11/18/12 Doug McVay

Harm Reduction Conference I, reports from Doug McVay of CSDP with Opening Panel, HRC Chair Alex Kral, Cyndee Clay & Ruth Kanatser, remembering 4 yr old Cash Hyde & MORE!

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Guest: 
Doug McVay
Organization: 
Common Sense for Drug Policy
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Cultural Baggage / November 18, 2012

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Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”

DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.

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DEAN BECKER: Hello and welcome to this special edition of Cultural Baggage. We’re going to have some special reports coming out of Portland, Oregon and the Harm Reduction Conference put together by our good friend Mr. Doug McVay but first, this:

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DEAN BECKER: It is with great sadness that I must note of young Cash Michael Hyde, America’s youngest medical marijuana user, who died this week of brain cancer at 4 years of age. Here to give us more details is his father, Michael Hyde.

MICHAEL HYDE: The one thing Cashy taught us was love and that this earthly possession that we all have is just for a moment and there is so much more out there. Even though Cashy is gone he’s here and that’s why when we started the foundation we started it in Cashy’s name for his legacy to go on.

I never want to let him go but at the same time you got to do what’s right and Cashy fought a hard battle. He fought for almost three years. Last night he chose to pass away on his own terms. With that I can’t be mad at it. He went just the way he wanted to go but he wanted to go and cancer has no control over that.

In lieu of flowers and stuff like that if people want to donate to the Cash Hyde Foundation…the cancer fight continues – 47 kids will be diagnosed today and 7 will die. There isn’t a lack of families that will need support so we’re just going to continue fighting cancer with smiles, creating pediatric cancer awareness and assisting families the way we have for the last two years.

What won’t we remember most about him is his smile, his eyes, his energy. He was such a sweet baby boy. He loved being a big brother. He loved his bikes. He loved coloring and his Playdough and his big brother Colton. He slept downstairs on Colty’s bunk with Colty all last week which he’d never done before but you could tell that Cashy stuck around so all of us could get a chance to do something right and enjoy it the right way.

Cashy gave us the best love of all and he gave us closure. That’s just one of the reason he’s the angel that he is.

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DEAN BECKER: The Cash Hyde Foundation is spelled cashhydefoundation.com

My thoughts and I’m sure the thoughts of thousands of people are with the Hyde family at this time.

Let’s go to the Harm Reduction Conference in Portland. I’m ill, old and was unable to make it. Thank God that Doug McVay was there. He lives for it.

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DOUG McVAY: The Harm Reduction Coalition held its biannual conference in Portland, Oregon from the 15th through the 18th of November. The 9th annual Harm Reduction Conference: From Public Health to Social Justice is the only multidisciplinary conference focused on improving the health of drug users.

Over 1,000 people from around the country met in Portland, Oregon to address the many critical issues affecting the drug user community including overdose, HIV, Hepatitis, incarceration and stigma.

Physicians, medical professionals, policy makers, researchers, HIV and Hepatitis service agencies, organizations providing services for the youth and homeless as well as community-based and advocacy organizations were very well represented.

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ALEX KRAL: We are in Portland. I want to welcome all of you to the 9 th National Harm Reduction Conference. This is going to be an amazing event and it’s going to be great because all of you are here.

I’m going to leave you now with our executive director, Allen Clear.

ALLEN CLEAR: Hi. My name is Allen. I work for the Harm Reduction Coalition and I want to talk about some of the reasons why we do some of the things we do at this conference and why we think it’s a bit different.

It seems like the landscape out there is all changing. We just had the election. No one knew, really, a month ago what was going to happen after election day. Along with that reelection we had the second term for a president who can now take on maybe doing some things in a more bold fashion.

The world in which we live has completely changed now with the Affordable Care Act and looking at how things become medicalized and one of the reasons we called this conference from public health to social justice is because you can do things in the public health way which doesn’t mean it affects social justice for the people we work with and that is something that we want to talk about it at this conference.

