11/11/20 Haven Wheelock

Oregon Ballot Measure 110, the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act, was approved overwhelmingly by voters in the November general election. On this edition of Century of Lies we speak with Haven Wheelock, MPH, one of the chief petitioners for Measure 110, about the vote and what it means for the future of drug policy reform. Plus we hear from Lisa Sanchez, Executive Director of México Unido Contra la Delincuencia, and Ray Lakeman, a campaigner for the UK nonprofit Anyone’s Child, about the need to regulate the stimulant market.

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Guest: 
Haven Wheelock
Organization: 
Drug War Facts
Haven Wheelock
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Dean Becker1 (00:00):
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 a century of lies.
Doug McVay (00:18):
Hello and welcome to century of lies. I'm your host, Doug McVay editor of drug war facts.org. Well, most of the results from the 2020 general election are in, there were a number of ballot measures up for a vote. One of the most important measures in many years was on the ballot here in Oregon, where I live ballot measure one 10, the drug addiction treatment and recovery act was approved by an overwhelming majority. This measure reduces penalty classifications on low level possession, which means that police will no longer be able to waste time processing minor possession offenses measure one 10 also puts money into treatment and support services. Now this is important funding treatment is good, but it doesn't really address any of the underlying problems that may exist. People experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness, for example, food and security, joblessness, mental health issues, physical health needs, conventional treatment doesn't address.
Doug McVay (01:15):
Any of that people need the whole package measure. One 10 is a groundbreaking initiative. That's as close to the Portuguese model. As anyone in the U S has gotten, it should provide a model for the rest of our nation. Rest assured that we will be reporting regularly on the implementation of measure one 10. It goes into effect at the beginning of February, 2021, advocates and supporters have a lot of work to do between now and then my friend Haven Wheelock was one of the chief petitioners for measure one 10 Haven runs the syringe services program at outside in a Portland area. Nonprofit she's worked for many years in harm reduction and recently earned her master's in public health from the Johns Hopkins school of public health. She took time out of her very busy schedule to talk with me recently about the vote and about implementing measure one 10. I expected this to pass. I really did, but I wasn't quite expecting this much of a blowout. I mean, 58 and a half percent. That's huge. How do you feel about the, how do you feel about the endorsement that the citizens that the voters of Oregon have given this measure?
Haven Wheelock (02:22):
It's amazing, right? Like, I mean, when I signed on for this to over two years ago now I never thought it would pass. Honestly, I went into this being like, we're starting a conversation, we got it. Like, it's going to take time. We got to start this conversation sometime let's start it now. Right. I honestly didn't think it would pass when I signed onto it, but I thought it was important to start the conversation because eventually we're going to have to have it anyway. So let's start it now. Um, and so, you know, and then when the pandemic hit, I was like, there's no way we're getting this on the ballot. Like, how do you get anything on, like, how do you collect signatures and understand home orders? Um, and I, and then when we started, when I came home from work the first time and saw 15 petitions in my inbox or in my mailbox, and then they just kept coming and Oregonians across the state were, you know, literally having to print off sign and mail with a stamp petitions. I started to change my thinking and I started to believe we could pull this off. And I never thought we would be coming in at just under 60% of the vote.
Doug McVay (03:47):
I just, I was just checking the records to make sure measure 91, the, the, the marijuana measured legalization measure that got 56%. You, you beat marijuana.
Haven Wheelock (03:58):
Yeah. I mean, it's, you know, over 300,000 people voted more people voted yes than voted now in our state. So, I mean, to me, it's just, it blows my mind and it like brings me such joy to know that something that like, I mean, I've been doing drug policy work for almost 20 years, right. I've been in harm reduction for pushing 20 years. And the change I've seen in how we talk about the work and how we talk about the people has been huge. And this is just more proof that we are moving in the right direction. And, you know, in a year that's been really hard. Um, it's been, it's brought me such joy and hope to see that we are going to be able to build something that is right. And like it's making big news across the country because we are setting the example.
