11/06/19 Richard Andrews

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Richard Andrews
Dr. Richard Andrews for Texas Senate Dist 13

Dr. Richard Andrews is running for the Texas state Senate seat Dist. 13, Chicago to follow Oakland and Denver re Psychedelics? - Dr. Albert Hoffman speaks fondly of his child LSD

Audio file



NOVEMBER 6, 2019

DEAN BECKER: Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

MALE VOICE: It’s not only inhumane; it is really fundamentally un-American.

CROWD CHANT: No more drug war! No more drug war! No more drug war! No more drug war! No more drug war!

DEAN BECKER: My name is Dean Becker, I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs; legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison, and judicial nightmare that feeds on eternal drug war.

Hi folks! Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I am your host, Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High. I am looking at a letter dated July 10, 1937. It is addressed to the Honorable Pat Harrison, the Chairman of the Committee on Finance at the United States Senate. It starts out, “I have been instructed by the board of trustees of the American Medical Association to protest on behalf of the Association against the enactment in its present form of so much of HR6906 as relates to the medicinal use of cannabis and its preparations and derivatives”, and it is signed by Dr. William C. Woodward. Later, Dr. Woodward came before the Congress and they told him that if he didn’t have anything positive to add to their efforts that he needed to leave the chamber. With that they then passed the 1937 Federal Marijuana Tax Act. Since that point in time doctors have hidden from the challenge over the decades but in recent years more and more doctors have stood forth. More and more family doctors are standing for their patient’s right to use medical marijuana. With that I want to welcome our guest for today which is my doctor, Dr. Richard Andrews, who is running for Senate here in the State of Texas. Hello, Dr. Andrews.

DR. ANDREWS: Hello, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. It was protested by the American Medical Association back when they passed the marijuana laws and would you agree that more and more doctors are beginning to stand for the rights of their patients to use marijuana?

DR. ANDREWS: Absolutely. We are seeing quite a trend with younger doctors especially but also with some old farts like me. Now with several states that have legalized medical and recreational marijuana I think it will be increasingly normalized in the medical community.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, Sir. There are still those recalcitrant folks that stand in the way of the progress of ending prohibition against marijuana and I want to talk about a certain woman doctor who is also a senator in the State of Texas who stood forth proclaiming that marijuana was too dangerous for our Veteran’s to allow for medical marijuana. She stood forth stating that there was a study saying 70% of the overdose deaths of Veteran’s had marijuana in their system and it was part of the cause of their demise. Your response to that thought, Dr. Andrews?

DR. ANDREWS: Well I think an important aspect of what you just said has to do with the increasing tendency (which I think is a good tendency overall) within the medical field for there to be a reliance on data – what is called evidence-based practice. As evidence-based approaches are used increasingly then we will see an increasing number. It used to be that doctors and scientists were not even allowed to do studies on what the effects of drugs were so there has been a lot of mythologizing, and inaccurate pseudo-science regarding what the consequences of drugs are. Of course there can be consequences of drugs but that is the kind of thing that should be evaluated scientifically and then you put the data out there and it is peer-reviewed; in other words people can look at the studies that you did and contribute and then we will get a little closer to the truth I think regarding the consequences of using any drug.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, Sir. Now you are running for a senate seat in the State of Texas. This is not for this November, this is for November of 2020, am I correct?

DR. ANDREWS: Yes. The general election will be in November of 2020 that is right, then the democratic primary will be March 3rd of 2020. I am in District 13 in the Houston and Ft. Bend area, and in this particular gerrymandered district it has been heavily packed with democrats so really republicans don’t generally run in this district so I will be running in that primary and if you don’t make it past the primary then it is basically all over. It is mostly a primary battle.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, Sir. I want to go over some of the planks in your platform. I am going to read from them just a bit. Plank One: You are calling for the legalization, regulation, and taxation of recreational marijuana for adults with details to be determined a bit later which will parallel national models following a discussion with public input. Let’s talk about that a bit.

DR. ANDREWS: Sure. I was fascinated when I first learned about the different approach that Colorado and Washington took (you know all about this because this is your area). I was so fascinated by how the coalition in Colorado marshalled evidence that because marijuana is safer than people have said it should be legalized and regulated. Then Washington State’s coalition did the exact opposite and marshalled evidence that said that because it is so harmful it needed to be legalized and regulated. In a sense, they were both right. Certainly there is no such thing of a drug with no side effects and that includes recreational drugs as well and we shouldn’t be naïve about that. There are safe ways to use any drug, of course, and we want people to be educated on that and when things are either legalized or decriminalized the atmosphere that results in society makes it much easier to have proper health education and drug testing so that people are not getting Fentanyl in their drugs. I think that is just a much healthier climate for us to live in as citizens.

DEAN BECKER: You know, Dr. Andrews, coincidentally just today there is an Op Ed that is appearing in The Hill. It is by my good friend, Mr. Paul Armentano, he is one of the most knowledgeable people about cannabis. He is Deputy Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, but the title of his Op Ed is, Most Physicians Support Access to Medical Cannabis – Why Doesn’t the Federal Government? That is a pretty good question for you, Dr. Andrews, why doesn’t the federal government?

DR. ANDREWS: Well of course the history of anti-drug laws goes back so far and started with the Federal Narcotics Bureau or even proceeding that with the international laws that the U.S. was party to so after alcohol prohibition was lifted they doubled down on all of the other prohibitions and then instead of having the massive prohibition bureaucracy in Washington, those people had to find other kinds of work so they found it in the prohibition on other drugs and that has simply persisted. The Federal Narcotics Bureau then became the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and although it has some beneficial aspects, to this day it is still the face of federal drug policy and their approach is frequently non-scientific and strictly police oriented. They will find a few doctors here and there to support their particular line but they really are not evidence-based in their approach to the whole thing.

DEAN BECKER: I have often used the parallel that it is like asking your barber if you need a haircut when asking the DEA about the drug laws because that is their Bailiwick.

DR. ANDREWS: Yeah. That is right.

DEAN BECKER: Now going back to some of the planks in your platform. Plank Two: You talk about legalization and regulation of medical marijuana, THC, and CBD for adults and I think that parallels with plank number one so I am going to skip to Plank Three, which talks about the decriminalization of all other recreational drug use and simply possession with details to be determined and that is kind of taking the Portugal model on, which I think is a vast improvement. Your response, Dr. Andrews?

DR. ANDREWS: I think when people first hear the idea of decriminalization of all drugs – in fact when I first heard the term it raised my eyebrows as well. Once people realize that what the word decriminalization means is that you are not going to put people in to prison for simple drug use and simple possession. As a family doctor and a public health professional, I have to look at what are the health consequences to the individual and to society of putting people in prison and of course there are huge implications for that. Of course it is mostly black and brown people that get put in prison for drugs and so really all you are saying with decriminalization is that we don’t think putting people in to prison is the way to go. There are roughly 26 countries around the world with Portugal being the best known, but there are 26 other countries that have decriminalized drug use including Spain which is right next door to Portugal. You and I have both visited Portugal and I have looked at their model. It wasn’t as simple as just decriminalizing; they decriminalized with a lot of public input. They took the resources that were going in to the police approach and put some of those resources in to enhanced health care, social services, and outreach. Since then their rate of new infections related to unsafe drug use from HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C in particular have all dropped steadily in the 18 years that they have had that decriminalization policy.

DEAN BECKER: Folks, once again we are speaking with Dr. Richard Andrews. He is running for Senate in the State of Texas. Dr. Andrews, is there a district or is it just open voting for a Senate seat?

DR. ANDREWS: It would be great if other people in Texas could vote for me but no – it is District 13 here in the Houston and Ft. Bend area. It is a heavily gerrymandered district with weird boundaries. We need to get rid of gerrymandering as well, by the way. District 13 includes most of the main downtown area where all of the big buildings are as well as the entire medical center and a variety of other communities in the south and southwest portion of Harris County and nearby Fort Bend County.

DEAN BECKER: Okay. Just last month I went up to Oklahoma where they have just legalized medical marijuana and the have a great program. They are also doing something with is Number Four on your platform list; they are expunging criminal records for many marijuana users for simple possession because many times that stands in the way. It is a black mark; a means whereby you are denied credit, housing, education, a job. It is what drags people back to the black market, is it not, Dr. Andrews?

DR. ANDREWS: Absolutely it is. When people feel hopeless because they can’t get a decent job that is precisely the kind of disconnection that leads back to excessive and unsafe drug use. It seems perverse really not to expunge their criminal records once we have concluded that it is inappropriate for people to go to prison for it then it only makes sense that we would expunge those criminal records for these charges.