One of the ways in which we are going to talk about it and folks are going to talk about this is having the open space. People are going to talk more about that. Every conference we do some of the best stuff happens in the corridors not just in the sessions. We are creating that corridor space here. That’s one of the things we are doing differently to reflect what we need to do to reshape where we are, who we are and where we are going.

One of the things that seems to have emerged out of this is overdose. The changing landscape…a few conferences ago it was like needle exchange…needle exchange and we got needle exchange tracts. And now it’s like so “in your face” and how much is changing around overdose and the overdose plenary kind of set itself up here when we put it together.

The opening plenary is a magical plenary that we are going to have in seeing what we hope and aspire to in terms of people who use drugs, doing things themselves and changing the environment and the world in which they live and the situation in which they work.

We didn’t really come up with a title for it because, like I said, I think it’s going to be magical in terms of this is how things can be done.

We did the AIDS conference this year. We did the Global Village…the zone in the conference and we kept harm reduction on the map there. It was a pain in the ass. It was a lot of work and you wonder what it’s for until you get there and people come from all over the world from the harm reduction community and you know that’s what it’s about.

We are in Portland and I want to hand this over to Ben from Austin because the last conference was in Austin.

BEN ASORIANO: Hello, my name is Ben Asoriano and I’m visiting from Austin, Texas. It’s great to be here. I’m excited and got a lot of energy.

The first conference I went to was two years ago. That was the first harm reduction conference I’d ever been to and when I left that conference I left with a lot of energy to just keep doing what I’m doing.

The atmosphere out there in the streets is the same. People are out there using. I remember when I was out there in the streets using I had the stigma that I was the low-life but when I come to this conference I get this energy from ya’ll guys since we’re all the same.

Today when I go out into the streets of Austin and I try to find those drug users and try to tell them we can get some clean needles, I got some harm reduction kits to try to help them out. When I was out there in the street I didn’t have that and today it’s there and it’s awesome.

With that I’m going to turn it over to the next speaker. Thank you.

KATHY OLIVER: Hi, I’m Kathy Oliver. I’m the Director of Outside In here in Portland, Oregon. I wanted to say welcome to Portland. We’re known as the city of roses. We’re also known for bicycles, for dogs and for rain. I can pretty much guarantee you that you’ll experience rain while you’re here.

We’re honored to be the host for the 9th Annual Harm Reduction Conference. Outside In started a syringe exchange 23 years ago in 1989. It was very controversial.

Today I’m happy to report that it’s not only supported but funded by our local country health department and by the city of Portland Mayor’s office. So Portland has been a very good supporting city for syringe exchange and harm reduction.

With that I would like to introduce Outside In’s syringe exchange coordinator extraordinaire, Haven Wheelock.

HAVEN WHELLOCK: I’m Haven. I coordinate the syringe exchange here in Portland at Outside In. I’ve been with Outside In for 6 years now. I’m also Outside In’s core outreach coalition. I also work on the bad dateline that is part of Outside In’s programming.

I’m honored to be here. I wish I would stop shaking. I feel so very lucky to be in Portland and to be a part of Outside In. Portland has a long history of harm reduction and the idea of harm reduction has bled into so many things besides syringe exchange.

It’s integrated into housing models that we work with. It’s integrated into drug treatment that we work with. It’s a philosophy that we have really embraced in this city and I’m proud to say that we have.

That’s not saying we don’t have work we still need to do because we do and the more I stand here and see all the amazing work that you’re doing – I have never felt so inspired and so dedicated to being a part of making this move forward for Portland.

JOANNA BURTON MARTINEZ: Hello, my name is Joanna Burton Martinez, Portland, Oregon.

In defense of the tramp for this lady says yes when everyone else says no. She might be available last minute – just arrive.

In defense of the tramp who will fix that need, make it happen, go the extra mile by foot, in car, patients on the internet.

This tramp, bad girl, trash on a stick – for a woman held in such low regard - why is she so darn popular?