Haven Wheelock (05:06):
And to me, I take that, I take that weight very heavily. Like I want to make sure that getting something passed is easy, making, creating a system that works, that saves lives that is strong and resilient. That is hard. And so I'm very excited about how we implement this and how we make it work in the way that the voters said they want it to work going forward. And I'm not naive enough to think that that's not going to be a lot of work. I've been doing this work long enough to know that it's some work and it's so it's, it's crucial work. And if we can demonstrate that this is works right, if we can show the rest of country that you don't have to punish people for them to seek help, you don't have to punish people to like, make sure people are safe. Then we can be a model for other places. And that makes me really proud.
Doug McVay (06:15):
That was Haven Wheelock. She's the syringe services coordinator for the Portland area. Nonprofit outside in Haven was one of the chief petitioners for Oregon ballot measure one 10, the drug addiction treatment and recovery act, which was approved overwhelmingly by voters in the November general election. You're listening to century of lies. I'm your host, Doug McVay editor of drug war facts.org. Loyal listeners will recall that a couple of weeks ago, we heard from Lorenzo a rebate, a graduate student who helped to draft a cocaine regulation bill that's been introduced in the Colombian legislature. He talked about that measure at a news conference, announcing the release of a new book by the UK nonprofit organization, transformed drug policy foundation. That book is entitled how to regulate stimulants. A practical guide let's hear from that news conference. Lisa Sanchez, the executive director of [inaudible].
Lisa Sanchez (07:08):
So first of all, what the cocaine market means to Mexico? Well, cocaine is the second most consumed and persecuted truck in the country just after cannabis. But although the cocaine cocaine use in the last year, for example, which is one of the most relevant indicators or the past month only represents 0.8% of all Mexicans from 12 to 65 years old, cocaine processors and users represent 17% of the total of adults that actually have been prosecuted for drug offenses and were charged with simple possession. It also represents 6.3% of all the miners that have been charged with drug offenses and had been prosecuted for possession, uh, within the criminal justice system in Mexico. Um, the same thing happens when you actually go and see what are the numbers for incarcerated people for drug offenses and at the federal and state level here in Mexico, 23% of the total amount of the people that are behind bars for violating our drug laws are actually there in, were incarcerated for cocaine offenses, mostly for cocaine possession in very small amounts that actually don't exceed $30 or $50 each.
Lisa Sanchez (08:26):
Um, cannabis of course still represents the majority of, um, uh, the drug crimes that had been committed in Mexico with 61% of the incarcerated people, but still cocaine. Uh, um, despite of the fact that Mexico is not a producer country is actually concentrating quite an enormous amount of, or drug enforcement activities and the criminalization against drug users that we're enforcing through those laws. Um, just give you, um, a very quick, um, overview of what's the size of this market, according to the Mexican government, the government, the cocaine illicit market in the countries worth around, uh, $345 million a year. Um, it's, um, it involves a lot of public resources that are being spent in enforcement actions and in particular in militarizing drug operations in drug enforcement actions, um, and around, um, in, in average, Hmm, every single year Mexico ceased around, um, 10 tons of cocaine either in, um, throughout the territory or airports, ports, and, uh, also in the scene.
Lisa Sanchez (09:43):
Um, although the quantities that we're ceasing are significantly lower, right? And those registered in previous governments, for example, in the past government that ended in 2018, we, um, we integrate sees 10.5 tons per year. And in the previous one that ended in 2012, the average was 19 tons per year. And before that 23 tons per year, um, these quantities are still particularly high. And most importantly, they're, they're relevant to us in the agenda of drug policy reform because they are squeezing very scarce public resources, and they are, um, you know, directing these various course resources into enforcing laws that are mostly affecting people who use drugs and people that are assessing very small quantities of drugs. Um, this is particularly relevant for the entire Latin America can read gem because as Gloria said that it happens to, so in Southeast Asia, there is a human rights component to that.