DEAN BECKER: Dr. Andrews, I agree 100% with that caveat. With regard to your platform, item Number Five: You are calling for significantly expanded state support for addiction treatment and I am all for that where it is needed but I think you are well aware that I also think there is a moral connotation that some people use these drugs without much if any impairment to their life and their lifestyle. Your response to that thought please, Dr. Andrews?

DR. ANDREWS: We know that the U.S. gathers large amounts of data in a well-regarded telephone survey every year for the last several years going back decades, really. Although the federal government does put that data out there, the graphics that they include are not very user-friendly. You and I would both encourage people to go to the Rice University’s Baker Institute on Public Policy which is at: www.bakerinstitute.org where they have made the data from those federal surveys on drug use much more user friendly and we can see that the data is very clear in that the vast majority of drug users do not show evidence of addiction. So the number of people with any given drug that actually get addicted to it; that is to say they have a dependency, and they end up having some problems with it. If perhaps on the order of 5% or less for virtually all drugs so the great majority of drug users are casual or intermittent users. However, for those people I recently got qualified to treat addiction and there are some people who genuinely would like to stop using a drug every single day because it gets in the way of things. That is why I think the small number of drug users who do get addicted should have treatment options for that when they request it.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, Sir. I think that ties in to your platform item Number Six: You are calling for mandates for adequate coverage of addiction treatment by public and private insurance in Texas, because many times when people hit that low spot they want to get in to treatment but there is not a bed available and they fall back in to the pit, so to speak. Am I right?

DR. ANDREWS: Yes, you are exactly right. I think it has gotten better honestly after the Affordable Care Act, or so-called Obama Care, but of course we all know what is happening these days with Obama Care in terms of efforts by the current government to restrict access to so many people which is a disaster.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, Sir. Platform item Number Seven ties in: You talk about monitoring and appropriate regulation to reduce or eliminate the widespread fraud and poor care seen in the private addiction treatment industry. That has gotten better over the last few years as well but it use to be a real hodgepodge with addicts treating addicts, did it not?

DR. ANDREWS: Yes. Of course one of the most famous aspects of that is the so-called “Golden Liquid”, as urine becomes incredibly valuable because they vastly overcharge for drug testing and will order drug testing on the urine even when it is not called for and then charge a lot of money for it. So that raises everyone’s premiums when it is private insurance or raises costs or reduces resources for the public forms of insurance so there should absolutely be appropriate regulation for that and not just to save money but to make sure people who need treatment are getting quality treatment and not just being charged money.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, Sir. Your platform item Number Eight: You are calling for an emphasis on harm reduction and use of evidence-based methods in addressing drug use and drug addiction rather than the 100 year old punitive approach that has been in place that just stigmatizes drug users and addicts and casts them aside so to speak. Right?

DR. ANDREWS: Yes. Absolutely. I was so struck when visiting Portugal and every year now I attend a medical conference which is fascinating because it is a medical conference on Hepatitis (I treat Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C), but it is not just a medical conference. It is the intersection of Hepatitis care in drug users specifically and there are people who attend this conference from all over the world. It is so fascinating to see all of the wonderful models from all over the world recognizing that people who use drugs and whether they are addicts or not. They are members of the community, they are neighbors, they are loved ones, they are parents, they are children, siblings and friends and they deserve to be treated with respect. We then need to implement policies that allow them to avoid harm. So when you have destigmatizing policies and environment then you can approach these marginalized communities with needle exchange programs, education on how to avoid using things in an unsafe manner, and screening for various infections. It is just a much healthier approach for everybody.

DEAN BECKER: Once again folks we have been speaking with Dr. Richard Andrews. He is running for Texas Senate, District 13. I should have said at the beginning of this program that Dr. Andrews is my doctor. I recently went to his office where we were determining if I had Hepatitis C or not. If so, we are going to treat it and cure it. That is a large part of his work as I think he just indicated. It also brings to mind that many people steer clear of doctors. I admitted to Dr. Andrews that I am not that trusting of the industry. I do the weekly Name That Drug By its Side Effects segment and I must fess up. I came in and had a blood pressure of 148/90, which is not good as I now understand and you prescribed for me these five milligram Lisinopril which seems to be working. I am down to about 125/78, which I think is a more normal number. The point I am trying to get to is that many folks have become untrusting of the medical industry because they have allowed for too long for these drug laws to run rampant on our country. I am just glad to hear that you, Dr. Andrews, are standing tall and doing good work, perhaps even keeping me around for a few years longer. Do you have any closing thoughts, Dr. Richard Andrews?

DR. ANDREWS: I just want to say that we need to make sure we address the overdose epidemic and we need to make sure that Naloxone (the reversal drug for opioid overdose) access is increased in Texas so that it is affordable. Most of the forms of Naloxone are extremely expensive; which is absurd when we are trying to save people’s lives. We can get to a point where overdose deaths are really rare which is the direction we need to move in so that people don’t suffer the ultimate harm from unsafe drug use and criminalization.

DEAN BECKER: Your response brings to mind one last question. It has been my focus, hope, and ambition to educate and embolden our city council, the mayor, the county commissioners and others to investigate the possibility of opening a safe injection facility here and at the very least a needle exchange program to help cut back on diseases and deaths that occur as a result in this prohibition. What is your thought on that, Dr. Andrews?

DR. ANDREWS: I am glad you mentioned that. In fact I just visited a safe injection site in Montreal, Canada just a few weeks ago in connection with going to this conference I mentioned and it was remarkable! They had two registered nurses there so when people come in off the street with their street-acquired drugs (which is a different issue of course), they can then do immediate testing of the drug that they bring in to make sure that it has no Fentanyl making it safer for them. In the event a person does have an overdose they are immediately given Naloxone to reverse the overdose. They do have occasional overdoses in situations like that but you virtually never have overdose deaths because you have professional medical care available immediately.

DEAN BECKER: It seems that the truth is being writ larger and larger. As we mentioned early in our discussion, more and more doctors are standing tall. They hear their patients are using cannabis and it doesn’t frighten or concern them very much because often times it is seen to have some benefit as well. Dr. Andrews, is there a website with contact information and any closing thoughts?

DR. ANDREWS: Sure. People are welcome to go to my website or the campaign, which is www.andrewstexassenate.com, we are adding to the website as we go along it is relatively new. You can also connect with me on Twitter where I will be making comments about this topic and others.

DEAN BECKER: Well that is a wrap with Dr. Richard Andrews, but I must say that following my discussion with Dr. Andrews, he got back the lab reports and it turns out that I do not have Hepatitis C. As he mentioned in our discussion it is rather easy to cure these days. We talked about the fact that there is a good chance I had it back when and that a lot of folks who quit drinking alcohol are able to cure it by themselves.

I was doing the wrong thing back in the late 60s and early 70s, sharing needles with all kinds of folks. I am just a lucky fella.

It’s time to play Name That Drug By its Side Effects! Works directly on the brain by interfering with neurotransmitters and dopamine levels. Because of drug prohibition this product is made with over-the-counter cold medicine, hydrochloric acid, drain cleaner, battery acid, lye, lantern fuel, and antifreeze. Times Up! The answer: Tina, Chalk, Go Fast, Zip, Chrystie, Crank, Speed otherwise known as methamphetamine hydrochloride.

The following is taken from Hoffman’s Potion, produced by the Canadian Film Board:

NARRATOR: In the 1940s, Dr. Albert Hoffman discovered a substance that had a profound influence on the way science viewed the human mind. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

DR. HOFFMAN: I think the possibility to have a psychedelic experience is inborn. These psychedelics have very similar compounds that are in our brain. A lot of the compounds that you find in the plant kingdom are so closely related chemically to specific brain patterns which we already have. We speak about the paradise of childhood when I have a vision and a beautiful experience as a child this is normal because we have these compounds already.

I was walking on a beautiful May morning suddenly I stopped and I had the feeling everything had changed – the world was beautiful. Beautiful green and I had the feeling that somehow I got the feeling I saw the world as it really is. I got the feeling I would be included by it and a feeling of happiness I had never felt before. This gave me the security that if you have open eyes you may see the world in a different way; I mean you see it as it really is – wonderful.

DEAN BECKER: That was the voice of Dr. Albert Hoffman. Dr. Hoffman died a few years back but he was well over the age of 100 years old when he passed from this earth. If LSD was so bad for you well how in the hell did he last so long and remain so intelligent? It has now been reported that Chicago is thinking of following in the footsteps of Oakland, which became the second U.S. city to decriminalize magic mushrooms and other psychedelics falling on the heels of what they did in Denver. The truth is coming out; these drugs are safer than even marijuana and it is time to get over the hysteria and the bullshift.

Again I want to remind you that 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 currently stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, and we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.