03/29/09 - David Duncan

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Dr. David Duncan, professor emeritus at Brown University details the contaminants contained in recreational drugs + Phil Smith of Stop the Drug War with the Corrupt Cop Story

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Century of Lies, March 29, 2009
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Three steps forward and one step back,
Three steps forward and one step back,
Three steps forward and one step back,
Progress in the Hundred Year War.

Stay tuned for the unvarnished truth about the drug war.
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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.
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This is the Abolitionists Moment.

Fear, engendered by any mechanism possible, is what gives the drug war life. The biggest fear of all, is the unknown. The Minority Report’s opinion is that if drugs were made legal for adults, that children would have easier access. The Christian Right’s thought, is that if drugs were made by Pfizer or Merck that more overdoses would occur. The cops are concerned that if syringes were made freely available to addicts, that nobody would quit using. The State Department thinks that if they push harder against the drug smuggling and raise the price of cocaine, that the cartels will crumble.

Fear, gives life to the black market, which thrives by selling contaminated drugs to our children. The cartels suffer, from selling their drugs at high prices, just as Chevron suffered by selling their gasoline for $4.00 a gallon. America is the lead horse pulling this drug war wagon and encouraging the rest of the world via their ‘silver or lead’ approach. Those who stand for drug war are the best friends the drug lords could ever hope for.
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Hello my friends. Welcome to this edition of Century of Lies. I think we have a great show lined up for you today. We’re going to be talking mostly with Dr. David Duncan. He’s born in Kansas City, Missouri. He’s president of Duncan and Associates, a firm providing consultation on research design and data collection for behavioral and policy studies. He’s professor emeritus (I believe it is) at Brown University and he’s the guy who’s been looking at the harms of drugs and of drug contaminants, which I think is the main part of the problem, but we’ll delve into that and with that let’s welcome our guest, Dr. David Duncan.

Dr. David Duncan: Good Evening.

Dean Becker: Hello Dr. Duncan. How are you, Sir?

Dr. David Duncan: I’m fine, thank you.

Dean Becker: Yes, Sir. I don’t know if you had a chance to hear that intro piece, ‘Three steps forward and only one step back, now.’ We are making a little bit of progress in exposing the truth about this drug war. Am I right?

Dr. David Duncan: I believe we are, yes.

Dean Becker: Dr. Duncan, if you would, tell the folks a little bit about your experience, your expertise on this subject.

Dr. David Duncan: Well, I’ve been in the field of drug abuse, treatment and prevention for over 30 years now. I started out as a law enforcement officer and worked in law enforcement and corrections before becoming involved in treatment programs. Going back to school, learning my Doctorate in Public Health and since then have moved back and forth between academia and government policy and research positions.

Dean Becker: Dr. Duncan, they just finished up the U.N. Convention On Drugs, over in Vienna and it looks like they kind of just carbon copied the game plan from the prior ten years. It seems likely that we’ll have many of these same roadblocks still in place as we move forward. But, I think it’s important to note that there are many people who are kind of following on your heels. You were one of the first people talking about ’harm reduction’, finding a better way. Am I correct?

Dr. David Duncan: Yes. Yeah. We were talking harm reduction before it had been given that name and it has been the approach that, I think most people in the public health field have found most compatible, from the beginning.

Dean Becker: Now, Dr. Duncan, we’re going to be talking about drugs and the contaminates found there-in. I did a little bit of research trying to get ready for this and it seems the government wants to hide the specific numbers of overdose deaths, from cocaine or heroin or I suppose methamphetamine. But the fact is, it’s a minuscule amount. The best I could find was a report from the US Poison Control Center. It said, ‘In 2004 there were 1,730 heroin overdoses reported to them, with 34 fatalities‘. Your thoughts, Dr. Duncan?

Dr. David Duncan: Yep. This is really not uncommon to the experience of people who’ve worked for this despite the mythology of, you know, the person dying with the needle in their arm, instant death from heroin overdose. The reality is that heroin overdose is rarely fatal and if the person gets the medical treatment, there’s no reason anyone should ever die of a heroin overdose. It’s the most easily treatable overdose there is.

Dean Becker: Dr. Duncan, I tell you what. Can I let you have a minute to perhaps deal with that dog and we‘re going to run a little report and come right back to you?

Dr. David Duncan: All right. I’ll do that.

