Cultural Baggage / September 19, 2010
Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.
“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.
Hello my friends, welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. Among our guests on this particular program will be, Dr. Mitch Earlywine, Mary Jane Borden, Iva Cunnigham, Tod McCormick, Tonya Davis, Michel Lerner, Steve Bloom from High Times and Allen St. Pierre, the Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the convention of which all of this came from.
Dean Becker: Alright, we’re here at the NORML conference in Portland, Oregon. I’m with Dr. Mitch Earlywine who came here to tell us of some new truths that are being revealed about marijuana – medical marijuana. Mitch, what topics are you bringing to this conference?
Dr. Mitch Earlywine: My focus today is really about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, disorder that’s affecting a lot of our veterans. This war has gone on quite some time and we’ve seen a lot of folks suffer.
We have some preliminary data suggesting that cannabis can help with some of the more severe symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, particularly those area related to sleep. So, problems with sleep are common with this and cannabis certainly seems to help.
Dean Becker: Mitch, there are so many other areas of medicine, if you will, where discoveries are being made or where other applications of medicine are proving possible or even beneficial. Your thoughts?
Dr. Mitch Earlywine: The beauty of the cannabis plant is that it contains so many unique compounds. So, we have cannabinoids that we very little about in there but we’re discovering that they have incredible antioxidant properties, meaning they have the potential to preserve nerve function, help ourselves work as optimally as possible and just make sure that we’re not wearing ourselves out biologically through all the stressors we take on in our daily lives. The potential is so vast.
Unfortunately, prohibition has impaired our research on this topic here in the US and other countries are actually getting ahead of us, finding new things out about THC, finding cannabinoid receptors. All this work is happening overseas and we’re genuinely behind on this. I look forward to seeing a change in cannabis laws so that our physicians, our medical researchers can really make the progress that this plant definitely needs.
Dean Becker: Mitch, I observe. I pay very close attention, as you are probably aware that many studies are being released. Many studies and reports are being issued by valid medical bodies and concerns around the world on an almost continual basis. All of them disproving the government posture, if you will, the government representation towards marijuana.
What’s it going to take? Today The Economist says, “The Drug War is an abysmal failure.” What’s it going to take to shake the politicians or to awaken the people to take another look?
Dr. Mitch Earlywine: I think what’s happened with cannabis prohibition parallels some of the things we saw with alcohol prohibition. It’s suddenly dawning on us that the laws have more negative consequences than the plant. Here, we really do need the economics behind this.
A tax on a regulated market in cannabis could provide astounding amounts of money, truly marvelous amounts of resources for all kinds of research, treatment, prevention and programs in areas that have nothing to do with cannabis. Nevertheless, folks are afraid because they’ve been misinformed.
I feel like education is the answer. As we train more and more people that cannabis doesn’t create the negative consequences we thought it created, we’ll suddenly know the change in this law is inevitable.
I’m noticing that in the media, in the last ten years, rather than being asked, “What are marijuana’s medical benefits?” I used to get asked, “Does marijuana have any benefits?” We’re seeing this change gradually but it’s really, really happening.
I used to get asked, “Why would we possibly be legalize?” Now, I’m asked, “What are the potential benefits of legalizing?” Over the years, as the media has changed the way we frame the question, we’re finding the answers become more and more obvious that a change in cannabis prohibition is going to benefit us all.
Dean Becker: Ok, any particular website that you think the folks would benefit from visiting?
Dr. Mitch Earlywine: I have always love to see folks go to norml.org. You’ll see some updates about some of the greatest work around. I feel like there are still some myths that are frightening the American public about cannabis.
First and foremost, cannabis does not cause aggression. I’m stunned that there are still people out there suggesting that this is a possibility.
Second but equally important, cannabis is not a gateway to harsh drugs. Literally, hundreds of millions of people use cannabis and never use hard drugs mush less use them problematically.
As more and more people understand this, our fear of cannabis is going to decrease and we can spend a lot more time focusing our laws on the things that really matter, rather than busting people for owning a plant.
Mary Jane Borden: Hello Drug Policy Aficionados, I’m Mary Jane Borden, editor of Drug War Facts.
The question for this week asks: Is today’s marijuana more potent?
