08/04/13 Doug McVay

Doug McVay with Drug War Facts, Dr. Sanjay Gupta visits Katy Couric, Denver Dispensary report, Marijuana ad at NASCAR, former czarina Bartwell, Onion report, Hunter S Thompson & pets to vets for marijuana

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Guest: 
Doug McVay
Organization: 
Drug War Facts
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Cultural Baggage / August 4, 2013

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[music]

DEAN BECKER: 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: Thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. When I started this 12 years ago I didn’t intend to be an aggregator of news from other organizations but the fact of the matter is today we are going to do that for once other than this segment from our good friend at Common Sense for Drug Policy and Drug War Facts, Mr. Doug McVay.

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DOUG McVAY: Recently, I reported on Sweden's annual national drug report to the European Union. All the new national reports by EU member nations were released in late June of this year. These new annual national drug reports are great sources of material for reformers. Two EU nations in particular, Portugal and The Netherlands, are frequently referred to in drug policy debates as examples of the success of reforms, so their reports are of course of great interest to reformers though it must be said ? the news isn't all that great.

Portugal essentially decriminalized their approach to drug use in 2000. They did not legalize. Some have argued that it's not like US-style decriminalization. That's true. In US-style marijuana decrim, sanctions are typically a fine of one hundred up to possibly one thousand dollars. Interestingly in most of the decrim states in the US, a marijuana possession citation counts as a real criminal arrest. California changed that only a couple of years ago under Governor Schwartzenegger. In fact it's arguable that even US decrim isn't really decriminalization, rather it is simply penalty reduction.

But that's a discussion for another time.

In Portugal, people who are arrested and prosecuted for drug possession may be given a range of sanctions. The charges could be dismissed with the people sent on their way, they could be given an order excluding them from certain places, they could be forced into drug treatment.

The Portuguese model has worked quite well. Now the bad news: the global economic crisis and the Euro-zone meltdown in recent years has created problems. Social services, like drug treatment, are low priorities for budget officials, and austerity measures mean that Portugal's success may be short-lived. The question, ultimately for the whole EU not only Portugal, is whether human beings will take priority over banks and corporate bailouts.

Now to the Netherlands. The Netherlanders divide drugs into two categories, hard and soft. They deal with these drugs differently depending on the dangers they present. For a long time, simple possession of cannabis was treated as no offense at all. That has now changed, officially. The Opium Act has been amended and according to this year's Netherlands report, quote:

“instead of decreeing that a police dismissal should follow if a cannabis user is caught with less than 5 grams of cannabis, it says now that in principle a police dismissal will follow in these cases. This opens the way to arrest and prosecute persons who possess less than 5 grams of cannabis (for instance: drug dealers who could not be prosecuted before because they carried only a small amount of cannabis).” End quote.

Their coffee shops have been an international symbol of tolerance for decades, yet they have also been a source of contention as some, including some local officials, have complained about the growth of drug tourism. The coffee shop laws have changed dramatically in the past few years, and are still evolving. This Netherlands report outlines those changes, and provides vital information for anyone planning a trip overseas.

The bottom line is, times are changing. It's important in the policy debate to keep up with those changes. My website at drug war facts dot org is a terrific resource. We give you the pertinent data and quotes, along with full citations and links whenever possible to the original source material so you can do additional research.

Reporting for the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay with Common Sense for Drug Policy and Drug War Facts.

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DEAN BECKER: Thanks, Doug. Next we have a segment featuring Dr. Sanjay Gupta visiting with Katie Couric.

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KATIE COURIC: Clearly there is a major shift going on in this country as we saw from those poll results and from the admission of people saying they have tried pot. Is it possible to use medicinal marijuana and not get high?

You know we heard about the cream form, obviously, for some pain but how is it usually administered for people who are having medical issues?

SANJAY GUPTA: It’s interesting and I should preface by saying I sort of approach this as a neuroscientist. I really want to understand how it works in the body and the brain. There are sort of 2 main chemicals in marijuana – THC which is the one people think of…psychoactive which gets you high and CBD.

CBD is probably the substance that can have significant medical benefit when it comes to things like the pain, seizures, a lot of these things. You can now create plants, strains of marijuana that are much higher in CBD and much lower in THC. It’s not that the THC is gone it’s just that you probably would not get the psychoactive part of this.

I’ve seen this being used for young people who really have no idea of what to expect. They are taking it as a medicine and not getting the high from it.

It’s just so striking to me that doctors are so willing to give all those other drugs where this could potentially provide an effective and safer option.

