10/27/17 Diane Goldstein

DPA Conference IV: Donnie Wirtschafter Ohio Atty, David McKinney of FlaCan, Diane Goldstein winner of DPA's Spier Award, Jeff Malansky who served 23+ years for weed, Heather Fazio of Texas MPP & Neill Franklin Dir of Law Enforcement Action Partnership + Steve Rolles UK reformer & Dr. Sanjay Gupta courtesty CNN & Congressman Blumenaur re opiate crisis

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Friday, October 27, 2017
Diane Goldstein



OCTOBER 27, 2017


DEAN BECKER: This is Cultural Baggage, the unvarnished truth about the drug war. I am your host Dean Becker. We've got a lot of good stuff to share from the Drug Policy Alliance conference in Atlanta, and hell, let's get started.

I'm here at the Drug Policy Alliance conference, I'm speaking with Mister Steven Rolles, he's out of Bristol, in the UK, he heads up Transform, and I was proud to be wearing one of his shirts yesterday, Nice People Take Drugs, because there's a lot of nice people here at this conference, isn't there, Steve?

STEVE ROLLES: For sure, actually, the Nice People Take Drugs is from one of our partner organizations called Release, in the UK, but yeah, my organization's called Transform Drug Policy Foundation. We're based in Bristol in the UK. I'm usually based actually in London, and we -- but we operate internationally, and we have a partner organization based in Mexico, so we do UK work, and we do international work, and it's all -- but it's all on the same goal of ending the war on drugs, and specifically, our work is looking at post-prohibition models of regulation.

So we've done a lot of detailed work, sketching out what a post-prohibition would look like, not just for cannabis. We do do a lot of stuff with cannabis, and that's obviously a very interesting, relevant, current topic, but we're also looking further into the future, beyond legalization of cannabis, of what legalization and regulation of other drugs would look like, too. Some of the drugs that are maybe more challenging in terms of the public view, when it comes to the legalization discussion.

DEAN BECKER: Well, right, there are a lot of preconceived notions, for lack of a better term, about these drugs, what they will or will not do, but I think what's lost to most folks is these drugs are made by half-trained chemists and then cut with all kinds of household products, and these days, nobody really knows what's in the bag, or the product they're taking.

STEVE ROLLES: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, one of the, you know, however dangerous or risky a particular substance is, inevitably it will be more risky if it's produced by unregulated organized criminal gangs and sold on the street. I mean, that's beyond question.

So, this isn't -- the case for legalization and regulation has never been about claiming drugs are safe, it's about claiming they would be safer if they were appropriately regulated through a responsible, you know, government controlled system of licensed production and licensed sales.

Now obviously, the model of regulation that you adopt would depend on what the drug is, what the particular behaviors and risks associated with that drug are, so your regulation model for cannabis would be very different to MDMA, or cocaine, or, you know, heroin, but you know, these things are not entirely fantastical. I mean, we have legalized cannabis now, we've got different models of legalized cannabis, so we can see which ones are going to work better.

We've got more state controlled public health oriented markets in Uruguay, there's more commercial markets in some of the US states, and you've got Canada now that's legalizing, and is probably going to be plowing a furrow somewhere between the two, so they're going to have a more regulated market perhaps than the US, but not a state monopoly like we've got in Uruguay.

But of course, beyond cannabis, you know, you -- we also have examples of other drugs being made available legally, so, heroin, which is arguably at the other end of the risk spectrum to cannabis in terms of potential risks, is also made available legally under a medical prescription model in a number of countries, including the UK on a very small scale, but also more extensively in places like Switzerland. And we've seen that's actually very, very effective.

So, when they started prescribing heroin to opiate dependent drug injectors who were using street heroin, and were exposed not only to the criminal market and the gangsterism and the violence of the street drug scene, but they were also exposed to drugs of unknown potency, they were using them in unhygienic, marginal street drug scenes, and they were often sharing needles and getting HIV and other bloodborne diseases. So when those people were then prescribed heroin, not only did the illegal contract, but there was also a dramatic drop in drug deaths, there was a dramatic drop in street dealing and street injecting.

So all the problems that we associate with something even as kind of demonized and, you know, socially challenging as injecting heroin use, all of those problems got better when it was controlled and regulated within a, in this case a highly regulated medical model, but again, it's a different model, but it's the same set of arguments, based on the premise that any drug, however dangerous, your starting point is it's going to be more dangerous, more risky, if you hand it over to, you know, gangsters and street dealers.

DEAN BECKER: And I think more and more politicians are beginning to realize that. Many of them have not yet developed the courage to speak too openly in this regard, but they are beginning to realize it, and I think given time they may share that knowledge with one another, they may develop the courage to do even more. Your thought there please, Steve.

STEVE ROLLES: Yes, I mean, I think that there -- you hope politicians will show leadership, and it's not a completely alien idea that our leaders would lead on this issue. Unfortunately, leadership from the top has been painfully rare. It's not been completely absent. I mean, you have seen, you know, the, it was the legalization of cannabis in Uruguay was led by the president, who just -- he's not a cannabis user, but he decided that it was in the best interest of his population to do this.

Imagine that. What a strange idea for our politicians to act on that basis, even though there was no popular mandate to do it, and in fact there still isn't. It's still only about 40 percent of the population support legalization of cannabis in Uruguay. But they're doing it because they think it's the right thing to do. Amazing.

