03/17/13 Brad Burge

Brad Burge of Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies re April Conference, Terry Nelson of LEAP reports from Vienna re UN drug conference, Dog McVay of Drug War Facts re more black men now in college than in prison, Abolitionist Moment

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Brad Burge
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)



Cultural Baggage / March 17, 2013


YOUNG CHILD: I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.


DEAN BECKER: 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.


DEAN BECKER: Good to be back in studio drinking some fresh-brewed Nicaraguan coffee here at the mother ship of the Drug Truth Network. I am Dean Becker. Thank you for being with us. Here in just a moment we’re going bring in our guest, Mr. Brad Burge. He’s with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. You gotta say that kind of slow just to get it right.

For the past several weeks we’ve been bringing you recordings from our visit to Washington, D.C. attending the Americans for Safe Access cannabis therapeutics conference. A lot of great information there. We might have a little bit more this week but we are about out of that.

I would urge you to check out our television program. You may not of heard we now have a weekly, one hour series on HMS TV here in Houston. You can check out those first four at http://unvarnishedtruth.org.

With that I want to go ahead and bring in our guest, Mr. Brad Burge. How are you doing, Brad?

BRAD BURGE: I’m doing great, Dean. Good to be here.

DEAN BECKER: Many reasons I wanted to talk with you but one of the primary is that you guys have a conference coming up in April.

BRAD BURGE: Yeah, it’s really exciting. I’ve been working with MAPS and studying psychedelic research for a little while now and there’s been some great events in the past. This is just looking really, really exciting. We’re gathering together over 1,000 [inaudible] …

DEAN BECKER: Brad, let me interrupt. We’re having all kinds of static coming through. It sounds like a bad connection on your phone. Don’t move around too much. I think you’re disrupting the electrical flow there.

BRAD BURGE: Is that better?

DEAN BECKER: There still some crackling. We’re going to call you back on your cell phone and see if that works a little better. Let’s go ahead and play that track 7. This is some of my better writing - perhaps one of my better audio presentations. We’ll be shortly with Mr. Brad Burge.


Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the Abolitionist’s Moment.

It’s so sad that Americans are clinging to the belief that anything is justified if we say it is necessary. Torture by Americans? That is what the US attorney general is concerned about. I submit that we have been practicing the philosophy for a hundred years of saving one child by destroying the lives of millions of adults who use drugs.

Lots of believers buy the idea to this day. Believers think it proper to kick in the door, throw in some flash bang grenades, maybe set the place on fire… Shoot the dog and maybe the kids, ransack the place to make it look like a tornado aftermath; arrest the parents for possession of plant products. Send the kids to foster care, forfeit the home to state coffers. Take all the worldly goods and cash for the same purpose. Convict and send to prison the parents for sentences longer than for violent crimes.

Then, turn away when the parents and children are raped and beaten by fellow inmates or guards and then once they are released, we send them forth and demand that they prosper while we deny them housing, education, professional licenses, credit or even a job. Is that torture or is it just the American way? Please do your part to end the madness of drug war. Visit our website, endprohibition.org. Do it for the children.


DEAN BECKER: Alright, once again we have Mr. Brad Burge of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies with us. Brad, let’s see how it goes. How are you doing?

BRAD BURGE: Good. Let’s see if the connection goes a little better this time.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, I think it will be.

You were telling us a bit about the forthcoming conference. Why don’t you give us some more details.

BRAD BURGE: As I was saying I’ve been working with psychedelic research for a while. This event has researchers from all over the world coming together. This is shaping up to be very exciting and a whole lot more than any of us here really expected.

We have over a thousand attendees coming from around the world. We have 100 presenters from 15 countries coming to present research on psychedelics and science and medicine and spirituality. It’s a really great, diverse community coming together that are really showing how dramatically the skills have expanded and transformed in the last several years.

DEAN BECKER: Speaking of which…give the dates for those who might want to consider attending.

