10/14/18 Adam Smith

Century of Lies
Adam Smith
Oregon Craft Cannabis Alliance

This week, we talk with Adam Smith from the Oregon Craft Cannabis Alliance about marijuana, interstate exports, and inevitable federal legalization; plus, more from the recent Commission on Narcotic Drugs intersessional meetings in Vienna, Austria.

Audio file



OCTOBER 14, 2018

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.

DOUG MCVAY: Hello, and welcome to Century of Lies. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

Well, this week I'm coming to you live from Oakland, California. This week we're going to be talking about domestic marijuana policy, and we're going to be looking at the international war on drugs.

First though, I want to tell you that I was extremely honored this weekend. A conference went on down in Oakland, California. There was a picket, a union strike against the hotel where that conference was being held, so I did not attend that conference. I don't cross picket lines. No one ever should, period.

There was a social event that was planned alongside the conference. Because of the strike, the social event was moved to another location. Very kindly, Ricardo Baca from The Cannabist allowed the use of his space, and a party he was already planning, to have this event.

A handful of us, including Wayne Justmann, Mikki Norris, and Chris Conrad, and the late Joanna McKee, and a few others of us, were honored at this event. It was very kind, the amazing efforts of Ophelia Chong from StockPot Images made it all happen.

[sic: the full list of honorees was as follows: Amy Fisher / curator; Joe Sweetleaf / compassion; Doug McVay / reformer; Wayne Justmann / trail blazer / Patient 1; Juston Purcell / healer; Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance / warriors; Joanna McKee / advocate (posthumous); Sara Mitra Payan / educator; Congresswoman Barbara Lee / fighter; Mikki Norris / connector]

I am exceptionally, exceptionally honored to be included among those people, and I'm very grateful to Ophelia from StockPot Images and also to the folks at that conference for allowing the event to be taken offsite, to a place where, well, frankly, where people like me and the rest of the people being honored would be able to attend.

It was a great time, it was great people, and again, it was just an honor to be up alongside all those people. I got some sound, wasn't exactly the best sound system. Here.

OPHELIA CHONG: Thank you, Ricardo, thank you so much for letting us bring this here from the Marriott, because there's a really important reason why we're here, because we respected the picket line. We understand what everyone has to do for a living.

But, however, the real reason why we have these people up here is because the built this foundation that you are all standing on. These are just a few, I cannot do thousands, I wish I could, but they built this foundation that these future mansions will be built on, and I want the people who are going to build those mansions to realize that they're not sitting on sand, they're sitting on concrete, that these people have done decades of work for.

And we don't have time for everyone to hear their stories, but I would like just to introduce them, and if you could, just -- if you could, then you could find them out later and meet them.

DOUG MCVAY: That's all you're getting. That was about as good as the -- that's about as good a sound as I got. So, let's just go on with the show, shall we? First up, marijuana in the United States.

ADAM SMITH: I am Adam Smith, I am the founder and Executive Director of the Craft Cannabis Alliance.

DOUG MCVAY: Adam, we're here at the International Cannabis Business Conference. You just spoke a few moments ago. Now, you're working with Floyd Prozanski about this export thing?


DOUG MCVAY: Talk -- tell me about this idea.

ADAM SMITH: So, Oregon, as is well known, at least here in the industry, has a glut of product. And the reason is that when we legalized the industry here in Oregon, we legalized the industry we had, and the industry we had was locally based, and widespread, but the industry we had was an export industry.

There was a medical industry for sure, but we've been exporting product out of Oregon for generations. And so, when folks got -- when we, when the state said to folks "go legal", they were inviting the growers that existed here, which is important, into the industry, we made -- we made licensing cheap, and plentiful. And that was a great instinct but it, we didn't bring in people to supplant the industry that was here, we wanted to lift it up.

On the back end of that is we now have way more cannabis than our intrepid population can get through inside of a year, and we need -- and there's a market for it all over the country. And so we need to get it out of the state before those wonderful local growers get ground into fine dust and pushed out of business.

We're heading in a direction here where it's three or four years, if we don't open up new markets, the local industry will have been driven either out of business or bought out for pennies by large out of state and international companies that have come here and are buying up farms and buying up retail and buying up brands, and we're not saying they don't belong here, we're just saying that if we lose ownership, local ownership of this industry, it will be a giant economic -- it will be a giant economic problem for the state.

