09/25/16 Jodie Emery

This week we hear more about King County, Seattle, Washington's plan to set up two supervised drug consumption facilities, plus we talk with hemp activist Courtney Moran, legalization activist Jodie Emery, and Project PC's Megan Holt.

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Guest: 
Jodie Emery
Organization: 
Activist
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CENTURY OF LIES

SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

TRANSCRIPT

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

DOUG MCVAY: Hello, and welcome to Century Of Lies. Century Of Lies is a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay.

Loyal listeners will recall that last week we heard from officials in King County, Seattle, Washington, discussing the report and recommendations of their heroin and prescription opiate task force. They were holding a news conference and reporters were allowed to ask questions. We didn't have time for that part last week so that's what we're starting with this week. This is important stuff, it's groundbreaking, and it's just the beginning. We are going to see plans and programs like this cropping up all over the country in the years to come. So with no further ado, let's get to that audio. The first voice belongs to King County Executive Dow Constantine.

KING COUNTY EXECUTIVE DOW CONSTANTINE: So, with that, we'll open it to questions.

REPORTER 1: Executive. So obviously there's a lot to go with this, there's a whole suite of recommendations, but the most controversial is likely to be the safe drug sites, the CHELs, safe drug consumption spaces. I'd be curious to hear from the executives, how boldly and urgently we're going to move forward on that.

DOW CONSTANTINE: So, that is one of eight recommendations. And, while impactful, probably as far as I can tell, the most impactful is ensuring treatment on demand. One of the things I heard from the task force when we talked earlier was making sure that treatment is as available as drugs, making sure that treatment providers are there and present and engaging people just as much as the drug dealers are. That's the most important thing we can do.

Now, turning to your question. If this is a strategy that saves lives, there are people who are going to die if we do not do this, then regardless of the political discomfort, I think it is something that we have to move forward for -- forward with in a really deliberate way. I believe in a medical setting, a clinical setting. I believe we can start by ensuring that there aren't going to be negative impacts to the community. And in fact, I believe that those who've studied these things will tell you there are positive impacts, because right now, people are using drugs and in some cases overdosing in their homes, but not only in their homes, in public. In the doorway, in the alley, in the park. Discarding needles, et cetera.

Having them be able to be in a medical, clinical setting, where each time they come there there's an opportunity to engage with them, and get them into that treatment that is going to get them beyond addiction, and give them their lives back. That is compelling. So I think, if it is true, as these experts are telling us, that this is something that has genuine value, that would save lives, then it is incumbent on us to figure out how do we do it in a way that eliminates any potential negative impacts, and gets directly to reducing the harm in the community.

REPORTER 2: Can I pose the same question of the mayor, is he still here?

SEATTLE MAYOR ED MURRAY: Yeah, I am. Sure.

REPORTER 2: You're hiding! So, one of these is going to be in Seattle, presumably. The report says two to begin with. Where are you going to put it? And, I guess, less glibly, how are you going to get around the inevitable neighborhood opposition, anywhere that the city decides to put it?

ED MURRAY: So, let me make a point that Dow made, that I don't want us to lose, and I'm going to answer your question, but the issue of treatment as the most important thing that we can do here cannot be lost, because for years we've taken our eyes off the issue of treatment, and we have seen it atrophy. So let's, I know that the question you have is going to be the most interesting, because of the controversy around it, but let's not lose focus on nothing works, no site works, if we don't have treatment.

I believe that we should have these sites as the Executive outlined, connected to medical. The siting issues will be difficult. I'm going to go up to Vancouver in the next few days and look at the one that they have in the downtown area. You know, this -- you know, my experience is -- when we do a homeless encampment, authorized homeless encampment, and certain neighbors tend to go sideways on us, that's not the whole neighborhood. That's been my experience, in situation after situation. Yes, there's angst, yes, there's fear, but generally, there's folks, most folks, want to find a way to move forward. And I think that's true here.

Will it be easy, will there be blowbacks, will there be protests, will there be another, you know, another website to go along with Murrayvilles, since I'm putting encampments everywhere? If, you know, I don't know what they'll call this one, Murray Clinic or something. That will happen. But that's not where most people are at. So I think we're going to get there.

But I want to emphasize something the Executive said. We need to get there in the way that these folks tell us, so that it actually helps the people who need the help, and that we save lives.

REPORTER 2: Can I ask you just one really quick follow-up, which is, the three year timeline on that, is that going to be, I mean, if there is protest from the neighborhoods, is that going to be long enough to establish whether this is working? And whether it's, you know, not a terrible impact on the neighborhoods, or wherever it goes.

ED MURRAY: So, you know, I really feel like that's a question for the folks who treat addiction. I don't know if three years is long enough or not.

REPORTER 2: I'm asking a political question, though.

ED MURRAY: Political, well. We need to do what the science tells us to do. The question around whether it should be three years or more or less, I really would defer to the folks who understand what works and what doesn't work.

REPORTER 3: Expanding treatment. Some of those barriers seem to be federal, national. How quickly can we expect this treatment expansion to actually occur?

DOW CONSTANTINE: So, I would like -- we had a little discussion -- we had a little discussion with the task force earlier about what some of the barriers are, in that case we were talking about, to the propagation of the helpful medicines across the community, and I was hoping one of the task force members, from maybe the leaders, might be able to kind of focus in on the question you're asking.

BRAD FINEGOOD: I'll defer to ... Dr. Fotinos? As I read her face .... Yeah. Okeh. So, you know, I think the task force report outlines a number of the recommendations. There are siting issues that have came up when we talked about trying to put medication assisted treatment sites up, there's issues around capacity, of what's allowed for medication assisted treatment facilities, that we would like to be looked at. There's issues and language around RCW that does not make it conducive for communities to stand up treatment for individuals. The language in some of the RCWs really indicates a really negative focus, when it really needs to be treated as a public health condition.

And I would say the other issues are well being addressed, the CARA bill that was passed recently, federally, increases the number of waiver prescript -- the number of people that a waivered buprenorphine prescriber can see, beyond a hundred, up towards 250, and additionally allows mid-level practitioners to be able to prescribe buprenorphine. It's the only medication that I know of, as a non-MD that a mid-level practitioner cannot prescribe. They can prescribe thousands and thousands of other types of opiate medication, but they can't prescribe the one treatment medication that they can prescribe.

REPORTER 4: So, I have a question for everybody up there, I hope this doesn't make anyone uncomfortable, but, I'm wondering if any of you have ever used heroin yourself? And if that experience somehow helped you on this task force better?

ED MURRAY: Well, I haven't -- I haven't. But, you know -- no. But I want to kind of make a point of, you know, we all, we hate to see human misery, all of us, you know, who are the elected officials here, and we want to address it. But, what I think about, and what drives me on this is, you know, folks know that there's, given my ethnic background, that alcoholism has been a problem with members of my family. And what I've seen with alcoholism is, people don't get over it easily. It's tragic, it destroys families, and it usually takes many, many times before, at least in my family, somebody finally is able to stop drinking. And I think that's the approach that we are taking here.

I also think of a situation I saw as a young man, and I'm looking at Jeff Sakuma, who I hired to be our public health official for the city of Seattle. Jeff was the first HIV social worker in the state of Washington. Ever. And one of the things we saw during that crisis wasn't just people who were getting AIDS because they were using dirty needles, but folks who were losing hope, and became addicted, and we lost them so much quicker. I think that's the -- that's my personal experience of what drove me here. I don't know if anybody else wants to --

DOW CONSTANTINE: Does anyone -- if anyone wants to share their story that's fine, but you don't have to if you don't want to.

THEA OLIPHANT-WELLS: Hi. My name's Thea Oliphant-Wells. I'm a social worker at the public health needle exchange. I'm also in recovery from heroin addiction, which I'm pretty open about. I think that, for me personally, what has worked was to have harm reduction folks engaging me long before I was ready to change my drug use behaviors. I had people that thought that I mattered enough that they were willing to work with me on being safer, and being healthier, in whatever ways I was capable of. And I think that through building that relationship, then when you're ready to try something different, or maybe that feels a little bit riskier, then you have that relationship established. I think that having CHEL sites, I know that it sounds scary for folks, but I promise you, when you give people an opportunity to get better, they will. Living the life addicted to heroin is not easy. It's really hard, and so if you give people a way out, they will.

You know, I've been in recovery for 11 years, I've stopped saying addicts, thanks to Dr. Fotinos. You know, we're working together to change the way that we look at this disorder. But, you know, in 11 years, I got what I needed, and I say this a lot. I am not remarkable. The remarkable thing is that I got what I needed, and that shouldn't be remarkable. We should be figuring out what people need, and making sure that they get it.

REPORTER 2: How are you going to pay for these CHEL sites.

DOW CONSTANTINE: Yeah. We are just getting the report so we don't know what the cost is of any of the elements of it. King County is famously pretty short on cash, state legislators, and, but, you know, this is important, and we're going to work with all of our partners, not only our public partners like the cities, but also nonprofits, the whole community, to make sure that we can provide the help needed to reduce the harm, to save the lives, and to defeat this epidemic.

We have a collective obligation to do this, and I believe that this task force has given us a roadmap to be able to do just that. I want to thank everybody for being here today. People will be available for individual questions, and there are 30 of us, so that's about 5 per media member. And so, with that, I appreciate the task force, once again, and let's get to work. Thanks.

DOUG MCVAY: That's from a news conference in King County, Seattle, Washington, on Thursday September Fifteenth. The speakers included King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, and Thea Oliphant-Wells.This audio comes to us courtesy of King County TV, a government access channel. We are using it by permission of King County TV.

County and city officials were announcing the release of their Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force Final Report and Recommendations. Along with expanding treatment services, expanding the availability of Buprenorphine, and expanding the availability of the overdose reversal drug naloxone, King County plans to set up, on a pilot program basis, two Community Health Engagement Locations where drug consumption by adults may occur under the supervision of trained healthcare professionals.

The city of Vancouver, in British Columbia, Canada, has had a supervised injection facility for many years now. The Insite program has been tremendously successful at not just reducing the risk of transmission of AIDS, HIV, and hepatitis C, and other blood-borne diseases, and of reducing overdose mortality; they've also been able to help a number of their clients enter treatment. Supervised consumption facilities have been in operation around the world, successfully, for many years. The fact that the US has been so slow to adopt this simple, effective harm reduction tactic is tragic.

We'll be back in just a moment. You're listening to Century of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

Back in August I was in Washington state for Hempfest. While I was there, I met Megan Holt from Project PC.

MEGAN HOLT: So, my name is Megan Holt, and I am the director of the patients branch of a nonprofit called Project PC. We are a local Washington nonprofit, working to create positive media and educational materials to create a wave of change in all aspects of life. I started this journey because my 3-year-old daughter is terminally ill. She suffers from Zellweger Syndrome, which is a disease that destroys the white matter of the brain. We were given no hope upon diagnosis, and within a year, my child progressed to the point where she developed seizures. Immediately, they became life threatening. They would last an hour at a time. She always required CPR. Within two months, we ran through over 20 pharmaceuticals. April 10, 2015, I received discharge orders to take her home for the last time.

In the weeks leading up to that, I got smart, went on the internet like every 20th century parent, and found cannabis oil. Not only did cannabis start healing her, but she went 8 days without a seizure, and has done nothing but improve, when she has a disease that does nothing but get worse. Most children with this disorder don't live past their first year of life, and my daughter is one of the oldest living children in the world with this disease. So now, you know, today, I'm here at Hempfest to one, tell people about my daughter, but to two, encourage people to flood the system. We need to be telling our providers we're using this medicine. We need to be re-educating the medical community on our right. Healthcare is a business, and we are the customers. We need to tell them what we want.

If you go into a store, you don't ask the grocer which banana is better. You choose which banana is better. So we need to tell our providers what medicine is better for our health than the toxins that are being pumped into our bodies. Because if we can get our providers to stop prescribing poison, we can flood the system. Even the wealthy get sick, so if they get sick, and the poisons aren't available, natural medicine will be brought into our world, and, you know, I tell people, de-scheduling is something that needs to happen, but re-education is way more important. It's going to take more than a decade to re-educate the medical system, and get the knowledge into the textbooks, so the providers are actually learning about natural medicine.

DOUG MCVAY: Excellent. While I still have batteries, tell me about -- yeah, tell me more about Positive Change. Where can people find out more, a website and that.

MEGAN HOLT: Yeah, so Project PC, www.ProjectPC.org. We also have a Facebook page. The patients branch has a Project PC Patients Facebook page. We are constantly coming out with new material. We just got our 501(c)3 licensing a couple of months ago, so we're very new, but like I said, constantly coming out with videos. Educational materials. We are releasing our first of several books to help re-educate people. The first one, I kind of spearheaded, but we accumulatively worked together as a group to create this educational material to empower parents of medically complex children to take control of their child's healthcare, and in this book, I was very careful to tell my daughter's story without talking about cannabis, because it's more than cannabis. It's, how do you talk to your provider about what's happening with your child? How do you advocate for something that you don't know anything about?

So Project PC is on this mission. We need volunteers. We're completely volunteer run. I'm a stay at home mom, I got involved in this because it's saving my daughter's life. Everyone has something to give. We need more people to create the positive change we want to see in this world, and by coming together as a community, instead of dividing and being negative and screaming at legislators' faces, let's take a step back, go back to our place of peace and positivity, and make the change that we need in the world.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Megan Holt from Project PC. More about them on the web at ProjectPC.org. You're listening to Century Of Lies from the Drug Truth Network, I'm your host Doug McVay.

I was also fortunate enough to get an interview with Jodie Emery while I was at Hempfest.

JODIE EMERY: Well, everybody knows that Canada is going to legalize marijuana, it's been made very clear, but the government has told us in Canada that legalization means restricted access, limited access, more punishments for people outside the legal system. A lot of prohibitionist type talk. So we have a lot of work to do in the year ahead, while we campaign and push to demonstrate what legalization should look like. And, really, the message is important. Everyone else around the world can just say, Canada legalized it, why can't we? And then they can work on their own form of regulation, but for us, like here in Washington, when they had I-502, the devil's in the details.

There's a lot of stuff to be worked out. We still have to keep pushing and advocating. And freedom never comes easy, because the government never gives it up to us easily. So we have to keep educating, breaking the law peacefully, and using civil disobedience and educating through political action and rallies and protests and events, like Hempfest. I have to remind everyone that this is not just a normal, neutral substance that people are being arrested for. This is a life changing, world changing plant, that we can all benefit from so tremendously. That's why we're here. That's why we won't stop doing what we're doing, and no matter how much prohibition and harm the government inflicts on us, and the plant, we're never going away. We're here to stay. The cannabis culture has deep, deep roots.

DOUG MCVAY: Speaking of civil disobedience, you and Marc have been pushing the envelope up in Canada. Could you tell our listeners how things are going up there?

JODIE EMERY: Well, Marc Emery was known for selling marijuana seeds anywhere in the world, from 1994 until 2005. And he used that money to finance legalization as well as the magazine Cannabis Culture, the video website PotTV, and a lot of ballot initiatives and legalization reform advocates throughout the US and Canada. So, he got extradited into the United States to face life in prison. He took a five year plea deal, and he got out in August 2014.

And in that time, of course, a lot of activism happened. A lot of business went on. And we decided that, in order to stay in this industry that we helped create, we needed to go forward and start selling cannabis. And not just the way others are doing it, through dispensaries, which are illegal, but kind of protected by court decisions. We wanted to go further. We want to sell to all adults.

And so, three months ago, we started doing this, selling cannabis to all adults 19 and older. And we don't care if you're sick or healthy, you have the freedom to choose marijuana for whatever reason you want. That's the model we're trying to demonstrate. And our stores have been raided, as have many under this Liberal government, which is a lot more like a Harper government with all the raids. But, we're going to persevere. We're not going to go away, and even if they shut down one of our shops for good, we're going to keep opening up because you can't give in when you know that you're doing the right thing.

DOUG MCVAY: I guess I'm presuming that my listeners -- I mean, well of course my listeners know who you are. Who -- what are some of your titles?

JODIE EMERY: My Twitter profile says I'm a public speaker and political activist. I've run for office with the BC Green Party provincially and as a candidate for the federal government, to be a candidate in the election. So I've run for office, I march in the street, I testify at legislatures, I take over police chief press conferences, I occupy the Prime Minister's office. We make CannabisCulture.com, our news website. We do events and rallies, we have our Cannabis Culture Lounges, where you can use marijuana and access it. We have our PotTV video website, and we have our Cannabis Culture headshops, and we have our new Cannabis Culture stores. So, I'm Jodie Emery. My husband is Marc Emery, the Prince of Pot. We started Cannabis Culture, and we are still just sticking it to the man, because this is what we need to do, and you can find us online at Cannabis Culture, or you can see my photos on Instragram @JodieEmery, and Twitter.com/jodieemery, I'm all over. Jodie Emery. Happy to be here, happy Hempfest. 25 years, let's keep doing it!

DOUG MCVAY: Jodie, thank you so much.

JODIE EMERY: Thanks, Doug. Take care.

DOUG MCVAY: That was an interview with Jodie Emery, she's an activist and reformer in Canada and publisher of Cannabis Culture.

Here's Courtney Moran with EarthLaw LLC and the Oregon Industrial Hemp Farmers Association.

Ah, heck, give me your titles, and tell me about some of the stuff you're up to, Courtney.

COURTNEY MORAN: Sure, yes, I've been working with my firm, EarthLaw LLC, and helping a lot of folks in all cannabis industries, marijuana and industrial hemp, maintain compliance with state and federal law, and local law, within the state. I'm also the lobbyist for the Oregon Industrial Hemp Farmers Association. We're the group that passed House Bill 4060 this past year, that's really opened up the door for full cultivation within Oregon. Still compliant with the provisions in the Agricultural Act of 2014, but we now have 77 farmers registered with the state of Oregon, and over twelve hundred acres registered with the Department of Agriculture.