BRAD BURGE: April 18 th to the 23 rd in Oakland, California. It’s right there on the eastside across the bay from San Francisco. It’s happening over 5 days. We’ll have 3 days of full conference programming looking at clinical research, interdisciplinary social science research and also a whole track devoted to iowaska. That is a growing trend in science, medicine and spirituality with a lot of interest in it now.

We’ll also have a full day of pre and post-conference workshops, a cruise across the bay, a dinner and performance, art, and music. It’s going to be a real community gathering as well as an academic conference.

DEAN BECKER: The organization is multidisciplinary but I think it’s also multicultural – cross threads with music and art because that’s a part of the appreciation. Am I correct?

BRAD BURGE: Yeah, absolutely. A major part of what we do is focus on clinical research and opening up pathways in science and medicine and policy for beneficial uses of psychedelics but at the same time we see as a much larger part of our mission the perspectives it can change when we find that there are beneficial uses for these historically prohibited compounds can really dramatic cultural affects as well. It can show us that there are other possibilities to answering the pharmaceutical incorporate monster that prevented this research from happening up to now.

DEAN BECKER: The event, the conference (April 18th through the 23rd) – I’m in a bit of a quandary. I got an invite from High Times to go to Denver for the 420 Cannabis Cup. I want to go to both of these. I’m trying to figure out if I should go to your conference first or after that.

I guess that brings to mind what I think is becoming more apparent every day. People with stature, people who previously had opposed change to these drug laws are beginning to understand that they were wrong and that there is a need for that change. Your response.

BRAD BURGE: Absolutely. There has been some huge doors opening in all sorts of areas in our culture, our politics and in our medicine, our spirituality, our science. It’s becoming more and more possible for people who have learned to fear these substances to in a knee jerk kind of way dismiss any possible beneficial use and automatically assume that psychedelics and marijuana can only be harmful. I think there’s more and more places now being opened up by these conferences and by research that’s being done and the media coverage as a result of that research that’s allowing people to learn about psychedelics not as criminalized substances but as possible medicines and possible tools for spirituality and science too. I think there’s a certain extent to which people’s fears are breaking down and there’s a lot more ways for people to get involved and understand it.

DEAN BECKER: One of those ways that it is becoming more accepted is that in Israel you guys just enrolled your first subject in a study of MDMA assisted psychotherapy for PTSD. Let’s talk about that.

BRAD BURGE: That’s really exciting. We’ve had some studies underway here in the U.S. for a while starting in 2001 when we initiated our first study of MDMA assisted psychotherapy for PTSD primarily in female survivors of sexual assault and abuse. We had some really phenomenal results which spurred additional research and additional support for the research.

In addition to these studies happening here in the U.S. we’re also looking around the world in Canada and, as you mentioned, in Israel also in Australia and the UK as well. A major part of our research is making sure that the beneficial effects that we’ve shown and the safety that we show for such a MDMA psychotherapy for PTSD is actually applicable across cultural context.

We want to make sure that once this treatment is approved it will be available for as many people and in as many contexts as possible. As part of our scientific mission we want to make sure that our technology works because as treatment psychedelic psychotherapy can be made legal and it looks like it will then a lot of people stand to benefit from it and it serves them and it’s our ethical responsibility to get it right.

DEAN BECKER: I’m going to ask you to speak a little slower and more directly into the phone. It’s fuzzing out a bit.

The second thing that I was wanting to say is you mentioned that in the U.S. we have begun the process of looking at MDMA for PTSD. You just recently enrolled a 13 th subject, a firefighter with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD. We hear the story of all the soldiers coming back with PTSD but we have people facing dangers, situations in the U.S. (primarily policemen and firefighters) who also suffer from PTSD. Let’s talk about that – that it’s more widespread than just the army.

BRAD BURGE: That’s absolutely right. We do have a large number of soldiers coming back with PTSD as a result of military sexual assault and combat trauma but it’s true, it’s true that PTSD can actually occur to anybody and in a number of places. For the firefighters and the police officers we don’t have any police officers enrolled yet but we do have 2 firefighters with service-related PTSD.

