06/10/12 Mitch Earleywine

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Dr. Mitch Earlywine, author of Understanding Marijuana + Dane Schiller, Hou Chron reporter & falsely busted in NY City for pot

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Transcript

Transcript

Century of Lies / June 10, 2012

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DEAN BECKER: The failure of Drug War is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more. Now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.

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DEAN BECKER: Ah yes, welcome to this edition of the Century of Lies. I am Dean Becker. Here in just a second we’re going bring in our guest, Dr. Mitch Earleywine – a gentleman, a scientist, scholar, a guy who has examined this cannabis plant from many different angles. He’s talked to a lot of fellow researchers and has some very definite things that he can say. I think most of them are positive about this herb.

With that let’s welcome Dr. Mitch Earleywine. Hey Mitch.

MITCH EARLEYWINE: Great to be on the show.

DEAN BECKER: Good to have you. Mitch, we’ve been doing this…well, hell – too long for the amount of change that’s happening, haven’t we?

MITCH EARLEYWINE: It’s sad but true but I do want to appreciate the subtle changes we have made over the years. I’m leery of thinking dichotomously on this one because I’m afraid it depresses folks and makes them give up.\

In fact we really have made a lot of progress – a number of cities with local ordinances where marijuana possession enforcement laws are the least priority of the police. Things like that that we really didn’t even have 5/10 years ago. So I don’t want to neglect those incremental changes even when I do complain so loudly about the fact that things are still now where I want them to be.

DEAN BECKER: Well, OK. You gotta remember, Mitch, I’m in Texas and ain’t much changed here.

][both chuckle]

Briefly, we had a law passed here 3,4 or 5 years ago said it was no longer necessary to arrest people for under 4 ounces of weed and they still do it – just cause they can, I suppose.

Mitch, tell them a little bit about your background, your education, what you’re doing these days.

MITCH EARLEYWINE: Sure thing. I got a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Indiana University years ago. I was a professor at the University of Southern California when I wrote the book, “Understanding Marijuana” which was published by Oxford University Press.

Then moved to Suni Albany in 2005 and have been trying to make progress here on cannabis laws and cannabis laws enforcement.

DEAN BECKER: I don’t want to…I don’t even know how to say this. It’s hard to throw stones at Barak Obama for what he did because that’s what I did. That’s what millions of American kids have done. But it just seems so hypocritical for him to still be such a drug warrior, if you will. What’s your thought?

MITCH EARLEYWINE: I’m really saddened by this and it’s funny how I don’t behave rationally about it in the way that I should. I do feel like he made a promise to us early on, got a lot of support from our movement because he had suggested that he was not going to basically harm our folks who were trying to provide medical cannabis in states where that is legal.

Unfortunately law enforcement has not been consistent with that and I feel like either the Department of Justice has gone rogue or something or he’s just really not keeping his word. In either condition that’s just a genuine disappointment to me.

DEAN BECKER: We do have another…you were talking about the cities where the lowest law enforcement priority and, you know, kind of a progression of those cities is staking up pretty well. We’ve had, I think…Did Connecticut get the governor to sign? 17 legitimate medical marijuana states.

MITCH EARLEYWINE: Indeed there are at least 17 states with it on the books as well as the District of Colombia.

DEAN BECKER: And they’re…I don’t know how to say it. They frame their laws. They allow growing. They don’t allow growing, distribution, how it’s done, etc. Some of them, despite being passed years ago, are still not in play.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, I’ll say courage, of these state legislators to kind of override the will of the federal government is a good sign, isn’t it?

MITCH EARLEYWINE: I agree. As you alluded to before this is, in a sense, how alcohol prohibition was appealed – one individual state after another basically saw the Volstead Act as a problem and said, “If you guys want to spend money enforcing this law go to town but we’re not going to waste our resources on it.”

It’s unfortunate that it took so long to repeal that one but now we’re literally three times longer with cannabis prohibition we can see how bad things can go. But I think this is also how the political will is created so the politicians can start to understand that, in fact, this is OK with the electorate that they can actually come out and do what’s right and not get penalized at the polls.

DEAN BECKER: We’ve had two ( I want to say glaring) but obvious examples of that change in public perception, that need for politicians to perhaps reevaluate their own stance. One situation was with the election for the Attorney General in Oregon and the pro-pot candidate won. We even had a situation in Texas, of all places, where a couple weeks back the candidate for U.S. Congress, O’Rourke, who is anti-drug war beat Sylvester Reyes who was elected 8 times, I think. Your thought there, Dr. Earleywine.

MITCH EARLEYWINE: I particularly like the way you’re putting it as folks who are against the drug war not necessarily pro-cannabis because I feel like that’s a stance and a frame that politicians can get behind.

We certainly don’t need more data showing that the drug war is not working. My goodness, it’s an absolute catastrophe and to be able to present yourself as a candidate and say, “I’m anti-drug war” is a much nicer frame. Something that I think voters can accept.

What they’re behind in is the idea that we’ve got more efficient ways to treat problems that are related to drugs. We’ve got more just and humane ways to handle folks who are behaving in ways that are harmful. So, by all means, let’s get behind that rather than them having to say, “I’m pro-cannabis.”

DEAN BECKER: Dr. Earleywine, since your book has been published the general mindset, the presentation of newspapers and broadcasters has begun to, if not incorporate what’s in your book, to be comparable to what is in your book. The truth is starting to “out” itself, isn’t it?

MITCH EARLEYWINE: It’s been slow and steady and I think that’s a real delight. Some folks attribute it to younger journalists taking the helm at some media sources but all and all I do feel like the public, sooner or later, gets to the data and truth will “out”. So, by all means, let’s hope that trend continues and really rapidly.

DEAN BECKER: You know I’ve had some discussions in the last few days about “we’re going to have to wait for the older generation to die off” and I hate thinking that. I lost my father just a couple years back and, luckily, he and I had come to an agreement frame. We understood that the work I was doing…he was working prison ministry and from his experience he realized that what I was saying was true.

And we’ve got…what’s his name…the author of, “Black Tuna” is doing the Silver Tour down there and going to nursing homes and other retirement places and educating the seniors because, with the right information, they can be swayed as well. Your response, Dr. Earleywine.

MITCH EARLEYWINE: This is actually been a real delight to me and I think in some ways we’ve been a little bit ageist about our attitudes about older voters. I never thought it would happen but my father-in-law made a donation to Marijuana Policy Project recently. I’m finding that a lot of folks that are a generation ahead of us are actually educationable on this and, sure, they saw the “Reefer Madness” movies but that doesn’t mean they can’t be informed. I really compliment anyone who’s willing to do that and I am finding folks in their 70s and even in their 80s willing to sit down to listen and to talk and to absorb new information. Those are the folks who vote. So, by all means, let’s keep that work up.

DEAN BECKER: I think about it those folks who were kids when the “Reefer Madness” was on the local screen and that’s where they got their “education”. I think if you showed that generation the movie today it would undo their previous beliefs because that movie is outrageous.

MITCH EARLEYWINE: What a brilliant intervention, Dean. I think that’s a superb idea. If you just showed a 15 minute clip and then said, “Let’s talk about it.” I think that would really help a lot. Oh, I’m going to get behind that idea right away.

DEAN BECKER: [chuckling] Thank you, Mitch. If that’s where they got their beliefs…Lordy, Lordy – help them.

We’re speaking with Dr. Mitch Earleywine, author of “Understanding Marijuana.”

Mitch, I want you to, you know…not everybody’s is as up on this as you or I so far as the science. There’s talk of cannabinoids, endocannabinoids and all this. Tell them a little bit about what we’ve learned in the last 5 or 10 years.

MITCH EARLEYWINE: It’s intriguing because a lot of the stuff that you and I probably grew up with in school has been blatantly disproved – really uniformly, roundly refuted. So things like the Amotivational Syndrome which was something we were threatened with in junior high and high school that somehow if you smoked cannabis you were going to become this amotivated slug. Of course the data don’t support that at all. In fact, we may have a subset of folks who are clinically depressed who might have turned to cannabis in a sort of effort to handle that depression that may have bias some of the early studies. But a lot of that was just done on simple case studies of individual adolescents who had a whole lot of problems and happen to use cannabis as well and cannabis was blamed.

The other myth that I’m glad to see is really not showing up anymore is this idea that cannabis leads to violence which actually goes back to at least Marco Polo if not earlier than that and was just a complete misunderstanding but when you have folks who have cannabis or a placebo in the lab and you actually go ahead and provoke them to violence it’s the folks in the placebo group who are often the most aggressive and I think it’s because they’re disappointed that they got placebo.

DEAN BECKER: [chuckling] Yeah, there’s no fooling people. You either get the cannabis or you don’t. That placebo is not going to…

MITCH EARLEYWINE: We’re also finding incredible medical uses that we had never even dreamed of. Ironically we go back to things that ancient physicians had used the plant for and suddenly have to slap ourselves in the forehead and say, “My goodness, we could have had this all along.”

Examples are rheumatism, pain, all kinds of work on headache and migraine. Incredible anti-oxidant effects that suggest, ironically, may really work hard to fight tumors and the cancer that we had often feared it would cause. The respiratory illnesses that we thought were associated with cannabis are actually relatively minor and they’re easy to sidestep with the vaporizer.

We’ve really learned a ton just in the last 5/10 years. As that information has come out it’s become more and more obvious that prohibition is truly a miscarriage of justice.

DEAN BECKER: I wish I had the quote with me. In the last couple days I saw a quote from a politician talking about cannabis and how it leads to hard drugs, can be addicting, you know, all of these Harry J. Anslinger phrases, if you will. I won’t say her name, a local politician, was speaking at the James A. Baker, III Institute here and she talked about that marijuana stays in your system, gets released when you exercise and you get high again. These kind of things….

MITCH EARLEYWINE: [chuckling hard]

DEAN BECKER: I guess the point being is that they were taught the wrong stuff.

MITCH EARLEYWINE: It’s curious because it’s always one slight misunderstanding and they run with it and turn it into this alarmist insanity. I mean that gateway notion has been so roundly disproved I’m unsure how else to address it anymore.

This tacit assumption that marijuana is going to make you crave hard drugs the way salt makes you thirsty. It’s just absurd to anyone who’s ever used cannabis. When we look at the data on this we, first of all, have huge percentage of folks who have tried hard drugs before cannabis so, obviously, there’s no gateway there.

The poet, Allen Ginsberg, did heroin first and cannabis later and he said, “Oh yeah, it’s heroin – the gateway drug.”

It just doesn’t fit in the experience. Yes, there’s a meaningful subset of folks who tried cannabis first and who later developed problems with hard drugs. But it’s often an index of what kind of sensation seeking they are. These are folks who also probably didn’t wear their seatbelts, not necessarily kings and queens of safer sex, would stand in a long line to ride the front car of a roller coaster. These are sensation seeking people.

It’s not that one plant suddenly created them in this way that they would engage in these oddball behaviors. It’s that there are some folks who just like to do all kinds of wild things.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, I knew this guy back in my early 20s who could do a huge hit of speed, eat a hamburger, have sex and go to sleep. That’s just not how that worked for me. It all impacts people differently.

MITCH EARLEYWINE: And that individual difference variable is just not something people appreciate. We’re presented this stuff as if it’s destiny, “You’re going to smoke this once and basically be shooting up heroin the next day.”

And, of course, that sacrifices our credibility to our teens who know it’s not true. So then later if you say, “Hey, methamphetamine is really a dangerous drug.” They say, “Aren’t you the jerk who told me marijuana leads to heroin?”

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, “Why believe you, old man?!”

I would also say there is some, how would you say it, the ability to get a recommendation. You can’t say prescription for cannabis right now. My recommendation was for my alcoholism because I have found that, for me, cannabis was the gateway away from my dangerous drug - that drug being alcohol. Your thoughts there, Mitch.

MITCH EARLEYWINE: This is such a controversial topic I’m afraid I’ll end up with a picture of me nailed to a cross on the front of some magazine every time I say this.

Tons and tons of people have that experience and if you think about the classic harm reduction ideas about moving from a dangerous behavior to a safer behavior, cannabis is marketably safer than alcohol. When we look at the data on liver function, on brain function, on long-term financial troubles, on long-term risk for cancer, risk for diabetes – outrageous, outrageous differences that make it absolutely clear that a move in that direction would have to be beneficial particularly for folks who have had a really rough time with every other treatment approach.

I’m not saying it’s the ideal outcome. Complete absolute abstinence might have a better outcome in the long run but what an amazing step to move from one thing to the next in order to basically improve your general health. But, man, you bring that up on a grant to the federal government and you might as well just shoot yourself right in the head.

DEAN BECKER: That brings to mind research, especially here in these United States, the government talks about hypes, in fact, their ability and all the studies they have done, how knowledgeable they are regarding these drugs. The truth be told that anybody trying to investigate anything other than a harmful impact of these drugs does not get the grant money, correct?

MITCH EARLEYWINE: It’s really been tough. Dr. Donald Abrahm in San Francisco has been the lone exception where he used smoked cannabis in studies of pain and stuff related to AIDS/HIV and wasting and things like that and I’m delighted that he’s been able to do that but that’s a man who worked his ass off to get basically two grants over a decade. Meanwhile the millions and millions who have gone for other things that are completely reasonable but not an approach we could take has to make you wonder.

Right now grant funding and drug-related topics is really, really tough to get for anything but if you’re, for example, trying to fund a way for folks to use cannabis in a less harmful way – that’s just not going to be a priority.

It’s sad because it really takes that money in order to get the data to make the arguments for legalization and then people say, “We don’t know. We don’t know and therefore we need to keep it illegal.” And it’s just an outrageous, viscous circle.

DEAN BECKER: Again, we’re speaking with Dr. Mitch Earleywine, author of “Understanding Marijuana.” It was marijuana not cannabis, right?

MITCH EARLEYWINE: Yep.

DEAN BECKER: That’s…oh, I don’t’ know…we don’t need to talk about that. That’s just been a transition that ya’ll understand from marijuana to cannabis. It’s still hard for me to say. I still like to say weed but that’s just what it is.

Mitch, we got a couple minutes left here. I want to turn it over to you. What would you like to share with the audience. What did I leave out here?

MITCH EARLEYWINE: I think the key now is that we’ve got listeners who already know a lot of this stuff and who are already on our side but who don’t quite understand some of the literature on persuasion and psychology and things like that that can really help them go out and convince a friend or two to show up at the polls when relevant things are happening or to essentially change the tone of this discussion in their families, among their friends and things like that.

What we’re finding on the data of persuasion, generally, is this notion of simply asking questions and listening and then finding out were that person is coming from and then inserting the truth as they go along.

So, rather than me going to colleagues and trying to beat them over the head with the fact that there is no Amotivational Syndrome, for example, I’ll often just say, “Oh, tell me about that.”

And then they’ll lay this whole thing out and then I can insert at opportune points what the actual facts are without having to sound like I’m giving them a big lecture but just a sentence here and a sentence there and you notice their tone and their questioning and their conversation starts moving in our direction and then you’ve planted a seed and you can leave it alone to grow. Come back and have that conversation again and we’re finding that works a whole lot better sometimes than these adversarial conversations that I often see in families where one person is essentially screaming at the top of their lungs at the other on each side of the argument.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I don’t know, this adversarial situation – DA vs. reformer or government official vs. - …I’ve been thinking about this. You know, it’s seldom I get to debate anybody. It’s rough sledding. But I think my next attempt or next chance I’m going to state it just flatly, “Why do you believe in the drug war.” And, as you say, kind of whittle it down one step at a time instead of a grand “Us vs. Them” sort of thing.

MITCH EARLEYWINE: I’m in that predicament, too, where no one in the state seems willing to debate me so what I often do is say, “Can I come to your group and just ask you guys questions and let you guys tell me how you see it.”

And so there isn’t necessarily someone from law enforcement or some pro-drug war person on the other side but I can then engage in conversation with them and I’ve been surprised that even a local high school has been willing to let me do this and it’s been a real delight and, I think, real informative for both of us. I get a feel of where they are coming from and they get a little bit of the evidence that is actually out there in the sciences.

DEAN BECKER: OK. Well, we’re going to have to wrap it up. We’ve been speaking with Dr. Mitch Earleywine. Oh, Mitch, is there a website you’d like to point folks towards?

MITCH EARLEYWINE: In fact it’s just, right now, if everybody is just willing to go to Amazon and check out the book, “Understanding Marijuana” I think that would be the most appropriate way to go. My lab website right now is just filled with so many weird, scientific things that it’s just not going to be as focused as picking up a copy of that book might be.

DEAN BECKER: Once again, Dr. Mitch Earleywine, thank you.

MITCH EARLEYWINE: Always a pleasure. Bye, now.

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[Music, how can you mend a broken heart]

DEAN BECKER: [Singing] How can you stop drug users from using? How do you keep the sun from growing weed? How can you end drug prohibition? It makes the world go round?

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[can opener]

DEAN BECKER: Opening up a can of worms...and going fishing for truth.

This is the Drug Truth Network. DrugTruth.net.

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DEAN BECKER: With each passing day it seems that more and more truths about this drug war are coming forward. One of the publications that has been in the forefront of exposing that truth is the Houston Chronicle. And we have with us today their reporter, Mr. Dane Schiller.

Dane, my thought there, more and more awareness of what’s going on in this drug war is certainly coming forward, isn’t it?

DANE SCHILLER: Oh, sure. As you say with each passing day we learn more and it never ceases to amaze me that there’s always a more amazing tale or story that’s right around the corner.

DEAN BECKER: You’ve been focused more on the situation in Mexico. One of your most recent stories dealt with the fact that the U.S. “Federales”, if you will, are going after the family of one Chopo Guzman, head of the Sinaloa cartel, correct?

DANE SCHILLER: That’s correct. What they are trying to do is go after his money. They are trying to put pressure on him and it’s an amazing thing to consider that they’re considering his money.

It is estimated that the worth is at least a billion dollars according to Forbes magazine and that estimate is based on very conservative research. When you start talking about those kinds of dollars and where the money could be you’re going to have to knock on the doors of some very wealthy people, banks, corporations, real estate, etc.

DEAN BECKER: The Sinaloa cartel is often considered the most powerful of the Mexican cartels, correct?

DANE SCHILLER: That is correct. It’s considered the oldest and the most powerful and, in some ways, the most moderate.

DEAN BECKER: Now, Dane, the fact of the matter is they are going after the money. They are focusing on, I guess, the holdings of his wife and children. Is that a fair assumption?

DANE SCHILLER: Sure. You’ve got to think of where he stashed his money. You can’t have it all in duffle bags buried in the jungle. He’s got to buy real estate. He’s got to have it washing through people and you’d think his wife and child would be, although known to authorities, maybe back in the day that was some money he started with.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Dane, this brings to mind, for lack of a better word, I’m gonna say complicity between these banks and these cartels. Of course there’s the story where Wachovia bank laundered hundreds of billions of dollars and was fined a hundred million. What’s to stop this from continuing?

DANE SCHILLER: I think the only way this will stop is for them to tear it open and start prosecuting some people. There are a few cases but there are not many. When you’re talking about these amounts of money it’s obvious that they are in otherwise legitimate institutions and you’ll see nearly every day someone arrested for drug trafficking in this part of the country but you rarely see someone connected to a financial institution charged with money laundering. It’s just almost like in “The Untouchables” where they don’t want to go through that door, you know?

DEAN BECKER: Yeah.

DANE SCHILLER: We came out on our blog, Narco Confidential(http://blog.chron.com/narcoconfidential/) , today that there was a Houston guy named Raul Madrigal that’s been captured in Mexico. He was accused in federal court here of doing a lot of drug trafficking and being very well connected to a gang known as the Houstone Tango Blast and authorities confiscated all kinds of big boy toys from him. We’re talking Maseratis (with an s), BMWs (with an s). Lots of vehicles and also some fancy motorcycles. He had fled to Mexico and apparently they’ve captured him now. We’ll have to see if he’s going to appear in shackles in federal court anytime soon.

DEAN BECKER: Getting back to this situation with Chapo Guzman and his family and his holdings, even if the U.S. government were able to capture every asset I understand he makes 10 billion dollars a year off the drug trade. Your response, there.

DANE SCHILLER: Well, if you work the numbers and say what’s the trade worth. What percentage of that trade is his. And then you still reduce it by a hundred or even a thousand – that’s an incredible amount of money.

One could argue that if he lost every dime he has today in a month’s time he’d had crazy millions of dollars again, right?

DEAN BECKER: Dane, what’s your thought? We were talking earlier about the fact that the truth is “outing” itself about the drug war. What’s your thought? How long will we keep believing it possible to overcome the law of supply and demand?

DANE SCHILLER: I have no clue. I don’t know how this will be resolved in your lifetime or my lifetime. I know that there’s more and more information coming out and it seems to be more and more discussion. But, what the “powers at be” decided to do I really don’t have a clue.

DEAN BECKER: We’ve been speaking with Mr. Dane Schiller of the Houston Chronicle. Go to their website: http://www.chron.com.

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DEAN BECKER: New York is considering changing its crazy-ass pot laws. Here’s a couple of reasons why.

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PATRICK EXEME: My name is Patrick Exeme. I am 49-years-old. I am from eastern New York, Brooklyn. I was coming from my friend’s house, Otis Olso, and I had to cross to my block so I turned and I saw these people looking at me in a big car like a cab.

Right away I say, “Oh boy, here they go.” And they came out like bad boys with their gun in their hands, blah, blah blah. One stood behind me with his hand on his gun and everything. The other one stood in front of me with his hand on his gun and started searching me. He said, “Do you know what we’re looking for?”

I’m like, “No, I don’t know what you’re looking for. I ain’t got nothing” And I put my hands up.

They kept searching me and searching me. They went in my car and opened up pockets and everything – back and front. So the guys said, “What? You know what we’re looking for.” And pat my belt and pulled it away from my body and literally stuck his hand in and fiddled around down there.

I was like, “Yo, this is too much.” And I’m looking around like I’m about to defend myself. These can’t be cops. I’m like, “Show me a badge or something.” You know, I’m pissed off. Like, “What the hell is this?! I didn’t do nothing. Ya’ll ain’t seen me do nothing.”

They lock me up anyway. I had a little ziggy in my pocket of my cargo pants. That’s all I got. I ain’t got now razor. I ain’t got no atom bomb. I ain’t got no open container. I don’t drink.

OK. I’m an artist and I like to smoke. And this is what I do but when ya’ll come in and lock me up and I can’t get a job. Ya’ll lock me up 10-15 times a year for the same bull-crap and that’s it.

Otherwise, you know, you’re turning a good person bad. People that’s trying to make a living. I’m educated. I’m not stupid. I’m not a criminal. You’re making me a criminal. My record is making me look like a criminal. Come on, man. Let’s stop, Please.

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DEAN BECKER: Alright. Again, that was a gentleman speaking about the situation in New York City - 55,000 arrests. 600,000 stopped and frisked last year. They say they’re going to stop the arrests but they’re going to start writing tickets which means I don’t think they’re going to stop the “stop and frisk.”

I want to thank Dr. Mitch Earleywine for joining us today. I want to thank you for being with us. As always, I remind you there’s no truth, justice, logic, scientific fact, no reason for this drug war to exist.

Please visit our website, http://endprohibition.org Prohibido istac evilesco!

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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: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org