Exclusive Alison Myrden Interview

Chase: “Alright everybody, Chase March here with Alison Myrden at the Toronto Freedom Festival. You can download this interview to listen to whenever you like, you can stream it with the player below, or you can just continue reading.

So, how’s it going Alison?”

Alison: “Hey everybody, how’s it going? Hey Chase!”

Chase: “It’s good to see you.”

Alison: “It’s good to see you too.”

Chase: “I know we talked to you last year about this, but for anyone who wasn’t listening last year, why are you here and what’s your involvement?”

Alison: “I am always here for the same reason, and I’ve been coming out before there WAS a march in Toronto. We have been sharing the message that not only do we want cannabis legalized and regulated here in Canada for EVERY possible reason: religious, medical, social, anything you can think of. Cannabis needs to be legalized and regulated once and for all, and today is the day we speak about that.”

Chase: “Definitely. Yeah, so there are lots of people out today. It’s a nice sunny day. Everyone is out to support it, and for a lot of different reasons.”

Alison: “Yeah.”

Chase: “One of your reasons is medical.”

Alison: “You bet. I am actually one of Canada’s first medical marijuana patients and have been since 1994, and I find that I need some help here in the country because I choose medical marijuana long before there was such a thing as medical marijuana and I end up, luckily, getting a lot of people to understand what I was talking about because they too were finding the same thing with cannabis and it was a good reason to get away from pharmaceuticals and use something a little more natural, a little safer. So I have been fighting for the right for people to use medical marijuana here in Canada since, like I said, openly since about 1999 – 2000, but again I have had my own license since 1994. Been going for a long time Chase!”

Chase: “Yeah, definitely. And the Toronto Freedom Festival has been going for a long time too right?

Alison: “This is the thirteenth year!”

Chase: “But we have had some problems with it this year. I know we here at DOPEfm did not really know what was going on or who was going to be here. The permits weren’t available-”

Alison: “Yeah, it was canceled completely at one point till Tommy Chong saved the day for us in California.”

Chase: “Nice.”

Alison: “I don’t know if people know about that. There was a big YouTube Toronto Freedom Festival video with Tommy Chong which is absolutely hilarious.

Alison: “Tommy is the man, I’m telling you, and he is one of the reasons we saved the Toronto Freedom Festival this year here in Canada, and the Global Marijuana March.”

Chase: “Wow! Do you think that there will be a problem with it next year?”

Alison: “Absolutely not, we are not going anywhere – can’t you tell – I have heard one guesstimate of thirty thousand people and that was around one o’clock. And you know what I heard too? That a lot of people are getting ready if they are not already going out on the march. The march started at 1:45 and they said the park was to be empty and there are probably about fifteen thousand people minimum that I can see alone when I look out now, and apparently there is a good chunk of them again, but I did see the first group leave for the march about twenty minutes ago.”

Chase: “Yeah, I think there are a couple of waves, about three or four waves of marchers going out.”

Alison: “There are about three or four waves just to reduce the numbers because there are so many people again this year. Chase, it’s unbelievable. It gets bigger and bigger every year. We are not going away. We are not going to stop spreading the message that this isn’t fair to arrest non-violent drug offenders. It’s not fair.

I also wear another hat, I’m a speaker for LEAP Law Enforcement against Prohibition and I have been trying to legalize and regulate all drugs for the last, probably, two decades. I am not a noble person. I am 47 years old, and I have been fighting this for a long long time and I need you guys to step up and take the reins now. I’m in a wheelchair and I’ve been fighting every day of my live. My health, battling chronic progressive Multiple Sclerosis, and a violent pain in my face 24 hours a day that I rarely get relief from unless I have copious amounts of cannabis. So we need you guys, Chase, for sure.“

Chase: “I know a lot of people out there, like me, who don’t smoke and don’t participate in that culture are actually really surprised. When I came here last year, I was actually a little bit scared.”

Alison: “I bet.”

Chase: “I didn’t know what was going to happen-”

Alison: “Right.”

Chase: “Everybody here, I swear, is super friendly.”

Alison: “Exactly – fabulous people”

Chase: “Fabulous people.”

Alison: “Cannabis culture is a culture of its own. These people are not thieves, they’re not drug addicts, they’re not bad people in any way. We are people that love each other, we love this plant, and we love the earth we live on. We want people to live in harmony and we want people to get welcomed. That is all we all want.”
Chase: “Yeah, so, it’s pretty cool to see that. I mean, that kind of breaks – I mean I know some people have images and stereotypes.”

Alison: “They sure do!”

Chase: “And why they want to say, ‘Oh it’s a drug! Let’s shut it down, let’s jump on that! And really, as far as harmful effects go, I mean, just like anything there are some-”

Alison: “I’d like to know what you found.”

Chase: “But there is a lot more harmful stuff-”

Alison: “I have a website called the Medical Marijuana Mission that we have had over 50 million visitors to from all over the world disputing that garbage our governments all around the world have been telling us – the lies about cannabis and other drugs.

What I would like people to know is that drugs are not harmless in any way, but that some drugs are maybe a little more beneficial than some. Not only medically, but as I said, some people use cannabis for example religiously, a lot of people smoke it socially.

What I am trying to do, I’m also a retired law enforcement officer, and what I am trying to do again is trying to get these drugs all regulated and legalized and all given an age limit and given an umbrella to be put under so that basically children won’t have access to them the way they do now.

As it stands now, when I became a medical marijuana patient a number of years ago here in Canada, I had nowhere to go but the street for my medicine and children were the first ones to offer me help. That is wrong and that caused me serious serious doubt about our country.”

Chase: “Yeah, that’s pretty scary.”

Alison: “It is pretty scary.”

Chase: “The access kids have to things. I’m an elementary school teacher and a student in grade 5 this year got suspended because she brought some cannabis in.”

Alison: “I’m not surprised.”

Chase: “Where does she get it from? I’ve seen grade 8’s before hiding over there-”

Alison: “Yeah, you bet.”

Chase: “So, the kids have access to this stuff already.”

Alison: “Faster and easier than medical patients who are licensed like myself Chase. That’s terrible! That’s not acceptable in my country. Not at all!”

Chase: “Yeah, but the other interesting thing here is that I see kids here. There are some families here at the festival today.”

Alison: “Yes there are! And we say, bring your children and make them understand. Drugs are not all for social use, and at LEAP we don’t ever condone the social use of any drug. I happen to be a medical patient and I have, yes, tried cannabis before when I was younger, but I would not have been able to have my career in law enforcement if I had kept with it. I decided to put that aside while I was getting older to work on my carrier in law enforcement and then I got sick and everything came back in full force to me and full circle, so much so that all of a sudden I had to use cannabis and couldn’t go without it, and then my job was in jeopardy. So what did I do?

I had to retire because of my health, but to this day I probably couldn’t go back to my job in correction, as a corrections officer, as I was for over a decade in Canada, because of using and choosing cannabis as medicine and not being able to go without it anymore. Mainly because that’s my choice, I don’t want to take all the pharmaceutical drugs they want me to take. I can go back to work if I took all my pills, but then I couldn’t even work so what would be the point?”

Chase: “Yeah, because they weren’t as effective right?”

Alison: “Right, not barely. I’ve got a violent pain in my face, Chase, that I have 24 hours a day. I doesn’t go away. I’ve had it for 19 years and I get no relief unless I use copious amounts of cannabis all the time, including morphine, I can’t get away from using morphine and cannabis, but I can use far less morphine if I use cannabis. And I also was able to eliminate over 32 other pills that I took, for 18 years, Chase, that got me up to over 50 pills a day at one point. So, now I no longer take all those pills, I just use a lot of cannabis and morphine and basically that’s it. So that was a real turn around in my life.”

Chase: “That’s really interesting, because, I know myself I’m kind of straight edge .”

Alison: “Right, that’s cool though.”

Chase: “If I have a headache I don’t take a Tylenol.”

Alison: “That’s very cool.”

Chase: “But some part of me thinks that all the drugs that the doctors prescribe are not necessarily a great thing for people to be having. And it sounds like you needed quite a lot for a long period of time.”

Alison: “Chase, if I stood up now I have the most violent shake in my right leg, from medication that I can’t get rid of. The doctors tell me that it may go away, but that’s what I live with. I had medication that kept me in a wheelchair, and you saw at one point, my head and neck shook so violently that it went from one of those little puppy dogs in the back of a car window.”

Chase: “Oh, wow.”

Alison: “Because every time I went to talk with my head shaking, I could not control it until somebody stopped and held my head because it was that uncontrollable, but that’s the way Multiple Sclerosis works. I have also gone blind from it; I have gone deaf from it for over a year in one ear, everything you can think of. I lost full feeling from the waist down, could not walk at all years ago. I’m walking again because of the vitamins, fatty acids, antioxidants, and cannabis that I rely on now that are all natural therapies, instead of 32-50 pills a day that the doctors gave me for 18 years.”

Chase: “That’s awesome!”

Alison: “It’s unbelievable!”

Chase: “When I first rolled through here today I saw you walking around and I was like IS THAT Alison? Because that’s really cool to see!”

Alison: “You better believe it – I’m getting better and better every year, the more I use cannabis the more I can stand on my feet. I used to dance up a storm all the time, I can’t dance as much as I used to anymore but I’ll tell you, I’ll never stop dancing in my head.”

Stranger: “Alison, this is for you here” (hands her a bag)

Alison: “Awwww, thanks, thank you. People are so fabulous here, I’m telling you.”

Chase: “Yeah, everyone is really friendly at Toronto Freedom Fest here.”

Alison: “We’re all loving and giving and a lot of us know each other and love each other and a lot of us have been working a lot of years on this all over the world Chase. I don’t just do things in Canada. As you know, LEAP is Law Enforcement Against Prohibition whom I speak for as well is a US organization and I just got asked to speak for another US organization involved in protecting patients, which is a really cool organization. Involved are a couple of us from LEAP.

One of the fellows who started it is named Nate Bradley, and he is a younger guy than I am, and basically he decided as a law enforcement officer that maybe there was some truth to the fact that those of us up in Canada and other places where using marijuana to feel better and it was working. So he tried it and now he has started this group called Men Protecting Patients because of it. So I am one of their now most vocal spokespeople again, so I wear a lot of hats, I love it!”

Chase: “Wow!”

Alison: “I’ve been busy!”

Chase: “Yeah, it’s interesting to see how certain law enforcement, and even teaching styles I know are kind of changing became we see that there is a different way to do things.”

Alison: “Exactly.”

Chase: “You know, just because we always did it this way doesn’t necessarily mean we should continue to do it that way.”

Alison: “Yeah.”

Chase: “You know, there are better ways to reach people and to communicate certain messages. I know the same thing has been happening with gang violence.”

Alison: “You bet it has.”

Chase: “If we can get those kids to do something-”

Alison: “Productive-”

Chase: “Productive and positive-”

Alison: “And keep them busy-”

Chase: “And giving them programs so that they don’t fall into that kind of thing.”

Alison: “You bet.”

Chase: “And then we have these kinds of education and different things. You speak really intelligently and with such purpose about this.”

Alison: “I am very passionate about my fight, I really am. At one point it was only me and my partner Gary Lynch, the two of us were out roaming the streets literally on our own everywhere we went. You know, we came to Toronto and said we could make more noise in Toronto and we got that spark right away.

When I came out of the media I went to the local media in Toronto, not where I live in Burlington. Burlington is a great little town, I love that city I should say, wonderful city, but I knew I would get national attention if I came out about medical marijuana in Toronto. I knew that, Chase, and that’s the thing I wanted, I wanted to make every single household all over the world by the time I was done, have medical cannabis or marijuana as a topic on their table at dinner. I wanted everybody talking about it, and we have done nothing ever since but make it grow larger than we could have ever imagined. All over the world.”

Chase: “Wow, amazing. Toronto certainly is a force and it is kind of cool that you being from Burlington and us being from Hamilton, that we are a hop, skip ,and a jump from here, so we can tap into that.”

Alison: “Toronto is a hub.”

Chase: “We can really use our location.”

Alison: “We sure can, especially with the media though Chase, because the media is the message remember. The kids need to know too – all you guys who are listening out there – this issue is so important to people like me. Look us up on some of these forums that we are on, check me out on Twitter, I’m Alison Myrden. Check it out, go out there and know what you are talking about when you go to talk about this at school and to your friends and to your family. I want you to also check out another really incredible group, a young fellow who was out with me last year who I am kind of sad isn’t here this year, Caleb Chepesiuk.”
Chase: “Yeah.”

Alison: “Caleb is from students for sensible drug policy. A lot of you guys know of him out there in radio land for sure. Caleb has actually been a driving force behind the Students for Sensible Drug Policy Group here in Canada and actually speaks very openly and very publicly about the issue that would concern a lot of the students that you have listening in.”

Chase: “That group is also on Twitter.”

Alison: “And we are on Twitter, I mean they are, they are also I know at McMaster, UofT, and Ottawa. There are some bigger city’s starting first, there may be other groups that I’m not aware of that involve students for sensible drug policy here in Canada, but again, I’m just kind of running with one’s off the top of my head right now. But I know Ottawa is the biggest one and that’s where it started here in Canada, the Canadian students for sensible drug policy, check them out for sure.”

Chase: “Yeah and anyone listening back there, just dig through our archives and you can listen to that interview from last year.”

Alison: “Super.”

Chase: “That was pretty good talking to Caleb last year as well.”

Alison: “Good. Also, just to let you know, for educators like yourself, Chase this is very important, there is another group called Educators for Sensible Drug Policy and I would love for you to check them out. They actually might give you a real eye-opener if you are an educator out there or a professor or somebody listening in who teaches students of any kind, check them out: Educators for Sensible Drug Policy, a real real fantastic alternative to something that is really harmful like DARE.”

Chase: “Wow!”

Alison: “Seriously, check them out. I think you will be really pleased and really really surprised.”

Chase: “Very cool, Awesome. Well, it is always a pleasure talking to you and seeing you around, so thanks for taking the time.”

Alison: “Always my pleasure darling, always my pleasure.”

Chase: “Awesome, and we’ll get back to Daddy J now, I know he’s got some stuff from the main stage that he is going to air. Bands are playing in the background but we got some speakers coming up and you will be able to listen to them.”

Alison: “Beautiful, stay tuned you guys, you ain’t herd nothing yet! Thanks again Chase, take care Daddy J. We will be in touch.”

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