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Tony Newman of Drug Policy Alliance: Top stories of 2012, Terry Nelson of LEAP + Dallas Jessup of "Just Yell Fire"
Century of Lies / December 16, 2012
[music: I’ll be home for Christmas]
I’ll be high for Christmas. You can smoke with me.
DEAN BECKER: Ah yes, welcome to this first holiday show from the Drug Truth Network. This is the Century of Lies. I am Dean Becker. We’ve got a great show for you.
Alright, my friends, once again we have the director of communications for the Drug Policy Alliance. He has a great story out there on Huffington Post, “The Beginning of the End of the Drug War: Top Stories of 2012.” I want to welcome Mr. Tony Newman to clarify what those stories were.
Tony, it’s a powerful list, a powerful summary of this past year. Please share those thoughts with the listeners.
TONY NEWMAN: Well, Dean, I have no doubt that when people look back on history they are going to say 2012 was the beginning of the end of the War on Drugs. On so many different levels we’ve seen that everything is changing right now.
Let’s start off with the biggest story of the year has to be Colorado and Washington making history by legalizing marijuana. These are not only the two first states in the U.S. but actually any political jurisdictions in the world that voted to tax and regulate marijuana. This is going to mean stopping arresting people, stopping wasting law enforcement going after people with marijuana. Under an ounce of marijuana is now going to be legal and the states are now going to set up a responsible way to tax and regulate.
These people were heard around the world. It’s having an impact not only in the U.S. but around Latin America and Mexico. No doubt Colorado and Washington made history.
DEAN BECKER: Alright then the second one was also part of our recent election in November. Fill them in on that.
TONY NEWMAN: In California there’s the famous “three strikes you’re out” law which was passed in the 90s and spread around the country - 25 years to life for a third felony. When voters voted for this they were under the impression that they would be putting away murderers and violent people but in reality if you got busted stealing a pizza or possessing a small amount of drugs and that was your offense you spent 25 years to life in jail.
California voters 2 to 1 said reform the “three strike” law so the third strike has to be a violent offense so no more people going 25 years to life for a small amount of drugs or some other non-violent offense. It was a huge blow to the offensive, draconian mandatory-minimums in California.
DEAN BECKER: They weren’t waiting for – they were speaking out before the November election but Latin America has taken a new look at this as well.
TONY NEWMAN: It’s amazing. A few years ago former presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico said, “We need to break the taboo. We need an honest conversation about the failed War on Drugs. We need put all options on the table.”
2012 was historic because it went from former presidents to current presidents with the president of Guatemala, Otto Molina…we had the president of Colombia, Santos. We had the president of Uruguay all saying it’s not working. “We’ve seen too much death, too much suffering in our country. We want to put all options on the table.”
Not only were they speaking out it became a huge issue at the Summit of the Americas which is all the Latin American countries and the U.S. It was the number one topic at the Summit of the Americas. The “genie is out of the bottle.” The countries that have been devastated by the War on the Drugs and have been forced by the United States to adopt these harsh policies are now saying “No mas. We are not going to do this anymore. We want to have an honest discussion.”
The Obama administration is now being forced to get involved in this issue because world leaders are saying they want all options on the table.
DEAN BECKER: Kind of attached to that one was other goings on down Uruguay way. Correct?
TONY NEWMAN: Yes in Uruguay they became the first country in the world to propose legalizing marijuana. Under government control they would regulate and sell it. What was so significant was I was just talking about the debate and putting all options on the table and Uruguay is proposing to legalize marijuana it was going from “Should we do this?” to “How are we going to do this?”
So now the race is on. Is it going to be Colorado, Washington or Uruguay to be the first place in the world to implement their tax and regulation of marijuana. Now we have countries doing this as well as states within the U.S.
DEAN BECKER: This past summer going into Fall I was part of that Caravan for Peace, Justice and Dignity that toured across America and that’s making a difference as well isn’t it?
TONY NEWMAN: It was incredibly powerful. Not only did we have current presidents and former presidents speaking out against the War on Drugs but we also had the grassroots people personally impacted by the failed War on Drugs speaking out.
There was a caravan led by poet Javier Sicilia of Mexico whose son was tragically murdered in Mexico – one of the 60,000 deaths that have happened since 2006 when President Calderon launched his surge. He galvanized people and said, “We are not doing this anymore.”
He traveled a couple caravans through Mexico where people who have lost loved ones spoke out and put a face to the numbers and all the blood bath that is happening down there. This year he decided to bring that message to the United States. It was a very powerful campaign. It started in San Diego. It went through 25 cities and ended in Washington, D.C.
