09/28/14 Earl Blumenauer

SSDP 2014 with US Rep Earl Bleumenauer, Stacia Costner Dep Dir of SSDP, Troy Dayton founder of SSDP & Betty Aldworth Exec Dir of SSDP & Call for national rallies at US Courthouses on Dec 17, the 100 year anniversary of Drug War

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Guest: 
Earl Blumenauer
Organization: 
Congressman
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Transcript

Cultural Baggage / September 28, 2014

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BETTY ALDWORTH: Ladies and gentlemen, if we could get settled quickly the congressman would appreciate it and I would as well.

DEAN BECKER: This is Dean Becker. You are listening to Cultural Baggage on Pacifica Radio and the Drug Truth Network.

This week reporting from Arlington, VA looking across the Potomac at Washington, D.C.

ANNOUNCER: Welcome everyone to SSDP 2014.

[applause]

BETTY ALDWORTH: For the handful of you I have not yet met I am Betty Aldrich, the executive director for about 8 months now.

We’re going to take just a few moments because we have a very special guest of honor with us here tonight. I’m sure that he needs no extensive introduction but I do want to take a moment to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of Congressman Earl Blumenauer on behalf of our movement.

[applause]

Since before many of us in the room were born Congressman Blumenauer has been working to end the injustices of marijuana prohibition and he has been a champion not only of medical marijuana but also of ending marijuana prohibition since his days on the city council in Portland and has continued to work tremendously in congress to bring along allies, to bring along his colleagues in creating change at the federal level.

Not only that but he is a tremendous advocate for Initiative 71 in Oregon and is doing great work in order to make sure we get the youth vote turned out in that state this year and make sure we can end marijuana prohibition in Oregon like we have in Colorado and Washington as well.

Let’s give a very warm SSDP welcome to Congressman Earl Blumenauer.

[applause]

EARL BLUMENAUER: Thank you, Betty. Thank you, very much, for the kind introduction. Thank you for being here. Thank you for reminding people exactly how old I am. I actually am old enough that I was in the Oregon legislature when Oregon became the first state to decriminalize marijuana.

[applause]

I think our floor action was the first time that a state had actually voted to legalize 2 plants per personal consumption. I’ve been told that if the 19 of us who voted for it had been joined by the people who voted no but smoked dope Oregon would have been the first state to legalize adult use of marijuana.

It is something that I’ve been involved with literally all my public service career. It didn’t make sense when I was in the legislature 40 years ago when we were watching the emergence of this misguided War on Drugs, the demonization of marijuana and the grotesque mis-scheduling of its effects. I’ve been involved with it ever since.

Being in congress since Ron Paul and Barney Frank left the stage I volunteered to step up the game a little bit in this congress. I didn’t quite realize how quickly when I made that offer to Barney how quickly things would be changing but it’s really exciting isn’t it?

[applause]

I actually have a speech to make in New York City tomorrow morning but I thought I’d stop by Washington, D.C. on my way to New York to thank you for being here.

[applause]

To thank you for lending your voice and your energy to strike a blow for racial justice, personal freedom, protecting children, fighting real crime, saving money, promoting health and respect for the law - none of which is advanced with our current, misguided policy towards marijuana.

80 years ago America was in the midst of a failed war against alcohol. It took 13 years after we had institutionalized organized crime, turned millions of otherwise honest Americans, law abiding Americans into criminals and it didn’t work.

40 years ago the launch of this other failed attempt at prohibition not based on any science but on fear and prejudice, misinformation, less dangerous and addictive than tobacco, classified as worse than methamphetamines and without medical benefit – that’s the official policy of the United States.

We’re now poised to change that since...

[applause]

With your help this will be the last 4 or 5 years of this failed policy.

[applause]

Look at the momentum in terms of the 17 states that have decriminalized, 23 states that have legalized medical marijuana, the first 2 states for adult use and we’re poised this fall for Oregon and Alaska to follow suit. If those 2 states with your help get across the finish line it’s game over....game over...

[applause]

What will follow in California and other states...may springboard off the medical marijuana vote in Florida this year...I think it will be inevitable that we will have more states that will take action along with what’s going on with commercial application of hemp, actual research into marijuana and its impacts – getting it right, having consumer protection in this sort of bizarre shadow market it’s very hard for people to know what it is that they are getting and we are perpetuating myths and misunderstanding.

I hope that you just inhale deeply in this program. This is a superb program. You have some of the leading lights in the country who are here to share their thoughts and observations. You’ve got lots of energy in this room for people who will be making a difference.

We have the opportunity, with your help, to stop criminalizing behaviors, the injustice of particularly young African Americans. You have the opportunity to actually protect kids. I don’t want junior high students having access to marijuana but right now who really thinks that it’s harder for a junior high student to get a joint than a 6 pack? Nobody is checking I.D. at your friendly, neighborhood drug dealer. There’s no license to loose and a lot of these people may well want to offer some other things that will entice kids.

The way that we will deal with protecting our children is focusing, being honest about marijuana and its impacts. Some of you may be familiar with an exchange I had with a guy who could not in a hearing give a straight answer to what is more dangerous – marijuana or methamphetamine.

How do we expect anybody to take them seriously if they can’t be honest with the American public. We have an opportunity to change an equation that is costing us billions of dollars a year on this failed program of prohibition and locking people up and not being able to tax and regulate...

You know...it is time that we change that equation. It is going to be 100 billion dollar a year difference for the American taxpayers in the next 10 years if we get this equation right. Even in Washington, D.C. 100 billion dollars over the next 10 years is real money.
But more important than the money is being able to deal with people honestly and fairly, to not interfere...tobacco is more addictive and more dangerous, more destructive and yet we’re pursuing this crusade against marijuana.

I think it’s not a good idea to have millions of Americans turned into law breakers and to have a drug enforcement that lacks all credibility. You have an opportunity for us to turn this corner, for us to be able to legalize, regulate, tax and let people get on with their lives.

Thank you for being here. Thank you for being part of the conference. Thank you for those of you who will be willing to be part of this effort, making phone calls to Oregon or Alaska, organizing your fellow students around the country and promoting a rational, thoughtful dialogue about the role that marijuana should be playing in our society.

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DEAN BECKER: Alright I’m cutting in to the congressman’s speech to remind you that you are listening to Cultural Baggage on Pacifica Radio on the Drug Truth Network.

That was Representative Earl Blumenauer at the SSDP conference in Washington, D.C. The congressman was wrapping things up and, trust me, he got a rousing ovation that, truthfully, we just don’t have time for.

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DEAN BECKER: I’m here with Stacia Costner, the Deputy Director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. This is the first big day of the conference.

Stacia, what are we in for? What’s going on here today?

STACIA COSTNER: SSDP 2014, our Students for Sensible Drug Policy conference and lobby day, is a weekend event that we put on every 2 years which brings together hundreds of students, alumni and supporters – all people who care passionately about ending the failed War on Drugs.

This weekend we are going to be learning about issues like how to speak with the media, what the UN is doing about drug policy reform and about protecting medical marijuana rights for students on campuses, activist skills training and lobby day training, how to get a job in the marijuana industry after you graduate, how to stay involved as an alum - a wide variety of topics to be covered, a lot of networking and celebrating the amazing work that our students are doing.

On Monday we have our lobby day where we are going to Capitol Hill and meet with our elected officials about the sentencing reform and about state’s rights for federal marijuana legalization.

DEAN BECKER: Don’t you think there is change imminent?

STACIA COSTNER: Absolutely. The political climate right now ... the winds are in our favor. Support for drug policy reform is at the highest levels that it’s pretty much ever been at least in the recent past. They are getting involved at the perfect time. It’s also, aside from the movement more broadly, things going more positive direction.

The organization is in a really important period of growth with Betty Aldrich, our new executive director, our recently expanded staff so it’s a really exciting time. These students are fresh out of high school in some cases and they are just dipping their feet into the waters of drug policy reform.

DEAN BECKER: I hear rumblings or mumblings about us claiming the moral high ground because I think the morals of this drug war have been shown to be highly deficient over the years. Your thoughts?

STACIA COSTNER: Absolutely. I think that’s a lot of the reason why a lot of these students are involved is that they see the devastation that policies like this and police militarization and things like that and how deeply entrenched the drug war into our culture and into our society and how that can affect all different aspects of life and people in different life situations. Yeah, I think you are absolutely right. We are certainly in the moral right and people are seeing that more easily every single day.

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It’s time to play: "Name That Drug - By Its Side Effects!"

Swelling of hands and feet, rash, hives, blisters. Swelling of the face, lips, tongue and neck. Trouble breathing. Changes in eyesight, muscle pain, fever, skin sores, dizziness, sleepiness, weight gain, feeling 'high'.

(((gong)))

Time's up! The answer from Pfizer:

Lyrica! For fibromyalgia.

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DEAN BECKER: Best I can tell being a member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy is like being a member of a great fraternity or sorority – it builds brotherhood and sisterhood.

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DEAN BECKER: We’re at the SSDP conference. I’m here with Troy Dayton. He was one of the founders of SSDP.

How are you doing, Troy?

