03/10/13 Debbie Goldsberry

From WASH DC: Debbie Goldsberry re progress of cannabis laws, Aaron Houston of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Michael McGuffin Pres of Amer Herbal Products Assoc, Aaron Prask of Canadian Cannabis Dispensaries & Diane Fornbacher Co-Chair NORML Womens Alliance

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Guest: 
Debbie Goldsberry
Organization: 
Berkeley Patients Group
Download: Audio icon COL031013.mp3
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Transcript

Century of Lies / March 10, 2013

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DEAN BECKER: The failure of Drug War is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more. Now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.

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DEAN BECKER: Alright my friends we’ve got one last show recorded for you in Washington, D.C. as part of the Cannabis Unity Conference. Let’s just get after it.

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DEBBIE GOLDSBERRY: My name is Debbie Goldsberry. I’m from Oakland, California. I’m with a collective called the CommuniCare Collective. We are working on opening dispensaries in a couple of cities in the East Bay and California – CommuniCare Centers because we believe that the community care is helping our members and we’re a medical cannabis collective.

We’re making pure medicines from CBD and CB and THC medicines. We’re really working on creating the best medicines to help the most people.

DEAN BECKER: We hear so many people – different states – trying to create those medicines that best suit the needs of various maladies, illnesses and injuries. Let’s talk about how that’s coming about and why and how effective it is.

DEBBIE GOLDSBERRY: With medical cannabis right now we’re kind of in a grey zone because we can’t get standardized medicine. It’s not like JC Penny’s where if I run out of T-shirts I can just call up and say send me the purple T-shirts in size XL. The medicine supply is really varied.

Even people that grow “Jack Herer” because of the changes in season and conditions the “Jack Herer” might be different from harvest to harvest even with the same cultivator. It’s a real problem.

We’re trying to find medicines that help with specific conditions so if a patient can reliably go back to their dispensary or to their caregiver who cultivates for them and know that each time they are going to get the same medicine so that it will help them in the same way.

So we really have a problem making standardized medicine because we can’t grow standardized cannabis yet because of the laws that make cannabis production illegal almost everywhere so it’s really being done clandestine, underground, in back yards and closets.

What we really need to do is create standardized medicine. We need to change the laws so that people can cultivate in a way that’s safe so that we can really improve the science so we can have feedback loops between the cultivation facilities and the testing labs so that people who are cultivating can know the cannabinoid content of their medicines, can test it along the way for molds, mildews, pesticides and fertilizers so that at the end we can find out that the cultivators started with the seed, they planted it this way, they grew it this way, it turned out like this and then they did it again and it turned out the same way.

In most herbal plant medicines the medicine doesn’t get to the patient until the cultivation is standardized but in our industry it went the other way. We have to backtrack now to create standardized medicines. Once we create standardized medicines then we can really do the study with humans so that we can give these medicines that are standardized so we can say it has this much THC, it is a pure medicine, it has this much CBD.

We can take a small group of patients and in a scientific manner we can run a study to see how the cannabis is helping each patient individually. We can really collect the data to say this medicine under these standardized conditions with this patient member they felt this kind of relief from the medicine.

Nobody is doing that in our industry. It really needs to be done. My collective is working on the very first part of that – how do you standardize your medicines. Once you get your medicines standardized how do you standardize the research project with the patient members so that you can really make valid claims about how the medicine is helping people.

It’s not complicated stuff but it’s stuff that’s not being done in our industry yet.

DEAN BECKER: I would think that in a more rational approach that many of these safeguards you’re speaking of would be handled by government, would have an oversight – nationally. Your thoughts on that?

DEBBIE GOLDSBERRY: As far as government being the end regulators on cannabis – really in industries like pharmaceuticals the government doesn’t oversee and regulate pharmaceuticals. The pharmaceutical industry is regulated by a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was established to regulate pharmaceutical drugs. They are called the USP – U.S. Pharmacopeia.

