12/20/09 - Steve DeAngelo

Steve DeAngelo, Dir of Harborside Health Center + DTN listener Christmas calls

Century of Lies
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Steve DeAngelo
Harborside Health Center
Download: Audio icon COL_122009.mp3


Century of Lies, December 20, 2009

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.

Dean Becker: Thank you my friends for being with us on this edition of Century of Lies. You know I am proud that you are listening. I am proud that your station has deigned to air the Drug Truth Network programs. I am proud that we’re making progress. I am proud that we are running these cowardice drug warriors down the hillside. And that we will soon win this battle.

But it could end much sooner. Perhaps another million people could not be arrested for having plant products in their pocket, purse or garden. And that improvement could come about if you were to get on board, if you would dare to speak the truth that you know full well if you have been a long time Drug Truth Network listeners.

Earlier this year I got a chance to go out to California, Oakland in particular. I toured several cannabis dispensaries while I was out there. But the one that impressed me the most was the Harborside Health Center, right there looking out at the bay. Just beautiful location, well kept facility, lot of improvement to the neighborhood. And their executive director Mr. Steve De Angelo was kind enough to give me a tour. I’ll tell you a little bit about some of the products that I saw and sampled after this interview with Mr. Steve De Angelo.


Steve De Angelo: My name is Steve De Angelo. I am the executive director of Harborside Health Center which is one of Oakland, California’s four licensed medical cannabis dispensaries. We opened three years ago. Right now we have thirty-five thousand patients in our collective and we serve about seven hundred patients per day, both by providing them with medical cannabis and also with a wide variety of other patient services.

Dean Becker: Now Steve, the situation in California is morphing as we speak so I see indications there is going to be ballot resolutions. There’s talk in the legislature about legalizing it outright. It’s really taking hold out there, is it not?

Steve De Angelo: Yeah it really is. We’re seeing you know quite a cannabis renaissance here in California. Of course since the passage of prop 215 in 1996 we have seen the development of the medical cannabis industry which has sprung up to serve the needs of legally qualified medical cannabis patients. And I think that has helped to build public acceptance for legalization.

The recent ballot drive for the 2010 tax and regulate initiative went very, very well and that it seems like there is growing public support in California for a move to full legalization.

Dean Becker: It’s not just California either, though. It seems that this idea is taking hold. It’s branching out across the country. Numerous states are considering legalization of medical marijuana and states like Colorado are pretty much following in the footsteps of California now. Is that a fair assumption?

Steve De Angelo: Yeah you know we just every day that goes by we have got more news. Just a couple of weeks ago we heard about the election in Maine where the three I believe it’s three or at least several medical cannabis dispensaries have been authorized in the state of Maine.

And then just a couple of days ago of course we heard that the congress repealed the bar amendment which means that Washington DC is well on its way to becoming a medical cannabis jurisdiction. So things certainly seem to be picking up in momentum and moving forward in very exciting directions.

Dean Becker: Now earlier you mentioned there are four cannabis dispensaries in Oakland. I would think that Harborside, your facility, is the largest. Is it perhaps the largest in the US?

Steve De Angelo: To my knowledge it is. I am not aware of anybody that serves more patients than we do on a daily basis.

Dean Becker: This is a benefit, a boon to the local economy. You guys pay your taxes. You participate as just like any other commercial endeavor, right?

Steve De Angelo: Oh yeah, it’s a huge boon to the local economy. Upwards of seventy percent of my staff are Oakland residents and our staff is very well taken care of. They all get a living wage. Our starting entry level wage is twice the minimum wage, fourteen dollars an hour. And all my staff also gets full health insurance, 401k program, paid time off and free medicine for every shift that they work.

And of course the generally calculated flow through is that people will put somewhere between three and use that paycheck money circulates something between three and five times through the community. So we’re providing a great benefit to Oakland.

Also this summer in July, Oakland became the first city in the country to authorize a specific cannabis tax on cannabis sales. And this was a tax which came directly out of the dispensaries in Oakland. We recognized that the city was facing a terrible budget crunch. Some of our most beloved institutions like the [ ] space center or children’s hospital were in danger of being closed down.

And so we got together amongst us and just decided that we could afford to give the city a little bit more money. And we went to the city council and suggested that they increase our gross receipts tax from point one two percent to one point eight percent which is a fifteen fold increase. And happy to say that tax was approved by the voters and and so now Oakland is seeing some real, tangible benefits out of the cannabis sales that are taking place here.

Dean Becker: Now, let’s talk about again, your facility. I mean you’re as you say, paying double the minimum wage, you’re providing health insurance, imagine that in this modern America. And you are doing your part to help protect the assets of the community, to keep the doors open for the children’s facility, et cetera.

It seems rather strange that there are those still who stand against your efforts. You want to talk about some of the, I don’t know how to say it, some of the nay sayers that continue to say this will be a problem?

Steve De Angelo: Well there continues to be a problem with safe access in California despite the rising tide of public opinion. In about fifty percent of the jurisdictions in the state medical cannabis sales are prohibited either through bans or moratorium.

And you know my belief is that for the most part people who are still opposed to us are operating on misconceptions or at least out dated perceptions that medical cannabis is a brings harm to communities, that it brings criminal behavior to communities and that it drives down property values in areas where it’s located.

You know we have shown very definitively over the course of the last three years that that is not true. In fact if you go and talk to my regulators at the city of Oakland what they will tell you is that the neighborhoods that the medical cannabis dispensaries have located in have all been elevated by our presence. That the amount of litter and the amount of loitering has been reduced, that the amount of crime has been reduced. That neighborhoods have been beautified. That additional traffic has been brought to neighboring merchants. And that in fact we have really done nothing but add value to our immediate community.

So I think that the task for us a movement is to engage with people who still have these fears and these reservations and demonstrate to them that we are worthy of the trust that we are asking for. That in fact it is possible to distribute cannabis in a way that is safe and seemly and responsible. That doesn’t threaten their communities. That does not present a danger to their children or their property values or their peace and tranquility.

Dean Becker: We’re speaking with Mr. Steve De Angelo. He’s executive director of the Harborside Health Center, a marijuana dispensary out there in Oakland, California. And if you would like to take a video tour, I would suggest you go to my youtube site which is youtube.com/fdbecker, scroll down a couple of links there and you’ll you can take a tour of Harborside with us.

Now Steve, let’s talk about the services you provide. You talked about you provide massages and other facilities and ways that people can improve their lives there at your site, right?

Steve De Angelo: Yeah we have a number of different patient services. Harborside Health Center is a not for profit community service organization. So we any net retained earnings that we have we recirculate back to our patients and to the community in the form of patient services and charitable donations.

Those services include a holistic care clinic which is completely free to any medical cannabis patient regardless of whether or not they make a purchase here
And we provide free acupuncture, chiropractic, [ ], western herbalism, [ ] and three or four other different holistic healing techniques.

We also have a patient activist resource center where we teach and encourage patients to become activists and stand up for their own rights. So patients come in, we provide them with contact information for their elected representatives, for letters to the editor, for prisoners who are in federal prison on medical cannabis charges. They sit down and use our dedicated fax, phone and computer to lobby for an hour and at the end of that hour we give them a gram of medicine for free.

That program is coupled with our care package program. Under our care package program low income patients bring us some documentary proof of their status, a social security check or an unemployment check, something like that and we put them on the program which entitles them to come in once a week and pick up a free gram and a half of medicine.

Dean Becker: Because the nature of your business it’s necessary that you purchase this cannabis because it has value that must be reimbursed through sales. But then as you say the profits go to help with these other services. But you also make it possible for people to grow their own and to longer even need to buy from you, right, through sales of clones and seeds, right?

Steve De Angelo: We do. We really encourage patients to learn how to grow cannabis and to start growing their own cannabis. And hopefully grow a little bit more than they need for their own purposes and bring it back to Harborside so that we can distribute it to the majority of patients who are unable to grow their own medicine.