But, for many politicians, there is still, I think often a misplaced fear, but sometimes a justified fear that they will be somehow portrayed as soft, or weak, or surrendering, or losing the war on drugs, or sort of giving in to drugs, or some other sort of misconceived notion of weakness. And there is still a kind of, you know, addiction to the populist sort of posturing of the war on drugs, this idea that you, you know, you hype up the threat and then you put yourself in front of that threat and say, I will will protect you from this amorphous threat of drugs.

And then you somehow then protect the people from that, and you can have all kinds of get-tough populism that we obviously see has defined the debate for decades. I think the potency of that as a political tool is being fairly rapidly eroded. I think there's a generational effect, where you have younger people who are coming into positions of political power and influence, who understand the drug culture better than older generations, who still have a sort of, you know, misunderstandings and have been more, you know, brainwashed by generations of drug war nonsense that young people can see through.

And I think also that the failures of the drug war are becoming so evident that drug war posturing and tough talking is increasingly losing its potency. Not least because of the efforts of civil society and nongovernmental organizations in telling the story, you know, getting that narrative out there, saying the war on drugs not only doesn't do what it's supposed to do, but it makes everything far worse.

I mean, that, the narrative around the failure of the war on drugs, I think, has -- is a genuinely mainstream, consensus view. What isn't a mainstream consensus view is kind of what to do about that. So, you still have people saying, yes, the war on drugs has failed, but what we need to do is fight it harder. That's not absent, that is still a prevalent view.

DEAN BECKER: Jeff Sessions.

STEVE ROLLES: Yeah, right, so, you know, the, you know, the new US administration is a prime example of that. And, but I think what has changed in recent years is that we have a vision of a post-prohibition world now, detailed models of what regulation of drugs could look like, which match the eloquence of the critique of the war on drugs.

And I think up until relatively recently there was kind of a gap there, that everyone could agree the war on drugs is rubbish, but then just to say, oh let's legalize drugs, it wasn't quite good enough, because people -- if people said, well what do you mean legalize drugs? You know, what are your answers to all these detailed questions? How are they going to be made available, what drugs are you talking about, what's the age limit, where are these shops going to locate, what's the hours of opening? Blah blah blah.

All of these things, until relatively recently, the vision of a post-prohibition world did not match the critique, and I think one of the key turning points of the last few years has been that that has now -- that has now happened, and I think that has facilitated a much more mature and nuanced debate, not about should we do this, but what will it look like when we do? And that's where the debate needs to be, and I think we are moving to that place, and I think that change in itself is a major victory.

DEAN BECKER: All right. There you have it, friends, from Mister Steve Rolles out of the UK. Please share your website.

STEVE ROLLES: It's www.TDPF.org.uk, and the organization is Transform Drug Policy Foundation.

DEAN BECKER: All right, the following is not from the DPA conference, but it's certainly pertinent to what was just said.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL BURGESS: The gentleman from Oregon, Mister Blumenauer, recognized for three minutes.

REPRESENTATIVE EARL BLUMENAUER: Thank you, Mister Chairman. I appreciate the focus on the opioid crisis that grips every community to some degree, and effects every state. Especially critical for our veterans, who are twice as likely to die from accidental overdoses. As we're slowly acknowledging the depths of the opioid crisis, which is good, we seldom acknowledge one of the simplest, most effective solutions: Medical marijuana. Cannabis.

Now available in 28 states, largely driven by the voters, not the politicians. Most recently in Florida, where their voters approved it by over 70 percent. I've distributed some information here entitled The Physician Guide To Cannabis-Assisted Opioid Reduction. On the back are the citations for each of the points that are on this chart, referencing cannabis reducing opioid overdose mortality, how cannabis reduces opioid consumption, how cannabis can prevent dose escalation and the development of opioid tolerance, cannabis alone or in combination with opioids could be a viable first line analgesic.

Mister Chairman, we don't talk much about this, although on the floor of the House repeatedly over the last three years Congress has been moving in this direction, and voted last Congress to have the Veterans Administration be able to work with veterans in states where medical marijuana is legal.

But I focus on just one simple item, not the facts, which I hope this Committee would look at, but there's one piece of legislation that I've introduced with Doctor Andy Harris, somebody who doesn't agree with me about the efficacy of medical marijuana, but he strongly agrees with me that there's no longer any reason for the federal government to interfere with research, to be able to prove it.

The federal government has a stranglehold on this research. We have bipartisan legislation, 3391, which would break that stranglehold, and be able to have robust research to resolve these questions so that would no longer be any doubt. This is the cheapest, most effective way to be able to stop the crisis.

Where people have access to medical marijuana there are fewer overdoses, and people opt for it dealing with chronic pain. I would appreciate the subcommittee looking at this issue as your time permits. Thank you, Mister Chairman, Ranking Member.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL BURGESS: Chair thanks the gentleman, gentleman yields back. Chair recognizes the gentlelady from Georgia, Ms. Handel, for three minutes, please.

REPRESENTATIVE KAREN HANDEL: Thank you, Mister Chairman, and thank you as well for holding this hearing. The opioid crisis has hit the suburban Atlanta counties of Fulton, Cobb, and Dekalb as hard as frankly anywhere in the country, from prescription painkillers to synthetic drugs to heroin.

In 2016, 72.3 percent of all drug related fatalities in Cobb County were caused by opioids, and that was an increase from 16.8 percent just the year before. In 2015, the Cobb County Narcotics Team seized more than -- more heroin than in the previous 20 years combined.

DEAN BECKER: Perhaps you're aware of Doctor Sanjay Gupta and how he stood forth for the need to change to our marijuana laws. Well, now he's talking about opioids as well. This courtesy of CNN.