Lisa Sanchez (10:44):
There's also a gender dimension of these drug Wars. Um, there is targeting actively, um, and it's punishing, uh, very on proportionately women who are forced into trafficking, small quantities of drugs. And all of our presence in all of our countries are actually filled with women and had no other choice or that we're forced by gender reasons to enter into these trade, um, without the possibility of ensuring a decent livelihood recurring to other, um, other activities. So no that this is a problem to us because we don't use it as much cocaine as other countries, but we actually suffer the negative consequences of the cocaine trade and the cocaine prohibition, um, what we have been doing in, uh [inaudible] and with other local partners from Mexico and the region such as Institute Rhea or [inaudible] in Columbia is to advocate for drug policy reform and our goals in this advocacy work.
Lisa Sanchez (11:50):
And that also includes education, uh, public opinion efforts and strategic litigation, which is I'm going to, um, uh, give a little more detail in a few seconds is to promote a different animal [inaudible] policy that actually minimizes the risks and the negative impacts and maximizes the potential upsides of having a regulated market. So long story short, and this, you know, because you've read most of the transform material when we're looking for is to have a safe, um, um, uh, a safe, safe policy that promotes an improved public health because we understand drug policy and we understand, uh, drug, um, efforts primarily as a public health issue also in producing and transit countries as a human rights and social justice issue. Um, we're promoting ways to reduce harm. I've heard the stories of the people that aren't, uh, are, that are using these substances without knowing the quantities to dosages and the potential risks to their health and lives.
Lisa Sanchez (12:58):
Um, we want to distinguish between the harm score by consumption and the harm schools by drop policy itself. I also want to improve security. We want to reduce crime corruption, violence. We want to defend the most vulnerable groups in our populations, particularly attending the needs of women, young people, children, and growers. And we want to defend and ensure the full exercise of human rights, which is basically what we're doing through most of the actions that we've been, um, taking in Mexico to promote drug policy reform. So other than the traditional work at most of them or organizations to which include advocacy, public opinion, citizen diplomacy at the international level, most of the people that are connected to this webinar also go to the commission on narcotic drugs of the United nations, or are involved somehow in regional discussions within the European union or the curriculum or the organization of American States.
Lisa Sanchez (13:56):
What we also do is to defend and to promote strategic litigations. What we do is that we create landmark cases for, um, the legal system in Mexico to analyze and have rulings that can advance the cause of drug policy reform, but also that can enhance our understanding of what does it mean to have, or to adopt a human rights approach to drug policy. Uh, we started doing these with another organization called essays back in 2012, we started promoting, uh, cases on cannabis, uh, consumption basically, um, saying, or arguing, um, that cannabis prohibition was unconstitutional because it allowed the state to defend just one way of, of living. And one way of being healthy, which was not using drugs. And that involved a very harsh prohibition on cannabis that, um, basically, uh, forced kind of base users to go to the criminal market, to the black market to ensure, um, their consumption.
Lisa Sanchez (14:59):
Uh, and, and we also argued that that particular model that the state was, uh, enforcing into everybody or was imposing to us, uh, was also, uh, in a very, an intrusive way for the government to be part of our private lives. And that what we wanted was to give a, to have a permit at this, that the health authorities would issue. So we, as users could, um, grow or own cannabis harvest our own cannabis use or our own cannabis privately without the intention to sell it. And we basically convinced the Supreme court back in 2015 and got the first ruling that the Clare cannabis prohibition unconstitutional fast forward to that in 2018, we finally got the jurisprudence that we needed, you know, uh, for the court to order the Congress, the Mexican Congress to legislate in our favor and regulate entirely the market from production to consumption something that, um, should have happened already.
Lisa Sanchez (16:05):
Uh, but because of the, um, because of the elections first and then because of the pandemic, um, the Supreme court has issued two new has extended the deadline for that to happen until the end of this year, but using those, um, precedents using that particular strategy that we use with cannabis, medicinal cannabis that we basically won in the Supreme court. We also started defending some cases on, um, cocaine use, um, based on the same premises that it's unconstitutional for, um, or laws to prohibit, to absolutely prohibit access to these particular substances, forcing, uh, citizens to, uh, incurring crime, but also forcing citizens to live in a particular way, um, in which the state is, um, um, being quite intrusive and limiting the rights for people to express themselves and develop their own personality without harming third parties. Um, we won that particular case on cocaine last year, um, within a first level court, uh, and two of our cases are now have now reached the Supreme court one.