It brought together people who have been devastated by the War on Drugs in Mexico and people who have been devastated by the War on Drugs in the U.S. to speak out and say, “The War on Drugs is causing death, destruction and pain on both sides of the border and we’re not having this anymore.”
When you have that combination of people whose lives have been personally impacted (the grassroots) and the presidents (the grass tops) it’s a very powerful combination.
DEAN BECKER: However well-intentioned many of these drug warriors may be or have been in the past they have created some serious harmful situations that have been reversed. Let’s talk about that.
TONY NEWMAN: While there’s more people speaking out, while there’s more momentum with all the historic votes in Colorado and Washington there’s still a lot of tragedy. There’s an overdose crisis in this country. It is now the second leading cause of preventable death in this country following only automobile accidents.
That’s the bad news – that there’s this overdose crisis. The good news is that there are some solutions that can be done to reduce people dying. One of them is legislation. Most people that are overdosing are with other people when they do so. If you call 911 the person will live but people are afraid to call 911 because they’re afraid to call 911 because they are afraid the cops are going to come and start arresting people.
In New Mexico in 2007 was the first place to say, “It should not be a crime to try to save someone’s life by calling 911” and they passed this Good Samaritan Law. This year it is like a domino effect. There is now 10 different states that have adopted this including this year in California and Illinois and many others. Now 10 states have. D.C. just passed it yesterday – allowing people to call 911.
That’s the first concrete thing that can reduce overdose death. The second thing is there’s this anecdote called Naloxone which will reverse an overdose within 2 minutes. Anyone who’s using prescription drugs or heroin should have Naloxone. It reverses overdose death. More and more states are starting to do this. There’s a report that came out saying there’s been 10,000 overdose reversals by using Naloxone.
So these two powerful harm reduction strategies – being able to call 911 and providing Naloxone – will hopefully put a dent in the tragic overdose deaths.
DEAN BECKER: Tony, the evidence is becoming so overwhelming – video and audio and people of stature speaking out. A lot of that information has been compiled via the movie screen. Tell us about that.
TONY NEWMAN: 2 incredible movies are out right now that are generating incredible attention and debate. The first is a film by Eugene Jarecki called, “The House I Live In.” It documents the total devastation of the War on Drugs in the African American community. It talks about how it takes away a huge percentage of people in the community, the racism behind the War on Drugs. That film won the Sundance Film Festival’s top award. They’re now on the short list for an Academy Award for the Oscars.
Not only is that film getting out in the theaters and will probably win an Academy Award it’s gathering a huge amount of media attention with Eugene Jarecki going on Jon Stewart’s show, Charlie Rose, CBS Early Show – literally hundreds of reviews, millions of people hearing about this movie. That’s one.
Just last week there was a premier of a movie called, “Breaking the Taboo.” It was made my Richard Branson and his son, Sam Branson. It documents, again, world leaders starting to speak out against the 40-year failed War on Drugs and the need to have this honest conversation. It follows the former presidents of Brazil and the Global Commission on Drug Policy. It’s narrated by Morgan Freeman. They teamed up with Google and YouTube and are offering it for free right now.
In less than a week 400,000 people have watched that movie. Again another wave of media attention from Time, Newsweek, BBC and CNN.
DEAN BECKER: That brings to mind all of this information is giving courage, if you will, emboldening politicians to speak what’s on their mind and finding that it does not hurt their career. Am I correct?
TONY NEWMAN: Yeah for the first time ever this year politicians are starting to say no to the drug war and actually winning. The irony is the people are so much ahead of the politicians. 50% of the people now want to tax and regulate marijuana nationally – 50%. We have 86% of the people support medical marijuana. 80% of the people polled say they think the War on Drugs is failing yet for too long our politicians have been so cowardly and afraid to step out.
Now finally we’re starting to see people realize that the fear of being labeled “soft on crime” is not only not true but you can actually win at the ballot box by speaking out against the War on Drugs.
First example is Beto O'Rourke became a congressman in Texas by defeating an 8-term congressman Reyes. Beto O’Rourke came out for legalizing marijuana. He talks about the harms of drug prohibition. Congressman Reyes thought he would use Beto O’Rourke’s legalization support against him. Voters sent Beto O’Rourke to victory and sent Congressman Reyes packing home.
A second example is the Attorney General race in Oregon. Ellen Rosenblum ran on supporting medical marijuana in her state and her opponent, U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton spoke out against medical marijuana. It became a huge issue in the campaign and, again, the pro-medical marijuana candidate won the election.
