BY JOSHUA LEWIS
They call her the Hostess with the Mostess.
She is The Financial Agent for the B.C. Marijuana Party, The Director of Sales and Marketing for Treating Yourself (a Canadian/U.S. based medical marijuana journal), and she is a truly compassionate Patient-Advocate.
Wanted by the DEA on trumped up changes of manufacturing marijuana, conspiracy, seed sales and money laundering. Her name is Michelle Rainey and she has managed to balance all of this on her plate while surviving Crohn’s Disease and Cancer.
MCJ: Hello Michelle, this is Josh with Medical Cannabis Journal. How are you doing this afternoon?
MR: I am fantastic, thank you very much.
MCJ: Awesome. I Just wanted to start off by saying thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Could you please provide our readers out there with a little bit of background leading up to your trial and recent sentencing?
MR: In the year 2000 I started to work for Marc Emery and we both formed the British Columbia Marijuana Party. From there we did quite a few other projects which were of course funded by Marc Emery’s Emery Direct Seed Business which I actually ran for a period of time up until 2005 when the U.S. Government and the DEA came up to Canada. They decided to arrest Marc, myself and another fellow by the name Greg Williams. They charged us with three different counts one was conspiracy, the other was money laundering and another charge of manufacturing. On April 20th of this Year I pleaded Guilty to 1 count of manufacturing and I took a Plea- Agreement on July 17th, 2009 for two years of probation. Marc has not pled guilty yet. He will be doing that; apparently from what I’m told, September 21st. I have been told that he is also facing, not the same sentencing but rather the same charge of one count of manufacturing marijuana and that was due to all of my good diligence and hard work in negotiating for the past few years for myself. Once I was able to negotiate for myself then Greg Williams was allowed to have the same sentence as me. Marc will not get the same sentence, but Marc will be… I’m sure and I’m praying that Marc will not have to spend to much time in Jail.
MCJ: Yes we are all praying for that as well. I really hope that he does not have to spend to much time in a U.S. prison. That would be terrible. Hopefully he can get out and back home to Canada as soon as possible if he pleads guilty. How do you feel about your particular sentence being reduced to two years of probation? I’m sure you must be satisfied with your sentence because you were looking at hard time in a foreign country and I know that you have said before a prison sentence would actually be a Death Sentence.
MR: Josh, I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am that the District Attorney Todd Greenburg was very compassionate in regards to my situation and he completely understood that I had quit a ten-year professional banking career in Canada to advocate marijuana legalization for medicinal reasons.
I do believe in recreational but responsible recreational use. Just like with anything, whether it be alcohol or pharmaceuticals it has to be responsible use but regardless of that, I am very grateful that Mr. Greenburg understood that I have Crohn’s Disease
as well as cancer and took that into account and at the same time decided to give me the compassion that I needed in Healing My situation with this battle with cancer for the past year.
MCJ: I am so glad that you’re not serving time in prison because you are not a criminal Michelle.
MR: It First started with a thirty-year sentence and that was four years ago.
I was able to negotiate it down to a six month sentence for myself, then from six months to three months and all the way down to a two-year probation.
MCJ: You are very lucky that you got your sentence reduced to two years of probation. A thirty year sentence would be ridiculous.
MR: Its beyond lucky. At the same time extradition is 99.99% concrete in Canada. Anybody that is up for extradition… I am now one of the 0.01% that has not been extradited. I have made history, not only personally but as a Female in this Country. Just for that reason alone.
MCJ: Wow that’s wonderful. We will probably be reading about you in all of the history books… As a patient and advocate for medical marijuana, what would you was the most significant moment in your life?
MR: Well that is a question that I never have been asked before actually.
MCJ: I will take that as a compliment.
MR: I guess that is because there have been so many profound moments, that I can’t pin-point the very one. For me putting together seventy-nine candidates and seventy-nine districts for the British Columbia Marijuana Party (BCMP) in 2000; being the Financial-Agent as well as a candidate. That was a huge moment in my life’s history as well as for Marc. We worked extremely hard during that campaign we put 1/2 Million Dollars of the Emery Direct Seed money into that. Made History because the Province of B.C. Had never had a political party that was capable of putting all the candidates in, and in one year… So that I will say, is a Hudge Profound moment in my life. It just showed the world and brought the awareness and attention to cannabis prohibition in a different aspect politically and the power of politics. We’ve got 3.5% almost 4% of the vote and that was a substantial part of the vote. We also used Former President Ronald Regan’s Tour Bus.
