10/07/20 Deborah Small

Century of Lies
Deborah Small
Break the Chains

Undoing The War On Drugs: Hope, Healing, and Measure 110. The Partnership for Safety and Justice recently held a webinar on Oregon Ballot Measure 110, the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act. We’ll hear some of the speakers including Andy Ko, the executive director of the PSJ; Deborah Peterson Small, longtime policy reform advocate and the executive director of Break The Chains; Haven Wheelock, syringe services coordinator at the Portland area service agency Outside In; and moderator Talia Gad, Communications Coordinator for PSJ.

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06/19/19 Deborah Small

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Deborah Small
Drug Policy Alliance

JUNETEENTH: Deborah Small of Drug Policy Alliance and Neill Franklin of Law Enforcement Action Partnership discuss racism in America, from time of Lincolns freeing the slaves, till the current date.

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JUNE 19, 2019


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.

This is Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High, and boy do we have a show for you today.

Folks, this is June Nineteenth, that's the first day this show is broadcast on KPFT, the mothership of the Drug Truth Network. It's a date that the information filtered down that President Lincoln had freed the slaves back during the Civil War, and it's a time to kind of reflect on, that was a good idea, it was not the solution to the full situation, that racism certainly still exists today.

It's best expressed I think through our nation's drug war, but we have with us today a woman who has studied this for decades, who worked extensively with the Drug Policy Alliance. She has her own organization, her own mindset, the Break The Chains perspective, and with that I want to welcome my sister in drug policy, a woman I greatly admire for her expertise, Ms. Deborah Small.. Hello, Deborah.

DEBORAH SMALL, JD: Hi, how are you?

DEAN BECKER: You know, I don't think we need to talk too much about Juneteenth exactly, but we do need to talk about the fact that it has -- that racism still exists quite widely across our nation. Right?

DEBORAH SMALL, JD: Well, I think that it's important to talk about Juneteenth, because the way that it's been framed and defined as if that was the date that the news filtered down that the war was over, but in reality, the plantation owners kept the news from the formerly enslaved people until after the harvest.

DEAN BECKER: Back in that day, they even had bibles that were built excluding certain items and focusing on other items, which kind of led the slaves to believe that the bible was, you know, appropriate for slavery.

DEBORAH SMALL, JD: Well, I mean, I'm not that much of a bible reader, so I'm going to leave off commenting about that because a lot of people take that very seriously. What I would say though is that, you know, those who write history get to control the perception of it.

And so I think that one of the things that is part of the American myth, that, where, [inaudible] right now, is the fact that while we legally ended the practice of holding other people as property, we haven't gotten rid of a lot of the policies that allow us to continue to do that.

And that's true whether you're talking about the system of mass incarceration that targets, you know, people of color, particularly black men, for long prison sentences for relatively minor crimes, to what we see happening at the border, where migrants fleeing violence, trying to save their lives, are being called criminals and put behind bars, children as young as under a year ripped from their parents because they've been charged with the ostensible crime of illegal border crossing.

It's a particular mindset that allows people to be treated as less than human, and while we got rid of the formal legal recognition of that, when slavery was abolished, we have not changed that mindset, and it's been able to mark itself and manifest itself in many different ways over the period since the end of the Civil War, and we're seeing some of the most ugly and brutal aspects of that in our current politics today.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, we are. You know, many folks don't realize that, when someone gets locked up, somebody pays for it. Most often if it's in a county jail, then the state is providing money in support of that, and it, you know, it winds up in somebody's pocketbook. It's always a means to manipulate people and currency. It's an evil construct in my opinion. Your thought.

DEBORAH SMALL, JD: Well, I don't think that the fact that the public has to pay for prisons is the biggest problem with prisons, because the truth is that the public has made a choice to prefer to invest in prisons rather than invest in education and housing and healthcare.

But that's a separate conversation. I think what's particularly remarkable, given our current situation, is that we see crimes being committed on a major scale by businesses, by people who run businesses, by people in government, by people who run our government, and yet that behavior, of ruining the environment, raiding our pension plans, undermining the health and well being of the majority of the people, is not considered criminal.

We'd rather fill our jails and prisons with people whose major problem is that they have a substance abuse problem or a mental health problem.

DEAN BECKER: Wow. That's why I call on you, Deborah. Look, the whole point of my program over these decades I've been doing this now is to educate and to embolden Joe and Jolene Citizen out there to recognize the failure, the horrors we create, and to do something about it, and I guess, Deborah, this is probably an impossible question to answer, but, what more can we do to motivate those folks, to get on board, to be a part of the solution to this problem?

DEBORAH SMALL, JD: Well, I think that this is an opportunity for us to really look at the sickness in our culture, as it, to me, it relates to the issue of Juneteenth, because the original sickness in our culture was believing that it was okeh to acquire wealth through the rape of your land, through the genocide of its original people, and through the exploitation of people who were brought over here and forced to work the land in order to make a few people wealthy.

That's the original sin, the original capitalist enterprise upon which the United States was built, and until we're willing to reckon with the reality of that, and all of the things that have flowed from that over the years that we're still dealing with, we're not going to be able to create the kind of economy and society that works for everyone.

DEAN BECKER: Look, Deborah, we have, and by that I mean drug reformers, we have made progress over the decades, but I look at some older interviews and I see where we have been saying the same thing for decades, that the truth that we see writ so large, but is still being ignored by others. Are people just too in tune with their television, with their work, with their kids' school, to actually recognize what we have crafted, what we have maintained, all these decades?

DEBORAH SMALL, JD: Well, I mean, you know, I think it goes back to what I was saying. It's like we don't have a society and a culture that values the worth of the whole. We have a very individualistic culture in which people focus on what it is that they can get for themselves, regardless of its impact on the broader society, the broader culture, and the broader world.

In many ways, I feel that Donald Trump is America's Dorian Gray. For those who are familiar with the story by Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray was about a man who managed to stay young and beautiful and handsome and charming throughout the years, much to the surprise and dismay of his friends.

But he had a secret portrait in his closet, which over the years manifested every horrible thing that he did. And as the time went by, and he did more horrible things, the portrait got uglier and uglier, while he continued to look young and beautiful.

Well, in many ways, America is like that. We've maintained a view of ourselves as being young and innocent and pure and virile and all sorts of good things, and ignored all of the horrible things that we've done in terms of human exploitation, in terms of resource exploitation, in terms of marginalizing whole communities of people, and basically having an economic system that relies and based its focus on consumerism, individual consumerism, as opposed to a more communitarian form of living.

And in many ways, Donald Trump is that picture, out of the closet. You know, in many ways, he represents and manifests for us all of the things about ourselves that we've kept hidden, and pretended weren't so.

And so for me, this is an opportunity for us to look and say, what kind of people do we want to be? What kind of country do we want to be?

Do we want to be ignorant bullies that think that you can somehow threaten your way to success? Or do we want to look for a more cooperative form of interacting with each other and our -- the rest of the world that enables all of us to have the potential to thrive instead of our current course that basically is going towards mutual destruction.

DEAN BECKER: Whoa. I couldn't sum it up any better, I could not focus near as well as you have on that issue. Deborah Small, I want to thank you for being our guest here on Cultural Baggage. I want to offer you the chance to share some closing thoughts, perhaps a website. Your close, please.

