04/10/19 Miss Ian

DPA Conf III: Miss Ian of San Francisco Drug Users Union, Maddie Magnuson of Health Equity Alliance, Marsha Jenn-Charles of Brotherhood, Sister Sol + Joe Biden & President trump

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Guest: 
Miss Ian
Organization: 
San Francisco Drug Users Union
Download: Audio icon FDBCB041019.mp3
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CULTURAL BAGGAGE

APRIL 10, 2019

TRANSCRIPT

DEAN BECKER: I am Dean Becker, your host. Our goal for this program is to expose the fraud, misdirection, and the liars whose support for drug war empowers our terrorist enemies, enriches barbarous cartels, and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent US gangs who profit by selling contaminated drugs to our children. This is Cultural Baggage.

Hi folks, this is Cultural Baggage, I am Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High, and as promised last week we're going to have another couple of shows from the St. Louis gathering of the Drug Policy Alliance folks here on Cultural Baggage as well as on Century of Lies with Doug McVay.

MISS IAN: Miss Ian. I work at San Francisco Drug Users Union. We're in the Tenderloin, San Francisco, and we're sort of like a community based drop in center and needle exchange, naloxone distribution, and we're run all by people who use drugs, or who formerly used drugs.

DEAN BECKER: Now, you gave a presentation today to the Drug Policy Alliance gathering here in St. Louis, and a couple of, I wrote down a couple of points I'd like for you to readdress if you would, please.

MISS IAN: Sure.

DEAN BECKER: You talked about how the Silicon Valley is in essence trying to take over San Francisco, and how it's created a homeless situation. Let's talk about that and its intersection with drug users.

MISS IAN: Okeh. I would say -- so, yeah, to reiterate my point, Silicon Valley has blown up, I think as many people have known, and it's like an hour south of San Francisco, but San Francisco's like the cultural hub for Silicon Valley. Right? So, there's a bunch of people who are younger, probably from their mid-20s to like late 30s who are not used to city living, or drug usage.

So there's two things happening. One is they want to move to the city, where they can get in the action, or live a vibrant life, or whatever they're trying to do, and they, and so -- and all their companies have tax breaks and whatnot, and so the people who used to own buildings that were low income buildings are figuring out ways to get rid of their occupants, sell their buildings to condo developers, who will purchase the property for so much money, making the original land owner super, like, rich, retirement rich, so I can't necessarily blame them. Right?

DEAN BECKER: Right.

MISS IAN: To get some money and get out, and live the rest of your life. But they build these new places, they charge like upwards of like thirty-five hundred dollars for a room, all these people live in them, and all of these other people are now forced out onto the street or out of town, right, so they're either in -- people have moved out to the greater bay area, or they're homeless, they're on the streets in San Francisco.

And a lot of people need to stay because all their services are there. Right?

DEAN BECKER: And, you were talking about how those homeless folks, the ones squeezed out of that prior housing, are camped out pretty near these rich Silicon, I don't know, Microsoft employees, whatever, right?

MISS IAN: Yeah, totally. So, yeah, so everyone is -- San Francisco's small, so there is -- and there's not a lot of places to be if you're outside, especially because these new buildings now have new security cards, and so what people used to do is like maybe they would camp inside building doorways and stuff, but that's like impossible now.

So people are just like out on the sidewalk, or in an alley, or whatever, and they'll just be -- there's like lots of people who are visibly outside, visibly in tents, visibly like using drugs to cope, or, you know, get some sort of pleasure, or enjoy the day, or enjoy their friends, or whatever, and our new residents are horrified because they all have very negative opinions of homelessness and drug use, and so their big reaction has been since they got here has just been like why, when I pay this much money for rent, do I have to walk through this, like, city of scum to get to work?

And we're like, whoa, whoa, whoa, you pushed these people outside. They're outside because of you, and they aren't giving us any extra resources to -- I don't know, like, address the situation.

DEAN BECKER: Sure. And let me kind of jump in here with this thought. This is all true, it's not just San Francisco, Los Angeles has maybe even a bigger problem. I've seen miles and miles of tent cities going on there, but, what it really is boiling down to is that there's a major incongruity, imbalance, if you will, in America, where, to sum it up, fat cats are getting fatter and the rest of us are just losing out.

And I guess what I want to bring it to is that a large portion is despondency, is, I don't know, just the feeling inadequate that often leads people into a cycle of drug use, that it can complicate their life, and, not to say that it is all economical, but, it plays a huge part in this problem, does it not?

MISS IAN: I mean, our whole system is run off of money, and so it's, I would say it's, like, what I call it, not a shame, but like, it would be ignorant to say that money wouldn't help the situation, and that money didn't also cause the situation.

DEAN BECKER: Sure.

MISS IAN: So.

DEAN BECKER: No, I'm with you. Now, there are cities all across the country, from Philadelphia to San Francisco, Portland to Houston, that have people that are trying to provide for safe injection or safe consumption sites or whatever you want to call it, San Francisco being certainly among the top ones.

As I understand it, the governor wanted to deny the possibility, am I getting this right? Because of the interference with the federal law. Is that true?

MISS IAN: He -- so, Governor Jerry Brown, who's now not the governor anymore, there was a bill called AB186, and when it got -- it passed everything and it got to his desk to sign it, and he vetoed it, and released a letter saying all of this stuff, basically in the end he used this weird metaphor where he was like, this idea is like -- is like the carrot and a stick idea with no stick.

So basically saying, like, you're just enabling people who use drugs to use them more, I'm not going to sign this bill. That won't -- it won't do anything. So he didn't -- I'm sure he didn't look at any of the data, but ....

DEAN BECKER: Coddling the druggies.

MISS IAN: Yeah, coddling the -- he's like, yeah, how will this help anything.

DEAN BECKER: All right.

MISS IAN: He didn't look at any of the data, so ....

