In this edition of Cannabis Conversations, former municipal court judge Doug Bench discusses his transformation from ardent prohibitionist to medical cannabis advocate.
Project CBD: Hi, I’m Martin Lee with Project CBD and today we’re going to be speaking with Doug Bench, a retired lawyer and municipal court judge from Ohio, who’s been rethinking his ideas about cannabis. This is yet another edition of Cannabis Conversations … Welcome to Cannabis Conversations.
Bench: Thank you, Sir. It’s an honor and pleasure.
Project CBD: Now, you’re with a group called Rethink Green. You are the founder and co-director. We’re going to talk about your changing thoughts about marijuana – or as we prefer to say cannabis. Tell us about your attitudes toward cannabis when you were a judge and a lawyer.
Bench: When I was a judge and lawyer in Ohio, in one word: I was a prohibitionist. I had some experience with cannabis when I was a juvenile court referee and developed very negative feelings about it. Went to judicial college – was told it was horrible, it was bad, it wasn’t medicinal, it was addictive, it’s a gateway drug – all the crap we used to get fed. And as a municipal judge, I put over 300 people in jail for marijuana offenses, some of them for a year.
Project CBD: And generally, were these offenses for possession, or deals, or what?
Bench: Never for deals. Municipal Court is for misdemeanors. So it was never large amounts. It was usually personal use, frankly. They got it at school or they got it on the street corner, and we didn’t want them going the route that everybody we were told was going. So, we gave them some shock treatment in jail. I stayed a prohibitionist most of my adult life.
Project CBD: So what precipitated the change in your attitude toward this?