02/24/13 Dale Skye Jones

REPORTS FROM WASH DC: Dale Skye Jones, Chancelor of Oaksterdam University, Gar Roberts of Medical Cannabis advocates of Maryland, Trip Keiber of Dixie Elixers, Doug McVay with Drug War Facts, Ol' Miss Pot Patch & Weed Country

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Guest: 
Dale Skye Jones
Organization: 
Oaksterdam University
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Century of Lies / February 24, 2013

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

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DEAN BECKER: Welcome to this edition of Century of Lies. Today we are reporting from Washington, D.C. where I’m attending the national Cannabis Unity conference of 2013. We have a lot of great guests for you and let’s just get started.

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DALE SKYE JONES: Hi. My name is Dale Skye Jones with Oaksterdam University. I’m the Executive Chancellor. I’m also the chairwoman for the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform.

DEAN BECKER: Now, Dale, the truth of it is the recognition about the positive aspects of the cannabis plant are just being recognized, embraced. It’s extrapolating isn’t it?

DALE SKYE JONES: Indeed. I think the most exciting part of this is the introduction of mainstream into the cannabis industry. I should say the cannabis movement and that it is growing into an industry.

A lot of the self-regulation that has been attempted over the last few years has enticed folks like the unions - particularly the United Food and Commercial Worker Union who traditionally represents people like pharmacies, grocery stores, retail, agriculture which is simply a perfect fit for the cannabis industry.

Frankly we would have been unionized 40 years ago if only this had been legal so with the introduction of hemp as an important agricultural opportunity the unions have even more opportunities with the southeastern states – particularly the tobacco farmers – to introduce a cash crop here to the U.S.

Meanwhile the mainstream folks – the people that are already at the top of their game in their own individual industries – are introducing “best practices” into the cannabis businesses and that’s not only improving confidence in the cannabis industry but also improving the policy around it and that’s what most exciting for both patients and those that find themselves criminalized for behavior that’s really one of the safest choices you can make as an adult.

DEAN BECKER: You know I’m from Texas and truth be told there’s not a lot of progress, not much awareness of progress in other states but now there are, good gosh, dispensaries, scientific tests…there’s a whole host of products from lotions to soda pop that deal with cannabis and I guess what I’m trying to say here is that there’s so much possibility and so little potential for harm from cannabis.

Let’s talk about the possibilities of this plant – what it might mean to California where you live or to the nation in general.

DALE SKYE JONES: What’s remarkable about cannabis as you mentioned is both its safety and its efficacy. The lethal dose has yet to be determined because it is so high. Cannabis is not a central nervous system depressant which is largely why cannabis can’t kill you.

In fact the DEA Administrative Law Judge, Francis Young, stated after reviewing all the evidence that was available that it was, in fact, the safest therapeutic substance known to man. 10 raw potatoes can kill you yet you would have to ingest 40 to 80 pounds of cannabis and at that point it’s a physical issue. It’s more likely to split your gut.

What’s remarkable also about cannabis are the many different ways that you can ingest it. The most popular way is smoking. Well that’s been used for millennia however there are safer alternatives. I want to point out that when I say safer there are valid studies that show that even smoking cannabis does not cause lung cancer, COPD, or emphysema however it can cause bronchitis. Anytime you set fire to plant matter and inhale it you’re going to irritate the lining of your lungs.

You can vaporize the material which basically heats up or boils away the beneficial components (the cannabinoids, the terpenes) so that you can inhale and ingest the beneficial substances without actually setting fire to the plant matter. You’re also not ingesting things such as lighter fluid, ash and tar that often happens when you’re just using a pipe or, worse, smoking out of a blunt.

So please folks no tobacco inside or as a wrapper because all of the benefits of cannabis go away when you add tobacco.

All that being said these different ingestion methods such as topical applications can show someone like your dear aunt Betty that cannabis is medicine that doesn’t have to get you high. What’s even more exciting is now that we’re testing our medicine…we’re not just cultivating how high which is really the only measure we had to vote on which plants we should keep propagating – the different strains that we might enjoy was just based on how it made you feel.

Now we’re starting to test in laboratories for cannabinoids. We’ve discovered that we’ve almost beneficial components like cannabidiol known as CBD. Now we have farmers that are specifically growing high CBD plants that will actually allow specific sets of patients (usually with muscular issues - Multiple Sclerosis, these physical conditions) that grants them without the dysphoric effects of THC for a lot of these folks. In fact CBD mitigates the euphoric effects of THC. So for folks that really don’t like the way that cannabis makes them feel - the THC is dysphoric instead of euphoric – you might try a high CBD strain.

DEAN BECKER: There are many great people in Texas that work to change these laws and one of them saw a better opportunity and came to Oakland, California – Oaksterdam as he eventually helped get it renamed to – Mr. Richard Lee, founder of Oaksterdam University. He’s now stepped down.

You’re now kind of in charge of the education of growers, sellers and people who will hopefully be controlling this industry. Let’s talk about how many people have graduated from Oaksterdam, what did they learn there?

DALE SKYE JONES: Since Richard Lee first opened the school in 2007 we have taught over 15,000 individuals. A lot of folks come through our programs – every race, age and background you can possibly imagine. That’s what’s so exciting. They are bringing the best practices from their own life into this industry.

The folks that come to Oaksterdam University really come to us to learn best practices – how to do this well, how to work with their community and their local elected officials to make sure that they are the ones who get permitted and are able to open businesses.

We also just teach patients – folks who want to understand different methods of ingestion, want to understand the rights and responsibilities under their local law and want to have successful law enforcement encounters.

First we teach politics and the history of cannabis prohibition so that you can speak to why we’re here and actually understand your place within this movement in history. This really is part of the next civil rights revolution and first through the door, the brick wall tends to get the bloodiest. So the most important thing you might learn from us is what not to do.

There are definitely missteps that naïve individuals to this particular industry, the risks of this industry need to know before entering into it. You have grave responsibility to your family with respect to your home, your property, your children. You have to understand those risks and your responsibilities within this movement because until it is legal federally we’re not truly an industry – we’re still a movement.

So there’s a responsibility when you enter this industry to keep pushing forward with good policy, good law and make sure that you represent the best of what the industry has to offer. We have to self-regulate until we’re actually regulated on a federal level.

DEAN BECKER: Any thoughts you’d like to relay, websites you want to point to?

DALE SKYE JONES: I’m excited to talk about the Veterans Freedom Fighter program. It’s a scholarship we started because we kept receiving so many phone calls from veterans asking if we accepted GI benefits.

If you go to http://oaksterdamuniversity.com you’ll learn about the Veterans Freedom Fighter scholarship fund. If you’re a vet who needs help to understand how to control their medicine, their lifestyle, help that perhaps step down from things like alcohol or prescription or just learn how to have successful law enforcement encounters and really find community with folks just like you. Your freedom fighters as well and you have been fighting for our freedom for many years so the least we can do is try to offer an opportunity to get the education that you want.

If you’re a successful entrepreneur or someone that has simply done well in the industry I would ask that you also visit the scholarship fund and donate to help veterans learn what they need to know.

We’ve also partnered with Not This Time Vets and Miss Donna Jacobs is working very hard to help with job placement and other veteran services along the lines of housing and family help.

You can go to http://oaksterdamuniversity.com to learn more about helping vets or if you are a vet. The Freedom Fighters scholarship fund.

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GAR ROBERTS: My name is Gar Roberts. I’m with the Medical Cannabis Advocates of Maryland. We’re small group of people working on trying to change the laws in Maryland so people can have safe access. That’s the reason why I’m here with Americans for Safe Access to make that happen.

DEAN BECKER: More and more people heading into their senior years are starting to realize that it has benefits, that they do need to legitimize it for their own personal health. Your thought there, sir.

GAR ROBERTS: My thought is that going back to 1974 when they had the first study that was done that actually showed that cannabis has medical value and those studies have happened just about every 10 years and consequently it’s just been put to the side.

More and more people realize that…because it’s just very slowly coming out…

DEAN BECKER: Tell me about your experience in doing outreach, in trying to educate and embolden others. Is it finding success? How is that going?

GAR ROBERTS: I’ve been finding more success than not but there’s still a good percentage of people that still have this whole “hippy, 60s, counterculture” mindset attached to it which is very unfortunate but that’s what I’ve found.

Slowly people are starting to come around because of people like Irvin Rosenfeld who’s one of 4 surviving patients under the federal program. His story has been getting out a lot more over the last 5,6, 7 years or so. People are astounded to find out that the federal government had been providing medical cannabis for a group of people before they shut the program down in 1991.

DEAN BECKER: I want to commend you for speaking out, for sharing the truth. I think that’s really the answer. The truth is known by a lot of people that we talk with but it’s just not recognized. It’s not given the validity that I think it should be given. Your thought there.

GAR ROBERTS: I would agree that it’s just not given the validity. But because of the fact that you now have 18 states plus the District of Columbia that have some sort of medical marijuana program or medical cannabis program. Now we have in 2013 we have 2 states (Washington and Colorado) that have fully legalized for recreational as well.

I believe that we’re starting to really turn the corner and get some traction as it relates to the rest of the country coming around. I think probably in the next year or so there’s going to be a larger conversation nationally that’s going to be very mainstream and consistently in the faces of the American citizens.

DEAN BECKER: I’ve been monitoring the news since November when Colorado and Washington State voted to legalize. Since that point in time state legislators and state senators – I’m sure there’s well over a dozen, perhaps approaching 2 dozen – who have put forward measures to either legalize or decriminalize or otherwise change the cannabis laws. Traction is being grabbed, isn’t it?

GAR ROBERTS: Yes it is. We had this also just recently with Congressman Jared Polis out of Colorado who just introduced a bill to take cannabis out of the scheduling and leave it to the states as to whether or not they would want to have full legalization for recreational use or a medical cannabis program.

I think that’s great. I just heard that someone else also introduced another bill. There is a lot of traction as you said. There is a lot of traction going on at the national level. I’m not quite sure as to why it is that it’s taking so long for these things to happen. I’m just amazed.

DEAN BECKER: Me too. We’re going to wrap it up. Is there a website you would like to point folks toward or any closing thought?

GAR ROBERTS: I would ask people to definitely support Americans for Safe Access also the Marijuana Policy Project. We have a Facebook page which is http://facebook.com/medicalcannabisadvocatesofmaryland. People can go there and like and follow the various things that we are doing for the state of Maryland.

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DEAN BECKER: The following segment features the chairman of the Dixie Elixirs corporation.

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TRIPP KEBER: I was a fairly traditional and conservative individual in my youth. I worked on Capitol Hill when President Ronald Reagan was in office. I had jobs at the Heritage Foundation and they’re probably rolling over in their graves at the thought of me running a marijuana company.

My name is Tripp Keber and I’m the Managing Director of Dixie Elixirs and Edibles here in Denver, Colorado.

Dixie Elixirs and Edibles is a marijuana infused products manufacturer also known as a MIPs. We serve as a wholesale provider to medical marijuana centers which are effectively retail outlets.

I had very little to no experience with cannabis or medical cannabis myself however I did see an opportunity as an entrepreneur. Two years ago this market was wide open and the barriers of competition was relatively low. I believed that myself and my employees could really make a difference and make a name for ourselves.

Two and one-half years later I believe we’ve probably built the largest medical marijuana infused products marijuana manufacturer in the country.

We currently create recipes, if you will, that allow us to take cannabinoid oil and infuse it into various products. Today we have 8 distinctive product lines representing 55 unique products.

We have our line of medicated lozenges and Dixie Chill which is medicated ice cream. Our line of Dixie X products really maintain all of the traditional medicinal benefits without any of the associated euphoria or psychotropic aspects.

Our flagship product is the Elixir. This is a 12 ounce medicated elixir with 40 milligrams of active THC (which is the medicine). One dose equals 10 milligrams so by definition 40 milligrams would equal 4 doses. That would be the equivalent of smoking 4 marijuana cigarettes of average strength end after end if you consumed this entire product.

This facility has the ability to generate tens of thousands of units on an hourly and daily basis. Deanna and Jim are actually manufacturing our Dixie X Pain Relief Salve. Behind them we have our science division which are conducting extractions.

The company is just under 3-years-old and we’ve seen explosive growth. The company now serves approximately 90% of the addressable market here in the state of Colorado and rapidly expanding to states like Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon and California.

Our goal is to deliver this medicine and get it into the hands of as many people as we possibly can.

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DOUG McVAY: Time for another installment of “fact checking the Drug Czar.” This time, let's take a look at ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske's interview with the Canadian news magazine MacLean's, published February 11, 2013.

In response to the question: “Q: So why not just treat drugs as a medical issue, the way alcohol abuse is treated. Why not just drop the criminalization?” Gil said, quote: “We arrest about 2.4 million people in this country a year for alcohol. We arrest less than 700,000 people for marijuana ­ and for all drugs, only 1.3 million. Alcohol is perfectly legal. So making drugs available without any sanction would only lead to more abuse.” End quote.

Let's start at the top, with alcohol arrests. According to the FBI's most recent annual Uniform Crime Reports, in 2011 there were 1,215,077 arrests for driving under the influence – they don't separate out the drunk driving arrests from drugged driving arrests so to give Gil a break, let's count all of them. In addition, there were 500,648 arrests for violations of liquor laws and 534,218 for drunkenness. These are for all ages so that includes under-age drinking. That's 2,249,943 arrests total. So he was off by a one or two hundred thousand a year, but reasonably close at least compared with his other errors.

Speaking of which, let's go on to his assertion about the number of people arrested for marijuana each year. Gil says it's less than 700,000. According to the FBI, there were 757,969 arrests for any marijuana offense in 2011. The last time that number dipped below 800,000 was in 2005. The annual number of arrests for marijuana first topped 700K in 1999, when that figure was 716,266. The biggest year so far has been 2007, when the total number of marijuana arrests reached 872,720.

Arrests for all drugs numbered 1,531,251 in 2011. That's a good bit more than Gil's claim of just 1.3 million. Still, 2011 saw the lowest number of arrests for all drug offenses since the mid-1990s – 1996 to be exact, when the FBI reports that authorities made a combined total of 1,506,200 arrests for all drug offenses. The peak was in 2006, when law enforcement made a combined total of 1,889,810 arrests for all drug offenses.

Gil said alcohol is perfectly legal. We'll give him that one, colloquially, though technically it's regulated with age limits, restrictions on availability and hours of sale, laws against certain behaviors while under the influence, etc.

Gil then said, quote, “making drugs available without any sanction would only lead to more abuse.” End quote. Nothing in what he's said that supports that notion, more importantly he's engaging in a “straw man” argument. The Straw Man fallacy is basically defined as ignoring someone's actual position in a debate, instead misrepresenting or substituting a false version and debating against that. Here's how Gil did that. First: Making drugs available? No one is talking about legalizing meth or treating heroin like alcohol. There is, as Kerlikowske himself has finally admitted, an ongoing national conversation about legalizing marijuana, but that's only one specific drug. Secondly: Without any sanction? Marijuana legalization proposals which have passed in Colorado and Washington, and which are being proposed around the country, do differ yet they have some common elements including strict age limits, penalties for under-age use and for providing cannabis to minors, bans on public use, etc., like we do with alcohol. That's not “without sanctions.”

The job of drug czar requires a clear headed thinker and convincing communicator who can lead, who can use the evidence and the power of the bully pulpit to implement policies that work to reduce the harms and manage the risks from substance use. Let's hope someday we can finally find someone like that.

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

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DEAN BECKER: The following segment comes to us courtesy of WLBT television.

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MAGGIE WADE: It is controversial and advocates are fighting to legalize marijuana. The University of Mississippi has the only legal marijuana crop in the nation.

Faculty members and student researchers have developed a new patch that has created quite a buzz in the debate over legalizing pot and providing help to patients who need it.

Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly is a faculty member in the School of Pharmacy at Ole Miss. He gave us a tour of this lab where he has been working for nearly 7 years to find alternative ways to use THC – the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

The first a suppository did not go over so well.

MAHMOUD ElSOHLY: Jay Leno was, had it on his show, when we first came up with the product and said, you know, 'Dr. ElSohly at Ole Miss has developed a way to administer marijuana by suppository. You know how he came up with this idea?' He said, 'well he was smoking a joint and then he saw the cops and he went' [makes hand motion]"

MAGGIE WADE: But with his team, Dr. ElSohly pressed ahead. Over 77,000 samples were prepared for analysis on this project, and although you see us walking around freely, Dr. ElSohly reminded the crew we were under constant surveillance by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Some of the areas are so sensitive we had to wear protective gear.

MAHMOUD ElSOHLY: This here…just touching. The smell…really it’s a wonderful smell.

MAGGIE WADE: The patch developed at Ole Miss could help patients overcome problems associated with taking the drug in pill form. The patch is placed above the gum line.

MAHMOUD ElSOHLY: In addition to pain, it will include things like reducing intraocular pressure and therefore would be good for glaucoma. [It] will be good for alleviating the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy; it would also be good for appetite stimulation for patients suffering from the syndrome, anti-inflammatory activity, anti-anxiety.

MAGGIE WADE: The formulas for the patch were screened in rabbits, then pigs at UMC in Jackson.

MAHMOUD ElSOHLY: So we're not really introducing anything strange to the body, other than the THC itself. We are just having to make it so that we'll make it possible to be absorbed through the mucus.

MAGGIE WADE: Dr. ElSohly believes they have found the right formula.

MAHMOUD ElSOHLY: Because of the way it is absorbed it's almost like it's absorbed through the lungs, like the smoke. When you smoke, it goes to the lungs, to the whole, entire body before going to the liver. Unlike the oral [which] goes to the liver first and then goes to the rest of the body.

MAGGIE WADE: Dr. ElSohly is not a fan of legalizing marijuana.

MAHMOUD ElSOHLY: The plant itself has a great potential for good medicines coming out of the cannabis plant but certainly not in smoking the drug.

MAGGIE WADE: Two other scientists worked with Dr. ElSohly on the development of the patch. The discovery is expected to take medicine and these researchers to a new high.

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DEAN BECKER: The following courtesy of the Discovery Channel and their brand new program “Weed Country.”

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REPORTER: Deep in the heart of the northern California mountains marijuana growing season is underway.

MAN: They’re growing in their front yard. There’s nothing more American than a man taking his piece of ground and producing a product that people want.

REPORTER: This is the Emerald Triangle.

POLICE OFFICER: [in helicopter] I mean look at the size of that. That looks like an orange orchard.

REPORTER: Ground zero for a multi-billion dollar marijuana industry. Originally comprised of three counties covering 10,000 square miles it’s now growing out of control and rebels are staking their claim.

MAN: You can use those feet and walk off this property anytime you feel like it.

REPORTER: They stand to make millions…

MAN: It’s just a business that can’t fail.

REPORTER: …or be locked up for years.

[police siren]

MAN: Uh-oh.

POLICE OFFICER: We have the medical marijuana laws but for the people who are making profit off of it. We have to stop it.

MAN: You can haul 1. You can haul 100.

POLICE OFFICER: I got one right on target.

REPORTER: It’s a decades old battle between cops, dealers and growers using 21st science to make the most powerful weed on earth.

MAN: Arguably I just committed a felony.

REPORTER: This is the story about America at war on itself.

MAN: Every time one of those plants falls that’s money that we don’t get.

POLICE OFFICER: It is a problem at epidemic proportions.

MAN: Yeah, I’m breaking the law on TV.

POLICE OFFICER: [in helicopter] I’ve got the target off to my left.

MAN: So what?! This is weed country. We will never stop this – ever!

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DEAN BECKER: Thank you for joining us on this edition of Century of Lies. Keep in mind that you need to do your part to end this drug war now. Prohibido istac evilesco!

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Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org