We’re doing too much. This isn’t our job. It’s too much.” But who’s working for CPS? Who’s got anything good to say about Child Protective Services in Texas? They’ve missed a lot of stuff. And they admit that themselves, that there’s a lot of failures there. So, why don’t we invest some money into our kids? We were talking about child abuse and the effect on children long-term. And you talk about… It is a miracle that I’m not in prison or a junkie in the street somewhere, with my history and my stuff.

                        I don’t know how I made it through, as dysfunctional as I realized I was now. And my wife and I were talking, and I’ll get back to the budget thing. But it’s like, my wife and I were talking, and this is actually a realization this morning. It was like, “We were always the stable ones.” Among our group of associates and people that we would hang out with and stuff, we were the stable ones. We’re the ones married 20 years. This other stuff, there’s all kinds of craziness going on. And I’m like, “I don’t know how they deal with that.” And so it’s like, “If I’m this fucked up and we’re the stable ones, I don’t know how people manage.”

                        But back to the budgetary stuff, reallocating those budgets, the amount of turnover in CPS. Once you see inside, and once you start talking to investigators and higher level people, because I was in that position to talk to them. You see like the amount of turnover is, it’s insane.

                        And I will say, Travis County kicks ass with child abuse cases and with child stuff, working with the people at the Child Advocacy Center in Austin. Nothing but respect. Those people are bad-ass. You talk about heroes. It’s them. Dealing with the worst of the worst, with a smile every day, under budget. And that’s where we get to it, these investigators with CPS and these social workers, who… It’s weird, you can be a cop and have a high school diploma. And within a couple of years, you’re making a hundred thousand dollars a year and pulling all kinds of overtime and stuff. Yet, we take these people with psychology degrees, with master’s degrees, with PhDs, that we require that they have to be social workers.

                        And we want to pay them less than teachers make and teachers don’t make anything. It’s like give teachers some money. They influence these kids. Give these social workers some money so they can get in front of these problems like the guy in the street, who’s scaring the shit out of everybody. They can get to that guy before he gets that bad. Because you see, obviously, he’s probably schizophrenic and he’s having an episode. But where we’re at right now in Austin. And, my wife was there, there was no police anywhere. And there’s this guy running around in the street. People don’t want to live in Austin like that. People don’t want to live anywhere like that.

Ian:                  So I think really you’re saying overall, this is a mental health issue for putting people in jail. Because they have mental health issues or arresting them in the drug war, or people that are homeless. It’s going back to unresolved childhood trauma because you’re saying the cops are out there on the front line saying, “Hey, this is too hard for us because this isn’t our job to be social workers.” But the people don’t want to get a PhD and not get paid to be a social worker. And you have all this first responder turnover. So, how do we fix all this stuff if we don’t fix childhood stuff? And I want to tie it back to what you’re saying, is in your own story, you’ve broken that pattern. You’ve realized that you’ve broken that pattern and have a chance to have a clean pathway for your kids. But how do we do that, and at a societal level, when we have so much childhood trauma? It seems to be just manifesting when we’re adults, then there’s a lot of cleanup. So, we put people in jail. That doesn’t fix it.

Phil:                 The reason I share my story and the reason… The reason I even got into cannabis activism and started coming around Texas NORML and telling my story there… Because that’s not a normal thing, for a former police officer to come to a NORML meeting and tell you who they are-

Ian:                  Yeah, I was there-

Phil:                 But it was important. It was important for me to come in there. The very first time I came to a meeting, I wanted to meet because I knew what NORML was and I knew what they did, beforehand. And, I feel this obligation. I’ve personally have deprived a lot of people of their freedoms over cannabis, over a plant. And now, because at the time I couldn’t see it, now, I feel an overwhelming obligation to share my story.

                        And at the time, I understood it so little. So it was like, “What can I do?” With my experience, with my viewpoint now, I’m at the point where I see it’s a lot bigger picture for me, personally, to where I’m not so tied to just the police officer part of it. My thing is sharing my story, especially with mental health struggles, and with my journey. I’m not out, I don’t tell anybody. I don’t recommend anybody do what I’ve done. Everybody has to find their own journey, but you need to do it your own way, I guess. There’s a lot of people in this culture and this society looking for the easy button, for the button. How do I push it? Let me push the button. It’s like I said. You go to the psychiatrist and you say, “Oh, I feel like I’m probably depressed,” and this and that. And you tell them enough that they’ll give you the drug that you want to fix you, but it doesn’t. And so, that’s what it was.

