Michael Krawitz worked for decades to influence first the US Veterans Administration and just last week to force the World Health Organization and the United Nations to nuance their Drug Treaty to move from "dangerous" to now allow for cannabis research and medicines.
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access
Mon, 12/07/2020 - 16:25
DEAN BECKER (00:04):
Broadcasting on the drug truth and network. This is cultural baggage, really fundamentally and American [inaudible]. 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 to prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on eternal drug war.
DEAN BECKER (00:38):
All right. To those who are part of my, uh, Oregon highs efforts. I want to thank you for joining us these past Sundays. I hope you're able to talk to some of your friends and associates. So many of you have lost your children to these contaminated drugs, these synthetic drugs, these, uh, counterfeit drugs that, uh, the cartels are selling. Now, thank you for joining us on this edition of cultural baggage. I think this is a very important show. Please put your ears on, you know, each week I try to, uh, focus on the important parts of, uh, the drug war, the good, the bad, and I guess, especially the ugly, but this week we've got something of great beauty to talk about something of a great importance, uh, that looks good for the future. And here to talk about it is one of the gentlemen who, uh, was the ramrod who, uh, stayed behind this, who stuck with this and, uh, committed many a years of his life to bringing this about, you probably heard about it. The United nations and the world health organization have changed their perspectives on medical marijuana. And the gentleman I'm talking about the one who helped to ramrod this, uh, this change, uh, is one Michael krauts and he's with us now. Hey, Michael, how you doing?
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (02:02):
I'm doing okay, man. Great to be here, Dean.
DEAN BECKER (02:05):
Okay. Now, Michael, the, um, the truth is this, uh, situation at the UN okay. United nations, but it does have worldwide implications. Let's talk about what it means. Uh, give us the cliff notes. What happened, uh, with this new perspective?
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (02:25):
Well, first of all, not that ramrod isn't really accurate because it is, we had to kinda, uh, move this process along at a few times over the, over the last five years that we've been working on it. Uh, but I like to think of myself as the architect, rather than the ramrod, just from my perspective, we've got quite a team. So, uh, yeah, I just want to credit where credit's due, uh, our little team of probably five or six at the very core expanding out to at one point or another, as many as 200 over the last five years. So, and we draw from basically the best of the best throughout the entire cannabis and hemp movement worldwide, and, uh, also bringing in the industry as stakeholders as well. So, uh, we work and coordinate as closely as we can with government. We've gotten a lot of help.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (03:16):
Uh, last few weeks from Switzerland who is on the executive board of the United nations drug control board, uh, drug control commission there and be in Austria. And, uh, we're working very hard for transparency and sort of fighting against a powerful players like Russia, who are doing the opposite and a whole lot of help from Jamaica who I think gave one of the best presentations on the floor of the United nations, uh, in support of the world health organization recommendations before the vote, you know, and, uh, I think that, um, it's really important to understand that this is a change in international law. This is, you know, it's funny the opposition to this, uh, we're just literally going crazy for the last, uh, I don't know, forever right up till the vote, uh, led by Russia, uh, Nigeria, uh, you know, the many countries that were just adamantly opposed to marijuana, they, they weren't nuanced, they didn't have any opposition or any particular recommendation of the, who they were just anti-marijuana and wanted everybody to know that they were and, and, uh, and, and why, uh, and they, before the vote were saying, don't do this, don't pass this recommendation.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (04:35):
It's going to be legalization. It's going to be terrible. It's going to do this. It's going to do that. And then the minute it passed, you got Kevin, Sabet saying, Oh, this is just symbolic. It really doesn't have any it sure. Acknowledges cannabis has medical value at the worldwide level and changes that to enshrine it actually an international law, but it's about, that's just symbolic. He says, it's just, it's funny. It's just absolutely funny. So the nutshell of it, sort of the cliff note version is this, uh, and you probably won't get this from very many other people because it's a long process. It started in 2009, actually. And in 2009, 11 years ago, the country of Japan and Azerbaijan put forth a resolution inside the United nations drug program. That commission on narcotic drugs that I talked about in Vienna, Austria, there delegated the day-to-day authority of overseeing this drug treaty from the 186 countries that actually signed the treaty.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (05:32):
And those 53 countries run the show. It's not like there's some, you know, a little group that runs everything and tells it no 53 countries are delegated that authority. They take it seriously, and they all have to work in unison and consensus to get things done. Except if the world health organization recommends the change of, uh, of a place, uh, in, within the schedules for a drug or to add, or to take out a drug to the world health organization products within the men program, it only requires a simple majority vote, not a consensus vote. So back to 2009 Japan and Azerbaijan put in the seed resolution to try to actually outlaw cannabis seeds, seeds are generally seen as hemp and hemp is exempt under the industrial use, uh, exemption of the treaty, hemp, hemp seeds, all the hemp products CBD, all the hemp products are exempt, uh, as a, uh, exempted industrial application.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (06:28):