If a girl trades sex for a hit off the pipe or to feed her kids or get a new pair of shoes – she does not deserve to die.

If girl does drugs because of, in spite of, or as a result of the life – if she is a he or a Z, this person does not deserve to die.

If I had to guess the topic of sex and drugs will be at this conference.

These issues can be neutrally exclusive and one has been known to follow the other. It’s OK to talk about the risk of someone who has lots of sex with lots of people and does lots of drugs and believe that a working girl no more deserves violence from a bad date than someone getting loaded deserves a fatal overdose.

Do this one girl a solid and broach the notion holistically and compassionately with pragmatism and truth.

Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir. I still like to say it. And besides I have the mic. Stay strong, stay active and dance loud.

In member of Latisha Ray Marsha because well-behaved women rarely make history.

GARY OXMAN: I’m Gary Oxman. I am the health officer for Multnomah Mission in Washington County which is the three core counties in the metropolitan area. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the west coast parliments is the Chief Health Officer of the health departments.

It is my task to be the bureaucratic welcome to you all here today. I feel we in our health department here in our communities welcome you here to Portland. That’s my first slide.

We are really thrilled that you are here for the conference today and that we are here for the conference. We have many of our staff from the health department and community organizations who will be participating and presenting and I want to thank them for their participation and also for their planning.

As Haven and Kathy let out of the bag Portland is a harm reduction town. Portland also has its challenges as I’ll present to you in a minute but we’re really thrilled with the title that you chose and the theme that you chose for the conference: From Public Health to Social Justice.

We’ve been in the harm reduction business here for more than 20 years in Portland starting with the HIV epidemic, working our way through the heroin epidemics in the 90s and the 2000s and now working with prescription drug use and the many, many issues involved in harm reduction.

We strive to practice is not from public health to social justice but from public health and social justice combined because we believe that they are unified and we are committed to social justice.

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(Game show music)

DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.

Here to help us regarding a powerful side effect is U.S. Congressman, Jared Polis, asking the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration some very important questions.

JARED POLIS: Is crack worse for a person than marijuana?

MICHELE LEONHART: I believe all illegal drugs are bad.

JARED POLIS: Is methamphetamine worse for somebody’s health than marijuana?

MICHELE LEONHART: I don’t think any illegal drugs…

JARED POLIS: Is heroin worse for someone’s health than marijuana?

MICHELE LEONHART: Again, all…

JARED POLIS: I mean either yes, no or I don’t know. If you don’t know you can look this up. You should know this as Chief Administrator for the Drug Enforcement Agency. I’m asking a very straightforward question. Is heroin worse for someone’s health than marijuana?

MICHELE LEONHART: All illegal drugs are bad.

{{{ gong }}}

DEAN BECKER: Times up…for the DEA.

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DEAN BECKER: This is Doug McVay’s interview of Alex Kral at the Harm Reduction conference.

ALEX KRAL: I’m a researcher at RTI International which is the Research Triangle Institute International. I’m also the chair of the board of the Harm Reduction Coalition.

DOUG McVAY: Fantastic and, of course, we’re here at the Harm Reduction’s National Conference. Tell me about some of the work you’re doing, some of the stuff that you’re up to.

ALEX KRAL: Most of my work is all research-based at this point. That’s my day job anyway. We’ve got several grants that are funded by the National Institute of Health. We are doing work mostly around drug use issues, around criminal justice issues and infectious diseases so we’ve got several different projects.

DOUG McVAY: Tell me about the Harm Reduction Coalition – you’re chair of the board. Tell me about some of the work you’re doing with this.

ALEX KRAL: I’m kind of getting to becoming a dinosaur I guess. I’m getting old here. I’ve been chair of the board for HRC for a decade now.

DOUG McVAY: Things have obviously changed over the last several years. You had a video presentation from the Drug Czar Kerlikowske to start the session and I don’t think that would have happened a few years back. How do you feel about how things are changing?