                        But sharing my story, that’s what I said, it normalizes a lot of this stuff. And that’s what I’ve found. With a lot of people that I’ve been around and been influential for is that positivity, that story, that sharing, it opens people up. And I’ve found, the more I share, and especially with people, if I feel led to, I will. You can’t believe what other people share. And it’s, again, it’s this community thing. It’s sharing and suffering, sharing and collective suffering over common traumas and understanding that stuff, but also sharing in the positive stuff. And so people can see, like I said before, all my shit is still there and I acknowledge it and I understand it, but now I see it coming.

                        And when that cycle comes around again, I can cut it off. Today, we went to the zoo. I took the kids to the zoo. I would say a year ago that probably wouldn’t have happened because I would never want to leave the house. But, I went to the zoo today with my kids. No stress, no nothing. Everything was cool. That wasn’t possible before. So, I share that with people and they see, like, “Okay, let me get out of the room.” And there’s a lot of avenues. I’m not saying this is the one way. Here’s a way you can find or heal yourself or anything. But, I will say, you can heal yourself. You can. And it’s really, the key for me is just better understanding me and what is me.

Ian:                  So how long did you live in Texas total? How long have you lived in Texas?

Phil:                 15 years.

Ian:                  So, what messages or recommendations do you have for us Texans that have been here a while and are still fighting the good fight?

Phil:                 Hang in there. I guess, you might want to be patient. I try to look at it realistically and that’s, of course, is a big part of us leaving, is the reality of… If you have any kind of concentrates, let’s say you’re a person that uses concentrates for cannabis, you’re committing a felony. If you’re in possession of concentrates and that’s even those cartridges, is a felony, any of it. And so, you’re risking getting drug into that system of asset forfeiture of… And for some people, depending on your economic status, and that’s really a huge part of this, is like I said, a class C misdemeanor. If somebody who doesn’t have the money to pay a ticket, gets a ticket, for something they shouldn’t get a ticket for because it shouldn’t be a law.

                        And you think, “Oh, it’s just a class C misdemeanor.” Well, that person gets a warrant. And so now, they have a class C misdemeanor warrant, but at some point, they can get arrested for that. And when they get arrested and they go to jail and have to see the judge, their car gets towed. And from my own experience, I think people are more worried about getting their car towed than they are about going to jail, a lot of people. Because getting your car towed, especially if you’re going to stay in jail for a few days, what happens every day you’re in jail and the car lot… Again, so here’s a built-in profit from arresting people, coming in that, and a lot of cities, like larger cities, will have their own wrecker services. So they’re running the wreckers and getting the wrecker fees for the people that they arrest.

Ian:                  So the cops, the DA, the wreckers, everybody-

Phil:                 Yeah, keep going.

Ian:                  Yeah, black water-

Mark:               Unholy alliance-

Ian:                  [Zool.].

Mark:               [Zool.].

Ian:                  Wow. This is how these systems work where the ecosystems get built right around the flow of money. And to me, it’s just like a video game or it is like the military where… You’re going to get the most points by going after people that have cannabis because it’s so easy-

Phil:                 It’s easy-

Ian:                  To rack up the charge levels, and the fines, and the power to tell people, “Yeah, you’re going to go to jail for 10 years.” Which I said, would be just as bad as if you had sexual assault on somebody. That’s the kind of threats they are able to use with the drug war.

Mark:               Go to a place where you could possibly be sexually assaulted yourself.

Ian:                  Exactly. Wow. So, we know the future is going to get much better than that. And it’s not because Elon Musk’s self-driving electric cars’ robots will get busted in our stead, but-

Phil:                 Did you, to kind of change the subject, did you see those satellite things that they launched that… What is that? It’s some kind of satellite internet things that Elon Musk-

Ian:                  Oh, Space Link? Yeah.

Phil:                 Space Link. Have you seen those things as they come over?

Ian:                  They’re pretty big, right?

Phil:                 It looks like crazy UFO stuff. We were driving one night on a dark country road and those things came over and I thought, I was like, “Here it is.” Those things look so crazy.

Mark:               Well, that’s so that Elon Musk can blanket the whole planet in wifi and then start the matrix sub-reality-

Phil:                 And surveillance. Yes.

Ian:                  Yeah, and then you’re microdosing mushrooms. So you see the space X, and you want to get on the Mars mission. It’s a straight line. All right. So, yeah. What’s the future for you? What do you want to see the future look like? What-

Phil:                 Going on the road, we’re going to go on the road and just explore around, try to find our place, try to find our people. I don’t really know. We’re a blank canvas at this point. I feel like this is the closing chapter of that book and it’s a new book. So, I suppose this is the first chapter in the new book is that we’re entering into. So, it’s interesting. We’re excited.

Ian:                  Beautiful. Would you ever consider returning to Texas?

Phil:                 I’m tired of the summers.

Ian:                  I didn’t say full-time.

Phil:                 Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely-

Mark:               You guys have legal concentrate before I even think about it.

Ian:                  There you go. Yeah. Just tell us what the rider looks like before you’ll come back in the state.

Phil:                 I’ll be happy to visit. Visiting Texas is fine. We like it here. We have friends here.

Ian:                  It’s CPS, is what I’m hearing, though, really. It’s the reality of if you live here, that’s the one way they can really enter your life.

Phil:                 Well, but that brings up the question. Is there not an amount of reasonable doubt, especially if somebody says, “Well, I often travel to Colorado and partake in legal cannabis in a state where I’m a responsible adult partaking legally and then I come back to Texas.”

Ian:                  But that could still make you a bad [inaudible] here in Texas. Unless you’re maybe a veteran or someone else has gotten a prescription for Marinol, which is synthetic THC, it’s schedule three, and you’re allowed to have THC in your system 24 hours a day.

Phil:                 It’s just unfortunate that people would have to jump through all those hoops. And, it’s even like TCUP because a lot of people have the misconception that Texas has a medical marijuana program. And there can be nothing further from the truth. Anybody in Texas knows that, but just the restrictive qualifying conditions. And again, like you said, why is it the government’s business to know what somebody’s qualifying condition is? Somebody may be like me and be willing to share their story. Some people don’t want anybody to know why they’re using medical cannabis.

                        And it’s really not the government’s business. It’s between a doctor and a patient. And that’s the problem with qualifying conditions, is that you have this list and you have people that get excluded. In Texas, most recently, it’s PTSD they’re talking about adding. But at first, it was like PTSD for veterans only. So if you were a veteran and got PTSD, but if you were a sexual assault victim that survived, you’re a survivor of sexual assault. You can’t use cannabis legally in Texas. And it’s not even, and I say, use cannabis. It’s not using cannabis. It’s this, what is it? 3%?

Ian:                  Yeah, 5%. And it’s in like a sesame oil or something.

Phil:                 Yeah, so you have to drink like a gallon of oil in order to get like-

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:33:04]

Phil:                 You have to drink a gallon of oil in order to get a 100 milligrams or something. And so a therapeutic dose involves drinking a bunch of oil.

Ian:                  Yeah. Then actually that can just make you sick from just drinking that much oil.

Phil:                 And it’s hard. Anybody that’s had mishaps with edibles or with having a little bit too much THC knows. And some people don’t… All these conversations have been had, but some people don’t respond well, or some people respond best to flour and they can most easily dose or whatever. But limiting it to just this, some kind of oil with a low THC content concentrate in it. And plus is that even a whole full spectrum type thing? It’s just THC, right. I don’t know. I don’t even know what they’re using. It’s certainly not medicine.

Ian:                  Well, so definitely get a much improved cannabis program before you’d consider coming back.

Phil:                 Yes. But we will be glad to visit. The heat, I’ve had enough Texas summers for now. I think I want some seasons.

Ian:                  Sure.

Mark:               Do you have any tips for the average citizen with your background as far as…

Ian:                  Phil’s tips, take them down folks. Wear your mask. Don’t flip off the cops.

Phil:                 Don’t ever consent to a search.

Ian:                  Yes.

Phil:                 No matter how nice the officer is,

Ian:                  How though is this really important? And we can say this, your friends a criminal defense attorney. How can you more frame and role-play and suggest people can accomplish that in the actual intersection of a traffic stop, rather than just telling them know your rights and stand up for them.

Phil:                 Well, you would do the same thing that the officer does and that’s have a script.

Ian:                  Got it.