And it's important to note that the treaty only applies to medical use and the research of medical use it doesn't apply to nonmedical use it, doesn't apply to our industries that we use, uh, drugs and substances for. So anyway, back to 2009, these guys thought that they were going to basically do something simple, I guess, but it's not simple at all. If you're going to try to change the exemption really adds seeds that have been seen as exempt since the beginning of the treaty. I think it was a much bigger thing they were asking for than they thought. And the way that got interpreted was because it was looking at something that wasn't even under control. It was interpreted as a very broad request to the world health organization to do a super wide wide scope review of cannabis one wide enough where they'd even look at seeds. And oddly enough, that ironically at the end of the day, there was nothing about seeds, essentially in the final, in the final documentation. And we, we, we didn't, we didn't make it harsher. We made it, uh, went the other way. And there was nothing about seeds in the end. So the, it took like six years before that Request, which
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (07:40):
Gained momentum and gained other sponsors and supporters like a countries. And even the international narcotics control board signed onto this request to the world health organization to do this review. And it wasn't finally started until five years ago. And then the world health organization started that review. And we worked there inside of the world health organization, which is separate over in Geneva, Switzerland for three full years, working on these recommendations, making sure that their expert committee at the world health organization had all the science that we were looking at, had heard from the patient's perspective and had heard from our cannabis industry's perspective. We just tried to, you know, we had, I guess, a certain amount of faith that if they were able to look at everything we were looking at that they would come at a reasonable outcome. We didn't feel like we needed to dictate the outcome. We just needed to make sure that they were privy to everything and that they were able to make a fair assessment. Now that's important because do you know the name birth on the draws professor mudras drug? Does that ring a bell to you?
DEAN BECKER (08:42):
Yeah. I don't remember the details, but I don't think I like her.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (08:47):
Well, if you think Kevin Sabet is a really good advocate against marijuana, you know, very effective can really come up with the great talking points and has great credentials and everything being a PhD and former speech writer for the drugs and everything. Well, she blows him away. She's a professor of neuropsychometry at Harvard and she's absolutely against marijuana. As a matter of fact, she's vehemently opposed to any plant medicine. She's made it very clear that, uh, plants will never be medicine. She understands that cannabinoids do all the things that they do. And she knows about the cannabinoid receptor system at the end of the day, she'll say, Oh, but cannabis, isn't a medicine because it's a plant and that's such a horrible negative bias. Um, so anyway, we actually, at the very beginning of that five years ago, that was the first thing we did was we brought it to the attention of the world health organization that this professor from Harvard actually was very biased.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (09:45):
And we used her record against her to show them, uh, her, her position, which was already known without any evidence having been presented. So she was fired. She was taken off the committee. And because of that, I think we were able to have a clean start. There was a moment there where the world health organization really didn't want to do a review. They were going to just do an update and we actually pressured them. That's why that ramrod actually is pretty, pretty accurate because at one point we did raise quite a stir inside of the world. Health organization had a sign on letter with very powerful people and did a protest within the who that was successful and actually got them to do a full-on critical review, critical review of being that process that can actually produce this outcome of recommendations for change in the treaty.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (10:33):
And sure enough, lo and behold, they produce good recommendations. Uh, as we had faith, they would, those recommendations were, I think, somewhat purposefully delayed in their delivery to the UN, which delayed the process and, and allow the UN to easily delay the vote for a year. That one year delay allowed for some fantastic hearings in the, in the UN what I would call cannabis summits, where the world health organization came to the UN and, and basically taught a college class at the PhD level on cannabis, cannabinoids, cannabis medicine, and traditional medicine, everything to the, to the countries, to the member States. It was phenomenal, several hearings like that. And at the end of the day, they weren't ready to vote on it again, they delayed again from last December and finally voted on it this December. So yeah, so, uh, the world health organization recommended six recommendations, but one is of really particular interest to us. And that's the one that won the other ones were mostly what you might call housekeeping. Um, and really of less significance now, just to answer, Kevin said that, okay, there's two significant schedules in the treaty that cannabis was placed in schedule one slash four Schedule. One is quite literally where every drug
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (11:54):