There’s something in common or we’re hypothesizing that there’s something in common to the forms of PTSD that develop in service-related positions. What we’re finding is this MDMA assisted psychotherapy can actually work for these people in ways that other treatments don’t. We enroll only subjects who have tried other treatments, tried other pharmo-therapy (other drugs) and other psychotherapies. For them it hasn’t worked so we’re looking at some of the hardest cases of PTSD – firefighters, veterans and sexual assaults – who have been under intense PTSD for a very long time.

DEAN BECKER: We’re once again getting all kinds of noise. We’re going to call you back on the first line. We’re going to take a little break and we’ll be right back with Brad Burge.


(Game show music)

DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.

Problems breathing in large breaths, bearded women, 2-year-olds entering puberty, increased sperm count, increased risk for prostate cancer, swelling of the ankles leading to a heart attack and death…


Time's up! The answer: from Avian, Inc. AndroGel for low testosterone.


TERRY NELSON: This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

This week I report from Vienna, Austria at the Vienna International City (United Nations). I have been attending the 56th. session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. It has been a very interesting few days. Three years ago when I attended the 53rd. conference there were a few voices that called out for a major change in the world drug policy. This trip there were a multitude of groups that are calling for change. And even in meetings chaired by the drug warriors there was some reluctance but they did allow conversation about a major change.

In one meeting the chairwoman practically begged the delegates to offer alternatives to the current policy but in the typical bureaucratic fashion the delegates toes the party line. The main excuse here is that “we have no authority” and it is up to the member states to make changes. But they have no problem with vigorously defending the drug war. It is to be expected as they will no longer have a job if the drug war goes away. The four decades that this policy has been place has made very comfortable nests for the delegates. They get to live in a very nice city, are paid well by their countries, have great working conditions, travel extensively on the government nickel, you know doing research, come back write a report, that could have copies from the previous one, and the wheel turns.

But this year the feeling is different, the Non-Governmental Agencies that are allowed to participate are almost unanimously calling for major change. One expression that you hear is “Legalized Regulation” and “problematic drug use”, instead of drug abuse. This is a change as for years any use at all was called drug abuse and now a distinction has been made since so many countries are liberalizing their drug laws with a little adjustments that keeps them in compliance with the treaties. They do this by keeping the drugs illegal but allowing small amounts for personal use that will not draw penalties. However, while this is good for the person it still leaves in place the drug dealers and drug cartels that are causing all the crime and violence in the world.

There is much attention being paid to how the U.S. government will react to Colorado and Washington State. The UN is bringing pressure on our government to act against the state as the total legalization is in direct violation of the treaties. I feel that our government will be very reluctant to act against the will of the voters. So, If more U.S. states legalize or decriminalize small amounts and vote for medical cannabis then the issue will certainly reach a level that will require a major change in how the United Nations office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) operates.

Let’s keep up the pressure and force this discussion. We have allowed these policies to destroy enough people’s lives and it is way past time for an open dialogue on how much harm has been caused by the drug war. We all know that education and treatment is a better alternative than arrest and incarceration. This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, www.copssaylegalize drugs.com. Stay safe.


DEAN BECKER: That’s my good friend, long-time reporter Terry Nelson. He built that report in a hotel room in Vienna. I think you were able to hear it. I thought it was worth hearing.

Once again we have Brad Burge from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. Brad, can you hear me?

BRAD BURGE: I sure can.

DEAN BECKER: You sound much better. Let’s hope this works out.

I don’t know if you got to hear that…

BRAD BURGE: Yeah, I did.

DEAN BECKER: That was Terry Nelson. He’s talking about how we were talking about earlier that it’s beginning to change, beginning to shift. People are starting to talk about that need for change even at the UN Drug Commission in Vienna. There’s hope on the horizon.

BRAD BURGE: Yeah, there sure is. Terry was talking about how a lot of the negative impacts are shifting perceptions and policies surrounding drugs - the extent of gang violence and the collapsing of the prison system, just the blatant human rights offences that are happening as a result of the drug war.