DOUG MCVAY: Now, that's pretty impressive. The program only started, well, when did it start?

COURTNEY MORAN: Yeah, the first licenses were issued in February of 2015. We had 13 licenses issued during the 2015 production season. Only about 11 farmers actually were able to cultivate last year, and about five had viable crops because of all the issues that we had with the legislature going on in 2015, and with our issues with seed importation. But after the issues that we faced last year, all the farmers and I got together, we decided what issues we were really facing and the difficulties that we were having with the existing legislation and program, and we organized, you know, created the Industrial Hemp Farmers Association, and then lobbied to create a bill and legislation that really works for the farmers, and provides a mechanism for them to actually be successful in their cultivation. And that's what we are really seeing this 2016 production season.

DOUG MCVAY: Now you -- I was backstage when you were up on Main speaking, I thought I heard you say something about a federal -- what are you, you're filing something with the feds.

COURTNEY MORAN: Yes, my co-petitioner, Andy Kerr, and I, we filed a formal rule making petition with the DEA on June 12th of 2016. This petition specifically calls for removing industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. We have provided two alternative definitions for DEA. They're -- one is science-based, and that calls for defining industrial hemp as the plant cannabis sativa L., with a THC/CBD ratio of less than one, and a THC concentration of not more than one percent. Those provisions are, you know, provided foundation for in science, scientists have shown that cannabis that has a THC/CBD ratio of less than one, meaning that there is more CBD than THC within the plant, means that the plant is non-intoxicating, and scientists have also shown that there is potentially a one percent threshold to intoxication.

So we have included both of those scientific findings in our definition, and we encourage that, you know, the federal government takes a science based approach to developing policy rather than a policy based approach. Just -- you know, really finding science based policy rather than policy based science, and that's what we're trying to move away from.

The alternative definition is, providing for industrial hemp as any plant, any part of the plant cannabis sativa L. with a THC concentration of less than 0.3 percent. That is the same definition that has been provided for by Congress in the Agricultural Act of 2014, and has now been adopted by several states as well. But we know that that's a completely arbitrary THC concentration limit, not based in science, so we are encouraging that when we move forward, we want to develop an industry that's actually going to work moving forward. We're not just trying to solve the problems of the drug war, but really provide a mechanism for building a sustainable industry, and that's what we are encouraging the DEA to adopt.

And even, you know, Chuck Rosenberg, and this -- you know, two weeks ago, the DEA came out and announced that they're no longer -- that they're not going to reclassify marijuana, it's going to remain in Schedule One, but Chuck Rosenberg, the DEA acting administrator, even made a comment that, you know, we need to look at the science, we can't ignore the science. You know, if it's helpful to us, and only use it when it's not -- use it when it's helpful and not use it when it's not helpful to us, you know, you really need to take a science based approach. Even Michael Botticelli, with the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, has said that, you know, we need to take a science and evidence based approach, and that's what we are encouraging with our petition.

We've had fantastic co-petitioners. Several legislators, a former US Attorney, key individuals that have helped develop this industry over the last several decades, and so we are very excited. We are confident that this is going to be successful, and if DEA denies the petition, we are going to file suit.

DOUG MCVAY: Any closing thoughts for the listeners, and where do people keep up with some of the, with the work that you're doing?

COURTNEY MORAN: Yeah, if you want to learn more about the formal rule making petition, you can go to the North American Industrial Hemp Council website, there's a lot of information on their page for it, and they are one of the key petitioners. And if you are looking for specific developments in Oregon, you can go to the OregonHempFarmers.com, that's for the Oregon Industrial Hemp Farmers Association. We're accepting new members every single day, so if you are getting registered with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, please reach out to us, we want to help you make sure that you have a successful production season.

DOUG MCVAY: Courtney Moran, thank you so much.

COURTNEY MORAN: Thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Courtney Moran, an attorney and hemp advocate from Oregon. I spoke with her at Seattle Hempfest back in August.

Well, for now, that's all the time we have. Thank you for joining us. You've been listening to Century Of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org. Drug Truth Network is on Facebook, please give its page a like. Drug War Facts is on Facebook too, give it a like and share it with friends. You can follow me on Twitter, I'm @DougMcVay and of course also @DrugPolicyFacts.

We'll be back next week with thirty minutes of news and information about the drug war and this Century Of Lies. For now, for the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay saying so long. So long!

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition: the century of lies. Drug Truth Network programs archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.