Goes, that's under control. And then it's either one slash two or one slash three or one slash four, one slash two would be a little bit less dangerous than one, one slash three would be drugs that in some cases can be produced like a, let's say a call coding cough syrup, for example, where you can even have over the counter sales and, and, uh, uh, no prescription sales, that's that one slash three. And then one slash four, just to confuse everybody switches way over the other direction. One slash four slash four is essentially the prohibition schedule. And that's what we remove cannabis was removed from that slash four, leaving it in just one. Now the world health organization actually recommended it to go into one slash three that low, low category where it would give a wide variety of options to countries where they could have, you know, very strict control all the way down to almost no control, but they didn't go for that.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (12:49):
The countries didn't opt for that, they only took it out of schedule four, took it out of the prohibition schedule. It recognizes cannabis, medical value, and basically throws it in with just general purpose drugs, uh, that, uh, may produce, uh, abuse potential, which is just everything, you know, and like I said, it's, it's the general purpose category of the treaty. It's where if you look at it this way, and this is another really interesting talking point that the UN is using to say that we haven't changed the level of control of cannabis. And that's a very clever way to put it. It's very accurate. All the control mechanisms are in schedule one. That's where the paperwork is that countries have to fill out the quotas and all this stuff scheduled. Four was quite literally the prohibition schedule is the schedule slash four said that we don't know much about it. It's extremely dangerous. You better treat it as only a research drug. And now that that's gone, it should be treated like any other prescription drug, essentially leaving a wider variety of options, hopefully to our executive branch, as far as where we should be able to schedule it. And this is a change in international law. That's, that's not a hallmark card. That's not, you know, just a symbolic move or sending a message, although it's all those as well.
DEAN BECKER (14:08):
Mike, if I may interject a couple of thoughts here, uh, it sounds to me like, um, the, the, the process being drawn out allowed more fact to be presented, to be absorbed, to be taught in, in certain instances, as you indicated. And the truth is, uh, is beginning to win out, I guess, is the best way to put this, uh, the talk of schedule one versus schedule one dash four and all of this, it doesn't correspond. It's all. It seems almost exactly opposite to the, uh, us, uh, the controlled substance act, one being heroin and cannabis, uh, up to this point. Uh, but, uh, the point is it's now going to give politicians the ability to say the United nations, the world health organizations have investigated this and determined. It's not as dangerous as was once believed to be true, which will enable those politicians to maybe move more progressively now towards legalization and actual control. Right?
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (15:15):
It's more than that because you know, this is a little bit of law that I've dug into that seems to sort of escape the attention of our cannabis movement. Before I say anything about it, I'll, I'll give a plug to Carl Olsen. Have you talked to Carl Olson yet about what he's doing in Iowa? Because I definitely recommend you do that. He is found now when the DEA says that, or the judge that is ruling over a case where we've been fighting the DEA over the schedule of cannabis, and the judge said, you haven't exhausted all your administrative remedies. One of them is what Carlson is doing right now, which is something no activist has ever done. And it's just a state asking for an exemption under the claw and the controlled substances act connected to diversion. It's a different set of code, different place someplace we've never worked.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (16:08):
And he's brought it up to the attention of all the different States that have legalized and used medical cannabis access laws. And I was the very first one ever put in a petition for that. That's just amazing at this late date, that, that, but anyway, I just wanted to give that as a side note to lead into what I've been looking at, which is another section of the controlled substances act, which I'll call the treaty clause, what the treaty clause says in a nutshell, and it's only like a small paragraph. It says pursuant to our treaty obligations, the attorney general shall place drugs in the schedule appropriate based on those treaty obligations, completely superseding the entire scheduling consideration of the previous section. And that previous section is the section of code that we've been fighting in for decades over this rescheduling petition of normal and all that stuff.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (17:01):
That whole section of code is superseded by the treaty clause. In other words, right now, right now in the United States, you know, law and the controlled substances act is embedded this sort of secret weapon or the Anslinger ERs that would prevent us from moving any drug anywhere. If it wasn't agreed to by the treaty. And since we haven't changed our national law, since we haven't changed that law, it's still there. It prevents us. And I want to make that clear. It's not the treaty that's preventing us. It's our own federal law that would be preventing us from, uh, moving away from the treaty. So as long as we haven't changed that law, we haven't passed the Moore act for example, and had it signed into law or anything like that. We're where we are right now is hinged at the hip to that treaty. So what that means is a change in international law will automatically trigger a process within our government of reassessment.