We're looking at hundreds of millions of dollars right now in local capital that is at imminent risk of being wiped out, and it's not, you know, Intel's local capital or Nike's local capital, it's thousands of people who are -- have gone all in to be part of this industry. Their money, their friends' and families' money, small investors.

And so export, opening up markets for that product is the next step. So, the first thing we need to do here in Oregon is we need a bill, we're going to be pushing a bill with Senator Prozanski's help in the 2019 session that will make it legal under state law for the executive branch, through OLCC [Oregon Liquor Control Commission], to approve out of state transfers.

Right now, it is illegal under state law to do so, so even if cannabis became legal federally, it would be illegal for us to send it out of the state. So, that is the first -- that is the first step, and we need to use the campaign for that bill to raise the profile of this issue, have a national conversation about the future of cannabis economics.

And again, you know, as we were talking before we came on the air, we have never made too much advance -- we've never made advances in cannabis policy waiting for the federal government to give us permission to do something. Right?

We would still be waiting for the first medical sales if that was the case, twenty years later. So what we need to do is, we need to find our partners, make this an issue that can't be avoided by the federal government, and then force their hand to make the decision, are they going to enforce federal law against states that want to have, you know, licensed, regulated trade?

And, or we can, the option is not to not have export, the option is to have export as we do now, which is unlicensed, unregulated, not under the control of anyone and not bringing revenues into the state.

DOUG MCVAY: Yeah, because the skeptics of course would point out, well, the federal government doesn't allow interstate transfer, and as we were saying, the federal government also doesn't really allow cultivation or possession of marijuana, they certainly don't allow stores like the one around the corner from my apartment, or any of the other ones along McLoughlin.

There are about half a dozen or so within a mile of my apartment. It's -- I live in one of the, I live in a great part of the state, what can I say? So, really, all you're doing is trying to get the state started along the process.

ADAM SMITH: Right. The first -- the first step, we'll legalize, we'll allow the governor the authority, or the OLCC the authority, to approve interstate transport, interstate transfer, when it's appropriate to do so.

And so, at the very worst, we want to be ready the moment the federal government allows it to happen. But, almost more likely perhaps, we want to force the issue to the federal government. We want to get to the edge of the state's border and look up at the federal government and wait for them to blink.

And force their hand, again, because waiting for permission has never been a profitable strategy in cannabis.

DOUG MCVAY: So, now, how do people find more information about the Craft Cannabis Alliance, how can people keep up with the stuff, with the work you're doing?

ADAM SMITH: So, for the export work, ONEFixCannabis.org. And that's ONE Fix, and ONE stands for Oregon Needs Export. So it's ONE Fix. Many problems, over supply, financial crisis, diversion from the -- into the illicit market. Many problems, there's ONE Fix. Allow us markets to sell our products into.

DOUG MCVAY: Some skeptics would say that part of the problem is you've got the people who want to see those prohibition-era profits, and of course part of that's driven by the investors who piled in here and bought out companies, and, so if we opened up an export market, if that were available, I suppose that would be one more way of getting those -- I mean --

ADAM SMITH: Right. The companies, the large companies that have come into Oregon and bought up farms and retail, they're not here because they think they're going to get rich selling cannabis to Oregonians. There's a pretty good argument to be made that the last profitable dollar has already been made selling cannabis to Oregonians, that they are -- and that's a little bit hyperbole, but they, but, the large companies are here because when the walls do come down, they want to own the Oregon brand nationally and globally.

The Oregon cannabis brand is extremely valuable. It's very much like our wine brand, and our beer, and our distilling, and our food. The Oregon brand is about authenticity, it's about people with their hands in the dirt making something they love as well as they possibly can for themselves and their friends and to share with other people who love it.

And that is what makes our, you know, our other products valuable in outside markets, and cannabis is no different.

But the shame of it is that if it takes four or five years for us to get to exports, the Oregon brand will be owned by these, you know, dozen or fifteen or sixteen large, out of state companies, and we will have lost the authenticity that that brand is born out of, and so, we need to get, we need to open up the borders and let product out while there still is a local industry here, an artisan industry here, that is growing and producing the best cannabis products in the world.

DOUG MCVAY: Out of state, out of country, I've already run into at least one person with an investment fund based up in Canada.


DOUG MCVAY: And, frankly, god knows where that, the money in their fund is coming from.


DOUG MCVAY: You know, which other countries, which other investors. And, even I have to admit, the idea of opening up the export market is, whoa, that's a little ways down the road, but you've got to start down that road sometime or other.

ADAM SMITH: Our goal is to get to export by the end of 2020. And we think that that's possible. The first step is to pass this bill in the 2019 Oregon legislative session, and that will be an announcement that Oregon is ready and waiting to be open for business.

And that we are hoping will help facilitate a national conversation about the obvious economics that are coming in the cannabis industry. A couple of months ago, New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo, famously formerly an opponent of cannabis, has done a 180 degree turn and he said a couple of months ago, the question is not whether New York state should or will legalize cannabis, the question is now it will legalize cannabis.

And right now, under the current regime, the only way for New York to legalize cannabis for recreational use would be for them to create from scratch a production industry about four to five times the size of Oregon's current production industry.

That's probably not economically a very smart way for them to legalize cannabis. If you're going to, if you're going to put billions of dollars into production in New York, and then put billions of dollars into a similar production industry next door in New Jersey that is also looking to legalize, you need to start looking and see, is that going to be cost competitive, and competitive with west coast cannabis?

Because ultimately the wall will come down, and west coast cannabis will come east. The protection that states have is an historical quirk, and it will be gone as soon as, you know, at the very latest as soon as federal prohibition ends.

So states like New York and New Jersey, it's one thing to say you can get a license there, but to do that without also saying that we are going to bring product in from out of state is -- is short sighted, it will take them years and years to build a production industry large enough to serve a state like New York, with twenty million people. The quality will not immediately be there.

And so rather than, you know, pretend to investors that they are going to have, you know, clear sailing in a protectionist regime forever, they need to understand that anything that gets built in those states is going to need to be competitive with the west coast, and you ought to go into it with eyes open, and go into it saying that our legalization assumes that we are going to be able to import product.

And once we have the states ready to import, and the states ready to export, again, then we are where we always end up in cannabis policy, ready to take the next step, looking at the federal government and whether they go along, you know, or not.

DOUG MCVAY: All right. Adam, again I've been speaking with Adam Smith, Craft Cannabis Alliance. Craft Cannabis Alliance?

ADAM SMITH: Craft Cannabis Alliance and ONE Fix Cannabis.

DOUG MCVAY: ONE Fix Cannabis. So ONEFixCannabis.com?

ADAM SMITH: Dot org.

DOUG MCVAY: Dot org. ONEFixCannabis.org.

ADAM SMITH: And sign onto the letter, if you're in the industry, sign onto the letter. We are very soon going to have a more national letter, the one that's up there is based -- is to the Oregon legislators, but we are building a national campaign, because as much as we need to get Oregon cannabis out of the state, there are millions of people all over the country that would love to be able to access Oregon cannabis in their home state when it's legal.

DOUG MCVAY: Fantastic. Adam, good luck with it. Thank you.

ADAM SMITH: Thank you so much, it's a pleasure to be here. Enjoy the conference.

DOUG MCVAY: Oh yeah.

That was my interview with Adam Smith. We met up at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Portland, Oregon, back in September.

You're listening to Century of Lies. I'm your host, Doug McVay.

Now, let's look at international drug war. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs held one of its intersessional meetings at the end of September. A number of different delegations presented, a number of different representatives of UN agencies, and a few people from civil society also spoke.

We're going to hear a couple of the national delegations. First up, from Switzerland.

DELEGATE FROM SWITZERLAND: In 2015, the international community adopted the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals]. Switzerland, and we all thereby committed to achieving a better and more sustainable future for all.

These goals help us to address the global challenges we are facing today. One of them is the world drug problem.

Figures from the recent World -- the most recent World Drug Report show that we need to address key causes, but also effects and unintended consequences. Figures from the World Drug Report show also that lots of gaps remain. We need data to learn more about these gaps. We need to know what drug policies are effective and efficient, and which ones are not.

This will help us maintain what we've reached so far, and for new strategies to address these challenges.

The SDGs are interconnected. Therefore, solutions to these challenges must be interconnected as well.

In Switzerland, we have realized that drug policies have a stronger impact when we take into account the interlinkages between the SDGs. Let me illustrate the power of interlinkages with the example of SDG Three.

SDG Three aims at ensuring healthy life, and the promotion of well being for all, at all stages. For all includes also drug users. They, too, they have health needs. In this respect, Switzerland promotes and supports implementation of the harm reduction packages of interventions as set out in the joint WHO, UNODC, and UNAIDS technical guide that has presented here, I believe, two days ago.