So really the cannabis industry would be suited to self-regulate – to create the regulations ourselves, to hire the scientist to apply standards used in other manufacturing industries and other plant cultivation industries and other plant medicines to test out the theories, to develop the standards, to create proof that our handling processes are safe and then to self-regulate just like what’s been done with pharmaceuticals.

For example, electricity is very dangerous yet it is self-regulated. Emergency rooms – very important yet also self-regulated by a 501(c)(3) organization. The truth is the government doesn’t want to regulate these highly dangerous substances or processes as long as there is a 501(c)(3) or regulatory organization that’s standardized, validated that can be provable that regulates the industry.

There really is a big self-regulation movement in the cannabis industry. I think that’s the future.

DEAN BECKER: In your years of experience dealing with medical cannabis what have you seen that might support or refute the government’s idea that it leads to psychosis or that there are components that may influence some people’s mental capacity.

DEBBIE GOLDSBERRY: First of all the government would like us to think that there is no research on medical cannabis but, in fact, at this conference yesterday we learned that there is 24,000 research projects that have looked at medical cannabis. That’s about 2.3 research projects a day that are happening in our industry so it’s really big. There’s been a lot of research in this.

If you look at cannabis and you compare it to other herbal plant medicines you’ll find that cannabis doesn’t have any serious adverse effects. Serious adverse effect is a pharmacological term. If the substance has serious adverse effects it will kill you, for example and you really need to handle it in a different way than if it doesn’t have serious adverse effects.

By reviewing the 24,000 studies and looking at 10,000 years of history we can accurately predict that cannabis doesn’t have any serious adverse effects. We can take it into another direction – into the herbal plant medicine handling processes rather than through the FDA pharmacy process.

It does appear that cannabis is potentially counter-indicative for people that have schizophrenia because I think it can…first of all it’s been found to potentially in people who have a predisposition to that condition (which is very rare) it can create the first episode of schizophrenia. It’s rare and there’s no real scientific data about this that shows us exactly how that happens but there are a few counter-indications for cannabis use and mental health.

On the flip side cannabis use has been shown to be incredibly beneficial for most conditions having to do with mental health. In fact the endocannabinoid system regulates mental health naturally in our own body and when you augment the endocannabinoid system (your body’s natural THC system) with THC from plants it can really help.

For example, cannabis is really great for treating things like depression, bipolarism – a whole host of mental health illnesses. In fact we’ve found at Berkeley Patient’s Group that I help found that a large group of people who were 18 to 24 or 25-years-old who had access to medical cannabis as opposed to the group of people above them who had no access to medical cannabis because the implementation laws hadn’t gone into effect yet the people who are younger and had access to medical cannabis with mental health conditions we’re finding that they are not advancing to be serious medical conditions.

They’re not developing addictions. They’re not developing alcoholic dependency. They’re not developing addiction to pharmacological drugs. They’re using medical cannabis to treat their condition effectively and it’s really a very safe way to treat these conditions.

So the counter-indications are very small thus far in the medical literature. Although we have to pay attention to those and learn a lot more of how cannabis works in the brain. But vastly cannabis is incredibly beneficial as a pharmacological drug. A lot of people are using it to great effect.

DEAN BECKER: On television commercials you hear these pharmaceutical products advertised and then they list a host of horrible, debilitating spinoffs of what may happen to you if you take these products and then the list of potential harms from cannabis is miniscule in comparison. Address that thought, will you?

DEBBIE GOLDSBERRY: Cannabis has been shown to have no serious adverse effects so the side effects of using cannabis are pretty minimal. When you’re watching TV it always cracks me up when they tell you this drug is going to be so great, you’re going to have a great time and somebody is skipping through a field and then if you listen closely they’re saying, “Oh, but you might die. You might get psychosis. You might have a heart attack. We’re not exactly sure what is going to happen to you.”

Of course in such a pleasant voice you’re like, “Oh, that’s almost lovely to have a heart attack and die as a side effect of this drug.”

The fact is cannabis doesn’t have any side effects like that at all. It’s never killed a single person. In fact it can’t. It doesn’t act that way on your body. It’s a substance that our body produces naturally. Not only that in the process of evolution we have likely evolved with the cannabis plant simultaneously – the plant evolving and us evolving so that we have a symbiotic relationship and almost a need for this plant.

In fact people who have lower amounts of natural endocannabinoids in their system absolutely need to beef up their endocannabinoid system by using the whole plant medicine cannabis or they just won’t feel right. They won’t be as healthy as they could be, as productive as they could be. Cannabis is helping a lot of people that way.

DEAN BECKER: What have I left out? What would you bring forward – websites, etc.

DEBBIE GOLDSBERRY: You can find me on Facebook/debbiegoldsberry. I really like interacting with people. I think that the best thing that I can do is learn from other people and I love to have a great feedback loop with other cannabis activists.

We’re right at the beginning of creating a new industry. It’s almost like one of those situations – it’s ours to mess up.

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[music]

DEAN BECKER: Darth Drug Czar…you’re a coward, a liar, demon and thief. Seems you can’t face the truth for just one hour…too busy looking at peeeee…

Dean Becker, DrugTruth.net

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AARON HOUSTON: I’m Aaron Houston with Students for Sensible Drug Policy. I’m based here in Washington, D.C. Students for Sensible Drug Policy is a worldwide network of students who come together and say that the War on Drugs has failed. Not only that it has failed but the War on Drugs is a war on us. It’s a war on all of us.

We create safe spaces on campuses around the globe to have honest conversations about drug policy reform, about drug prohibition and about drugs in general because we’re tired of an approach to drug policy in this country that says there are good drugs and there are bad drugs.

It’s not as simple as that. There’s no sound bite or bumper sticker solution to this problem. The real issue is that we put human beings in cages for putting marijuana into their bodies which is a drug that is less harmful than alcohol. We incarcerate far too many human beings in this country for putting drugs into their body – many of them for marijuana.

At Students for Sensible Drug Policy our mission is to try to spread that message of compassion and try to bring those safe spaces that we create on campus to kitchen tables and to community town halls and debates around the country.

I would say that the idea that the War on Drugs protects kids is absolutely preposterous. That is what has been sold to us as a country, as a society over decades. The simple fact is that young people are disproportionately impacted in a negative way by the War on Drugs.

We see, in the case of New York City, 50% of people who are arrested for marijuana possession are black and Latino young people. They’re young people who are under the age of 25. They’re simply no way that half of the marijuana users in New York City are black and Latino youth so we clearly see a disproportionate negative impact on young people and a disproportionate impact on people of color as well. I think that probably the argument around kids is just a preposterous premise to begin with.

We’re active in 44 states and the District of Columbia so that provides tremendous opportunities for people to get involved – young people, alumni and activists alike – who are welcome at our meetings whether or not they are a student and whether or not they are a young person. Everybody is welcome at Students for Sensible Drug Policy because we put a significant emphasis and a lot of value on bringing people together in an honest and safe way to have difficult conversations.

I will say that I’ve had a wonderful time here at the Americans for Safe Access conference because ASA has brought people together to have discussions around what are important to our constituencies, what are important to cannabis patients around the country, and what are some of the challenges we are facing. Having this discussion has been instrumental in figuring out how to move forward, how to take the next step.

People can find out more about Students for Sensible Drug Policy at http://schoolsnotprisons.org or http://ssdp.org. We welcome people starting chapters at schools if they don’t have one already. You can do that on our website.

We are very fortunate to be involved in this conference. We’re proud to be co-conveeners and so happy that this discussion is being facilitated.

DEAN BECKER: And right here in Washington, D.C.

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WINSTON FRANCIS: Hi, this is Winston Francis of the official government truth saying if you like the way the drug war works don’t bother visiting us on the web at http://drugtruth.net

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Michael McGuffin: I’m Michael McGuffin. I am the president of the American Herbal Products Association. I’m at the ASA conference to represent the Cannabis Committee of our association.

We have been involved in providing guidance and organizing communities in the natural products industry and the herbal industry since 1982. About 3 years ago we formed a Cannabis Committee and what we do is largely the same. We’re organizing the community of the industry – the growers, the manufacturers, the distributors and the dispensaries – and creating best practice guidelines for each of those industries.

We’re developing as recommendations to regulators on a state by state basis. That’s been our role. It’s a role that no one else has played in this community. When we met ASA, when I met Steph Sheer a couple years ago she and I just in conversation realized that it’s something very much in our experience broadly and then the task before us now is how do we do that for this important herb.

Our work is in the regulatory area where we’re creating recommendations to regulators on the way the growers…what rules need to apply to a cultivation operation. What rules need to apply to a dispensary and how can those be properly enforced. We want both…I think one of the things that makes it easy to work with ASA is that “safe access” part of their name is exactly the same thing that industry wants.

We want to ensure safe access and then because we’re business people we want an even playing field. We want reasonable regulation. We want an enforceable regulation. The work that we do isn’t really focused on the scheduling and the federal policy. Our work is relevant to state implementation of state rules.

In the best case scenario – again, focusing on the work that we’re doing – would be that states start to adopt regulations that are generally harmonized. The way that cannabis is regulated in New Mexico is very similar to the way that it’s regulated in Maine and Colorado and California. I think that’s good for patients. That’s good for consumers. It’s good for industry.

What we don’t want to have is 50 different ways to deliver the same product. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t help anybody. What we hope will unfold is harmonized regulation in the various states that allow use of cannabis.

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( music )

Winston Francis: If we end the drug war now, all of our efforts are for nothing. Victory cannot come from admitting defeat. Lives lost, families ruined, billions spent – all for nothing. Almost a century, generations of fighting – all for nothing. Giving up is the only true path to failure.

We must continue to fight, to spend and jail and kill to honor the memory of those who fought before us. It is what we know so it is what we must do. Follow the leader. Do not falter. Your path has been chosen for you.

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DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Winston. Winston is now off working for the feds on a regular basis.

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AARON PRASK: Hi, my name is Aaron Prask. I’m the Chief Operating Officer of the Canadian Cannabis Dispensaries. We’re a network of dispensaries that’s been establishing a certification program for dispensaries to ensure that they’re providing the best quality of care that they possibly can.

We support dispensaries across Canada with operational standards to ensure that they’re performing legal compliance in their respective provinces and municipalities. We’ve just launched our certification program so it’s a very exciting time for us up in Canada to have such an innovative and progressive program being introduced from within the industry.

In Canada we’re lucky to have a federal program for access. On the surface it seems like a real positive and beneficial but the reality is the government has done the minimal amount of work that they can to satisfy court challenges that have been brought up by patients over the last 10 years.

Dispensaries has always existed in Canada predating the federal program. They’ve been around for 15 years and they’re really meeting the needs of patients. They’re filling a gap between what’s now a federal program that is not working and what the reality is for patients who need medical cannabis access.

One issue is that we have in Canada right now a conservative government but they are overhauling the federal government program and introducing what they are calling a commercial market place for medical cannabis provision in Canada.

The federal program will include a number of commercial companies that will come in to receive federal licenses from the federal government. They will receive the applications from patients directly and they will be providing medical cannabis products by mail to patients.

Within that framework as dispensaries we see an opportunity for dispensaries to take over that distribution from the federally-licensed producers but we’re not quite there. There’s still a lot of work to be done on the ground and by organizations such as ours to demonstrate the need for dispensaries and demonstrate that dispensaries can fill that void of having onsite care and services that won’t be provided by a mail order system.

Unfortunately for us in Canada our government is really disconnected to the reality and the mentality of the Canadian people. They are out of touch with their country and the way that other countries are moving in regards to drug policy. Many policy makers in Canada have demonstrated to the government the mistakes that have been made in the U.S. and the disasters that have happened because the archaic policies that they brought in years ago. So many states in the United States are moving away from mandatory minimums and realizing the damage that has been caused where in Canada they’re bringing them in as part of a “tough on crime” initiative by our conservative government.

This is creating a danger for medical cannabis patients as well because when instituting this new program the federal government is removing the rights for patients to produce their own cannabis. As dispensaries we understand that many patients are producing their own for a variety of reasons from affordability to security of access to just joy and the therapeutic aspect of producing their own medicine. These patients, many of them, will fall under these mandatory minimum sentences if they continue to grow after they lose the legal right.

I think there’s a lot that the American medical cannabis advocates can take from our situation in Canada. We do have a federal program. There is opportunity for medical cannabis patients to have a federal license that protects them from federal law against possession of marijuana. We’re now looking to move beyond that in Canada.

I think that in the United States there’s a lot to look at in Canada’s program in how it demonstrates how a federal program can serve medical cannabis patients and provide safe access.

Come and check out our website at http://camcd.ca

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[music]

Hey young America. We need to talk. You may think that this is uncool. You may even think that it is bogus but I want to tell about something that has everyone buzzing - something that concerns mature boys and girls just like you. Something called grass.

Not that grass. I’m talking about marijuana.

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DIANE FORNBACHER: Hi, my name is Diane Fornbacher. I’m the co-Vice Chair of the Womens Alliance, National NORML board member and purveyor of Lady Bud magazine.

It’s going to be a cannabis blog – cannabis-centric, as it were, but we’ll be covering topics that maybe have nothing to do with cannabis but overall humanity and opinion and entertainment – some funny stuff.

One always starts activism with the hope that things are going to change but throughout my time in activism I’ve seen a lot of people pass away, go to jail for a really long time and still have hope. We’ve said goodbye to a lot of really great people.

Regarding the progress, yes, we’ve definitely seen it. In the last few years it’s grown by leaps and bounds – very much like the plant, cannabis. It’s really relieving – a beautiful time to be alive. I’m really excited to be a part of it and to have met so many wonderful people along the way – some of who are not with us anymore.

A lot of times I think that when you fight in a movement for progress you have goals in mind but those evolve as time goes on. The people who don’t agree that we should have sensible and compassionate policies will not simply recede into darkness – they won’t go away. They’re not going to understand that we’re right and agree with us and simply stop fighting against reason and compassion.

That being said I know that we have had a lot of people come to our side, come to compassion. If they can’t come to compassion they look at it from a money standpoint and that’s OK as long as we can implement these compassionate policies regardless.

It really has been a really strange trip – this whole thing. I think that as an activist this particular movement has taught me a lot – not only about our country but about our species. How we care for our sick. How we make progress. How, as humans, we sometimes separate into tribes and war within fraction and how maybe sometimes we even heal those hurts within in our own movement and reach outward into the world to make more progress.

I’m very grateful to be a part of this group of progress regarding drug policy reform on all fronts.

We need get involved because every child taken from their family, every person who is medicating, a patient who has their house taken from them, their car taken from them, their sanctity taken from them, their lives taken from them, every child, animal, patient and free thinker is still in the Eye of Sauron the evil that surrounds us isn’t simply going to be saciated because we have made compromises.

We need your help. We need it now. We need it yesterday. We need it in the future. We need to keep making these laws change and we need to uphold them once they do so we can seek further progress.

I sincerely appreciate all the work you have done, all the work you are doing and all the work you will do. I look forward to sharing this beautiful journey with you.

NORML has a really great system called the capwiz. You can go there. They have prefilled letters to your representatives so you can send them letters about the most recent legislation introduced.

You can also go to http://norml.org/women to get involved in our Womens Alliance. You can also go to http://ladybud.com towards the end of March to get cannabis news as well as entertainment.

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DEAN BECKER: I want to thank all our great guests and that’s it for our coverage from the 2013 National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference out of Washington, D.C.

There’ll be many of our videos coming online from this same conference at http://unvarnishedtruth.org

As always I remind you there’s no legitimacy to this drug war. It’s up to you to help bring it to an end. Prohibido istac evilesco!

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For the Drug Truth Network, this is Dean Becker asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.

The Century of Lies.

This show produced at Pacifica Studios at KPFT, Houston.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org