Cultural Baggage, 10-29-08
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.
Ah yes, my friends. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. It's a great day here at the mother-ship city and it's a great day around the country. I think good things are on the horizon. We have much positive to look forward to. I think, here in the next month and especially with the beginning of the new year, it just might get a little better.
We also have a wonderful guest for you here today. Her name is Amanda Fielding. She's Lady Niedpath of the U.K. She's Director of the Beckley Foundation which just released their major 'Cannabis Commission Report' and she's done a lot of other great work in regards to research and to various drugs, properties and studies and without any further ado let's go ahead and bring in our guest.
Dean Becker: I consider it quite a privilege to get a chance to speak with Lady Niedpath. She's given me permission to call her Amanda and with that, I want to welcome the Director of the Beckley Foundation, Amanda Fielding. Hello Amanda.
Lady Niedpath: Hello Dean. How nice to talk to you.
Dean Becker: Yes Ma'am. I thank you for joining us. Now, I've seen several of your reports over the last few years dealing with various aspects in regards to drug policy and I think the most recent was a commission release of a study done and some recommendation towards cannabis controls, right? Would you like to summarize that for us?
Lady Niedpath: Yes, it's a very interesting report done by five of the leading drug policy analysts in the world. What I noticed was that at international drug policy debates; meetings, strangely cannabis was never really talked about. It was always about the cocaine and opium market and amphetamines. I couldn't quite make out why cannabis was always left out and so I decided to convene a report which would cover all the major issues to do with cannabis and it's regulations.
So the latest evidence on the health harms of cannabis and how different countries set about controlling it's use and; what are the results of the different techniques of controlling use and; what are the international regulations and how they affect how different countries work and indeed at the end, how one might act; change the international regulations so that individual countries are freer to create controls of cannabis, which better reflect the individual country.
Dean Becker: I noticed there were several issues dealing with the U.N. Convention on Narcotics and how it would impact or require nuances within the various countries and how they would treat cannabis, right?
Lady Niedpath: Absolutely. Because at the moment the international conventions limit, very strongly, how countries can deal with cannabis. Particularly at the level of producing and supplying. There've been many different ways countries have approached dealing with the cannabis issue but they've always been constrained by the fact that supply is illegal.
I mean, in the Dutch coffee shops people can buy, legally, small quantities of cannabis to use. So use and supply is legal. But the back door that supplies the cannabis, is illegal. Which therefore put the police in a very difficult position.
Really, the overriding fact is that the war on drugs happen to have been a success, the forty years that the billions and billions of dollars spent on it. Drugs are cheaper, purer and more available than they have ever been before and indeed over the last fifty years, the use of cannabis has gone up from small pockets of use and traditional use, in certain countries, to really say that it's kind of normative among large proportions of the youth culture across the developed world.
So, quite obviously the war on drugs is not working and we need to really re-look at the whole situation and to think, 'How can we best regulate the use and supply of these substances, particularly cannabis is this case, which best to serve the individual and society?'
The report is laying out different ways that countries could set about reviewing how they regulate the use of cannabis in order to cut down the harms. Because it goes into, 'What are the harms of cannabis itself?' But also, there are very substantial harms from the prohibition of cannabis and these are largely due to arrests of users.
In the United States, I think it's between 600,000 and 800,000 users are arrested every year for cannabis and that can blight someone's career possibilities and cause great suffering in the family and to the people themselves. It's also very largely, depart to arrest if they discriminately used, so it's largely the minorities who are arrested. So, there's much injustice which comes through the present regulatory system.
A very interesting fact is it has been shown that however, the drug policy controlling cannabis really doesn't make any difference to the prevalence of it's use. I mean while the control system is liberal or draconian doesn't seem to affect how many people use cannabis. Which really rather kind of makes it rather a waste of time to have these vast criminalization systems in place.
Dean Becker: We are speaking with Lady Niedpath, Amanda Fielding, director of the Beckley Foundation in the U.K.
Amanda, you know, I heard that reference to alcohol but contained within that report it also describes how it should perhaps be treated in the same way, that we now currently control and regulate alcohol, through state controls and regulation. It brings to mind the U.S. prohibition against alcohol and the disastrous results that resulted from that and I want to read quickly to you the last paragraph of a letter to the editor. It was published up in Oregon.