KATIE COURIC: Having said that he’s 19-years-old and, of course, as a neuroscientist and surgeon you know that his brain is still developing. Is there any evidence that marijuana does affect a still-developing brain?

SANJAY GUPTA: I think there is. I think you have to think about people whose brains are still developing separately than those whose brains have developed. Brain development doesn’t immediately stop at age 18. It usually goes into your mid-20s so kids or, again, people with still-developing brains should be put in a different category.

KATIE COURIC: It’s just tough though because I feel like we’re sending out a lot of mixed messages here and it’s sort of hard for people to really synthesize all this and then act accordingly. Don’t you think?

SANJAY GUPTA: I can’t get my arms around the fact that we prescribe morphine, we prescribe Oxycontin, we prescribe Dilaudid …I’ve researched this so much.

Someone dies of an accidental prescription overdose in this country every 19 minutes – every 19 minutes. Those are legitimate, legal medications which are begin prescribed right now.

And, yet marijuana ( I don’t have a huge dog in this race) but the point is that is a legitimate medication and had been for one hundred years. It became demonized and now we see a story like Chaz. He could not function without it. His life would be ruined. I meet countless people like that.

We don’t see this data because we can’t study it. It’s been illegal.

KATIE COURIC: We asked the FDA for their position on marijuana and this is what they gave us in a statement:

“Marijuana is listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the most restrictive schedule. Marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use for treatment in the United States and has a lack of accepted safety for medical use under medical supervision.

“Furthermore, there is currently sound evidence that smoked marijuana is harmful.”

So, that is completely counter to everything that we’ve been hearing here today.

SANJAY GUPTA: They’re saying it has no medicinal benefit. There have been at least one hundred studies showing its medicinal benefit.

They say it has a high abuse potential. It is far less addictive than drugs that are scheduled lower than that.

This is hypocrisy. I think it rials people up in the medical community because it could potentially help people who really need it and it’s is not being offered – not in this country.

KATIE COURIC: Let me ask you if it’s a gateway drug because we often hear that if you smoke pot you’re more likely to abuse even more dangerous substances. What did you find out about that?

SANJAY GUPTA: The idea that it somehow tricks your brain or the motivation in your brain to now try LSD, now try heroin, now try cocaine, something else – there’s just not evidence of that.

I’ve asked when I’ve interviewed people, including the International Institute on Drug Abuse, to show me the evidence on that. All of the sudden, you know, it’s woefully lacking.

KATIE COURIC: So what is the responsible public policy that will help manage this drug in the best possible way.

SANJAY GUPTA: In my mind it has to be a federal policy. You meet patients like Chaz and he can’t leave the state of Colorado because if he leaves he no longer has a potentially life-saving medicine. That should not happen to people. That’s ridiculous in 2013 that that’s the situation that we’re now in.

I think the FDA needs to look at the same studies that were available to me, available to anybody that wants to find this stuff and determine whether or not this is still sound drug policy for the sake of medicinal marijuana at least.

KATIE COURIC: You have 3 girls now and your oldest is how old now?

SANJAY GUPTA: She’s 8-years-old.

KATIE COURIC: When your oldest daughter turns 21 and says, “Dad, let’s get high.”

Would you be OK with that?

SANJAY GUPTA: I think I’d put it in the same category as alcohol or anything else like that. My daughter is probably going to watch your show and probably going to hold me to this.

KATIE COURIC: [giggling] Luckily you’re 18 years away from this.

SANJAY GUPTA: It’s a fair question. I cannot find the harm in it much in the way that I would share a drink with her.

KATIE COURIC: Alright. Well it’s really fascinating, Sanjay. Great to see you. Thanks, so much, for sharing everything that you’ve learned.

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DEAN BECKER: Next up is a story out of Denver.

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NICK HEISS: My name is Nick Heiss. I’m with Denver Relief and this is our OPC or Optional Premise Cultivation facility. We grow all the medical marijuana that is supplied to our retail store downtown.

My parents started a landscape/garden center/nursery when I was about in third grade so I’ve pretty much grown up on a nursery my entire life. We have approximately 35 strains or varieties of cannabis in the building.

We have one vegetation room in the building where all of our baby plants are being raised. When they get to a certain height or stage of growth we’ll move them into one of the neighboring rooms which is one of our flowering rooms. That’s where the light cycle gets kicked back to 12 hours on and 12 hours off.

Environment, environment, environment is really the biggest. That includes everything from temperature to humidity to air circulation. Even if your temperature and humidity are in the right levels if your air circulation isn’t being properly rotated around the room then the plants aren’t getting the maximum CO2 levels that they should be getting as well as other things that they need for maximum growth potentials.