DEAN BECKER: All right, now, you were talking about the objection, that the fat cats had against the homeless folks out there on their sidewalks, and I know San Francisco, I had the privilege of meeting Terrence Hallinan, who was the district attorney, I don't know, ten, twenty years ago, and I was carrying a bag of weed, and he was looking at it and saying that's really nice.

He didn't give a rat's ass, and I guess what I'm saying is, that's the kind of the way it's been in San Francisco, that drug problems are avoided if at all possible because they know there's just too many people to corral at once, and you were talking about once a year though they do have a mass arrest to show that they can do it. Talk about that, the situation.

MISS IAN: There is -- okeh. So, what I know, and, which has just been over the past year that I've been paying attention, is that they will -- we will catch wind, as harm reductionists, that the police are going to do like a sweep, or a raid, or whatever they call it, but it's all outside, it's never inside, a building. Right?

So, they will -- our neighborhoods have like a pretty open air drug market, so they, at any given time there will be like fifteen people on a corner, it's all selling drugs, right? So it's like you can just walk to a certain corner and just, yeah, and everyone will be trying to sell you, like, similar things or the same thing, or whatever, but you can walk -- there's like, there may be like three or four corners where -- but it won't be just like one person, it will be like ten people.

So, it's not hard to find drugs in San Francisco. So, but they'll -- but lots of the people who live in the Tenderloin, it's also like -- there's a lot of families that live there, there's a lot of children, and there's a lot of older folk that have retired and live there, and so there's a lot of complaints that happen about being like, this, these people are selling drugs, how come they're not doing anything about it?

And it's -- and it really, from the cop point of view, it's like, because every time they arrest one, it doesn't matter, there's always like three more later, like, twenty minutes later, like, not even any time. So like why are they going to waste their resources?

So they just do a public image thing.

DEAN BECKER: Something to hit the papers.

MISS IAN: Exactly, to where they'll, like, we, actually, they're so mean about it, too. They will arrest a bunch of people, and the Tenderloin police station actually has a twitter account where they post the pictures of everybody they arrested, publicly.

And they'll do -- but they also do the same thing for people who are using, which is so they'll -- they'll go into a group of people who are all using together, they'll like do the ziptie handcuffs and make everybody sit against the wall, they get everybody's ID or name, and then they run your record, and if you have a record, they're pulling you in, and if you don't they'll let you go.

But you have to sit there, arrested, or detained for whatever, thirty minutes to an hour, waiting for them to figure out if they are going to arrest you or not.

DEAN BECKER: How dangerous you are. Okeh, now, once again, folks, we're speaking with Miss Ian with the San Francisco Drug Users Union. Now, you brought up something that, let's close with this thought, you know, marijuana reform is sweeping the country. New Jersey was going to legalize, and I don't think they're going to now.

It's like, you know, so many states are considering the possibility, and ten or eleven have already done so. There's a lot of money, billions of dollars, being made in the marijuana industry. It is already Big Marijuana, the Canadian firms have proven that already, they've taken over much of American possibilities.

And, you brought up something that, I don't know, I find irksome at this point, I may get angrier as time goes by, but, they make -- they are making money from an industry that you and I appreciate, that our friends have appreciated our whole lives, that's so deadly and dangerous but now is a profit center.

MISS IAN: Right.

DEAN BECKER: And they should be working towards helping states like mine, Texas, to bring forward the possibility of marijuana legalization, and to do the same around the country, to sponsor ads on television and in the papers, and, I don't know, I'm preaching here. What's your response?

MISS IAN: No, I think it's -- I think it's important, obviously, drugs is like, it's -- there's money in drugs, right? There's no -- illegal or legal, right? But definitely legally.

So my -- definitely my two thoughts are, like, one, if you're in the marijuana industry and you're making money, I think that definitely two things you should be thinking of is one, hire people who have been incarcerated for marijuana charges, because you owe those people a job, because they're having trouble finding jobs no matter what, right?

Even when their record gets clean, it's like, you still have on your resume that, like, maybe you were not employed for ten years, what happened during those ten years? You know what I mean?

So, that, and, I definitely think that they, because they are profiting so much, that they should be helping out the other states, and other places, that do not have their legalization yet, so that they can come up also, but also, like, don't also forget that marijuana is a schedule one drug, just like how we deem heroin, and other drugs, so it has the same illegal status federally, and don't, like -- but don't play that weird drug game where you're like, marijuana's cool but heroin's a problem. I wouldn't touch heroin, like.

And, but all people who use all sorts of drugs, they're all like, I use cocaine but I would never touch crack, or I use crack but I would never touch meth, or I use meth but I would never do fentanyl. Right?

DEAN BECKER: I call them part-time prohibitionists, because that's exactly what they are. And from my perspective, I'll share this with you right quick, is that as long as we believe in prohibition --

MISS IAN: Right.

DEAN BECKER: For any drug, prohibition will have stature. Prohibition will prevent marijuana from being treated like friggin' tomatoes because, as long as reefer madness exists, people will bow before it.

MISS IAN: This is true.

DEAN BECKER: Closing thoughts, please.

MISS IAN: I would say, one, education. Learn about, obviously it would be great to have more education about what drugs are, and what they do, and what their history is, just because they're not very scary.

And to be honest, the scariest part is that they are completely unregulated, and, you don't know what you're getting when you buy drugs off the street. So, that part -- that's the only part that's scary about drugs, you just don't know exactly what you're putting in your body.

I guess you could say that about some food, right? But, it's -- it would be nice to see more of a general education that's not just like anti-prohibition, or like getting laws changed, but like a general public education about being like, when you see someone walking down the street who's having a hard time, don't just assume you know that that person is on meth.

Or if you see someone nodded out in the corner, or like sleeping on the ground, don't be like, oh, that's because they use heroin. Just, like, what are drugs? What do they do? Do they effect people's behavior? Do they not? Are there people who use drugs that aren't homeless? Like, yes. Why?

Just, like, you know, general questions.

DEAN BECKER: All right, my friends. You've seen the news about this drug. It's no longer on the shelves and soon the only place you'll be able to see this particular product is in a courtroom near you.

It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Weakness, nausea, skin rash, unexpected weight gain, swelling of hands and face, difficulty breathing, flu like symptoms, sluggishness, dark urine or pale stools, double the chance of dying of heart attack or stroke. Time's up! The answer: Vioxx.

MADDY MAGNUSON: My name is Maddy Magnuson, I'm the director of LGBTQ-Plus and harm reduction services at the Health Equity Alliance, which was formerly the Down East AIDS Network.

So we work with people living with HIV, the LGBTQ community, and people who use injection drugs.

DEAN BECKER: And where are you based?

MADDY MAGNUSON: Our main office is in Bangor, Maine, but we also have offices in Belfast, Ellsworth, and Matthias, Maine.

DEAN BECKER: The perspectives, the understanding, relationships, acknowledgements, all kinds of things are taking place as we speak in regards to sex, sex workers, sex, I don't even know, categories, I'm all confused by the LGBTQ RST, it, it confuses me, because I'm just, I guess, like many folks, I'm unaware of some of the complications of life, that come with having these different lives, or lifestyles, or however you might call it.

Do you want to fill in this old man on what some of those perspectives, how they impact one's life, how they can impact one's possibilities.

MADDY MAGNUSON: Yeah. I mean, that's a big question, big topic. First of all, I would say, you know, in the communities of kind of like gender and sexual minorities, but in reality they're very, you know, very different communities of people that kind of get lumped together because they're all discriminated against, and the world wasn't really built for us.

And so, people might find lots of issues, you know, we do a lot of trainings for medical providers, one because medical providers aren't asking questions that would be helpful. So for example if a gay man goes in to the doctor, they might not ask questions about that person's sexual history, so then they won't know to do things like prescribe PREP, which is a daily pill that, you know, someone could take to prevent the risk of contracting HIV.

So there's tools out there that people aren't getting connected to. That's one thing. Then, you know, the trans community in particular is just facing a lot of discrimination. One study, I think in 2014, trans health study, thirteen percent reported being denied emergency room care on the basis that they were trans, you know, half the folks say they have to educate their medical providers on things related to their care, so there's just really a lack of knowledge.

And I think what you're saying, people just don't know even how to refer to someone respectfully, and so I think where, you know, we see a lot of anxiety and depression and isolation, you know, the queer community not wanting to interact with straight people, because they're not being treated well.

DEAN BECKER: And, again, I express my ignorance willingly there, because, I mean, it's better to learn than to remain ignorant, and that's why I phrased the question the way I do. I have several friends that are gay, my mentor who taught me radio was a gay man.

And, it's just, I don't know, there's not a book, maybe there is a book, but, it's not easily discerned or available.

MADDY MAGNUSON: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, there are resources out there and, but, you know, you'd have to take a lot of time to educate yourself, and for me, it's, you know, it's just, our world, again, was not built with gender and sexual minorities in mind, you know, so for example, you know, if I go into a Planned Parenthood, and I, you know, I say, oh yeah, I'm trying to start a family with my partner, what should I do, what's better, fresh or frozen, you know, for sperm? What do we do?

And the Planned Parenthood nurse looks at me with, you know, like, I have no idea what you're asking me about, you know, I'll tell you all about IUDs, or how to prevent pregnancy, but they have no idea how to help someone, which is interesting how they're called Planned Parenthood, right?

So again, it's just the assumption that, again, everyone is heterosexual and everyone is cis-gendered, and so all the services are built around that, all the knowledge is built around that, so if anyone does not fit that mold, they don't get the care they need and the fact that, again, a lot of people still have a lot of hate and a lot of misunderstanding, so people are just outright discriminated against, and we experience a lot of violence as well.

DEAN BECKER: It's my understanding that, I don't know, there are subcommunities, categories, I guess, that tend to use drugs. I have no better way to put it, I suppose, and that have very specific needs and services for their requirements. Right?

MADDY MAGNUSON: Yeah, I mean, I would say, you know, people use drugs across, you know, identity categories, across income categories, but I think people who have more trouble with maybe more problematic drug use, things that interact with their quality of life, tend to be people who are discriminated against or oppressed in our society.

So again, low income folks have a lot more trouble, again just accessing the services they need, and LGBTQ folks also experience higher rates of substance use, and again, don't get the care that they need. So ....

DEAN BECKER: Thank you for fixing my question. And, look, I want to say this, that, you know, I'm aware Seattle, San Francisco, my city of Houston, there are, what should I say, cities that are centers that are gathering places, if you will, for LGBTQ people, where they feel safer, and, do you have that similar situation there in Maine?

MADDY MAGNUSON: Yeah, I mean, I would say, there has been a history of LGBTQ fleeing from rural areas to urban centers, A, historically to find community. Right? So before the internet, you had to meet in a place like a bar or something like that, and so, again, related to substance use, higher rates, but, so, we do still see in my state that people, a lot of LGBTQ people go to the city, mostly Portland, which is our biggest city, to find community.

But, you know, that being said, a lot of folks still are in rural areas, and are trying to build networks to, you know, support each other, recognizing that you can't go to any local establishment and find each other because there's just not the population to support that.

So we have to find other avenues to, you know, find connection.

DEAN BECKER: Express my ignorance once again, what am I leaving out? What would you like to bring forward to my listening audience, what do they need to know?

MADDY MAGNUSON: I think it's just important to keep in mind when you're creating a service, you know, who you have in mind when you're writing a policy, you know, who are you thinking about?

