Curated by Tristan Kirvin, Yaddo
8 x 10 unframed
Curated by Tristan Kirvin, Yaddo
8 x 10 unframed
My photograph “The River” will be on exhibit in this year’s Nature Art Exhibit
27″ x 27″ Framed
available for acquisition contact HillaryRaimo@gmail.com
My travels through Europe & the Middle East.
On display through the Schenectady Photographic Society group show at The Arts Center for the Capital Region, Troy New York 2018
Have you ever felt a strong connection to someone else that you could not fully explain? Commonly many do not explore it because of another relationship in their life. A partner’s jealousy, paranoia or relationship ‘rules’ get in the way of allowing that connection to be explored. The connection can sometimes be mistaken for an inappropriate sexual intention. Although sexual energy could be present, I am referring to the stronger gravity-like pull that brings two people together purposefully as if guided by a higher power. It is distinctively different then lust.
In an age where morality appears to be a matter of opinion or religious affiliation, has to sense this subtle higher connection between oneself and another become a lost art? Weighed down by social labels and conformity, often these special moments go unnoticed, unacknowledged and dismissed.
(Originally recorded 2010 on The Hillary Raimo Show hosted by Achieve Radio)
Hillary Raimo: This hour we are discussing suppressed matriarchal histories. The goddess, the woman, the divine feminine, how, what, where, and why, and we’re also going to be looking at the collective archetypal patterns for the United States.
For nearly 40 years she has presented 100’s of slide talks at universities, community centers, bookstores, and schools. Libraries, prisons, galleries, festivals, and conferences around North America. Her work bridges the gap between academia, and grass roots education. It foregrounds indigenous women who are usually passed over by standard histories, and it highlights female spheres of power retained even in patriarchal societies.
Welcome Max. Thank you for being here.
Max Dashu: Thank you Hillary. Good to be with you.
Hillary Raimo: How are we going to awaken the suppressed history of the feminine Max?
Max Dashu: Well there’s so many angles to it, because there is the indigenous heritage that’s here. That’s present on the land. The ancestors of this place that we live in. Wherever we come from, we’re here now. That’s one thing, and how they define their realities is something we have to look at, because they may not use the word goddess. We have to be respectful of cultural differences in the way we’re addressing our description of spiritual reality, right? That’s part of it. Another part of it is that everyone who came here from somewhere else whether they were dragged over in a slave ship, or came as an denatured servant, or a settler from Europe, or were Asians. There’s all these different nationalities here. Everyone has their own authentic cultural heritages, and so that’s part of the picture also is because we’re carrying that with us.
I think that all of us need an authentic place to stand in our own lineage. In our own cultural heritage. Then we can be able to stand side by side. We have to kind of clear the air, because we are living in a colonial reality. It’s a patriarchy, it’s a racialized patriarchy. The racism is also gender in this society. We’re dealing with a lot of really tough stuff that there’s been a lot of conversations about this, and this is continuing since the 60’s really. Maybe before as well. We need to be able to learn, and listen from the indigenous peoples about their perception of earth, and reality. The cosmologies that they understand, and I’ve spent a lot of time studying those. Looking at that because there are models there for us to gain understanding.
I also feel like it’s important to do a process of recovery, terrible crimes against women that are ongoing, and I see those as … of course the wounding of the divine female, but it’s almost like you could look at culture as a set of programs that induce values, and behavior. Archetypes. There’s all these force fields we’re all moving in. As babies we suck in with our breath, and all of this is encoded into us, and so to decimalize ourselves we have to grow an awareness about what those are. What are the force fields we move in, and what deeper reality is. We have to be able to recognize that deeper reality, and that includes history. It includes knowledge of spiritual traditions for many parts of the world, but also the toxic scripts that are encoded in culture which has so much to do with how the female is wounded, and distorted, and really poisoned through culture.
