01/30/15 Johann Hari

Johann Hari, author of Chasing the Scream - The First and Last Days of the Drug War + Austin CBS report in support of medical cannabis for children

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Cultural Baggage Radio Show
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Friday, January 30, 2015
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Johann Hari
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CULTURAL BAGGAGE

JANUARY 30, 2014

TRANSCRIPT

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

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: It is not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally un-American.

CROWD: 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.

Ah yes my friends, we are going to have one great show for you today, we're going to have a great discussion with uh, Mr. Johann Hari, he can help me correct that pronunciation I suppose. He's author of this wonderful new book, Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. Few echoes of my book but a lot of great information beyond what I wrote. In particular he brings focus to bear on the beginning of this drug war, where the hell did this thing come from, why does it exist, and what the hell is it up to. And uh, I tell you what let's just go ahead and bring him on board, he can tell us a little bit more about his focus on this great book. Johann, are you there sir?

JOHANN HARI: How you doing? It's great to be with you.

DEAN BECKER: Hey, Johann, I just finished the book today, I want to tell you my friend, you've done something spectacular here, I want to thank you for Chasing The Scream.

JOHANN HARI: Ah, that means a lot to me, Dean, for lots of reasons, I mean, partly because when I was doing a lot of research for the book I listened to huge amount of your archive, and you are one of the most valuable and important voices out there on this issue, so I'm really thrilled to hear that.

DEAN BECKER: Well you know, it's coincidental or whatever, I came into the studio today just ecstatic, just frothing at the mouth happy. Don't know how else to say it. The drug war is ending! It has lost its luster, there are so few people willing to stand forth and proclaim a need for this thing anymore. We're definitely winning, but it's going to take more years and tears and deaths before we get it over, right?

JOHANN HARI: Yeah, I mean I was thinking about that as you were talking, because, you know, four years ago when I started working on this book, a little bit less than four years ago, I realized that we were coming up to a hundred years since drugs were first criminalized, and, you know, I had a quite personal reason to want to know more about this because we had addiction in my family. One of my earliest memories was of trying to wake up one of my relatives and not being able to. And I realized, although I had written about the drug war quite a lot in my role as a newspaper columnist, I kind of realized that there were loads of really basic questions that I had never learned the answers to from the culture, or from, you know, certainly not from my teachers or our governments.

You know, why were drugs banned in the first place? Why, why do we carry on with this ban even though so many people can see that it doesn't work? What really causes drug use and drug addiction, and what do the alternatives look like? What I wanted to do was – you know, I think part of the problem with this debate is it's so often couched in these abstract terms, we talk in this high, abstract way about, you know, how things should be, and I didn't want to do that. I wanted to know what the effects of this were like on the ground for real people.

So I ended up going on this massive journey, I didn't realize quite how long it would be when I started, but, I ended up going, you know, across 30,000 miles, and across 8 different countries. What I wanted to do was sit with and spend a lot of time with people whose lives had been changed by this war one way or another. So it led me to a really, you know, broad mix of people, from a transsexual crack dealer in, in Brooklyn, to, you know, a scientist who spends a lot of time feeding hallucinogens to mongooses, to the only country that has ever decriminalized all drugs from cannabis to crack, and I guess the main thing I learned on that journey was, almost everything we think we know about this subject is wrong.

Drugs aren't what we think they are, the drug war is certainly not what we've been told it is, drug addiction isn't what we've been told it is, and the alternatives aren't what we've been told they are. So it's kind of exciting and a bit dizzying to realize just how much of what we've been told is, you know, propaganda and nonsense.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, and it's quite a bit, isn't it? Yeah, you know, I think about, uh, I'm talking about, I see on the horizon, the drug war is ending out there, it is, because there are so few people willing to speak in support of continuing down this same path. Again, folks, we're speaking with Mr. Johann Hari – is that right, Hari?

JOHANN HARI: Hari is how I say it. I once waited for 6 hours in the emergency room with a broken room because they were calling for Joanna Harry to come forward. So, anyone who says my name better than that is fine with me.

DEAN BECKER: Ha! But, your thoughts sir, it is time to, uh, educate and embolden people to move forward, isn't it?

JOHANN HARI: Yeah, I think so, and, you know, I guess, when I was thinking about the book you know I wanted to tell it through human stories, and I think you mentioned earlier you know, about a third of the book is about the origins of the war on drugs. And it was so interesting for me when I was looking at that, because, I had assumed – although I had some hints, I'd read Michelle Alexander's terrific book, you know, I basically assumed the reason why drugs were banned in the first place was the reasons the average guy on the street would give now if you stopped him now and asked why drugs are illegal, you know, they would say, we don't want kids to use drugs, we don't want people to become addicted, which are very very good reasons, I don't think the war on drugs actually does protect kids or addicts, we can come back to that I'm sure later.

But, you know, they're reasonable sounding things. What really struck me when I went and did lots of archival research is, those things were barely mentioned when the war on drugs was, was banned, and really the thing that helped me to understand why drugs were really banned was the story of Billie Holiday, and how she was stalked, and how the war on drugs helped to kill her. And, I guess, you know, I opened that story, I interviewed lots of her friends, I did a lot of archival research, I opened that story, one night in 1939, when she stood here in New York City and she performed the song Strange Fruit, which I'm sure your listeners know is a song against lynching.

And her goddaughter, Lorraine Feather, said to me, you've got to understand how shocking this was. This is an African-American woman standing up in front of a white, largely white audience, in a hotel where Billie Holiday was not even allowed to walk through the front door, she had to go up through the service elevator, and, to sing a song against lynching at a time when most pop songs were very twee and there was no political music of that kind. And, that night, Billie Holiday, according to her biographer Julia Blackburn, is told by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics to stop singing the song. She refuses, and that's when the stalking of her begins.

And it's really fascinating that, the man who kind of orders her to stop is Harry Anslinger, who I think, I'm sure a lot of your listeners know who he is but I think of him as the most influential person no one's ever heard of. He takes over the Federal Bureau of Prohibition, so he takes over the prohibition department just as alcohol prohibition is ending, and he has to create a new purpose for this department, and he basically launches the modern war on drugs, well before Nixon, well before Reagan.

And, Harry Anslinger was really driven by two very deep convictions: A hatred of addicts, rooted in his childhood, and a hatred of African-Americans. Harry Anslinger was regarded as racist in the 1930s. He would use the N-word in official memos, his own senator said he had to resign, and Billie Holiday to him was like the symbol of everything that had gone wrong, it was an African-American asserting herself, asserting the rights of African-Americans, he thought jazz was like, chaotic, disordered, mongrel music.

And Billie Holiday, it's very interesting, her reaction to being told to stop. Billie Holiday had grown up in a part of Baltimore that was called, known as PigTown, which gives you some sense of what it was like, it was the last part of the United States to not have a sewage system. And as a kid, she had uh, been not allowed into a lot of the stores in Baltimore because she was an African-American, and she had promised herself as a child she would never bow her head to any white man. So when Anslinger gives her this order, she effectively says well screw you, I'm an American citizen, I'm going to sing my song.

And, that's when he resolved to break her. And it's interesting, the first agent he sends was a guy called Jimmy Fletcher. Anslinger hated employing African-Americans, but you couldn't really send a white guy into Harlem to stalk Billie Holiday. So he gets this guy, he's an archive, what is called an archive man, an agent, and Jimmie Fletcher follows Billie Holiday around for two years, he gets to know her really well, he dances with her, he watches her drug use, and Billie Holiday was so amazing that Jimmie Fletcher fell in love with her. And his whole life he felt ashamed of what he did to her next.

He has her busted, she's put on trial. She said about the trial, it was called the United States against Billie Holiday and that's how it felt. She's sent to prison, and when she gets out she can't perform anywhere in New York, because you need a cabaret performer's license and they won't give it to her because she's got a criminal conviction. And so, you know her friend Yolanda Bevan said to me, what's the cruelest thing you can do to a person is to take away the thing we love. The thing we do to addicts all the time, we give them criminal records, we make it impossible for them to rebuild their lives.

And, and Billie Holiday – even then, Harry Anslinger is not finished with her, he sends another agent to stalk her. When she's in her early forties, she collapses, again here in New York, not far from where I am now actually, she collapses, she's taken to hospital, the hospital refuses to take her because she's an addict, so takes her to another hospital, and she's terrified that narcotics agents are going to come to her in the hospital, she says to one of her friends, they're going to kill me in there, don't let them, they're going to kill me.

And they come, she's diagnosed with liver cancer. She goes into withdrawal, because she's not got any heroin in the hospital, and they come and they arrest her on her death bed. They handcuff her to the bed. I spoke to the last surviving person who was in that room, Eugene Callender, they handcuff her to her death bed. They don't let her friends in their, they confiscate her comic books, her candies, her flowers. One of her friends manages to insist that she's given methadone, she starts to recover, ten days later they cut off the methadone, she dies.

One of her friends said to the BBC, she looked like she had been violently wrenched from life. But here's the amazing thing about Billie Holiday that really helped me to think about some of the addicts I know as well: Billie Holiday never stopped singing that song. Anywhere they'd have her, anywhere she could go, she sang Strange Fruit, whatever they did to her. And I think that really helps because, one of the things I think we need to do is tell stories about the heroism of addicts. There is, and I've met some extraordinarily heroic addicts, that helped me to think differently about the addicts in my life, to see, partly just the heroism of carrying on when you're terribly suffering.

But the incredible courage of Billie Holiday, and the effect of that, you know, all over the world, while we're speaking, people are listening to Billie Holiday and they're feeling stronger, because she was so strong. You know, her friend Annie Ross, the jazz singer, said to me that Billie Holiday wasn't weak, Billie Holiday was as strong as she could be. I think that story's important for lots of reasons, partly for that reason we were just talking about, thinking about addicts differently.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah.

JOHANN HARI: But also, it really exposes the dynamics at the birth of the drug war. The drug war is founded in a race panic, it's nothing to do with an assessment of what would be best for people's health or best protect children, it's entirely founded on the idea that, as they saw it, African-Americans and Chinese Americans were forgetting their place, attacking white people, getting ideas above their station, and had to be put back in their place. One of the best ways to understand that is, at the same time that Harry Anslinger finds out that Billie Holiday is an addict, he finds out that Judy Garland is an addict. He tells Judy Garland to take longer vacations and reassures her studio she's going to be fine. Spot the difference between Billie Holiday and Judy Garland.

DEAN BECKER: You bet. I tell you what, let me interrupt you a minute here, Johann. We're speaking with Mr. Johann Hari, he's author of Chasing the Scream, the First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. And I wanted to throw in a thought here, you're talking about we need to rethink how we look at addicts, and I think it's your organization there in Great Britain called Transform, they gave me a shirt says on the front, Nice People Take Drugs. And that is, that is often the case. Johann, hang with us, we'll be back in just a second.

JOHANN HARI: Brilliant.

DEAN BECKER: It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects. Skin cancer. Melanoma. Death. Time's up! The answer, from Lilly and Pfizer: Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra. My advice to those who can't get it up: quit eating so much, quit drinking so much, and exercise a little bit, and maybe an edible marijuana cookie or a joint might just get her done.

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DEAN BECKER: A disclaimer: the Takoma Wellness Center is owned by my friend, Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn.

All rights, friends, you are listening to the Cultural Baggage on Pacifica Radio and the Drug Truth Network. I'm Dean Becker, our guest today is Johann Hari, author of Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. I hope you got to hear those, that, uh –

JOHANN HARI: One of the things that was very interesting to me when I was doing the research for the book, was about, uh, the difference between drugs when they're used in a legal setting, drugs when they're used in an illegal setting that are the same thing, it really helped me to understand that the theory of addiction that we have and the way we think about addiction and have for the past hundred years is wrong. If you'd said to me four years ago, what causes heroin addiction, I would have looked at you like you were a bit stupid and I would have said well heroin, right? So, I'm guessing that almost everyone listening to this show thinks what I used to think, which is, basically, if you and me and the next 20 people who walk past your studio use heroin for 20 days, because there are chemical hooks in the drug, our body would physically need heroin at the end of that 20 days and we would be addicted, and that's what addiction means.

And, the first hint I got that that wasn't right was from, I think you've actually interviewed him, Gabor Mate, a wonderful doctor in Vancouver, who pointed out, if you get run over and you break your hip, you'll be taken to hospital and you'll be given a lot of dia-morphine, right? For the pain. Dia-morphine is heroin, it's actually much better heroin than you'd score on the streets because it's pure heroin. And you'd be given it for quite a long time, anyone who's listening to this if they're in a city, that's happening in your city, in a hospital in your city, happens all over the developed world.

If what we thought about addiction was right, those people would leave hospital as addicts, right? That virtually never happens, you'll notice your grandmother was not made into a junkie by her hip replacement operation. And now I'm thinking oh, there's something else going on here, that's interesting, but I couldn't really place it. Then I did lots of more interviews, and the person who really unlocked it for me is a guy in Vancouver called Professor Bruce Alexander, who's an incredible man, and Bruce explained it to me this way: The old theory of addiction was established earlier in the 20th century through a series of rat experiments, they're really simple, your listeners could do them at home if they're feeling a little bit sadistic.

What you do is, you get a rat and you put it in a cage, and it has two watter bottles. One is water, and the one is water laced with either heroin or cocaine. If you do that, the rat will always prefer the drugged water, and almost always kill itself quite quickly. You might remember there was a famous advert, Partnership for a Drug Free America advert in the 80s, explained this and said this will happen to you! What Bruce explained to me is, that in the 70s, he came along and said, well hang on a minute. We're putting the rat in an empty cage, it's got nothing to do. Let's try this differently.

So, Bruce built rat park. Rat park is heaven for rats, they've got everything a rat could want, they've got colored balls, they've got nice food, they've got loads of friends to have sex with and to play with and do everything they want. And in rat park, they've also got both the water bottles, the normal water and the drugged water. Here's the fascinating thing, in rat park, the rats don't like the drugged water. They hardly drink any of it, none of them ever overdose, none of them ever use in a way that appears to be compulsive, and what Bruce says is, this shows us that both the rightwing theory of addiction and the leftwing theory of addiction are wrong.

The leftwing theory – the rightwing theory of addiction is it's a moral failing, you party too hard, you're a hedonist, you get hooked, you know, you're a moral failure. The leftwing theory is that you got kind of accidentally hooked, it's a disease, it takes you over. Actually, what Bruce says is, it's neither of those things. Addiction isn't about your morality, it isn't about your brain, it's about your cage. Addiction is an adaptation to your environment, and there's a kind of human example of this that I can talk about if you like.

DEAN BECKER: Well I tell you what, I have this great desire in my life to have a debate with the head of the ONDCP, the head of the DEA, the, you know, any of these top dogs, because you know, I interview the sheriff and police chief and the mayor, they're not the cause of this, they're not the proponents, they're not behind the biggest bully pulpit calling for this, and just this week there was a press conference up in Chicago, I want to play a little, it's a short little clip, I want to get your response to it.

JOHANN HARI: Sure.

DEAN BECKER: The following from a recent Department of Justice press conference in Chicago.

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: We, uh, today, announce major developments against the Sinaloa cartel, one of the most nefarious and violent cartels in history, and one that has pumped huge quantities of cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine into our streets and communities in Chicago. Today's sentencing, coupled with the unsealing of charges that I'll describe in a moment, reflect a significant impact on Sinaloa not only here in Chicago, but nationally and even globally. In the pantheon of drug prosecutions in the history of the northern district of Illinois, this case stands at the highest level.

DEAN BECKER: All right, they're saying, Johann, that that case stands at the highest level, as if it's going to make a difference. What is your response to that thought he put forward.

JOHANN HARI: Well, I would explain – I mean, I went to Mexico and I interviewed the only person to ever be at the heart of the deadliest Mexican cartel, the Zetas, and make it out to tell his story, and I could talk a bit about that, but if I was going to respond to that person, first of all I would tell him the story of a very different person I met, Lee Maddox. Lee, Lee, a wonderful person. Lee could not have been a stronger believer in the war on drugs. She signed up to be a cop after her best friend was murdered by a drug gang, uh, by what she believed was a drug gang. She signed up to be a cop to destroy drug gangs, that was her purpose, that was her driving goal, and she was a warrior. She arrested enormous number of people for drug dealing and drug possession.

But Lee is also an honest person, and Lee noticed something really interesting. If you arrest a rapist – if you're a cop and you arrest a rapist, the next week there's less rape in your town. If you arrest a drug dealer, A: there's no less drug dealing, there's always someone else on the corner the next day, but B: she noticed something even more interesting, which is actually, there's an increase in violence, an increase in murder, after you bust a drug dealer. And at first, Lee thought, well why would that be, how can this be? And in fact what it is is, when you arrest a drug dealer, you trigger a turf war for control of their patch. That's true, you know, whether it's a corner in Baltimore or whether you're arresting Chapo Guzman. The, you trigger a war to control their patch, in fact, crackdowns on drug dealers massively increase violence. That doesn't mean that we should tolerate drug dealing, it means that we should bankrupt them through legalization.

But I would explain that to that person. I would tell him the story of Lee, and actually I'm sure that police officer, like Lee, genuinely believes he's doing a good thing, he's in fact causing more violence and more killing and there'll be, may well be completely innocent people caught in the crossfire.

I would also talk to him about Mexico and Cuidad Juarez. I went to Juarez, you know, one of the deadliest cities in the world. If you, you think about a housing project in, I don't know, Brownsville, Brooklyn, where I spent some time. If 5-10 percent of that housing project in Brownsville, Brooklyn, is in the illegal drug trade, that housing project is going to be a terrible place to live. Ciudad Juarez, the economy of Ciudad Juarez is, the best estimate is 70 percent of that, that's seven zero percent of that economy, is the illegal drug trade.

So what you get in fact is, the show just before we came on was talking about this, what you get when that happens is, the armed criminal gangs can outbid the state. And that really struck me. I was being shown around by a fantastic guy called Julian Cardona, who's the Reuters correspondent in Juarez, and he kept introducing me to people who'd been killed by the cops. And at some point I said to him you know Julian this is important but I need to meet people who've been killed by the cartels, and Julian laughed and said, you don't understand, Johann, if the cartels want to kill someone, they pay the police to do it. They're not separate forces, they're the same thing.

And that was really driven home to me by the story of a woman that I write about in the book, called Marisella Escobido, who I got to know about, I interviewed her friends and her sons, her best friend and her sons. Marisella was, she had nothing to do with the war on drugs, she never used any drugs, and had no interest in using any drugs. Her 14-year-old daughter was kind of seduced by this 21-year-old scumbag guy, and her daughter ran off with him. So Marisella went to the police and said, you know, look, you've got to do something about this, the police wouldn't do anything, Marisella didn't understand why.

Eventually, her daughter disappeared and still the police wouldn't do anything. So Marisella starts asking around, she starts basically turning herself into a detective, and she, people come forward and tell her this guy is a Zeta, that's why police won't do anything, because they're effectively above the law. She then finds out this guy has murdered her daughter. She starts this huge campaign, she gathers loads of evidence, she finally manages to get him put on trial. During the trial, he breaks down in the witness box, weeps, and confesses, and apologizes for what he did.

And two weeks later, he's acquitted and he disappears. And Marisella will not accept this monstrous injustice, and she spends three years, turns herself into a detective, and she spends three years tracking this guy all over Mexico, and everywhere she goes her and her son are basically told, you don't mess with the Zetas, the police say look, this guy's a Zeta, we can't do anything, they control this place. And Marisella, after three years, she finds Sergio, the guy who killed her daughter, and again the police let him go. And Marisella leads this big protest outside the governor's mansion in Chihuahua, and in front of the governor's mansion, in front of all the cameras, a man walks up to her and shoots her in the head.

And, her best friend Bertha says to me, the exact words are in the book, but I said to Bertha, you know, weren't you terrified all this time you were tracking him across Mexico? And she said, of course we were terrified, but sometimes your love for your children is greater than your fear.

And I thought of that when I heard something that I think should be a national scandal. Michelle Leonhart, the head of the DEA, the drug enforcement agency, when she was asked about the 60,000 deaths in Mexico over the last seven years, said that they were, her words were, a sign of success in the war on drugs. She is counting the death of Marisella Escobido as a sign of success. That should be a national scandal.

The other thing I would say about, in response to the clip you played, is, you know, I went and met a guy called Rosalio Reta, interviewed him in prison in Texas, he was at the heart of the Zetas, he was a hitman for the Zetas from the age of 13 to 17. Best estimate is he killed 70 people, had this very weird, 4-hour interview, I was only meant to have a short interview with him, but the prison guard said, I can't do her accent, she went I like your accent, you can stay as long as you want. So, I got this much longer interview than I'd expected. And, it was absolutely fascinating, because he could explain to me the dynamics from the inside, and it was very dark and disturbing, he explained to me how you behead people, how you dissolve a body, all of that.

But, one thing I looked into after I met him is the origins of the Zetas, and this should be much more better known. This is the deadliest drug cartel in Mexico. Anyone who listens to this and is an American taxpayer I think should know how this originated. In the early part of this century, the 21st century, the American government decided to train an elite anti-drug squad for the Mexicans, a kind of Green Berets to take on the drug war. So they take them to I think it was Fort Bragg, they spend a fortune arming them, equipping them, training them. And they go home, and three months later they all defect en masse to the drug, uh, the Gulf Cartel, then about a year later they break away and form the Zetas.

So the Zetas are created by the American taxpayer, against the will of most American taxpayers I'm sure, in two ways. Firstly we create the market by criminalizing the drugs, transferring them to the armed criminal gangs in the first place –

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Once again folks, we're speaking with Mr. Johann Hari, he's author of Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. We're going to have to close it out, we have with us Mr. Johann Hari, you've got about thirty seconds, what do you want to say to my audience, sir?

JOHANN HARI: I've been to the countries that have ended the war on drugs, I went to Portugal where they've decriminalized all drugs and transferred all the money to use it to help addicts recover instead of persecuting them and making their addiction worse. I've seen the future and it works. Injecting drug use has fallen by 50 percent since they decriminalized all drugs in Portugal, every study shows addiction is down, almost all the problems associated with drug use are down, overdose is massively down, HIV transmission is massively down, the alternatives work. Nowhere that has moved beyond the war on drugs has regretted it.

DEAN BECKER: All right, well, Johann, we're going to have to bring you back again, to continue this conversation, I've really enjoyed it.

JOHANN HARI: Ah, brilliant. Thanks, Dean, it's a real pleasure.

DEAN BECKER: All right now, to close out today's show, we've got this very positive story, that if it can happen in Texas, by god it can happen anywhere. Following courtesy Fox, Austin, Texas.

MIKE WARREN: Tonight the American Academy of Pediatrics is calling for more research on medical marijuana. A small step that a local mother says she is very grateful for.

ASHLEY PAREDEZ: There are some people that believe medical marijuana can help some severe conditions. But without extensive research, how can that be proven? The American Academy of Pediatrics wants to find out.

Lance is an adventurous nine-year-old boy. He seems happy but that wasn't always the case. His mother Thalia Michelle says Lance suffers from autism.

THALIA MICHELLE: In the past he's exhibited severe aggression, self injurious behavior, things that were very concerning. Going up to babies, pulling their hair, biting himself, biting others.

ASHLEY PAREDEZ: About a year ago, Lance was given a legal hemp oil which he takes daily. Michelle says it has made a significant difference.

THALIA MICHELLE: His aggression has gone down, his eye contact is up, his language is up. So, I want to know what would happen if we're able to try other strains with him.

ASHLEY PAREDEZ: Now with the updated statement released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are more possibilities. Although they still oppose legalizing marijuana, citing potential harms to children, they support further study of it. To help with that, the academy is also recommending changing marijuana from a schedule one drug to a schedule two.

DR. JASON TERK: It would be a welcome change if marijuana were classified as a schedule two drug because then it would be eligible for much more funding to provide the research that's needed to see how this substance potentially can be beneficial.

ASHLEY PAREDEZ: The academy is also pushing to make marijuana decriminalized. Limited research to date shows cannabanoids can help specific conditions in adults. At the same time, Dr. Jason Terck with the Texas chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics says there are negative health effects to adolescents, such as impaired short-term memory, decreased concentration and motor skills. Which is why reason more research is needed.

THALIA MICHELLE: Absolutely movement forward. It's a very conservative and narrow stance but we will take it, absolutely. I think families all over should be heartened by the fact that the Academy of Pediatrics is supporting research.

ASHLEY PAREDEZ: And tomorrow, the Mothers Advocating Medicinal Marijuana will be at the capitol speaking with legislators, bringing them the science behind it and sharing their stories.

DEAN BECKER: Well that's about it. I want to thank Johann Hari, author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, and I hope that you dear listener are out there doing your part to end the madness of drug war, and as always I remind you, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag, please be careful. To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.

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

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.