Two races that featured specifically the War on Drugs and the people who were critical of the War on Drugs won and the pro-drug warriors were packing home. Those are two concrete races. People like Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York who everyone knows is considering running for president in 2016. He came out saying we should decriminalize marijuana. Rahm Emmanuel, President Obama’s former Chief of Staff and now Mayor of Chicago, also came out for decriminalizing marijuana.
When you have people like Andrew Cuomo and Rahm Emmanuel - that is the Democratic establishment. When they’re starting to say we need to decriminalize marijuana you know that more and more politicians realize that this is an issue that…reforming our failed drug policy will not hurt them – it will actually help them.
DEAN BECKER: Tony, that brings to mind that there was a situation in Seattle where the two candidates for Sheriff were trying to outdo them on which was more for legalizing marijuana. It really is making an impact.
Before we move to this last thought on your Huffington Post let’s don’t forget Senator Leahy and what he’s saying quite recently here.
TONY NEWMAN: Just today breaking in the media Senator Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy – an incredibly powerful senator – sent a letter to the Drug Czar saying that legislative options exist to resolve the potential conflict between federal and state laws in regards to the Colorado and Washington legalizing marijuana. He is seeking assurance from the Obama administration that they’re not going to be prosecuting people.
For too long the senate has been so timid. We have 18 states that have medical marijuana – that’s 36 senators – and they have lacked leadership to do something about this. The fact that powerful Senator Leahy is now showing that he wants to find solutions to the states that are reforming marijuana laws is very encouraging.
Now we have current presidents all over, you know, Colombia, Guatemala, Uruguay starting to do this. Now we have elected officials in the U.S. starting to get courage to do this. It’s all an example - if the people lead our leaders will follow. It’s unfortunate that it takes them so long to get onboard but voters in Colorado, voters in Washington, film makers, everyone’s showing this. People want change and I think we’re slowly starting to see leaders saying, “You know what? Get in on this train.”
The train is moving forward no matter what and I think the smartest of the politicians know it’s time to jump on.
DEAN BECKER: Once again we’re speaking with Mr. Tony Newman. He is the Director of Media Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance. He’s got this great piece up on the Huffington Post but, Tony, you close it out with this thought:
“Despite Progress, the Drug War Grinds On as Viciously as Ever.”
TONY NEWMAN: While there’s so much feeling of optimism, while it’s totally clear that we’re seeing a shift in our country, more and more people are feeling courageous to speak out from elected officials to the wisdom of the people in Colorado and Washington to people saying the War on Drugs has failed and we want to start taxing and regulating marijuana. 50% of the people now want this in our country.
The movies that are coming out, the grassroots and grass tops – with all that momentum we do have to remember that the War on Drugs is grinding on. 750,000 people still are arrested every year for marijuana possession alone. There is still 500,000 people behind bars on non-violent drug offenses. We have this overdose crisis that I mentioned that is still taking too many lives – 20 + thousand people per year die from overdose.
The blood bath that I talked about in Mexico – 60,000 deaths in the last 5 years because of drug prohibition violence - that is still grinding on. So while there are reasons for optimism, while we are hopeful we have to redouble our efforts. There are too many casualties from this war. We need to find an exit strategy.
The punch line is this – If the people lead the leaders will follow. We need you to join us. There’s too much death and destruction. There are common sense solutions. There is a better way. We can live in a world that reduces the most devastating damage from our War on Drugs. We need people to go to the Drug Policy Alliance, http://www.drugpolicy.org, and get involved.
There are organizations like Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. There’s Students for Sensible Drug Policy. There are people on the front lines passing out Naloxone and needles to reduce HIV. There is a growing movement. We need people to join and we can win this. No more drug war.
[music: 12 Days of Christmas]
On the 12 th high of Christmas my dear love sent to me 12 tokers toking, 11 pipers piping, 10 leaves a burning, 9 stoners laughing, 8 joints a rolling, 7 plants a growing, 6 clouds a rising, 5 golden bongs, 4 heaping bowls, 3 dime bags, 2 bloodshot eyes and a stash hidden in a dope tree.
TERRY NELSON: This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
The more things change the more they stay the same. The incoming President of Mexico, Pena Nieto, in a recent article in Fox News Latino states “My government will continue mounting a real fight against the trafficking of marijuana and all other drugs,” .
Instead, he has proposed focusing on reducing violence in Mexico rather than capturing top drug lords, a change from his predecessor, Felipe Calderon. Many have view that as a signal that as long as drug gangs don’t attack civilians, they would be left alone.
Murder, extortion and kidnapping skyrocketed under Calderon, with some estimates reaching 60,000 drug-related killings during his six-year term. Top Pena Nieto campaign aide Luis Videgaray, now secretary of the treasury, said in November that the U.S. legalization votes would complicate Mexico’s anti-drug efforts.