The more TLC that you can give the plants the better and healthier they are going to grow. If you just set the light schedule and the watering schedule and walk away from the room the quality of product at harvest is going to be much less than if you did have full-time employees with the plants, manicuring the plants every day, training the plants every day, talking to the plants, singing to the plants – every little bit helps. Human interaction is very important.

It is a little bit of a love affair. I actually have 2 kids as well. I have a 2-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter. These girls in the facility here are also considered family. It’s definitely sort of an emotional process. If something happens not only are there a lot of financial repercussions but it’s also time and effort of blood, sweat equity type of thing. It definitely becomes personal.

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DEAN BECKER: This segment comes to us from the nation of Israel.

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REPORTER: Shamans, physicians, and pharmacists have dabbled in the notion of marijuana as medicine for thousands of years but the relief patients feel is largely anecdotal.

Marijuana status as a Schedule I drug means that according to the federal government it has no accepted medical use.

The U.S. government strictly controls all American marijuana studies and researchers who want to study cannabis must obtain it from this facility at the University of Mississippi.

By some accounts the supply is extremely limited and of questionable quality. Some scientists claim that if their research might show potential positive uses for medical marijuana their requests are rejected.

It a charge the government denies.

In other nations getting cannabis to scientists is less complicated.

Israel is one of the leaders in medical marijuana research. From his lab in Jerusalem Raphael Mashulum has fathered nearly 2 generations of peer-reviewed medical research.

He first discovered THC in 1964.

RAPHAEL MASHULUM: Cannabis although it had been investigated nobody had really isolated it in pure form and neither were all the other compounds there so I thought it was high time that somebody should do that.

REPORTER: For 40 years at Hebrew University researchers study effects of THC and other cannabinoids on people and laboratory animals.

Mashulum dissolves the THC in an oil-based solution. In this form measured doses can be measured accurately.

Researchers here have witnessed promising results in brain trauma, diabetes, cancer and ostioprorosis.

20-year-old Eahl Priser underwent a bone marrow transplant a year and one-half ago. Since then his body experiences chronic quasi-rejection called graph vs host disease.

EAHL PRISER: [via translator] I am treated by the THC drops for 2 months already meaning that I just started and I already saw changes whether it is the digestive system, the diarrhea that is gone and my skin that was very hard is now softer and back to its original state. My appetite is back. It significantly increases the appetite and I actually gained 4 kilos in the past 2 months. I need to gain a lot more weight to get back to where I was.

REPORTER: Each dose that Eahl takes is as measured as any prescribed medicine. Most marijuana taken as medicine in America is not.

RAPHAEL MASHULUM: Medical marijuana in the states means use of marijuana against diseases. From my point of view medical marijuana is not well defined. It should be better defined.

If you take aspirin you want to take 100 mg of aspirin. You don’t want to say, “Well, I don’t know how much I’m getting – 20 mg or 2 mg.”

I don’t see any difference why one should have a different attitude when one works with marijuana. If marijuana can have anything between 2% and 20% THC I don’t think that this is the right way to do it.

REPORTER: One thing is certain – much cannabis today has no resemblance to the plant of our ancestors. This weed, the proverbial sow’s ear of yesterday’s cannabis has become a silk purse.

RAPHAEL MASHULUM: Life seems be very complicated in every place in the world. Most of us are anxious from time to time. Most of us are depressed from time to time. We want to change that. In many cases such a change can be brought forward by cannabis so that’s why people use it. That’s all.

REPORTER: So if a stranger walked up to you and poured pebble-like seeds into your hand and then said, “Plant them and your harvest can be made into rope, cloth or paper. It could help the sick or intoxicate.”

What would you say? Would you keep the seeds or chuck them away?

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(Game show music)

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

A 2009 study recommended treating heroin addicts with diacetylmorphine, the active ingredient in this.

(gong)

Time’s up!

The answer: From a recent edition of Jeopardy…”What is heroin?”

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Hello. This is Borat. Please tell your children’s to buy my Kasikstans opium and heroin’s. So my children can live long enough, to grow pubis for harvest. Thank you.

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DEAN BECKER: This is Hunter S. Thompson.

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HUNTER S. THOMPSON: Marijuana laws are one of the reasons that there is, in general, this lack of respect that cops complain about all over the country.

When you get a whole generation that grows up as felons and they know the law is ridiculous and they’re told all this gibberish about it – it drives you crazy and makes your brain soft and your feet fall off – even the police know it’s a silly law.

It’s time that we either bridge that chasm with some kind of realistic law enforcement or else I don’t think it’s going to be real in this country. It’s going to be revolution.

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REPORTER: NASCAR is about as American in this country as apple pie but amid the tailgating and the roaring engines at this weekend’s Brickyard 400 there was to be an unlikely site – a pro-pot ad to be shown dozens of times on a giant screen just outside the Indianapolis race track.

But just as the weekend was kicking off the company who owns the jumbotron pulled the ad after complaints from anti-drug groups.

COMMERCIAL: If you’re an adult who enjoys a good beer there’s a similar product you might want to know about - One without all the calories and serious health problems, less toxic and without the hangovers and it’s not linked to violence or reckless behavior.

Marijuana – less harmful than alcohol and time to create that wave.

For more information visit…

REPORTER: The ad had the power to potentially reach hundreds of thousands of NASCAR fans over the weekend - the first time a pro-marijuana legalization ad would have appeared so close to an entrance gate of a major sporting event.

It was created by the Marijuana Policy Project. It is a group that advocates legalizing pot. Mason Tvert is the Communication’s Director. He joins us now.

So what’s your reaction to the ad being pulled, sir?

MASON TVERT: It’s really unfortunate that this company has decided to take down an advertisement that simply highlighted the fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol when, meanwhile, this is a race that is sponsored by alcohol companies. The teams racing in it are sponsored by alcohol companies and everyone at the event if they’re an adult and they are able to drink responsibly then they are. Why is this such a problem to have a discussion about marijuana being safer than alcohol?

REPORTER: Before we move on then we’ll talk a little more about that but I want to read the statement from the jumbotron company.

“The content displayed on the Grazie Media screen outside the speedway does not advocate nor reflect the opinion of Grazie Media and its affiliates. The decision to remove the risque Marijuana Policy Project ad was made without any prejudice towards the advocacy towards alcohol or marijuana.

“We did not make this decision based on any outside pressure.”

So, are you planning on taking on any legal action about this?

MASON TVERT: We just want to get our money back since we weren’t provided with the service that we were promised when we signed into a contract.

This company can say that they weren’t pressured but we know what happened. We know that in this country everyone accepts the fact that alcohol is available for adults 21 and older. They accept the fact that family events like NASCAR races can be sponsored by beer companies and it’s simply a fact that when we start talking about marijuana being a safer product for adults all the sudden people get upset and this company caved in to that type of pressure from anti-marijuana organizations and potentially pro-alcohol organizations like NASCAR – who knows.

It’s really unfortunate because this is a really important discussion to have. People should know that alcohol contributes to overdose deaths. It contributes to violence and all sorts of reckless behavior. Marijuana has never found to contribute to those types of problems.

REPORTER: Mason, thank you. You make an argument that a lot of people are making. Thank you for coming on to CNN.

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FEMALE REPORTER: We’ve reported recently on bills that would legalize marijuana in Ohio.

ANCHOR: A former Whitehouse advisor tried to keep pot from being made legal in Ohio. Danon Jay explains from our sister station in Columbus.

DANON JAY: Dr. Andrea Bartwell says she’s seen marijuana shops pop up like liquor stores.

ANDREA BARTWELL: These people move in with a vengeance.

DANON JAY: The former advisor to President George W. Bush is warning against legalizing the drug for medical purposes.

ANDREA BARTWELL: It’s full of contaminants, bird droppings, animal feces and it exposes the sick and dying to a number of potential problems.

DANON JAY: We’ve reported recently on bills that would legalize marijuana in Ohio and petition efforts to put a question to voters. Those advocates say it is because sick people are being denied their right to a drug that can help. These opponents fear the goal is to take it even further.

ANDREA BARTWELL: It’s not medical anymore – it’s therapeutic. You don’t even need to have a doctor’s recommendation you just have to have a diagnosis.

DANON JAY: Bartwell joined representatives from Central Ohio Abuse Programs to argue that if the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t made marijuana a legal drug voters shouldn’t either.

They point to this data from Colorado which legalized medical marijuana in 2000.

“From 2006 to 2011 traffic fatalities from drivers testing positive for marijuana increased 46%. In 2011 drug usage among 12 to 17-year-olds was higher than the national average.”

The goal here is to stop all that from happening in Ohio. In Columbus, Danon Jay.

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ANNOUNCER: This is the Onion News Network keeping you safe from the lies.

BROOK ALVERAZ: We begin tonight from a story we’ve been following all week. Hannah Stevenson, the 16-year-old girl accused of stabbing a classmate to death with a screwdriver last month, at her arraignment this afternoon Hannah received the harshest possible sentencing from the judge. She will be tried as a black adult.