And I think right now, there's a lot of attention put on, you know, the opioid crisis, and honestly, I think that the people we have in mind around that are white, straight, you know, cis-gender men who are being affected and now that they're affected people are giving a s*** when it, you know, there's been decades of other people who have been very affected by this issue but we haven't put the same amount of attention on it.

So, I just want us to be really careful that, now that, you know, I'm thankful we are having attention put on the issue, and funding being put towards it, but let's be really careful that in doing so we're not creating an exclusive service that only one category of people are able to access.

DEAN BECKER: Anyway, thank you, Maddy, for your information. Is there a website where you might like to point folks towards?

MADDY MAGNUSON: Yeah. If people are in Maine and are looking to get connected to us, our website is MaineHealthEquity.org.

And we do lots of different events, as well as services, and really trying to again build community, build compassion, for folks.

MARSHA JEAN-CHARLES: I'm Marsha Jean-Charles, I'm from Brooklyn, New York, and I work at the Brotherhood Sister Sol, a youth organization in Harlem, New York, and we just do a variety of programming for young people ages 8 through 21.

DEAN BECKER: And, give us an idea of some of those programs, what you make available.

MARSHA JEAN-CHARLES: Yes, so, we have generalized afterschool programming for young people 8 through 18, and we also do like an international study program, where we go through a variety of countries in the African diaspora, a youth leadership program, which we have a youth organizing program that pursues a certain campaign, and an environmental justice program that also pursues EJ campaigns and does environmental justice work. We do a lot of trainings, but, the justice is there.

DEAN BECKER: And, we're here at the Drug Policy conference, in beautiful St. Louis, and, tell us how that ties in, how your work ties in to drug policy, please.

MARSHA JEAN-CHARLES: Yeah. We, in our, in my organizing, as a lead organizer of the Brotherhood Sister Sol, we work on two specific campaigns outside of the Liberation Program campaign, and one is to close Riker's and the other is to legalize marijuana in New York City and New York State.

And we do that largely because we find that the preponderance of people getting arrested for marijuana possession are young black and Latinx people, and it's happening at rates that are completely preposterous, and doesn't make any sense.

DEAN BECKER: Look, even from Texas, I've been aware of that situation, I've seen the headlines, I've seen how there's announcements that they're going to change the policy, they're going to make it different, it's going to work out more evenly, and yet year after year, in fact decade after decade, that has not been proven to be true. Your thought.

MARSHA JEAN-CHARLES: Correct. I mean, marijuana was decriminalized in the Seventies in New York City, and yet people continued to get arrested because of 'broken windows' policing, because of predatory policing, because of over policing in black and Latinx communities, and in poor communities in New York City anyway.

And so now the conversation is about, you know, not prosecuting, or actually doing what the law says, but it's far too late, and we just need to legalize it.

DEAN BECKER: Now, I'm aware in New York City, or Houston, Texas, or hell any city in America, that it's pretty much true, there is a preponderance of stopping black people driving down the street, of searching those same people, of, if possible, finding any amount of illicit substance, and to arrest them, whereas city after city, state after state, all around America, it's a leftover of Jim Crow, of prior eras, that we need to walk away from.

MARSHA JEAN-CHARLES: Correct. And I think there are a number of ways that people who are black and brown in New York City get arrested for things that, if they were white and rich, they would just not be arrested for at all, and this is one of those ways, and so the war on drugs is a war on poor people, it's a war on people of color, it's a war on anyone who is deemed criminal because of who they are, where they're from.

And it's completely ridiculous that we used to believe that it works, because it doesn't, and it doesn't work for our communities.

DEAN BECKER: It's got to be very rewarding to work with the younger folks, to get them educated, get them pointed in the right direction. Tell us a little bit more about that work.

MARSHA JEAN-CHARLES: Yeah, so, our work, our youth organizing work, we're running a campaign to increase the New York City Public School budget by twenty percent and to put a stay on hiring more school safety agents.

And we're doing that because our schools are underfunded and they're not getting the kind of support or resources that they need, and the twenty percent increase could actively be used, and could be earmarked for therapists, guidance counselors, college counselors, like, all these people who are there to actually support students and not to incarcerate them and push them along the school to prison pipeline.

DEAN BECKER: I thank you for your time, Marsha. Is there a website you might want to point folks toward?

MARSHA JEAN-CHARLES: Yeah, our website is moving along, but it's www.Brotherhood-SisterSol.org, as in sun, sol, dot org.

DEAN BECKER: Not certain if we've used all the interviews from St. Louis as of yet, but I have a couple of shorter segments I want to share with you, some current news.

Resident Trump has been threatening all kinds of t hings about Mexico and our southern border.

DONALD TRUMP: Mexico is such a big source of drugs, unfortunately, unfortunately, now we have China sending fentanyl to Mexico so it can be delivered into the United States. It's not acceptable.

So, the second aspect of it is, which you haven't heard before, is that if the drugs don't stop, Mexico can stop them if they want, we're going to tariff the cars. The cars are very big, and if that doesn't work, we're going to close the border.

DEAN BECKER: In 1991, then-Senator Joe Biden bragged on the Senate floor about how harsh all the penalties have become for drug users, thanks to his efforts.

JOSEPH BIDEN: The fact of the matter is, we've gone from there, all the way up to saying, under the leadership of Senator Thurmond, and I'd like to suggest that I take some small credit for it myself as well, but there is now a death penalty. If you are a major drug dealer, involved in the trafficking of drugs and murder results in your activities, you go to death.

And, a number of other severe penalties. We changed the law so that if you are arrested and you are a drug dealer, under our forfeiture statutes, you can, the government can, take everything you own. Everything from your car to your house, your bank account, not merely what they confiscate in terms of the dollars from the transaction that you just got caught engaging in. You can take everything.