TROY DAYTON: I’m doing well. Thanks for having me, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: This is an amazing event. It seems the enthusiasm, the knowledge, the effort of these SSDP’ers just grows every year.

TROY DAYTON: Absolutely. I remember sitting in a basement in my house in DC in 96, 97 thinking about what it might be like if we had a really vibrant, really active student movement. I have to say that even what we were thinking was our ideal situation then that this group of people actually exceeds our wildest expectations from back then.

It is so great to see the drug policy reform, particularly the student movement, grow so much and be so talented. This is one talented group of students.

DEAN BECKER: Rob Kampia this morning was saying 5 years perhaps on this aspect of reform or whatever. I honestly think the iron is hot. It could happen just any day. I know they talked about the end of alcohol prohibition as being so far in the future but a couple years later as they said it had “the likelihood of a hummingbird carrying the Washington Monument to the planet Mars” and 2 years later it was over.

It’s just a question of when these politicians actually face the truth.

TROY DAYTON: I think you are right. It’s quite possible. You look at the Soviet Union, look at end of alcohol prohibition – these things that seemed far off and then all of the sudden , bam, they hit a tipping point and it just moves fast. That could happen here. I do think that the end of federal prohibition in 2019 is about the soonest - based on all of the ways I can see it the soonest that could happen.

That doesn’t mean that most states, a good portion of states will pass by then. We’re going to have by the end of 2016 possibly 7 to 10 states that have adult use and 26/28 states that have medical by then. That’s getting pretty close to the vision right there.

For most of the time that I’ve been working on this issue people told me that this issue was hopeless, that we couldn’t win. They told me all the reasons why we could never succeed. Thank God I didn’t listen to them.

Now the story has changed. The same people that said it was hopeless then are saying it’s inevitable now. Well, guess what?! Don’t believe it. It’s not inevitable now. We still need to fight. We still need to raise money. We still need to donate the money in order for this to succeed.

There have been many of times in history when something that seemed like a foregone conclusion got turned back. This is not in the bag yet. We’ve got to keep fighting.

DEAN BECKER: I see you guys on TV. I don’t know too much about the work you do but I see you help things happen for dispensaries or analysis labs or others who are getting into the industry.
TROY DAYTON: We have a membership-based investor group so we have about 350 high net worth, accredited investors that all pay a couple thousand dollars per year to be members of our group. Companies that are looking to raise capital – small companies, big companies, everybody in-between – is looking to raise capital apply to pitch our investors much like the show “Shark Tank.”

We have webinars every week where companies get on (we have about 4 companies every week that pitch on our webinars) and then we have a big meeting every couple months where we bring everybody together. Over the last year or so we’ve had about 28 companies that have pitched our group, raised about 14 million dollars in investment that we know about.

That’s some of the first outside investment in the sector. It used to be that the sector was almost entirely funded by friends and family but now we are really seeing outside investors coming in. These are venture capital funds. These are high-net individuals from real estate or whatever and also some of the biggest brands in the sector – the people that have enough traction that they are now in the business of acquiring or investing in other companies.

DEAN BECKER: this is a result of the recognition that’s been brought forward over the last few years that alcohol is probably a more harmful drug that is not enticing children in a life of crime....all these old fairy tales from the past are losing their congregation.

TROY DAYTON: I’m sorry. Say that again.

DEAN BECKER: The investment by these individuals and organizations is coming about because the prior fears, the propaganda and hysteria of prior generations has lost its believers. People are understanding that this is going to happen and it is perhaps a means to benefit themselves by making this industry grow.

TROY DAYTON: I think there is an inner*play between the loosening of the taboo of cannabis and also the recognition of the money to be made in it. I don’t think all these people are coming here because they have seen the light. I think most of the people that are coming to this industry are people who are, in many ways, largely a political or they just believe that cannabis should be legal or they were cannabis consumers but really went on with the rest of their life. It wasn’t a big part of their life or they just were not involved politically in any way.

Now that they can see an application of their business acumen into it now they are able to see that there is an opportunity there and so now they’ve become activist and that’s what we try to do in our field is regardless of what reason someone comes to this if even if they are just out seeking money what we hope to do it show them that contributing to the cause and everything else is really going to give themselves more opportunity for money making but also more meaning in their lives.

People often come for the money but they stay for the passion. They stay for the people and they stay for the change that they are making.

DEAN BECKER: We’ve been speaking with Mr. Troy Dayton – one of the founders of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and now he’s with the Arcview Group...and that website is?

TROY DAYTON: http://arcviewgroup.com – that’s arcviewgroup.com.

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BETTY ALDWORTH: Hi, I’m BETTY ALDWORTH, Executive Director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. This conference has been one of the most inspiring and exciting things for me in terms of gatherings of drug policy reformers.

The young people who have come here who are totally committed to ending the drug war and ensuring that we can replace it with sensible policies, evidenced-based policies...folks are so excited and empowering and inspiring and inspirational they have amazing ideas and they are sharing them with each other and creating a network that is going to last for their entire lives.

We’ve also got tons of alumni here who are contributing to the dialogue and lots of drug policy reform professionals who are sharing their views and educating our students about drug policy and related issues.

One of the great things about SSDP is that we don’t just change laws we also build the young people who come to us...when they initially join a chapter they often do so with very limited advocacy experience but when they leave they have built a chapter, they’ve done lobbying, they’ve built up strategies for engaging with campus media and they’ve gained this tremendous skill set for organizing which also translates very well to the workplace.

Not only do they make great employees for our drug policy reform organizations they also can contribute significantly to the burgeoning legal cannabis industry. Here’s what’s great about that...the more SSPD peers we have working in the cannabis industry the more strongly that industry is going to hold on to the reform values from which it was born.

If we are able to formalize those relationships and crea6te some mechanisms by which students can be more easily fit into that world in addition to continuing to work to have them working in reform and harm reduction and things like that the better position we are going to be to build sustainable change when it comes to both the cannabis industry and broader drug policy reform.

There are many ways that SSDPers are contributing to other movements as well. We’ve got John Perry over at http://change.org who is working on empowering the voices of citizens and doing tremendous work there. We’ve got folks like Chris Laukletter (one of our founders) who heads up a renewable energy company. He is working on social entrepreneurism from a somewhat different angle but is making change based on the things that he learned when he was a SSDPer.

DEAN BECKER: For those youngsters out there listening that maybe don’t have a SSDP chapter in their college or their community what can they do? How can they get involved?

BETTY ALDWORTH: They can head right over to our website, http://sspd.org, click on chapters and there’s a place where they can learn how to join or learn whether or not there is a chapter on their campus.

One of the really exciting things that we are announcing right here on you show is that we are going to start engaging people on campus in a new way. Even if your campus is a place where a chapter can’t be built for a number of different reasons we are launching a SSDP ambassador program where individuals on campuses can get involved with SSDP, represent our voice even if you aren’t able to build a chapter on your campus for whatever reason.

That launch is next month and we are very excited about the ways that it will expand our network even more campuses across the nation. And then once you are an official SSDP Ambassador you can work with other students at nearby campuses to effect change in your locality, your municipality, your county or even your state.

When we look at polling from across the nation and across the world people clearly can see that the drug war has failed. Young people have always been at the forefront of that particular realization more so now than ever especially when it comes to marijuana and medical marijuana. There was a poll out of Connecticut sometime last year that demonstrated that 99% of young people below the age of 18 and 25 thought that medical marijuana ought to be legal – 99%! Who would have thought?!

DEAN BECKER: I want to thank you for being with us. I know that you have lots of chores – the conference is still ongoing and I want to thank you for your time. Any closing thoughts that you’d like to relate to the listeners?

BETTY ALDWORTH: I just hope that folks will check out conference photos and news and quotes by using any social media network – looking for the #ssdp2014 you’ll be able to see what was going on over the weekend. Get a little bit of that inspiration, I hope from home.

Thank you, so much, for being here and for representing for our young people a person who has been working at this for such a long time and can really demonstrate to them that this is not just about doing something cool while you are in college. This is about really making a change and committing yourself to making change over the course of a long period of time if that’s what it takes.

Thank you for all of your work. Thank you for joining us and thank you for elevating the student voice in this fight.

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DEAN BECKER: December 17th, 2014 will mark 100 years since the passage of the Harrison Narcotics Act - the first far-ranging law of drug prohibition. Criminal defense attorneys from around the nation will stand with representatives of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the James A. Baker, III Institute for Public Policy, End Mass Incarceration, African American Forum, Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, CA NOMRL, Citizens Opposing Prohibition, Mothers Act for Criminal Justice Reform and the list is growing. Just today we added Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

We must recognize that the drug war empowers our terrorists enemies, enriches barbarous Latin cartels and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent U.S. gangs and yet it has never stopped even one determined child from getting their hands on their drug of choice.

Defense attorneys and representatives of these many organizations will seek a new paradigm, a new process wherein drug users are no longer arrested for possessing minor amounts of drugs and wherein compassion, education and acceptance replaces arrest, mandatory minimums and life-long stigma.

We ask that you and your organizations gather at your courthouse at noon on Wednesday, December 17th to challenge and undo the hopefully hysterical logic and demonization of “tough on drugs”.

Please contact Dean@drugtruth.net.

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

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