Old-school activist and voting advocate John Frasure travels the state, visiting dispensaries and talking to Oklahomans about medical marijuana.
“3 … 2 … 1. We’re live!”
It’s a familiar salutation to those keeping tabs on the Oklahoma medical marijuana community via social media. Cannabis activist John “Old School” Frasure uses them to introduce his frequent Facebook live updates.
Frasure, 66, has been a full-time cannabis activist for the last four years but first smoked cannabis when he was 18 years old and in the United States Marine Corps.
“We’d go out and we go on these long hikes and stuff, and [when] you come back in, you’re all wound up at the end of the evening,” he said. “You’re sitting there, drinking beer, and that’s when you start learning about the world. I’m from little bitty Chickasha, Oklahoma. You start learning about the world. People sitting there, smoking. Cool. It wasn’t no big deal. … So we used it to calm down at night.”
When he left the Marines, Frasure worked odd jobs, including construction on conservation dams for the government. He later worked for Southwestern Bell for years as an operator, installer, lineman and splicer and retired as a senior cable repairman.
“I had a hand in anything that went on in Norman or Moore phonewise,” Frasure said. “That’s what I like about the jobs I’ve had. I can relate to so many patients because I can sit there and I know the job they’re doing; I know how their elbow’s hurting because they’re doing this too many times or their shoulder’s hurting or their neck’s hurting.
“I found out they want to pay you money for muscle. Roughnecking, construction, concrete finisher — I’ve done all those. They’ll pay you big bucks to do that, and you get torn up doing it. I’ve worked in foundries, machine stamping places, aircraft building. You name it, I can relate to the job.”
Working jobs that were hard on his body is not where Frasure’s empathy ends.
“Doing this for four years, several times I’ve got sick,” he said. “The first time I got sick, I got the flu. That told me how my fibromyalgia people feel every day. And then after I got over the flu, I couldn’t smoke. That told me how my COPD people feel every day.”
Frasure has been prescribed a number of medications over the years and was on opiates and benzodiazepines for different conditions for more than a decade before leaving them all but a blood pressure pill behind for cannabis.
“I lost 12 years of my life. That’s why I hate those drugs so much, because I was a zombie sitting in a chair. … I couldn’t do squat. I was uncoordinated. I kept passing out. Then cannabis came up, Oklahomans for Health. I went to my first meeting at Norman Public Library,” he said. “I sat at three different stores out there in the country. I got 3,000 signatures from my area sitting at those three stores. I had times I would sit at these stores because I would always sit in the shade. Had one I’d sit from like 6 o’clock in the morning until like 10. Then I’d move to another one from 10 o’clock to like 1, 2. Another one, I’d move from 2 to like 6. I’d do this every day. So people would come by and they’d see me. They’d stop, they’d smoke a cigarette and stuff and they’d get to know me and everything.
“That’s when I said that this movement changed from ‘me’ to ‘we.’ That’s when I got the epiphany that no, it’s
not just about you. That’s why it started. It was about you. But now you’ve got to take care of all these other people because any time I go somewhere, you can sit and look. Like, right here. Now, how many people do you think that you can see are suffering in silence right now? Or disabled. They’re hurt.
“You go by one of your buddies and work and you go, ‘How are you feeling today?’ and he’s like, ‘Oh, my shoulder hurts.’ He’s got a torn rotator cuff. You ask him that four or five days and you get tired of asking him. The thing is, you asked him that for two seconds. His shoulder hurts every second of every day. When he goes to sleep, when he wakes up — it never stops. Pain is so constant. It doesn’t care. I always say that people are suffering from three kinds of pain; one of the three: either mental pain, emotional pain or physical pain. And those other pains can make other things happen in your body.”
Frasure loves to talk to people but quickly loses patience with people who oppose medical cannabis.
“They sit there and they say something to me, and I go, ‘You don’t talk to the people I talk to. I just want to knock you out because you’re driving me crazy because if you talked to the people I talk to, you would understand,’” Frasure said. “We’re the demographic, 45 and up, we’re the people wanting cannabis. Everybody thinks it’s Cheech and Chong, young guys. No, it’s not.”
But now that State Question 788 has passed and medical marijuana is the law of the land, Frasure’s work is not done. He retired on medical disability over a decade ago and uses his Social Security money to travel from one end of the state to the other in his pickup, carrying a stack of voter registration paperwork.
“I know several cannabis businesses rather well. I’m not financially involved. I’m not a processor, I’m not a grower, I’m not a dispensary. I am a consumer. That’s why I say whatever I want because I can go wherever I want,” Frasure said. “I can come out and say, ‘Yeah, I use cannabis.’ What are you going to do to me? I’m retired. All you can do is arrest me, and I’ve got a card now, so you’re not going to arrest me because everything I do is legal. I do this from basically 5:30, 6 in the morning to 11:30 every night. I’m going to dispensaries and talking to people during the day, and then usually, I get home 9, 10 o’clock at night, and from 10 o’clock to 11:30, I’m answering messages. I want to make sure that everyone who’s getting a card is a registered voter. It’s not going to end.”
The conversation with Extract halted because Frasure was off to yet another cannabis engagement. He ended the interview as he does his Facebook videos: “And I’m off like a herd of turtles. … Ping!”