The DEA states on it’s website that, “Although marijuana grown in the United States was once considered inferior because of the low concentration of THC, advancements of plant selection and cultivation have resulted in higher THC contained in domestic marijuana.”
A 2004 report called, An Overview of Cannabis Potency in Europe, from the EMCDDA [European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction] says that, “The information on which the claims have greatly increased cannabis potency have been made is not always clear.”
To clarify the issue, officials in the United Kingdom have issued the Home Office Cannabis Potency Study 2008. It found that, “The mean THC concentration potency in sesamia samples was 16.2%” and that the “mean THC concentrations potency of traditional imported cannabis samples was 8.4%.”
From the last 420 Drug War News show, we recall that the Dr. ElSohly of the University of Mississippi has been analyzing seized cannabis samples since 1985. Potency percentages from his 2009 report are currently listed as Fact #14 in the Drug War Facts Marijuana chapter.
Using the data to reduce peaks and valleys, finds a three year average potency from 2005-2008 for sesamia was 11.2% THC and for herbal marijuana, 5.8% THC. The three year average percentage change in cannabis potency was +3.9% for commercial marijuana and a –1.3% for sesamia.
That European Monitoring Centre Reeport explains the difference between the US and British data by concluding that, “It most be assumed that the quality of herbal cannabis consumed in the US more than 20 years ago was unusually poor but that in recent years, it has risen to levels typical of Europe.”
These facts and others like them can be found in the Marijuana chapter of Drug War Facts at www.drugwarfacts.org. If you have a question for which you need facts please email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll try to answer your question in an upcoming show. So, remember when you need facts about drugs and drug policy you can get the facts at Drug War Facts.
Dean Becker: I’m with the Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Mr. Allen St. Pierre. Allen, I sense so much electricity, so much possibility going on, how about you?
Allen St. Pierre: Well, here we are at the cusp of legalization with California in close to a majority voting for it. Most of the ninth circuit, which is the West Coast of the United States is really in favor of it. Where I’m from in New England, pretty much in favor of it.
A lot of end dealing is going to happen for a decade or longer in the middle of the country. Roughly speaking, if we are a country of 300 million people, about 125-140 million people live in a state that has medical marijuana or decriminalization and therefore generally support it.
Dean Becker: This is indicative of, I think, a greater sea change in the respect to just the viability and the rationale, if you will or the Drug War in general, right?
Allen St. Pierre: Well, it is. This is a recognition “in toto” that if you are going to ban popular products that millions of people want to consume that there’s an iatrogenic effect. If they are going to try to make the behavior criminalized and all the forces and mechanisms of government that twist and bend the Constitution to try to achieve an unachievable end and that’s being recognized by both liberals and conservatives. So, that seems to be all part of this as we see the Baby Boom generation having to come and reconcile the Drug War.
Dean Becker: Right, last night when I went to the World Famous Cannabis Club here. They had quite an event – a gathering of growers and patients to share the latest and greatest products some high potency stuff and yet there were no problems to be discerned. Your thoughts on that?
Allen St. Pierre: Well, I will relate what has been told to me by more than one Chief of Police at big, huge rallies that NORML and others are involved in putting together. That is:
If you have more than a few hundred people drinking alcohol, particularly in excess, under a celebratory situation, you are going to have male-to-male violence. You are probably going to have male-to-female violence. There’s going to be people urinating inappropriately.
It’s just really amazing what happens when you get two hundred people in a room that will drink alcohol to a high degree, as compared to two hundred that smoke even a large amount of marijuana that happens to be quite potent.
There is little to no discernable affect regarding the way that people interact and whether or not they are violent or whether they act in an untoward or uncivil way. It’s really night and day and it’s hard not to miss the difference.
Dean Becker: You know, we have this situation in California, Prop 19, the effort to legalize an ounce of marijuana for adults and allow a twenty-five square foot grow space, I think, for individual production. I think we have still a few naysayers. Law enforcement mostly, in particular. Do they have a vested interest? Why do they oppose it?
Allen St. Pierre: Well, certainly law enforcement is naked at this point in their opposition. Some of their excuses that they – and rationalizations that they put forward are now pretty farcical. We’re having some fun with it now. We’re really tapping into our inner-Will Rodger and Samuel Clement here.
It is just unbelievable how stupid some of their arguments are. So, with that being said, what I have found really amazing are people who are, in fact, cannabis consumers, marketers, growers and sellers – otherwise one would presume them to be reformers or not.
Whether it’s parochial interests or they are just simply making a lot of money under the guise of medical cannabis or they simply do not have the vision to recognize that the consumers want – and this is no big surprise – the cheapest, best marijuana available to them.
That will never be achieved under the market forces created by prohibition. The idea that you can still pay in places like California and Colorado, $15, $20, $25 a gram for a product that by all measurable accounts that we have been able to do in thirty-five years of analyses.
If you grow it indoors, it’s about a $1.10 gram to produce and with some profit and some expresses and taxes, we’re talking probably $4-$5 a gram. So, to achieve those ends we must end the prohibition of the plant.
Dean Becker: I would dare say that, I figure, a few years after the legalization effort has made it, no one will even want to steal the cannabis plants you grow in your front yard because it has so little value. Your thoughts?
Allen St. Pierre: That’s exactly the idea. Some people call that the tomato model and unless you are desperately poor and hungry at the moment, nobody’s going around and stealing anybody’s vegetables.
So, it has the exact same idea that once the economic costs have come down to the point where there are no economic values, there is no succor built into the product that therefore, not only will law enforcement and government not care about it but we won’t have the criminal element, the syndicate element. The idea of what happens, not only in the places like Mexico and Colombia but within our own internal ranks here. That you have people who are playing the ends of the margins here regarding prohibition and the violence that’s needed to attend that business.
They don’t put on suits and ties. They don’t fight it out in the court in a civil manner. They don’t pay each other when they are found to have gone over the line in the way that Alpha males at business who are incredibly competitive are usually dealt with.
These individuals will go out and kill each other and many people innocently will get caught up in this. So, we learned this during alcohol prohibition. It really took about twelve years to drive the point home. Maybe after seventy-three years, we’re just simply prohibition wary in this country.
Dean Becker: You know, the mantra, I guess, if you will, of this year’s NORML conference is to “Just say now”and that entails people’s actions, does it not?
Allen St. Pierre: It entails action when people say “now” because that’s an adverb that says you have to do something. It also acknowledges a tremendous frustration and urgency that this is the time. We heard from Neil Franklin, from the Executive Director of LEAP, who made absolutely clear that this is an opportunity that cannot be wasted and the opportunity is the recession that is crushing everybody. The internet allows us to communicate in a very direct way and around mainstream media.
We have the clear example of 2,500 cannabis dispensaries in the United States, more or less selling marijuana at the Main Street level without any real problem whatsoever. The fact the Baby Boomers are coming to age that they are running the institutions of government and media, corporations and culture.
So, they have a much different experience than do say, as a forty-five year old myself, my grandparents who are in their late eighties, early nineties and my mother who is a genuine Boomer, clearly feels that we ought to be doing something different with it. So, if she takes over the reigns of power, as my generation is twenty years behind hers, it seems really well ensconced in the idea of legalization.
I look here at these NORML conferences that are always four-generation conferences. There are people here between eighty-seven and eighteen years old. So, with that amount of people here seeing the eighteen to twenty-four year olds in the audience today and even hearing some of them lecture earlier, really inspires – as I mentioned earlier today during my lecture, prohibition is going to go away but reformers are never going to.
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Alright, we’re here with Mr. Steve Bloom, no longer with High Times but is still a friend of High Times and a friend of NORML. He’s an author and you can visit his website and learn more about his work at celebstoner.com. Steve, what’s your perceptions of this NORML conference?
Steve Bloom : Well, I’m happy to be in Portland. I haven’t been here in a long time. So, the NORML conference has usually been in California for the last few years and it’s kind of ironic that this year the conference is in Oregon where they are having a ballot initiative for medical marijuana but the big news in California where Prop 19 is on the ballot for November and that would legalize marijuana in California, So, that’s really the big issue. So, we’re sort of like – we’re here talking about California but we’re in Oregon.
Dean Becker: Yeah and it’s amazing. The repercussions, the waves that this situation over Prop 19 in California is making around the country and around the world, right?
Steve Bloom: I think so. I live in New York, so for us it’s looking at it from a distance but everybody just wants it to pass. In California, there seems to be division within the marijuana community. Not in a big may but enough that it is a little disconcerting that we don’t have 100% support for this measure among our community.
You have enough problems outside of our community, the law enforcement people – not LEAP but others who would be opposed to it, like the anti-drug community, the people out there that would not support anything pro-marijuana. We have enough to do with them that it’s a little bit of a problem for us to have to deal with our own community, which questions whether Prop 19 is the way to go.
Dean Becker: I hear the numbers and it’s always fairly even – yes and no – in this regard to Prop 19 thus far. Prop 19 supporters are having a slight lead perhaps but there is 7-9% out there Undecided. Is that the growers? Is that the trimmers wondering how they should vote?
Steve Bloom: It could be. Either they’re undecided or they might be opposed. I have a feeling that when it – when push comes to shove, if you’re going to go to the polls to vote on this that you’re going – if you’re a marijuana supporter or a user or enthusiast or just the typical pothead stoner or whatever and you’re not necessarily a full blown activist.
If you’re going to go into the voting both on November 2nd and have a choice to vote for or against Prop 19, you are going to vote for Prop 19. Yes, on Prop 19 but what I’m concerned about are the people are “Undecideds” that just won’t vote. We’re going to lose a lot of those people that we need.
I think if we don’t win, it will probably be because enough of our community didn’t come out to support this extremely important ballot. This will set the tone for the rest of the country, as was stated today at the NORML conference.
If California, which is one of the biggest economies in the world, goes ahead and legalizes marijuana, that’s is going to have a large effect not only within the United States but perhaps around the world. So, we need this to pass because the time is long overdue. Why wait for 2012?
If it doesn’t pass, like Allen St. Pierre, NORML’s Exectutive Director, calls it a “wobbler,” meaning that he feels it’s going to win or loss by a couple of points. If it does lose, I will regret that it might lose because I feel it’s because we don’t have full support within our own community but of course we’ll just come back in 2012.
I just think that now’s the time. Things are – we don’t know if Obama is going to win again and have Democratic leadership the next term. Every time Republicans are in office, it’s always a problem for marijuana legalization.
Look how medical marijuana has expanded during the Obama administration already, just for two years. It’s expanded to Colorado and other states, where they did not have dispensaries before and now they do because they’re not afraid that the government is going to come and raid their stores because Obama pretty much stopped that.
He did follow his promise, which was to stop the raids of marijuana dispensaries in California and other states. So, we’re moving in the right direction but if Obama is not our president, come four years from now, we’re going to regret not passing this now when we have like a window of opportunity.
Michael Lerner: I’m Michael Lerner and I’m the founding editor in chief of Kush magazine, dailybuds.com and KushCon.
Dean Becker: Now, this is becoming – this is a growing industry, if I dare say.
Michael Lerner: Yeah.
Dean Becker: People are wanting to better understand the mechanics of the plant and the laws attendant to it, are they not?
Michael Lerner: Yes, well, it’s an exploding industry to start right there. This industry – this is a multi-billion dollar industry. Kush magazine, we’re at 20 million pages a month and that just shows where – that’s just one facet of the industry. The media portion of this industry, which is a multi-million dollar part of the industry and with the – not just with the medication but with all of the ancillary products that are involved around that.
This has created over 30,000 jobs within the last year in the state of California and Colorado. So, no economic infusion from the government to create jobs – instead of the government spending hundreds of millions creating new jobs for this industry, this has created jobs self-sufficient from the government.
Dean Becker: This is indicative of the ways things are going to have to change, overall, within the economy. We have to stop giving the big bucks to the big guys and kind of take back our own niche within this economy right?
Michael Lerner: Well, the beauty of this industry is, that it surely is a niche because these are boutiques, these individual dispensary owners and so forth. They’re boutiques. This industry won’t get away from the boutique is creating an art form in creating the different types of strains and different types of medication dealing with a whole variation of ailments. So, you’re not going to take away the art form of this industry. When you can’t take that away that basically keeps big business from taking over the industry.
Dean Becker: Right, I talk to some grows and they always talk about the number of days and well, just how many hours sometimes these plants should be allowed to produce their resins.
Michael Lerner: The industry itself, whether it is one plant of one strain versus another strain. It’s imperative – the art form – like I said, the art form behind it is incredible. So, the individual growers or the grower groups – you know good medicine that is grown by the right people and you can’t mass-produce this medication.
Dean Becker: Alright, we’ve been speaking to Michel Lerner of Kush magazine. Michael, the website where folks can learn more?
Michael Lerner: dailybuds.com
Dean Becker: We’re here at the NORML conference with Tanya Davis. Now Tanya, you’re a medical marijuana patient from Ohio, is that right?
Tanya Davis: I am.
Dean Becker: How are things in Ohio? What progress – what’s are going on?
Tanya Davis: Well, we’ve got a legislative government that are cowards really. We have House Bill 478 that has been introduced into the House of Representatives. We do have five co-sponsors, which is awesome for Ohio. We have also gained the support of a former Green County prosecutor who is going to testify on behalf of our bill. We have former law enforcement, Cincinnati Police Academy Captain who is also an addiction specialist who will be testifying on behalf of our legislation as well.
But, then again, overall on our Senate side we’ve got a bunch of chickens. Like we’ve got one senator over there that says that at the end of the day he has to face his mom and his church. So, now I rib him every time I see him because we didn’t put his mom or his church into office.
So, we’ve got a problem with the legislators being our voice and I think it’s about time that we pay his church a visit and let them know that we don’t have horns. I bet you if they were to ask his mom or his church what they felt about compassion and this Drug War being a failure. I bet you they’d agree with us and they would pretty much be on our side.
Dean Becker: That’s real problem, the quandary, is that I think nearly everyone gets it and understands this Drug War to be a failure but they don’t want to commit the heresy of saying as much.
Tanya Davis: Oh, you’re right. They think it’s going to be political suicide, when in all honesty; it should be political suicide for not supporting this issue.
Dean Becker: Alright, Tanya Davis. Do you have a website that you’d like to share with the listeners?
Tanya Davis: Yes, you can go to ohiopatient.net. You can go to normlohio.org and mmjactionnetwork.com. I’m on facebook, at facebook.com/ohiomedicalcompassionact
Iva Cunningham: My name is Iva Cunningham and I own Alternative Medical Choices Clinic. What we do is cannabinoid therapies, besides giving recommendations for OMMP program. We also do massage, acupuncture and that sort of thing to try to incorporate other therapies that use cannabis besides just smoking and give patients another option.
Cannabis smoking, while that’s great, you get more medicinal properties by ingesting it or using it topically, if you have the right massage oil or salve to get it to come through your skin. It’s better that way, instead of just smoking. You get more of the medicinal properties.
We’re right off the 303 Exit from Vancouver. So anyone from Vancouver can – we’re the first stop on their way over to Portland.
Dean Becker: You’re helping people to jump through the hoops or to be approved.
Iva Cunningham: Right, so what people need to do is bring in their – we need have – we need to look at your medical records. In Oregon you have to have medical records that explain your diagnosis or have doctor’s notes that document your qualifying condition.
We review those and we schedule an appointment. If they don’t have the qualifying condition or they’re not quite there and the doctor feels they need something more, we work with the patient to obtain what they need so they can become legal cardholders.
Some states have reciprocity. In Oregon, you don’t need to be an Oregon resident to receive an Oregon medical marijuana card but you do have to be a registered Oregon patient to be covered in the state of Oregon.
Some states and I forget which ones, offer reciprocity. So, if you go – if you have a card from, let’s say Oregon and you go to that state, which happens to be a medical state, they will recognize your card and you won’t need to have their card and you have protection within their state.
Dean Becker: Could you point folks towards your website, where they could learn more about what you do?
Iva Cunningham: Absolutely, it is www.altmedchoices.com or they can reach me at email@example.com
Dean Becker: Well, that’s about it. I hope you’ll tune in to this week’s Century of Lies program, which follows next on many of the Drug Truth Network stations. Among our guests will be Howard Wooldridge, the former cop who’s now riding his horse across California. We’ll hear from Dr. David Bearman as well. As always, I remind you, because of prohibition, you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.
To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.
This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.
Drug Truth Network programs are archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies.
Transcript provided by: Ayn Morgan of www.eigengraupress.com
Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.