Phil:                 Having a script or something that you can say. And I don’t mean, because I’m sure a lot of people have seen those sovereign citizen type videos where people…

Ian:                  They put out the thing out the window, your rights in a plastic…

Phil:                 It’s a real confrontational thing. It’s not a good contact. But just having a script and don’t be disarmed by officer friendly. Because that’s the ones that you’re going to consent to search your car for and then all… You don’t know what happens when you gave your grandma who has back pain, a ride to the senior center to play checkers or whatever, and she dropped one of her Oxy pills in between the seats. Well, now you’ve got a possession of a controlled substance case.

                        And I can say I’ve seen it happen a lot of times. A lot of people that have drugs consent to searches. I don’t know why. But a lot of it’s being under the stress of that contact. It’s not a contact that a lot of people have. And so they’re convinced they don’t have anything or it’ll be okay, it’s just weed. But don’t give up your rights. That’s my tip. But it doesn’t have to be in a confrontational way either. You can catch more flies with honey or one of those things.

Mark:               Concentrates.

Phil:                 Yes, with concentrates.

Ian:                  I think I’ll just offer as an attorney, is really understand everything’s about depositions. Once you say something it’s on a record and they’re going to potentially use that. So really the best thing is just to keep your mouth shut and focus on the content of the stop itself.

Phil:                 And be smart and be safe. The time to challenge a criminal charge is not on the side of the road, the time to challenge or make a complaint or do something is not on the side of the road. And that’s also the most potentially volatile and dangerous place, for all parties involved.

Ian:                  Sure. I was pulled over for speeding, put my hands on the steering wheel, let the police officer know I recognized their job and I’m not trying to be a threat with them. And then I can get more to the business of why they pulled me over versus so where have you been? What are you up to?

Phil:                 And not making admissions obviously.

Ian:                  Yes. They’ll become part of the record. Because then what you say can be use against you.

Phil:                 So in current cases and I know this is happening is, and I’m not sure if they’re testing again now or what the status is on that and in different counties with THC testing and everything. People are admitting because there’s no way to tell on the side of the road how much THC is in something. And even flour, I’ve seen hemp flour. It’s beautiful, it’s just cannabis. It’s all cannabis. It’s all the same.

Ian:                  You can’t tell the difference.

Phil:                 It’s all the same plant.

Ian:                  Yes.

Phil:                 And that-

Ian:                  It smells the same. And you don’t smell the cannabinoid.

Phil:                 And another issue that we didn’t talk about is canine indication, and how canines are used for searches and stuff like that. And hemp is legal and you can buy hemp… Here you go, I go to the farmer’s market in Georgetown, Texas at the farmer’s market. There’s a little kid playing piano and there’s people buying kale and eggs and stuff like that. And there’s a guy sharpening knives.

                        And then there’s a lady she’s got, it’s a gallon sized glass jar, this giant jar’s full of marbles or whatever. It’s huge. And it’s full of cannabis flour, it’s full of hemp flour. And they’re selling hemp flour. You can’t tell the difference.

Ian:                  Yes.

Phil:                 And so of course this is a whole nother issue we didn’t bring up. If that cannabis flour was being sold in the same manner at the flea market on 290, how would it be handled? Use your imagination. Who’s at the flea market on 290 and what… But the police aren’t messing with the white lady selling hemp flour.

Ian:                  Sure. It just all begins to sound like grand theft auto. It really does. You go to the places where you’re going to have the action and get the points.

Phil:                 Yeah.

Ian:                  Which, I’m not saying I’ve ever played that.

Phil:                 But where I was going is making an admission. If they say, what is this? Oh, this is weed, this gets you high doesn’t it? Oh, I’m officer friendly. It’s no big deal. I’m just going to let you go. It’s no big deal. You know it’s not illegal for the police to lie to you. And they will.

Ian:                  Exactly.

Phil:                 They absolutely will to get what they want. And once they have an admission and you say, yeah. Where’d you get it? Oh, my friend shipped it to me from California. Now you’re making all these admissions and you don’t know that, that officer, somebody in that department is a part of the DEA task force. And now the information about your friend shipping from California is with the DEA.

Ian:                  No, no. You just really hit on a key point, is every soldier overseas, you had two government contractors, black market, that are companies, backing them up. So when you’re saying, when you start to mix and match the federal agencies and the local cops where they’re double timing, then you have information flowing to the Federal Government about local drug interdiction.