Dean Becker: We’ll be right back.
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Dana King: This afternoon, DEA agents raided a medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco. It comes one week after the Obama administration announced that it would effectively end raids on medical marijuana dispensaries if they complied with state and local law. Joe Vazquez is outside the dispensary where activists quickly gather to protest that raid. Joe…

Joe Vazquez: Dana, the scene is still very active right now. We’re at 12th and Howard on Howard Street. Behind me you see Emmalynn's Collective Cooperative. This is a marijuana dispensary and it’s 1597 Howard. Right now DEA agents are on the scene. They are busting this place.

Now, we’ve just received, a few minutes ago, a statement from the DEA and they said that, ‘Based on their investigation, they believe that there are not only violations of federal law but state law as well and they said they can’t release further details of the case.’ The reason they word it that way is because, you may remember just very recently, the Obama administration, through their new attorney general Eric Holder said, ‘They will no longer be busting marijuana dispensaries if they only violate federal law but not state law, that is if they are in compliance with state law.’ So the DEA now coming out with a very strong statement that they believe state laws were violated here as well as federal law.

So, now there are advocates here in favor of medical marijuana. They say they’ve been fighting this battle for quite some time. Very confused right now why the DEA has moved in when the Obama administration has signaled that they wouldn’t be doing this kind of raid any more. We’ll have more details later in our later news cast, Dana.

Dana King: Alright Joe. Thank you.
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Dean Becker: OK, that was courtesy of CBS out in San Francisco. Dr. Duncan, are you with us, Sir?

Dr. David Duncan: Yes, I am.

Dean Becker: Alright. Sir, we were talking about the fact that in 2004 there were only, according to the US Poison Control Center, 34 fatalities and you were referencing the hysteria, the fable I guess, of what heroin’s all about. Right?

Dr. David Duncan: That’s right. Heroin, like all other narcotics, is a drug that can kill. It kills rather slowly and it’s completely reversible by administration of anyone of several narcotic antagonist drugs so, provided that drug: the treatment, is available there’s no reason for anyone to ever die of it. So, heroin overdose is only a danger to the person who is taking the drug, without knowing how much they’re taking or taking it under very unsafe circumstances, alone with no one around them and with medical treatment not available.

Dean Becker: Yes, Sir. Now, the fallacy, the reasoning if you will, for the prohibition of heroin was that, it was so dangerous that more people would die…. here’s where I want to delve into this. You kind of reference people not quite knowing what they’re taking. I close out my other show, Cultural Baggage, with a thought, ’That because of prohibition, you don’t know what’s in that bag,’ and that’s the real danger, isn’t it?

Dr. David Duncan: Yes, it is. In fact, probably most deaths that are related to heroin aren’t because of the heroin itself at all, but are deaths due to, either poisoning from or an allergic reaction to, one of the many things that is mixed in with it. When a person buys a bag of heroin, at most it might be 10% heroin and 90% other things. Far more commonly, it’s less than 2% heroin and more than 98% other things and those other things may be much more dangerous than the heroin itself.

Dean Becker: I’m kicking myself for not looking it up, but there’s a situation up in Dallas where school children are doing this concoction called Cheese and it’s supposedly part heroin and do you know the other product that’s…

Dr. David Duncan: I believe it is Dextromethorphan.

Dean Becker: Yes, Sir and it is my understanding that Dextromethorphan is much more deadly in it’s implementation. Is that right?

Dr. David Duncan: Dextromethorphan, which is a perfectly legal substance, it is what you get in most cough syrups, but Dextromethorphan when taken in large amounts, converts in the body into phencyclidine, a depressant that causes dissociative reactions. It can produce very bizarre psychological effects and there is actually a much greater risk of overdose on it, than there is on the classic narcotics.

Dean Becker: Oh, boy. We’re just fooling ourselves every which way.

Dr. David Duncan: Yes and this is not uncommon when you deal with a black market situation. People start mixing drugs in very irrational ways. The person who’s buying a drug doesn’t know for sure what they’re really getting and it thus makes the whole business very much more dangerous for everyone.

Dean Becker: OK, now. Then there’s also another complication I kind of want to throw into this mix. It’s not necessarily a part of the drug, but it is the drug lifestyle. You’re paying high prices for these recreational drugs. You’re unable to afford food, perhaps? Rent? And/or especially a doctor’s visit. It’s kind of a downward cycle, is it not?

Dr. David Duncan: Yes. The person who; once a person becomes addicted; and of course most users of recreational drugs never become addicted, but for the minority who do and are starting to use on a daily basis and in larger and larger amounts, it winds up becoming practically the only thing they’ve got time for, between raising money for it and using it, everything else in their life goes sliding and usually that includes substantial damage to their health. Not necessarily because of the drugs so much, as because of living a dangerous lifestyle, not eating right, not getting medical care, etc.

Dean Becker: Now Sir, let’s switch gears. I want to move to the methamphetamine; the ice; the crank, the, you know, tina/teena; whatever they want to call it. This is made by untrained chemists’, using internet recipes, batteries, match-head covers, Drain-O… My God, the list is just endless of the… ammonia, fertilizer, the horrible things that they concoct, call it methamphetamine and put that out on the streets. There’s little wonder that it’s creating problems, right?

Dr. David Duncan: Right. You’re dealing with something that is a mixture of things, poorly assembled so that you never know what contaminants are going to be in the drug that you take. Plus meth labs are really something of an environmental disaster. It’s like living next to a tannery or a chemical plant in the 19th century, when everything under the sun was simply getting dumped on the ground or in the local streams so that you’ve gotten many different sources of problems here, with it effecting the environment and people who aren’t even involved in the drug culture.

Dean Becker: Now, I was kind of witness to this back in the late 60’s, early 70’s when, I guess the world was switching over from amphetamines, methamphetamines, the LA turnarounds, the desoxyn’s, to the crank, to the Nazi meth, so to speak…

Dr. David Duncan: Ah-huh.

Dean Becker: …and the difference was noticeable in the quality, even from that, you know, deriving it from a spoon. Squashing the tablets was a much cleaner product than what was being sold by the biker gangs. Your thoughts on that transition?

Dr. David Duncan: Right. We’re moving more and more into a purely black market drug with the methamphetamine and that means there are no quality controls, you have no idea what the actual dose is in if you are dealing with crushing up one of those tablets, you know that the tablet actually contained the particular drug it was labeled for and only inert, harmless ingredients. You knew how many milligrams you were taking whereas with a completely black market manufactured drug, you don’t know how much drug it contains, you don’t know if it’s actually the drug you think it is, you don’t know what else is in it. All of these added risks enter into it because it is an illegal drug.

Dean Becker: Now, Dr. Duncan, I don’t know if you have the stats in front of you but it’s my understanding that the total number of overdoses per year and included within this is Alcohol, is somewhere in the 12,000 to 14,000 range and that the deaths from meth, heroin and cocaine are really just a small slice of that. Somewhere in the 3,000 to 6,000 range. As I said, the government doesn’t necessarily want to break that out. Have you heard any particular stats?

Dr. David Duncan: Yeah. Basically, the deaths due to illegal drugs represent less than one percent of the number of deaths due to alcohol overdoses and alcohol poisoning and if you then look at alcohol related deaths; traffic accidents, ect. and compare them to drug related deaths and it again, it’s on an order of 100/1 greater for alcohol and of course tobacco then kills about two and a half times as many as alcohol does. So, in terms of health damage and deaths, the illegal drugs are virtually inconsequential compared to either of our two major legal drugs.

Dean Becker: OK, now. We’re going to switch gears one more time here. It’s been reported by the New York Post that Ashley Biden, the Vice-President’s daughter, has a video made of her snorting cocaine and somebody’s tried to shop that around to the major networks, as we speak. I don’t know if it’s true but it brings to mind, here’s something I picked up today, ‘Commonly used cocaine adulterant’s include any of the local anesthetics, phenytoin, sugars, amphetamines, phencyclidine, quinine, talc and some say 19% others say as much as 1/3rd of all cocaine batches now have an animal de-wormer, Levamasol, which destroys the users’ immune systems.’ Your response there?

Dr. David Duncan: Yeah. This is, Levamasol, which has been showing up in samples for quite some time apparently, it varies as to the part of the country how much you see. We haven’t seen a lot of it here in Kentucky, but it’s apparently increasing. But it use to show up in a few percent of it. Now, some studies are suggesting it’s in as much as 20%, maybe even 30% in some parts of the country.

Levamasol is, in the United States now, sold only as a veterinary drug for getting rid of worms in large mammals. It use to be used also as an anti-cancer drug, primarily in treatment of Colorectal cancer in human beings. But it’s no longer used for that purpose because of the clinical trial suggested that it really was not effective and Levamasol, which in small doses actually stimulates the immune system, in larger doses can destroy one of the major types of white blood cells that are a key part of one’s resistance to disease and so it can be a very serious, temporary condition causing fever and the infections in various parts of the body.

Fortunately, as soon as you stop taking the Levamasol, the white blood cells start regenerating themselves so it doesn’t produce permanent damage but it can result in you having a life threatening infection while you’re taking it.

Dean Becker: That would bring us back once again, to where the person leading that ’drug users lifestyle‘; little bit down in the mouth, not eating or sleeping well perhaps and if their immune system is going down but they continue to use this drug, it’s just going to wipe out their health, right?

Dr. David Duncan: Yes, they’re the people who are at greatest risk from the destruction of the white blood cells and the destruction of the white blood cells is contributing to ongoing state of poor health in these people, they’re really looking at a potential health disaster for people from this.

Dean Becker: So, maybe we’re going to start summing this up, but what I’m understanding from this is that, because of this policy that puts this crap out on the streets and then the results of people using this crap are used as justification to continue or to even escalate this same practice… it’s insane, is it not?

Dr. David Duncan: Yes. Yes, it is a case of, we justify having the laws based on the damage that is produced by the laws. If we didn’t have the drug prohibitions, virtually everything would improve. Wouldn’t eliminate all drug problems in our society by any means, but almost everything is made worse by the drug laws.

The same has happened with prohibition of alcohol. All of the health problems associated with alcohol got worse during prohibition. The crime associated with alcohol got worse during prohibition and we were left with massive large scale organized crime, that still exists today, that was created by prohibition and we’ve done the same thing to ourselves with the prohibition of drugs. The drugs weren’t quite as popular as alcohol, so it wasn’t quite as disastrous quite as quick.

Dean Becker: But it’s come home to roost now, that’s for sure, what with the situation in Mexico, Afghanistan and even in our own city streets where these gangs afford their high powered weaponry by selling this contaminated crap to our kids. It’s…. Ahhh. There is some little bit of hope on the horizon. Just today, US Senator Jim Webb had a major piece published in Parade Magazine, ‘What’s wrong with our prisons?’ The thought they included at the bottom of the front cover here, ‘Either we are the most evil people on Earth, or we are doing something very wrong.’ Which do you think, Dr. Duncan?

Dr. David Duncan: I think that we have been doing something very wrong for a long time now and that as long as we continue to operate the drug war, we’re going to continue to see very, very big crime problems. I think one of the things that right now is maybe giving us some hope for reversing some of this, is that it is becoming less and less possible for states to afford to lock up so many people.

Here in Kentucky I know, they are looking at shortening sentences, now after a trend toward longer and longer sentences for practically everything, simply because it’s costing too much money having so many people in prison. If we repealed all our drug laws, we’d get rid of about half the people who are in prison. The majority of them aren’t guilty of anything except violation of the drug laws.

Dean Becker: OK. Once again, we’re speaking with Dr. David Duncan, professor emeritus at Brown University. David, I wanted to spend just a couple minutes here. The drug that’s getting all the publicity of late, is marijuana. It seems to have caught hold across the country. A couple of state are even talking about legalizing it for their citizens outright and I wanted to talk about contaminants in marijuana.

You know, it’s perhaps relatively fresh when it’s picked depending on what fertilizers they use down in Mexico I suppose, but then they smash it and pack it into tires, maybe dip in the river, leave it out in the desert for a couple of months and sometimes it’s sprayed with other concoctions, like what’s purported to be PCP or formaldehyde. Let’s talk about that briefly.

Dr. David Duncan: We don’t see a whole lot of dangerous contaminants generally with marijuana. The two things you are most likely to run into, one is the attempt by the DEA and by governments like Mexico, funded by the United States, to kill off marijuana crops by spraying them with defoliants and of course, what happens is, the pot farmer sees his plot has been sprayed and the marijuana starting to die, he of course immediately harvests it and sells it, however old it may be, which means that that thing comes up with that defoliant on it and that can have very serious consequences for somebody smoking it.

Many of them don’t do harm to people but there are a number that are in use that can do very severe harm and the other is the formaldehyde, which is the one that is sometimes done intentionally. Creating marijuana with formaldehyde which apparently produces some extra intoxication, but it’s a very toxic substance that has a very great risk of cancer associated with it and I certainly would not want to see anybody smoking marijuana that had been treated with formaldehyde.

Dean Becker: Well, I hear you. Now, once again we’ve been speaking with Dr. David Duncan. Dr. Duncan, is there a website you’d like to share with the audience?

Dr. David Duncan: Yes. Anybody interested in visiting my website, seeing there’s a variety of my papers available for free download on it, can go to http://www.duncan-associates.com and they’ll find things there on that website that I hope they’ll find of interest.

Dean Becker: Alright, very good. Dr. Duncan, I appreciate you being with us. We’re going to have to bring you back later this year and kick this around again. It’s a very interesting subject and I do appreciate you taking the time to visit with us.

Dr. David Duncan: I’m glad to be of help anytime I can.

Dean Becker: Alright, Sir.
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Diane Kepley: This is the face of Mexico’s drug war. The innocent people kidnapped for ransom by Mexican drug cartels. Their families, extorted for money for their safe return. Acting on a tip, Mexican soldiers break down the door of a boarded up house to find fifty-five terrified migrants, hostages of the Gulf Drug Cartel. The soldiers free nine women, held in the living room and forty-six men, crammed into two small bedrooms. The suspected kidnappers are hauled off in a military truck, including the alleged leader, the son of a local police officer.

This bust is in Tamaulipas, which stand on the US/Mexico border, adjacent to Texas. It’s one of many organized crime ‘hot spots’ now policed by 45,000 troops, nationwide. The army is Mexico’s last and best hope to regain control over the drug cartels in spiraling violent, which have killed more than 9,000 people. The army’s offensive is having some impact. The 8th division confiscated 84 tons of marijuana in 2008 compared with 2 tons in 2006 and last November, it made the largest drug weapon seizure in Mexican history.

Diane Kepley, the Associated Press.
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This is Phil Smith of the Drug War Chronicle with this week’s corrupt cop story for the Drug Truth Network. This week we’ve got a classic case of narcs who run amok.

In Philadelphia, where a scandal over the behavior of the Philadelphia police Narcotics Field Unit keeps growing. Originally centered on narcotics officer Jeffrey Cujdik and accusations he lied in documenting drug arrests, the stench from the narcotics squad keeps getting more foul. Now, numerous convenience store owners have reported that Cujdik and his squad members raided their shops, destroyed surveillance cameras in the stores, trashed the places, stole cigarettes, took thousands in cash while reporting much less, brutalize the immigrant owners and then arrested them for selling small plastic bags that could be used to contain drugs.

The Philadelphia Daily News interviewed seven store owners with remarkably similar stories, including several who said the narcs took food and slurped energy drinks, and others who said they stole cigarette cartons, batteries, cell phones and candy bars. At least three of Cudjdik's snitches told the newspaper he gave them cartons of cigarettes. A special task force of the FBI and Philadelphia police internal affairs was already investigating Cujdik over the earlier allegations; now that probe could spread to at least 17 other officers and three police supervisors involved in the convenience store raids.

Now, this is just one story of corrupt cops this week. I have nine others. It was a busy week. You can check them all out online at www.stopthedrugwar.org

What was that guys name again?

Phil Smith: Cujdik.

(laughter)
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Dean Becker: Alright. Once again, I want to thank Dr. David Duncan for being our guest today. I want to recommend that you tune into this weeks Cultural Baggage Show. Our guest will be Cliff Schafer. Topic of discussion: How do we go about ending the drug war? It’s like we’ve reached the top of the hill, somebody’s got to get in and steer this beast down the hill to salvation.

A quick read from today’s Parade, quoting Senator Jim Webb: “It’s time to change the law. Now introducing legislation that will create a national commission to look at every aspect of our criminal justice system with an eye towards reshaping the process from top to bottom. I believe it’s time to bring together the best minds in America to confer, report and make specific recommendations on how we can reform this process.’

It’s really up to you. It’s up to me, friends. We’ve got to do this and I remind you once again, there is no truth, justice, logic, scientific fact, medical data, no reason for this drug war to exist.

We’ve been duped. Please visit our website, http://www.endprohibition.org

Prohibido istac evilesco.

For the Drug Truth Network this is Dean Becker asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.

The Century of Lies.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston

Transcript provided by: C. Assenberg of www.marijuanafactorfiction.org