12/09/12 Robert Platshorn

Robert Platshorn of the Silver Tour, BBC: Nadelmann and Branson, Dr. Sanja Gupta, Doug McVay, Annies Scarlet Letter

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Guest: 
Robert Platshorn
Organization: 
The Silver Tour
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Transcript

Cultural Baggage / December 9, 2012

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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!”

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.

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DEAN BECKER: Hello my friends. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I’m glad you could be with us. You know the drug war is beginning to fray at the edges. People are beginning to walk away from this bailiwick. They’re starting to understand that it is unnecessary and, in fact, downright evil.

You would think that many of those who would object to changes are the old folks but the fact of the matter is some recent polls show that those my age – you know, baby boomers – we’re the ones most in favor of ending this drug war. Even more so than the young.

Recently a gentleman named Robert Platshorn…well, he’s been doing it for a couple years but recently he put the movie together. He’s putting them on cable TV. He’s broadcasting them and he’s holding seminars at nursing homes and retirement centers in and around the southeast Florida and Georgia area.

He’s the author of the “Black Tuna Diaries.” I think he spent 30 years in prison for smuggling marijuana but now, as I say, he tours those retirement homes and he talks about how marijuana can benefit us old folks.

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ROBERT PLATSHORN: I’m Robert Platshorn. I’m the man who spent more time in federal prison for marijuana than anyone in the history of the United States. I did 30 years in federal prison for a non-violent marijuana offense.

I used to be a smuggler. I tell my story in my book, “Black Tuna Diaries” which has gotten great reviews. You can learn about me in the movie “Square Grouper” which is now on Showtime and available on Netflix, iTunes or Video on Demand.

The reason I’m here is to promote the Silver Tour. After being on the road for the book and the movie for over one year I realized that we were all preaching to the choir. No one was actually going out and trying to reach the public with information about medical marijuana, the safety of marijuana, the efficacy of marijuana.

All the groups like NORML, ASA – they preach to the choir. When I go to Hempfest, Hempstalk and of course I go to all the High Times Cannabis Cup events. I write for High Times. I do a senior medical column for High Times. You’re still preaching to the choir.

I felt I had to do something to reach out to the public especially because the senior vote is so important and has been so ignored. I watched Prop 19 in California and there was a tremendous amount of money spent on publicity to overcome the negativity of the growers and the dispensaries who didn’t want to see legalization because they thought it would affect their income.

It occurred to me that most of those people don’t vote. They can’t vote. Most have felony convictions. The growers and the people around the growers are all ghosts. They don’t want to vote but the only people who went to the polls – and that was a bi-election – 90% of the attendees at the polls were seniors and Hispanics.

No one was talking to seniors except the beer lobby and all they had to say was, “You don’t want stoners on the road.” And seniors are easy to scare. But they were the people who defeated Prop 19.

That’s my generation. We invented marijuana on the mass scale that it is known today. Before that not many people were smokers – jazz musicians, ethnic groups – but there was no widespread availability or demand for good cannabis.

My generation made it happen and we never bought the government’s story. We never bought the negativity that the government had been spreading for years. In the beginning they said, “It makes white women chase black men.”

Henry Anslinger said, “It makes negroes think they’re as good as white people.”

And, of course, “It’s the cause of all the greatest evil in America. It’s the cause of jazz and jazz is an evil music.”

That’s how they sold prohibition. The real reason, of course, was to stop the hemp industry.

No one was talking to them about marijuana today and its medical uses. No one needs it more than the seniors and no voting group is as important as the seniors. Seniors can make or break an election in almost every state – certainly in California, Arizona, Florida – any place where there is large retirement communities. Without the senior vote nobody gets into office.

So I started something called the Silver Tour. I go around and put on a show. It’s not a lecture. It’s not a seminar. It’s not a panel or any of those other things that tend to put you to sleep. It’s a show.

I’m an old pitchman. I worked on the boardwalk with Billy Mays and Ron Popeil. If you’ve ever read my book, “Black Tuna Diaries”, there’s an inscription by Billy Mays that says, “Bobby Platshorn was a legend in the pitch business – one of the greatest.”

Well, if I can pitch Vitamixes and Ginsu knives and I was the first guy on TV with Ginsu knives I can certainly pitch cannabis. So I go around and we have a doctor who tells them about the medical uses, the safety. He assures them it doesn’t interfere with their medications which is one of the great fears.

We explain that you don’t have to smoke it. That’s the other great fear. A lot of seniors don’t want to smoke but they have no conception of edibles, oils, tinctures, extracts, ice cream – all the ways they can do cannabis. They don’t know about vaporizers. Now we’ve given them a variety of ways to get it.

Then there’s usually a lawyer who will get up and explain the legal situation in that state or how to change the legal situation. At many of our shows we have a congressman who actually speaks to the audience and tells them they’re entitled to get cannabis. There’s no reason they shouldn’t. He tells them how congress works and what to do specifically to change the laws.

It’s a great show. We don’t encourage activists to come to the show. This show is for the uninitiated. We go into senior communities, clubhouses…I’m not talking about nursing homes. I’m talking about places where people still play golf, go swimming, play tennis – have an active life.

They’ve got the time and the inclination to go after their legislators and get them to change things. We go into the clubhouse. We give them a big, free buffet. That fills the seats. Seniors love free food.

If you’ve seen the piece that CNN did you know they interview the people coming in all of whom said, “Well, I’m here out of curiosity. My nephew sent me. My grandson sent me. My neighbor was coming so I rode with her.”

Then the interviews at the end were unanimously in favor, “I want to try it. Maybe I can get off of some medications. I think I’m old enough to make up my own mind.”

The press coverage has been national – CNN, Newsweek, next week the Wall Street Journal. They did a fabulous piece. They even did live interviews which will be on their website.

Next week I have a show. Because of the national publicity here I got a call from the biggest channel in Australia that covers the whole country – TV 7. They’ve already flown in a crew who are going to video my show next week with Herb Rosenfeld. It looks like Bob Melamede is going to be my medical expert. The congressman is going to be there and we’re actually attracting attention all over the world. Because this will be on prime time in Australia it will echo right back to the states so we’ll get even more national publicity.

To the best of my knowledge there is no one else who is reaching out, educating the public and turning them in our favor. We made so much progress and we are so close to being able to push it over the edge or get pushed back. Now it’s got to be one or the other.

In California when Prop 19 didn’t pass I knew sure as could be that the DEA and FBI would take that as a mandate from the public to go ahead and start closing down dispensaries, go after growers and now this year Colorado, Oregon, Washington…so something has to push it and the Silver Tour is the answer because seniors vote.

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DEAN BECKER: I came across that audio. I don’t know who produced it but I think it was recorded at a NORML conference. Robert Platshorn, author of the “Black Tuna Diaries.” His website is http://thesilvertour.org

The fact of the matter is us old folks get it. We had our heads kicked in. We understand the nature of this drug war, the futility of this drug war. We’re the ones that need to stand up. He’s talking about seniors that’s people one year older than me – understand? I’m at the top age of those that support marijuana – 65 and older so it could take a little bit of work but I think Robert Platshorn will get it done.

You know recently the whole world has been waking up, been recognizing this need for change and recognizing the fact that the folks in Colorado and Washington State actually did vote for change. Even the BBC is looking into that. Here’s a little segment that will kind of clarify that for you.

The following segment courtesy BBC. It features Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Drug Policy Alliance, as well as Richard Branson of Virgin.

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REPORTER: America’s moves toward decriminalizing pot raises questions about how the drug war more widely is being waged. It’s the subject of a new documentary, “Breaking the Taboo”, which criticizes the costs and the strategies of fighting a narcotics trade.