Phil:                 I’ve personally taken part in drug raids based on postal service stuff. And I’ve heard rumors where people say it’s safe to ship stuff in the postal service. I would say I would be really careful. Because that’s federal crimes, cross state stuff. So I’d recommend people be careful.

Ian:                  Yeah. And at the same time, the US postal service is the biggest drug courier on the planet. So we’ve got these crazy…

Phil:                 They’re profiting.

Ian:                  Yeah, exactly. Simultaneously all going on. So it sounds like we’re all in alignment of even right to grow as being above decriminalization. Once you have a right to grow and people can have it, then you don’t really continue to have the black market problems unless you have bad regulations in those states.

Phil:                 Well the black market’s going to exist. There’s going to be a black market for everything, no matter what. But at least you’re taking some of that money and…

Ian:                  Well, if you voluntarily set up a system where people are incentivized, that people want to go to Walmart and get their weed, will. And the people who want to grow it at their own and do it at the farmer’s market, will. And every everyone can be happy.

Phil:                 And it supports society in so many aspects. You have people not losing their freedom over it, which doesn’t ruin their whole lives because they can’t get into school, they can’t get an education and they have to have a crappy job where they don’t make good money. And then they get fucked with by the police every time they go out.

                        So that’s one option. Or you can have people where we boost our economy by adding jobs, local stuff, really boosting local economies by having local growers, people like Boutique growing, small people, real small business. My fear is that in Texas with big business, big business rules.

Ian:                  Yeah.

Phil:                 When John Boehner is on the board of a cannabis company, John Boehner the old Republican. What?

Ian:                  Yes, Speaks for us.

Phil:                 But it’s about the money. The values, all those things go out the window. So when it reaches Texas, when it finally gets here and the money’s in it, it’s just going to be a big fix. And that’s my fear. Is that it’s going to be a big fix. It’s just like medical cannabis in Florida, the ridiculous restrictions that were placed for growers to be part of that medical cannabis.

                        We already see it happening here in Texas. You can’t get a license to be a dispensary. How do I do that? I want to sign up and be a grower and a producer for Teacup. What did they open it for, two days? Before they shut it down.

Ian:                  And they didn’t have any other licenses anyways.

Phil:                 So what’s going to happen. They’re going to make it so limited to where the only people that can afford to come in and lose money for a while are going to be these big… And these are like multinational corporations, like this Canadian companies that are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

                        How are we profiting from cannabis on the New York Stock Exchange that it’s legal? It’s illegal under federal law. Not only illegal, it’s a schedule one substance with no use according to the government. That’s how screwed up it is. Everyone knows it. But what do we do? Talk about it, I guess.

Mark:               How are police handling this influx of all the, back to the hemp flour? I wonder when I walk by a bunch of cops on 6th Street and I’m smoking a CBD cigarette that just reeks like weed.

Ian:                  Are you hearing that [crosstalk] card?

Mark:               What’s going through their head or what’s the training on handling?

Phil:                 I don’t know what they’re currently doing. Quite honestly, I don’t really talk to very many police officers anymore. I’ve found-

Mark:               Maybe a good thing.

Phil:                 I’ve changed enough to where I don’t see… There’s not a whole lot of commonality. There is a few people that I stay in touch with. But when I talk to them, we talk about life stuff, not cop stuff.

                        I think it’s so dependent. So there’s 254 counties in Texas. And in each one of those counties, there’s a Sheriff’s Department. There’s probably a couple Constables Offices. What does Travis County have, six precincts? So that’s six separate Constable precincts, that six separate departments with their own heads, chiefs or whatever they call them in those departments. And then you have the Sheriff’s Department with the sheriff. So, that’s County.

                        And then you might have Municipal Court officers in some places. And so there’s all these little subdivisions and different agencies and police and that’s nationwide. But just in Texas, 254 counties. There’s so many agencies with so many separate policies. And then individuals… And a lot of these smaller departments, they don’t have well-crafted policy. Their policy is minimal, and it’s probably copied from 1992 from Amarillo PD or something like that. That’s usually where this stuff comes from. And so they don’t have real specific policies. So what happens is people do whatever they want. Small police departments, those officers do whatever they want.