So to help in this process we sell clones or cuttings of small cannabis plants. And we also have the United States’ widest selection of cannabis seeds. And every Sunday from two pm to six pm we have a grow your own medicine seminar where at different times of the day we teach various different levels of expertise cannabis one o one beginners and advanced levels, how to set up a garden and grow cannabis effectively.

So we hope to encourage patients to become self sufficient and then beyond that to start cultivating cannabis for other patients as well.

Dean Becker: Steve I got a chance to tour your facility as I indicated that video is online: youtube.com/fdbecker. And you have a host of products that are available depending on the nature of the illness or the malady. And let’s talk about what is available.

Steve De Angelo: Well, of course we have the traditional forms of cannabis, cannabis flowers. We usually have about thirty to forty different selections of cannabis flowers on our bar at any given day. They range in price from ten or fifteen dollars a gram to about seventeen dollars a gram. We also have a wide variety of cannabis concentrates also known as hashish, usually about twenty selections there.

But more excitingly we are seeing a lot of new innovative forms of cannabis medicine. So at Harborside Health Center you can also buy capsules, tinctures, sublingual sprays, chewing gum, a variety of cocoa and hot drink mixes, crackers, cookies, lozenges and we even have a topical lotion which is used on the skin which is entirely non psychoactive but is tremendously effective for arthritis and other joint and muscle pains.

Dean Becker: Once again we are speaking with Mr. Steve De Angelo, executive director of the Harborside Health Center, Oakland, California. Steve I want to give you a chance to I don’t know kick some folks in the butt, to motivate them. As you say you provide the means whereby people learn how to write letters or their congressmen. The time is ripe, the iron is hot. It’s time to get this job done, isn’t it?

Steve De Angelo: Well, it sure is. You know for years and years and years it felt like history was frozen. I remember all through the seventies and the eighties and the nineties really working hard on behalf of cannabis and not getting very far. Finally now we have seen a thaw and history is moving again and it’s possible to for at least some period of time for us all to rise up and get together and put our shoulders to the job and really effect some real change.

I think it’s if you see what’s going on all across the country you see that that in places where you would not expect cannabis to medical cannabis to be successful. It has been. Look at Montana for example or Arizona. These are states where people normally wouldn’t expect there to be a lot of activism and a lot of change. But in fact it has been possible to do that.

And so you know I would say to all of the cannabis people who are listening that it’s time to for us to join together. It’s time for us to get in touch with our elected representatives. It’s time for us to talk to our neighbors and to our family. It’s time for us to come out of the closet. It’s time for us to stand up and be counted. This is our time. It may not last forever brothers and sisters. Now is our time. Let’s not let this time when history is actually moving pass us by without getting our piece of freedom.

Dean Becker: OK once again, that was Steve De Angelo, director Harborside Health Center, Oakland California, the perhaps the world’s largest marijuana dispensary. Here in just a couple of minutes we want to take your calls. No guest here in studio, it’s holiday season. I want to talk to you, want to hear from you.

Our number locally 713 526 5738 or you can call from anywhere in North America toll free to 1 877 9 420 420. Lets finish that up with Steve De Angelo, a couple of little messages and then we want to hear from you.

Dean Becker: You know Steve, here in Texas they did a poll about medical marijuana, came out seventy-six percent in favor.

Steve De Angelo: And so the job falls to us to to demonstrate and show the politicians the level of public support that’s out there. It doesn’t happen unless local activists make it happen. You need to start showing up at your city council meetings. You need to start showing up at your state legislatures. You need to contact Americans for Safe Access and start a chapter in your town. This is happening. It is possible. We can all be free; we need to do it now.

Dean Becker: Alright friends, we have been speaking with Mr. Steve De Angelo executive director of the Harborside Health Center in Oakland. Steve, your website? Any closing thoughts?

Steve De Angelo: Website is harborsidehealthcenter.com. It’s pretty much spelled the way it sounds, all one word: harborsidehealthcenter.com.

I would just say in parting that you know this is it’s really a tremendously exciting time for all of us. And I encourage anybody who has not yet gotten active in the movement to stop waiting. Now is really the time to get this job done.


Opening up a can of worms and going fishing for truth. This is the Drug Truth Network. drugtruth.net


What gives the drug war life?
Is it the cartels?
Maybe it’s the Baptists, the bankers, the gangs or the cops.
Who’s in charge?
Which politicians, peasant farmers, big pharma?
Is it the street corner vendor?
Is it you? Is it me?
It is fear that gives the drug war life.


Coming in like a communist, it’s knocking at our doors turning all our children into hooligans and whores. Voraciously devouring the way things are today savagely deflowering that good old USA. It’s reefer madness, reefer madness.


Dean Becker: Alright. This is the Century of Lies show. I am so glad you’re with us for this holiday show. I love you guys. I work to give you a better future. I think you know that and I think you are beginning to work to give all of us a better future as well. Everybody is getting more enlightened, more emboldened, more courageous in this.

We have a couple of callers on line. Real quick I want to give you the number. We’ll have time for three or four calls maybe. Our number locally 713 526 5738. Toll free north America 1 877 9 420 420. Anthony called and got cut off on our earlier show. You’re on the air. Anthony what you got in mind?

Caller: Yes sir thank you. Thanks for what you do for the purpose. And there’s so many people here in the state of Texas and in the Houston area that rely on the medical use of marijuana. But we get ourselves in trouble when we have to go into the ghettos and all the dangerous parts of town to receive what we need to stay alive.

And the politicians they don’t care. Because all it does is pushes into getting criminalized and they make their money off the back door coming through us being in jail.

Dean Becker: Anthony I have often thought of that situation. They make the laws where if you have more than a quarter ounce, if you have more than an ounce, if you have more than four ounces, if you have more than a pound that each one of those increases your chance of peril.

And yet the truth of it is that if you could buy it in a reasonable amount at a reasonable price, well there wouldn’t be any crime or traffic or problem at all, right?

Caller: Exactly. It’s I mean people it’s think of it as just a political viewpoint but there’s people out there that really have to have it to survive every day. And they are going to do whatever it takes that’s their illness. They know that’s the cure to their illness.

They know that whether it’s cancer or diabetes or any of the following you know, they just have to have it. And they’re going to get it no matter what it takes. And there are people out there willing to pay the state taxes on it or the federal taxes. It’s OK, charge us, we have money. We’re going to keep the money circulating and we just need to get it legalized, do whatever it takes or lessen the laws.

Dean Becker: You’re absolutely right Anthony. I mean it boils down to we we we have to legitimize it. Take the profits away from the cartels and the criminals and let the coffers of the state and the pharmacy and the legitimate companies make those profits. OK, John’s been holding the longest, line two, you’re on the air.

Caller: Yeah Dean I want to say I really respect what you’re doing. And what I am going to relate to you, you may not believe fully. But I am going to tell you the absolute truth what happened to me in o seven.

I was drugged by the Houston police department. And I don’t know what kind of drug it was. Here’s what went down. I got in a fight in Houston and I was taken to their substation. And one of the officers came by cell. I was laying on my bunk. And he said, do you want some chronic. And the last time I smoked any marijuana was back in 96.

And so I said, initially I said yes as a knee jerk reaction. Then I said wait what does it do to you. I didn’t know that it was a form of marijuana. So then next thing I know they evidently drugged my food. And I and I there was the phenomenon of a green fog falling down from the frontal lobe of my brain from top to bottom.

And after that something was telling me to get up out of my bunk and I thought it was just either me or you know I didn’t really know what was happening. After that green fog fell down. So I get up out of my bunk and the same mental precept says stand with your back against the wall.

So I did and I noticed this officer sitting at a computer you know with his back to me. And the next question was where are the bodies. Evidently he was thinking that he was communicating with me mentally. Now my question to you is number one is…

Dean Becker: Make it quick John, we have got other callers here.

Caller: OK, number one is if the law enforcement is so against drugs, why are they drugging people that that are in their jails. Number two is do you have any idea what kind of drug that really might have been?

Dean Becker: John I tell you what I am going to answer that quick as I can. First off I have no idea what drug would cause those symptoms. Secondarily, it doesn’t surprise me that perhaps they would do such a thing because heck the CIA back in the late fifties and sixties was giving LSD to thousands of people all across America just to see what would happen to them. But yeah insofar as the HPD, well, no comment. I am trying to make friends with them. I am trying to get some interviews. But but John thank…

Caller: Do you think it could have been PCP?

Dean Becker: Well again I I can’t answer that because after all nobody knows what’s in the bag because of prohibition. Let’s go to Wayne on line four. You have some thoughts you would like to share?

Caller: Hey Dean, how you doing?

Dean Becker: I am good. Your thoughts, please.

Caller: My thoughts is this drug war is a total waste of money. We got better things we can put our money to. They ain’t stopped nothing. I have called you before. I lost a daughter because of a drug overdose.

Dean Becker: Yes sir.

Caller: And it’s just ridiculous the way it’s going. We got to stop wasting our money and putting it towards other…

Dean Becker: Wayne thank you for that and I I sympathize with the loss of your daughter. I mean the fact of it is is that in a legalized circumstance if there was concerns of an overdose they could have easily picked up the phone and called for help and gotten it.

And under the current circumstance kids are afraid to you know well we’ll let it pass or we’ll hope for the best or you know we’ll take our chances. And no one should be having to take their chances because of the threat of you know years if not decades in prison.

Wayne I want to wish you a I hope a merry Christmas. I look for the day when you and I and all the others that have called in can get together. And in fact I am going to try to you know put together a LEAP chapter. We had some efforts going in that regard last year.

And I think the iron is hot. It’s time here in this part of the world to put our minds and our hearts and our backs to it and to bring about some changes. You know that’s really the point that Houston in particular we do shows on it, leads the world in its incarceration.

We have anew DA who gives us a little bit of hope. We’ll see how that goes. We got time for one more call. Mark, you’re on the air.

Caller: Yeah I have two questions. One if them is you all talk about medical marijuana all the time, what about marijuana for the general public?

Dean Becker: Well, OK. You want to do them one at a time. I tell you this. I am a medical user, I have a doctor’s recommendation out of California. I am a recreational user. I use it because I like it and it keeps me from drinking alcohol. And I am a sacramental user. I am a minister and I believe it was put on this earth as it says in the first chapter of the first page of the bible, for our good.

Caller: I agree with you.

Dean Becker: Yes sir, your second…

Caller: My second question is what about [ ] the laws for like applying for jobs for urine tests.

Dean Becker: Well that again…

Caller: I had a job offer, they were going to give me the job. But when I went to go take it I passed, I failed because of marijuana.

Dean Becker: Well and Mark that brings to mind, you see the thing is you were good enough. Your credentials were good, your attitude was good, your discussion was good. They could see you’re a legitimate worker. They wanted you to go to work for you and because your urine failed the test you were deemed not good enough. I we’re going to have to do another show on that here real soon. Mark I want to thank you. We’re going to have to cut it off for now.

Caller: I also want to say one more thing.

Dean Becker: Quick.

Caller: I believe they keep it the revolving door with the law with keeping people running through the system.

Dean Becker: Well you nailed it, you nailed it. Mark, thank you.

To all the Drug Truth Network listeners, I I thank you. As I said earlier wish you all a happy Hanukah, a great Kwanza, a merry Christmas, happy Ramadan, winter solstice, good family gatherings, legitimate discussions, the courage and the willingness to speak up and the chance to help us make a difference.

As always I remind you that there’s no truth, justice, logic, scientific fact, medical data, no reason for this drug war to exist. We have been duped. The drug lords run both sides of this equation. Please do your part to help end this madness. Visit our website, endprohibition.org.

Prohibido istac evilesco.

For the Drug Truth Network this is Dean Becker, asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.

The Century of Lies.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston