12/04/16 Doug McVay

This week The President talks about marijuana legalization, President-Elect Trump talks drug war with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, and the head of an agency to prevent underage drinking says legalization is scary because she thinks marijuana is a gateway drug.

Century of Lies
Sunday, December 4, 2016
Doug McVay
Drug War Facts
Download: Audio icon col120416.mp3



DECEMBER 4, 2016


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, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

ANNA DIAZ: My name is Anna Diaz, I'm one of the founders and the secretary of Parents 4 Pot.

DOUG MCVAY: Right on. Anna, tell me a little bit about Parents 4 Pot.

ANNA DIAZ: Okeh, well, we just had our third anniversary. We actually started in November, three years ago, and the first thing we did is have a holiday drive to help prisoner of war families and cannabis refugee families, and cannabis families that contain parents who use cannabis medicinally, children who use cannabis medicinally, people who have just been impacted negatively by prohibition, and so our first year I think we helped maybe twenty families. And we are a group that is spread all over the country, and we work together to remove the stigma that parents suffer, especially from the stigma around cannabis, whether it's used socially, medicinally, or to take care of our children.

So, with legalization happening more and more, we're finding that parents are still severely stigmatized for cannabis use, no matter what the reason, and our goal is to normalize it and remove it, and in the process, the big thing that we do is help families who are negatively impacted by prohibition. That's what we're doing right now with our holiday drive. It will be our fourth one, even though we've only been in existence for three years. That always kind of cracks me up.

DOUG MCVAY: All right, now, tell me about your holiday drive.

ANNA DIAZ: Okeh. Families submit applications to us, and we vet them all, and we generally don't turn anyone away, to be perfectly honest. This year we have almost 40, I want to say 38 -- somewhere between 35 and 40 families that we're going to help, and each one of them has a heartbreaking story of how cannabis prohibition has negatively impacted their family, and that has brought them to a place where they need to ask for help to provide gifts or whatever is needed for the holidays.

So, they send us -- we post their stories on our website, and at the bottom of each one of their stories is a link that people can click on, if that story particularly moves them or they want to support that particular family, and that link takes them to shop at Amazon. And these families have picked out gifts that they would like to have, and it is up to whoever is doing the shopping to decide what they want to buy, and then they pay for it, and the gift ships automatically to the family. So that kind of eliminates having to go pick something up, take it to somewhere else, and then have somebody else take it somewhere else, it's a pretty direct route.

But the other thing that we do is, we accept cash donations and then, as Christmas gets close, we'll go do the shopping for you as well. And we have a Paypal donation button on our website, and the stories can all be found on our website, which is Parents4Pot.org/holidaydrive. And there's a -- on the front page there's something that, a link that you can click on that says Holiday Drive, too, to read all those stories and choose a family to support or to just make a monetary donation.

But, we figure we've got about three weeks to earn $30,000. So we need lots of help.

DOUG MCVAY: Well, it sounds like a great cause, you certainly have your work cut out for you. Anna, any closing thoughts for the listeners? And of course, once again, they can find more information about Parents 4 Pot and the holiday drive at Parents4Pot.org, Parents4Pot.org. But Anna, any closing thoughts?

ANNA DIAZ: Well, I would just like to thank the cannabis community and everyone who supported us so far these last three holiday drives that we've had, because somehow we always manage to reach our goal, and I'm really grateful for that. And the other thing, last thing I would like to say is, we just got our 501(c)3 classification from the federal government, so your donations can be tax-deductible. So, please, reach out, help us out. You'll be helping a family in need that will be so grateful, and it's a heartwarming experience in which to take part.

DOUG MCVAY: That is terrific, congratulations on getting the 501(c)3 status. That will certainly be helpful in so many different ways. Again, folks, we're speaking with Anna Diaz. She is a founding member and a board member of the organization Parents 4 Pot. Their holiday drive is in its fourth year. You can find out more information and see where to donate at Parents4Pot.org, that's Parents, the number 4, Pot, Parents4Pot.org.

Anna, thank you so much.

ANNA DIAZ: And thank you, Doug, so much. I really appreciate your time.

DOUG MCVAY: Folks, there are a lot of great nonprofits out there, a lot of tax-deductible opportunities for you to donate and to show your support for drug policy reform or harm reduction, or medical marijuana, and all the rest. Of course there are large organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance, the Harm Reduction Coalition, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, who are all available, they have great websites, and they have opportunities for you to give gifts, especially now, as it's the end of the year, if you're looking for a last-minute tax deduction.

But you know, there are also a lot of small organizations that are doing direct service providing. Some of them in your local area, local AIDS groups, local syringe exchanges, medical marijuana groups doing work like Parents 4 Pot.

You've got groups like, in Portland, Oregon, there's Outside In. They provide a lot of excellent medical care and harm reduction services. They also run syringe exchanges in Portland. You can find out more about Outside In, and how to donate, by going to their website, which is simply OutsideIn.org.

In Washington, DC, you've got an organization like HIPS. Once known as Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, HIPS, at HIPS.org, is a terrific organization. They're a nonprofit, they do direct outreach and service provision for people who are very much in need in the city of the District of Columbia. Among other things, as I say, providing syringe exchange services. They're a terrific organization, and they deserve your support.

If you're in Denver, Colorado, there's the Harm Reduction Action Center, which can be found, if you want information, at HarmReductionActionCenter.org. They do syringe exchange service provision and other harm reduction services. They're a terrific organization. They deserve your help.

And all of these are nonprofit 501(c)3. Nonprofit just means how they're incorporated. 501(c)3, that's the IRS designation for organizations to which donations are tax deductible. So, it's the end of the year. Consider these. And you know, one more thing: you may be listening to this radio show on a community public radio station, a local nonprofit entity that's working to provide news and information as well as entertainment and other cultural programming for your community. I wouldn't be on the air if it weren't for that radio station's support. Please, give today. Giving today means you'll be able to get news tomorrow, and you'll be able to hear this show again next week, and all of the other fine programming on these radio stations, because this is really the backbone of a community. Thanks.

Now, back to the show. A lot of stuff happened at the White House this week. People may be aware that President Obama did an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in which he talked very supportively and positively about the possibilities of marijuana law reform. It's not likely we're going to see anything before he leaves office. The President is a lame duck, Congress is unlikely to pass anything that he wants, and executive orders, while they sound really impressive, are actually somewhat limited.

Sure, he could issue some executive orders affecting the executive branch. On the other hand, the next president, Donald Trump, has promised, rather quite a lot, and declared just recently again, that he will quote "cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama." What he might interpret as unconstitutional, who knows? But, it's safe to say that anything that is extreme that would be put into place by executive order would probably be immediately repealed come January 20, 21st.

News reporters asked about those comments in a news briefing on December First. Let's listen to Press Secretary Josh Earnest at the White House talking to reporters about the President's remarks.

REPORTER: I want to ask you about the Rolling Stone interview. And I don’t want to make more of this perhaps than some people might. The President was talking about the untenable nature of this sort of patchwork of having marijuana laws, you know, Colorado and Washington, there's a new one in California, in Massachusetts, and then other states have medical now, medical marijuana provisions. He's not suggesting -- or I'm going to ask you, is he suggesting that there needs to be a federal standard when it comes to the management of marijuana law?

JOSH EARNEST: I think what the President is suggesting is that it's increasingly difficult for federal law enforcement officials to be enforcing the law differently in a variety of states. And as we see more states change their laws with regard to marijuana, it makes it more challenging for federal law enforcement officials to enforce the law. So that's something that I think the next administration is going to have to grapple with and certainly law enforcement officers in the next administration and some policymakers are going to have to sort of consider what's the most effective way to move forward here. I don't think the President at this point was trying to signal any specific policy change, but rather just indicating that this is an increasingly complicated situation that is facing federal law enforcement officers.

REPORTER: I want to ask you also about something the incoming President-elect has said about regulation. He's actually -- well, two parts. First of all, is the President engaging in sort of any midnight regulations push between now and when he leaves office? And I guess the second part of the question would be, given that the President-elect has suggested that for every new regulation maybe we ought to take away two others -- and I've heard the President himself suggest that, you know, this regulatory environment is cumbersome, to say the least -- does he agree that this might be a useful way to go about cleaning up regulatory policy?

JOSH EARNEST: Kevin, I can tell you that the regulatory work that's being done in this administration is not going to be characterized by a last-minute rush on the way out the door. I think what it will be characterized by is a continuous and persistent effort to complete the work that's already been started. And that is to say that there are a number of rule-making actions that were commenced earlier this year that haven't yet been completed. And we will be working to complete them on schedule before President Obama leaves office, but these are -- in every case that I'm aware of -- rulemaking actions that began before the outcome of the election was known.

And the President's view is that that's actually a smart way to make rules and make regulations. It also is a smart way to effectively implement them and ensure that they have the maximum intended benefit.

With regard to this idea of taking away two for every rule -- taking away two rules for every new rule that's initiated, that's the kind of thing I think that probably sounds pretty good on the campaign trail but may be a little bit more complicated when you implement it. And the reason I say that is not because the President is against eliminating regulations. In fact, President Obama has actually presided over a regulatory lookback proposal that has resulted in the elimination of a substantial number of regulations with a substantial economic benefit. We can get you the particular numbers.

So we’ve been engaged in a regulatory lookback to take away rules that don’t make sense anymore -- that are outdated, that are unnecessarily cumbersome -- because I think people have an expectation that, to the extent that government is involved in some aspects of the economy, they shouldn’t be posing an unnecessarily high burden to companies or to private individuals. And that’s certainly something that has been an important part of the regulatory lookback process.

But I think the point is, is that each of those rules that are considered for repeal should be evaluated on the merits and shouldn’t just be evaluated because somebody decided to create another rule in another place.

DOUG MCVAY: Those were comments by Press Secretary Josh Earnest at the White House. He was discussing with reporters President Obama's remarks on marijuana legalization.

You are 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.

Let's listen in on Friday's, December Second's, press briefing. That's by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz, responding to questions about the Philippines.

REPORTER: Thank you, Eric. Does the White House have a reaction to President-elect Trump inviting the Filipino President Duterte to the White House next year, particularly given sort of the friction in the relationship between President Obama and President Duterte?

ERIC SCHULTZ: Jeff, as I think you are referencing, we have expressed concerns with a lot of the inflammatory rhetoric from President Duterte recently, and I believe just last night President Duterte delivered remarks which could be seen as taunting additional extrajudicial killings.

So that’s something that’s inconsistent with the values that we try and promote around the world -- values that include basic human rights. Obviously, the Philippines is a country that has a long tradition of a vibrant civil society and universal freedoms, but this doesn’t take away from our longstanding history and shared traditions with the Philippines’ people. Obviously, we work very closely together on maritime cooperation. We have rich people-to-people ties. And our trade between the two countries is robust.

So obviously, it’s going to be up to the next President-elect to decide which foreign leaders he meets with, so we’re going to leave it to him to make those decisions. But obviously, it carries a certain amount of weight when the President travels abroad to visit his counterparts around the world, and similarly, it carries weight to invite a foreign leader to the White House.

REPORTER: The President declined to meet with President Duterte on a recent foreign trip where they were both planning to meet. Do you see any irony in that declination being followed up by the President-elect setting this meeting for next year, or for whenever?

ERIC SCHULTZ: Jeff, again, it’s going to be up to the next President to decide which foreign leaders he meets with in which sequence. Again, it carries a lot of significance when the President of the United States decides to travel to a foreign country and meet with a head of state or one of his counterparts.

So those decisions are made with an understanding of the complexities of bilateral relationships and regional relationships around the world, so those decisions are not made lightly here. But similarly, decisions to invite a foreign leader to the White House, to the United States, aren’t made lightly either. So those will be decisions the President-elect will have to make, so we’re not going to cast judgment on those.

DOUG MCVAY: After that news conference, more information about the phone call between President-Elect Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was released. Philippine President Duterte claims that Trump was quite sensitive to the Philippines "war on drugs," that the built a rapport, that Trump wished him well in the campaign, and that they are doing it as a sovereign nation the right way. The President-Elect has not denied any of these remarks supportive of the mass murders being conducted in the Philippines in the guise of a drug war.

More than two thousand people have been murdered by police and death squads in the Philippines, on Duterte's orders, under the guise of "drug war." This is why I and many others are saying that it's time to #DumpDuterte. And until #DumpDuterte, until that dictator is out of office, then it is time to boycott the Philippines, #BoycottThePhilippines. Extrajudicial murder is outrageous. Human rights violations of that magnitude cannot be tolerated in a civilized society. It's time for the US to make a stand. Unfortunately, the current news out of the next president's camp is that he's going to be supportive of the Philippines. The drug war is back on. Whatever else may happen, folks, I'm sorry to say, it sounds like the drug war is back on come January.

Now, let's look at some other action at the White House. Earlier this week, the White House held a convening on criminal justice policy and another short event on substance use policy. At that first event, on substance use policy, there were a number of speakers. One in particular stood out. A panel discussion on solutions for improving care and recovery support, one of the panelists was Nadine Parker. She's the executive director of the National Capital Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking. Here's what Nadine had to say.

NADINE PARKER: Yes, good morning. Why am I in it? Started about 19 years ago, I started working with youth, trying to educate them about alcohol abuse. I found that when you give youth the tools and when you're passionate, and when they're able to trust you, that they'll open up to you, they'll trust you, they'll take your lead, and they give you an open. A lot of times, parents, especially here in the District of Columbia, deal with a lot of single family parents so youth have a lot of after school time. So I've, you know, I found that it was a place that, with them coming to our organization, which I had a youth group, the National Capital Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking, NCPUD, youth advocates, they loved coming together and talking and -- talking about their problems and learning how to be leaders.

And, I thought I was just in it for just a short time, but then I, you know, I realized that a lot of the youth that I worked with, they would always come back, the majority of the youth that I've worked with has always come back because they wanted -- they're wanting to give back. So when you show youth that you care, they embrace it, and not only did they embrace it, they actually came back and they wanted to do the same.

I'm a parent, I have a 26 year old son that has an acting career, and I recognize in that field, when I was working with him through high school, that it was -- it's even a more dangerous field, and just keeping -- keeping it open to kids, about what their substance abuse problems are, the outcomes, what happens, keeping it real.

So, I have continued, every time I try to step out, say, well, I'm going to hand this off to someone else, I'm not comfortable with that because I have embraced, I have, I've seen change, and I've seen where when you care and when you give them what it is that they need, the information, when you embrace them, once again embracing, when you embrace youth, and when you educate them and when you love them, you can see a turnaround.

I've also -- I've also continued in this because we have a very -- we have a very scary, I'm going to use the word scary, substance abuse problem in our country right now with the legalization of marijuana, and the prescription drugs. It's, it's, it's getting, it's, it's becoming a greater eye-opening. I have this one parent who recently has started working with me, and educating the community, because she has experienced her daughter, 13 years old, who has become addicted to prescription drugs, who is in treatment, and the passion that she has and that she has shown in wanting to embrace and to keep other kids from having to go down that path, keeps me going and keeps me motivated to stay in this field.

DOUG MCVAY: Concerns about marijuana. Fortunately, later in the program, Nadine clarified what she was talking about.

NADINE PARKER: As I sit here, I hear everyone speaking about opiate, opioids and, I think we've done very well in having funding for certain areas as it would be underage drinking, as it would be tobacco use. However, it's been difficult -- it's been, at the same time it's been difficult because the drug of choice is usually the one that people are focusing on, so we, you know, we lost funding for our underage drinking, our enforcing underage drinking laws, but we gained funds for focusing on marijuana and other drugs.

But, the one thing that people are not talking about this day is that, in most states, and I know here in the District of Columbia, I'm local, marijuana has been legalized, okeh, and we, we're kind of skipping over the fact that a lot of our kids, and our data shows that the majority of youth in the District of Columbia, it's not alcohol anymore, it's not tobacco, it's marijuana. And what we failed to, to also recognize is that marijuana does have an effect on the brains of our young people using, which pushes them into using prescription drugs.

So -- so while we're focused on treatment for other drugs, we really need to start focusing on treatment for marijuana use, especially with youth. We also need to have treatment available for youth. There's very little treatment for youth, there's very little services for youth, even within our own school systems, within our own school systems. We should have counselors that are equipped with talking to youth, with working with youth, to educating them, to walking them through the process to recovery. We don't have that.

And, and while we provide prevention, and prevention is a hundred percent needed, and if we lose prevention, if we lose prevention funds, we're in terrible trouble. But at the same time, we need intervention, and that intervention starts in the high schools, like you said, when the kids are 17, 18 years old. It's when this -- it's, it's when they are highly impacted. So, that's what we need, you know, we need to continue our focus on all of the drugs.

LAMAR HASBROUCK: Thank you, thank you for grounding us. This is a substance use disorder summit, or meeting, that we're at, and so we need to be balanced and thinking about gateway drugs as well as the prescription opioids and other things that were mentioned.

DOUG MCVAY: That again was Nadine Parker, she's the executive director of the National Capital Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking. The other voice was the moderator, LaMar Hasbrouck, he's the Executive Director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. The gateway drug. Yes, you heard it right, folks. They're talking about marijuana as a gateway drug. Again.

By the way, in DC, the only thing that is legal for adults is to cultivate and possess. Washington, DC, did not set up a regulated system of dispensaries, so the only way to get marijuana is to grow it yourself, or to get it from someone who has grown it. It's only legal for people above the age of 21. In spite of her pronouncements, there is really no evidence that real marijuana use has increased as a result of legalization.

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.