We have laws in the last several years where we don't allow judges discretion to sentence people. Flat time sentencing. You get caught, you go to jail.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I urge you to stay tuned for Century of Lies, which follows on many of the Drug Truth Network stations. We'll have more reports for you next week from Tampa and the Patients Out of Time conference, and don't forget, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag, please be careful.

CULTURAL BAGGAGE

APRIL 10, 2019

TRANSCRIPT

DEAN BECKER: I am Dean Becker, your host. Our goal for this program is to expose the fraud, misdirection, and the liars whose support for drug war empowers our terrorist enemies, enriches barbarous cartels, and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent US gangs who profit by selling contaminated drugs to our children. This is Cultural Baggage.

Hi folks, this is Cultural Baggage, I am Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High, and as promised last week we're going to have another couple of shows from the St. Louis gathering of the Drug Policy Alliance folks here on Cultural Baggage as well as on Century of Lies with Doug McVay.

MISS IAN: Miss Ian. I work at San Francisco Drug Users Union. We're in the Tenderloin, San Francisco, and we're sort of like a community based drop in center and needle exchange, naloxone distribution, and we're run all by people who use drugs, or who formerly used drugs.

DEAN BECKER: Now, you gave a presentation today to the Drug Policy Alliance gathering here in St. Louis, and a couple of, I wrote down a couple of points I'd like for you to readdress if you would, please.

MISS IAN: Sure.

DEAN BECKER: You talked about how the Silicon Valley is in essence trying to take over San Francisco, and how it's created a homeless situation. Let's talk about that and its intersection with drug users.

MISS IAN: Okeh. I would say -- so, yeah, to reiterate my point, Silicon Valley has blown up, I think as many people have known, and it's like an hour south of San Francisco, but San Francisco's like the cultural hub for Silicon Valley. Right? So, there's a bunch of people who are younger, probably from their mid-20s to like late 30s who are not used to city living, or drug usage.

So there's two things happening. One is they want to move to the city, where they can get in the action, or live a vibrant life, or whatever they're trying to do, and they, and so -- and all their companies have tax breaks and whatnot, and so the people who used to own buildings that were low income buildings are figuring out ways to get rid of their occupants, sell their buildings to condo developers, who will purchase the property for so much money, making the original land owner super, like, rich, retirement rich, so I can't necessarily blame them. Right?

DEAN BECKER: Right.

MISS IAN: To get some money and get out, and live the rest of your life. But they build these new places, they charge like upwards of like thirty-five hundred dollars for a room, all these people live in them, and all of these other people are now forced out onto the street or out of town, right, so they're either in -- people have moved out to the greater bay area, or they're homeless, they're on the streets in San Francisco.

And a lot of people need to stay because all their services are there. Right?

DEAN BECKER: And, you were talking about how those homeless folks, the ones squeezed out of that prior housing, are camped out pretty near these rich Silicon, I don't know, Microsoft employees, whatever, right?

MISS IAN: Yeah, totally. So, yeah, so everyone is -- San Francisco's small, so there is -- and there's not a lot of places to be if you're outside, especially because these new buildings now have new security cards, and so what people used to do is like maybe they would camp inside building doorways and stuff, but that's like impossible now.

So people are just like out on the sidewalk, or in an alley, or whatever, and they'll just be -- there's like lots of people who are visibly outside, visibly in tents, visibly like using drugs to cope, or, you know, get some sort of pleasure, or enjoy the day, or enjoy their friends, or whatever, and our new residents are horrified because they all have very negative opinions of homelessness and drug use, and so their big reaction has been since they got here has just been like why, when I pay this much money for rent, do I have to walk through this, like, city of scum to get to work?

And we're like, whoa, whoa, whoa, you pushed these people outside. They're outside because of you, and they aren't giving us any extra resources to -- I don't know, like, address the situation.

DEAN BECKER: Sure. And let me kind of jump in here with this thought. This is all true, it's not just San Francisco, Los Angeles has maybe even a bigger problem. I've seen miles and miles of tent cities going on there, but, what it really is boiling down to is that there's a major incongruity, imbalance, if you will, in America, where, to sum it up, fat cats are getting fatter and the rest of us are just losing out.

And I guess what I want to bring it to is that a large portion is despondency, is, I don't know, just the feeling inadequate that often leads people into a cycle of drug use, that it can complicate their life, and, not to say that it is all economical, but, it plays a huge part in this problem, does it not?

MISS IAN: I mean, our whole system is run off of money, and so it's, I would say it's, like, what I call it, not a shame, but like, it would be ignorant to say that money wouldn't help the situation, and that money didn't also cause the situation.

DEAN BECKER: Sure.

MISS IAN: So.

DEAN BECKER: No, I'm with you. Now, there are cities all across the country, from Philadelphia to San Francisco, Portland to Houston, that have people that are trying to provide for safe injection or safe consumption sites or whatever you want to call it, San Francisco being certainly among the top ones.

As I understand it, the governor wanted to deny the possibility, am I getting this right? Because of the interference with the federal law. Is that true?

MISS IAN: He -- so, Governor Jerry Brown, who's now not the governor anymore, there was a bill called AB186, and when it got -- it passed everything and it got to his desk to sign it, and he vetoed it, and released a letter saying all of this stuff, basically in the end he used this weird metaphor where he was like, this idea is like -- is like the carrot and a stick idea with no stick.

So basically saying, like, you're just enabling people who use drugs to use them more, I'm not going to sign this bill. That won't -- it won't do anything. So he didn't -- I'm sure he didn't look at any of the data, but ....

DEAN BECKER: Coddling the druggies.

MISS IAN: Yeah, coddling the -- he's like, yeah, how will this help anything.

DEAN BECKER: All right.

MISS IAN: He didn't look at any of the data, so ....

DEAN BECKER: All right, now, you were talking about the objection, that the fat cats had against the homeless folks out there on their sidewalks, and I know San Francisco, I had the privilege of meeting Terrence Hallinan, who was the district attorney, I don't know, ten, twenty years ago, and I was carrying a bag of weed, and he was looking at it and saying that's really nice.