Through media, through market place lowest common denominator. I’m sure you’ve probably done web searches for goddesses, just looking things up. I’ve done a lot of it, and since I’ve been using Google now, this what 10 years, or whatever, it is really astonishing how there’s been this proliferation of pornified images of goddess, of priestess. You do a search for medicine woman, or female shaman, and you will get all of these really distorted images of the female that have their breasts stuck out way in front of them, their bodies are in unnatural poses, really waft thin waists. Really just so much there’s this unconscious absorption of cultural biases that are very constrictive to women. Even sometimes as you were saying the attempts that we make to recover this. The divine itself can be perceived through a looking glass. Through a distorted fun house mirror where we think we’re reaching back to that, and then we’re getting something that’s filtered through cultural prejudices, and bias if that makes sense to you.
Hillary Raimo: It’s such an emotional issue, don’t you agree? What would you consider to be the foundational feminine energy of the land the United States is built on.
Max Dashu: Well the United States is an empire, and so there are many countries that existed before the European invasions. There’s not just one archetype, but there are all kinds of ethnic traditions. There are many. There’s some common ground that those have because you will see earth mother over, and over old women. You’ll see all kinds of beings that are known all over the world. Spider, and serpent, and things like that. Spider grandmother’s very important in great many cultures. Grandmother moon is heard from a lot. There’s a lot of common ground, but there are differences too amongst these cultures. That’s where just as if you were to go to Asia, or Europe you don’t mix up India with China, or France with Russia. Similarly, in North America as well. We have a whole process of getting … It’s like falling in love. It’s getting to know something that was really withheld because the way that we were taught, everyone was educated was to have these arch stereotypes really of the Indians.
That was really sort of machining down all the differences. Lakota is very different than Pueblo, which is very different from some of the eastern people’s. The Iroquois, the Lenape, the Delaware’s. There’s all these different flavors. There’s all these different language traditions, but there are a lot of common themes, and so the old women weaving the headband of the moon, or the frog in the moon. There’s themes that reoccur. Some of these themes have resonates in other parts of the world. When you’re looking at cosmo vision, or the cultural dreamings of all these different societies, their perceiving reality. These are their descriptions, and their ways of accounting for reality. Telling wisdom. About the nature of reality, and so there are common themes that come up not just in North America, but globally. The serpents connected with the waters, or any kind of reptiles, or amphibians with the waters, and then you have the felines being connected with fire, and the sun, and that’s something that goes beyond continents even.
There are a lot of stories around those things that come up that are similar, and certainly a lot of images around goddess where you have the figurines that are on just about every continent where you’ve got the woman cupping her breasts in her hands as if to say I am the nurturer, I am the life giver, I’m the ancestor. I’m the source. You have that bigger things we have in common, and yet especially when we’re in colonial situation, which those of us of the settler descent have in North America is not really for us to define what those traditions are. We can learn about them, and we can approximate what the actual knowledge carriers are saying. That’s kind of the position that we find ourselves in, and hopefully we will be able to join hands by being in solidarity with the indigenous people, because it isn’t just patriarchy. This is an aspect of patriarchy as I see it.
Empire is not possible without patriarchy. Without male domination, without violence, without system of high standing armies, and all the rest of that. We have also this colonial legacy that we’re living with this capitalism. All those things that are really based on hierarchy, and that’s one of the primary substances of domination is that there’s the violence aspect, but there’s also this idea of some automatically have more rights than others, and you see that in patriarchy, and you see that in empire, you see that in slavery, class systems, there’s all kinds of ways that plays itself out.
Hillary Raimo: Do you suppose that we need to change that to move forward, or do we need to get that-
Max Dashu: We have to.
Hillary Raimo: Yeah.