ALEX KRAL: To me it’s quite amazing. The session that we just went to and you were at as well is “The State of Syringe Exchange”. If you look at harm reduction for the last 15-20 years in the beginning it was basically all needle exchange and this particular presentation that we just went to was a great presentation.

If you went to this exact same panel 10, 15 years ago it would have been a plenary and it would have had 300 people at it and it would have been the main sort of issue that everybody was excited and energized by.

What’s interesting now is you look at it and it’s the overdose that’s the thing that most people are paying attention to. In some ways HIV has reduced among injection users. I think a lot of the kinds of things that people have been fighting on for the last 25 years have been able to have lots of successes around HIV.

Overdose has kind of become the new one. More people are dying of overdose than of HIV as far as injection drug users are concerned. We’ve seen a lot of policy shifts even this month and the past 6 months and the past year specific to overdose – these Naloxone programs and now the FDA has had a panel back in April. Now ONDCP are onboard with this – these Naloxone programs. There’s now over 180 programs, I think, in the country. So there’s a lot of things going on there.

We, for example, I can speak more closer to home, I’m from San Francisco, we were one of the first programs to do Naloxone overdose programs. We were seeing 180 deaths a year in San Francisco and after the last 10 years of doing this research we’re now down to 10 overdose deaths a year. We’ve gone from hundreds to 10 and our Naloxone program which is fantastic has a budget of 60 to 70,000 dollars total per year. They’re doing all these amazing training to over 3,000 people and look how many deaths they’re saving per year.

They’re saving some 100 to 150 deaths a year. That’s some serious bullet effects in terms of human life and it would be tough to find other kinds of public health interventions as effective as that. As little as it costs and as many lives as it is saving – that’s quite amazing.

I think people are seeing these kinds of successes. At the policy level it’s pretty hard to argue with them. If it’s both human issues going on and policy savings and effectiveness and so forth I think that the groundswell has really come towards being able to get the federal government on board for this and it’s quite exciting.

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DEAN BECKER: The following is from a column in the Post Standard out of Oregon written by Dave Tobin.

“When the Oneida County district attorney dropped charges against Bon Jovi's daughter, Thursday, he was referencing a year-old state law that protects from criminal charges those who are involved in drug overdoses when they seek medical help.

The Good Samaritan 911 law, as its referred to, was sponsored by State Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse. It is intended to encourage witnesses or victims of a drug or alcohol related overdose to seek emergency assistance to save the victim’s life without fear of arrest or prosecution on alcohol or drug-related charges.

Stephanie Rose Bongiovi and Ian Grant's arrests suggests that the public, colleges and police agencies in New York need a better understanding of the Good Samaritan law, said Gabriel Sayegh, New York State director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

“The public need to be encouraged to call 911 in an emergency,” said Sayegh. “But they need to know they’re not going to get in trouble when they do that.”

Town of Kirkland police arrested Bongiovi and Grant after they found heroin, marijuana and drug paraphrenalia when they searched Bongiovi's dormitory room.
Dan English, chief of the Kirkland Police, did not answer questions about whether his officers considered provisions of the Good Samaritan Law.

[snip]

Sayegh, of the Drug Policy Alliance, said he hoped the high profile of the Bongiovi case will spur education with the public and police agencies about the merits and protections of the Good Samaritan law.

“You don’t want people, especially young people,” he said, “to hesitate to make that phone call for emergency services because they worry what might happen with the police.”

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DEAN BECKER: The following segment courtesy of KDRV TV.

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CHRISTY LEWIS: A farm raided by DEA agents is just the beginning. The federal government is now pursuing the properties.

Good evening. Thanks for joining us. I’m Christy Lewis.

ROB MORTON: And I’m Rob Morton. Federal prosecutors are pursuing a federal forfeiture case on High Hopes Farm and a nearby property. Newswatch Sharon Ko is live in the newsroom with more on that case.

SHARON KO: Federal agents raided High Hopes Farm in September discovering hundreds of marijuana plants and dried pot over the state’s legal limit. The DEA also found overages in a nearby property on Upper Applegate Road near the farm.

On Wednesday court papers revealed the federal government isn’t done.

Federal prosecutors from the U.S. District court are pursuing a forfeiture case to seize the farm’s land and a nearby property on Upper Applegate Road.

ATTORNEY: It’s a kind of interference in the medical marijuana program in Oregon. It’s an unfortunate new development here in Oregon.

SHARON KO: The federal prosecutors says in court papers the government is seizing the property because it was “used to commit an facilitate violations of controlled substances laws therefore properties are subject to forfeiture.”

An attorney representing medical marijuana patients and their providers statewide says it’s the first time he’s heard of this is Oregon.

ATTORNEY: There have been forfeiture actions that have been brought in California but this was the first time that any…in 14 years of the medical marijuana program that the federal government is not content with having stolen the patient’s medicine but is now seeking to forfeit the property where the medication was cultivated.

SHARON KO: Owner of High Hopes Farm, James Bowman, has not been officially been charged of any crimes and he does not own that property. Court documents reveal his girlfriend is the registered owner.

The attorney says Bowman or his girlfriend have an option to file a claim to counter the forfeiture case.

ATTORNEY: In the nature of a civil lawsuit whether the property is going to be forfeited to the federal government or not.

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CYNDEE CLAY: My name is Cyndee Clay and I’m with HIPS. HIPS is a sex worker, drug user organization in Washington, D.C. We provide comprehensive services for sex workers and drug users, advocacy. We do technical assistance, training and really the goal is to improve health outcomes for sex workers and drug users and help them lead healthy lives holistically.

We’re really excited to be here at the Harm Reduction Conference. This is one of our favorite conferences that we get to come to because we get to talk to people of like-mindiness. We get to share ideas and become inspired.

We’ve got some great things going on at HIPS. Our syringe exchange which we started about 5 years ago is doubling every year so that’s been going very well for us. We’ve also gotten an enhanced harm reduction services grant from the city so we’re actually going to be doing a pilot project on the future of HIV prevention which is like linkage and retention care for drug users and sex workers around Hep C and HIV that we’re pretty excited about.

We’ve got some awesome new T-shirts that HIPS created. We’ve got our “Be nice to drug users” shirt which goes along with our “Be nice to sex workers” shirt which have always been very popular. It officially shows the expansion of our services to include…we’ve always served drug users but this officially for us is the year that we’ve expanded what we do and how we talk about what we do so we can acknowledge the work that we do with drug users who don’t particularly do sex work. That’s been exciting and fun for us to open up our official family.

DOUG McVAY: That’s fantastic. The city, of course, that means Washington, D.C. so you’re right there in the nation’s capital. Do you bother with those people on “the hill”?

CYNDEE CLAY: It takes a very special, patient kind of person to work with people on the hill so we tend to be very supportive of the other organizations (like the Harm Reduction Coalition and Drug Policy Alliance) that are better equipped to meet those people where they’re at. We tend to prefer being on the streets with the sex workers and the drug users. But we’ve been very supportive of their efforts nationally to put a face on the issue, to talk about local stories and to help congress remember that there is actually a city of people who live at the foot of their high tower and that their policies affect us.

I think I’ve seen a new future in drug users and sex worker organizing. Even in the past 5 years there’s a lot more sex worker organizing programs and a lot more people doing advocacy. It think there’s a wider public dialogue even though it’s not as big as we want it to be.

We’re, like a lot of programs, struggling to make sure that we’re at the forefront of that and that we’re helping to shape the change that’s coming so that we’re all still here in another 5 years.

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DEAN BECKER: We’ll have much more from the Harm Reduction Conference on this week’s Century of Lies program.

As always I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.

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DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica Studios of KPFT Houston.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org