Today in New York Laura Trevelyan sat down with Richard Branson whose son, Sam, produced the film and Ethan Nadelmann, the founder of the Drug Policy Alliance.

RICHARD BRANSON: The amount of people consuming drugs worldwide is growing dramatically. The amount of people going to prison is growing dramatically and countries that are oppressive about drugs are suffering. The people, in particular, are suffering.

Countries like Portugal or Spain which are treating the drug problem as a health issue rather than a criminal issue are getting on top of the problem.

LAURA TREVELYAN: Are you advocating the legalization of drugs?

RICHARD BRANSON: The Global Drug Commission is just saying, “Please try different approaches” so the legalization of cannabis or regulating cannabis – they would like to see states or countries trying that. They think that in the same way that when prohibition failed so dramatically in America and the way they got on top of the problem and the way they got on top of the underworld and the crime was to regulate and that’s certainly something we’d like to see tried.

LAURA TREVELYAN: Ethan Nadelmann, here in the United States today possessing small amounts of marijuana becomes legal in Washington State but do you expect the federal law to change?

ETHAN NADELMANN: Well, we’ll see. I mean this is a lot like what happened with the repeal of alcohol prohibition in America in the late 20s and early 30s where more and more state governments began to repeal their own state alcohol prohibition laws and eventually the national government followed suit.

So what Colorado and Washington did on Election day by voting to legally regulate marijuana like alcohol they became the first to not just two states but the first two political jurisdictions anywhere in the world.

They’re just the first two. We’re going to see others and I think eventually federal law will follow.

LAURA TREVELYAN: Don’t you worry that legalizing drugs will simply lead to more people using drugs, more drug addicts and even more crime?

ETHAN NADELMANN: Well remember most of this is not about legalizing all drugs. It’s really about the legalization of marijuana. It’s about the people saying, “Look, the country is now evenly split.”

In fact a small majority now say that marijuana should be legally regulated like alcohol. Is there a risk of more people using marijuana? There is a risk but I don’t think it’s a risk of a dramatic increase. Meanwhile no longer arresting 750,000 Americans per year, no longer spending tens of billions of dollars to enforce these unenforceable prohibitions, taking the money out of the hands of the gangsters, allowing the police to focus on real crime – those are the arguments that are compelling for most Americans.

LAURA TREVELYAN: I think there is going to be a fundamentally new approach. Isn’t the worry that you just empower the existing drug gangs if you legalize drugs in any form at all?

RICHARD BRANSON: I don’t follow that. I mean if you say take Portugal as an example. The state are now supplying the heroin to people who have a heroin problem and they take and pull the rug completely out from under the underworld that was supplying heroin and they are managing to reduce the number of people taking heroin. By giving them clean needles they’re not spreading HIV.

LAURA TREVELYAN: Heroin is a hugely lucrative trade. You’re not expecting those gangs to just give it up like that.

ETHAN NADELMANN: Well it’s the worst thing that could happen to the gangsters and organized crime is for marijuana and other drugs to be legalized. Quite frankly they would no longer play a role in the market. Their competitive advantage is in the employment of violence and intimidation – not in marketing, not in dealing with government regulations.

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DEAN BECKER: Again that was from the BBC featuring Ethan Nadelmann and Richard Branson. They’re talking about the movie “Breaking the Taboo.” It is now up online. You can access it immediately. Watch it there in full screen by going to http://breakingthetaboo.info

I watched it. It’s powerful. Please check it out. Please do your part to end the madness of drug war.

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DEAN BECKER: Alright 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 courtroom near you.

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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…

(((gong)))

Time’s up! The answer: Vioxx.

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[game show music]

STEVE HARVEY: Alright folks we got the top six answers on the board. Name something that gets passed around.

CONTESTENT: a joint

STEVE HARVEY: a joint?

[laughter / applause]

STEVE HARVEY: Now, Chris, I don’t know what hundred people you thought we were talking to …some nice little mall across good ‘ol America but I’m pretty sure the people didn’t tell the survey people, “Hey…an illegal drug.”

Let’s turn around and see how many weed heads are out there with Chris.

A joint…

[ding]

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DEAN BECKER: Last week featured an interview with Ethan Nadelmann, the director of the Drug Policy Alliance, talking about the recent addition of Doctor Sanja Gupta to the honorary board of the DPA. Here’s a report from CNN and Doctor Gupta about the use of ecstasy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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RACHEL HOPE: Some partying is on guard. He just wouldn’t stop – couldn’t shut it down.

REPORTER: For Rachel Hope the mental agony began in childhood when she says she was abused and raped at age 4. As a grownup the smallest trigger like a familiar smell even would bring it all back.

RACHEL HOPE: I would get very, extreme stabbing sensations in my body then fixed visuals like being, for instance, raped.

REPORTER: Mental breakdowns, four hospitalizations and along the way Rachel tried almost every treatment in the book.

RACHEL HOPE: I tried ENDR, rapid eye movement therapy, hypnosis, yell it out, scream it out…nothing worked.

REPORTER: And then she discovered an experiment run my Dr. Michael Mithoefer. He’s a psychiatrist in South Carolina.

MICHAEL MITHOEFER: This is where we meet with people and then this is where we do the MDMA sessions.

REPORTER: Intense psychotherapy including 8-hour sessions after taking a capsule of MDMA – of ecstasy.

RACHEL HOPE: It felt as if my whole brain was powered up like a Christmas tree – all at once.

MICHAEL MITHOEFER: Sometimes usually people did have some very positive affirming experiences but a lot of the time it was revisiting the trauma. It was painful, difficult experience but the MDMA seemed to make it possible for them to do it effectively.

REPORTER: Within weeks Rachel says about 90% of her symptoms were gone. The results just published Dr. Midhofer says 14 of 19 patients were dramatically better more than 3 years later.

MICHAEL MITHOEFER: The question was, “OK was this just a flash in the pan? Did people just feel good from taking a drug?”

So the answer to that turned out to be, “No, it wasn’t just a flash in the pan for most people.”

REPORTER: Lori Sutten was the Army’s top Psychiatrist until she retired in 2010.

LORI SUTTEN: I’ve certainly reviewed it and the results look promising. It’s like with the rest of science – we’ll apply the rigor, we’ll follow where the data leads, we’ll leave our politics at the door.

REPORTER: None of this means that street ecstasy is safe. You don’t always know what you’re getting. It’s often contaminated. Pure MDMA can cause a higher body temperature. It can cause dehydration. There’s also cases where people overcompensate and actually die from drinking too much water.

But in a controlled setting the evidence does seem to suggest that it can be safe and Midhofer is half way through a study offering this treatment to combat veterans, firefighters and police officers.

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[harmonica music]

The DEA is joker the FDA’s the joke.

The joke is on the USA so why not take a toke?

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DOUG McVAY: The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction released its annual report on November 15th of this year. The report provides the latest data and commentary on the drug situation across Europe. In addition, EMCDDA released new annual reports from the 27 EU Member States as well as Norway, Croatia and Turkey.

This year, reports contain special sections focusing on drug use in prisons, and on drug users and the family.

Regarding drug use and the family, the EMCDDA notes that:

“Individuals take drugs, but often their families must share the problems that their consumption can cause. Families and the related issue of drug users with parental responsibility are analysed in a new EMCDDA study. The report finds that although those with drug problems do not necessarily make bad parents, they are likely to require additional support. Treatment services, in particular, must be sensitive to the needs of those who have parental responsibility, as worries about childcare or child protection can act as a barrier to seeking help.

Working with drug-using parents is also challenging for services, as it requires balancing the rights of the parent and of the child; however, the report concludes that good practice and well-targeted interventions can make a real difference. This finding is echoed in the analysis of interventions that target pregnant drug users, where there is strong evidence that the provision of appropriate advice and support can improve the outcome for both mother and child. “Many studies have explored the stress and social disruption that can result from having a family member with a drug problem. Family support services, however, are generally poorly developed in most European countries.

This can mean that an important resource for supporting recovery is being overlooked. A focus on the family environment is also becoming increasingly important for drug prevention work, where a growing evidence base points to the effectiveness of broad-based prevention strategies that target both the environment and the individual. The family is particularly important in this respect, and environmental prevention strategies that work to establish stronger families may lower the risk of a range of problematic behaviours, including drug use. Despite the positive findings for interventions in this area, the fact that they remain, to a large extent, poorly developed, highlights the more general problem that findings from research on prevention often fail to be translated into policies and practice. ”

Regarding drug use in prisons, the EMCDDA notes that:

“Despite increasing interest in providing ‘alternatives to prison’, many people with drug problems continue to pass through Europe’s prisons every year. This is reflected in study data showing that drug problems are far more common in prisoners than in the general population. Although some do stop using drugs when incarcerated, the availability of drugs in some prisons also means that others may initiate drug use, or start engaging in more damaging behaviours. Injecting drug users, for example, may share equipment more frequently, heightening the risk of the transmission of blood-borne pathogens such as HIV and hepatitis C virus. “Overcrowding, poor hygiene and a lack of healthcare provision affect many prisons, and contribute to the overall poor health status found in prison populations. Prisoners with drug problems may be doubly disadvantaged in this respect, and may be especially vulnerable to both physical and mental health problems while incarcerated ­ with particular concerns existing about their elevated risk of self-harm and suicide. ”

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay with Common Sense for Drug Policy and Drug War Facts.

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DEAN BECKER: Alright, thank you, Doug.

I want to thank you for listening. We’ve got just a few seconds left here. I want to share some thoughts with you. First off, that link to “Breaking the Taboo” movie – please check it out – it’s http://breakingthetaboo.info

Of course we had Robert Platshorn talking about the Silver Tour and that one is easy, http://thesilvertour.org. Please check it out.

Please do your part to end the madness of drug war. You know we’re going to do things a little differently today. We’re going to kind of think about what this drug war is about – how it impacts us, our kids, our community.

Local musician, Carolyn Wonderland, has put together a really amazing song about dealing weed, about what many of our children do to survive in these economic times.

Please, you got to do your part, friends. This is Carolyn Wonderland.

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[music]

My name is Annie
I'm about your daughter's age
Happy with my living, earning minimum wage
Last year I had a baby,
Love him with all I got
But the bills, they became too much, so I moved a little pot

Now I'm an ex-patriot in my hometown
I can't even vote to change the laws that put me down
I only pray that you fare better
I'll wear my marijuana leaf like a badge, it's my scarlet letter

Time goes slow here
From behind these bars
But I'm not so far away that I can't hear the cars
Driving down the freeway
Wishing one of them could give
me that short ride downtown where my little boy lives

But I'm an ex-patriot in my hometown
I can't even vote to change the laws that put me down
I only pray that you fare better
I'll wear my marijuana leaf like a badge, it's my scarlet letter

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DEAN BECKER: [over music] This is Dean Becker thanking you for joining us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. As always I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.

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But I'm an ex-patriot in my hometown
I can't even vote to change the laws that put me down
I only pray that you fare better
I'll wear my marijuana leaf like a badge, it's my scarlet letter

Now I don't want you
to feel sorry for me
I ain't on bended knee for your sympathy
I knew it wasn't legal
but was it really so wrong
to justify locking me up here for so damn long

Well, I'm an ex-patriot in my hometown
I can't even vote to change the laws that put me down
I only pray that you fare better
I'll wear my marijuana leaf like a badge, it's my scarlet letter

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Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison, DrugSense.org