Max Dashu: I don’t see any other way. I even believe that goddess, or by whatever name you call the divine source deserves that of us. If we don’t then how can we lay claim to any kind of spiritual attunement to be allowing the devastation of the earth, and all of the crimes that are at this point epidemic in this society. I see spiritual attunement as a basic requirement of life. Of a conscious life, and if you have that spiritual attunement then you can’t shut yourself off from the pain of others. We have to move in some way, and no one can tell anyone else what that must be for their life. We have to find a way to try, and change this. It’s like Martin Luther King talked about the long arch of the universe turning towards justice. Sometimes it seems to us like it’s so unbearably slow, but from a standpoint of say European Americans we’ve done a lot to change the standing of women in the last 150 years. It hasn’t even been that long since we had the conscious organized women’s movement in the United States.
That is something that becomes more, and more fixated on the vote, but initially it was a little more broad based because of those active, and came out of the anti-slavery movement. I think it’s really important to have an integrated view of oppression, because it’s not just patriarchy, it’s not just racism, or whatever things you care to name. There’s a way in which all these are aligned with each other. We have to go to the root, which is really the meaning of the name radical. Going to the root. Now if we really go to the root of all being, that takes to the something that is beyond all these manifestations, and that can be the source at which we draw strength for our action in attempting to restore justice. Without the restoration of justice the earth will be destroyed. They are it destroying now.
Hillary Raimo: Do you suppose that that is where the root of the anger comes from?
Max Dashu: The anger? What do you mean?
Hillary Raimo: Unless you go to the root of where anger comes from you really just live it over, and over, and over again in different ways until you deal with it, right?
Max Dashu: Yeah. You become stuck.
Hillary Raimo: Yes. Like a cog in the wheel. If you find yourself asking why does this keep happening to me? Take a look at it, and go to the root of where this comes from within you. Otherwise you will keep experiencing it. Whether it is wounds and anger or a country who is too young to be wise enough yet to know better.
Going to the root. When people do that they get angry usually. Or sad. They face the emotional energy connected to the root and have to feel it and heal it. Tough work.
Max Dashu: I think that the pain is what creates the anger. You have pain when there’s oppressive things going on. Terrible things happen. You lose a relative because they die in prison, or just all kinds of things happen, and those are the things that call our attention initially to the fact that things are structured in an oppressive way. This world is not being run by justice. It’s being run by profit, and by the powerful, but what you said about being able to manifest from within ourselves, that’s like another aspect of going to the root. There’s two things we’re talking about here. One is going to the root of the problem in order to understand how it came about, and therefore how to change it. The other is going to the root of our being in order to draw strength from the source of the cosmos.
That we all have within us. We all can be both washed of our pain, transformed, but also that’s going to the root in that sense means gaining wisdom. Gaining solutions even. Pathways, and ideas, and even feelings, intuitions that can lead us to where we need to go. You find yourself stalling at a dead end, and thinking now what do I do? Those are moments to go to the root, and just to try, and really glock what next? What should be done? How can I transform this seemingly impossible situation? I think a lot of our difficulty is that collective heritage that you were referring to where it’s not just the individual, but we find ourselves were the end product of historical developments that are based on oppression. It becomes very, very tangled.
That leads to a lot of conflict. It leads to a lot of anger. A lot of the anger is justified, but the problem is how do we keep the anger from preventing us from being effective, and from blowing off at one person isn’t really going to change the overall structure. One of the biggest challenges before us is to learn to work in coalition. We’re not going to agree about everything. Let’s try to find what we agree about that we can work on together.
Hillary Raimo: Earlier you mentioned that you cannot shut yourself off from others pain. Goddess energy is a nurturing energy. It is an accepting energy. It is a forgiving energy. It is a kind of void that allows you to go into the dark, and sit there, and think, and dream, and pray.
Max Dashu: How do we handle each other’s pain?
Hillary Raimo: Yes.
Max Dashu: Yeah. There is something to be said for being able to hear somebody in speech, and allow him or her expression. It is possible to get stuck. Some people will get stuck, and will speak their pain over, and over, and over, and not be able to get out of it, but I do believe there’s a different more shamanistic level to being able to release the pain. There’s an energetic practice of releasing pain, and I think sometimes like you say it’s not just intellectual, we have multiple dimensions to our being, and most of the time we’re operating on some kind of beta brain wave level, or left brain, or whatever you want to call it where it’s just really superficial to the depths. It’s the depths from which we need to be transformed.
