Richard Lee: Former Houstonian Leading California's Legal-Weed Battle

Californians, those wacky folks, will be voting in November on a referendum to legalize recreational marijuana.

Not medical marijuana, recreational marijuana.

And they've got a Houstonian -- and his 80-year-old mother, who still lives here -- to thank.

Richard Lee was a bit of a hemp activist during his years here but, according to a story in today's San Francisco Chronicle, he became a pot warrior only after being dissed by Houston police.

Lee was a lighting technician for Aerosmith when an accident left him in a wheelchair. The Chronicle reports:

Medicinal pot - which was illegal then - was the only thing, he said, that dampened back spasms as he sat in his wheelchair. When he was carjacked in Houston a year into his disabled life and waited nearly an hour for uninterested cops to show up, he found his cause.

He figured police were probably off wasting their time making marijuana busts instead of chasing the people who had stolen his car.

"I felt like, here was this wonderful medicine of cannabis that had helped me so much, and why were the cops going after people using and selling it instead of the psychos and sociopaths who are out there robbing people?" Lee said. "I thought I should do something about it."

He then opened a hemp clothing store here and spoke out on weed issues. He's since moved to Oakland and begun his crusade.

The Chron gives his initiative a 50-50 shot at passing. Among those helping out on the campaign is Lee's 80-year-old mother Ann, who still lives in Houston.

"The older I get, and the more I look back and think how I grew up in Louisiana with Jim Crow, and didn't really understand it as a white person," she told the Chron, "the more I realize that we should be talking against an unjust drug war against marijuana just the way we did against Jim Crow."

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