Pena Nieto said his government “in no way will abandon the fight.” He said he is committed to putting up a united front against organized crime, pushing for better coordination among local, state and federal police forces and completing the overhaul of Mexico’s broken and corrupt justice system. Calderon tried both with little success.
However, Pena Nieto said he believes he will get better results by integrating prevention, investment and enforcement programs.
This is similar to the messages that we used to get from the military commanders, charged with managing the assets assigned to the drug war, when they were handed power every two years. The new guy would come on board, make speeches that he was going to change things and “get the job done”. But after four decades we are still mired in the same old rhetoric.
And as long as we take the same approach to fighting the drug war then it will never change. The waste in human capital will continue, the violence will continue, the waste will continue and the drug use will continue along with its good friend and colleague Crime and Violence.
There is just too much money involved and too many people benefiting from the continuance of the drug war for it to change without the direct involvement of the people to make those in charge change the focus and implement a completely new policy on how to deal with our drug violence. The percentage of people that are addicted to drugs has remained the same since the Harrison Drug Act of 1914 when the government claimed that 1.3% of he population was addicted and something must be done. Those numbers are very similar today. So, perhaps, 1.3% of our population has addictive genes and that that number will always be no matter what we do.
Then the obvious strategy should be legalized regulation and control of drugs so that we can deal with our addicted population with treatment. And a policy of credible education to deal with our drug problems. But to continue to do the same thing and expecting different results is, according to Albert Einstein, insane.
This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, www.leap.cc sighing off. Stay safe.
DEAN BECKER: According to our next guest, Dallas Jessup…she’s a student at Vanderbelt University and she founds and now leads Just Yell Fire – a 1.8 million girl revolution combating abuse and violence against young women.
DALLAS JESSUP: Thank you so much for having me.
DEAN BECKER: Dallas, inform the listeners more. What is Just Yell Fire about?
DALLAS JESSUP: Just Yell Fire is a non-profit that helps to teach girls how to fight back against sexual assault. We do that mainly through our online videos which are free at http://justyellfire.org teaching girls Filipino street fighting so that they can not become the 1 in 3 girls who will be victim of dating violence or the 1 in 4 that statistically will be date raped before graduating from college.
We really aim to let girls lead a powerful life. These statistics are so outrageous and so insane that we want to be able to help girls voice their own opinion and not live a life of fear.
DEAN BECKER: Yeah, you say 1 in 3 will become a victim of dating abuse and 1 in 4 will become a sexual assault victim. This is horrible.
DALLAS JESSUP: It is. I remember when I first started Just Yell Fire and I was researching what the statistics were against teenage girls – I was shocked. You see it occasionally on the news and you realize that it happens but you don’t realize how big of an issue it is.
I went to an all-girls high school when I was going through Just Yell Fire and it meant that 150 of my friends at my high school would become a statistic. That is unacceptable when it is an easy solution.
You can properly learn how to eye gauge someone, ear slap, properly bite and get yourself out of there. The thing about Just Yell Fire is we’re teaching girls how to get those 2 to 3 seconds to get yourself out of the situation. We’re not saying stick around and put up a fight because often times your attacker will be 2 or 3 times your size and weight and that’s not good odds in a fight but you can get those 2 or 3 seconds to get yourself out of the situation.
DEAN BECKER: Right and that’s the point. With those 2 or 3 seconds you can extricate yourself from the situation and seek help, correct?
DALLAS JESSUP: Exactly. You can go home safely. You can go to the police and explain the situation and you can not become a statistic.
DEAN BECKER: You’re just a youngster and you kind of indicative of the idea that one person can make a difference. Tell us how this effort has grown over the years.
DALLAS JESSUP: Originally it started as an idea…I saw the video footage of a young girl named Carly Grisham in Florida. A man came up to her and said something and she went away with him willingly. I watched that and thought that didn’t have to happen to her. She could have gone home to her parents that night.
I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a 2 nd degree in Filipino Street Fighting and I thought, “OK this will be my community service. I’ll make a home-made video and show it to the 650 girls at my high school so it doesn’t have to happen to them.”
My mother, being a mother, said, “Why don’t you take a script writing class and see if this is something that interests you.”
So as a freshman in high school I was kind of going, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, OK. Sure, what harm could come of that?”
I ended up taking a script writing class at a local community college and the professor loved what I was doing and said, “I have friends in the industry. Can we shoot this at them and see if they would be into helping you?”
I was a freshman going, “OK. Sure. What’s the worst thing that could happen? They say no.”