That’s what we were saying about going for the root. I think that we are going to have to have more transformative ceremony around this kind of thing. Where people can go into it, and resolve those things in themselves, and with each other. I do think that there’s values in practices of detachment. Not that somebody should not be aware of their pain, or their source of their pain, or your issues between you, and other people, but just screaming it out doesn’t really get us anywhere. We need to be able to hear each other, and sometimes wrongs are being committed so we have to find ways of dealing with those. That’s to some degree the pain is not going to go away until the wound is staved, and to stave the wound what I mean by that is that wrongs must remain right so the communities where fracking is going on they need our help, and their support to the people like the Winnemem Wintu up in Northern California.
They had a bunch of their land taken away when the Shasta Dam was built, and now the government is talking about raising the dam, which would flood even more of their lands. It’s incompetent on us to be aware of what’s going on, and to find ways to support those people just as we of course need also to give support to the woman in Marysville, Missouri who was … This whole family was attacked because of a rape of the daughter of the family by some elite athletes in the town. Their families had pull, and got the charges dropped. The whole town turned on the rape victim, and her family, and eventually burned down their house. It was a really horrible case so those kinds of things … Or the Marissa, and Alexander case in Florida. In order to transform the pain of patriarchy part of that process is changing those things, and bringing our energy to bear on that.
Making sure that justice is done, and in fact that case, the lieutenant governor just called for a grand jury to be convened because that was never done. There will actually be a trial in that case, and Marissa Alexander her conviction was overturned because she didn’t get a fair trial. Both of those cases happened because there was an internet outcry. There is ways that this new cyber reality where were able to actually first know about, and second get mass action on justices of that crime, and actually bring about healing. Write the wrongs. Those are all things that we can do about the pain, not just to make the pain pass, but also to really act in the world.
Hillary Raimo: Rebecca Sedwick, a recent headline, was being bullied by a 12 year old, and a 14 year old. All girls. What really struck me in this story was that only one of them said, or felt any kind of remorse, or sorry.
Max Dashu: Yeah.
Hillary Raimo: When we look at these modern day myths that are forming. We have a 12 year old feminine goddess who decided to take her own life because she couldn’t handle the pain. The pain was so overwhelming.
Max Dashu: And she had no support.
Hillary Raimo: No support, even from her family.
Max Dashu: She had no community around her saying what is happening to you is terrible. She didn’t feel like she had any place to turn.
Hillary Raimo: Obviously the Rebecca Sedwick case in Florida shows very clearly that we have a big problem. We have young boys going into school shooting, killing other people. You don’t see any young girls walking into school, why?
Max Dashu: The socialization.
Hillary Raimo: Are we dealing with healing of the inner child, the inner feminine energy within men?
Max Dashu: I see that the media has a lot to do with how that’s created. Some of these kids don’t have good parenting, but in some cases it’s like it’s a total shock to the parents what came out. The kids are consuming all this violence. Whether it’s movies, video games, or whatever. There’s this drooling over violence, and it’s attraction to violence for the thrills. Like the adrenaline rush, or whatever, that’s in the media so that … Things of a man with gun blowing people away, they viewed that hundreds, maybe thousands of times in their young life. That’s like a model for them. It’s like a meme that’s out there. They just pick up on this meme, and it’s like yeah, this is what life is. This is what reality is, and that’s how toxic it is.
The cultural conditioning is tremendous so that even … I know people who have raised children who have been going out of their way to try, and inculcate different values, but then that child goes to school, and they’re around other kids who are … It’s everything from the football to whatever you just name it. All of the suspense movies, and the blowing up scenes, and all of that, and violence just pervades American culture in that way. It pervades it in other ways too like guns, but that’s something that we have such a task ahead of us, because those types of archetypes are magnified a million fold by the fact that the controlling forces of the media, and backed up by advertising. It’s all a market run system. Lowest common denominator. That is what is socializing our youth. And Internet porn as well has played a huge role.
Hillary Raimo: Boys are learning how to respect women through that filter. Girls are learning to accept the treatment.
Max Dashu: Or not too.
Hillary Raimo: Parents can do the best job they can, but they don’t have their kids for the majority of the day. Your kids are being taught how to live in school programs where they’re out of the house from 8 o’clock in the morning till 3 o’clock in the afternoon, after school activities and even more so with the digital age. The majority of the day your kids are being taught by other people, other interactions. They come home, and you can have the greatest intentions, and the most beautiful visions for your families, but these days parents may not be the main influencers in a childs life.
Max Dashu: There have been some scholars that studied that, and said that in fact the peers have more influence on kids than their parents at this stage. That’s what’s happening. On the positive side there is an attraction. There is some skewed stuff happening there, but a lot of kids are attracted… It’s like where you are attracted to something indigenous in the Lord of the Rings, or there some aspects to the Harry potter, and some of those things that they are getting to is Shamanistic directions. It’s often in most cases in my opinion, but I think that there’s a way in which the kids are really attracted to all of these Elf archetypes, and things that really reference shamanic realities. It’s just that the primary purveyors of those things, once again, it goes through the top of the economic structure.
You don’t have people directing those movies who really know about those things. It doesn’t come out in a real way, and this is like a whole issue of the false representation that kind of permeates the culture, and the mass media is because that is a very far reach from the old woman in a village somewhere who knows to go out, and gather herbs, and perform certain kinds of chants, and how to carry out healings, and how to resolve trauma for somebody that she’s treating. It’s all been mystified, and media ties to a degree that it’s very hard for most people to glance, but I really believe that going back to this idea of going to the root. That is what has to happen. That’s the reason that I spent the last three years working on a DVD that I just put out this year, A Woman Shaman, was to gather as much of the archeological evidence as I could for us to be able to see all of this.
Not just a little bit here once in a while, and over there, but to bring it all together, and say look women are not just followers of men. There are entire cultural traditions where women were leading medicine people. We’re the healers, the Shamans, and I’m not saying men never do those things, and don’t have those aspects to them, but there’s been this cultural eradication of memory of those realities of the things women can do, and have done. Entire ethnic traditions where there was this very strong recognition of those powers of dreaming, and oracles. All these different aspects of transformation, and access. How to access source that were going on so that we can see it in Chinese Bronzes, or you have woman Shaman’s that they called Wu doing ecstatic dances, and pouring out libations, and playing on gongs, and drums. Dancing with birds, dancing with cranes.
This is what you usually are taught about training, or women are always supposed to be oppressed, and obedient. They are leading ceremony. The same thing with the rock art in the ancient Sahara, or South Africa, or Baja, California. It could go on, Australia. There are really, really ancient murals. Not just in the European case, and all these other places. Showing medicine women, and ceremony. Sometimes female shape shifters who are part animal, and part humans. They are in non-ordinary reality, or maybe we could say they are in dreaming reality. Why haven’t we been shown these things, and how much we really need to see them, because we have to heal the wound in our own psyches that was dealt by toxic culture that deprived us of any consciousness that these realities exist, or that women could be powerful in them.
I’ve gathered this all together, and on my website you can see a link there on supressedhistories.net to the page where the DVD can be ordered, but also a description of it. All of the different chapters. What I found is there were patterns. The whole chapter on sacred fans, and herbal bundles. Another one on ritual staves, and this is how we begin to approach again knowledge just by seeing what patterns exist there, and what the ancients left behind for us to see. Masks of ancient medicine women from Siberia, and drumming, and rattling. All these different angles on the way ceremony was done by the ancients, and the commonalities. The common patterns that exist in the way that healers were treating people, and the way that the oracles, and the prophets were finding wisdom about … Whether it was understanding the roots of a situation like we were saying going back to the source, and saying why is this person afflicted.