DONNA PRINCE: It's a living hell. Okeh? You worry day and night, you try to do other things, but it's always in the back of your mind. You go to bed at night, I say good night Taylor, and I keep him in my prayers, and just hope that I'm going to hear from him.

SANJAY GUPTA, MD: The story has become a common one. Donna Prince's son Taylor is addicted to heroin. Right now, she's sick with worry because she hasn't seen him in six weeks.

You're worried about that?

DONNA PRINCE: All the time.

SANJAY GUPTA, MD: About him dying?


SANJAY GUPTA, MD: For the last six weeks, I mean, --

DONNA PRINCE: No. For 20 years.

SANJAY GUPTA, MD: For 20 years.

DONNA PRINCE: Twenty years my son's been a heroin addict.

SANJAY GUPTA, MD: Donna tells us there's a good chance Taylor is here, at The Corner Project in Washington Heights. It's a needle exchange, but also has this: one of the most controversial bathrooms in the country. A place where people like Taylor come to use drugs, but are also monitored and can be saved with the medication called Naloxone, or Narcan, which can reverse an overdose.

When Taylor first told you about the bathroom, what were your first thoughts when you heard about that?

DONNA PRINCE: He's going to do it whether he wants to or not, whether he's going to do it under the bridge, where they go, or if he's going to go in my bathroom and do it. At least there, I know that people are watching over him and if he does overdose, he's not going to die, because they're going to be able to save him.

LIZ EVANS: I think there is an acknowledgement generally that drug users are using bathrooms all over the place, and people are dying in those bathroom, and so there is an acknowledgement that as a syringe exchange provider, we have a moral obligation to make sure that people don't die in our building.

SANJAY GUPTA, MD: Liz Evans directs The Corner Project. She moved here from Vancouver, Canada, where she helped found Insite, the home of the only legal safe injection site in North America. Over fourteen years, there have been over three million visits there, and not one single death. The rates of overdose in the surrounding downtown area dropped by 35 percent, and Insite users were 30 percent more likely to get addiction treatment.

But here in the United States, this is a very gray area. How does a place like this exist, in the sense of the interactions with the legal world, the law enforcement world?

LIZ EVANS: There are policies that exist that the state has provided to encourage access to Narcan, clean surfaces, and other suggestions for how bathrooms operate in the syringe exchange programs.

HECTOR MATA: So once I can normally --

SANJAY GUPTA, MD: Hector Mata manages The Corner Project's bathroom program.

HECTOR MATA: This is how actually our clients will do it when they come in. They'll sit down, they'll put all of their supplies here to make sure that they're preparing like heroin or cocaine or whatever substance they're going to inject. There's a cooker, with cotton there, for people to use it to like filter the heroin or whatever they are injecting. You've got an intercom in here so you can talk to somebody, check on them. You've got a timer so you can sort of keep an eye on the time, keep track of how long.

SANJAY GUPTA, MD: What you're seeing is a particularly provocative of trying to reduce death from heroin overdose. Some see it as condoning drug use, but others see it as a logical solution to a big problem. In a year, more people in the United States die from drug overdoses than from guns or car accidents.

HECTOR MATA: When overdoses happen in our bathroom, people are not dying. I have reversed 25 overdoses in this bathroom myself.

SANJAY GUPTA, MD: Twenty-five?

HECTOR MATA: Twenty-five, yes.

SANJAY GUPTA, MD: You've reversed 25 overdoses.

HECTOR MATA: In this bathroom. In this space.

SANJAY GUPTA, MD: Three of those times, he saved the life of Taylor Prince. Today, at least Donna knows where Taylor is. And on the day we visit The Corner Project, she finally gets to see her son again.

ERIN BURNETT: Sanjay, how is Taylor doing right now, since you've spoken to him?

SANJAY GUPTA, MD: Well, he was arrested. He ended up in jail for a period of time. He's expected to get out next week. While in jail, he's been on methadone, getting some treatment for his drug addiction. I've talked -- and his mother Donna, she says that right now, it's probably one of the safest places for him to be, he's in jail, he's safe, he's getting his methadone treatment.

She's worried, as you heard, Erin, when he gets out again, what exactly is going to happen to him. Is he going to end up back at The Corner Project, somewhere else? It's just a constant state of worry for her.

ERIN BURNETT: I mean, and when you talk about all those lives that have been saved from overdoses, you're talking about Naloxone, you're talking even about the methadone treatment that he's getting in prison. There are some concerns though that the medications, and as you point out, the spaces like those bathrooms, could actually enable and prolong addiction. That it kind of perpetuates a cycle. Do you think that that's a fair worry, or not?

SANJAY GUPTA, MD: You know, Erin, we've been talking about this issue for so long, when we were presenting this series for your show we said, you know, we want to present some solutions to this, because everyone agrees that this is a big problem and there have been very few solutions that are, you know, effective being presented. It's a provocative one, certainly, but, you know, you look at that Insite, that syringe exchange program in Vancouver, they've had some 3.6 million people visit. They've had six, seven thousand people who've overdosed. Not a single death.

So, if your goal is to not have people die from heroin overdose, here is something that can work. How's it going to do towards treating their addiction, treating the problem overall? It's not as probably good at treating that root cause. Right now you've got people dying in staggering, staggering numbers, more than car accidents and homicides, all these things even put together in some cases. So, this is a solution, Erin.

DEAN BECKER: Next up, an interview at the drug policy conference with my boss in LEAP.

I'm here with the Executive Director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, my band of brothers in LEAP, Major Neill Franklin. How are you doing, Major?

