09/26/10 - Melissa Del Bosque

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Melissa Del Bosque writer for Texas Observer re "Postcards From a Cartel City" + Philippe Lucas re cannabis salve, oils and tinctures

Audio file


Cultural Baggage / September 26, 2010

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

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”


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.


Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I’m so glad you could be with us. We’re going to bring in Melissa del Bosque, who writes for the Texas Observer here in just a couple of moments but first, I want to do a tribute to my doctor.

This is Doctor Joel S. Hochman, the Director of the Nation Foundation for the Treatment of Pain.

Dr. Joel S. Hochman: Well, the National Foundation is an organization of about five thousand dues paying and intractable pain patients and my job is to try and make sure that no legitimate pain patient is denied adequate and affective medical care. My job also is to try to make sure that there are enough physicians educated and knowledgeable and brave and courageous enough to take on the responsibilities of caring for those patients.

There are about fifty- to-seventy million people on the United States alone – about one out of every five, who suffers chronic or intractable pain, so we’re not talking about a small problem.

We had hoped that with a new administration, we would see a sea change in policy and attitudes and I think that eventually we will. I know that this is on the list of priorities in D.C. but it’s certainly farther down the list with the economy and nuclear weapons in Iran and things of that nature.

The short answer – yes sir, there is a growing problem. It has not gotten better. It has gotten worse, as of five or six years ago there were about thirty-five thousand doctors in the United States who would be brave enough to prescribe to these patients and that number has been reduced to probably no more than about five thousand at this point.

The foundation estimates that we need a hundred thousand doctors minimum to adequately and effectively take care of the patients who need their medical treatment. So, we’re way behind. I personally, in my practice – the Foundation tries to guarantee – we try to find doctors all over the country. We have a long list of six hundred doctors or more to whom we try to refer these patients, when they contact us out of desperation. Hearing, “Look, I can’t find a some help for my pain. I’m going to kill myself.” is not unusual.

So, we try to find the patients doctors that will accept the care and we make the commitment, if we cannot find someone and it is that kind of urgent terminal situation, then they can come to Houston to the clinic here and we’ll take care of them. So, it is a crisis situation that has not gotten better.

Dean Becker: Keeping true to his idiom, Doctor Joel Frederick Simon Hochman made an enviably tranquil and fearless transition from this life to the next on September 17th 2010. The National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain is located on the web at paincare.org.

With the passing of Doctor Hochman that means that I and well over a thousand other pain patents are without a doctor at this time, just the way the government likes it, I suppose.


Dean Becker: Alright now, recently I caught a story in the Texas Observer, “Postcards From a Cartel City: A reporter returns to border town riven by a drug war”. The author of that piece is with us now, Melissa del Bosque. Hello Melissa.

Melissa del Bosque: Hi.

Dean Becker: Thank you for joining us, Melissa. This piece talks about the lack of life, the lack of commerce – the, if you will, the failure of the Mexican state. Do you want to talk about what drove you to write this story?

Melissa del Bosque: Well, I was over there actually reporting on an immigration story and I used to work for a daily newspaper in McAllen. McAllen is right across from Reynosa. I hadn’t been there in about ten years and I just really was, I guess, taken aback by how – how really the Mexican government had very little control over the city and how far, I guess, the Drug War had deteriorated the city.

People are there are living under constant gun battles and what they called narco-blockades, where the cartels will yank people out of their cars or trucks and blockade major traffic arteries in the city. I do quite a bit of reading on the Drug War and Mexico ans so I thought I was prepared but it was much worse than I had expected.

Dean Becker: Well now, the city that you were writing about, Reynosa, is as you say, riven by this Drug War but it’s all along the border and many cities have it even worse, if I dare say. The Chronicle in the news section today has a front page story, “Residents fear for their lives or flee as drug cartels bring Mexican border town to its knees.” They show a picture of Ciudad Juarez Mayor Farriz, waving the Mexican flag to celebrate their two hundred year anniversary. Yet, the parking lot where he is doing this is basically empty because people are that afraid. Your thoughts on that, please?

Melissa del Bosque: Right, we’ve been hearing now about, just the devastation of Juarez, for the last couple of years. Especially since 2008, it’s been very, very dire there with gunfights in the streets, kidnapping and extortions of businesses.

Almost daily now, we’re reading these just awful headlines that are coming out of that city but also up and down the border with Texas. There are a lot of cities that like the state of Tamaulipas, which is right across from McAllen and Brownsville, the major cities being Matamoros and Reynosa, are now getting upwards to what Juarez is experiencing, not as bad a Juarez but they’re getting pretty close. So, it seemed to me when I was there in August, again in Reynosa and Matamoros that things were deteriorating.