The last paragraph says, 'Supporting prohibition and calling oneself anti-crime is a contradiction. A true anti-crime fighter would be anti-prohibitionist. Currently, just because drugs are bad it doesn't mean prohibition is good.' Would you concur with that?
Lady Niedpath: Yes I would. Prohibition causes more harms than it avoids. So it's a system whish isn't working in particular regards with cannabis. Which is a very special issue because it's the most widely used drug, illegal drug, by a very long way.
Interestingly, if it was withdrawn from the international prohibition system, the whole system would collapse. Because without cannabis, really the number of people using illegal substances is too small, one to two percent, to warrant the vast expenditure, in both finances and human suffering, that the war on drugs involve.
So that's maybe, partly why, the system never looks about, 'How do we re-approach the regulation of cannabis?'
Dean Becker: Yes Ma'am. Recently I was at a conference here at James A. Baker Institute of Policy Studies, a very prestigious event. They held three days of conference. One day was for those who were working to end prohibition and the other two days were for those who want to continue it.
The odd thing is, the prohibitionists were invited but they did not attend the other day and they did not allow the anti-prohibitionists to speak on their two days. It kind of underlines what you were just saying, right?
Lady Niedpath: Right, right. What has been shown is that the system, which has been running from forty to fifty years; forty years, of prohibition, the war on drugs, is not a success story. It's putting vast hundreds of billions of dollars in the hands of criminals and it is not stopping the availability and easy access to controlled substances. We really need to re-look at how we manage cannabis.
Also, one has to look at the fact that a hundred and sixty million, which is the basic number the U.N. say use cannabis worldwide, not because they're addicted because they, in their own opinions, have some benefits from the use and the current research hasn't really looked into, 'What are the benefits? What underlies, neurophysiologically, the changes which people experience as beneficial?'
That's another aspect of what I'm doing at the Beckley Foundation, is the scientific research into those areas which haven't been investigated because, you know, the governments aren't interested in either funding or initiating the research.
Dean Becker: Yes, Ma'am. Speaking of research, you guys have not limited yourself to just cannabis. You have looked at the effects; the dangers, if you will, of all these drugs. Was it then 2004 you released a study that was recently reported by The Lancet that kind of evaluated the danger level of these drugs? You want to talk about that?
Lady Niedpath: Right. The categories of drugs, both in the United Kingdom and America, they have no relation to the scientific harms of the drug and for many years now, because another roll the Buckley does is organize very high level seminars of scientists and international drug policy analysts and policy makers, and once the, which has always worried me is, the fact that the categories the drugs fall into bare no relationship to their relative harm.
So Professor, call him Blakemore, that's been giving a talk on this issue at a couple of the seminars that I organized and then he and another scientist in England brought out a paper which came out in The Lancet, a very respected journal; scientific journal, which really looked at the categories of danger of the different substances.
To the surprise of many people, alcohol and tobacco, our too favorite drugs in society today, came very high in the list of dangers. Way above cannabis or LSD or MDMA which were relatively low on the scale of harms and this just kind of indicated how far from current scientific knowledge our way of dealing with illegal substances has become.
I do think that there's a great need for us to take a long hard rational look at how society manages these substances. Because I think it's obvious that mankind has an innate desire to alter his and her consciousness and has from the beginning of time. These substances got into the categories they did by completely haphazard ways. It's a whole kind of history of accidents, the fact that certain kind of substances are legal and certain aren't.
Probably more than any other single item in the world, it causes more suffering, the war on drugs, which could be taken away just by altering the law. I mean, obviously one has to have laws to control the use of these substances. One doesn't want them being advertised to children and they're, obviously they have to be regulated but I think there's little question that we could improve the way in which we regulate them, causing a lot less suffering.
Dean Becker: I have become aware in the last, I say the last five or six years, of the possibility that drugs like LSD could be used to help those that are grieving or having other mental problems and that I've heard that MDMA; ecstasy, could perhaps be useful for our thousands of soldiers that are coming back from these horrible wars with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and yet the government scientific community seems unwilling to do those types of studies. Can we talk about that?
Lady Niedpath: Absolutely. I mean, that's all the most terrible hangover from the world of prohibition than the hysteria which came up after the 60's. It's rather like the inquisition was in the Medieval Europe.
Dean Becker: Yes, Ma'am.