DEBORAH SMALL, JD: Well, I'm thinking about, you know, the fact that in many ways we celebrated and should celebrate the ending of slavery the same way that we celebrated and should celebrate the granting of voting rights to women and the extension of civil rights and civil liberties that we see throughout the last thirty, fifty, a hundred years.

But right now we're faced with a time that many of those rights are under threat, and I think that when we think about the jubilation that the newly freed people felt when they learned that slavery was over, we need to ask ourselves, is there anything that's happening currently that makes us feel that level of elation and jubilation, and if not, why not, and if not now, when?

DEAN BECKER: You just knocked it out of the park, Deborah, thank you very much.

DEBORAH SMALL, JD: You're welcome.

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 court room 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.

Friends, I'm proud to be bringing you the voice of one of my friends, my allies, one of the boldest, staunchest supporters of ending this war on drugs, heads up Law Enforcement Action Partnership here in these United States, a longtime friend and ally, my compadre, Major Neill Franklin. How are you, Neill?

NEILL FRANKLIN: I'm well, Dean. Thanks for having me on. I really appreciate every time you bring me on your show.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Neill, I'm proud, you know, we're up well past seven thousand shows we've done over the years, and we bring a particular focus to various aspects of this drug war.

But one that, well, we delve into quite frequently but it needs more recognition, this is airing today on Juneteenth, June Nineteenth, here in Houston on the mothership station of the Drug Truth Network.

Well, Neill, we are celebrating Juneteenth, especially down south here, I think, in recognition of when the word of the slaves being freed by President Lincoln filtered down south, and it's been recognized for well over a hundred years now, and it just brings to mind that it's not over yet, is it?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Well, see, this is why it's kind of emotional for me, because, you know, we always hear people talking about, well, you know, we ended slavery back in the 1800s, you know. You always hear the conversations about, you know, you've got to move forward, you've got to get over it.

You know, we ventured through the civil rights movement, always a struggle, you know, the -- just for equity, man, you know, just for opportunity. And, you know, it seems like around every corner there's something else that you have to watch out for.

We've never had the proper indepth conversation about racism yet in this country. One of the things that we really try to do is keep an eye on policy that prohibits, you know, African Americans from obtaining equity, of being able to move forward.

And as you know, Dean, the war on drugs was significant, a significant piece of policy, prohibition, that greatly affected, still greatly affects the black community to this day, and will, unfortunately, in the unforeseen future.

You know, and there continue to be policies. I mean, at one time -- here, I want to have a conversation with you about what we're beginning to see with other pieces of policy that are being proposed, such as the ban on menthol tobacco products, and people are, like, probably listening and saying, well, what does that have to do with, you know, this conversation?

But, if you -- just give me one quick second here, I've got to talk about this, because here is, we're trying to unravel the war on drugs, and all the devastating effects of that, especially in the black community, from incarceration numbers to many other issues.

Right now, in communities all across this country, San Francisco, Oakland, it's being proposed in LA, New York City, they're trying to ban menthol tobacco products. Now don't get me wrong, I don't want anyone smoking cigarettes. We know we lose thousands of people every year due to consumption of tobacco.

But, here's the thing. Of all the blacks who smoke cigarettes, 78 percent of blacks prefer and use menthol tobacco products. Dean, what do you think would happen if we were to ban tobacco, menthol tobacco, in a city like Baltimore, where close to 70 percent of the population of Baltimore is black? You know?

DEAN BECKER: Well, you give me a chance to answer that one. I will say this, in the beginning, it will create shortages, it will create a black market, hell, it will lead to violence before it's over.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Thank you very much. And this is what's happening. People aren't doing their due diligence, the -- to say, okeh, what would be the effects? What would be the problems? You see, because right off the bat, people who don't have jobs, people who have criminal records, you know, from the war on drugs, they're going to do whatever it takes to make money.

So what are they going to do? They're going to go to Richmond, Virginia. They're going to bring cigarettes up from Richmond, Virginia, into Baltimore, you know, they're going to create and establish an underground market for menthol tobacco products.

See, we're just not going to stop smoking menthol cigarettes. We're going to create our own underground market, and when that happens, Dean, law enforcement, the police, will be roped into it. Go find the cigarettes, go find the menthol cigarettes, by any means necessary, and we know what happens then.

So, I mean, so I just had to say that, just to make a point, that, as we talk about Juneteenth, you know, at every turn, around every corner, there seems to be another piece of proposed policy that will adversely effect the black community.

And we really have to keep an eye out for it, we really have to keep our ear to the ground, and examine every piece of proposed policy, especially when it has something to do with our criminal justice system.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I would throw this into this equation as well. We have Eric Garner, a black man, selling cigarettes --


DEAN BECKER: -- single cigarettes --


DEAN BECKER: -- on the streets of New York. He was singled out, the police found time to focus on him, selling cigarettes one at a time, and killed the man.

NEILL FRANKLIN: This is a time when we finally recognize, you know, what bad policy can do to a community, especially our communities of color. This is a time when we should really pay close attention to these proposals and make every effort that we can to move the police from trying to solve, for instance, health issues with criminal justice strategies and practices.

So, this goes to the place of police should be protecting people from people, not being concerned with consensual adult behavior that may be harmful to your health.

I'm sixty years old. If I want to go smoke a menthol cigarette, I should be able to do that. If I want to go smoke marijuana, I should be able to do that. If I want to use any of these drugs that are out here, I should be able to do that. As far as the government is concerned, just make it as safe as possible for me if I decide to do that, like we do with alcohol.

DEAN BECKER: Very good points. Friends, we are speaking with Major Neill Franklin, now retired, he's the executive director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership.

Neill, I think about -- what you were talking about kind of brings to mind that this is oversight. This is babysitting every adult in America. This is -- this is, you know, protecting us from ourselves at the point of a gun, and it's just -- it's gone off the rails, has it not?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Well, it definitely has.

DEAN BECKER: What we have right now is a lot of agencies, a lot of media, even some politicians in certain countries talking about legalizing drugs, actually controlling these drugs, the distribution, the purity, robbing the gangs and the cartels of their source of income.

What we have been talking about, what we have preaching about all these years, now decades, it's starting to get the focus it deserves. Am I right?

NEILL FRANKLIN: It really is. We're really seeing it actually, the end of prohibition of marijuana, of cannabis, in this country. Canada has already taken a huge step forward, and now we're starting to have those needed conversations about opiates, you know, we're really starting to talk about medical assisted treatment, you know, where we are going -- you know, and this is how it should be.

The primary focus here should be the sanctity of life. Right? So what do we need to do regarding these policies to keep people alive, okeh? You know, countries in Europe have recognized this years ago, decades ago. So they have medical assisted treatment in Switzerland.

They, you know, they have programs where if you're addicted to something like heroin you can go to a center, you know, multiple times a day to get pharmaceutical grade heroin so that you stay alive, so that you can receive counseling, so that you can receive wrap around services, and when you find out that you're ready, you know, you can then, you know, make the attempt to become drug free.

And if that doesn't work for you, you know what, it might be heroin maintenance for the rest of your life, but, at least you are alive, at least you are no longer in a position where you feel you have to commit crimes to satisfy your need to get the money for the drugs that you crave.

You know, you can live with your family, you can live a chaos free life, just as someone who might be on insulin for diabetes for the rest of their life.

This is what we're beginning to realize, and we've got the momentum and we've just got to keep it going.

DEAN BECKER: Well, we still have the die hards, the recalcitrant bastards like we do here in Texas, where they just absolutely refuse to even recognize medical marijuana. They're still spouting hundred year old propaganda, reefer madness, as if it were still valid.

But we do have many others that are stepping forward, and what I'm really thrilled about is that nearly every one of these Democratic candidates is talking about legalizing marijuana. They talk about ending the war on drugs without many specifics, like we were talking about, with like the heroin maintenance.

But, they're at least broaching the subject. The future looks a little brighter. Your closing thoughts there, Major Neill Franklin.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Well, so, you're absolutely right. I think we've finally turned the corner regarding our elected officials, that if you do not support ending the prohibition of marijuana, if you do not support leading this effort of drug abuse with health solutions, health centered solutions, you know, you're not going to get elected.

So, the people, by far, are looking for leaders who are willing to end all of this madness in some way. If you are, as you said, one of the die hards, one of the dinosaurs that's still hanging around and you're still spouting this, you know, the warmongering about, you know, for instance, you know, marijuana being the gateway drug to other things, and if you're still hanging onto those positions, you know what? You're not going to be elected, or reelected.

I do believe it's a new day, and I'm really looking forward to this next presidential election because, I'm going to tell you right now, if you don't support what people are now pushing for, you're not going to be one of the final candidates for the presidency.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Neill, it occurs to me, you know, this is a show that recognizes, or is aligned with, or recog -- you know, dealing with Juneteenth. The freedom of the black community, and, I hate to say this, but it's true, we have, by that I mean the whites, have taken it upon themselves to control the blacks for their intakes. That's what started a hundred and fifty years ago, or hundreds of years ago, and it's like blacks cannot be trusted so the police give major focus to black communities, black neighborhoods, black kids, and it's -- it's horrible. Your response there, Neill.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Yeah. You know it is. Back in 1865, you know, it may have been, you know, this may be a celebration of emancipation, but I'm telling you, and freedom, but we're far from it, Dean. We are really far from it.

And I think one of the things that we're seeing, at least with this administration, is that a lot has been, and continues to be, in shadows of, you know, regarding policies and regarding true freedom for blacks in this country.

So we still have a lot of work to do. We still have a long way to go. And we've just got to keep on fighting, and again, I appreciate what you and the station are doing regarding this, and bringing this to the forefront in your conversations, so I really appreciate it. It's really important.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Once again, that was Major Neill Franklin, now retired, heads up Law Enforcement Action Partnership, out there on the web at If you want one of us, one of us who has worn the badge or pounded the gavel or otherwise worked in the criminal justice system to come talk to your organization, please get in touch with us.

Neill, thank you, sir.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Thanks a lot, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: The following is a Drug Truth Network editorial.

Major media is a whore, a prostitute, a sleazy gathering of mindless idiots, putting forward two sides of an equation as if the drug war had a reason to exist, as if we were not allowing terrorists to make billions of dollars each year because of our fear of flowers.

The media continues to spread lies and innuendo on behalf of eternal drug prohibition, pretending logic and controlling the supply of drugs, and pretending it is possible despite a history of well documented failures.

Drug war corruption happens every day in America, it is given blessings at every level of government. The supposed morals of those who believe in drug war should give everyone concern.

Those who believe in eternal prohibition are not concerned that five hundred billion dollars are gathered each year by terrorists, cartels, and vicious gangs. They do not care that drugs are now cheaper, more available to our children, and deadlier than ever before.

They have claimed the moral high ground, and must be thrown off their perch, forever denied the bully pulpit. Incrementalism makes a lot of folks feel they're doing all they can for reform. Not true.

Until we challenge their morals, their methods, the madness will continue to increase because they need the madness to turn on its head, to justify their declaration of an eternal war on the law of supply and demand, a war they know that can never be won, but that pays so very well.

Please be sure to join us next week. I hope to have Mister Ray Lakerman, he's a British citizen who lost two of his sons to drug overdoses, but a man who now wants to legalize all drugs. Again I remind you, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. Please, be careful.

To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the unvarnished truth. Cultural Baggage is a production of the Pacifica Radio Network. Archives are permanently stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. And we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.

06/03/18 Paul Stanford

Century of Lies
Paul Stanford
Deborah Small
Patients Out Of Time

This week we hear from Paul Stanford and Teressa Raiford at the Global Marijuana March in Portland, Oregon, and from Deborah Small at the Patients Out of Time conference in Jersey City.

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JUNE 3, 2018

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

DOUG MCVAY: Welcome to Century Of Lies. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of

A lot of stuff this week, so let's get to it. First the Global Marijuana March was May Fifth. Got some good audio from that, and we're going to hear some of that now.

I'm speaking with my good friend Paul Stanford. He is the founder and director of the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp. He has been an activist for peace and social justice and marijuana reform for as long or longer than me and that's honestly saying quite a lot. Paul, how the heck are you doing, man?

PAUL STANFORD: I'm doing really well, you know, I remember back in 1984 when we both came here to Oregon, with Jack Herer, and to follow John Sajo, to work on the second marijuana petition in the history of the United States. And we've been at it ever since. I'm doing well. thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: I'm glad, I tell you, we've made a lot of progress.

PAUL STANFORD: That's true. That's true. There's more to be made, we're not there a hundred percent yet. There's a lot of places you can be thrown in jail, and there are people in prison here in the United States for life without the possibility of parole, some being executed, so, there's farther to go.

DOUG MCVAY: We're here at the Global Marijuana March, some may ask, as they do every year, when it's Hempstalk, or whether it's Hempfest, or any of the other reasons, they always ask, well, you've got partial legalization, you've got, you know, medical for people who can afford their own homes or who have a caregiver. So why are you still out here? Why are we still out here, Paul?

PAUL STANFORD: Because we need to educate people that hemp should be used for fuel, should be used for fiber, should be used instead of alcohol in most cases, in our opinion. So -- and to educate people about, you know, the oldest and most productive crop. Hemp's been cultivated over 25,000 years.

We could replace almost all petroleum and almost all plastic with hemp derived seed oil. Protein, fiber, and until we can make those ecological changes, the, you know, hemp is good medicine for people, but it's also medicine for the earth. And so, we have to educate people about that. We're not there yet.

DOUG MCVAY: Now, behind me, behind us on the stage right now is our good friend Elvy Musikka, talking about legalization, reform, and all the good work she's doing. She and I were guests on your local show here. You do a show here in Portland. How long have you been doing that?

PAUL STANFORD: Twenty-two years. We started in 1996. I was on other people's shows in the late '80s and early '90s here in Portland, and somebody asked me, a guy named Lanny Swerdlow, who's very active in California still today, he lived here in Portland and did the first 120 shows, and that was back in 1996, so we've done almost a thousand shows over twenty-two years.

DOUG MCVAY: And it's Cannabis Common Sense, right? Now, it's -- I used to have cable when I was, you know, living up here in southeast Portland, and I'd see your show on quite a lot, actually. I don't have cable anymore, but, I can still catch it online, right? It streams, Cannabis Common Sense streams. All right, where do you find it?

PAUL STANFORD: It streams live on our Facebook page, at, and it's also on Youtube. It doesn't stream live on Youtube, but it is posted generally within 24 or 48 hours, and just look up Cannabis Common Sense and you can see hundreds of them. Literally, we have an archive with 800 hours or more of video.

DOUG MCVAY: You had me, you had Elvy, obviously you have some great guests. Who are some of the other folks we'll end up finding?

PAUL STANFORD: You know, Jack Herer was on many times, Keith Stroup, the founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Lots of different people. Lawrence Cherniak back in the day, for those old enough to know who that guy is. The list goes on and on. Anthony Taylor, Anthony Johnson, Sarah Duff. Like I said, I could just keep naming people.

DOUG MCVAY: And you're naming people in the crowd, too, as I think about it, it's like, these are good.

So, I missed your -- didn't get a chance to tape you when you were speaking. What were you talking about, what do you hope the takeaways are that people get from what you had to say?

PAUL STANFORD: That hemp and cannabis still need further reform, further deregulation, and that it's the oldest and most productive crop, you know, it's been cultivated at least 25,000 years, maybe twice that, you know.

So, agriculture, civilization itself, sprang from hemp and cannabis, and we need to return to using hemp and cannabis for fuel, for plastics, biodegradable plastics, nontoxic alternatives.

DOUG MCVAY: So, any closing thoughts for the listeners, and, oh heavens, let's see, let's get the -- let me get your website here, too.

PAUL STANFORD: It's, that's, or you can go to

TERESSA RAIFORD: I'm Teressa Raiford, and I'm a candidate for mayor for 2020, and I'm also the founder of a social justice organization called Don't Shoot Portland, which seeks police accountability and community engagement.

DOUG MCVAY: Teressa, this is of course the Global Marijuana March. You were just up there speaking a moment ago. Lord knows whether my recording came off, so could you tell folks the gist of what you're trying -- what you hope people take away?

TERESSA RAIFORD: Well, one of the biggest things is the health access for people that are living in marginalized communities to marijuana, not only medical marijuana, but also recreational use, and not only just the marijuana form but also access to RSO oils and having access to them through our health departments and our programming that is supposed to help us legitimize the health resources that are found in the plants.

We all know the science behind it, but we haven't found any legislators or any political leaders in regards to building that health infrastructure and outreach and accessibility, and so that's something that I'm very serious about, because in the time that we were pushing for the legalization, in the forefront of my mind was the medical access and how we would integrate that into society.

Another thing that I'm standing here and I was speaking about from that platform was public consumption, public use and consumption, which goes again hand in hand with the medical necessity and also the recreational use of it.

We already know that a lot of times that police are saying that weed is a gateway drug, and they tend to criminalize certain communities for access and use of it, and so to take away that criminalization and the violence of being humiliated and prosecuted through our courts for something that we all know is legal, we've all spent our time and energy fighting for the legalization.

We need to start a social justice framework for use, and I think partnering with organizations like mine and activists that have been fighting for accessibility and the decriminalization of our bodies, that that makes sense. I said some things like we don't need people doing it for us, we need people to do it with us, and I also gave a call to action for the industry to use their funding to create the infrastructure and the outreach that needs to be done.

We used to have to depend on elected officials, we used to have to depend on people that had influence and access to power, but now we have growers, now we have budtenders, now we have people that are in the industry in several different capacities that actually have the financial power that it takes to build campaigns and build movements that are necessary and make change.

And I'm just hoping that that's something that happens. We need to build our own political leaders, and we need to start depending on what we know, and what we trust, because we've been right. We've been making it, but we don't have to move that slow as we have been.

DOUG MCVAY: Teressa, you -- you're a candidate here in Portland, you're -- the organization you work with, Don't Shoot PDX, is doing tremendous work. Drug policy reform movement, I know this is rooted in social justice, but a lot of people have come into it because they've heard of marijuana, the marijuana business. But, once they start doing it, I think they understand, this is about social justice.

What can people in drug policy reform, people like me, be doing to be better allies and to help support the work you're doing with Don't Shoot PDX, and some of the other work that you're doing generally?

TERESSA RAIFORD: Being a better ally 101 is hiring people from those marginalized communities to be a part of the outreach and the research that's going on, in order to develop systems that are not system of oppression and are not centered in white supremacy, you have to bring people that have been effected by those issues.

A lot of people that are well meaning, and now are seeing their whiteness and are seeing how the constructs have created the oppression of others, they still haven't seen fit the opportunity to put other people in a position to dismantle those systems.

And I think the only way to remove a noose from your neck is not to count on the same system that helped apply it, but to give power to those people that had it, and see what you can do to strengthen that up.

We have to do that. It takes courage and integrity, but like I said, right now, there's an overwhelming support system in place for this industry, and that gives you an opportunity to be more courageous than what legislative action would usually give us access to.

Legislators tell us it takes five years to get a bill passed, and that once that bill is passed that they'll have the funding to do the research to apply what needs to be applied in order to create structural change. We're already a part of the change, we're already in the structures, and now we have our own funding, so now we need to use that to mandate our own financing, build the leadership models that need to be done, and then duplicate them in different parts of the country.

DOUG MCVAY: Any closing thoughts for my listeners, and where can people find out more about the work that you do? Like, your website and also your twitter.

TERESSA RAIFORD: Awesome. My twitter is @Teressa_Raiford, and my website for my campaign is Teressa for Mayor PDX,, you could google, and you can go there and you can donate, you can volunteer, you can see our events.

These events are all on there. I'll be at the capitol in August, making sure that I back that up, all the stuff that we've been talking about. And also for Don't Shoot PDX, we do a lot of social justice work, education, and community outreach, and you can find more information about our work on

DOUG MCVAY: Teressa Raiford, thank you so much for all you do. Thank you.


DOUG MCVAY: Those are interviews with Paul Stanford and also Teressa Raiford.

And for me, this, this is our May Day. This is our day to reach out in solidarity with others and say, we are your neighbors, we're your friends, we're your family members. We smoke weed. We like weed. We think that pot should be legal.

And we ask you people to join with us in calling for that. It's not so we can have a party. I could have a party anytime. If it weren't for legalization and drug policy reform work, I'd have a lot more time for partying. All right? I'm doing this because it's important, because it's about freedom, because it's about justice, and it's because it's what's right.

Social justice is where it's at. There's a thing called harm reduction, where you try to reduce the harms that people do to themselves, and you manage the risks that people expose themselves to.

Drinking, drinking alcohol, maybe just one drink an hour so that your body metabolizes. That's called harm reduction. Not taking a shot of whiskey to wash down your opiates, that's harm reduction, because you could kill yourself doing that. Smoking marijuana to relieve your minor pains rather than taking an opioid, that's harm reduction. Okeh?

Simple concept. When we give out clean syringes to people who insist on injecting drugs, people who inject drugs are people too, they're our friends, they're our family members, they're our sisters and our brothers, they're our parents. They're our spouses. They're our partners. They're our friends. They're people. So we can either leave them to get sick and to die, or we can do something about it. Right?

Now, Portland, there are handful of people who've been working for a little while, and it's getting a little bigger, trying to put something together called a supervised injection facility. I know, a little off topic, this is a weed thing, but you know, we got here because of drug policy reform, and we got here, because people were willing to break the law to do what they think is right.

Now, we have a syringe exchange that's run by the county in this area, Multnomah County, a wonderful thing, but we need more because of the overdose crisis and because really resources are just being outstripped. So a lot of folks are working to get this area to consider a supervised consumption facility, a safe consumption space. A safe injection facility.

The city of New York is running close. King County Seattle is trying. They're trying to get this done in San Francisco, they hope to have it in fact by sometime this summer, down in San Francisco. Portland, it's our turn. We've been a leader in all this stuff. We've been a leader in marijuana legalization and medical marijuana, and in harm reduction, for a very long time.

It's because people like you come out to events like this and let elected leaders and officials and just these -- I'll be nice -- people in places like Studio On The Square, we let them know that we really are serious. That we want this stuff to change and we're not going to go away until it's happened. And frankly, we're still going to be here because it's still not going to be perfect, and there's still a lot of work to be done.

Sure we have medical, but god help you if you live in an apartment or federally subsidized housing. Sure, we have legalization, of course, do be careful if you try and consume out here, because it's illegal to consume in public, and there are very likely people who would have you arrested. And so, you know -- we ready? --

RAFAEL MARTINEZ, JR.: Whenever you're ready.

DOUG MCVAY: Okeh. I'm going to get through and wrap this up in a second. So here's the thing. Marijuana legalization is a great thing. Drug decriminalization is absolutely vital. Harm reduction is important.

All this stuff is why I do what I do. Again, my name is Doug McVay,, you can find a lot more information on all this stuff I've been talking about. I want to thank you all for being here. You are beautiful! Happy May Day!

Yes, that was me, I also spoke at the Global Marijuana March. I do go out in public every once in a while. That audio comes to us courtesy of Russ Belville, a journalist, radio talk host, host of The Marijuana Agenda, and of course from My good friend, Russ, I do thank him very much for that audio. You can also catch the video on Facebook, if you want to check it out.

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

Now, the Patients Out of Time conference did take place a week or so after that. One of the smartest people I've ever met, one of the best advocates I've ever met, Deborah Small, was one of the speakers. Let's hear from Deb.

DEBORAH SMALL: There are three main points that I want to leave you with in the conversation around children and families. The first has to do with this assertion I want to make, that I believe is true, that a marijuana arrest is more harmful to any person, particularly a young person, than the use of marijuana.

I want to just say that again: that when you're talking about harms, that the harm of an arrest for marijuana possession is more long lasting, to almost any individual, regardless of their age but particularly for a young person, than the use of marijuana. I don't know too many people who have engaged in violent or negative behavior under the influence of marijuana, but I know a lot of that has happened inside of our jails and prisons.

And in many ways, an arrest for marijuana acts as a form of "Head Start" to prison, and the thing I want to say around that, which I really think is important because when we were doing this work in New York, people would constantly say to us, but most of the people who are arrested for possession, they don't end up in prison. So it's really not that bad. They might get arrested, you know, they might spend a night in jail, but most of them are not going to prison so like what's the harm?

And I said to them, how would you feel about having to be strip searched, fingerprinted, have your personal information entered into a criminal justice database, because that's what happens for every person who's arrested, regardless of whether or not they end up going to jail or in prison. So I think it's important, when we talk about harms related to marijuana, that we actually distinguish between the issues related to mass incarceration and mass criminalization.

We have a conversation in the country right now that acknowledges that mass incarceration is a major problem and a waste of resources, but we don't have that same conversation around criminalization, which is why you get so little pushback to the idea of having drug tests as a requirement for all kinds of things, not just for public benefits, but in many school districts, young people have to be willing to submit to drug tests as a condition for being able to participate in school based activities, in athletic activities and extracurricular activities.

They have to prove that they're drug free. I wish they had the same rules for sugar, but, that's another conversation.

The second point I wanted to make is that there is a distinction between using drugs and having drugs use you. And for this I want to like draw on my experience as a parent. I raised my son in New York City, and because he knew me, he knew a lot of people who use drugs. Mostly marijuana, but not exclusively.

And so, he didn't grow up in a household that had a zero tolerance policy around drugs, or even a belief that drugs were bad. At the same token, as a parent, I didn't want my son using marijuana at 13 and 14. So I had a conversation with him around drugs, very similar to the conversation I had with him about sex, and the conversation was that both of those things were healthy, but, how good they would or would not be for you depended on who you were and how old you were when you initiated those activities.

So I didn't want him to think that sex was a bad thing. I'm like, sex is a great thing, but it will be better for you if you wait until you're old enough to be able to use it responsibly, than if you start having sex at 11, 12, 13, even though your hormones might be telling you to. I'm like delay.

That was the same conversation I had with him about drugs. People use drugs because they're good, because they make them feel good. I think we have this crazy conversation that somehow if you make kids believe that drugs are horrible things, that they won't use them, but that's not true. That's not why anybody ever used them. And personally I've always thought of addiction as being a good relationship gone bad.

So in the same way that I wanted my son to have healthy love relationships, I wanted him to have healthy relationships with drugs. So we discussed all the different drugs that were out there, and the ways in which people use them, and don't use them, and one of the things I did with him is I would walk around the neighborhood with him, and I would point out people, and I'm like, this is a person whose drugs are using them. They're not using the drugs, the drugs are using them.

I really want you to get the distinction. Now, on the other hand, you know, he had friends, I had friends, that were responsible, working adults who also used drugs responsibly. I'm like, this is the difference between using a drug and having the drug use you. The older you are when you initiate use, the more likely it is that you'll be able to use the drug as opposed to having it use you, because your brain will be developed enough for you to be able to figure out what moderation looks like for you.

Now, many of my son's friends had an issue with the fact that I engaged in drug education that way, and that I allowed my son to smoke in our home. My feeling was that as a harm reductionist, I much preferred to have him use marijuana in our house, where I could observe him and his friends, than have him out on the street, and be potentially subject to arrest, that I could make sure that he wasn't using marijuana and alcohol, and other drugs, and that he knew that -- and that I knew and he knew that the source of his marijuana was a place that wasn't going to taint it with things like PCP and other drugs.

I mean, I believe it's important to provide young people with the tools that they need to be able to engage in their lives as safely as possible. All parents want to shield their children from all harm, but unless we're going to wrap them up in a bubble and carry them around, we're not going to be able to do that.

So for me, I think it's really important to interact with young people in an age-appropriate way, and to give them the kinds of tools that will enable them to negotiate all the different experiences that they'll have in their lives as productively and safely as possible.

And then the third point that I wanted to make is that a pregnant woman is a person, not a baby delivery vehicle. And I know it should go without saying, but it seems like in this country we -- women lose their personhoods when they become pregnant, because the whole conversation becomes about what kind of vessel is she for the health of her baby?

Her own health becomes almost secondary, and all the other things that factor into her being healthy are considered unimportant except for her own individual behavior. And so, in that -- and it doesn't matter what kind of drug we're talking about. I mean, it's really interesting to me. People who have reasonable attitudes about alcohol become unreasonable when they're talking about women, and pregnancy.

Now, I'm not standing here as a person who's advocating for people to use drugs, alcohol and other substances, while pregnant, but what I am advocating for is for us to treat pregnant women as the full human beings that they are, and to support them into being healthy and happy, and not just focus on the life that they're bringing into being.

And the example that I want to give to illustrate this point is this, and if I seem a little angry in the moment, it's because I am around this particular issue, in that, in the work that I've been doing with National Advocates for Pregnant Women, I have seen pregnant and parenting women be literally verbally assaulted by judges in court for the fact that they maybe took a drink, or that they tested positive for marijuana, like that was ipso facto proof that they were not worthy mothers, that they couldn't be good mothers, because they had this drug in their body.

And for some of those women, they were threatened with loss of custody, some were threatened with being locked up, based on these drug tests. In many parts of the country, unfortunately, in rural areas where doctors and other people know a lot about people's health backgrounds, they literally wait for these women to show up in the hospital so that they can lock them up and take their children away, on the basis of their drug use, totally separate from whether or not there's actual proof of harm.

You know, back in the '80s, we had this whole hysteria around crack babies. People still talk about that like it's a thing. But there's no such thing as a crack baby, and there's no such thing as an addicted baby. We're hearing that now, inside the whole opiate crisis, where there's newspaper articles about how are we going to save these addicted babies?

Addiction is a set of behaviors that babies are not capable of expressing. A baby can be drug dependent, or chemically exposed, but what they cannot be is addicted. So when you call a baby addicted, what you're really saying is that that child has a bad mother, that the mother is addicted, and that somehow she infected her baby with her addiction.

And again, that's simply not true. So I raise this to say that we really need to think differently about it, and that example for me that made it so clear, like how hypocritical we are about this, is what happened in Flint, Michigan, where you had women who were forced to drink lead polluted water. There is no question about the harms associated with lead poisoning, to children, to adults, to people. It's been scientifically proven for over a hundred years, the kind of damage that is done to the physical body and to the physical brain as a result of lead poisoning.

The quote unquote "harms" of drug use have yet to be specifically proven, particularly with respect to marijuana. And yet, we will lock a woman up who fails a drug test, but we take no action against the water polluters who've made that woman ingest lead, which is going to hurt both her and her baby. Tell me who from Michigan has been held accountable for all the children that were poisoned? From drinking lead polluted water for over a year.

There were women who were in jails and treatment programs in Flint, Michigan, who had no choice and no option to get bottled water, who were pregnant, and who then had to live with the guilt of having a child that they knew was going to be impaired because of that poisoning, but there is no legal accountability for that. And no one has called the people who poisoned the water criminals.

So, I ask you again: like, what's the real crime? And what's, where is the punishment?

DOUG MCVAY: That was Deborah Small, speaking at the Patients Out of Time conference in Jersey City, New Jersey. That conference took place May 10 through 12. Again, full disclosure, I do work with Patients Out of Time doing website and social media.

And well, that's it for this week. I want to thank you for joining us. You have been listening to Century of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at I’m your host Doug McVay, editor of

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

The Drug Truth Network is on Facebook, please give its page a like. Drug War Facts is on Facebook too, give its page a like and share it with friends. Remember: Knowledge is power. Follow me on Twitter, I'm @DougMcVay and of course also @DrugPolicyFacts.

We'll be back next week with thirty more minutes of news and information about drug policy reform and the drug war. For now, for the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay saying so long. So long!

DOUG MCVAY: For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition: the century of lies. Drug Truth Network programs archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

05/17/18 Deborah Small

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Deborah Small
Paul Armentano
Patients Out Of Time

Deborah Peterson Small speaks at Patients Out of Time Conf, Paul Armentano of NORML re drug war hypocrisy and lies, Jasmine Budnella of Vocal NY, Melissa Moore of Drug Policy Alliance in NY

Audio file


MAY 17, 2018


DEAN BECKER: I am the Reverend Dean Becker, keeper of the moral high ground in the drug war, for the world, and this is Cultural Baggage.

All right, shortened up the intro so I've got more time to talk to you folks. We've got a lot to report. Our Drug Truth Network website is up and running, very telephone friendly. Please give a look, give a listen, we're going to have pictures, I'm going to start a blog, starting this next week. It is going to be It's time, it is frickin' time.

My friend Doug McVay was up in New Jersey at the Patients Out of Time conference, got a lot of good stuff for all of us, and let's just give a listen.

DOUG MCVAY: Thanks, Dean.

Hello folks. I’m Doug McVay, editor of and host of Century of Lies, the sister program to Cultural Baggage on the Drug Truth Network.

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Patients Out of Time Twelfth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics in Jersey City, New Jersey. Full disclosure, I also have the honor of working with Patients Out of Time doing website maintenance and social media management.

At this year’s conference, the first day was devoted to a policy seminar titled Medical Cannabis in the States of Confusion. We had a lot of great speakers. One of my favorites was Deborah Peterson Small. Deb Small is a great friend of the program and a friend of mine. She’s an attorney, drug policy reformer, and social justice activist who is one of the smartest people I have ever met, an incredibly sharp mind, and she's an exceptionally good speaker.

She gave a few presentations at #Patients2018. One in particular that I think listeners will enjoy was at the end of that day. The title of that panel was Where Are We Going: Federal Descheduling and Reclaiming Medicine. Here’s Deb Small:

DEBORAH PETERSON SMALL: There's a difference between ending cannabis prohibition and achieving racial and economic justice. And even the way that we do it may not achieve racial and economic justice.

I'm a California cannabis consumer who feels screwed by Prop 64, which I worked to help get passed. All right? Seriously. And it hurts me. I worked for six years on the campaign to change the crack cocaine sentencing laws, because of the impact that it was having on black communities, but the whole idea behind changing that was that that was supposed to be the first step towards getting rid of mandatory minimums.

Well, we spent almost a decade getting the ratio changed from a hundred to one to eighteen to one. Still f******, but a victory. But do you think anybody is now really talking about getting rid of mandatory minimums? It's like, oh, that fight is over. You don't -- I mean, it's still alive, but the level of energy and everything is gone, and I have this, well, we can talk about that over dinner.

But, I can tell you in terms of funding, and where the resources are going, it is not focused on changing federal law around mandatory minimums. In fact, legislative reform, for me, it looks like we go through phases. When I first started this work, everyone was focused on reentry. How do we support people coming back home. Then, it was voter disenfranchisement, around 2000, and all the foundations got behind that.

Now, they're all around, oh, how can we influence prosecutors, and that's like the newest thing. But the bottom line is that poor people remain poor. The system finds other ways to over-police them, and use that as a way to keep them out. And this is the thing about, you know, we have this conversation about expungement and all of that, as if those laws are legitimate.

But the thing that I learned, from working in law firms, many of our clients who had been guilty of and convicted of white collar crimes, was that they got to come back and become traders again. They got to come back and make back all that money. The thing -- and those crimes that they committed caused a thousand times more damage to society than any of the drug crimes that we're talking about here today.

So, I really -- I want people to, like, look at this stuff proportionately. And when they hear people like me, and I come across sounding like an angry black woman, it's because I am angry. I'm angry because I've watched now four generations of my family be affected by the drug war. People that I've lost to addiction, to homicide, to homelessness, to mental illness, over b*******.

Because there's nothing inherent about these products that require the level of damage that we as a society seem to be willing to allow to be inflicted on people. And I'm tired of these incrementalist conversations that say that I should be happy that we're going to treat marijuana like medicine, which just means that the government has more ability to control my life, because anything that we medicalize in a system that is not committed to health becomes another tool for control.

Now, I am an advocate for health, but I'm very clear that in this particular system that we're in, this is not a system that cares about people's health. And it uses the health system as a way to control people.

And so we have to think about all of those things as we do our advocacy. Personally, I am a proud socialist. My ultimate fight is to bring down pernicious capitalism, because I believe that that is the ultimate ill, that all of the other things that we have to deal with stem from is the pursuit of profit over people.

And yet that's not a conversation that we have, and it worries me that even in the area of reform, of these horrible laws, what's motivating people to change the is the pursuit of profit, the ability to get more tax money, the ability to get more revenue. What that sounds to me is like the constant succubus, just sucking more and more resources, more and more stuff from people, that only benefits a few people.

So I hope that we can have a conversation about building collective power. How do we build collective power. Instead of having marijuana businesses, let's have marijuana collectives. Let's think about microfinancing. Let's look at the rest of the world for ways to improve economic equity. Not rely on the old models that we've had before, the ones that have not served us, and I'll just end with this last thing, which is not about drugs, but it is in a way.

Which is that, in the twenty-first century, we need to let go of our conversation about the middle class. There's only two classes of people in the world right now. There's the class of people who work for money, and the class of people whose money works for them. The majority of us belong to the class of people who work for money. If you work for money in our particular system, it doesn't matter whether you're getting paid $25,000 or $250,000, when your source of income goes, you're screwed.

If you have enough money that your money works for you, like the Trumps, and all the people who are in this administration, everything that we do is designed for you to keep that money, for it to grow, and for you to pass it on to your kids. We are creating a permanent aristocracy, a permanent plutocracy, inside of this frame that we're in, because we are not challenging economic distribution.

So please, as we go forward in our advocacy around this, let's have it come from a place that's increasing economic democracy, because ultimately you're not going to be able to preserve political democracy if you don't expand economic democracy. Thank you.

DEAN BECKER: All right, folks, that was Deborah Small, speaking at the Patients Out of Time conference up there in New Jersey. Thanks to Doug McVay we're going to have several programs, Cultural Baggage and Century of Lies will be featuring segments from that conference. We were the only outlet there allowing to use that stuff.

Again, go to, check it out, we've got a brand new site, we're still working on it. Going to do a big announcement next week, but it's in trial phase, it's working, as I said, we're going to have pictures from the conference, other additions, and it's really telephone friendly. I urge you to please, check it out.

Today, we're going to be speaking with the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Mister Paul Armentano. And Paul, I want to preface our discussion with this thought.

A few weeks back, I somewhat tongue in cheek and somewhat seriously declared myself to be administrator of the moral high ground in the drug war, because over the years, hell, over the decades, the top dogs, the administrators of the DEA, the ONDCP, the attorney general, governors, prosecutors, all kinds of folks, stepped forward as if they were knowing, as if they were fully informed, and declared this eternal madness to be necessary.

One such instance occurred lately, where you heard that the head of the ONDCP was talking out of another orifice, so to speak, and you had an opinion in The Hill. Tell us about that piece, would you please, sir?

PAUL ARMENTANO: Sure. Well, to clarify the issue we're talking about the acting director of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, Robert Patterson. And last week, he was asked to testify before members of Congress, and during his Congressional testimony, he was asked a number of times about marijuana and marijuana policy.

Specifically at one point he was asked whether the agency held an opinion with regard to whether the expanded medicalization of marijuana was playing either a positive or a negative role in American use and abuse of opioids.

To which Mister Patterson responded that he believed the passage and enactment of medical marijuana laws is exacerbating the use of opioids and is exacerbating the opioid crisis.

Now, that's a very unique opinion and position, because it runs contrary to virtually all of the available peer reviewed data on the subject, which in fact shows just the opposite, that legal marijuana access is directly associated with reductions in opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.

When the DEA's administrator was pressed on this issue, when he was asked to provide evidence in support of the agency's opinion, he acknowledged to Congress that he was aware of no scientific evidence supporting the DEA's position. He further argued that he was aware of no scientific evidence that conflicted with the notion that medicalization is actually mitigating the opioid abuse crisis.

So, here we have an instance where the acting director of the primary federal agency that addresses drugs and drug policy admits that he holds an opinion, that he represents an opinion of the agency, but acknowledged that he has no scientific evidence in support of that opinion, and in fact acknowledged that the evidence that is contrary to that opinion, the agency itself has no interest in even assessing that evidence.

And it really strikes to the heart of this drug policy issue, that we have an agency that is largely ideological, that is guiding drug policy, and my suggestion for members of Congress and others, we're moving forward, to simply pay no further deference to this agency, because they admit that they don't know what they're talking about.

DEAN BECKER: So true, and again, I think there's a parallel across the state, representatives and others, who, you know, if you're told in kindergarten that if you kiss a girl you're going to get cooties, well, you might never get laid, and I kind of draw a comparison there to this belief system that they learned in their youth or that was stamped in their brain, in their heart, when they were younger, and they refuse to even inquire or investigate the possibility that they were wrong? Correct?

PAUL ARMENTANO: Well, indeed, in fact at one point the DEA was asked specifically had the agency ever assessed the relationship between medical marijuana laws and opioid use. And Mister Patterson admitted that they had not. So again, it's not so much that the DEA holds a flat earth position, a position that runs contrary to the available science, but the DEA further admits that they have no interest in learning the truth on this issue. That is what he said under oath.

DEAN BECKER: That's just scary as hell, to be honest with you, because over the years they've gotten well over a hundred billion dollars, and if I dare say, the respect of police chiefs and prosecutors and lawmakers around the country, to believe what they believe, right?

PAUL ARMENTANO: They're lazy. They're so used to not getting pressed or prompted, to have to substantiate their positions, that when they are prompted in a situation like this, they have nothing to bring to the table. You know? I mean, they're just -- it's a lazy institution, that feels they don't even need to be prepared, because anything they say is going to be rubberstamped anyway.

The DEA is an artifact of a bygone era. They're the flat earthers in drug policy. And the fact is, in 2018, pundits, lawmakers, members of Congress, their staff, they need to view the DEA in this light. This is not an organization that has any credibility on drug policy, so it is not an organization that should be guiding drug policy in America in 2018.

They are out of step with both public opinion and also with scientific opinion, and the rapidly changing cultural status of marijuana in America.

DEAN BECKER: Well, some profound words from our good friend at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, their deputy director, Mister Paul Armentano. Their website:

It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, irregular pulse, skin discoloration, weakness, amnesia, agitation, loose stools, coughing, taste perversion, tremors, arrhythmia, cardiac failure, and death. Time's up! The answer, from Pfizer Laboratories: Caduet, for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

All right, folks, thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. I am the Reverend Dean Becker, the owner of the moral high ground for the world and, you know, I think more and more folks are going to understand this to be true, and get behind this effort.

We've got some reports coming to you out of New York City.

JASMINE BUDNELLA: My name's Jasmine Budnella, drug policy coordinator at VOCAL New York.

DEAN BECKER: Now, there's been some shake-up, if you will, going on in New York, a recognition of the racial disparity in regards to the marijuana arrests, and an endorsement by your mayor, De Blasio, in support of safer consumption spaces, places where folks can inject drugs safely. Tell me about that support, that endorsement from the mayor, first off. It's in recognition of the work of VOCAL New York, Drug Policy, and many other good folks, right?

JASMINE BUDNELLA: Yeah, absolutely. So, we had quite a long fight with Mayor De Blasio on releasing a feasibility study that was commissioned in 2016, a hundred thousand dollars from city council commissioned this study to study the feasibility of supervised injecting facilities in New York City.

We had heard from the mayor in February that he would be releasing the study soon, and we launched a full-on campaign to get that study released as we're dying, in 2016 we lost 13 -- over thirteen hundred people to overdose. In 2018, or 2017, sorry, we lost over fourteen hundred people to overdose.

So, during this fight to get the study released, we were able to move the mayor into supporting this lifesaving intervention. And so now he's come out in support of them, but, in one of the stipulations to get this off the ground in New York City, is to have state approval. So, two weeks ago, city hall sends a letter to the governor's office, to Commissioner Zucker of the Health Department, to approve these sites.

We still have yet to hear anything of the approval, so now, now that the mayor's in support of lifesaving interventions, which is very critical right now, especially as we're losing so many people, we have changed our strategy now to really push the governor to stand with us and stand with the city of New York as well as the mayor of Ithaca, and other mayors across the country.

DEAN BECKER: This is wonderful news, Jasmine, and I, you know, San Francisco, Seattle, even my city of Houston, there are rumblings and mumblings about the need for these safe injection facilities, and we're going to need people at every level, mayors, governors, district attorneys, and other folks to get on board to make this happen, are we not?

JASMINE BUDNELLA: Yeah, absolutely. This is a group effort, right, the opiate crisis is impacting all communities right now, and it's very important that we all stand up to recognize that we have a strategy, one of many strategies, to save people's lives. These sites have been around for over thirty years, are well researched, are all over the world, and it's time that all of us as a community stand up to say we can't lose another person.

DEAN BECKER: Well, this is good news, certainly, and I understand there was a protest today as well, or a rally, to hope to convince Governor Cuomo?

JASMINE BUDNELLA: Yeah, absolutely. So, on May Second, we had a -- we performed civil disobedience in front of city hall, to really show the mayor we were -- we're very serious about saving lives, and the very next day, it was, his announcement, so as a community, we did really great. We had eleven people get arrested, as well as a councilmember with us.

And today, as we're shifting over to telling Governor Cuomo we need you to stand with us, we went to his office in New York City and held a rally with community members, from Drug Policy Alliance, Housing Works, Harm Reduction Coalition, and our community members, who are directly impacted by these issues, to raise our voices and say that we're not backing down until we -- we're able to prevent overdoses and keep people alive.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Again, we've been speaking with Jasmine Budnella of VOCAL-New York. Is there any closing thoughts, a website you might want to recommend?

JASMINE BUDNELLA: Just sending love and hugs to everybody as we continue this fight to save people's lives.

DEAN BECKER: Opening up a can of worms, and going fishing for truth, this is the Drug Truth Network.

MELISSA MOORE: I'm Melissa Moore, I'm the New York State Deputy Director for the Drug Policy Alliance, and the Drug Policy Alliance is a national organization working to end the harms of the war on drugs and drug use. So, we're working for evidence based solutions, and to end the damage caused by prohibition across the country.

DEAN BECKER: I'm aware that people are beginning to hold politicians' feet to the fire. For too long, many of them have stood and pronounced the need for this drug war as if it was god's will, but many of them have never delved into the facts, have never actually realized that they are off base, they're off track, and they're causing harm through their endorsement of these policies or their failure to recognize the failure of the policy. Am I right?

MELISSA MOORE: You know, the fact is that we've seen growing momentum across the country, from people saying that we're not going to accept the war on drugs anymore, that we know that prohibition has not been effective at reducing use or keeping people in communities safe, whatsoever, and that amid, in particular amid the overdose crisis right now, we need innovative solutions.

And we need to shift from the criminalization approach that completely hasn't worked and has brought so much damage onto communities, to a public health framework, and that's where solutions where safer consumption spaces, making sure that people have access to harm reduction programs that can provide syringe exchanges and naloxone to reverse overdoses and things like that make a lot of sense.

And then also legalizing marijuana and taxing and regulating it, so that we're no longer prohibiting the substance.

DEAN BECKER: Well, in your fair city of New York, you know, they've been saying they're cutting back on the number of marijuana arrests, that they're, you know, they have a gentler, kinder situation, but, for blacks and Latinos that has not been true. Am I right?

MELISSA MOORE: Exactly. What we know is that, although there has been somewhat of a drop in overall marijuana arrests in the last couple of years, that the racial disparities across the board remain exactly as they've been for the last thirty years. We know that 86 percent on average of the people arrested in New York City every single year for low level marijuana possession, which I should note was decriminalized in 1977, the vast majority of those people being arrested are black and Latino New Yorkers, even though we know that people use marijuana at roughly the same rate across racial and ethnic groups.

So this comes down to targeted policing, hypercriminalization of certain communities, and it's time for that to stop.

DEAN BECKER: Well, you had a great piece in the New York Daily News, you and Chris Alexander, title was Legalize And Tax Marijuana To Truly End The Disproportionate Arrests Of Blacks And Latino New Yorkers. And, you know, your fair city leads the nation for city arrests. My state of Texas leads the nation for state arrests of marijuana users, and it's way out of wack. It is focused on black and Latinos just way too often. Correct?

MELISSA MOORE: Right. We know that this is something that's systematically a problem across the country. Even in states that have legalized marijuana, enforcement still ends up being harshest on communities of color, so we know that just legalizing the plant doesn't necessarily legalize people who are often subject to hyper-policing, and extensive targeting, even though they've done nothing to deserve that whatsoever.

But nonetheless, we know that legalizing marijuana and ending prohibition does remove a significant tool that law enforcement can use as a justification for interactions with community members. So, it doesn't change the entire parameters that we're operating with within this country, but it does provide some significant ways forward for people to not be criminalized.

DEAN BECKER: Through your efforts and the efforts of Drug Policy Alliance and many others, the mayor, De Blasio, has now refocused and promised to change the situation, has he not?

MELISSA MOORE: He has, and this is due to many years of pressure from Drug Policy Alliance and our partners. Years and years of research, just last summer we published a report with the Marijuana Arrest Research Project that showed once again the extreme racial disparities in New York City, and Mayor De Blasio tried to refute it. He tried to debunk it, questioned our character, questioned the data, which had come from the state's own office of criminal justice services.

And now he's changed his story, when it's absolutely undeniable what the situation is in New York, and it's clear that he needs to take action or he'll be -- he'll suffer for it. We know that marijuana legalization is actually more popular than most politicians are at this point. So people are seeing that there's a need for a shift in this conversation.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Melissa, is there something I'm leaving out, something you think needs to be brought into this story, into this interview?

MELISSA MOORE: I think actually one of the most significant developments yesterday was the Manhattan DA, Cy Vance, and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, announcing that they were no longer going to prosecute low-level marijuana possession charges in their offices anymore. That, those two offices alone, two of the DAs out of the five boroughs of New York City, those offices account for about ten thousand arrests and potential prosecutions for low-level marijuana possession every single year.

So, those offices and the bold leadership of those district attorneys, saying in the interest of justice, we're no longer going to prosecute these cases, it's clear that these arrests are being carried out in a racially biased manner, no more will we participate in that, was huge, and we -- we're certainly hopeful that other district attorneys across the state of New York and in other parts of the country will follow that lead as well. It's definitely time to take action, and we don't have to wait for legalization in order for district attorneys and other people in positions of power within different agencies to take similar steps.

DEAN BECKER: You know, it's a sign that people are recognizing, I don't have a better word, the stupidity of this drug war that has never worked in any fashion.

All right, that was Melissa Moore,, and she's absolutely right, yesterday's New York Times had a big story about this in the paper. Folks, it's time for you to get on board, it's time for you to help end this madness, and again, I remind you, because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag, and I urge you to please, be careful.

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