JUDGE: Due to the extreme and violent nature of this crime this court finds it fitting to try the defendant as an African-American.

BROOK ALVERAZ: Once the trial begins next week all courtroom images of Hannah will depict her as a 300 pound, muscular black man and jury members will be instructed to imagine her as such.

FEMALE: We’re going to do our best to make sure that Hannah is treated with the sympathy and sensitivity that she, as a photogenic white girl, deserves.

MAN: This is America. Nobody deserves to be treated as a black man.

BROOK ALVERAZ: Now that Hannah has been ruled black the court has instructed local media to assume she is guilty and the police have retroactively charged her with assaulting her arresting officer.

2 dozen character witnesses have been replaced by a single crack addict that goes by the name of “Skag”.

Hannah’s parents are, of course, planning to appeal the ruling saying that their daughter should be at most tried as a black celebrity or a stunningly beautiful Filipino lady.

Every time I hear a story like that it makes me so glad that I’m exempt from the legal system.

ANNOUNCER: When you follow Fact Zone’s Brook Alveraz you’re following the news anchor with more stalkers than any other major network onscreen personality. If you’re watching Brook Alveraz you’re not alone.

Fact Zone on the Onion News Network.

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DEAN BECKER: The following is Illinois Governor Pat Quinn who is signing their medical marijuana bill – the 20th state to do so.

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PAT QUINN: This is really an important day. We’re helping people who are dealing with pain every day – sometimes very severe pain. Pain from diseases that are very, very challenging to any human being and it’s important that we do whatever we can to help ease their pain.

I want to thank the University of Chicago and their medical center. I was at their grand opening and it is such a special place. It is committed to helping heal those who are sick and helping those who are dealing with pain – often times terminal illness – get through that in a proper way and I hope in a positive way.

I wanted to come here today and sign this very important bill.

Last week I signed a bill for the Affordable Care Act in Illinois so that more people would have health coverage. I had the honor of presenting that signed bill last Wednesday to our president, President Barack Obama from the state of Illinois.

He was so proud that his home state passed a bill dealing with helping folks keep good care, get good health care and get healing.

I think it’s important that next week we’ll be talking about investments in our safety hospitals as well as our hospitals downstate that are critical access hospitals.

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DEAN BECKER: Time to close this out with a story from the Pugent Sound.

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ANCHOR: Believe it or not vets around the Pugent Sound area are now really worried about more and more animals getting stoned. Henry Rosoff uncovered this trend and he’s live at the Genisee Dog Park.

Henry, you’ve found this is really no laughing matter for pet owners as well as the pets.

HENRY ROSOFF: No this is really something pet owners need to watch out for whether or not they use marijuana. The end results can be frightening, costly and, in some cases, deadly.

BETH GUERRA: I’m an emergency doctor here.

HENRY ROSOFF: Inside Renton’s Animal Critical Care and Emergency Services Clinic Dr. Beth Guerra sees everything from broken bones to upset stomachs. However, recently…

BETH GUERRA: We are seeing quite an uptick with marijuana toxicity with mainly dogs, but occasionally cats, and I think it is coinciding with the legalization of marijuana in this state.

HENRY ROSOFF: Last year, her two clinics saw 35 cases of pets with pot poisoning. This year they've already seen more than 35 cases and it’s only July.

BETH GUERRA: So it's really something on every vet's radar at this point.

HENRY ROSOFF: Guerra says dogs either find an owner's stash or pick up the remnants of a joint or pot brownie dropped on the sidewalk.

Most of the time, she can figure out they're stoned quickly, because the dog can't keep its balance, is either really tired or really hyper and can't control its bladder.

The treatment usually costs 2-3 hundred dollars, including making the dog throw up and giving it some activated charcoal to soak up the toxins.

BETH GUERRA: But in severe cases we will see dogs that seizure or severe depression respiratory depression, these dogs might need more aggressive supportive care.

HENRY ROSOFF: That treatment could include costly tests and an overnight stay with the vet. In very rare cases the dog could die.

Guerra says avoiding this frightening situation it all comes down to being more aware of what your dog gets into and being honest with your vet after the fact.

BETH GUERRA: I tell people even if you think it's well hidden they'll find it.

HENRY ROSOFF: This situation for dog owners can become very costly if they're not upfront with their vet and refuse to accept their dog got into some pot. Then what happens is a vet has to cover all the expensive bases of poison testing to make sure the dog will be ok.

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DEAN BECKER: That’s all we can squeeze in.

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.

Drug Truth Network archives are stored at the James A. Baker, III Institute for Policy Studies.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.

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