What’s really exciting about psychedelic research is that it’s kind of coming at it from the other end showing that not only is the drug war harmful in a direct way but also there are these possible beneficial uses for these drugs that have been at the center of the drug war for so long and that, also, is changing public perception.

So if we can have beneficial spaces and safe places and techniques for using these substances in positive ways than that also helps to shift perspective in the way that he’s talking about.

DEAN BECKER: In looking at your website I don’t see too much mention of marijuana. It’s not because you guys haven’t wanted to deal with it, to study it, to provide additional science in that regard but the government keeps putting stumbling blocks in the way of that effort don’t they?

BRAD BURGE: Sure do. We’ve had a lot of success with psychedelic research in the sense of gaining regulatory support and moving studies through the process and getting good results but interestingly (and you wouldn’t think this would be the case given the cultural hysteria around LSD and psychedelics) but actually marijuana research has been much harder to start.

There have been studies of marijuana’s benefits as we’re both familiar and many organizations and government committees have come out talking about the medical uses of marijuana but there have not been any clinical studied intended to move marijuana through the FDA process to make marijuana a legally available prescription medicine. That’s what we’re trying to do.

So while there’s all this state-based policy reform happening which is really more successful so far than our clinical research with marijuana we’re trying to work at a federal level to get prescription approval to protect patients nationwide.

So the way the government is blocking this is very interesting. We have approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a study of smoked or vaporized marijuana in veterans with PTSD looking at marijuana and various strains containing THC and CBD as a treatment for symptoms of PTSD. So with FDA approval and also with the Ethics Board approval we should be able to move forward with the research. If we were working with any other drug whether it was LSD or MDMA or aspirin we would be able to start the research but, unfortunately, because marijuana is such a linchpin of the War on Drugs and such a focus of our cultural hysteria around drugs the government actually maintains a monopoly on the supply of marijuana for research through the National Institute on Drug Abuse. They have refused to sell us marijuana for the study despite these approvals so that’s how they’re preventing our research from moving forward.

DEAN BECKER: Was it …I can’t remember what university but Professor Lyle Craker …do I remember that right?

BRAD BURGE: Yeah, that’s right. Lyle Craker is a professor of plant, soil and insect sciences at the University of Massachusetts. This is another way we’re trying to get around this NIDA research blockade. Instead of purchasing the marijuana from NIDA we’re proposing that we will build and sponsor a marijuana farm run by Professor Craker at the University of Massachusetts and that farm will provide marijuana to government approved research.

In order to do that we need a DEA license. For the last 12 years we’ve been struggling with the DEA to get that license approved. In fact, in 2009 a DEA Administrative Law Judge actually recommended that it would be in the public interest for the DEA to grant that license. Of course the DEA administrator at the time refused.

We’re now pursuing the same case as a lawsuit against the DEA in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the First Circuit in Boston. We’re now, at this very moment, waiting to hear a ruling back on that to see if the DEA will be forced to reconsider their denial.

DEAN BECKER: 12 years, 13 years you guys have been trying to get this in place…

BRAD BURGE: 12 years to purchase 10 grams of marijuana.

DEAN BECKER: 10 grams – a third of an ounce. It’s crazy.

BRAD BURGE: It’s a lot easier to go out on the street and purchase it but, unfortunately, that’s not legal for use in FDA research.

DEAN BECKER: Right – it wouldn’t stand the test.

I wanted to come back to the conference again. I looked at the list of people who will be speaking and this is a virtual who’s who of who’s who. It’s going to be quite a gathering. Let’s talk about who will be in attendance.

BRAD BURGE: We have some of the leading pioneers of psychedelic research – the people who were looking at psychedelics as therapeutic and scientific tools before they were made illegal in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

We have people like Stanaslof Grof who’s one of the founders of transpersonal psychology, one of the pioneers of the use of LSD in psychotherapy.

We have some of the leading Ayahuasca researchers. Ayahuasca is a botanical preparation used in spiritual/religious ceremonies in South America traditionally and increasingly been looked at as a treatment for addiction and as a spiritual tool for groups here in the U.S. as well. Jose Carlos Boso who’s a Spanish researcher who has done a great deal of research on the traditional use of Ayahuasca will be giving a presentation there.

We also have our lead researcher from our MDMA assisted psychotherapy for PTSD program, Michael Mithoefer, who will be giving a presentation summarizing the results. He will also be giving an all day workshop for people who want to get more information about the practices and principles of psychedelic assisted psychotherapy there’s a number of workshops led by some of the original researchers.

DEAN BECKER: We’re just about out of time. We’ve got about 30 seconds here. Once again folks this is the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. It’s going to be in Oakland from April 18 th to the 23 rd. I will be there for at least part of that.

Brad, I want to thank you for joining us. Oh, give them the website, please.

BRAD BURGE: http://maps.org You can also check out http:// psychedelicscience.org for information about our conference in April.

DEAN BECKER: We appreciate it and I’ll see you here in about a month.

BRAD BURGE: Alright, Dean. Looking forward to it. Thank you.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you.


DOUG McVAY: Everything changes.

In 2002, the Justice Policy Institute issued a report titled “Cellblocks or Classrooms.”

That report's Finding Number 3 was: “Nearly a third More African American Men Are Incarcerated than in Higher Education.” Often shortened to the more media-friendly “more black men are in prison than college,” JPI has come under fire for that statement in recent years – most notably in the 2012 film by Janks Morton, Hoodwinked, but also by people such as Professor Ivory Toldson of Howard University. In his April 20, 2011 piece in Empower Magazine, “Cellblock vs. College: A Million Reasons There Are More Black Men In College Than In Prison And Why More Work Needs To Be Done,” Professor Toldson writes,


“When reviewing Cellblocks or Classrooms, there’s no evidence that the authors intended to sensationalize problems facing black men in the United States. More meaningful and palatable lines like “choose classrooms over cellblocks” were written with more prominence. Today, the widespread and contentious notion that “there are more black men in jail than in college” is not the fault of the Justice Policy Institute. Rather, it is the fault of journalists looking for a sound bite, politicians trying to arouse a crowd, program managers and researchers who would rather assert the need to exist than to demonstrate the efficacy of their techniques, and the list goes on of people who feel the need to be intentionally provocative. Lost in the feedback are young black men who are trying to reconcile such an ominous conclusion with their reality.”

End quote.

Here then are the numbers.

A search through the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System, IPEDS, finds that in the 2009-2010 school year, there were 1,347,485 Black or African-American male students enrolled in Title IV 2- and 4-year colleges. This includes public as well as private, for-profit and nonprofit schools. This is also only how many were enrolled that year.

The Drug War Facts section on Race and Prison actually has newer data, so looking back at “Prisoners in 2010,” the report by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics, we see that in 2010 there were a reported 561,400 non-Hispanic Black males under state and federal jurisdiction. The BJS also reports that there were 283,200 Black/African-American inmates of either gender in local jails that year. So there were a maximum of 844,600 Black/African-American men behind bars that year – many fewer than were in college. Whether or not JPI was right in making that statement back in 2002 is in many ways moot. The point is that today, that trite soundbyte is not true.

Things change. If you're an activist, or you engage at all in policy debate, it's important to keep up with these changes and stay current. Up-to-date fact items are always to be found on the Drug War Facts website at Drug War Facts dot org. Be sure to check back from time to time. You can keep track of new fact items as they're added by subscribing to our RSS feed, and also to our newsletter. Knowledge is power. Get the facts.

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


DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Doug. Friends, the drug war is ending. It’s ending so slow, so ugly and violently. It’s waiting on you to speak up, stand up, to contact your elected officials and let them know that you see the fallacy of this horrible situation. It’s time to bring it to an end.

I want to point out that Doug does a weekly television segment for me as well. Please check out Century of Lies this week. We’ve got great stories of opiate use by pregnant women and the U.S. saying that marijuana saying that marijuana is beneficial for cancer.

As always I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.


DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

Drug Truth Network archives are stored at the James A. Baker, III Institute for Policy Studies.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.

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