He didn't give a rat's ass, and I guess what I'm saying is, that's the kind of the way it's been in San Francisco, that drug problems are avoided if at all possible because they know there's just too many people to corral at once, and you were talking about once a year though they do have a mass arrest to show that they can do it. Talk about that, the situation.

MISS IAN: There is -- okeh. So, what I know, and, which has just been over the past year that I've been paying attention, is that they will -- we will catch wind, as harm reductionists, that the police are going to do like a sweep, or a raid, or whatever they call it, but it's all outside, it's never inside, a building. Right?

So, they will -- our neighborhoods have like a pretty open air drug market, so they, at any given time there will be like fifteen people on a corner, it's all selling drugs, right? So it's like you can just walk to a certain corner and just, yeah, and everyone will be trying to sell you, like, similar things or the same thing, or whatever, but you can walk -- there's like, there may be like three or four corners where -- but it won't be just like one person, it will be like ten people.

So, it's not hard to find drugs in San Francisco. So, but they'll -- but lots of the people who live in the Tenderloin, it's also like -- there's a lot of families that live there, there's a lot of children, and there's a lot of older folk that have retired and live there, and so there's a lot of complaints that happen about being like, this, these people are selling drugs, how come they're not doing anything about it?

And it's -- and it really, from the cop point of view, it's like, because every time they arrest one, it doesn't matter, there's always like three more later, like, twenty minutes later, like, not even any time. So like why are they going to waste their resources?

So they just do a public image thing.

DEAN BECKER: Something to hit the papers.

MISS IAN: Exactly, to where they'll, like, we, actually, they're so mean about it, too. They will arrest a bunch of people, and the Tenderloin police station actually has a twitter account where they post the pictures of everybody they arrested, publicly.

And they'll do -- but they also do the same thing for people who are using, which is so they'll -- they'll go into a group of people who are all using together, they'll like do the ziptie handcuffs and make everybody sit against the wall, they get everybody's ID or name, and then they run your record, and if you have a record, they're pulling you in, and if you don't they'll let you go.

But you have to sit there, arrested, or detained for whatever, thirty minutes to an hour, waiting for them to figure out if they are going to arrest you or not.

DEAN BECKER: How dangerous you are. Okeh, now, once again, folks, we're speaking with Miss Ian with the San Francisco Drug Users Union. Now, you brought up something that, let's close with this thought, you know, marijuana reform is sweeping the country. New Jersey was going to legalize, and I don't think they're going to now.

It's like, you know, so many states are considering the possibility, and ten or eleven have already done so. There's a lot of money, billions of dollars, being made in the marijuana industry. It is already Big Marijuana, the Canadian firms have proven that already, they've taken over much of American possibilities.

And, you brought up something that, I don't know, I find irksome at this point, I may get angrier as time goes by, but, they make -- they are making money from an industry that you and I appreciate, that our friends have appreciated our whole lives, that's so deadly and dangerous but now is a profit center.

MISS IAN: Right.

DEAN BECKER: And they should be working towards helping states like mine, Texas, to bring forward the possibility of marijuana legalization, and to do the same around the country, to sponsor ads on television and in the papers, and, I don't know, I'm preaching here. What's your response?

MISS IAN: No, I think it's -- I think it's important, obviously, drugs is like, it's -- there's money in drugs, right? There's no -- illegal or legal, right? But definitely legally.

So my -- definitely my two thoughts are, like, one, if you're in the marijuana industry and you're making money, I think that definitely two things you should be thinking of is one, hire people who have been incarcerated for marijuana charges, because you owe those people a job, because they're having trouble finding jobs no matter what, right?

Even when their record gets clean, it's like, you still have on your resume that, like, maybe you were not employed for ten years, what happened during those ten years? You know what I mean?

So, that, and, I definitely think that they, because they are profiting so much, that they should be helping out the other states, and other places, that do not have their legalization yet, so that they can come up also, but also, like, don't also forget that marijuana is a schedule one drug, just like how we deem heroin, and other drugs, so it has the same illegal status federally, and don't, like -- but don't play that weird drug game where you're like, marijuana's cool but heroin's a problem. I wouldn't touch heroin, like.

And, but all people who use all sorts of drugs, they're all like, I use cocaine but I would never touch crack, or I use crack but I would never touch meth, or I use meth but I would never do fentanyl. Right?

DEAN BECKER: I call them part-time prohibitionists, because that's exactly what they are. And from my perspective, I'll share this with you right quick, is that as long as we believe in prohibition --

MISS IAN: Right.

DEAN BECKER: For any drug, prohibition will have stature. Prohibition will prevent marijuana from being treated like friggin' tomatoes because, as long as reefer madness exists, people will bow before it.

MISS IAN: This is true.

DEAN BECKER: Closing thoughts, please.

MISS IAN: I would say, one, education. Learn about, obviously it would be great to have more education about what drugs are, and what they do, and what their history is, just because they're not very scary.

And to be honest, the scariest part is that they are completely unregulated, and, you don't know what you're getting when you buy drugs off the street. So, that part -- that's the only part that's scary about drugs, you just don't know exactly what you're putting in your body.

I guess you could say that about some food, right? But, it's -- it would be nice to see more of a general education that's not just like anti-prohibition, or like getting laws changed, but like a general public education about being like, when you see someone walking down the street who's having a hard time, don't just assume you know that that person is on meth.

Or if you see someone nodded out in the corner, or like sleeping on the ground, don't be like, oh, that's because they use heroin. Just, like, what are drugs? What do they do? Do they effect people's behavior? Do they not? Are there people who use drugs that aren't homeless? Like, yes. Why?

Just, like, you know, general questions.

