If you have heard of Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California, then you have heard of Richard Lee, who was one of the first cannabis icons I had the opportunity to interview back in early 2011; I admired and became inspired by his strong sense of will and determination. As the saying goes in that 'the apple doesn't fall far from the tree', I recently had the opportunity of interviewing his mother, the uncompromising and highly spirited, Ann Lee! In not only getting to meet the parents of Richard Lee, but in getting to work with them here in Texas, it has been an absolute honor and rewarding experience. In regard to Ann Lee herself, I can't personally think of a stronger or better candidate when it comes to representing the Texas Women in this Movement; check out this interview and you'll see why she is so loved by the people in this movement, by the people of the state!

AUSTIN420:  What were your views on cannabis, at first, and what was it that changed your views?

ANN LEE: The views on cannabis was that I didn't have too many views on it because I thought it was horrible stuff. I did not question the illogic of prohibiting it. Even if marijuana was a terrible thing, in prohibiting it, just like with alcohol, you make it available to kids. I wasn't smart enough to think that way, but when Richard, in 1990, looked at us and said marijuana was good for him for his spasticity... that opened our eyes! The rest is history because he was a young man who always marched to a different drum, but he would not try to lie his way out of a problem, so he was then and is now, was then at 28 and is now at 52, a man with integrity, so we had to look at this issue differently and that's what happened.

AUSTIN420:  When and how did RAMP (Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition) come together?

AL: Back in 1990, we joined a group here in Houston called Drug Policy Forum of Texas and that had the same issue and we just went along with that and in 2010, I went out to help with Prop 19 and that's when I made the statement to the Oakland Tribune that, 'the drug war was so bad it was the most racist thing we've done since Jim Crowe'. And it wasn't too long after that Michelle Alexander's great book, The New Jim Crowe, came out, documenting it. She made such a good case to show how every President is guilty. But it was two years ago when we were in California at the NORML National Conference and I know exactly when it was because that was Richard's 50th birthday, October of 2012, he was born in '62, and we were there with Richard and I was asked to substitute on a panel and of the 5 that were on the panel, 3 of us were Republicans! So we just sort of realized that Republicans should not stand for prohibition, and so Richard said I came down the next morning to the hotel with RAMP! (laughs) And that is how and where RAMP was born. I think that so many things that we're trying to do is right, is God inspired, and from that, it was sort of a thought and we talked about it, people thought it was a good idea. In January of this year, some YR's, Young Republicans, got involved in the issue and they gave it an energy and an expertise that we did not have, and so, RAMP did pretty well at the Republican State Convention in Fort Worth in June of this year.

AUSTIN420:  I was going to ask you how that went and how the reception was to your views?

AL: It was amazing! We had a lot of support. I had a lot of people who would come up and say something to me about, you know, I agree with you, I think it's good, and that sort of thing, but it became an acceptable topic of discussion, I would say! That was in June of this year and RAMP is now doing somewhat better; we have inquiries from across the country, there are people who are interested in RAMP, quite a few different places.

AUSTIN420:  What would be the #1 thing you could suggest to bridge the divide on this issue when speaking to those Republicans against prohibition?

AL: The number one issue I think is supposedly Republicans have always stood for law enforcement, correct? And I think, through the years, we've sort of believed that you support law enforcements by supporting the Drug War, and I think the big thing we need to find a way to show all people, Republicans in particular, is that the Drug War is not the way to support law and order. The Drug War has given us a situation; there is no reason why young blacks should trust a cop, at least to what's going in Ferguson I believe. It's led to many, many things. We need to, in some way, dispel the idea that the Drug War is good for law enforcement and I think that's the big thing that we have to do, and I have to find a way to make people see that.

AUSTIN420:  Tell me about your views concerning medical cannabis as a pro-life issue?

AL: Oh! Thank you! Thank you! What do you mean by being pro-life? Is pro-life stopping an abortion? What good does it do to stop an abortion if later on that baby child needs a medicine for their well-being and they can't get it? If that medicine is marijuana. It's hard to say that you are pro-life and be anti-medical marijuana, I think is the simplest way to put this for the pro-life issue and that's an issue that I need to try to find a way to get to the people who are pro-life. At least ask them to think about it, to tell me what do you mean by being pro-life?

AUSTIN420:  With the changing times currently in Texas, how do you feel about Texas in this fight right now?

AL: How do I feel about Texas and our chances of having any decent legislation? Well I think we have a better chance this year than ever. Of course MPP (Marijuana Policy Project) is coming in with their lobbyist, Heather Fazio, which I think is a great asset to this cause. Do you know Joy Strickland from Dallas? She's put together this group to gather all the people who support medical marijuana.

AUSTIN420: In closing, what has been your favorite aspects in being involved in this movement?

AL: The people that I have met like you; with the sacrifices that you have to make just to get by, and the fact that marijuana can help you, we need to make it possible for you to use it legally, that's our whole purpose here! I have met people who are willing to stand up and be counted for what they believe in. There's a young man, here in Houston, that I met because I was wearing a medical marijuana pin, which I have worn since 1996, 97; I wear it all the time! He didn't know what to make of this white-haired, older woman wearing a marijuana pin. His name is John Baucum; he's very involved with the young Republicans and with RAMP, he's a big supporter of RAMP and we've become good friends. And I think it's incredible, this 80 year old, senior-citizen no less, has a good friend with this young 30 year old young man, and that to me, has been the beautiful thing that I have personally gotten out of it, it's in meeting the people that share my views and we cover all the different aspects of the political spectrum too. ~

 Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition