10/25/09 - Tony Newman

Tony Newman of Drug Policy Alliance praises DTN efforts + invites YOU to attend the DPA conference in New Mexico next month

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Guest: 
Tony Newman
Organization: 
Drug Policy Alliance
Download: Audio icon COL_102509.mp3
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Century of Lies, October 25, 2009

For the salvation of the Nation, this is the unvarnished truth, on the Drug Truth Network, with Reverend Dean Becker.
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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.
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Hello, my friends. Welcome to this edition of Century of Lies. Today we have with us a continuing discussion with Mr. Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance. He’s informing us about the forthcoming conference, out in Albuquerque in early November, and we’re encouraging you to participate. We’re going to delve further into that discussion here in just a moment.

But first, I want to share this thought with you. I think it’s brought on by the Federal government.
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(to the tune of: Another Brick in the Wall)

We all need re-education.
We demand more thought control.
More guns and money for the cartels.
Congress let those drug gangs grow.
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Alright. Once again, I wanted to let you know, we have Mr. Tony Newman, from the Drug Policy Alliance with us. Hello, Tony.

Mr. Tony Newman: Dean, I like your singing so much, man. People might send in some money to support Dean’s work, but also he’s a great singer, man. Thank you.

Dean Becker: {chuckling} Oh Tony, you’re so kind. Tony, earlier we were talking about the fact that the media is starting to ‘get it’. They’re starting to put forward the idea and there was an article; an op-ed. Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post and her op-ed, ’Let’s cheer move to allow use of medical marijuana’ was not only in the Washington Post, but in dozens of other newspapers across the country, including the Houston Chronicle.

It’s an idea who’s time has come. These editor’s and broadcaster’s have been kind of ‘steering clear’ of this situation for years but it’s like there’s enough weight; there’s enough evidence; enough substance to finally begin swaying the discussion, right Tony?

Mr. Tony Newman: It’s everywhere. Anyone who looks at this issue and has studied it, they understand that the war on drugs is not does not work and it makes sense the media is starting to talk about this. I mentioned earlier, Today’s show, that’s as mainstream as you get, talking about ‘stiletto stoners’ and they did it in a way the was not judging and it very fair...

Dean Becker: Not even tongue in cheek, it was just….

Mr. Tony Newman: No. It was a very fair piece and it was talking about people who enjoy and wind down at the end of the day. Who are very successful, have great jobs; good social lives. It wasn’t like there’s these couch potato stoners. When you got the Today show doing that, on that level you’ve got sports magazines basically saying, ’Medical marijuana is showing us how to have a regulated system for marijuana. Variety, which is the entertainment/Hollywood paper, talking about TV shows and movies that are talking about marijuana and other drug use without the ‘reefer madness’.

I mean, the media is totally coming on board, which is good and Dean, that’s one part of it but what we need is; we don’t need only the stiletto stoners who enjoy doing it, we need them to also get involved. Because even though they enjoy it at the end of the day, other people are getting arrested.

It’s basically; even though there’s drug use across our society, it’s basically black and brown people going to jail for it and here in New York, which is suppose to be this liberal place where I live, ninety percent of people who get arrested on marijuana charges are black and Latino. Prison’s that are filled up? Black and Latino.

I appreciate people coming out of the closet admitting that they use marijuana, that’s a good thing. But it needs more than that. We need people to get involved. We need people to come to New Mexico in November and get involved in the situation. We need people to support Dean Becker on this, because that’s what it’s really going to take to end this.

When I talk about New Mexico, if I could just give a feel of what kind of stuff that’s going to be happening…

Dean Becker: Please do.

Mr. Tony Newman: The conference starts on Veteran’s Day. This is going to be an issue we all should be thinking about. When people use drugs, they use drugs for both joy; sitting around with friends having a good time, but they also use drugs for pain and self medication.

So many of the veterans… Imagine being in a war situation, watching your friends get shot and killed, having to kill other people, being away from your family for a year, that is a very traumatic heavy experience and you know what? When people are in war, they come back and they self medicate and you know what we’re going to find? Just like with Vietnam, people are going to come back and self medicating and the way our war on drugs is now, those people, after giving their service and their lives, dedicating their lives to serving overseas, they may face a jail cell because they’re self medicating from drugs.

So we’re issuing a big report about how we should be dealing with the problem of veterans and self medicating and offering them treatment instead of jail. Those are the kind of conversations we’re going to be having. Right now, more and more people are talking about, ’What comes after marijuana prohibition?’ ‘Should we tax and regulate it?’ We’re going to have the leading minds talking about what that system would look like. There’s that ballot initiative happening in California that are going to be voting on this issue in 2010.

We’re going to be looking at the issue in Mexico. There’s madness and chaos in Mexico. All these killings because of drug prohibition. We’re going to have the former Foreign Minister of Mexico, Jorge Castañed‘s going to be speaking at our panel. We’re going to come up with some solutions to the violence in Mexico. We’re going to come up with some solutions for our veterans who are coming back and self medicating. We’re going to come up with some solutions about how states can deal, have a regulatory system of marijuana instead of black market chaos.

Dean Becker: Tony, there a gentleman, I actually had him as a guest last week, an attorney up in Massachusetts that put forward a bill; forwarded a bill I guess, through the legislative legislators to make marijuana legal in Massachusetts. It’s a constituents’ bill, I forget the term exactly, but it had some very common sense approaches to the situation which is…

If the government won’t do it, it’s really up to the citizens to provide the outline; to give the impetus to this. Like in California, where they actually have some scientific labs where they’re measuring for purity and contaminants and all that which you would think, ideally, would be the governments job, but the dispensaries are doing it.

Mr. Tony Newman: Dean, you’re so right. The people are ahead of the politicians. You mentioned Massachusetts. In the last election they just voted to basically make low level marijuana possession, like a parking ticket. They decriminalized it. No more people getting arrested for small amounts of marijuana.

The Massachusetts voters had the wisdom, they voted on it and I think that’s what we’re starting to see. When the votes come up, almost any state in the country, if they voted on medical marijuana, they would say, ’Yes, we support medical marijuana.’ You ask people, ’People who have drug problems, should they get treatment or jail?’ The voters say, ’Give them treatment.’

Massachusetts… ’Should we arrest people who have small amounts of marijuana or should we make it like a parking ticket?’ That’s what they voted for. The people are ahead of the politicians and now, we see that the politicians realize, ’You know what? We are going to get on this train.’ Whether it’s Governor Patterson, he’s actually been working on this for years, but he changed the Rockefeller drug laws, he got kudos. President Obama see’s that people support medical marijuana, he says, ’We’re going to stop harassing medical marijuana patients in these states, he’s getting kudos for it.

I believe we’re going to see more, the rats deserting the ship. The war on drugs does not work. We’re going to see more and more elected officials saying, ’You know what? It’s better to be smart on crime, than tough on crime and it’s sad it’s taken so many decades and ruined so many lives, but the tide is turning.

Dean Becker: This is not a leftist, loony, liberal idea. There are many people on the right, even the far right. There was an October 11th Wall Street Journal opinion piece. George Shultz on the war on drugs. The Former Secretary of State has long doubted the wisdom of interdiction. People of caliber are beginning to speak up. Am I right?

Mr. Tony Newman: Well Dean, you know it’s funny. When I first got involved with this ten years ago, I actually didn’t know what a libertarian was. The thing about the people fighting the war on drugs, what’s interesting about it is, it truly is across the spectrum. There are conservatives and libertarians. You mentioned George Shultz. There’s Milton Freedman, Governor Gary Johnson, who’s going to be at our conference in New Mexico is a republican libertarian governor said, ’The war on drugs was crazy.’ Now we have the democrat Governor Richardson also going to be at our conference said, ‘The war on drugs is not working, we need alternatives.’

That’s what’s actually encouraging about this issue, is that it really does span the whole spectrum. Because you know what? Every family… It doesn’t matter if your republican or democrat or Green party. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, substance abuse can touch any family and we don’t want our families locked up in a cage because we have a substance abuse problem. If you’re conservative, you don’t want to see billions of dollars; federal money going to fight an unwinable war. It really touches everything and that’s what’s encouraging.

This is an issue that can actually bring people together. We can come together. We want to take care of ourselves individually. We want to take care of our families. We want to take care of our communities. This is an issue that can bring us together. It is time to end the war on drugs and the good news is, I know Dean, you’ve been working on this year in and year out, week after week doing this and the exciting thing is, it doesn’t matter what issue you care about if you listen to this. The exciting thing is, change can happen.

We were watching the American public and the elected officials and the pundit’s on TV are starting to say, ’This isn’t working,’ and it’s inspiring to me that after all these years we can see momentum building and that’s something we should remember for whatever issue we care about. When we think, “Oh my God. Does anyone care?’ and we’re pounding our head against a brick wall, you know what? Change can happen and change is happening and we need you to support the Drug Truth Network. Thank you Pacifica for kicking off and giving a voice to Dean Becker and all the work he’s doing. We need you to join our conference and we’re going to change this world.

Dean Becker: You bet we are. You know Tony, I was just sketching down a couple of numbers here, I produce four hundred sixty-nine radio segments per year, going out to seventy stations in US, Canada, one in Australia. It points out the fact that eight years ago, we were… every other week at midnight, one station. It shows what recognition of the truth can do and I think that’s what we have done here at the Drug Truth Network. If you like to show…

Mr. Tony Newman: Dean, your inspiration for us, you know you show… everyone says, ‘Well, what can one person do?’ The fact that you’ve been hammering away at this week after week after week and what you’ve built, it should be an inspiration for all of us and everyone can contribute in different ways whether it’s writing a letter to the editor, whether it’s writing a check to Drug Truth Network, whether it’s attending a conference, whether it’s supporting a loved one who’s struggling with drugs or addiction. Everyone of us can do something and that’s an important thing and Dean, you have been an example that one person can get involved and touch millions.

Dean Becker: Things are changing aren’t they, Mr. Tony Newman?

Mr. Tony Newman: It is and the thing I do have to again reinforce, is that with all this momentum with the elected officials and the TV pundit’s and everyone starting to get courage and speak out against the war on drugs, the war on drugs is still arresting people every night. There’s people still being separated from their families, people spending years behind bars. People, once you get arrested for smoking a joint, you can lose financial aid. You can kicked out of public housing. While there’s momentum, the war on drugs is still happening. We need you to get involved.

We should not… There are clear models. The rest of this world is figuring out how to deal with this war, offering compassion and treatment for people who have substance abuse problems. There is a clear way to deal with this, but we have to get involved or it’s not going to happen alone and join this way. It now is the time.

Dean Becker: Indeed it is. We’re speaking with Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance. Tony, I want to ask you, you know, you’ve been at this ten years or so, I don’t know that I have a beginning date on all of this, but before I was in broadcasting, I was working with the New York Times on their drug policy forum for a couple years and one of the first people that I was able to arrange to be a participant there on that forum, was the then governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson. As you said, he was one of the first to ‘boldly go where no man has gone before’ right? and he’s going to be at this conference, right?

Mr. Tony Newman: He will be at the conference and he deserves a lot of praise. He spoke out before anyone else was really doing it and like I said, what’s beautiful about this issue, libertarian / republican Governor Johnson and his successor Governor Richardson of New Mexico, they will both be there. New Mexico’s also a state that, you know we have an office there. We’ve seen incredible progress. They’ve passed the medical marijuana law in the past couple of years. New Mexico was the first state to pass the law saying, ‘It’s not a crime to call 911 if you’re witnessing an overdose.’

What happens is, we have an overdose epidemic in this country. It’s the second leading cause of preventable death, after an automobile accident. The majority of people who are overdosing are with friends or other people and if you call 911 right away, most likely the person will be saved. But people are afraid to call 911 ‘cause the cops are going to show up at your house and arrest everyone there. So you have people dumping people either in bathtubs or dumping them outside of hospital doors.

New Mexico had the wisdom to say, it is never a crime to call 911. They passed the good Samaritan law. They passed the medical marijuana law. New Mexico has been an example both from Governor Johnson and then Governor Richardson’s leadership and that’s the kind of stuff we’re going to be doing around the country and that’s one of the reason’s why we’re going to be in New Mexico.

New Mexico obviously is on the border of Mexico. I hope all of your listeners will re-consider this. It’s a plane ticket or a car ride away. Join us. You will be inspired, you will be moved. You will help change the way this world and this country deals with drugs. Please get involved. It will be a very gratifying experience. I promise.

Dean Becker: I recall, it was kind of a week where I became a reformer. There was a group came to Texas, the Journey for Justice crew, it was.

Mr. Tony Newman: I remember that.

Dean Becker: Kay Lee and Jodi James, Kevin Zeese and a whole host of others, touring across Texas in big RV’s with major signs on the sides, medical marijuana - talking about the need for change. Going from prison to prison to prison, here in Texas and then they wound up in Austin with a march on the state capitol and if sometime that week, I think it was really the… the light came on.

I’m marching down the streets of Austin towards the capitol and I’ve got a little six year old black kid walking beside me and one of his parents was in prison, from the Toula bus and there was so much hope; so much desire on that kid’s face and I determined that, if this kid can have that much hope when it seems pretty hopeless, maybe he needs some help and that’s when I actually got going on this. That’s when it kicked me in the butt and got me rolling.

I know that many of you listeners out there know the full truth. If you’re long term listeners, you know the whole nuts and bolts of everything involved. I don’t know what it’s going to take. I use to do a little PSA, ’What will it take, to motivate?’ Because the evidence is there. It’s glaring, it’s waiting, it’s telling you that you need to show your support.

We’re speaking with Mr. Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance. Tony, this is…

Mr. Tony Newman: Dean, I have to say something. You know what I love about that story? I remember that group of people who did that Journey for Justice and Jodi James and that group of people. That was a group of ten / fifteen people who made that commitment.

Dean Becker: Yes.

Mr. Tony Newman: They drove across the country talking about the prison’s, how we’re incarcerating our fellow citizens. The fact that it touch you and a light bulb went off and what I’ve seen what you have done over these last eight years and come up with a radio show that is now on seventy stations and reaching tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people, you never know.

When those fifteen people set off on that journey, you never know who you’re going to touch and what it’s going to lead to and it’s so many of these small actions that have been happening in communities and states around this country, it trickles up and now we have the president of this country saying, ‘We’re going to stop arresting medical marijuana patients and their providers.’

These small actions bubble and bubble and bubble and lead to this pie that we see the momentum is changing and we need to continue to do this. So everybody consider these small actions, writing a check; coming to a conference; talking to your neighbor; going on caravan through a state talking about the war on drugs. You never know who you’re going to touch and what it’s going to lead to.

Dean Becker: Earlier this week the local, I think, powerhouse AM station here in town, ran a poll online, talking about, ’Is it time to legalize marijuana?’ and by God, this home of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity showed fifty-four percent of Houstonian’s, for God’s sake, were for legalizing marijuana. So, we’re out there folks. We own the moral high ground, the fiscal high ground, the… every high ground. It belongs to us. We need to make use of it. It’s time to throw the fear away. It’s time to do your part. Right, Tony?

Mr. Tony Newman: I agree with every word you said and I hope that if you’ve been moved by any of this, if you know someone who has a substance abuse problem, if you know someone who’s been incarcerated, if you’re someone who enjoys marijuana or other substances or if you’re someone who has a loved one who’s has problems with this, whatever the reason is, Dean Becker and Drug Truth Network have been talking about this week in and week out. It is having an impact and we will continue to build and we’re going to end this war on drugs and we’re going to help reunite our families and have some pride and having some common sense in dealing with substance abuse.

Dean Becker: Thank you for that. Tony, we got just a couple minutes left here and I want to spend it with you, I think, because it occurs to me that a lot of folks out there are saying, ’Well, it doesn’t impact me. My kids are little.’ or ‘My kids are grown.’ But, if your kids are little, they’re going to get old enough to get caught; to get busted; to have their future fractured or your grandkids are going to get old enough, you know.

There’s always another generation being set up like a bowling pin by this drug war. You can pretend that your kids are too smart; too good; whatever. But it only takes the mistake of getting in the wrong car with the wrong person on the wrong day, to wind up on the wrong side of this. Right, Tony?

Mr. Tony Newman: I think this issue touches everybody in our society. Again, every family, I would be hard pressed to find any family that has not dealt with substance abuse in their family and thank God if they haven’t gone to jail. But there are two million people in jail right now. There are ten’s of millions of people who have a loved one who is incarcerated.

If you don’t happen to know anyone who has a substance abuse problem or has been incarcerated, your tax money, we are spending so much… I’m sure in Texas, I know in New York, I’m know in California, we’re shutting down hospitals and shutting down after-school programs because we’re spending billions of dollars incarcerating our fellow citizens. There is no one in this country that this issue does not impact. We have to do a new approach.

Like I said, the good new is, there are common sense solutions. The good news is, momentum is changing. The good news is, that more and more people are starting to speak out, but we need people to be involved. We need you to support radio, like the Drug Truth Network, that is reaching families across this country. We need you to consider coming to the conference. We need you to continue to support people who are suffering from substance abuse. We need you to, kind of, continue to come out if you’re someone who enjoys marijuana, admitting to your families saying, ’You know what? This is something that I enjoy and I’m not a criminal.’
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Dean Becker: Once again, I want to thank Mr. Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance. Their website, drugpolicy.org, and to underscore the openness of the media, here’s a little segment I’d like to share with you.

From FOX almighty.

Male reporter: …own his time and we’re beginning a week long look inside the world of medical marijuana and it comes on a day… when the Obama administration says it will not arrest medical marijuana users or suppliers in the fourteen states that have already approved laws.

We start with a look inside a California marijuana dispensary. Joining in is the owner of the Farmacy, JoAnna LaForce. JoAnna, thanks for showing us your products and we’ve got your tee-shirts, we’ve got… What is this that… you’ve got some bottles there. You’ve got a bottle that looks like a beer bottle but it says, mine says Hibiscus Tea but for medical use only.

Woman reporter: Alright. Talk to us about the product JoAnna.

JoAnna LaForce: O.K. First I’d just like to say that, not only are we a provider of medical cannabis but we are a natural herbal shop. We believe in integrative medicine and wellness and so we have over three hundred varieties of plant based medicines, organic and one of the things that we offer is medical cannabis to patients with a recommendation. So as a health professional it’s very important that people realize that this is for medical use only.

For instance, this is one of the products that we’ve developed. We found that many people don’t want to use inhalation products and smoke cannabis.

Woman reporter: Sure.

JoAnna LaForce: They want alternative forms. So this is one of these that we’ve developed and we’re also developing one that has no THC and higher in other active cannabinoids for arthritis, for symptoms of chemotherapy and similar types of ailments.

Woman reporter: This fight has been going on for years and years, since 1996, between California and the Federal government. Have you yourself ever been subject to a raid by the feds? Have you been investigated by, say, the IRS because you have a cash business? What has your experience been as a business owner who is operating under California law, legally?

JoAnne LaForce: Well for almost five years now we’ve been in business and we run the gambit. We went through a federal raid in 2007, actually on my birthday, which wasn’t very much fun. We’ve also been audited by the IRS and we came through with flying colors. So we’ve been transparent from day one and it’s really exciting to see changes in the federal government as well as allowing the states to be able to regulate medical cannabis.

Woman reporter: I’ve been looking at some data coming out of California. They’ve estimated the crop in California, seventeen billion dollars. Tom Ammiano, who was a Northern California Assemblyman, wants to legalize marijuana statewide. I realize you’re in the business, but what are your thoughts on this movement in this state, to not only legalize it but tax it, to help it deal with California’s fiscal problems?

JoAnne LaForce: Well, I’ve looked at that bill proposal. I think it’s a very good bill for a number of reasons. Just to start, it would save the state, I’ve been told, over one billion dollars, just in law enforcement incarceration, not to even count about taxation.

Male reporter: JoAnna, if this is for medical use, that’s the reason why it’s legal in California, then why isn’t this like everything else that’s medical behind the counter at a pharmacy? You’re a pharmacist, why is it not something that’s sold at the CBS drug store chain?

JoAnne LaForce: Well, I would love to be able to do that and that’s why I’ve established a pharmacy-like model, but because of it’s schedule as a Schedule One by the FDA, it’s considered a drug of high abuse that has no medical value. So I would not be able to get a pharmacy license to be able to dispense medical cannabis…

Woman reporter: We should you were a pharmacist.

JoAnne LaForce: …but that has to change first.

Woman reporter: Yeah, JoAnna. You were a pharmacist for years and, to let our national audience know, you’re quite a figure head, in the state of California, when it comes to this issue. I know that you’ve thought about expanding up into Santa Barbara and it needs to be out there as well so, where do you think you’re at in the expansion plans with the news today that the Obama administration is going to ease up on going after people like you. They’re saying they’re not going to come after you, anymore. Does that give you hope as a small business owner, that you can in fact expand into other areas of the state?

JoAnne LaForce: Yes, it sure does and it’s really great to hear. I’m looking forward to protocols and the provisions he’s going to outline today to federal prosecutors. I think it’s very important and a major step in a sensible drug policy for our country. I hope that we will look at other countries as well, to establish a really good policy…

Woman reporter: Who is your main customer?

JoAnne LaForce: and I think I…

Woman reporter: JoAnne, I’m sorry. Who was your main customer? Describe the age and the type of person that comes in; who buys your products, as we show our audience. Because we have some here that we want to show. Well, the packaging anyway. I should say.

JoAnne LaForce: O.K. Besides just medical cannabis, we have customers of all ages. We have one of the largest children’s natural product inventories in our stores. So as far as our medical cannabis patients, our average age is forty years old and we’re getting more and more patients, elderly patients that feel comfortable coming into a pharmacy-like setting and getting help; and what they should pick for; and how they should use their medicines.

Woman reporter: I’m holding up the brownies and I would assume, like you were saying earlier, people don’t want to inhale marijuana, I mean, that’s cancer causing, so it’s more of the products you’re selling, more of the brownies; the foods; the drops, that you are finding are more popular, in your store. OK

JoAnne LaForce: Right. As a small business, we’re able to take a lot of that money to do research and develop products and establish a consistency in standardization. That’s were it needs to go.
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(Irish accent)

Dude 1: Dude, what’s that yer holding?

Dude 2: The controlled substances act.

Dude 1: Controlled substances act? Brilliant! What you do with it?

Dude 2: Oh, I found a way to incarcerate one point six million Americans, every year.

Dude 1: Can you arrest them in their own homes, wherever they are?

Dude 2: Yes!

Dude 1: Arrest people wherever they are. Brilliant! What else you workin’ on?

Dude 2: Claiming that marijuana is more dangerous than crack.

Dude 1: More dangerous than crack? Brilliant! Brilliant!

{glasses clink as in toasting}

Announcer: Prohibition: The drug traffickers dream. Enjoy it everywhere.

Dude 1: Brilliant!
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We’re going to wrap it up and as always I remind you that there is no truth, justice, logic, scientific fact, medical data, no reason for this drug war to exist. We’ve been duped. Please do your part to end the madness. Visit our website endprohibition.org

Prohibido istac evilesco.

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

The Century of Lies.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston

Transcript provided by: C. Assenberg of www.marijuanafactorfiction.org