DEAN BECKER: All right, my friends. You've seen the news about this drug. It's no longer on the shelves and soon the only place you'll be able to see this particular product is in a courtroom near you.

It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Weakness, nausea, skin rash, unexpected weight gain, swelling of hands and face, difficulty breathing, flu like symptoms, sluggishness, dark urine or pale stools, double the chance of dying of heart attack or stroke. Time's up! The answer: Vioxx.

MADDY MAGNUSON: My name is Maddy Magnuson, I'm the director of LGBTQ-Plus and harm reduction services at the Health Equity Alliance, which was formerly the Down East AIDS Network.

So we work with people living with HIV, the LGBTQ community, and people who use injection drugs.

DEAN BECKER: And where are you based?

MADDY MAGNUSON: Our main office is in Bangor, Maine, but we also have offices in Belfast, Ellsworth, and Matthias, Maine.

DEAN BECKER: The perspectives, the understanding, relationships, acknowledgements, all kinds of things are taking place as we speak in regards to sex, sex workers, sex, I don't even know, categories, I'm all confused by the LGBTQ RST, it, it confuses me, because I'm just, I guess, like many folks, I'm unaware of some of the complications of life, that come with having these different lives, or lifestyles, or however you might call it.

Do you want to fill in this old man on what some of those perspectives, how they impact one's life, how they can impact one's possibilities.

MADDY MAGNUSON: Yeah. I mean, that's a big question, big topic. First of all, I would say, you know, in the communities of kind of like gender and sexual minorities, but in reality they're very, you know, very different communities of people that kind of get lumped together because they're all discriminated against, and the world wasn't really built for us.

And so, people might find lots of issues, you know, we do a lot of trainings for medical providers, one because medical providers aren't asking questions that would be helpful. So for example if a gay man goes in to the doctor, they might not ask questions about that person's sexual history, so then they won't know to do things like prescribe PREP, which is a daily pill that, you know, someone could take to prevent the risk of contracting HIV.

So there's tools out there that people aren't getting connected to. That's one thing. Then, you know, the trans community in particular is just facing a lot of discrimination. One study, I think in 2014, trans health study, thirteen percent reported being denied emergency room care on the basis that they were trans, you know, half the folks say they have to educate their medical providers on things related to their care, so there's just really a lack of knowledge.

And I think what you're saying, people just don't know even how to refer to someone respectfully, and so I think where, you know, we see a lot of anxiety and depression and isolation, you know, the queer community not wanting to interact with straight people, because they're not being treated well.

DEAN BECKER: And, again, I express my ignorance willingly there, because, I mean, it's better to learn than to remain ignorant, and that's why I phrased the question the way I do. I have several friends that are gay, my mentor who taught me radio was a gay man.

And, it's just, I don't know, there's not a book, maybe there is a book, but, it's not easily discerned or available.

MADDY MAGNUSON: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, there are resources out there and, but, you know, you'd have to take a lot of time to educate yourself, and for me, it's, you know, it's just, our world, again, was not built with gender and sexual minorities in mind, you know, so for example, you know, if I go into a Planned Parenthood, and I, you know, I say, oh yeah, I'm trying to start a family with my partner, what should I do, what's better, fresh or frozen, you know, for sperm? What do we do?

And the Planned Parenthood nurse looks at me with, you know, like, I have no idea what you're asking me about, you know, I'll tell you all about IUDs, or how to prevent pregnancy, but they have no idea how to help someone, which is interesting how they're called Planned Parenthood, right?

So again, it's just the assumption that, again, everyone is heterosexual and everyone is cis-gendered, and so all the services are built around that, all the knowledge is built around that, so if anyone does not fit that mold, they don't get the care they need and the fact that, again, a lot of people still have a lot of hate and a lot of misunderstanding, so people are just outright discriminated against, and we experience a lot of violence as well.

DEAN BECKER: It's my understanding that, I don't know, there are subcommunities, categories, I guess, that tend to use drugs. I have no better way to put it, I suppose, and that have very specific needs and services for their requirements. Right?

MADDY MAGNUSON: Yeah, I mean, I would say, you know, people use drugs across, you know, identity categories, across income categories, but I think people who have more trouble with maybe more problematic drug use, things that interact with their quality of life, tend to be people who are discriminated against or oppressed in our society.

So again, low income folks have a lot more trouble, again just accessing the services they need, and LGBTQ folks also experience higher rates of substance use, and again, don't get the care that they need. So ....

DEAN BECKER: Thank you for fixing my question. And, look, I want to say this, that, you know, I'm aware Seattle, San Francisco, my city of Houston, there are, what should I say, cities that are centers that are gathering places, if you will, for LGBTQ people, where they feel safer, and, do you have that similar situation there in Maine?

MADDY MAGNUSON: Yeah, I mean, I would say, there has been a history of LGBTQ fleeing from rural areas to urban centers, A, historically to find community. Right? So before the internet, you had to meet in a place like a bar or something like that, and so, again, related to substance use, higher rates, but, so, we do still see in my state that people, a lot of LGBTQ people go to the city, mostly Portland, which is our biggest city, to find community.

But, you know, that being said, a lot of folks still are in rural areas, and are trying to build networks to, you know, support each other, recognizing that you can't go to any local establishment and find each other because there's just not the population to support that.

So we have to find other avenues to, you know, find connection.

DEAN BECKER: Express my ignorance once again, what am I leaving out? What would you like to bring forward to my listening audience, what do they need to know?

MADDY MAGNUSON: I think it's just important to keep in mind when you're creating a service, you know, who you have in mind when you're writing a policy, you know, who are you thinking about?

And I think right now, there's a lot of attention put on, you know, the opioid crisis, and honestly, I think that the people we have in mind around that are white, straight, you know, cis-gender men who are being affected and now that they're affected people are giving a s*** when it, you know, there's been decades of other people who have been very affected by this issue but we haven't put the same amount of attention on it.

