06/22/14 Doug McVay

Doug Mcvay reports: Florida gets limited medical cannabis, the drug truth summer reading assignment about to get underway, and Oregon hopes to vote on marijuana legalization.

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Guest: 
Doug McVay
Organization: 
Drug War Facts
Download: Audio icon COL062214.mp3
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Century of Lies June 22, 2014

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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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DOUG McVAY: Hello and welcome to Century of Lies. I'm your guest host, Doug McVay, editor of Drug War Facts dot org. Century of Lies is a production of the Drug Truth Network, and is brought to you through the Pacifica network's radio station KPFT-fm in Houston, Texas. Find us on the web at drug truth dot net, where you can find past programs and you can subscribe to our podcasts. You can follow me on twitter, where I'm at drug policy facts, and also at doug mcvay. The Drug Truth Network is on Facebook, be sure to give its page a Like, you can find Drug War Facts on facebook as well, please give it a like and share it with friends.

Before we start, I want to say hello to a few of the stations out there that carry Century Of Lies, including KRFP 90.3 FM in Moscow, Idaho; WIEC 102.7 FM in Eau Claire, WI;  WGOT-LP 94.7 FM in Gainesville, FL; and WERU 89.9 FM in Blue Hill, Maine. Century Of Lies can be heard on 420 Radio dot org on Mondays at 11 am and 11 pm, and Saturdays at 4 am. We can also be heard on time4hemp dot com between 1 and 2pm pacific.

Now, let's get to the news.

The state of Florida joins the ranks of states which allow some level of legal access to medical cannabis. They do not have what should be regarded as an “effective” law – only extracted oil is to be available, which must be vaporized. The number of patients who may benefit is also highly restricted. I spoke recently with a longtime medical cannabis activist from Florida, Jodi James, to find out more.

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JODI JAMES: I got to say for all of the folks out there who are true cannabis advocates those people who understand the true value of this plant spiritually, that understand the value of this plant for our health and our healing and our well-being and our benefit and the benefit of mankind – not just as a medicine but as an agricultural crop also – I have done nothing for you this year and I am sorry.

The bill that we passed in Florida making us the 23rd state is very restrictive and for people who are already using cannabis and have added cannabis to their therapeutic routine I’m not sure we’ve done a whole lot for those folks but I am very excited about the half million people in Florida who may be able to use cannabis this year who would not have used it last year.

In Florida I have about 1.5 million monthly cannabis smokers – people who are willing to admit to it. These folks...many of them are patients and they have this medicine but there is a whole cross section of people out there that are not already using cannabis that until their doctor bought in, until it is a regulated form that they can go to the pharmacy to get they are just not going to be happy with it.

I think this bill really opens up the doors for them and I am excited about that. We’re actually billing it as low-THC/CBD-rich oil. Of course Charlotte’s Web is a proprietary strain put together out in Colorado by the Stanley brothers which was created for Paige Figgy and Charlotte Figgy is the family daughter so it is Charlotte’s Web. The Stanleys worked with the Figgy family to develop the strain that works for Dravet.

In the state of Florida Dravet is about 500, 600 patients but we have 125,000 that have retractable epilepsy and what that means is these folks with epilepsy have tried two or more traditional epilepsy drugs and it doesn’t work so you are talking about 125,000 people right up off the bat for whom other treatments are not working that are going to be eligible from January 1st to get access to medicine.

It certainly leaves a whole cross section of people out. There is no doubt about that. I kind of count my blessings to have Irv Rosenfeld and Elvy Mussika. For the listening audience that don’t know Elvy and Irv Elvy and Irv both receive cannabis as part of the Investigative New Drug Program from the federal government. The Investigative New Drug Program has been in operation for more than 30 years. These 2 Floridians go to the University of Miami every month and they pick up a container that has nearly 9 ounces of marijuana in it. The marijuana has been processed into cigarettes. It is their doctors recommendation and prescription that tells them that they can legally and safely access their medicine.

Two years ago when we started doing this we had 2 Floridians who had safe, legal access. We worked through the courts. The president of my organization , Kathy Jordan, received “medical necessity” which is a common law defense in the state of Florida. That made three.

When we came out of the legislative session this year I have nearly 500,000 people who are going to be able to have access. We had 2 people and then there was 3 and now there are 500,000. For the people who are already using marijuana and understand that it is their medicine and they want this – I’m sorry I couldn’t help you this year but if you let us come back we’ll continue to work.

I want farmers to be able to grow it. I want to be able to grow cannabis in my backyard and use it to juice because Dr. Courtney is telling me that’s what is going to be great for my bone growth.

I’m not satisfied intrinsically with what we did but the idea that there is going to be one half of a million people that significantly change the quality of their life – people who would not have used this illegally – that’s pretty exciting.

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DOUG McVAY: Find out more about the Florida effort at the Florida CAN website at http://flcan.org

Preparations for the Drug Truth summer reading assignment and debate challenge are well underway. Here's Dean Becker, executive producer of the Drug Truth Network, to tell us more about it.

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DEAN BECKER: In March we got it done with the publisher through the proofing phase. I immediately sent a copy out to several elected officials. The name of the book is “To End the War On Drugs: A Guide for Politicians, the Press and Public”. It features 115 experts who have been guests on my radio shows over the past few years including congressman, scientists, doctors, prosecutors, police, authors, pot providers, parents of kids who are using pot - all kinds of folks.

I guess the point we have presented here is that there is no justification for the drug war whatsoever. It is a sham, a scam, flim-flam, a pipe dream of men who died long ago. We’re going to take this book to Washington, D.C. late next month to challenge every elected official in these United States to defend the policy, to describe for us what is the benefit of this drug war, what have we derived that offsets all the horrible blowback. Of course there is no real answer to that.

July 29t h we will be in Washington, D.C. in a US congressional building. We will have Representative Beto O’Rourke and some other senators and reps with us. We’ll have Neill Franklin, the director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. We’ll have Bill Martin, the director of the drug policy group of the James A. Baker, III Institute for Public Policy with us. We’ll have a stack of books that we will be giving to every US representative, every US senator, to the president and his cabinet, to the 9 Supreme Court justices and we’re going to mail 50 copies to every governor in these United States challenging them to defend this policy, to describe the benefits, to tell us what it is that offsets the horror of empowering terrorist cartels and gangs and allowing for more overdose deaths and the 17,000% markup of the price on these products, etc...enticing our children to use these drugs or to lives of crime by joining gangs. All of these horrors that we bear with, that we, truthfully, promote through this policy and to have them clarify why we want to continue doing this same old thing.

We’re going to challenge them to a debate - an open, public debate. We’re going to ask that the senate majority leader, the house majority leader and the president appoint delegates to go to this debate which we want to schedule for December 17 of 2014 which is the 100 year anniversary of the War on Drugs.

I want to come back to a thought. Earlier I mentioned I had sent copies to several elected officials. I sent one to US Attorney General Eric Holder. He liked the book so much that he sent it to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The Drug Enforcement Administration sent me a letter. It’s a short letter. I want to read it to you. It’s addressed to me and DTN Media.

“Dear Mr. Becker,

Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. asked me to thank you for sending him a copy of your book, “To End the War On Drugs: A Guide for Politicians, the Press and Public.” He thought the Drug Enforcement Administration might find the book an interesting read so he has shared it with us. Thank you for sharing this publication with us.

Sincerely,

Gary R. Owen,
Acting Chief, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs,
Drug Enforcement Administration”

I hope Eric Holder shows up at the press conference. Maybe he could be the president’s representative for this debate. I know Eric Holder gets this. Like many politicians, like many attorneys and other officials he is constrained in what he can say on behalf of his president and what he can say on behalf of his position.

Slowly but surely more and more politicians are beginning to realize that this is a winner because at some point this balance is going to shift in the other direction and it’s going to fall quite fast when it does. There are going to be a lot of politicians jumping to the other side.

I think this is going to happen in the very near future and, hopefully, our summer reading assignment and winter debate challenge will help make that happen.

For 15 years this has been my work, my hope, my goal, my ambition. My only thing on my “bucket list” is to make it to where my kids, grandkids (hope I live long to see some great-grandkids) do not have to live in a world like this where they could be riding in a car totally unknowing with a friend who happens to have a little bit of drugs and my kid or grandkid could be caught up in this system for no reason whatsoever other than the fears and the preposterous notions of ignorant politicians, judges, cops and so forth.

It is my hope to expose, to undo, to hopefully have that debate. I realize that debate on December 17th with the representatives of congress and the president is less likely to happen than 1% but there is a chance. There is a chance that these people could want to face down this lie and to take the opportunity to address this stupid situation.

Barring that rare possibility I do hope that the press, the media will take a look at this and see it as an opportunity to undo their failing because they have stood by as ignorant sheep listening to these preposterous notions, presenting them as fact to the American people. The first words of my book are “We have been duped.”

That’s the whole point. We have been duped by politicians. We’ve been duped by jingoists not journalist. We have been given nothing but lies, innuendo, hatred, bigotry as reasons, justification for this drug war.

I think the people are beginning to see through that. I think the politicians are beginning to see through that. I think...let’s call them “journalists” are beginning to see through that and beginning to speak of this need for change.

Now, they still are guilty because this evidence, this reality that the drug war is a failure is obvious to anybody who dares to take even a simple look at what is going on. These journalists and these politicians continue to cling to the old stuff because many of them (the old hands – the ones who were there and really wanting to ratchet things up) they can’t back down. They can’t refute what they had previously said without a lot of tap dancing along the way.

I’m tired of all the tap dancing. I want to get down to the heart of this matter. There is no reason whatsoever for this to exist. We want to provide treatment and regulation, get rid of the gangs because the gangs make their money selling drugs to our kids around the high school age who then resell it to other kids in the high schools and junior highs.

Why? Because the profit margin is so high.

We’ve got situations even in the legal states where, in essence, a pound of marijuana cost $4,000 buying it in little bitty chunks. The truth is I used to grow and I know here in Texas you give me an acre of land I could provide you 1,000 pounds off that acre in one season. I would be happy to sell it for $20 a pound.

The point I’m getting at is we have created this enormous bubble...they pull over a car with drugs in it and they inflate that price, “This bag of cocaine is worth $180,000!”

When the truth be told back when cocaine was legal you could buy a gram of cocaine for 25 cents – pure, made by Merck – right there from the druggist. You could buy a week’s supply of heroin from Sears for $1. You could send them $1 in the mail and they would send you back one week’s supply and they would throw in a syringe for $1.

We have created these enormous values through prohibition only. Back when it was legal heroin was sold in tablets. It was called Bayer Heroin. It sold right next to the Bayer aspirin at the very same price. We have created this out of nothingness.

I’ve been doing radio. This October will make 13 years. For 2 years before that I was working with the New York Times. I was the liaison for their Drug Policy Forum. I would contact notables like Milton Friedman, the Nobel Economist, Gary Johnson who was then governor of New Mexico and other high echelon folks. I would contact them and teach them how to use the software to function on the New York Times forum. I would be with them on the phone while they were doing this in case they had any problems responding to the questions that were on the forum.

We would typically have them on for about an hour. I was really proud of the fact that I had Milton Friedman’s home phone number. Up until his death I would call him every few months and we would talk about drug war and his revulsion to what we have wrought here.

Two summers ago I traveled with the Caravan for Peace, Justice and Dignity. This was a gathering of about 100 not Mexicans but Latinos from south of our border – many other countries as well. They came north with Mexican poet Javier Sicilia to talk about the horrors that are unfolding down there – tens of thousands of people are killed every year over this drug trade.

Many people think, “Well, they are just gangsters – who cares?”

No, most of those people killed are just innocent bystanders – people who were just killed randomly to show how vicious these murderous cartels are.

On the tour we started out in San Diego. We wound up going through Santa Fe, Albuquerque, we toured the country – 7,000 miles in support of this caravan for peace. As we got up in to New England (we were in Baltimore, Chicago up that way) and I was astounded by it looked truthfully like war zones, like...just unbelievable decay was allowed to unfold and to diminish and, in some cases, destroy whole sections of those cities where only thugs and gangsters and homeless people live hiding in these vacant buildings.

It was so ...don’t even know the words. As you were saying perhaps a true infliction – not an accident – but maybe done on purpose.

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DOUG McVAY: Find out more about the Drug Truth Network at http://drugtruth.net.

Those last two pieces of audio from Jodi James and Dean Becker come to us courtesy of http://timeforhemp.com and the From Thought to Action program.

You are listening to Century of Lies. This is a production of the Drug Truth Network. I am your host, Doug McVay, editor of Drug War Facts and http://drugwarfacts.org.

and finally: the state of Oregon may yet get to vote this year on marijuana legalization. The organization New Approach Oregon has turned in just over 80 thousand signatures so far. They need to hand in more than 87 thousand valid signatures which means that they will have to hand in about 140,000 signatures to be sure of qualifying. The deadline to get signatures is July 3, and proponents are confident that they are on track to succeed. I attended the grand opening of their new campaign office in Portland, here's New approach's director Anthony Johnson talking to a crowd of supporters.

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ANTHONY JOHNSON: I would like to thank everybody for making it here tonight. I really appreciate everybody coming this evening. We’ve gathered thousands of people across Oregon and across this country who understand that treating marijuana use as a crime has failed and it is time for a new approach to move us forward to a time where we are regulating cannabis commerce and capturing that revenue and no longer engaging in the barbaric practice of locking people in cages for utilizing cannabis.

I became involved in this cause because I saw African American friends treated more harshly than my middle class white friends in college. It is obvious that people that people of color and people of low income suffer the brunt of the drug war and the war on cannabis that has completely failed, wasted resources, doesn’t protect us at all, doesn’t keep marijuana out of the hands of children. It is time for a new regime where we regulate marijuana like beer and wine.

We’ve collected thousands of signatures during this past month, 70,000 signatures in the past month from ordinary Oregonians who believe it is time that we end the War on Drugs, end the war on cannabis. I cannot be happier that we are well on way to making the ballot, well on our way to victory this November.

We are not going to take any vote for granted. We are going to reach out across this state and fight for every single vote. So many people think marijuana legalization is inevitable - that may be but we are not going to rest on our laurels.

We are going to make contacts with our neighbors, friends, families and try to get every vote that we can. That’s why we need all of you. We need you to contact your friends. Please talk to our staff. We have an experienced campaign staff doing great work.

Sign up for various jobs and really reach out to your friends, family and let’s carry this momentum here in Oregon to where we end the barbaric practice of locking people in cages and carry that momentum across the country so we can finally end the war on cannabis and stop treating marijuana use as a crime.

I can only thank you guys so much for being a part of the movement here in Oregon. It is really a major movement across the country and thank you so much for being a part of history. I really appreciate it.

[applause]

Does anybody have any questions about the campaign?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I was going to ask you because someone said that they might have signed the petition twice does that rule out both those?

ANTHONY JOHNSON: We definitely don’t want people to sign twice but if somebody is unsure we do check through the database. If they are pretty certain they have signed it don’t have them sign it again but we go through the database and do our best to make sure duplicates are not in there.

As you talk to your friends and family I think that so many people realize that our law enforcement resources are better utilized elsewhere. In Josephine County right now if you call the police at 9 o’clock at night because somebody is breaking into your home they tell you, “Tough luck. Can you ask them to leave?”

There are so many unsolved rapes, robberies, murders, untested rape kits. It is time to better prioritize our law enforcement resources and go towards serious and violent criminals and stop chasing around people who use marijuana.

I think I’ve...in my own family...my mom recently who has not been supportive of what I have done...when I so-called “came out of the cannabis closet” to her she didn’t talk to me for a month. I didn’t know if she would ever talk to me again. This past weekend she’s like, “You know I think marijuana should be legalized. We don’t have the time to chase around everybody who wants to use marijuana and our police have better resources.”

I think more and more personal contacts like that, more and more people coming out of the “closet” will only carry our momentum here in Oregon and across the country.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Are there any elected officials that have come out and supported the measure yet?

ANTHONY JOHNSON: Generally speaking as far as a supporting cannabis legalization Congressman Baumhower has been a great advocate for us. As we move along you’ll see more and more public officials...Representative Peter Buckley and Floyd Prozanski have been great champions at the legislature. We are only going to see more and more elected officials...

Recently the United States House of Representatives voted to defund the DEA operations of medical marijuana states. The entire Oregon delegation voted for that including Greg Walden who I don’t know that I’ve agreed with him on many issues but even he came around.

It’s rare to be in a state where you can say no matter where you live in Oregon you can thank your representative for standing up for common sense with our federal marijuana policy.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: How many signatures do you have so far and when is your next turn in?

ANTHONY JOHNSON: Well over 100,000 signatures - well on pace to make the ballot and we’ll be turning in the signatures by July 3 rd. We’ll be collecting all this month to ensure that we have the cushion to win.

Alright, everybody, please keep spreading the word about us. Sign up to help with the campaign. Keep talking to your friends and family and Bradley Stymin you are interrupting me but go ahead.

BRADLEY STYMIN: What is the plan to maximize the youth turnout?

ANTHONY JOHNSON: That’s a good question. We are going to have an extensive voter registration campaign and make sure that every Oregonian knows that this is on the ballot. It’s got a great chance to win and we want to register as many people as we can. First-time voters are our voters so we are going to be collaborating with as many people as we can to register voters all across the state and adding to our voter rolls to ensure that we have the right voting population to win this November.

Alright Bradley – you are cut off.

Thanks everybody. We really appreciate it. Just keep spreading the word. Sign up for our campaign, Thank you so much.

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DOUG McVAY: In spite of the similarities in their names the New Approach Oregon measure is different from the New Approach Washington measure which became I-502. You can read the full text of the measure by going to the website at http://newapproachoregon.com

That's it for this week. I'm Doug McVay and this was Century of Lies. Thank you for listening. You can find a recording of this show and past shows at the website drug truth dot net, where you can check out our other programs and subscribe to our podcasts. Follow me on Twitter, where I'm @ Drug Policy Facts and @ Doug McVay. The Drug Truth Network is on Facebook, be sure to give its page a Like, you can find Drug War Facts on facebook as well, please give it a like and share it with friends. Spread the word. Remember: Knowledge is power.

We'll be back next week with more news and commentary on the drug war and this Century Of Lies. For now, for the drug truth network, this is Doug McVay saying so long. So long!
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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