Marijuana helped his stepmom, so Nicholas ‘Turbo’ Raines wants it to help others

04/19/2014 1:00 PM

04/19/2014 7:54 PM

Last month, Nicholas “Turbo” Raines, 38, of Kansas City was elected president of the Kansas City chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, kcnorml.org and on Facebook. Raines, whose current employer requires random drug testing, does not use marijuana now, although he has in the past. Raines and KC NORML support Missouri HJR 86, an amendment introduced March 31 by Rep. Brandon Ellington of Independence that calls for total legalization of marijuana, subject to voter approval. Raines also supports a Senate bill that would legalize medical use of the drug. This conversation took place at Raines’ Brookside home.

How did you get the nickname Turbo?

I was security director for America’s Pub in Kansas City, Wichita, St. Louis and Oklahoma City for eight years, and one night when things got a little out of control at the Wichita bar a bartender said I looked like Turbo from “American Gladiators,” throwing people over my shoulder and carrying them out, and it stuck.

What is your mission as president of the local chapter of NORML?

To make the biggest push Kansas City has ever seen for legalizing marijuana in the state of Missouri for the sake of the economy, sick people who are suffering and citizens who want to use it responsibly in their own homes. Legalizing marijuana would also create jobs.

What kind of jobs?

There is already a company in town making vending machines for marijuana and sending them to California and Colorado. There could also be a lot of agriculture jobs. Hemp can be used in fuel, paper, clothing and to make rope. It grows easily in our climate and requires no pesticides, which makes it an environmentally safe and inexpensive crop to grow.

Have you met with any legislators yet?

I met with Missouri Representative Brandon Ellington from Independence, who introduced HR 86, which would put total legalization before the voters, and I told him he has our support.

I haven’t met (U.S. Sen.) Claire McCaskill, but I read in The Star that when she went to

town hall meetings

around the state last month, she was surprised that marijuana legalization was the thing she spent the most time answering questions about. I’m surprised she was surprised.

Who comes to NORML meetings?

We have people who have Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, arthritis, PTSD and cancer or have people in their lives that are dealing with those conditions. Most of those people want access to cannabis oil, which doesn’t even get you high.

Forbes magazine estimates that Colorado is going to collect $40 million in new tax revenue from marijuana sales this year. Think what beautiful parks and zoos they can build with that money or what schools could do with it. It’s time for us to stop fighting legalization and argue instead about where to spend the money it brings in.

It’s easy to talk about helping cancer victims. What do you say to people who think recreational use is bad for society?

It’s impossible to kill yourself with marijuana. If your son or daughter got hold of a half gallon of whiskey, they could accidentally kill themselves if they drank enough of it. If they got hold of a pound — or 10 pounds — of marijuana, they could not smoke enough to die of overdose.

Also, marijuana doesn’t provoke aggression. I worked in club security for more than a decade, and I never saw a group of people come in who had smoked too much pot and started throwing punches. I frequently saw violence break out when a crowd of guys came in who had consumed too much alcohol.

What made you become an activist for legalization?

About four years ago my sister — stepsister — called me crying. She said her mom, my stepmom, was dying of cancer. The doctors gave her 30 days, and she wasn’t eating and she wouldn’t get out of bed.

Now, I’m a bad brother. I don’t keep in touch like I should, but when my little sister calls me up crying, that tears me up and I’m going to do whatever I can for her. I was smoking pot at the time, so I rolled a bunch of joints and went to the house.

My stepmom was lying in bed and I said, “Let’s go outside.” She said, “I can’t. I’m too weak.” I said, “I’ll carry you.” So I carried her outside and lit a joint and said, “Please smoke this with me.” She said, “Why not? I’m dying.” So she smoked it and we sat out there in the sunshine for about an hour, and then I carried her back into bed.

About 10 minutes later I was in the living room talking to my sister and my stepmom came walking out and looked at me and said, “The hell with it. I’m making breakfast.” She had been a short-line cook, and she went in the kitchen and made a full breakfast: eggs, bacon, ham, toast, grapefruit, everything.

She made it eight more months, and I broke the law by supplying her with pot the whole time. I am fighting so that nobody in Missouri has to risk jail time to help a loved one who is suffering.

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