NEILL FRANKLIN: I'm great, Dean, how are you today, man?

DEAN BECKER: Oh, I'll just ask you straight up. What's your take? What's happening here at this conference, what are you perceiving, sir?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Well, as in the past, every two years they have this conference. They've always been good. It's a good time to bring all the activists and others together who are working on this mission, who are working on this goal of reforming our drug policies, many want, you know, to just flat out end drug prohibition, like we do. And as know in LEAP, there are so many pieces to this thing that spin off of the war on drugs, that spin off of drug prohibition, and that's what many of these folks are here working on today.

The Drug Policy Alliance has done great work in the past under the leadership of Ethan Nadelmann. They've done really good work. They now have a new director, a new executive director, and that's Maria McFarland. I think she's just going to do a wonderful job. She comes from a place of human rights, and you know we in LEAP have been talking about human rights for a long time, if we can just center this work in this place of human rights.

We think we can really make a global impact because everyone, no matter what planet you're on, understands human rights. These certain inalienable rights that we all have, to, you know, the things that make us free, our liberties and so on. And I think that we're going to see a serious movement in that direction, with the focus on, again, human rights, and with that comes class and race and all the other things and ways we discriminate against each other.

And this war on drugs has just been one devastating tool as it relates to being able to discriminate upon your brothers and sisters around the globe.

DEAN BECKER: You know, the closest correlation I've been able to come up with, and it's not spot on, but it's like the persecution of witchcraft in many ways, to demonize a certain set of people for their practices, and to kill them if necessary to cure them of their ways. Your response, Neill.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Absolutely. And that's kind of interesting, because, you know, despite how people might feel about witchcraft, it's considered a religion. Right? And one of the founding principles of this country, right, is the freedom of religion. That's very similar to what we're talking about here. If you want to use cannabis, that's your freedom, that's your right. If you want -- hey, and I know we're having an opioid crisis here in the United States, but you know what? If you want to use heroin, that's your right.

One of the things that we should do is make it as safe as possible for you to do so, and our policies of prohibition do just the opposite: make it as dangerous as possible for you to use it, if you so choose, whether it's heroin, whether it's cocaine, whether it's psychedelics, whether it's anything else. So for us to move away from that will definitely take us to a place of much greater safety for those who choose to use, and again, as you said, Dean, we've set up a system of demonizing people who choose to use, who, well, you know, didn't we travel down this road of demonization with alcohol once before, right?

But you know what? Let me tell you what the real problem was with that. Yeah, we had the crime that came from it, we had the corruption that followed alcohol prohibition, we had the cost financially that came with it, but you want to know what the real issue was here, Dean? It's that, that's the favorite drug of our elected officials.

DEAN BECKER: I'd like to come back to a thought, you were talking about legalizing all these drugs, and of course we'd want -- we'd want a return to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which required that the complete contents had to be on the label telling people exactly what they were going to take into their body. I think that was appropriate.

We could go before the 1908 heroin -- excuse me, the 1908 Opium Exclusion Act [sic: 1909], which prevented the sale of certain opium type products, but it didn't do away with the actual smoking of opium for white people. It did not do away with the sale of, and it was Pope somebody wine that had opium in there, that, and the laudanum, which is another opium extract which was widely used in the formalities, and, I guess the point is, if we return to the times when it was a known quality, quantity, et cetera, then we wouldn't have these overdose deaths at all. Your thought, please.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Well, you're absolutely right. And so that's what I was saying about the policies that we've put in place, as a nation, of prohibition, and spread across the globe, were the worst possible policies you can put in place for any substance. What you said about the Food and Drug Act, you know, that's -- that is an example of the limited government responsibility for the safety of its citizens. Okeh? Not to restrict them from using a particular product, but for those who are manufacturing it legally, to have them list what the ingredients are, so we as consumers can make an educated decision as to whether or not we want to use something.

DEAN BECKER: And, we know from decades of analysis that the cocaine coming up from Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, whatever, is at best 92 percent pure. No one ever talks about what that eight percent, kerosene residue, river water, toenail fungus, whatever it might be, that's in there. Controlled substances my ass. Your thought there, Neill.

NEILL FRANKLIN: You're absolutely right. That is an oxymoron, isn't it, that the government has referred to this as -- these drugs as controlled substances, the Controlled Substances Act. They put policies in place that make it absolutely impossible to control, and as you said, to figure out what the contents are. And even at -- again, whether we're talking cocaine or heroin, with the high percentage rates of the actual drug itself, the smallest amount of an adulterant can make it extremely dangerous to use. And it has also created this space that we're in now for the inclusion of fentanyl, and carfentanyl.

Again, after three decades plus of being in law enforcement, dealing with this issue, Dean, there's no doubt, not one bit, in my mind that if we had a legal, regulated market, quality control measures in place, for heroin today, for opiates today, we would not be seeing fentantyl and carfentanyl in the products. Because you know what? The Food and Drug Administration wouldn't allow it. And you know what? And if they don't allow it, first of all people would be going to get what they need from a reputable place, such as a pharmacy, as an example of what it could be, and again, as you said, you'll know exactly what's in it. Certain ingredients would be, you know, restricted from being in it. And people would be using the pure products, you know, for instance, that mother nature has provided for us. Right?