Dean Becker: Well, Juarez is a larger city, I would dare say, than the others you’re speaking of and perhaps per capita it’s just as bad, right?

Melissa del Bosque: Right, yeah. Juarez is, I think, larger. Reynosa is little over half a million people and then Matamoros is smaller than Reynosa. So, I was – I guess, I was just surprised just by how little government control there was in the cities.

I think we often read about these, just these terrible things going on with kidnappings and killings and these increasingly sort of barbaric ways that people are being murdered but we don’t hear a lot about how this is effecting people in their day to day lives, which was kind of what I was trying to portray, I guess, in my article was just what kind of impact this has on people who are living in these cities and just trying to get their kids to school or open their business.

I think there’s kind of this collective sort of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder going on in these cites because people are having to live with basically a war going on in their city.

Dean Becker: Yeah, once again we’re speaking with Melissa del Bosque. She writes now for the Texas Observer. Her recent piece was Postcards from a Cartel City. Now, you’re talking about the everyday necessities, trying to run the gauntlet if you will, to get the groceries and get the kids to school and get home safely, when there’s so much death and destruction going on.

I remember back when I was a teenager and in my twenties. We used to go to Mexico and it always seems a little dangerous and a little exciting, to be honest, going into Mexico, but you write here, “ Now, no one smiles. People avoid eye contact. They have reason to be wary.” That’s taken that smile away that we used to expect going into Mexico, right?

Melissa del Bosque: Right. Border cities in Mexico have never been particularly safe places. I have been to most of them and worked in some of them as a journalist. Reynosa was never particularly a nice place but it was a place where people felt fairly – well, fairly safe.

There were people in the plaza and people – kids eating ice cream, the sort of things that you would expect to see in any city. Whereas now, people are in this sort of in this lockdown kind of environment, where most people are in their houses. Nobody goes out after five. People have really drastically changed their daily lives and routines.

They don’t go out on weekends and like the recent Bicentennial celebrations, like you were describing in Juarez that just happened a couple of weeks ago. A lot of people didn’t go to those celebrations because they were afraid to be out because something might happen. So, it’s really affected people’s day-to-day lives a lot and there is just no sense of security when you are in these cities.

Dean Becker: Melissa, I am again reading from your article and you talk about in here that you and your husband did not spend your nights in Mexico. Again, I can understand why and you talk about that now, because the journalists are kind of gagged, if you will, afraid to report the truth that people now lean on Twitter and Facebook and Email to inform each other about what’s really going on, correct?

Melissa del Bosque: Right, yeah. When I was there, I asked my friends who live there in Reynosa and Matamoros, “What areas should I stay away from and what do you suggest?” They said there’s really no place where – they’re saying, where the gun battles could basically break out at anywhere and anytime, there is no “safe” place or “dangerous” place. It could happen anywhere.

It’s unpredictable, so the way that they communicate with each other is through text messaging or twitter. They warn each other if there’s a there’s a blockade or a gun battle going on, then they text everybody or they send a tweet out. Each city, like Reynosa, has it’s own hashtag, #Reynosafollow for Twitter, where everybody can communicate there about if there’s a gun battle going on or something, so they can all avoid it.

I just talked to a friend from Monterrey that said that taxi drivers there are using Twitter to communicate about blockades and so forth, so they can avoid these gun battles. Often, when there’s a blockade there is a gun battle around the blockade. So, what happens is that any sort of motorist or anybody that gets in the way can get shot. That happens more than often, so people really go out of their way to avoid anything like that and rightly so.

Dean Becker: Right, once again, we’re speaking with Melissa del Bosque, who had a great article in the Texas Observer. Melissa, I wanted to talk to you because I miss the old Mexico, to be honest with you, a lot of people have this anti-immigration stance and this attitude that “Mexicans can all go to hell” but I like – I did like visiting there, to feel the flavor of another nation and the way they lived their life. It’s lost the flavor, so to speak. Your thoughts?

Melissa del Bosque: Well yeah, my husband is from Monterey, which is currently having a lot of problems right now with the cartels. We spend a lot of time in Mexico and had to live there for periods of time. There are still places in Mexico, like around Mexico City and so forth, where they’re not having too many of these problems.

So, really I’m talking about mostly the northern Mexican border that’s having the worst kind of problems right now. So, there still are places in Mexico you know that you can go but I would say, definitely this summer that things seemed to deteriorate as Felipe Calderón President’s war against the cartels. It seems to me that things are worse.

We had Hillary Clinton say that it was approaching a sort of insurgency. So, I think they’re at a crucial point in Mexico right now and it’s either going to get better or worse but it’s hard to tell at his point.