Lisa Sanchez (17:15):
We actually withdrawn the case from the Supreme court because the ruling was negative. They were not going to give us a permit and we were, were not going to win the case. Uh, but we actually took it to the Supreme court. As Lorenzo said, to make this conversation a national conversation, to speak about this issue, to educate decision makers about the real risks of cocaine, uh, the risks of cocaine prohibition and the risks of not regulating a substance and enhancing the power, not only the economic power, but also the firepower of criminal organizations in Mexico, they're actively undermining security, the rule of law and human rights. There are two more cases that are also at the Supreme court. We don't, we don't know yet what the ruling would be, whether it's going to be whether if the ruling is going to be positive or negative, but once we know exactly what's in that ruling, we will make the decision to whether with run the case or actually going forward with it, just to have this conversation.
Lisa Sanchez (18:18):
I think that the experience that, uh, we in Mexico have had with strategic litigation and advocacy work in advancing Trump policy reform has been instrumental for other jurisdictions to learn, but also to educate or decision makers, do they not even the worst prohibitionists in Mexico, agree with the fact that drug use itself should be criminalized and people put the Dale just for their use. Um, they're more open to harm reduction at the moment. And they're more open even to the idea of regulating markets in order to reduce the harms that provision causes and re reduce the harms that the war on drugs as a political choice in a political approach causes to countries like ours. So I just want to thank transform because as Lorenzo said, we use, um, a blueprint blueprint for regulation tools for the Bain, how to regulate cannabis. And now we're definitely going to use how to regulate stimulants, um, all these materials to provide evidence for basis to educate the public. And of course, to continue this conversation in, in, in targeted messages, in an advocacy work to advance drug policy reform. So thank you so much for having me thank you so much for inviting me and particularly for the amazing work you guys do.
Doug McVay (19:40):
That was Lisa Sanchez. She's the executive director of [inaudible]. She was speaking at a news conference on the release of a new book from transform drug policy foundation, entitled how to regulate stimulants, a practical guide. You're listening to century of lies. I'm your host, Doug McVay editor of drug war, facts.org. One of the other speakers at that news conference was Ray Lakeman. He's a campaigner for anyone's child, a nonprofit based in the UK.
Ray Lakeman (20:07):
All right. Um, yeah, my story, um, it's my son's actually, I, I had two sons, uh, Jack and taurine. Um, they were born 15 months apart and, uh, they grew up together here on the iron man, which is a lovely place. Um, they did all kinds of things together. They, they, uh, played football, uh, swam Saudi outs, all kinds of things. All the kinds of things is the kind of lifestyle that you'd like to bring your boys up in any children up in, um, they were good musicians that were very talented and for 18 years they were together. They didn't do very much then totally went off to university. And Jack went across to London to get some work because it's seasonal work, the sort of things that he was doing. And they arranged to meet up. And the 29th of November, 2014 to watch a football match in Manchester because they were great Manchester, United supporters.
Ray Lakeman (21:24):
And, um, they went along to the football match and I'd arranged to meet Jack a few days later in London. And I did actually get to see him, but he wasn't in London. Um, he was actually on a military slab, uh, in Bolton nine alongside his brother Turin. It turned out that I bought some, uh, AME DMA on the light, dark web, uh, taking it while they were, um, just, uh, and it killed them both. And I didn't even know that Tori was interested in drugs. I knew that Jack had dabbled a little bit, but I, I didn't have a clue about Tony knew. I seemed to be totally against drugs and things like that. Anyway, within a few, few days, everything was cleared up and we had the, um, uh, cremation. Some of these friends came up from university and one thing struck me straight away was we would talk in about it and they were thoughtful about it. They were obviously very sorry. They love, they obviously thought a lot with my son, but they were talking about drugs. And what they were saying is that he was unlucky. Um, they want these drugs to be made safer.