So, I just want us to be really careful that, now that, you know, I'm thankful we are having attention put on the issue, and funding being put towards it, but let's be really careful that in doing so we're not creating an exclusive service that only one category of people are able to access.

DEAN BECKER: Anyway, thank you, Maddy, for your information. Is there a website where you might like to point folks towards?

MADDY MAGNUSON: Yeah. If people are in Maine and are looking to get connected to us, our website is MaineHealthEquity.org.

And we do lots of different events, as well as services, and really trying to again build community, build compassion, for folks.

MARSHA JEAN-CHARLES: I'm Marsha Jean-Charles, I'm from Brooklyn, New York, and I work at the Brotherhood Sister Sol, a youth organization in Harlem, New York, and we just do a variety of programming for young people ages 8 through 21.

DEAN BECKER: And, give us an idea of some of those programs, what you make available.

MARSHA JEAN-CHARLES: Yes, so, we have generalized afterschool programming for young people 8 through 18, and we also do like an international study program, where we go through a variety of countries in the African diaspora, a youth leadership program, which we have a youth organizing program that pursues a certain campaign, and an environmental justice program that also pursues EJ campaigns and does environmental justice work. We do a lot of trainings, but, the justice is there.

DEAN BECKER: And, we're here at the Drug Policy conference, in beautiful St. Louis, and, tell us how that ties in, how your work ties in to drug policy, please.

MARSHA JEAN-CHARLES: Yeah. We, in our, in my organizing, as a lead organizer of the Brotherhood Sister Sol, we work on two specific campaigns outside of the Liberation Program campaign, and one is to close Riker's and the other is to legalize marijuana in New York City and New York State.

And we do that largely because we find that the preponderance of people getting arrested for marijuana possession are young black and Latinx people, and it's happening at rates that are completely preposterous, and doesn't make any sense.

DEAN BECKER: Look, even from Texas, I've been aware of that situation, I've seen the headlines, I've seen how there's announcements that they're going to change the policy, they're going to make it different, it's going to work out more evenly, and yet year after year, in fact decade after decade, that has not been proven to be true. Your thought.

MARSHA JEAN-CHARLES: Correct. I mean, marijuana was decriminalized in the Seventies in New York City, and yet people continued to get arrested because of 'broken windows' policing, because of predatory policing, because of over policing in black and Latinx communities, and in poor communities in New York City anyway.

And so now the conversation is about, you know, not prosecuting, or actually doing what the law says, but it's far too late, and we just need to legalize it.

DEAN BECKER: Now, I'm aware in New York City, or Houston, Texas, or hell any city in America, that it's pretty much true, there is a preponderance of stopping black people driving down the street, of searching those same people, of, if possible, finding any amount of illicit substance, and to arrest them, whereas city after city, state after state, all around America, it's a leftover of Jim Crow, of prior eras, that we need to walk away from.

MARSHA JEAN-CHARLES: Correct. And I think there are a number of ways that people who are black and brown in New York City get arrested for things that, if they were white and rich, they would just not be arrested for at all, and this is one of those ways, and so the war on drugs is a war on poor people, it's a war on people of color, it's a war on anyone who is deemed criminal because of who they are, where they're from.

And it's completely ridiculous that we used to believe that it works, because it doesn't, and it doesn't work for our communities.

DEAN BECKER: It's got to be very rewarding to work with the younger folks, to get them educated, get them pointed in the right direction. Tell us a little bit more about that work.

MARSHA JEAN-CHARLES: Yeah, so, our work, our youth organizing work, we're running a campaign to increase the New York City Public School budget by twenty percent and to put a stay on hiring more school safety agents.

And we're doing that because our schools are underfunded and they're not getting the kind of support or resources that they need, and the twenty percent increase could actively be used, and could be earmarked for therapists, guidance counselors, college counselors, like, all these people who are there to actually support students and not to incarcerate them and push them along the school to prison pipeline.

DEAN BECKER: I thank you for your time, Marsha. Is there a website you might want to point folks toward?

MARSHA JEAN-CHARLES: Yeah, our website is moving along, but it's www.Brotherhood-SisterSol.org, as in sun, sol, dot org.

DEAN BECKER: Not certain if we've used all the interviews from St. Louis as of yet, but I have a couple of shorter segments I want to share with you, some current news.

Resident Trump has been threatening all kinds of t hings about Mexico and our southern border.

DONALD TRUMP: Mexico is such a big source of drugs, unfortunately, unfortunately, now we have China sending fentanyl to Mexico so it can be delivered into the United States. It's not acceptable.

So, the second aspect of it is, which you haven't heard before, is that if the drugs don't stop, Mexico can stop them if they want, we're going to tariff the cars. The cars are very big, and if that doesn't work, we're going to close the border.

DEAN BECKER: In 1991, then-Senator Joe Biden bragged on the Senate floor about how harsh all the penalties have become for drug users, thanks to his efforts.

JOSEPH BIDEN: The fact of the matter is, we've gone from there, all the way up to saying, under the leadership of Senator Thurmond, and I'd like to suggest that I take some small credit for it myself as well, but there is now a death penalty. If you are a major drug dealer, involved in the trafficking of drugs and murder results in your activities, you go to death.

And, a number of other severe penalties. We changed the law so that if you are arrested and you are a drug dealer, under our forfeiture statutes, you can, the government can, take everything you own. Everything from your car to your house, your bank account, not merely what they confiscate in terms of the dollars from the transaction that you just got caught engaging in. You can take everything.

We have laws in the last several years where we don't allow judges discretion to sentence people. Flat time sentencing. You get caught, you go to jail.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I urge you to stay tuned for Century of Lies, which follows on many of the Drug Truth Network stations. We'll have more reports for you next week from Tampa and the Patients Out of Time conference, and don't forget, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag, please be careful.