Lady Niedpath: Because when LSD was discovered, by Albert Hoffman in 1943, in the years that followed, the 40's and 50's and indeed the beginning of the 60's, it was hailed as a wonder drug by psychiatrists and psychotherapists and there were the thousands of scientific papers written about the wonderful, possible root to healing illness that these substances made possible.
Then with the escalation of the youth culture using these substances, the establishment got into kind of a panic and as we all know they became prohibited to such a degree that one couldn't even do scientific research with them. I mean, that is an amazingly high level of restriction that one couldn't even get permission to use them in science.
I was very conscious of both the potential benefits and how much society is impoverishing itself by not opening up the possible ways to use these substances to the benefit of mankind. So a very major aim of the Beckley Foundation was to open the doors of scientific research to this category of substances, the psychedelics, including MDMA, which had been closed off since the middle 60's or 70's.
We were very fortunate after several years, I think it was three years, of trying to get permission to do scientific research into LSD. We managed to get the full permission, which was the first research in LSD, with human subjects, to permission for a good 35 years. Now after having got that first research it, I think, is becoming easier to open the doors and that's very exciting.
There're many, many different area's of potential use where they can be, as you said, to help alleviate suffering and the dying and people with terrible traumas that they can't reach by normal techniques of psychotherapy and also for transformational religious, spiritual experiences. There's a whole wealth of different uses and possibly even things like age related declining cerebral circulation.
Small dose LSD might be very beneficial on... there's a great range of uses because historically, as I'm sure you know, traditional societies have used these substances, which kind of 'ring the presence' of The Universe or God or whatever one liked to call it, into being. They were kind of central to the whole spiritual life of the group and they use them to help heal or guide, hunting or bring the identity of the group together and as has recently been reveled, even the classical world, which we so revere.
Socrates and Plato and all of the great stars of the classical world all went to the ceremony of the great mystery at Eleusis, where they took the sacred potion, which was based on psychoactive substances. So the whole of the classical world, which our society is based on, had as their central sacrifice, the experience of altered states of consciousness.
In some way, down the century, thru Christianity and then these substances have got relegated into the world of criminality and the kind of underbelly of society and I think that's the great tragedy. We need to re-look at this. Hopefully society will realize the potential benefits that can be got for both the individual and society by a more rational attitude to altered states of consciousness.
Dean Becker: This is our first introduction, today here on the phone Amanda, and I hear in you courage. I hear in you great intellect and I hear in you capability that I also hear in good folks like Sasha and Ann Shulgin and they have certainly disproven much of the propaganda put forward by governmental agencies. Have they not?
Lady Niedpath: They certainly have. They're a most wonderful couple. Sasha does incredibly valuable work in just uncovering the chemistry of how different psychoactive substances work and moving from one substance to the next and the next and describing it and moving on and Ann is a wonderful psychoanalyst. They really are a most heavenly couple.
Dean Becker: I look forward to the day I can meet you and hopefully the Shulgin's as well.
You know, talking about the psychedelics, you know here in the United states, it is legal for Native Americans to use Peyote. It is legal for, and I cannot remember the name of the church but, those church members to use the iowaska tea, that's derived from a couple of plants in South America. It seems somewhat discriminatory. Your thoughts on that...
Lady Niedpath: Absolutely. The whole of the world of psychoactive substances is kind of interwoven with a madness. I think when, if humanity survives all of the dangers and pitfalls, which I'm sure it will, us being such a clever little animal, one will look back on these days and think, 'This is kind of medieval madness. Because obviously, theses substances are very powerful and can be misused and you know, rather like skiing, it can be a very dangerous occupation, it needs careful scrutiny.
But, on the other hand the incredibly, potentially, valuable insights can be got from them and we need to balance attitudes and hopefully in the coming shift in consciousness we will get a better grasp on the true dangers and potential benefits this category of chemicals can bring to humanity.
Dean Becker: I want thank you and invite you to please consider coming back with us again in the near future so we can talk about that.
We've been speaking with Lady Niedpath, Amanda Fielding, the director of the Beckley Foundation and their website is beckleyfoundation.org. Any closing thoughts you'd like to relay, Amanda?
Lady Niedpath: Well, just to say thank you very, very much for talking with me and at the moment I'm working on the Global Cannabis Commission in preparation for the U.N. meeting in March, next year, when they will review the last ten years of drug policy, global drug policy, and set down the next ten years.
I'm sure we're all in agreement that it would be lovely if society could move on to a more rational approach to these substances. Which at the moment, the way we treat them, causes immense suffering and hundreds of thousands of people in jail around the world. When actually they could be used medicinally and for transformational purposes to bring happiness and light to many, many people.
Dean Becker: You know, she's so bubbly and bright. It just makes you feel good to talk with her. I think she was very gracious and I appreciate her time. Once again, that was Amanda Fielding, Lady Niedpath, the director of the Beckley Foundation. beckleyfoundation.org
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This is Terry Nelson of LEAP. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition at www.leap.cc
I worked for more than three decades along the border of Mexico as well as Central and South America. Kidnappings are a fact of life in Mexico and South America and many are the drug cartels way of sending a message to rival gangs or law enforcement. This recent headline out of Las Vegas, Nevada is scary.
'A six year old child was kidnapped at gunpoint when three men, posing as police officers, knocked on the front door... near Hollywood Boulevard and Cherry Grove Avenue, police reported. The crime appears to be random, police said, adding that the mother didn't know the men.
The child's mother let the three men inside the home. The Trio then tied up the woman, son and another man and when they didn't find money inside the house, the took the boy, police said.
Metro police Lieutenant Clint Nichols pleaded with the three men to return the child safely to a school, hospital, or convenience store and the child had been released after several days and appeared to be unharmed.
Sources said it's believed that a member of the family owed a Mexican drug cartel between eight and twenty million in money laundering operation.'
The kidnapping of this child is tragic and the fact that the kidnappers posed as police officers is even more alarming. In the four decades of this failed public policy, we have seen far too many headlines dealing with drug gang violence, drive by shootings, killing innocent bystanders, murder and kidnapping.
The drug prohibition policy has failed us in every way. The question is: Would this have happened but for our current failed drug policy? This policy has met none of it's stated goals and it's caused far more harm than it's drafters of the policy ever dreamed.
Prohibition has created a false market for weed. Opium, poppy, cocoa leaves and marijuana all have been used for centuries without causing the kind of harm to citizens that the prohibition of them has done.
We at LEAP do not condone nor encourage the use of any drug. But we do know that we must change our policy from one of prohibition, to one of regulation and control. Doing so would reduce approximately 80% of the crime and violence associated with drug prohibition.
Regulating and controlling the distribution and manufacture of these dangerous products will do much to reduce our crime problem, but little to help the drug problem. We must then couple this new policy with education and treatment of our drug problem.
Let's make this country safer for ourselves, our neighbors and all of our children. We must legalize all drugs and implement a system of regulation control over their manufacture and distribution.
Incarceration has not worked. So, let's try to set up credible education and treatment.
This is Terry Nelson of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. www.leap.cc Signing off.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. These men and women have served in the trenches of the drug war as prosecutors, judges, cops, guards and wardens.
They have seen first hand the utter futility of our policy and now work together to end prohibition.
Please visit leap.cc
Dean Becker: My friends, this has been a busy week for yours truly. Earlier this week I went to a conference held at the James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies at Rice University. It was a three day seminar.
The first day was reserved for one anti-prohibitionist and the next two days were reserved for the prohibitionists. There wasn't a whole lot of dialog. There wasn't a whole lot of reasoning and rationalizing and analyzing going on. The second two days was pretty much a festival for DEA, the ONDCP and SAMHSA to spout their lies; to call for more money; more abrogation of your rights and powers as a citizen and more ways to basically fleece and flock to the public.
Just yesterday, I was invited to participate at a panel at the University of Houston. Put together by the Students for Sensible Drug Policy group there. They're starting to get a large following. It was well received but I also heard some bad news. As you may know, I speak regularly for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and a local Lions Club cancelled my engagement there because they heard I was going to mention the word, 'legalize'. The lady who had arranged it said, 'There were a couple of people who were going to kick me out of the venue if I even mentioned that word.
Little do they realize, I'm the one who wants to destroy the gangs and eliminate the cartels and to quit feeding Osama's cash cow. But, I guess that's the way it goes, two steps forward, one step back. But, we will get it done soon.
Hang in there my friends. Hang in there. And as always, I remind you that, because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag and I urge you to 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.
Tap dancing on the edge on an abyss.
Submitted by: C. Assenberg of www.marijuanafactorfiction.org