Dean Becker: Yeah, it certainly is. Well, Melissa, I’m kind of wrapping this up. You talk about the financial impact. Grocers, restaurateurs and others that have businesses are extorted on a daily basis. They face kidnapping of their children to enforce those payments. It‘s really depriving the workers of the ability to travel freely, get to work and in many cases, destroying the business by which so many of these people make their living and thousands – hundred of thousands of them are now moving to the United States to escape this madness. Are they not?

Melissa del Bosque: Well, yeah. There is a global economic crisis, which Mexico is experiencing just the same as we are and then on top of that people – business leaders are having to deal with being extorted or kidnapped on top of that. So, the businesses along the northern Mexican border are just plummeting. They’re closing or they’re trying to move their businesses to the US side until things get better.

It’s very, very tough to do businesses right now along the northern Mexican border because of the fighting. So, hopefully it’s going to get better because I don’t know how long they can hang on. It’s hard enough to have a business right now, let alone with being extorted or having to deal with organized crime.

Dean Becker: Alright, once again we’ve been speaking with Melissa del Bosque. She wrote a great piece for the Texas Observer. I urge you to check it out. I urge you to check out the whole situation for yourself. Make your own determination of whether or not this Drug War is doing what it is purported to do and whether it’s worth continuing and whether or not you might ought to contact your elected officials and ask them to change their stance in the direction that we’re moving on this. Well, Melissa, any closing thoughts that you would like to relay to the listeners?

Melissa del Bosque: Well, I guess one thought is, it’s going to be really hard to win this war until money is taken out of the equation with regards to drugs. The huge, huge drug demand that there is in the US.

The US is aiding Mexico with $1.3 billion for the Mérida Initiative, which is helicopters, more guns and things like that to fight the war but at the same time, the US is sending $30 billion in drug proceeds to the cartels. So, you weigh $30 billion dollars against $1.3 billion in aid from the US. You have to ask, who’s going to lose this battle?

So, I think the US needs to reconsider it’s drug laws in a realistic manner. Sooner or later it’s going to have to happen. It’s just a question of how long can Mexico hang on in the long run while the US refuses to deal with it.

Dean Becker: OK, Melissa, I wanted to say this too, of that of that $30 billion that they reap each year in selling these drugs to the United States and the world really. I’ve heard it said that half of that – Anthony Placido, Assistant Head of the DEA, said that half of that goes to corrupt and bribe officials on both sides of the border to ensure that this gets done. It’s a big task changing these laws around, won’t it be?

Melissa del Bosque: Yeah, it’s going to be a huge task and you make a good point. There’s corruption on both sides of the border. The theatre of war is in Mexico but this is a problem that addresses both the United States and Mexico. It’s not just Mexico’s problem. We’re part of the equation.

Dean Becker: Well, Melissa, we’ve got just a couple of seconds left. Is there a website that you’d like to point folks towards?

Melissa del Bosque: Sure. If you want to read the story you can go to texasobserver.org

Dean Becker: Melissa del Bosque, thank you so much.

Melissa del Bosque: Sure, thank you for having me.


(Crime fighting music)

Prohibition’s filled the world with vice and crime
It’s left a trail of death, graft and slime
It can’t stop what it’s meant to stop
Everybody knows this but the cops
Prohibition don’t prohibit worth a dime.


(Game show music)

It’s time to play: Name That Drug By It’s Side Effects

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(Record starts playing barbershop music)

Pfizer and Merek kill more of us
Than the cartel’s crap ever could
They thank us for our silence
Each year’s hundred billion dollars
And the chance to do it forever more
Drugs, the first eternal war…


Please visit: drugtruth.net


Dean Becker: Our next guest is a man that wears so many hats that I hesitate to ask the following question. Mister Philippe Lucas. What is it that you do these days?

Philippe Lucas: I am a Victoria City Councilor, an elected official in Victoria, British Columbia, which is the provincial capital of British Columbia. I am a research affiliate with the Centre for Addictions Research in British Columbia. I am an active member and founder of Canadians for Safe Access, cannabis’ biggest rights organization. I’m on the board of the Multi-Disciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies, Canada and the board of Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

Dean Becker: Now Phillipe, you were a speaker at the recent NORML conference there in Portland, Oregon.

Philippe Lucas: That’s right.

Dean Becker: There were two points that you brought forward that really struck a chord with me on a personal basis. The first is that it’s being determined that marijuana is in fact a “gateway” drug, away from the use of hard drugs and liquor. Do you want to talk about that aspect?