MCJ: That’s great.
MR: Which caused a lot of flak and the BBC covered it, CNN covered it. It was just absolutely phenomenal and there has been other moments. Like when I was able to get my Possession and Grow License. I was finally validated by my physician that medical marijuana had saved my life. I had not used pharmaceuticals in fourteen years and had been surgery free. That was of course a profound moment and finally it was recognized that it worked. I could actually go on but I will leave you with those two.
MCJ: No problem, that was a great answer. What does becoming federally exempt for medical marijuana in Canada entail? How exactly do you go about doing that in Canada?
MR: Well, in Canada, it’s federally illegal. There is a program and there are 33 pages that Health Canada requires you to fill out. The information that you have to give of course is all about your personal life which comes down to your health, home security issues and if you are going to grow yourself or if you’re going to purchase… the purchasing process is a gray area because a lot of the pot that Health Canada is offering through the program is only one strain and it has been grown for the past ten years in an old mineshaft in Manitoba.
MCJ: That doesn’t sound very good, or safe, for that matter.
MR: No! Because the whole area surrounding the mine shaft has been irradiated.
MR: Its called the Film Flam Flop and there is a lot of history surrounding that situation, especially to us patients. Like I said, it’s kind of a gray area. A lot of people would prefer to grow themselves or patients will appoint somebody to grow it for them. Sometimes they will get it from compassion clubs across Canada. Compassion clubs run in a gray zone in Canada. They are not legal.
MCJ: Is it similar to the United States in that it is illegal federally, but legal within participating states?
MR: No, they are not legal at all. Compassion clubs fall under a society. The police and the communities tolerate them as long as they’re run safely and all the paperwork has been done. There is an application process when you go to a compassion club; your doctor must acknowledge the fact that you are going, if the compassion club is run under that gray area, the police tend to not raid them here in Canada like they do in the United States. There seems to be an abundance of problems when it comes to raids with your dispensaries but here in Canada our raids are limited.
MCJ: I wasn’t aware of that, I am so wrapped up with what goes on here in my home state of California. Do you think that there will ever be an end to the drug-war and do you see a light at the end of the tunnel?
MR: Yes I do actually. I am 38 years old now. I turned 38 in June, and when I first started out in marijuana-activism, after quitting my bank career, it was very bleak. That was in 1999/ 2000. There wasn’t as much attention placed on it. Now after ten years every single day there is news about marijuana. Every single day, politicians and law enforcement officials, your neighbors and business owners are recognizing the fact that marijuana does not kill anybody! That cannabis is a somewhat harmless substance that can help people medicinally. It can also help a community financially if it was legalized. This has been something that has been discussed many times now, considering we have had a global economic crisis and so many countries are failing economically that if you do decide to tax or regulate marijuana, that money can be fueled right back into the economy that it so desperately needs. It can aid in healthcare reform, education, and to refinancing people’s homes. It’s a sad situation when you have a majority of Americans who have a huge debt due to healthcare. The surgeries I’ve had here in Canada for my cancer recently; I’ve had three of them, for a very life-threatening cancer. They would have cost me six figures if I didn’t have the Health Care that I do in Canada. I am very fortunate that I do though. Very fortunate. Sadly, in your country the U.S., the health –care system has failed and a lot of people have been marginalized and the solution would be ‘Yes to legalize’ and tax the hell out of the pot.
MCJ: I agree.
MR: There are so many people buying cigarettes, tobacco and paying tax on that, they’ll be buying pot and paying the tax on that; refuel the economy. Mexico has had a huge problem with gang warfare: 8000 people died within a period of a year or less. There is a lot of ex-presidents and ex-leaders of countries. Whether its Bolivia, Mexico, or even Canada and the United States have all discussed the fact that its time to look into ending the drug war and the waste of money involved.
MCJ: It sounds like you are grateful for Health Canada?
MR: I am, because I married an American man five-years ago and I am very proud of that. My husband was born and raised in Chicago. He has given me an education, even though I did do research before I was ever married to him. Now I have a better understanding of the system in the United States I have a better understanding of the infrastructure, a better understanding of how the political-system works. Just from him alone, and I am grateful for that. In Canada we take care of our people and we should be taking care of them even better then we are. I am hoping that maybe somehow we can set an example in the U.S. for that very reason.
MCJ: I do as well, Michelle. Can you tell us a little more about your husband, Jeff Tek?
MR: Well he was born in Chicago worked for many years in the heating and air industry. He came to Canada to be with me five years ago. He’s a successful journalist now and a successful photographer and writes for a variety of magazines and Jef also helps me with my garden.
MCJ: I noticed while watching your YouTube channel that you are always trimming and harvesting some very kind-looking Afghani Bullrider. What is it about that particular strain that works for you?
MR: It provides a lot of necessary relief for my symptoms of Crohn’s Disease and Cancer. The Crohn’s I have had a terrible time with since I was a teenager and I’ve had 2 surgeries for it. The drugs didn’t work, neither did the surgeries. I found that my body was rejecting the necessary pharmaceuticals whether it was steroids to Tylenol 3 for pain suppression. None of it worked, but I started an experiment using marijuana when I was about 23 or 24 years old. I successfully weaned myself off of the pharmaceuticals, took away the nausea, the pain and was able to function, not to mention work fulltime. I have used a few strains over the years one was called Williams Wonder which I found to be phenomenal but I lost that strain years ago, sadly.
MCJ: I hate it when that happens!
MR: Yes, and then the Afghani Bullrider came to me 5 years ago and it has been a strain that has saved my life. I cannot even begin to describe the necessity of it as well as what the components are. It is a cross between Sativa and Indica so it allows me to function as well as suppress the pain and that is extremely important. I have a lot of spasms in my intestinal track due to Crohn’s Disease. I don’t take any of the pharmaceuticals. I have chronic diarrhea and I will have it the rest of my life. I eat and a couple hours later, I am in the bathroom. The nausea is very bad as well. I have never been pregnant but when I hear women talk about morning sickness… I have that feeling 24 hours a day. Seven days a week. So I am very fortunate that the marijuana combats that as well.
MCJ: With the Afghani Bullrider is it more of a Sativa or Indica?
MR: Half! Yes the Afghani is Afghani and the Bullrider is a Shiva Skunk we figured out.
MCJ: Interesting. Well you have had a lot of great answers to my questions. Is there anything that you would like to add before we conclude?
MR: I’d like to mention that I put together from the past year and a half my Medicinal Cannabis Education Package that which hasn’t been done yet. You know the pharmaceutical companies will give you a whole package with samples as well as pamphlets concerning there new drug and the affects of it. So there is nothing like that in the U.S. or here in Canada. Not that I am allowed to give out any samples which I cannot do, but what I have done is I have taken those 33 pages of the Health Canada Forms. I have also taken 4 pages of beneficial information which are books and websites that verify cannabis’s therapeutic value and also a list of other websites that are related to cannabis as well as the American College of Physicians paper that they recently published which states, “That they believe in marijuana’s therapeutic value. There are 12,400 in that college in America that agrees with the therapeutic value. So it is a package that I have been sending out to people who want to either be educated about the medicinal value of cannabis or who need help getting a legal exemption in Canada. I have facilitated over 100 legal exemptions now and I have sent out 1000 of these packages. Whether it was to politicians whether it’s to other countries that would try to emulate something similar to that whether its police officers and neighbors the list goes on… I wouldn’t mind having mentioned that seeing how it is an important part of what I do it voluntarily.
Helping patients get there exemption as well as advocating.
MR: There are so many people that are doing so many wonderful things. That is another thing I’d like to say: there are great activists out there who not only work full-time, they volunteer fulltime like myself and we are all trying to make a difference in a very positive way, I feel we all have a voice and its important that we are able to defend ourselves with courage and respect.
MCJ: Most definitely. Michelle, you are an inspiration to us all here a MCJ. I personally follow everything that you do and it is so important for the world at large to hear your story. On behalf of, MCJ, our readers and myself thank you for taking the time to do this interview. It was a pleasure talking with you.
MR: Thank you, I appreciate that so much.
MCJ: Take care, Michelle.
MR: All right, you, too. Goodbye, Josh.
Here are some websites to check if you would like to learn more about Michelle Rainey: