12/12/18 Farid Ghehioueche

This week on Century, we continue our conversation with Farid Ghehioueche, a French activist and organizer of the International Cannabis Policy Conference; we hear an interview with criminal defense attorney and NORML Legal Committee member Alan Silber from 2015; plus an interview from 2013 with the late activist Mickey Martin.

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Guest: 
Farid Ghehioueche
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CENTURY OF LIES

DECEMBER 12, 2018

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

DOUG MCVAY: Hello, and welcome to Century of Lies. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

Well, today on Century, we're going to hear some of my favorite interviews. First up, recorded at Seattle Hempfest in 2013, here's my interview with the late Mickey Martin.

MICKEY MARTIN: You know, it's amazing to see how far the situation's actually come and evolved, and, you know, there's still a lot a lot of work to do in California, just because of the massive size of the state, but, there's been amazing work done, and it started there, and has evolved, and it's spilled over into other states.

And, you know, we're seeing states like Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, and Maine, and other places, you know, actually implementing dispensary policies where -- you know, dispensary's a term that, you know, was brought about, you know, by our community, just like the term edibles or other things like that.

So I mean, a lot of things that are now mainstream lingo, even the term medical marijuana, you know, I mean, was something that a lot of people 20 years ago didn't, you know, wasn't in their lexicon, and now it's, you know, an everyday, modern, you know, part of everyday life.

So, it's -- you know, it's been heartening to see, you know, to see people come around and to see, you know, some of the research that's getting done now, and to see people who are actually having success with, you know, cancer and, you know, not even just treating it but actually curing, you know, parts of cancer, depending, you know, skin cancers and stuff like that, that have been -- it's been, it's been a very amazing, you know, journey, you know.

And then, yeah, we were, we developed an edibles company early, in the early 2000s, that, you know, was one of the first people to put forth packaging and labeling that, you know, included prominent warnings and, you know, directions for use, and other things like that. And, you know, brought about professionalism to the industry that is now standard, and, you know, demanded.

DOUG MCVAY: I feel bad because I forgot, normally I have people identify themselves at the beginning of these, so, say your name.

MICKEY MARTIN: Sure.

DOUG MCVAY: Who are you?

MICKEY MARTIN: I'm Mickey Martin, I'm the author of Medical Marijuana 101. I used to run a company called Tainted Medicinal Edibles. We were raided in 2007 by the federal government. I currently do consulting, working with people, developing businesses in the industry, including dispensaries, grow projects, edibles manufacturers, infused products, stuff like that, so.

DOUG MCVAY: And you're outside of -- you're not just in Cali, right, I mean, were you, you were just doing some work in Massachusetts, their new medical law is being implemented now.

MICKEY MARTIN: I am, I'm currently working on a dispensary project up there as well as a school project, to bring, you know, education, and what we've learned here in the west back east, where, you know, people are just getting into this industry, and there's a lot of, you know, misinformation and stuff, that people need to, you know, learn to be qualified to provide well for patients, and to know what they're talking about.

So we're working on that project and hoping to open the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis in, hopefully, fall, you know, and we're developing the coursework now for basic courses, for employment training, for service, for production, for people who want to get into the science aspects of it, and lab testing, for people who want to get into the cultivation aspects, for people who want to produce, you know, different types of medicine.

So it's an exciting time to be in cannabis, and Massachusetts, that vote passed by 63 percent, so, it's an interesting place to be developing business, because there's a lot more -- it's easier for local politicians and politicians who may be under fire to look at a vote of 63 percent, that Massachusetts had, and, you know, in some towns it's 65, 67 percent, and it's hard for them to, you know, try to zone something out or things like that.

There have been a lot of people who've tried to put moratoriums in, they've gotten voted down because -- because two thirds of your town voted for it, and it's -- so it's been, it's been nice to see.

It's been more welcoming than, I guess, you know, some of the kneejerk reactions that you've seen in other areas, because the people did speak up there, and I think, you know, if there were initiative processes in all states, you know, I think medical marijuana would probably be, you know, a lot more prominent, and, you know, in everywhere.

Because people are, you know, overwhelmingly supportive, you know, I mean, what kind of jerk wouldn't let a sick person, you know, use cannabis, and what kind of person wants them to have to get that from the black market?

And then, you know, you're at an event like Hempfest, where, you know, you're seeing the legalization just coming to be here in Washington. You've got police officers handing out Doritos, you've got, you know, people who are a lot more open in their use, I guess you could say, a lot more comfortable in who they are as a marijuana user, and it's heartening, you know, to have worked on projects this long, and to see them, you know, see the fruits of your labor come to be something.

I mean, Hempfest has grown and grown, but I think, you know, it's symbolic of the bigger picture, which is what our society's doing, and, you know, there's a conversation happening in our world that I think is very important that people need to, you know, wake up and recognize that nobody wants to see us taking our neighbors to jail for cannabis anymore.

I mean, nobody wants to see people getting their cars searched, and losing their kids, and losing their jobs, and their standing in the community, over simple cannabis use, when, you know, any person in their right mind knows that there are much more dangerous substances available legally, or through a prescription, and I think the jig is up.

You know, I think the drug warriors, and the prohibitionists, you know, have lost, and you see them, you know, backpedaling, and, you know, trying to cut the mustard still and figure out where they, you know, can still fit into the scheme of things when cannabis is legal, because I think now it's not an if, but when.

And I think when's coming, and I think when's coming fast, because -- because people are there. You know? People like to have, you know, freedom.

DOUG MCVAY: That was my interview with the late Mickey Martin, from Seattle Hempfest in 2013. Mickey Martin was a weed activist, he was a founder of Parents For Pot, and he was a good person who smokes weed. Miss you, Mickey.

You're listening to Century of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network. I'm your host, Doug McVay.

Now, last week, we had a good friend of mine, Farid Ghehioueche, he's a French activist and organizer, he put together the International Cannabis Policy Conference. Here's a little bit more from that interview.

FARID GHEHIOUECHE: And so, to be quite short about France, I would say, we have quite a XX role in the, to this international drug policy control, as well as the US have a big role also. Generally, when we talk about drug policy at the UN level, we would say that is not a UN flag but a US flag or French flag that is governing.

And mostly, regarding France, the big challenges with it is related about the EU situation, because actually, France is very -- is relative regarding all the different movement that has appeared in Europe related to new drug policies or opening the market for the medical cannabis.

And so, France is now very far away, and I guess and I hope that within the next XX, maybe because of the possibility of the government plan, maybe we will have a kind of XX or something that will show that France wants to take a kind of leadership.

But then, maybe I'm too optimistic, but, yeah. The situation is very tricky, and it's quite -- the situation is, with the movement, a social movement today of the Yellow Jacket. I don't know if you have heard about, but I am sure that parts of the people that are in this movement, they are part of us who will embrace the idea that a regulated market could help the state to earn more taxes and money for the benefit of the social and welfare and education expenses.

And then, I would say for the people, that the market is just actually benefiting to the drug crime, and in lots of different cities in France, Marseilles, and surrounding Paris, there's actually, also today, an increase death rate of people that are making gangs, riots in the streets, and they just want to control the territory for their drug dealing.

And so the situation, I was last week invited to Saint Denis, which is a quite a neighborhood of Paris, in, we call it la cite de roi, where the kings of France are buried, and in this very nice city, which is quite XX, there is a very high rate of what we call social violence, or street violence.

I was invited there, and for the first time, I met some people that were -- we were, I was not in a debate where I was confronted, to enemies to drug regulation and legalization. All the people were XX.

And, from the old woman that was retired and lived there thirty years, and was first in the '80s against drugs, she now completely -- she said I have learned enough, I understand now that there is no other solution, that we need to regulate this, because, we don't -- I don't want to see that anymore in the streets. I prefer to see that as government rules, and so not criminalized, but people not to -- putting people in jail is not a solution.

All those kinds things now, shared now by the people, and we are fed up, I would say, like everybody everywhere, about this prohibitionist system.

MICHAEL KRAWITZ: Wow.

DOUG MCVAY: Very cool. I just -- I was just googling Yellow Jacket Protest to find out more.

FARID GHEHIOUECHE: This is a kind of Tea Party uprising in France. They are kind of behind this movement, because it's not only about social issues, this is mostly anti-tax, anti, the people are claiming that they are not anymore able to pay for the state. So, in France, the state is very heavy, with big, big history, and those people are organized out of the political party, out of the trade unions, out of the, I would say, the -- it's pumping up from the social networks.

It's, I would say, it is presented like this, but it's not true, in my view, I think that there is kind of a force like behind this, but it's supposed to be a grassroots, or a democratic movement.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Farid Ghehioueche, he is a French activist and organizer, put together the International Cannabis Policy Conference, which was in Vienna, Austria, at the beginning of September.

NGAIO BEALUM: This is why I like weed. It's beneficial. It helps people. You read studies every week how marijuana helps with this s***, marijuana fixes this s***. They had a study a few months ago, marijuana helps to alleviate the symptoms and the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

It's true. It's true. How it works is, you get so used to forgetting s***, you develop a system. Right? So then when the Alzheimer's kicks in, you don't even notice, you just think you're high. Right? And so if you find your pen, you're good.

This is why I like weed. Marijuana, for me, it's like the umami, you understand? It's the soy sauce. It's the ranch dressing, it's the ketchup of life. Maybe some s*** food, you put some weed on it, it's even cooler. Right? Maybe it's not so cool, you dip it in some weed? All right. You know where I'm coming from?

Things I don't want to do, I don't like to wash dishes. But I don't mind getting high and washing dishes. You understand where I'm coming from? Right. It takes an extra hour, because I have to make a playlist. Right? My wash the dishes playlist is off the hook, you feel me? It's got different songs depending on how many dishes, what kind of dishes. If there's extra spoons, there's more SoundGarden. Right? Spoon me-ee-ee.

So I just love it. I love it. I'm so proud of Washington for being one of the first states to legalize weed. That's awesome. I live in California and I can't wait. I can't wait till we legalize weed because I would like to open a Bud and Breakfast. Right? Would you come see me at the Wake'n Bake'n? Would you visit me?

Right? Good morning! Good afternoon, really, 'cause we're not going to get up that early. You understand? Matter of fact, I'm going to put a chocolate on your pillow that's going to knock you out. You're going to wake up refreshed, wander into the kitchen. Hey, you're just in time for blunch. Who doesn't want to have blunch? Right? Perfect.

Oh, you know, we'll have our own proprietary strains. Right? That's the thing about the weed, every, all the growers always mix and match and Doctor Dankenstein and make crazy hybrid s*** all the time. My boy Mike called me up the other day, man, he was like, I did it, man. I crossed a Trainwreck with a White Widow. I call it Courtney Love. She knows.

DOUG MCVAY: You're listening to Century of Lies. I'm your host, Doug McVay, and we're listening to some of my favorite interviews.

Alan Silber is one of my dearest friends. He's a criminal defense attorney, practicing in New York and New Jersey. He's a longtime member of the NORML National Legal Committee. I met him in the mid-1980s in Oregon. I sat down and spoke with Alan in 2015 at the Patients Out of Time conference in West Palm Beach, Florida. Here's that conversation.

I'm at the Patients Out of Time conference, and speaking with my friend Alan Silber, who's a criminal defense attorney and a brilliant man, and one of my earliest mentors, and I am so grateful to you for all that you have taught me, and this is going over the air at some point so just want the world to know that. Uh, yeah, if you can find people who are really inspirational and really brilliant and surround yourselves with them, there's no telling what you can do, and maybe you'll even do a radio show, and have them here as a guest. Alan, thank you so much. Good to see.

ALAN SILBER: Ah, you've got me blushing. But that was kind of nice.

DOUG MCVAY: Well, we're at the Patients Out of Time conference, and you've been working with these folks for a while. How did you get involved, why do you get involved? You're not in the medical cannabis business, and you're not one of the, one of the, you're not a California attorney. So, why, how did you get involved with this stuff.

ALAN SILBER: Well, I've been in the marijuana law reform movement since the early '70s. I joined NORML and was a part of NORML starting in 1977, and I was actually on the board of directors of NORML at the same time that Mary Lynn Mathre and Al Byrne were, they're the two people who started Patients Out of Time, so they've been my friends forever and ever.

And I have not been in the medical marijuana movement, although we did that case in California, the test case, suing the four US attorneys last year. Didn't go anywhere, but -- so I'm not completely out of the movement, but that's not my profession, I'm a criminal defense lawyer doing mostly white-collar, you know, stuff in federal court.

But, this is a wonderful movement, it's showing the world that this is medicine, in a very scientific way, which is I think what we need, because the science dispels reefer madness, even if you're talking about, whatever part of the political world you're talking about.

And then, it seems as if my daughter is the Chief Operating Officer of Patients Out of Time, and she was running this conference and, is there some way you think I possibly could have said no when she, not asked, told me I was coming here to be part of this conference? What fun.

DOUG MCVAY: That's too funny. Of course, you moderated a few of the panels down there this morning and afternoon at the legal seminar. Tell us some of the highlights, it was, I was very happy to be able to hang out and listen, I thought it was fascinating. What were some of your highlights from it?

ALAN SILBER: Well, first of all, I think that we got to discuss in depth, and as far as I know it's the first time anybody's done it, since Judge Kimberly Mueller handed down her 38-page decision denying a motion to dismiss.

But the motion to dismiss itself was really innovative, creative, and achieved something that no criminal defense lawyer or marijuana law reform lawyer, had ever done, which is to -- at least not since 1988 -- is to get a hearing on the pharmacological and other important aspects of marijuana compared to other substances, such as over the counter medicines.

And so that they got that hearing, and litigated, the US Attorney's office went nuts, and while they lost, this was a landmark decision, we won some stuff, lost some stuff, there's clear, you can correct to do this again. This is a motion that would be viable in any case in the United States District Courts, across the country, that involved marijuana as the substance where the crime is charged.

So, to have the two lawyers from San Francisco who did the case come down and talk to us, and where they came from I felt was really inspirational. Each had a mentor of the older generation, Tony Serra and Omar Figueroa, and each of these women who were mentored by them at the very earliest stages of their career, and now they're stars in their own right, doing the next innovative great case, and you know, basically, flowering.

So that by itself was pretty wonderful. There's a longevity to the movement. Well, you know, you and I have that from having worked on Oregon Marijuana Initiative together in 1984.

DOUG MCVAY: It's true, and that is one of the, I joke that these things are like reunions as much as conventions, and it's not that much of a joke, and there is that mentoring and the rest of it. And, I didn't really get to many of the legal seminars so I probably didn't see it as much on the legal side, but -- talk to me about that, some of the values of it, and, you know, how do -- talk to me a little bit about that, because it's a thing -- well, about today's stuff, but if you have -- tell me a little more about today's stuff if you have some thoughts.

But if you, but think about for a moment about the, this sort of, the mentoring thing and the movement, and you, because you've got the process that goes with the legal thing, and you -- I mean, you do that, it's a teaching thing, and it's more than that, and it's something that I think's really important, and people really do, they should be thinking more about, because it, I mean, if people did that consciously more, I think this would be a bigger movement, and a better world in a lot of ways, you know, I mean --

ALAN SILBER: It's kind of neat, in the movement, to see the next generation up. I mean, Laramie's my daughter, she's like, you know, as I said, she's really becoming a force in the movement.

I've, I guess it was Mike Stepanian's daughter was in New Orleans when I was speaking, you know, Jerry Goldstein's son is around and doing stuff, and just watching this whole next generation of, you know, idealistic people who, and I think this is really the thing, who admired the idealism of their parents, and so rather than what sometimes happens, they really want to emulate and do the same thing and be part of that same, warm and kind of wonderful community.