DEAN BECKER (17:59):
Now, Mike, uh, you, you underscore what I've been dabbling in talking about a couple of, um, the passage shows and that is, it was Anslinger and they're following him some compatriots that forced the United nations and indicating we might stop funding them, uh, through our government grants. We do each year to promote democracy around the world. If you don't have a drug war, you ain't getting any money. And, and that, that worked for decades. That's what propelled us forward. That's what gave us this worldwide drug war. Am I right? Yeah.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (18:34):
I would agree with you. But what I'm saying is that that's part of our responsibility as to why we shouldn't just legalize at the federal level, in the United States with a disregard for the treaty. We should have an eye on how we're going to change the treaty as well. How are we going to address the, the change that we're going to have to promote at the international level to reduce and reverse the damage that we've done to the world with the war on drugs? What you just said is so important because we actually, you know, it's not like we're just backing out of a tree being who cares. No, we were the ones promoting that treaty. We were the ones defending that treaty. We were the ones in forcing that treaty, especially in forcing the, the most important one. And when you just back out, can you imagine what the rest of the world would do and say, and think if after forcing this down their throat and, and shoving them into a corner with a struggle war for decades, we just back off, but there's another facet to this and that's the economic facet.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (19:35):
If you just pull out of the treaty, you're also pulling out all the economic agreements associated with it. And that's, you know, for our cannabis industry would be a huge, you know, billion dollar mistake. I'm sure
DEAN BECKER (19:47):
It was us that, that led this whole effort. We are the, the, the, uh, the Ram rods drug war, I guess, right?
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (19:55):
Yeah. Uh, in the architects,
DEAN BECKER (20:00):
Uh, and, uh, folks, uh, once again, we're speaking with Mr. Michael crowds, he's a longtime friend, and I'm thinking the first time I met you was in Houston. You came as part of that original journey for justice. With Kevin, [inaudible] recently deceased a mentor and a we've known each other now for over 20 years, um, through the, through this work. And, and Mike has been a guest, uh, I was looking dozens of times on my shows over the decades, and I want to thank you for that, but I want to back up just a little bit to, um, w we, we have so much concern for our veterans these days, we're losing so many to suicides now. Uh, so many of them just get boxed in, or, you know, the PTSD gets to them somehow, whatever the, the horrors of war catch up to them, we, we have found that the use of cannabis helps them to diminish their use of opioids and other prescription pills. It helps them to maybe gain a little more control of their life and helps diminish that number of suicides. And it was you and your efforts that helped bring about a new perspective for our veterans administration as well. Tell us a little bit about that, please, Michael.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (21:12):
Well, sure. That was actually going way back, uh, going into the early nineties for me, I started working inside the VA, uh, on something. It was, I guess, the mid nineties, it was after the, uh, proposition two 15 in 1996 that we, we learned that cannabis was really effectively helping to lower the amount of pain pills people were using. And that was one of the things we learned right off the bat. Uh, I learned that myself as a patient, but the data and information that we were getting from California showed that that was actually a, a big population. It wasn't just a little population of patients that, that affected and, uh, um, you know, based on that, and based on what I was learning at that time, working inside the drug policy reform movement at that, at that time, it was more like a, uh, classic, uh, apprenticeship.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (22:05):
And you learned all these different disciplines. It wasn't just Canada's, you, you want to learn in harm reduction and you know, all these different things. And, and from that more global perspective, I realized that this, this, you could look at it almost like two Frank trains. One was afraid train, um, more and more patients that were going to be using cannabis. And when cannabis was applied as an adjunct therapy, there would be getting better results with less pain pills, but there was also another freight train of the drug war heading their way and the drug war, what that meant was more and more pressure on the, on the, on the doctors themselves to police their, their patients, to weed out, no pun intended and weed out the marijuana users out of their, out of their clinic. And, you know, they use drug testing for that principally, but that drug testing was connected to this quasi agreement called a pain contract that many doctors were using.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (22:59):
