Recreational Cannabis with Mahopac News Editor Bob Dumas
Play • 1 hr 32 min

Today’s guest is the editor of Mahopac News, Bob Dumas. Dumas has been with Halston Media for over six and a half years, and as you’ll hear, he is not just an employee, but also a good friend. He is truly dedicated to the town of Carmel, NY, and today he joins host Brett Freeman for an in-depth interview to discuss his life story and share his thoughts on local news and events. Dumas and Freeman talk about the current debate to allow marijuana dispensaries in Carmel, his past arrest for growing cannabis in 2002, and how serving 30 days in jail impacted his life, career, and finances moving forward. Dumas shares which books helped him through this difficult period, how he arrived in the field of journalism, and the events that led him to Mahopac News.

Dumas offers his perspective on the troubling history of marijuana in this country, often targeting minorities and being vilified by authorities. He explains why he feels marijuana is not harmful, addictive, or a gateway drug to other substances. You’ll also hear his thoughts on how to regulate cannabis effectively, how it has helped him cope with various medical issues, and the many ways Carmel could actually benefit from legalizing recreational cannabis. Finally, Dumas and Freeman talk about the stigma still surrounding the consumption of marijuana, how this might evolve as it becomes legal, and how we can discuss differing opinions on this controversial topic in a calm and respectful way. 

Insightful, funny, and entertaining, today’s conversation highlights the importance of persevering through life’s difficult moments, and shows us how evolving laws and cultural attitudes can sometimes shed new light on past mistakes. 


Episode Highlights:

  • Bob Dumas loves the collaborative energy of working together in an office and missed that during the pandemic; however, working from home has been a blessing in disguise in dealing with his health issues
  • He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in April and underwent bypass surgery last month
  • Dumas’s thoughts on allowing marijuana dispensaries in Carmel, NY
  • He was arrested and charged with three felonies for growing cannabis in August 2002, but this was ultimately dropped to one felony charge of conspiracy to maintain a grow house 
  • Dumas was sentenced to 30 days in jail
  • He was able to serve this time over the weekends, and had to attend counselling afterward
  • His parents also passed away during this time
  • He was eventually fired as well - all because of an activity that is legal today
  • Dumas is a voracious reader and turned to books while serving time in jail
  • He particularly enjoyed The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  • Dumas was also involved with a frozen yogurt business in LA, but it was unfortunately put out of business due to an earthquake, mudslides, and the Rodney King riots
  • These negatively affected the economy and many accounts were lost
  • Dumas also had some success working as a screenwriter with his partner
  • From there he moved to journalism
  • His felony conviction destroyed him financially and led to other challenges
  • History of marijuana in this country and Dumas’s feelings on whether it is harmful or addictive
  • He feels that it is not addictive, will not cause withdrawal, and it is not a gateway drug
  • In terms of legalizing cannabis, you don’t want to tax it so heavily that people then turn to the black market for cheaper options
  • Marijuana has helped Dumas cope with various health issues related to Diabetes
  • When you go to marijuana dispensaries, you will see a cross-section of customers as it helps people of all demographics and backgrounds - it is not a criminal drug
  • This could help bring tourism and vibrant energy to Carmel, NY
  • Everyone reacts to marijuana in different ways
  • Although Dumas supports dispensaries, he is not in favor of consumption sites
  • Cannabis is still categorized as a Schedule I drug, along with heroin, cocaine, and crystal meth
  • Dumas is in favor of legislation to re-categorize it to Schedule III, which would lift many barriers and restrictions
  • There is still a stigma around consuming cannabis
  • Dumas is petitioning to overturn his criminal conviction in LA
  • Marijuana is not without its issues, but Dumas feels it is not worth sending people to jail and ruining their lives over


Quotes

“I got into this business many years ago, and one of the reasons that drew me in is, I'm a people person. I like interacting with people. And I like collaboration and teamwork.”


“We're doing the best we can under the hand that was dealt us.”


“I faced three felony charges, one of them was conspiracy to maintain a grow house, which is something that I didn't even know existed, the other one was theft of services… And then also possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. So those are the three big felonies.”


“That's a cliche way for the law enforcement to track down some of these grow houses. They see these high electric bills.”


“As they investigated more, they saw that I really did have a more diminished role. And we were able to reduce the charges to just a single felony charge of conspiracy to maintain a grow house. So I ended up being sentenced to 30 days in jail.”


“You wouldn't believe how much it costs to be arrested.”


“I was the only one in the counseling group there for marijuana. Everybody else was there for cocaine, heroin, crystal meth… And so they kind of made fun of me.” 


“It was during this period that I lost both my parents, both my parents passed away. So I had a lot of bad things happen to me all at the same time.”


“Recreational cannabis was made legal two years after I moved away from California.”


“It's kind of funny, because all my fellow cell mates were amazed that I was such a reader. I was the only one who came in there with a stack of books.”


“We started this yogurt business. And it was great for about three or four years. We were making money… Then a whole bunch of stuff happened at the same time. We had an earthquake, we had the Rodney King riots, we had mudslides. We had a lot of things that impacted the local economy, knocking a lot of businesses out of business.”


“So I dove right back into the journalism game. And it was great because that job helped me network and I made a lot of Northern Westchester, Putnam County connections there. And a lot of people from that job still know me today.”


“I had this great financial net under me - lost all that. So I ended up living paycheck to paycheck… That's impacted me ever since. I've never had the financial security that I once had, all because I was growing a plant that the government didn't want me to grow.”


“I take full responsibility for what happened to me, I made all the decisions. Yeah, there were bad people in my life that were pushing me in certain ways, but it would have been easy enough for me to say no.” 


“These people are just living a life that's been filled with misinformation and they're still buying into this whole ‘reefer madness’ thing.”


“Marijuana is a lot like alcohol in that pretty much everybody reacts differently.”


“It wasn't marijuana that devastated my life. It was the law.”


“If people want to talk to me about it on an intellectual, calm level, I'm more than willing to. Are there issues, are there problems? Sure. But that's no reason to make it illegal and lock up people and ruin their lives over it.”



Links:

Halston Media Group website


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