What’s going on with them? You have a divination. The healer does a divination, and we’re to understand that, and undertakes the healing. There’s just so many different aspects to this that we’re just beginning in this movement that really began over 40 years ago to attempt to say wait a minute. What they showed us was real, is not all of reality. Because there was this very scientific, and mechanistic idea of how the universe works. Like a machine right? But it’s not a machine. It’s alive, and it’s conscious, and it’s resonate. We can put ourselves in attunement with that. We can cause resonates ourselves so that we can transform the material, and this is something even physics has come to.
The chariot will sometimes fall apart in the last 50, or 60 years in the very materialistic world of physics. They began to discover that in fact you cannot predict mechanistic outcomes, because the nature of light is a little bit like a wave, and a little bit like a particle. Once you get down into those very deep layers of matter you cannot predict where that one electron, or atom is going to be. You can only have a probability curve about where it will end up next. Everything almost dub tailed back together. It was like the serpent eating it’s tail, because even the most extreme, rationalistic grounds of science in the quote west came around to the tail again, where they found that their definition of reality was coming back again, and approaching that the ancient wise ones were describing. Whether it was in China, or India, or Ancient Native North America that there are things that cannot be described in a linear manner, or even understood by the linear mind.
That’s the Shamanic reality.
Hillary Raimo: Suppressedhistories.net. Max offers online courses, webcasts, and a tremendous amount of information on her website. Max’s work restores women to cultural memory, and it also helps men restore women to cultural memory through themselves, and to the women in their life. Her DVD’s are educational and made with an awareness of how this restoration of accurate history will help balance and restore a kinder global culture and tolerance.
Max Dashu: Wholeness definitely, and that video by the way that you mentioned is from my first DVD, which is called women’s power, and global perspective. Once thing that I address in there is that in the mother right cultures there is good information for men there too, because it’s not only about the feminine within them, but it’s the idea that males are doomed to be bullies. There are other heritages out there. There’s other history out there in societies where males were not dominator’s, and I think that’s really important for men to know. There’s other ways of doing it. There’s not just a history of only male dominance. A lot of native writers are beginning to write about matriarchy now, and claiming that as their term for the societies that existed pre-conquest from the Iroquois, and other traditions.
One of the Iroquois writers, Alice Mann talks about chiefs of the Iroquois who use the symbolism of having big breasts, which give good milk. The men were not ashamed to use female symbolism, and in patriarchal societies men are running as far as they can from being called to be like women. Here, it’s something very different, because it’s much more of a complimentary cultural system. That’s good to keep in mind.
Hillary Raimo: We need to know how to balance it all.
Max Dashu: And what works.
It’s really about your own real nature, and I don’t care if it’s Buddhism, or whatever it is. The real path is getting back to being able to know. To really wake up to your own real nature. To nature itself. To what the reality of nature is. Which is why I’m such a big lover of walking in nature, because that’s the best source of accessing wisdom I know of.
Hillary Raimo: What about those who say oh you’re a feminist, oh you’re a man hater, oh you’re an angry woman. There’s so many cultural labels projected onto women. How do people deal with that?
Max Dashu: Labels. Don’t be afraid of being labeled because a lot of times those people throwing those labels are attempting to intimidate. Oh no, I’m not that, and the person retreats. That’s why ultimately fear is really a big problem, can’t intimidate you. The shame, and everything, but under that is fear that it will happen to you again. People get easily … They’re in flight a lot of the time I think. Just because they don’t know what to do, and things are very complex, and they don’t want to be called out things, or they want somebody to rain on them about something. It’s really weird how in this society it’s just like fear when it’s permanent is anxiety. It’s just like this constant state of dread, and I think a lot of people walk around with that without even recognizing it.
Hillary Raimo: Shadow work is challenging spiritual work. It’s about getting into the mud, rolling around, and letting that mud dry in the sun, and pull the toxins out of your skin.
Max Dashu: And the lotus grows out of the mud.