Ending the HIV epidemic contributes without doubt to achievement of the SDGs' goals. In addition, drug consumption rooms are part of the comprehensive Swiss approach to address the consequences of problematic substance use. Such interventions are key policy tools to mitigate some of the most devastating consequences of drug use, such as ODs, but also to support public safety and security.

The UNGASS outcome document makes operational recommendations in seven areas. Today, two years after its adoption, we would like to reiterate Switzerland's support to these recommendations, and their implementation.

In addition, member states recognized that ensuring future drug policies' operation within the SDGs is crucial. We committed with the SDGs to leave no one behind. When we formulate and we implement drug policies as well, let us not forget that.

To achieve this, we recall the need for interagency cooperation as well as with member states and with civil society. Thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: That was the Swiss delegate, speaking at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs intersessional meeting that was held in Vienna, Austria, at the end of September.

Those CND meetings are only webcast live. You can find out about them, you can find out about when they're being broadcast, by going to UNODC.org and looking for the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, for their meetings, and then checking on the intersessional and the upcoming high-level ministerial segment, which occurs in March every year.

These are only webcast live. To be able to follow them, you must either watch and listen to the webcast live, or become part of an NGO and attend in Vienna, or you can hear parts of the proceedings on this show, Century of Lies, because I will stay up overnight and record these things as much as I can.

You can also follow the proceedings at CNDBlog.org. That's a project of the International Drug Policy Consortium. It is a fantastic resource.

So, let's hear some more from that Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting, shall we? The delegate from Uruguay had a lot of great things to say. The simultaneous interpretation is provided by the United Nations.

DELEGATE FROM URUGUAY [Simultaneous interpretation into English provided by the United Nations]: Thank you very much, Madame Chair. Thank you very much for this meeting, and, indeed, we commend everyone for having organized and designed this meeting.

My fear was that we wouldn't be able to reach a successful conclusion to our debate, but after the excellent presentation given by Doctor Gerra and the very interesting responses given to the highly interesting questions put by colleagues, I'm fully convinced that if we're able to keep this level going for the upcoming sessions over the next few days then undoubtedly we'll be making serious progress when it comes to our general manner of addressing drugs policies and the drug problem.

Madame Chair, I'm afraid, I'm not going to be able to comply with your suggestion of simply abiding by what Doctor Gerra said, because, first of all, I want to thank all of the colleagues who put their questions, but also I want to thank the representative of the United States, my friend seated next to me, for her statement and for her presentation too of what occurred yesterday in the US.

I think it's very important, because things that happen in the US, in the UN in the US, are not of minor importance. I'm talking about the statement made regarding the waging of the second war on drugs by the president of the United States and the president of Colombia.

Now of course, these are unilateral statements that are being made, bilateral perhaps, by countries, but they're not multilateral, and as we all know here in the United Nations, and in UNGASS, and in any UN meeting, or in UNODC, or in the CND of course, because we are the body of the CND, no such unilateral statements have ever been made.

If they were ever made, there was perhaps some 47 years ago by President Nixon who waged the first war on drugs.

Now, I think, I believe and I believe we all understand that that has been ended. That war was ended in 2016. It was ended once and for all at UNGASS of 2016, the war on drugs as we had understood it ended, because we had lost that war. Because the war on drugs was a war that we lost, as everyone admitted, as everyone said, and was said yesterday by the president of the United States.

If I understand correctly, he said that between 2000 and 2016 there was an increase in drug consumption, use, trafficking, by some sixty percent. Now, if that isn't tantamount to losing a war, well then please, what exactly is losing a war?

If we've spent the past fifteen, sixteen years, that's the period that was covered here, not prior decades, if we've spent the last fifteen years, well, what's the point, then, of a war on drugs? What could be the possible objective of a war on drugs? What would be the purpose of waging a second war on drugs?

Now we all know that this is not the position adopted by the CND. We also understand that this is not the position held multilaterally. This is a unilateral position, but the two presidents who launched that initiative, and who have sought to wage that second war on drugs, are the president of the United States and the president of Colombia, which is the country that over the past forty years have suffered the highest level of deaths, murders, assassinations, and damage overall, let's say, as the fallout of a war on drugs, similar perhaps only to Mexico, or perhaps to Afghanistan following the US invasion.

So, Colombia, of course, serves as a point of reference, and calling for the global eradication of drugs, the global eradication of plantations, well, distinguished colleagues, esteemed colleagues, Madame Chair, it's a movie that we've all had to sit through once before, we've all seen this one, we all know how it turns out.