DOUG MCVAY: Well, and especially, frankly, you're coming from professional, from good professions and you're good at what you do, so the side they're emulating is the really cool part, as opposed to, as opposed to lining their pockets and getting a nice cush corporate job. I mean, a good attorney's a good attorney, and, you know, it's, you've got heart, and you put that good stuff to work, I think that's really commendable.

ALAN SILBER: Well, I think, I've said this in terms of happiness, I think one of the things that's sort of underrated or not spoken of is one of the components of making you happy, is having a devotion to craft.

And for me, craft subsumes two things: it subsumes integrity, because you can't have craft without integrity, and I think it also subsumes getting the most out of yourself, doing your absolute best, you know, growing, and I've been lucky enough to be able to be in a great, wonderful craft of being a criminal defense lawyer, and I think that rubs off. You know?

The offspring sees that devotion to craft, sees the satisfactions that that devotion brings, not necessarily monetary, but there's a whole satisfaction about doing the job for good people and doing it right in just causes. You know? So I think that's part of what you're talking about.

DOUG MCVAY: That's exactly it, I think that's -- yeah, it's tremendous. Tremendous to see. So, let's, I've got you, I said I'd keep you for just a few minutes and I hate to keep asking but let's go back to the -- this is about the drug war, so let's talk a little bit more about the drug war.

What kind of things do you see happening, there was, of course there was the rescheduling hearing. What else do you see happening that's positive, and where do you think we should be -- where do you think we should be going here?

ALAN SILBER: First, there is one ultimate goal, and only one, we've got to end the federal prohibition. Til we do that, we're living in this Saturday Night Live, surrealistic world painted by Salvador Dali, with some states doing one thing, medical, legalized, and the federal government, you know, still putting people in jail for it, and I mean, it's nuts.

So, the federal, I really think, ultimately, ending the federal prohibition is what needs to happen, and what I see happening, in not so long a term. I mean, and I think there's three things that are driving the train.

First, the medical is just what everybody said way back when it started. It's the nose of the camel under the tent. Boy, were they right. So, and I think the other thing that the medical does is, it legitimizes the substance.

It, whether you believe it's medicine or not, I mean, even the nutjobs that don't believe it's medicine aren't into reefer madness anymore. I mean, it just undoes reefer madness, which was one of the things that plays to the irrational. The other thing I think that's really going to do it, is that it's now a civil right.

I think the insights of Michelle Alexander's book, where it calls the marijuana prohibition the new Jim Crow, and the report by the ACLU two years ago, which really says the marijuana prohibition is just a way that law enforcement targets communities of color, that that's, that's going to ultimately end it, when it's going to be part of the civil rights movement.

DOUG MCVAY: Well, I hope so. I believe so. I have to believe so to get up in the morning, I guess. What kind of thoughts and advice do you have for the listeners, for folks who are starting to think about being active and getting involved in reform?

ALAN SILBER: Well, there's always wonderful organizations who can use help because this is a lobbying effort. I don't think it's going to be ended -- I don't the judicial system is going to be what saves the day, it's going legislative and ultimately it means the people in Congress have to know that their political fortunes fare badly if they vote against marijuana law reform, and fare well when they do, so it's being part of the political process, is first and foremost, and helping to fund that process, because it does take money to run successful campaigns.

DOUG MCVAY: Alan, thank you so much. This has been terrific.

ALAN SILBER: A real pleasure, it's really been fun. Thanks. Take care.

DOUG MCVAY: That was a conversation with Alan Silber, recorded back in 2015. We were at the Patients Out of Time conference in West Palm Beach, Florida. Alan Silber is a criminal defense attorney based in New York and New Jersey.

And well, that's it for this week. I want to thank you for joining us. You have 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.

The executive producer of the Drug Truth Network is Dean Becker. Drug Truth Network programs are available by podcast, the URLs to subscribe are on the network home page at DrugTruth.net.

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We'll be back in a week with thirty more minutes of news and information about drug policy reform and the failed war on drugs. 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.