Hillary Raimo: That’s right. In closing Max what else would you like to share with our listeners quickly.
Max Dashu: I wanted to mention that I also have suppressed histories archives on Facebook, and that has just started to bloom like crazy. I’m posting there pretty much every day. There’s a whole archive of images, and essays in there also that people can explore.
Hillary Raimo: Thank you Max for all your hard work and for sharing it with us.
Max Dashu: Thank you Hillary.
Copyright 2017 and beyond, all Rights Reserved. No part of this may be reprinted without permission Hillary@HillaryRaimo.com
(Originally recorded April 2016 on Rocking Politics Podcast hosted by Hillary Raimo)
Hillary Raimo: Welcome to Rocking Politics. I’m your host Hillary Raimo. Joining me today is Danielle Keane. Danielle grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, went to school at Florida State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology. As an undergraduate she gained political experience by working on political campaigns and served as vice president to her university’s number label chapter, a non-profit organization that encourages political discourse between political parties. She is also the policy director for NORML. She tracks all local, state, and federal pending legislation related to the legalization of marijuana. She researches and drafts legislative alerts for NORML supporters, NRML’s efforts on the web page and social media including blogging. And she’s responsible for managing the NORML PAC, P-A-C, or Political Action Committee.
Danielle Keane: Thank you so much for having me.
Hillary Raimo: How did this topic become important to you?
Danielle Keane: Yeah, absolutely. When I was a student in college, undergraduate, I was studying political science and sociology like you mentioned. And I was enjoying what I was learning, but it was really theoretical, and it wasn’t really relevant to anything in my day-to-day life. And obviously, I was trying to really gain some skills while I got my undergraduate degree and so I could market myself later on. And so I really wanted to take what I was learning and apply it to a policy that I felt passionate about. So I did some soul searching at the time. And it just so happened that I was responsibly consuming marijuana. And I had a lot of friends that were doing the same thing. But unfortunately, I also had a lot of friends that were experiencing the pains of the drug war. They were getting arrested and were being faced with having a record despite being really good, responsible people.
And so it was at that time that I kind of focused on marijuana law reform and decided to really just stay on that plan as I finished my studies. So that was when I reached out to NORML, and I came up to Washington D.C. for a summer and did an internship with them. And that was what really just solidified my interest in helping to reform these laws.
Hillary Raimo: Currently marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug. Yet some people have successfully worked with the plant and its healing properties for example those suffering from PTSD have had some very positive outcomes. Cancer patients as well have had some success with the oil. Who would you like to acknowledge in the effort of legalizing marijuana from a politically?
Danielle Keane: That’s a good question. I have to admit that I’m pretty new to the movement. NORML was founded back in 1970 so there have been a number of elected officials and advocates and just plain old people that have worked tirelessly since then to really bring this issue to the forefront. So I guess my first shout out would have to be to Keith Stroup who is the gentleman who founded NORML back in 1970. And he still, actually, serves as in house legal counsel for NORML, and he’s in the office every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. So it’s pretty admirable to see the pioneers of marijuana law reform are still really dedicated to this cause.
Additionally, there are definitely a number of congressmen and women that have taken this issue on and have really tried to bring as much attention to it as possible. Congressman Earl Blumenauer from Oregon. Senators Kerry Booker, Gillibrand, and Rand Paul are … all three of those sponsored the CARERS Act which maybe we’ll into a little bit later. But it’s probably the most comprehensive piece of federal legislation related to marijuana. I could go on forever. I liked people that have done great work in the area, but I’ll leave it at that for now.
Hillary Raimo: Thank you. People listening can go to the website NORML, N-O-R-M-L dot org. You can find a lot of interesting and good sources of information on the website. You can also keep up to date on the legislation that’s going through currently. We have a number of states that are trying to legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana through ballot initiatives this year which include California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Nevada. They’re all in the midst of collecting required number signatures in their prospective states in order to make the ballot this coming November. Additionally, the Vermont legislature is considering a bill to legalize and regulate the adult use of marijuana right now. And if the House approves the measure, they could be the first state to legalize marijuana through the legislature rather than through ballot initiative.