Nixon launched that first war, and the outcome, forty-five years ago or so, once again, led to resounding failure. We lost the war on drugs. Now, it's been said that, Einstein said, as we all know, it's always worth quoting Einstein, after all, because everyone's aware of Einstein, that if you keep applying the same recipes over and over again, of course you're going to see the same results.

And therefore, it's deeply worrying that, while we are here, participating in a meeting that I consider to be progressive in nature, groundbreaking, opening up new perspectives, focusing on public health, human rights, in the public health sphere, where we see these alternative solutions being posited, prevention, across the board, on the other hand it's still the same old language of war on drugs, Madame Chair.

Now, these are not compatible. Can we have a drugs free world? Without drug plantations? As part of an ongoing war that has proven to be extremely harmful to life on the planet, which has not had an impact? We can't keep following that path. We're not going to do that.

Last year, let's say, one hundred kilos were seized. Let's say that this year 150 kilos were seized. It's not about the number of kilos that were seized, it's about the amounts that are not being seized. Perhaps from one thousand up to a thousand five hundred the next year, so, progress in terms of the war on drugs is unmarked.

There are ongoing cases of overdoses, that doesn't change. It's worrying, Madame Chair, to see unilateralism coming to the fore in this matter. Statements are made by all parties also at this meeting that we are attending, that the scope for resolution of this matter is here in the CND, and we are fully committed to that, and I believe that everybody here is fully committed to that.

But in reality, that's not how it works. It's being resolved in assembly, by one president, president trump, who declares a war on drugs. I don't think we can afford to sit here and behave as if nothing had happened. I'm very grateful to our colleague from the US for having raised the matter.

And I'm simply stating this now, in order to put a simple question to you, because after all this is the time for questions, not for statements. I do have a question, but not just one question, not just one question for Mister Gerra, for Doctor Gerra, but rather for all the panelists, and here's the question: Do you think that if we embark on a second war on drugs, as the president of the United States and as the president of Colombia called for yesterday, do you think we're going to see different results?

If we apply the same mechanisms, and if we again wage a war on eradicating drugs worldwide, are we going to see the same results? Or, are we more likely to see more deaths, more corruption, more drugs, more money laundering? Thank you, Madame Chair.

CND CHAIR: Thank you very much, Uruguay. Doctor Gerra.

GILBERTO GERRA, MD: I think that the question was for all. But

CND CHAIR: I, well --

GILBERTO GERRA, MD: I don't -- I would also say one word only. I think that we, the language "the war on drugs" was never adopted by, as a language by UNODC or by the CND, fortunately.

The language war on drugs is not belonging to our language. Also, because it is, we have always the doubt on the side of health, that the war is done not against the drug trafficker, but against our patients, people affected by drug use disorder. So, for this reason we don't like these words war on drugs.

On the other side, let me say that personally, I like very much the statement, the sentence, a society free of drug abuse. Free of drug abuse, not free of drugs. It means, an aspirational sentence, no? We say zero AIDS within 2030. We say zero poverty. We can dream also of a society at zero of drug abuse in the future, for our future generations.

This is also a message that we send to the youth generation, clearly, no one is so childish and so unrealistic not to understand that this can't be done quickly, abolishing the use, the abuse of drugs from the face of the world.

But I think that to sign the direction, to indicate the direction, is important to maintain this kind of approach. It is not a war, as I explained, it is a very complex problem, because until the demand is going down, supply will not go down. So we have a -- we are today, in these two days, we are at the center stage of the scene of the framework, where we design the drug policy, because until the request for -- demand for using drugs is not for abuse, we can do, or death, or use, or production, we will never reach the result.

DOUG MCVAY: That was the delegate from Uruguay addressing the Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in late September.

For now, that's it. I want to thank you for joining us. You have been listening to Century of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I’m your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

The executive producer of the Drug Truth Network is Dean Becker. Drug Truth Network programs are available by podcast, the URLs to subscribe are on the network home page at DrugTruth.net.

The Drug Truth Network has a Facebook page, please give it a like. Drug War Facts is on Facebook too, give its page a like and share it with friends. Remember: Knowledge is power.

You can follow me on Twitter, I'm @DougMcVay and of course also @DrugPolicyFacts.

We'll be back in a week with thirty more minutes of news and information about drug policy reform and the failed war on drugs. For now, for the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay saying so long. So long!

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition: the century of lies. Drug Truth Network programs archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.