Ian:                  Well I’m really beginning to see how maybe Mexico did win the Mexican-American war and why. We’ve got all these little fiefdoms across this huge rural state where we only have session every other two years and we just can’t get anything done. And we’re not managing the state. It’s these individual fiefdoms.

Phil:                 Well, Texas having a part-time legislature. Why is that? Why is Texas… The economy in Texas and the…

Ian:                  It’s a legacy from before. We had ballot initiative and then they try to use it for cannabis in the early ’90s. And then they took it away.

Phil:                 Imagine Texas into voter suppression. That’s weird.

Ian:                  Well you’ve got Mexico’s going to be legalizing cannabis within days.

Phil:                 Mexico beat us to the punch.

Ian:                  Yeah.

Phil:                 You can visit Mexico and have other natural medicines too.

Ian:                  Exactly. Well I’ve talked to people, what’s up with the Texas mentality. It’s outlaw mentality. They’re still back in the Wild West, we’re still fighting the Mexican-American war.

Phil:                 I would think with the stated… You talk about Liberty, the term Liberty, and that’s freedom from government interference. And I think people… And unfortunately maybe the word Liberty has been tainted with current usage, it’s like patriot, these words that we weren’t accustomed to having a negative connotation as proud Americans.

                        But now talking about… I thought Texas was all about Liberty, freedom from government interference. Nobody tells a Texan what to do. It’s none of the government’s business what a Texan is doing. So why aren’t we representing those ideals, especially these great conservative ideals that they claimed to uphold. And that’s not even talking about alcohol. Alcohol is the most destructive drug in our society. They’re worried about methamphetamine.

Ian:                  That’s why we just got to go to alcohol. That’s what Governor Abbott just signed. He did. So you can go to a restaurant. [Crosstalk].

Phil:                 To go to a restaurant.

Ian:                  He did. To go to alcohol and you have drive-through alcohol.

Phil:                 And I’m not anti-alcohol. I admit I had a problem with alcohol, I guess. If you looked in the book, it’d probably say I was an alcoholic, but I don’t think it should be illegal either. I think it should be used responsibly. And if it’s not used responsibly, we already have laws in place that deal with that. Just like they say, what are we going to do with these people using cannabis? In Colorado, they’re going to be driving, it’s going to be total chaos.

                        It’s not like that, the data isn’t backed by that. And if somebody is intoxicated, they have a law for that. It doesn’t just say, driving while intoxicated, it’s not driving while intoxicated on alcohol, it’s on any substance. And so the law is covering that anyway. We don’t need more laws, I think. And that’s where so many people are lost right now. We don’t need more laws, we need less laws. We don’t need more laws in response to things that people don’t like.

Ian:                  Yeah. That sounds like a menthol smoker. Rantings of a menthol [crosstalk].

Phil:                 Menthol lord. Did that go through?

Ian:                  Menthol smoker, those are the worst.

Phil:                 Did that go through, the menthol? Did they ban it?

Ian:                  Yes, they banned it.

Mark:               I think it was one of the thing that snuck into one of those things.

Ian:                  You can’t put it in one of those big bills.

Phil:                 So I know a person that smokes three cartons of menthol cigarettes a week. I wonder, there’s going to be… Here we go, black market.

Ian:                  Yeah.

Phil:                 Maybe, this is big next break for the cartels, is importing untaxed cigarettes. Which will happen.

Ian:                  Which we know someone in New York, with the cops.

Phil:                 Yeah.

Ian:                  Died.

Phil:                 He was a goner.

Ian:                  All selling illegal cannabis.

Phil:                 I can’t breathe. They killed a man over loose cigarettes.

Ian:                  Okay, here’s something, in all these government Bills that get passed, nobody reads them, in one of these most recent ones, the same thing with maybe the menthol, but the PACT Act, which allows the ATF, like the DA, to alcohol, tobacco, and farms, the Bureau to control all cartridges, any kind of vape products. So now, if any company who’s sending that through USPS, UPS, FedEx is potentially breaking a federal law.

Phil:                 You know what happens when everyone just says, well, we’re going to do it anyway. Because that’s essentially what’s happening. But what happens when nobody follows the law. And they can’t arrest everybody. The problem is, is our most vulnerable people in society are the ones. And that’s what white people like myself, so many white people have taken advantage of that white privilege, because that’s what it is.

                        And I’ve heard personal testimony of black cannabis users going places where they see white people using cannabis in public with impunity. And they know if they go back to the neighborhood that they grew up in, they’re going to go to jail. And so that’s the big divide. White people have always been able… Who’s using all this cocaine?

Ian:                  Oh yeah, it’s the people in financial districts and companies. That’s who’s using it.

Phil:                 There is still a big demand for cocaine. Who’s using all this? It comes down to, we can’t legislate morality just because somebody who doesn’t agree with something that somebody else is doing, it’s not hurting anybody. And all we’re doing is empowering these structures, the criminal side of it. But the government profits handsomely.

Ian:                  Yeah and ruining any government credibility when they’re not telling the truth of all these substances for so long. And then they want to tell us about other things. We’re like, wait a second. Why should we listen to you over here, if you’ve got it all wrong on cannabis and other medicines?

Mark:               That would probably be one of the biggest actions you could take against… You come up with these, we’re going to have a war on this. We’re going to have a war on poverty, a war on drugs, a war on, or fight racism. Where do you actually fight an idea or an ingrained belief. But one of the biggest actions I think you could take, in taking a bite out of racism or whatever would be ending the drug war yesterday.

Phil:                 Yeah, absolutely.

Ian:                  Okay. So I remember I was visiting my folks and they were watching the Chauvin trial in Minnesota and I just was blown away. Regardless really what station they were watching, that no one is talking about the drug war, they’re talking about police reform and police training and tasers and left-hand and right-hand, and I’m, so you’ve seen this meta perspective, why are those people talking about that stuff and not talking about the war on drugs on TV?

Phil:                 They don’t see it.

Ian:                  Okay.

Phil:                 [crosstalk]. It’d be not seeing the bigger picture. The bigger picture, in Minnesota, that whole call started over a fake $20 bill, an allegedly fake $20 bill. So I think also start examining as far as police powers, how much do we as a society want to limit police powers? Talking about traffic stops, do we want police officers to have the authority to stop you for having an an obstructed windshield?

Ian:                  Or not a proper plate. Where they pulled over that guy who was an active duty officer, Second Lieutenant in Virginia in a small town, two offers pulled him over, black and Hispanic. He drove to the gas station and they had guns drawn on him and…

Phil:                 Yeah. Well, what’s challenging with that as you see these stories and it’s so egregious and the response of the department, they only fired that officer after the department got sued and the news got ahold of it.

                        Are you telling me that incident… They used force, they used serious force against that man. That had to have been reported. I don’t know, did that incident go unreported from the beginning? I haven’t dug in, but how is it that they… The officer, oh we fired him. Well, didn’t you already review this and see that it was unacceptable independently? All of a sudden there’s public scrutiny, it’s in the news and your reaction is to fire him. Why wasn’t he fired when it was reported and your supervisors saw this incident or reviewed this incident? Likely it wasn’t reviewed.

Ian:                  Do you see veterans coming back from overseas deployments joining the police force, separate from whether they were a military police or something, as a way to get that same kind of community that they had there. And do you see that pathway, something that occurs?

Phil:                 For sure.

Ian:                  Talk to us about that.

Phil:                 There’s a lot of good police officers that come from members of the military and people with tactical experience. They have a wealth of leadership experience. Our military does a good job training leaders. Especially direct supervisors, that direct supervision, face-to-face stuff.

Ian:                  Get NCS right.

Phil:                 And it’s people that have had experienced under stressful conditions. And now I start to question… I passed the psych and I had damage. I’m not saying anything, but how we’re looking at psych for police officers. Because even they started more recently after I left. But my department had started, oh, we’ll do a checkup thing.

                        And you have to go in and say hey, are you okay? But I mentioned all those issues earlier as, what are you going to say at the check-in with the police psychologist who can pull you off the streets, pull you off of duty.

Ian:                  It’s like a flight surgeon exactly, you can’t fly.

Phil:                 And then there’s all this machismo going around. Oh, they’re making me go see the shrink. I’m just going to tell them this is bullshit so I can go back to work. And so there’s a lot of denial. And here’s the thing, so I was involved in peer support a lot. I did a lot of peer support stuff. Understood a lot about PTSD, understood a lot about its symptoms, knew all this stuff, knew all this stuff in the book and couldn’t even see it in myself. And I was never confronted. Nobody ever confronted me. It was my own break.

Ian:                  I just see the pathway of people coming back from the military and it’s a good way of they’re not ready to fully integrate, so they join the police force, but then there can be engaged in propagating some of those same kind of behaviors, which they’re needing to get to the end of and start to integrate. If that make sense?

Phil:                 There’s also a different mindset, but I think the mindset in policing has changed a lot. And this is getting to the heart of things, is that warrior mentality. I’m a warrior. And it’s not of a caretaker. The police should be seen as caretakers and trusted by the community, but they’re not.

Ian:                  This is like a hero’s journey stuff then. You leave the caretaker to go to the hero’s journey, but eventually you’ve got to come home.

Phil:                 But they’ve lost that view to where… Listen to all the voices that have been screaming out over particularly the last year or so. What are those voices saying? They don’t trust the police and then we see these videos and it’s there, and that’s their reality. That’s people’s reality.

                        But then poor people, it’s the same thing. Poor people get treated bad too. And so there’s this class of privileged class that exists in this country and we see there’s a divide driving more and more, and there’s less people at the bottom with money and more pooling at the top.

Ian:                  There was an economic draft in the military where it was a great advantage for people that were lesser economic conditions. And you had greater representation of Hispanics and African-Americans in the military because of those economic realities.

Phil:                 Yeah.

Ian:                  Wow.

Phil:                 So how do we finish this off and bring this all together Mark?

Mark:               With the little jam I just recorded.

Phil:                 I hope I’m doing the show, right?

Mark:               This is dealed.

Ian:                  Well, Phil, we’re just so stoked to have you on the show. And thank you so much for sharing the most deep and personal insights.

Phil:                 Thank you. It was a pleasure.

Mark:               Yeah. Thank you. It was great. Thanks for sharing your story. It was great to hear the transformation. The turn around is beautiful.

Phil:                 There’s more. Just check back in six months.

Ian:                  Definitely.

Mark:               Would love to. If you find that great slice of freedom somewhere out there, let us know where it is, we’ll be there.

Phil:                 Looking for somebody.

Ian:                  Looking for somebody. Looking for somebody.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

About Ian Benouis

Ian Benouis is a West Point graduate, former Blackhawk helicopter pilot, former US Army officer and combat veteran who participated in Operation Just Cause in the Republic of Panama.  This operation was the largest combat operation in US history focused directly on the War on Drugs and was the largest special operations deployment ever conducted. He was a pilot-in-command and his aviation brigade flew more night vision goggle hours than any unit in the military except for the Task Force 160 Special Operations which his unit was ultimately rolled up into when the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ord, California military base was shut down. Ian grew up in Hawaii in the 1970’s where cannabis was decriminalized and fully integrated in to the culture.  He has been healing himself for over 25 years with sacred plants, a spiritual practice, and being a student and practitioner of ethnobotany.  Ian was a pharmaceutical representative for Pfizer after he got out of the Army witnessing firsthand the meteoric rise of the SSRI’s and synthetic opioids in the early 1990's. He is a casualty of the drug war having been arrested for cannabis while in law school.  Ian is an intellectual property attorney who has been working in the corporate world for over 20 years in the primary roles of VP of Sales and Marketing and General Counsel.  He is a political activist in the cannabis and natural plant medicine space nationally and locally in Texas.  Ian was previously the Chairman of the Board for a public policy foundation in Texas for over seven years. Ian was featured in the Spike Jonze produced episode Stoned Vets on Weediquette the cannabis focused series on Viceland on HBO with a number of other veterans protesting the VA’s policy on medical cannabis and trying to end the veteran suicide epidemic. In 2016 Ian organized a trip for six veterans with PTSD to Peru in May for a 10-day plant diet including ayahuasca and other plant medicines with three Shipibo trained shaman brothers that are third generation plant medicine healers.  Ian also took some of the same veterans to Mexico for treatment with iboga and 5-Meo-DMT.  This experience was captured on video and was released as a documentary in March 2017 entitled Soldiers of the Vine. He is member of the team supporting the movie From Shock to Awe a feature-length documentary that chronicles the journeys of military veterans as they seek relief from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with the help of ayahuasca, MDMA and cannabis.  This movie premiered at the Illuminate Film Festival in Sedona, AZ on June 2, 2018 where it captured the inaugural Mangurama Award for Conscious Documentary Storytelling.