I was expecting that but thought why not try. So it ended up from there meeting the director that directed both our first and second films and was able to get a professional crew of 30. The director said to make this film really successful we needed about 100 extras. We went to our friends in the community saying, “We’re trying to do this. Can you come? Can you be an extra? Can you be an actor? Can you do this?”
We were able to create our first film, Just Yell Fire, online in 2006. We never expected it to grow in the way that it has. We put it online in free downloads and some girls at my high school said that they would love to watch it again or share it with my friends and asked how we could make that happen. It just kind of spread from there. The media in Washington and Oregon where I’m from really picked it up. People started emailing me and asking me to come in to do presentations to teach girls self-defense. It went from there to speeches and radio shows and all of these things that really helped the Just Yell Fire revolution begin.
That kind of launched a speaking tour which during my junior and senior year I was traveling about an average 10,000 miles per month speaking around the country. I even went to India for a couple weeks one summer to help girls realize that they have an inner voice and can say no to domestic abuse and violence.
That’s really how it grew. As I was going off to college to Vanderbilt as a freshman I realized that Just Yell Fire was making a presence on the college campus scene. I thought we really needed an updated, new version with more techniques to help girls because the first film was so successful. I think at one point 3 million girls had seen it in about 50 something countries. It really was something that we had a huge need for in the community and also college girls need something.
There’s a lot of course out there that you can join for 8 weeks or you can join for 12 weeks and learn self-defense and I highly encourage people to go take those because you can never learn enough self-defense to help keep yourself safe but oftentimes girls want a quick and easy solution. The great thing about Just Yell Fire is we’re able to condense years of martial arts into one hour and give you those core techniques that will really help you get out of a situation.
DEAN BECKER: Once again we’re speaking with Dallas Jessup. She’s a 21-year-old Vanderbilt University student who has founded Just Yell Fire to help millions of girls around the world to prevent abuse, sexual attacks with just a few seconds of martial arts.
You have also taken another step. You are offering a drink coaster that tests for 3 common date rape drugs as well. Tell us about that.
DALLAS JESSUP: We started working with this company and we have these Just Yell Fire coasters which are absolutely phenomenal. I love them. I always have them on me at all times because you never know…any drink can be drugged. I think that’s a very common mistake with date rape drugs in drinks is that people tend to think either it has to be with alcohol but you really can drug water, you can drug soda. You can drug pretty much anything.
People let their guard down all the time. It’s a small coaster. You can fold it up into this tiny little square and just put it in the back of your wallet so you always have one on you. It tests for Ruffies, GHB and Ketamines which are the three main date rape drugs. Some of them are hard to detect in drinks and others are not as hard.
You just dip your finger in your drink and wipe it on one of the testers on the coaster. You let it dry which typically takes about 2 minutes. If it tests positive the spots will turn a dark blue which will let you know that your drink has been drugged.
It’s something that’s really simple to keep yourself safe. It’s something you can easily go into the bathroom and do. It’s something where you don’t have to say, “Look I’m just trying to see if you’ve drugged me.” which is something that girls don’t want to make an awkward situation by looking like they don’t trust people.
It’s a great thing to have because you never know. Anyone can drug anything. Typically punches can be Ruffied and most of them are very hard to detect. They have serious side effects which can also involve up to being put into a coma. Some mixes with alcohol can lead to your death. It only takes 20 to 25 minutes for the three I listed to take effect. It’s something that you need to be aware of and these coasters are a great thing. They are very inexpensive and they’re a great resource to use in combating to keep yourself safe.
DEAN BECKER: Dallas, you give me hope for the future when we have intelligent folks like you willing to do something about a problem they see before their face.
If you want to learn more, if you want to join up with this effort please visit their website which is http://justyellfire.org
You know it would seem that the logic of this drug war has lost its luster, that the morals have been destroyed and that the truth is winning and needs you to help it win a little faster.
As always I remind you there is no truth, justice, logic, no reason for this drug war to exist. Please visit our website, http://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: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org
The James A Baker Institute
Sun - Doug McVay interview of Morgan at Cannabis Collaboration Conference in Portland
Sat - Doug McVay interview of David Rheins at Cannabis Collaboration Conference in Portland
Fri - NBC interview of Aaron Justiss of Buds & Roses + Promo for Baker Institute panel: "Law Enforcement Perspectives on Drug Prohibition"
Thu - KTUL report on cannabis in Oklahoma + Promo for Baker Institute panel: "Law Enforcement Perspectives on Drug Prohibition"
Wed - KTUL report on cannabis in Oklahoma + Promo for Baker Institute panel: "Law Enforcement Perspectives on Drug Prohibition"
Tue - CATO Institute report on drugs & Heroin PSA
Mon - Debby Goldsbury re forthcoming International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco, Feb 13&14