Philippe Lucas: Sure, for the last five years or so, I’ve been connecting research and looking at cannabis as an exit strategy to problematic substance use. I’ve developed some research looking at how cannabis has can reduce the use of pharmaceutical opiates and since we know that pharmaceuticals is the area of addiction that’s the fastest growing in North America and particularly painkillers, like pharmaceutical opiates.

Right now, I’ve got a study that started about two weeks ago that’s taking place in four dispensaries here in British Colombia and we’re going to be asking medical cannabis patients about their use of medical marijuana, including they’re – how medial marijuana impacts their use of both licit and illicit drugs. That would include pharmaceuticals, illicit substances; like cocaine, heroin, crystal meth and also licit substances; like tobacco and alcohol.

Dean Becker: And the second for me, a very personal bit of knowledge that I gleaned while I was there – while I was in Oregon, someone gave me this solution that is like a lotion that one rubs on sore and injured portions of the body and it brought immediate relief.
It didn’t take away the pain necessarily; it took away the aggravation. I’m wondering if you could talk about these products that don’t bring euphoria but they do bring pain through the use of cannabis.

Philippe Lucas: Well certainly, there hasn’t been a lot of research done on topical applications of cannabis but at the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, a non-profit medical cannabis dispensary here in VC, that I founded in 1999, we produce a salve that is used topical by patients to relive the pain and inflammation of arthritis, to reduce the impact of skin conditions, like psoriasis.

It’s been a really affective product for so many people who are suffering from painful joint disorders or otherwise. The research on actual topical applications seem to indicate that in many cases it’s difficult to break the blood/brain barrier, in other words, in order to get this product through the skin and the layer of fat beneath it but, certainly, anecdotally, a lot of people seem to benefiting from this type of application.

Dean Becker: Like most folks in America and Canada, I come back to Texas and find that I no longer have access to this salve, if you will. There is a way that one can make it at home, so to speak. Could you inform us on how that might be done?

Philippe Lucas: Well, I think the easiest way to produce a salve like – or at least a topical application would probably be combining cannabis with an olive oil based product or even an almond oil based product. These are both typically used – or often used as massage oils. So, by simply doing a low simmer of cannabis products in these oils, you’re quite are likely to going to get an effective topical application.

Otherwise, there’s – making topical salves is not a complicated matter. It usually involves beeswax, a paraffin and there are a number of recipes available on-line of how to make salves in general. It’s just a matter of converting the recipes to use cannabis products instead. So, as you suggest, there is no topical cannabis salve available anywhere in the world right now through typical pharmaceutical chains. So unfortunately, that’s the kind of treatment that people will have to use a do-it-yourself approach with.

Dean Becker: As I understand it, the Vancouver Island Compassion Society actually has a recipe on-line, do they not?

Philippe Lucas: Not for a salve, I don’t think. We’ve got recipes for cannabis oil, which are available on-line and I would engage people to have a look at that. I don’t think we’ve ever posted a salve recipe on-line, not because we are keeping it a secret. It was just – it’s something that seems to help a few of our members but it’s not the typical route of administration.

Dean Becker: As I indicated early on, a man with so many hats, I typically ask for our guests to point folks towards a website. What might you recommend?

Philippe Lucas: Well, definitely if you want to find out more about how to make cannabis based medicines, going to the website of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, which is www.thevics.com. We’ll give you recipes to many alternatives to smoking.

On that website, you’ll find recipes for cannabis oil, as I suggested; cannabis butter and our cannabis cookies, as well, which allows patients to make a standardized product with some predictability and some consistency from batch to batch.

We also have a pretty amazing recipe on how to make a cannabis oral mucosal spray, that we call “Cannamist.” The important thing about that recipe is that we’ve, by working with a local lab and finding a way to convert THCA, which is how THC is expressed in the natural plant matter, before it is heated, into THC prior to making a tincture out of it. That has improved the efficacy of that product considerably. So, I would certainly invite people to look at the website to www.thevics.com



How can you stop drug users from using?
How do you keep the sun from growing weed?
How can you end drug prohibition?
It makes the world go round.


Dean Becker: Once again, I want to thank Melissa del Bosque, who writes for the Texas Observer. Please check out her story. Check out the 420 Drug News this week. We’ll hear from Mister Howard Wooldridge, who is riding his horse Misty, north to south in California to support Prop 215. We’ll also hear from Mister Phil Smith with the Corrupt Cop Stories of the Week and Mary Jane Borden who is talking about marijuana arrest rates setting a record.

Check out this week’s Century of Lies which follows next on many of the Drug Truth Network stations. Our guests will be Alice Huffman, she’s the Director of the California NAACP. As always, I 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.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.

Drug Truth Network programs are archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies.

Transcript provided by: Ayn Morgan of www.eigengraupress.com

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.