And the emergence of that quasi contract, that pain contract, which was nothing more than a coercive document, they would make you sign otherwise they would take away your treatment. It was unbelievable. I mean, the whole thing is, is mind mind-bending and looking at those two freight trains, that's where I put my, my, my marker on. I tried to figure out how to prevent them from hitting. And I thought it would be too difficult out in the outside world to go after doctors because they have freedom in the outside world. I thought inside the VA, well, there's a place where they have to follow constitutional rules, right? That was my thinking, well, I was wrong. It wasn't, it wasn't how it worked at all. But what I did learn inside the VA system as I was working my way through the system on that issue was that ethics worked ethics.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (23:45):
It's unethical, unethical to take away someone's treatment, any medical treatment as a punishment, flat out, always unethical to take away someone's treatment. As a punishment, you go to prison, you still get your medicine. Even if you go to prison as a drug viewer, you still get your medicine it's unethical, and therefore outside the standards of medical care. Cause remember to get your medical license, you have to take an oath to say that you're going to act ethically. So it's outside of the standards of medical care to take away someone's med medicine and treatment. So my work inside the VA connected with another veteran outside the VA in Kalamazoo, Michigan, around 2010 and our work combined to create the first ever VA marijuana medical marijuana policy to allow veterans to be able to use the marijuana under state programs and not face some sort of repercussion, no punishment in the VA system.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (24:37):
That is the first and only place we've gotten that kind of protection anywhere in the United States, inside or outside the VA, really all the medical boards and the board of medical, you know, doctors and everything. And each state should be actually adopting that protection for patients that you should never be punished. I mean, that should be a standard protection, but yet we only were able to really do it in the VA. But the reason why I'm saying this this way is because I want you to understand that that wasn't a veterans only thing that was a place that we staked out to work to try to prove a point and to create a new sort of way of going the other way to counter that wave. That was really coming. That was really preventing patients from being able to use it as an adjunct. And I think if you think about it since 2010, when that VA policy came out, we've kind of reversed that time. And there is less and less, you know, re resistance from patients using cannabis as an adjunct. And of course, we've had a lot of data that supported our position since then. And you know, that, you know, showing that we use less pain bill showing less overdose rates and stuff. Yeah. But anyway, that VA policy was passed in 2010. It was updated in 2011 and again, in 2017. And it's very much active today.
DEAN BECKER (25:51):
Well, Mike, the, the, the, uh, the ripples, the ramifications, the, the changes that I think are forthcoming. We just, this week had a vote in the United States house to, uh, the Moore act, which, uh, what it was a good step, a good indication of progress is, is coming. I'm not so sure what the Senate will ever do, but the point, I guess, I'm wanting to get to is that you out there, dear listeners, we're speaking here with Mr. Michael crowds. And as these changes come about, as these ripples go across the pond of society, however you want to say it, this man has helped to make those changes. This man deserves a lot of credit. And for that, I applaud you, Mr. Michael Krauss, there a website folks could learn more about the work you're doing.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (26:46):
Absolutely. These days. We are really leaning on Facebook, a lot for communications, uh, veterans for medical cannabis access on Facebook. Also the veterans action council on Facebook, but you could also Google us veterans for medical marijuana, access veterans for medical cannabis access, and, uh, feel free to contact us if you have any problems with the VA, uh, accessing your treatment and coordinating that with use of cannabis,
DEAN BECKER (27:12):
Michael crouch. Thank you, sir.
MICHAEL KRAWITZ (27:14):
Thank you. Thanks for having me, Dean, anytime.
DEAN BECKER (27:16):
It's time to play name that drug by its side effects, Reyes syndrome and disruptive effects on the heart and blood flow in newborn infants, severe constipation, diabetes, dysentery. He will feel your kidney disease, gout, upset, stomach and ulcers. Time's up. The answer from the manufacturer
DEAN BECKER (27:44):
Embrace prohibition is to embrace insanity. It is to embrace barbarity. It is to embrace hysteria. It is to embrace a lie. Prohibition is a fabrication, a Mirage, or as they say in the DEA, it's like mowing the lawn or taking out the garbage prohibition. What is the benefit for you or me? Our families, our neighborhood, our city, our state, our nation. What is the benefit for the world in closing? I want to thank Michael crowds. I want to thank you for tuning in to this edition of cultural baggage. And I want to remind you that because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful
DEAN BECKER (28:33):
To the drug truth network listeners around the world. This is Dean Becker for cultural baggage and the unvarnished truth, cultural baggage production Drug Truth radio network archives are permanently stored at the James A. Baker, the third Institute for public policy. And we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.