DEAN BECKER: All right, you know, Neill, I always get a spark of enthusiasm, courage, a little more mobility perhaps. This feeling that we generate here, this knowledge that we share here, is stymied, is, I don't see much news coverage of this event. I don't see what is required to move things forward, because again, respect, you know, what we bring forward is truth, knowledge, and the ability to save lives, communities, et cetera. Why are we second class, Neill?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Yeah, that's a good point, Dean. You know, and until you just mentioned it, I didn't really think of this. Look at where we're sitting right now. We're sitting at the Omni Hotel, the CNN Center. CNN should be all over this conference, especially in this day and age, at this time, when we're having the opioid crisis. Right?

You have -- you have, you know, a couple of thousand people here from around the globe, addressing these issues, right? Who have solutions. Who have answers to the problems that we're dealing with here in the United States. CNN should literally have a camera crew at every corner of this hotel, interviewing people to make sure they get the news that should be communicated across this country and beyond. You are right about that.

DEAN BECKER: Neill, I'm -- I know I'll be calling on you probably a couple more times this year. I'm proud to call you my friend, I'm proud to have traveled this country with you, visiting, what was it, 28 cities, almost 7,000 miles we drove that LEAP mobile, and some of our friends from that caravan are here with us today. It continues, does it not?

NEILL FRANKLIN: It does, unfortunately, it does continue. That being the case, we have to continue.

DEAN BECKER: Well, folks, we ain't going to stop, you know that. We hope you visit the website of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, that's LEAP.cc. Check it out. Invite one of to speak to your church, your organization.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Yeah, absolutely.

DEAN BECKER: It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! A stirring in the loins, women feel genital warmth and a desire to have sex. Men feel an enhanced libido, they feel younger, stronger, and more energetic. Time's up! The answer, according to Britain's Guardian newspaper: PT141. Is this the drug that will save the rhino population?

It's day two of the Drug Policy Alliance conference here in Atlanta. I'm speaking with Mister David McKinney. He's based in Melbourne, Florida, and I'll let him tell you what brings him to this conference.

DAVID MCKINNEY: Okeh. Hey, Dean, I'm with the Florida Cannabis Action Network in Florida, and we've been working for, you know, a little over twenty years, trying to normalize cannabis policies in Florida, and we're a membership based organization, and we've been following and helping to guide the Florida legislature along for probably the last five years or so.

And what we've got right now in Florida is sort of a hybrid. So, in 2014, the legislature passed a low-THC law, which started the wheels rolling and started getting a couple of licenses together. Now, one of the things that this did, and it's kind of unfortunate, is that it set up a kind of an oligopoly system, where you have, starting with five medical marijuana dispensing organizations, and now we're moving into about 15 or so, as the laws have evolved.

And since then, in 2016, we passed the right to try, which basically says that if you've got less than a year to live, that you can try medical marijuana in any form, low THC or not low THC. So they passed that in 2016, and then we passed the Amendment Two as well, which was a full-blown medical marijuana bill, which required implementation by the Florida Legislature that they did this year, and so the Florida Legislature this year has essentially expanded their original program, which I think was a disappointment to a lot of Floridians.

I think they wanted to see a much more open program, but, they've expanded the closed number of licenses. It's now in the realm of fifteen or 20, and we have the ability to grow that as our patient base grows. There's a limited number of ailments that are approved for medical marijuana, though that number grew tremendously when we passed Amendment Two, and another thing you may hear of if you're keeping up with the legislature in Florida is 8A.

So, 8A was the implementation bill last year for Amendment Two, and that's where essentially they laid down the law for what can and can't be done. One of the points of contention, and there's a lawsuit over this, is that there's no smoking allowed in Florida under Amendment Two, and actually it's actually under 8A, which was the legislative language. The Amendment specifically said that there's no smoking in public, but did not mention anything about smoking in private. And so the legislature took the extra step to say that there will be no smoking. So that is a lawsuit now in Florida.

DEAN BECKER: Well, David, let me ask you this, I mean, those in the know realize that smoking is perhaps the quickest means by which relief can be found through cannabis, right?

DAVID MCKINNEY: And perhaps the best way to titrate your dose, and make sure that you're not getting too much and that you're getting enough to do what needs to be done.

DEAN BECKER: Right. You can, over a short period of time, inhale a little bit more if it hasn't reached the threshold that you're looking for.

DAVID MCKINNEY: Right. Right, exactly. And we've actually got a very good case in Florida. A woman by the name of Cathy Jordan, who has ALS and has had ALS since the '80s. In 1989, she started smoking cannabis for ALS, actually in Florida, she was living in Delaware at the time, but she's now living in Florida and has lived with ALS for now over 30 years, and she's thriving. And there are a couple of reasons that she's thriving, I think, and a lot of this has to do with the smoked form of cannabis.

So she starts her day out with a cup of coffee, and a marijuana cigarette rolled with two papers, and this will do a couple of things for her that are very important for a patient who has ALS. Number one, is it dries the mouth out, and anyone who knows ALS knows that one of the biggest problems that you have is an excess of saliva, and not enough muscle mass to deal with that saliva.

So if you can dry out the mouth area, which we all know cannabis does, then that's one benefit for ALS. The other benefit is that ALS patients, one of the reasons that the disease takes them so fast is they lose the ability to cough. And when you lose the ability to cough, you can't get the bad stuff out of your lungs, and so a marijuana cigarette rolled with two papers, and by the time she's done with it, she's got a cough or two, and that's what she needs to get her day going and be as successful as she can with her handicap.

DEAN BECKER: I'm an old man with bronchitis, I can certainly relate to that need to cough, to, hell, get the air moving.

DAVID MCKINNEY: Absolutely. And, you know, it's the -- they get to the point of desperation with ALS patients, to the point that --

DEAN BECKER: David, we're kind of skipping over what I think is a very important point. There's another important story in Florida I think we're overlooking at the moment. There's another woman who benefits from the use of cannabis, but she doesn't get her weed from Mexico or California, where does she get that weed and why does she get it such a regular supply?

DAVID MCKINNEY: So, Elvy Musikka has glaucoma, and back in the '80s, there was an investigative new drug program, that's a program that's run by the federal government, and this program was initiated actually out of a few patients, two of them in Florida, one in DC, Bob Randall, was the first one who did this, but they essentially put together a protocol that says that they can have cannabis on a daily basis to the tune of ten joints a day, and that this is going to be provided by the federal government.

So, the federal government has been providing a number of these patients, a very small number, because the program was shut down, but they've been providing these patients with 300 rolled cannabis cigarettes for over 30 years.

DEAN BECKER: It's just such an excellent example of the hypocrisy of the drug war. It just shows that there are -- they can indeed speak from both sides of their mouth. Any closing thoughts, David, a website you might want to recommend?

DAVID MCKINNEY: Well, I definitely want to plug FLCAN.org, FLCAN.org is Florida Cannabis Action Network. And we're currently working with the Florida Legislature to try and help them make some sense and make hay out of what they've started with cannabis in Florida.

DON E. WIRTSHAFTER: I'm Don E. Wirtshafter, I'm an Athens, Ohio attorney who became a hemp entrepreneur in the early 1990s, and have been watching the center of this rising hurricane since, from the center of the eye.

DEAN BECKER: Now, we know California's fixing to legalize, and I'm not sure exactly what that means, I don't think any of them are quite legal, yet, from my perspective, but in Ohio, you guys have had your ups and downs and battles over millionaires and all kinds of other circumstance, but you're fixing to legalize. What is that going to mean in Ohio?

DON E. WIRTSHAFTER: It means a few people are going to make a whole lot of money, and everybody else is going to get frozen out of the industry. The Ohio situation is so ugly and corrupt, I don't want anything to do with it. I feel like I launched the momentum for this thing in Ohio thirty and forty years ago, and watched it rise to a winning pace, and the whole thing's been taken over by greed. And I don't want any part of it.

DEAN BECKER: Well, if you would, describe the scenario under which it will move.

DON E. WIRTSHAFTER: Well, through the years, we tried various efforts to get an initiative in Ohio, and it's not an easy thing to do. Ohio requires a lot of signatures, and they have to be precise. But we had various groups, and they kept getting sabotaged, and kept getting sabotaged. We didn't understand why they were getting sabotaged. And finally we ended up with the Ohio Rights Group, and we were doing really well. We had well more than a hundred thousand signatures going, and we were gearing up for the 2015 campaign, and our movement, our group got taken apart from the inside.

We hired an executive director, who hired a consultant, and between the two of them, we didn't know they were a couple -- between the two of them, they took the money and ran off and created this Issue Three campaign, which was totally greed based. One effort to create ten numbered corporations and sell shares in them and use the money from the sale of shares to finance an election campaign.

And it went very ugly. It was very divisive in Ohio. They came up with this mascot, Buddy, which was this ugly green guy representing marijuana.

DEAN BECKER: I've seen the pics.

DON E. WIRTSHAFTER: And, it -- I can't tell whether they did that on purpose to torpedo their campaign, or whether they thought it was a good idea, being so naive as they were about the field that they were trying to monopolize. But it all backfired, and only 33 percent of Ohioans voted for the measure, so they turned around and they came up with a deal that they got the leaders of our Republican House and Senate to approve, and all of a sudden we have legal marijuana, and we've got applications in, but nobody has won a permit yet.

But, we have -- it's just a blind system, they're not letting us know who applied, we're not -- they're not letting anybody see the applications, they picked three kind of unknown firms to evaluate the applications, but they're doing it with a totally blind process that we're not going to be able to see how they evaluated the applications. So in other words, it's all going to be handed out to the same numbered corporations that started this whole thing a couple, three years ago.

And people, I mean, I have many friends who wanted to have one of these licenses, these are either to be a producer or a retail establishment. And my advice was, don't even bother. They've already agreed who has these licenses. I may be proven wrong, come November, when they start handing these things out there may be some surprises, but I just wonder why they're being so loud and public about building $50 million facilities when the licenses haven't even been handed out yet.

DEAN BECKER: Carpetbaggers, even in Ohio, I guess. Right?

DON E. WIRTSHAFTER: Right. I don't see very many people from Ohio being the winners, here. This is all out of state, even out of country money, coming in under a lot of strawmen. It's really ugly and there's very little to be done about it, because, they seem to have it all wired in. So we will have some form of legal marijuana in Ohio in a few months, or, yes, nine months, now, but I don't think it's going to work very well.

The doctors aren't going to write these recommendations. They have to go to school and get a certificate before they can even write a recommendation. I don't see very many of them going to school, I don't see very many of the doctors organizations authorizing their doctors to write these scripts, and I don't see the insurance companies covering the doctors for writing these scripts.

So it's going to have a very, very slow start in Ohio. These companies that spend a fortune to build these grows realize the wave is coming and eventually Ohio's going to open up to a recreational plan, and they'll have their foot in the door for being the grows. And that's -- they're going to make money in the investment now, they're going to make money way down the road later, but this idea of supplying medicine to Ohio patients, when it's not really medicine, it's an unauthorized medicine at best, and it just doesn't seem like it's going to have any momentum or work at all for the patients

DEAN BECKER: Donnie, any closing thought, or a webpage you might want to share?

DON E. WIRTSHAFTER: Well, my project is the cannabis museum, cannabismuseum.com. We are putting together the history of human use of cannabis. We're finding some amazing things, especially old apothecary, stuff from the drug stores of the 1930s, or 1830s. And, check out our site. I think you'll be surprised.

HEATHER FAZIO: I'm Heather Fazio, I am the Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, and we're working on mobilizing the grassroots in Texas to reform our very much outdated state laws when it comes to marijuana laws.

DEAN BECKER: We took a major step, I think, in Harris County, with the DA, Kim Ogg, decided that she could treat this possession of marijuana quite differently than we have heretofore. Four ounces or less, a ticket, no arrest, no jail, no bail, no lawyer, you take a class, and other cities in Texas are now moving in that direction. Please tell us about that additional progress.

HEATHER FAZIO: Yeah, well, we've seen the district attorney in Nueces County moving forward with a diversion program similar to Harris County, which was a tremendous step, and we're very proud of DA Ogg for the leadership that she showed on that, you know, take -- talking about it during her campaign, challenging her opponent, and then following through with it when she gets into office, which is so refreshing, for those of us who kind of get down on the political process.

We hear a lot from politicians when they're running for office, but to see someone actually move forward with implementing what they talked about on the campaign trail really was refreshing.

But most recently we've seen San Antonio taking steps toward not only a cite and summons policy, but also a diversion program. So in 2007, the state allowed local governments and police officers to issue citations for class B misdemeanors. However, most officers were not using their discretion, but now we're seeing a trend starting. It really kicked off with Harris County. We have Bexar County DA moving forward with a policy that not only just issues a citation, at the time -- as in lieu of an arrest, you get a summons, but then if you have a misdemeanor -- it's misdemeanor possession for four ounces or less, you have the opportunity for a diversion program, which is an education course, and community service.

And that's going to keep you from even getting booked into jail, and you know, as you know, an arrest can follow someone unless they can afford to go through the process of having it expunged. And so there's something really special about these programs, and these district attorneys, using their discretion to combat and minimize the harm caused by the bad state law we have on the books.

DEAN BECKER: Well, even in Texas, there's hope, there's progress, by god. It's a good thing. Closing thoughts, a website you might want to share?

HEATHER FAZIO: Yeah, TexasMarijuanaPolicy.org is the website for our coalition, Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. And we're working on a statewide initiative that would institute a policy to eliminate the patchwork policies that we see now throughout the state, where there's one policy in enforced in one area versus another. We'd like to see a blanket policy at the state level in Texas, and we'd love to have those with professional and personal experience joining the cause, communicating with lawmakers and helping us make the change.

DEAN BECKER: I'm with one of the attendees, who's also going to be a recipient of an award, presented by the Drug Policy Alliance, a woman with many years of experience in law enforcement, a strong supporter of LEAP, on the board, active in her community, active around the nation, Diane Goldstein. How are you doing?

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: You know what? It's always great to be with you, Dean, and thank you so much for that really nice intro. I'm really honored and humbled to be receiving the H.B. Spear Award for Law Enforcement from the Drug Policy Alliance, especially in the footsteps of Neill Franklin, our executive director.

DEAN BECKER: Well, look, you know, I wasn't much of a cop, I'll be honest, but I wore the badge, I strapped on that gun, I swore to uphold the Constitution, and I feel by working with LEAP, I'm still trying to uphold that Constitution, makes me proud to be a speaker for this group.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: You know what it is? I think there are so many unsung heroes in this movement, which for me, I've never felt that I needed to receive any award to do the work that we're doing, and so, you've been instrumental, Dean, and your radio show, relative to getting our voice, of the, you know, formerly Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, now Law Enforcement Action Partnership, out into the world, where we're not longer an outlier. You know --

DEAN BECKER: We're not, friends.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, you know, it used to be that we as LEAP were outliers. We are not outliers anymore, and in fact, I think that, you know, the vision of Jack Cole and Peter Crist were amazing, and because we are the point of the spear, that's going to continue to bridge that gap in returning policing back to where it needs to be, as being peace officers in service of our constituents, and what I hope is every day when I do this work, is my goal is to make amends for some of the damage that I've done in the past relative to the issues of drug war policing specifically.

But not just that, but it's to build bridges back with those communities that have been most marginalized by the drug war, you know, people of color have really been devastated by the over-enforcement and the over-policing in their communities, and I think we have a significant obligation to make amends, do the work, and try to refocus law enforcement back into being peacekeepers, and in service, rather than just mindlessly policing people.

DEAN BECKER: Well, you know, I think of Michelle Alexander and her thought, The New Jim Crow, your mention of the fact that it's been -- had a severe impact on people of color, that the racism involved in the drug war, the implementation, the mechanism by which these laws are enforced, is becoming more evidently racist, it's becoming more obvious in that regard. Your thought there in that.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: You know, Dean, I just finished my master's degree out of UC Irvine literally in June, and my capstone research project, I did a comparison of identity politics and how they impacted the implementation of our drug policies, and then the evolution of policing. Very distinctly, we have a two-tiered system of justice, simply if you look at the evidence on how we treated African-American communities, how we stigmatized them relative to the issues of the crack, the alleged crack scare.

And now today, because the drug issue, the chronic substance abuse, has leaked into white upper middle class suburban communities of women in particular, moms, you know, my Moms United group, that I love so much, recognizes this, very clearly, that because we had more agency, you know, I'm half Hispanic, half white, but, there's this mom's group that recognized that they had agency simply because they had more economic power, more resources, and because of the color of their skin.

And so until we end policing based on poverty, class, socioeconomic, and change the drug war which was nothing more than a social construct, it was never about drugs being harmful, it was more who was using drugs at the time, and we have to acknowledge that. I think this is the hard part because in my master's course, we had a cohort of about 60 people, and I had about 12 active duty police officers and an FBI agent.

So the FBI agent was African-American, and the conversations and the academic discussions we had, where it was amazing to watch, that when we first started, and I was talking about the failure of the drug war, and talking about what LEAP did, and, you know, our evolution, and why we were doing what we were doing, the only police officer that would stand up for me was the African-American FBI agent, who was going, she's right, she's right. She's right.

And, the other ones were, I think that they didn't understand what structural racism was. That, and I think that's a really, really important point to make, is there is a difference between deliberate, intentional racism, and then structural racism, that law enforcement doesn't understand.

And so law enforcement hears you're a racist, you're a racist, and they take it personally, without reflecting back, based on the lack of education, the way -- the lack of, the way that history's taught, the lack of education of our police officers on the issues of how our drug laws came in, and when I started sharing Harry Anslinger's quotes, you know, that's the beauty of, you're in class, and you're on the internet, wait a minute, you're telling me, you know, these people were like, no, there was no racism. Well, excuse me, I have a quote, and I would give them a Harry Anslinger quote, and they were stunned.

Just like I was stunned when I became part of LEAP, and started doing the research. And so by the end of the two years --

DEAN BECKER: Just to interject this thought, Harry J. Anslinger was our nation's first drug czar, back in the '20s, I think it was.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, '20s, '30s, then '40s. And, at the end of the two years, I had this cohort of police officers who said, I may not agree with you about legalizing drugs, but I now understand systemic issues and why people are calling for change.

So those police officers who walked out with a master's degree who did projects that were involved in these very academic, robust conversations based on science and literature, because we're in a master's program, we have to do it. They walked out with a different understanding and, you know, I think it's really critically important that the better educated our police officers are, the more likely they're going to evolve out of this groupthink mentality and refocus themselves on what policing should be.

DEAN BECKER: All right. There's some powerful words from Diane Goldstein, receiving the law enforcement award from the Drug Policy Alliance tomorrow night here in Atlanta. Thank you, Diane.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Thank you, Dean, and it's always a pleasure being on with you.0

DEAN BECKER: Here at the Drug Policy Alliance conference here in Atlanta, I'm here with a former guest here on the Drug Truth Network, Mister Jeff Mizanskey, a man who has a story that still is resonating, and I'm just going to start with asking you, Jeff, what brings you here?

JEFF MIZANSKEY: Of course, the Drug Policy Alliance. It's because this is where people are getting together and talking about it, exchanging information, and let's face it, information is the key. I mean, we have to train and let people know, they have to educate.

DEAN BECKER: Now, Jeff, I kind of skipped over a fact, one thing that lies at the heart of why you're here, is you're truthfully life experience. Talk about what happened to you as a young man.

JEFF MIZANSKEY: How true. I, of course, used cannabis when I was younger, and I had, in Missouri, I ended up getting a life sentence, or I should say a life without sentence, in other words I was supposed to die in prison. Fortunately, people got together and signed petitions, and sent them to our governor. New Approach, Sho-Me Cannabis, and a lot of people out there, press, got together, and kept calling the governor, and finally got a commutation. Now I'm still on parole, but at least I'm out.

DEAN BECKER: No, I was one of those, I dare say, few in the media that was giving your story attention, and the respect it deserved.

JEFF MIZANSKEY: Well, that's fantastic, because if it wasn't for the media, none of it would have happened whatever, because, like I say, information is the key, and how else are we going to get it out to the people, so that people actually know what's going on. And, what's really so sad is, we still have over 3,000 men and women in prison, federal and state, right now, doing life without for nonviolent crimes. That's a shame.

DEAN BECKER: It is truly a shame, and, a stain, if you ask me, on our criminal justice system. What information are you sharing specifically this time around?

JEFF MIZANSKEY: Well, we're trying to share the idea of what's going on with the people in prison, of course, what we can do to help to try to get them out. Legalization efforts, and we're getting ready to show a movie called Lifers. And, it's about me and other people that have had life sentences, that have been in trouble with the law over cannabis, unfortunately, and shows why it's such a crime to be locking up people for a plant.

DEAN BECKER: I just sense a change is afoot. People are beginning to recognize the hypocrisy of it. Closing thoughts, a website, Jeff?

JEFF MIZANSKEY: Seems like we're winning on the drug war as far as the legalization efforts for cannabis, but we can't let up. We have to keep going. We have to change the laws as they are, because nowadays, there are still people getting arrested and thrown in jail for a plant called cannabis, something that we all know works and loves, and it's ridiculous, when people that are getting out that are doing crimes of hurting people, and the guys and girls that are sitting for nonviolent crimes, in prison, and people are paying taxes for, is crazy.

And, you know, I'd like people to get in touch with NewApproach.com, we're actually working in Missouri to legalize medical cannabis, and I try to get people involved, and try to get people to donate, because let's face it, it takes money to beat the system. So if we can think about it, everybody that smokes out there and there's millions and millions, what happens if we would take twenty five cents or fifty cents every time they light up a joint and put it in a jar, and give it to their favorite charity that's fighting to change the laws. Wouldn't it really help? Because that's what it takes.

DEAN BECKER: I hope you appreciate the words of Jeff Mizanskey, and that you'll visit our website, DrugTruth.net, and you'll soon do your part to end the madness of drug war, and again I remind you, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful.