12/09/12 Philippe Lucas

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Philippe Lucas, Canadian cannbis researcher, Jodie Emery battles "Sun" reporter, CNN Rpt on MJ use by children, Terry Nelson of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

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Transcript

Transcript

Century of Lies / December 9, 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: Alright folks I’m beginning to think the end of drug war is drawing near because you’re drawing nearer to the truth of this matter. We got a great show for you.

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PHILLIPE LUCAS: Phillipe Lucas. I’m a Research Affiliate with the Center for Addictions Research in British Columbia.

DEAN BECKER: Phillipe, you know the fact of the matter is news is just becoming too much to keep up with in so far as this drug war. It’s an expanding bit of knowledge. Is it not?

PHILLIPE LUCAS: It certainly is. Things seem to be moving pretty quick these days.

DEAN BECKER: You and a group of associates have put together a study regarding the use of cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs. Outline that for us.

PHILLIPE LUCAS: The study is the survey of 404 medical cannabis patients at four dispensaries in British Columbia – three of them in Vancouver and one of them in Victoria. It’s a study designed to specifically examine a phenomena called substitution effect and in this case cannabis substitution effect in which medical cannabis users would find that their use of cannabis would lead to a reduction in their use of alcohol, illicit substances or pharmaceuticals.

This is a phenomenon which has been identified at the population level for at least a decade. Myself and other researchers in North America have been studying in regards to both the medical and recreational use of cannabis. Just to nutshell it this would suggest that as people would increase their use of cannabis (in this study medical cannabis) you might see a subsequent reduction in the use of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs and pharmaceutical drugs and that might have a positive – both personal and public – health impact because the fastest rising rate of addiction that we see in North America right now is to pharmaceutical opiates and as a result of that we’ve seen an incredible increase in the amount of morbidity and mortality associated with pharmaceutical opiates as well.

DEAN BECKER: This really rang a bell with me. May 8 th of 2013 will make 28 years for me without alcohol. Prior to that time I had a severe problem with it. I want to thank the good folks at Alcoholics Anonymous for welcoming me and helping me to begin to unravel that predicament, if you will. The fact of the matter is after about 6 months I happen to mention that I was still using cannabis and that I thought it was helping me to stay away from the alcohol and they kind of kicked me out of the building. What is your thought in that regard?

PHILLIPE LUCAS: My experience is quite similar to yours. When I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 1995 which I got through the tainted blood system here in Canada in 1982 when I was 12-years-old and had went in for an operation the physician I was working with didn’t know much about Hep C at the time - in fact no one did in 1995. It wasn’t even called Hep C at the time. It was non-Hep A / non-Hep B.

The one thing that he could tell me is that I should really consider quitting alcohol and tobacco. Now alcohol had always been my drug of choice. I really wasn’t a cannabis user or a regular cannabis user through high school or even through my early academic university studies. My family had struggled with alcoholism as well and I think it’s fair to say that I felt I might be on the same path as well.

So I started using cannabis as really a substitute for alcohol in order to not have alcohol worsen my liver condition. It was only through doing some research over the inssuing months and years that I realized that the cannabis was not only helping me stay off of tobacco and alcohol but was also having some positive impacts on both the symptoms associated with Hep C and the progress of that condition as well.

For those so many years since 1995 I’ve been using cannabis essentially as a substitute for alcohol and also as a treatment for my Hepatitis C.

DEAN BECKER: We often hear from Drug Czars and government representatives that all of this information is anecdotal and it means nothing but the truth be told this is a scientific study. Where was this published?

PHILLIPE LUCAS: This was published in the Journal of Public Research and Theory. It’s a well-regarded journal. This study was certainly not the first of its kind to identify substitution effect but it is the largest study of substitution effect to date.

What we found was quite fascinating. The results suggest that over 75% of respondents use cannabis as a substitute for at least one other substance. 41% of respondents say that they use cannabis as a substitute for alcohol. 36% said that they used cannabis as a substitute for illicit substances and 67.8% said that they used cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs.

That may have some significant impact on health care costs. If people are using less pharmaceutical drugs and suffering less from the potential addiction and the health impacts associated with pharmaceutical opiates this could not only improve their health but significantly reduce the cost of treating conditions like chronic pain.

If we also see a reduction in the use of alcohol and the use of illicit substances we can also see some significant public health and personal health impacts as a result of those. With the recent legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington I think that this may have some really profound effect on what we’re going to see in a legalized cannabis atmosphere.

DEAN BECKER: Well you talk about savings if I think about 27.5 years times a 12 pack of beer per day I’ve saved tens of thousands of dollars.

PHILLIPE LUCAS: Absolutely, absolutely. I think that it’s been interesting to see some of the reporting that’s going on around the Colorado and Washington initiatives. One of the big question marks and I think it’s fair to say researchers and the public and policy makers have to question that once you legalize cannabis what’s going to be the impact good and bad?

I think from looking at the available research and what we know from other jurisdictions who have either de facto legalized or decriminalized cannabis I think that we will see in Colorado and Washington State probably a minor increase in cannabis use but I think as we see attached to that a reduction in the use of pharmaceutical substances as well as illicit substances and most significantly in terms of public health and safety impacts the reduction of the use of alcohol we may also see a reduction in alcohol-related hospitalizations from alcohol-related accidents and alcohol-related drinking and driving incidents. I think that if we saw a reduction in alcohol-related property damage and domestic violence as well the net impact of seeing a slight (I suggest it’s probably going to be a 3 or 5%) increase in cannabis use in those states may be balanced off by seeing a similar reduction in the use of alcohol and illicit substances.

I think from a public health point of view that may mean that an increase in cannabis use would have positive public health impacts if it is tied to a reduction in these other substances.

DEAN BECKER: We’re speaking with Mr. Phillipe Lucas who is a researcher based in British Columbia, Canada.

Tell us who else was signed on to this report. What other researchers were involved?

PHILLIPE LUCAS: This was a community-based study so it was great. I initially contacted the four dispensaries and was able to train 4 representatives from those dispensaries to both hand out the survey, collect the survey in a way that would follow scientific protocol. The four community-based researchers we worked with were - well there’s really five because there was 2 in one of the dispensaries – Stephanie McAllen, Megan Olson, Michael Coward, Brian Thomas and Dory Dempster.

They represent 4 dispensaries – the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, the British Columbia Compassion Society, the Vancouver Dispensary Society and the Green Cross Society of B.C. Then I had a lot of help with doing the data input and data analysis of our findings by my friends and fellow researcher Amanda Reiman and Mitch Earlywine who are U.S.-based researchers who have some familiarity with the concept of substitution effect. In fact Amanda Reiman is one of the foremost researchers of this phenomena as well.

DEAN BECKER: In the past I’ve been lucky to have several conversations with Dr. Tom O’Connell in the United States who has done some research in this area as well. It seems that the truth is just too difficult to ignore in this regard, right?

PHILLIPE LUCAS: I think so. I think that what we’re seeing right now is that is the evidence and the credible biological mechanisms behind these results - what I mean by that is that there are a lot of reasons why cannabis may be helpful in helping people deal with addiction or with the reduction in the use of pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol and tobacco – suggests that we really need to move to the next level of research when it comes to cannabis substitution effect including randomized clinical trials on cannabis substitution for problematic substance use.

In other words I think we need to start looking at cannabis not as a gateway drug leading to addiction but potentially as an exit drug for problematic substance use and potentially as a treatment, a specific treatment for problematic substance use.

Now I want to be clear – I readily acknowledge and truly believe that there are some people who have developed a dependence associated with cannabis use. The evidence suggests that 1 in 10 regular users will develop some kind of dependence on cannabis that will cause problems in their lives. But I think from a hard reduction point of view and with such a low percentage of regular users developing problems of dependence the use of cannabis as a tool in the arsenal to deal with addiction should be seriously considered.

I also think that from a population point of view any changes in our current laws or regulations that would lead to safer use of cannabis and potentially to an increased access to a safe source of cannabis may have the potential to reduce the harms associated with the use of alcohol and both the legal and illegal use of pharmaceuticals and other drugs and tobacco as well.

DEAN BECKER: I think about as I mentioned a while ago a case a day for 27 years and the fact of the matter is while I was drinking I was in fights, car wrecks, I was an abuser, getting arrested, going to jail but from the day I quit drinking I’ve not had any of those problems.

Phillipe, please share your website with the listeners where they can learn more about this.

PHILLIPE LUCAS: The study is available as an Impress version right now. It’s called Early Online and that’s at the Journal of Research and Theory. Individuals can also contact me if they’d like a copy or a PDF of that study. I can be contacted at plucasyyj at gmail.com

The people who would like to know more about substitution effect…I’ve published a few more studies and you might look those up on PubMed by punching in Phillipe Lucas and also look at Amanda Reiman’s work over the last few years as well.

I think that the evidence is becoming more and more compelling that there are some potential cost savings for health care providers as well as some significant beneficial health potential for us to look at cannabis as an exit drug to addiction.

DEAN BECKER: I’d be remiss if I didn’t get your views as an outsider – as a Canadian, next week we hope to hear from some folks down Mexico way – about what these changes in law in Washington and Colorado mean. How they resonate within these countries. How’s it resonating in Canada?

PHILLIPE LUCAS: It’s been remarkable and it’s truly, truly changed the discussion here in Canada around legalization. Our federal government for years and years has been citing that we really can’t consider changing our cannabis laws or liberalizing our cannabis laws because of the backlash that would come from our biggest trade partner and neighbor, the U.S.

But now with so many U.S. states decriminalizing cannabis and two U.S. states having full on legalized it I think those arguments from the government fall flat and it’s worth mentioning that here in British Columbia there’s a group called Sensible B.C. that’s trying to get a referendum on our current cannabis laws that would effectively de-penalize adult, personal use of cannabis. I think that’s what’s happened in Washington State which is literally our border state with British Columbia as well as Colorado has really added some momentum to that drive.

I was an elected official at the municipal level. I was a city councilor in Victoria for the past three years. At the municipal level a group called the Union of British Columbia Municipality has recently supported basically the decriminalization of cannabis at their annual meeting.

So at all levels of government right now in Canada I think that people are looking at our cannabis laws and seeing how they might be improved and how they might be fixed to better reflect what the people of Canada want themselves. Recent polling suggests that a tax and regulate model here in Canada has about 70 to 75% support of the population and that our current War on Drugs simply isn’t supported anymore by the Canadian populace.

Unfortunately at the federal level we’ve got a government that literally the day after the federal election in the U.S. finally had the enactment of a bill called C10 that they’d been pushing for that puts in very harsh mandatory-minimum sentences for even minor cannabis production - and I’m talking about producing 6 plants or more leading to a 6 month sentence here in Canada – so while the U.S. has been moving to fix the harms that are clearly associated with mandatory-minimums and with harsh penalties associated with illicit substance use in Canada we’ve really swung in the other direction and have increased the penalties associated with illicit cannabis and drug production as well as distribution.

So sadly at the federal level we’re not seeing a lot of movement in the progressive direction but at the provincial and municipal level here in Canada I can’t overstate how much the changes in Colorado and in Washington are influencing our current direction.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, Phillipe Lucas we’re going to have to wrap it up here. I just want to close it out with this thought. Here in the U.S. we still have a few diehards, you know, drug warrior extraordinaire that stand forth in rooms where you and I are not in attendance and proclaim their madness. Is that unwinding, is it still the same in Canada?

PHILLIPE LUCAS: I think that ultimately like so many bad policies it’s going to be a culmination of the public no longer tolerating the impacts and detrimental effects on their personal freedoms along with a compelling argument to reexamine our current approach to illicit substance use. I think that substitution effect speaks to both of those. I think it would be very hard to condemn someone who has moved from an addiction to pharmaceutical opiates or to alcohol and the associated health and public safety issues and who has been able to reduce that by the use of cannabis. I think that we lose the momentum to punish the cannabis use when we see that it’s actually potentially improving the lives of some individuals. I think that at the same time the associated cost savings at a time when we’re all under very tight fiscal pressure suggests that our War on Drugs is not evidence-based. It’s no longer supported by the public and it’s no longer defendable in any basis in any jurisdiction.

It’s just time for drug laws that are based on science, reason and compassion rather than fear, prejudice and misunderstanding.

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REPORTER: You’re pot smoking…did you ever consider giving it up?

WILLIE NELSON: Oh, I gave it up a bunch of times.

REPORTER: Did you ever consider giving it up for good?

WILLIE NELSON: Not really because I haven’t seen any side effects that really are harmful to me. I’m the “canary in the mine.” I’m 80-years-old – check me out.

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DEAN BECKER: The following produced by the Sun. The host of the program is totally ignorant about drugs. He’s talking to Mrs. Jodie Emery, wife of the “Prince of Pot”, Mr. Marc Emery, about legalization in the U.S. and what it means to the future.

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PROGRAM HOST: I wish I could get more interested, more excited about drug legalization. I rather think that starvation in the third world and mass unemployment and that sort of thing, cancer, are a bigger problem. Maybe that’s just me – I just don’t get it.

Jodie Emery does. She’s an activist, director of Cannabis Culture. Her husband, Marc, is in prison down in Mississippi – isn’t it, Jodie?

JODIE EMERY: That’s correct.

PROGRAM HOST: I’m sorry but…she’s joining us now from Vancouver. I’ve said this before whatever the context and the case I don’t think he should be in prison.

Let me ask you this. I don’t want to be offensive. Are you a pothead?

JODIE EMERY: I don’t think I’ve ever called myself a pothead. I’ve had the media call me the “Princess of Pot” because Marc is the “Prince of Pot” but I certainly don’t refer to myself as that.

PROGRAM HOST: OK. Why…I don’t know how you met Marc - maybe you met through this campaign but when I think of … I don’t know…the Middle East inflames and Islamic Fundamentalism and all these other issues in the world I don’t think legalizing cannabis is such an important issue is it?

JODIE EMERY: I wanted to explain that marijuana prohibition actually relates to almost everything else in the world. When you are talking about, for example, wars abroad you mentioned and you’ve got Africa, the Middle East and a lot of turmoil much of that is funded or fueled by money from the illegal drug trade.

PROGRAM HOST: Really?!

JODIE EMERY: That includes marijuana, cocaine. A lot of illegal drugs are sold to generate money for revolutionary forces and for people to finance different sort of military activity. That’s because the illegal drug money is so enormous. When you make something illegal you make it very valuable.

PROGRAM HOST: The late 16 th century settlement of Scots Presbyterians in Ulster fought about cannabis. The Middle East, the restoration of the Jews to their homeland in 1948 fought about cannabis….maybe I’m high but I’m confused, Jodie…I’m confused.

JODIE EMERY: The War on Drugs is mostly about the war on marijuana. We know that the marijuana leaf is used as the symbol for drugs. We know that a lot of money is used for going after drug cartels. The Mexican drug wars, I mean, a lot of that is about marijuana.

Other drugs are involved, of course, but marijuana being illegal and being in such high demand from people around the world makes it very, very profitable.

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TERRY NELSON: This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. The War on Drugs appears to be unraveling daily. The court of public opinion, in which approximately 75% of the public thinks the drug war has failed, has swing in favor of ending the drug war. According to Huffing Post Politics “A recent poll found 51 percent of voters support marijuana legalization, while 44 percent oppose it. Two thirds of voters under age 30, and 59 percent of men, favor legalization, while 52 percent of women oppose it. Those over the age of 65 were mostly in opposition, with just 35 percent supporting legalization. This is the first national Quinnipiac poll on marijuana, making it difficult to measure any change in opinion. Other recent polling, however, suggests that attitudes toward its use have become increasingly permissive over the past years, with legalization starting to amass majority support.
This major swing, due to the persistent work of activist that have worked tirelessly, may well bring about the end of the drug war as we know it. It may also cause a global rethink of the policy of prohibition and thus cause the United Nations treaties to be eliminated which will end the drug war.

The federal government, in states such a Colorado and Washington State that have now legalized cannabis, faces a dilemma. While it is still federally illegal to possess cannabis it means that if the feds make arrests for state legal cannabis the case will be tried in by a panel of Jurors, with as many as half, that most likely voted for legalization. Federal prosecutors know that to bring charges is futile in that environment.

Currently the threshold for federal prosecution in states that have not legalized cannabis is hundreds of pounds. This means that the feds will turn over cases that involve less than the threshold amount to the states for prosecution and the states bear the burden of prosecution. The feds are not going to make arrest for very small amounts of cannabis because they simply cannot afford the related costs of prosecution. So in Colorado and Washington the DEA is not likely to arrest anyone for state legal amounts knowing that the jury would not convict them. So they are really not going to be able to do anything about it but whine and complain.

LEAP appeals to those of you that wish to imbibe in legal cannabis that you please do it responsibly and in accordance with local law and regulations. Many have worked too long and too hard for the irresponsible acts of a few to cast a dim glow on this huge victory. Think of all the people that will not be arrested, incarcerated and their lives ruined with a cannabis arrest record. This is a major improvement but it will take all of us acting in a responsible manner to achieve total victory over prohibition. Please don’t provide the opposition any ammunition to use in their arguments against legalization. LEAP continues to support a legalized, regulated and controlled market for cannabis and other still illegal drugs. This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, www.copssaylegalziedrugs.com signing off. Stay safe.

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DEAN BECKER: Courtesy CNN

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[baby crying]

REPORTER: 6-year-old Jayden in an epileptic seizure.

JASON DAVID: There’s nothing you can do to make him feel better.

REPORTER: But there is something. Jason David administers an unorthodox drug for his son’s catastrophic epilepsy called Dravet’s Syndrome, a disease that can be fatal for children.

JASON DAVID: 45 minutes later I give him medical marijuana…

REPORTER: …calms him down?

JASON DAVID: Yeah.

REPORTER: …stops the seizure?

JASON DAVID: Stops the seizure. He’s in pain and suffering before and you have to whatever it takes to save their life.

REPORTER: Pharmaceutical drugs have failed him.

JASON DAVID: Rephitamine, Tobomax, Clobozam…he couldn’t chew. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t take a bath.

REPORTER: After a year of taking a liquid form of medical marijuana made mostly of cannabidiol that doesn’t get you high.

JASON DAVID: [talking to Jayden] I love you….yeah, Jayden.

REPORTER: He’s playing, running and climbing. Jayden is eating solid food. From 22 pills a day to treat his epilepsy he’s down to a pill and a one-half. 44 ambulance trips before starting on legal medical marijuana it’s now zero.

JASON DAVID: Medical marijuana is sometimes called “miracle marijuana.”

REPORTER: Jayden is not the only one. There are no solid national statistics of how many children are using medical marijuana but in the states where it is legal from Oregon to Colorado states report dozens of registered users under the age of 18 – some as young as 2.

[at medical marijuana dispensary]

REPORTER: This is your vault?

DISPENSARY WORKER: This is our vault.

REPORTER: A vault full of various types of medicinal marijuana at Harborside Health Center in Oakland. Technicians sort, analyze and distill the plant. It’s science here and they believe it will help children with severe autism, epilepism, ADHD, and cancer.

DISPENSARY WORKER: We have seen more than one child like Jayden who came to us with very, very serious, severe, life-threatening illnesses who as soon as they started using cannabis medicine saw a dramatic turn around.

REPORTER: The medical community says without better research which requires federal support most doctors oppose medical marijuana for children.

DOCTOR: All medications may have side-effects, may have long-term consequences and, unfortunately, with cannabinoids we know very little about them. The parent is really flying by the seat of their pants in doing this.

JASON DAVID: [singing to Jayden] You are the world to me.

REPORTER: Call him crazy. Call him unethical. This father has heard it all – except for one phrase…

JASON DAVID: I want my son to say, “I love you, Dad.”

[talking to Jayden] I love you. Can you say, “I love you”?

That’s all I want to hear. I’m really close.

REPORTER: Close to finally reaching his son.

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DEAN BECKER: I want to thank CNN. I want to thank everybody who is starting to “get it.” That doctor was worried about the long-term consequences of that kid. Did you hear what the short-term consequences were?

Prohibition has no basis in reality. 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.

Drug Truth programs archived at the James A. Baker, III Institute for Policy Studies.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org