Danielle, let’s talk about the CARERS Act. Let’s get right into it. What is it? Why does it matter?
Danielle Keane: Yes. Good question. So the CARERS Act stands for the Compassionate Access Research Expansion and Respect States Act of 2015. It’s pending in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. And it’s very extensive. It would, if passed, it would strengthen protections for states that have medical marijuana laws on the books already. It would reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. And it would remove CBD, which is short for cannabidiol, altogether from the Controlled Substances Act. It would also allow financial institutions and banks to do business with legal marijuana related businesses. And it would permit VA physicians to authorize medical marijuana use which they’re currently not allowed to do.
It does a couple more things. It also makes it easier to conduct research on marijuana. And so it’s by far probably the most comprehensive piece of marijuana related legislation that is currently pending.
Hillary Raimo: Thank you. How can people get involved?
Danielle Keane: Well, luckily, NORML has made it pretty easy for people to voice their opinions to their elected officials. People can go to our website, norml.org/act. And that’s where we keep the summaries of all pending legislation. And so you’ll go there, and you can see at the very top we have an alert for the CARERS Act. And we have already a pre-written letter that you can edit to make it personalized or not. And all you have to do is put your zip code in, a couple other pieces of information, and we’ll send those letters off to your elected officials. Also, the CARERS Act is unfortunately stuck right now in the judiciary committee who is chaired by Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa who has been quite an opponent to marijuana reform. And yet he’s probably the most powerful person as chair of that judiciary committee because almost all marijuana related legislation will need to pass that.
And so we also have an alert specific to Senator Chuck Grassley that urges him specifically to move on the CARERS Act. So if you’re from Iowa, please visit our website and use our tools to contact your senator.
Hillary Raimo: Where do the candidates stand on this issue?
Danielle Keane: Of course. So while the presidential candidates maybe haven’t spoken too much on the topic, they’ve definitely been asked questions related to medical marijuana and marijuana legalization this year more than they ever have in history. Which is a good thing. Since Marco Rubio and Chris Christie have left the presidential race, a lot of marijuana advocates around the country are relieved. Simply because those were the only two presidential candidates that really came out strongly against marijuana legalization. And they promised to walk back what President Obama has done, and they would not let states that have chosen to legalize marijuana move forward with those laws. Whereas currently President Obama has largely had a hands off approach and has let states go ahead with their own decisions.
So of the remaining presidential candidates, most of them have about the same position which is state’s rights. They support states’ abilities to pass these laws and to move forward with them as they see fit. Bernie Sanders has probably been the most outspoken and progressive on this issue. He has said that if he were faced personally with the decision to vote for full legalization or not, he has said that he would probably vote for it. And additionally, he did introduce a very progressive piece of legislation in Congress called the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015 which would deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act similar to alcohol and tobacco. And it would also provide states the power to establish their own marijuana policies.
Hillary Raimo: Who do you plan on voting for?
Danielle Keane: I am definitely feeling the bern personally.
Hillary Raimo: In closing, if you had one message you could get out to listeners, what would it be?
Danielle Keane: One message … I’ll keep it simple. If you’re passionate about a policy change whether it’s marijuana or not, pick one out and just really be an advocate for it. That’s the only that real change happens. And definitely need more advocates out there for every cause.
Hillary Raimo: Well, speaking of advocacy, you have an upcoming 2016 congressional lobby day. Tell us all about that, and how we can get involved.
Danielle Keane: Yes. Absolutely. So we do have NORML. It will basically be a two day event. On the first day will be an informational conference with moderated discussions between some of the most influential thought leaders in the movement. And then on that second day, we will all gather again on Capitol Hill to actually lobby our elected officials on a couple of pending marijuana related bills. So if you’re interested, check the event out on our website and join us.
Hillary Raimo: Danielle Keane from norml.org, thank you so much for being here.
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