Ray Lakeman (22:53):
And that came up similarly in the inquest. About five months later, when somebody actually said to me, uh, the, during the inquest, the pathologist, the coroner and everybody, they would, they were talking about this MDM, a dose that they'd taken. And they were talking about, uh, uh, regulation, trucks, uh, dosage, something that they knew could be actually safe. And I thought, well, my boys are going to take this there. They're obviously going to tell you, you know, that there is a safe dosage, you know, that this can be made safe and yet it's illegal. We're not going to stop. Yeah. The kids were saying, they're going to continue taking drugs. They want them to be made safe. And it was, uh, it was an eye opener to me. I thought, wow, how are we going to stop this in the future? I talked to my drugs, my boys about taking drugs in the past.
Ray Lakeman (23:57):
And it was quite clear that, um, you know, that message hasn't got through. I could tell them how dangerous it was. In fact, the more I think about it, you know, if I told my boys their own story, they would probably have said, well, yeah, that's what happens to other people that doesn't happen to people like us, but it does happen to people like us. It does happen to people like them. It does happen to families like ours. And I want to change that. I don't want families to go through the things that my family has been through. And since I've learned so many other families that are going through, you know, since my boy has died, there's been something like 25,000 or six years ago. Something like 25,000 people over here have died from using class a drugs. Most of these things were preventable.
Ray Lakeman (24:53):
I don't want people to take drugs, but I'm pragmatic about it. In fact, I've learned, I've learned a lot about why people actually do, why young people do it. And it worries me. Uh, you know, we've got the pandemic and things, but it is young people. If young people who are experimenting, uh, curious, uh, and people, what they want authorities need to understand is why they're taking it. I think I've come to understand that. One of the reasons why Taryn did when he was first at university was he was a bit lost. He was a bit lonely. He'd come from the Island, man. He was in accommodation. It didn't know people. And he was confused and somebody gave him something that helped him fit him. That made him feel good and confident, and people need to understand why people are using these drugs. I was listening to the radio this morning and they were talking about cocaine use amongst women.
Ray Lakeman (26:00):
And that that's gone up there. And they were saying, you know, the reason why women in particular using or using cocaine, you know, it's depression, it's it activates them. It makes it makes them, um, it's not just a party drunk anymore is they're actually using it as medication. And the authorities need to know that that is what is happening. These people are not just fun, loving, pleasure, seeking people. Yes, they exist. But most of the time, you know, they're self-medicating and we need to treat is, is that kind of an issue as a health issue? Um, and, and not as a criminal issue. And I think the more we understand this, uh, the authorities need to understand it. I've come to understand it. Um, and to me, it's, it's, it's quite obvious. And the more I speak to people, uh, and I do speak to a lot of young people in particular, I went to a, uh, a funeral would be young guy who died, um, from heroin last year. And again, the same thing was they were all young people and they would turn around the same, Oh, we know that he's died. We know that he took drugs, but nearly everybody there had taken drugs and were going to continue taking drugs. We have to try to make it as safe as we possibly can.
Doug McVay (27:35):
Was Ray Lakeman. He said drug policy reform and harm reduction advocate in the UK, who campaigns for the nonprofit anyone's child. He was speaking at a news conference, held by the transformed drug policy foundation to announce the release of their new book, entitled how to regulate stimulants, a practical guide. And that's it for this week. 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 of drug truth.net. I'm your host, Doug McVeigh editor of drug war facts.org. The executive producer of the drug truth network is Dean Becker. Be sure to check out Dean's new video project claiming the moral high ground find links@drugtruth.net or search for Becker's buds and claiming the moral high ground on YouTube drug truth network programs are available by podcast. The URLs to subscribe are also on the network homepage@drugtruth.net. You can follow me on Twitter. I mapped Doug McVey and of course also at drug policy facts, we'll be back in a week with 30 more minutes of news and information about drug policy reform and the failed war on drugs for now. This is Doug McVeigh saying so long, so long for the drug truth network. This is Doug McVeigh asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition. The century of lies, drug truth network programs, our conduct, the James J. Baker, the third Institute for public policy.