06/25/17 Mickey Martin

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In memory of drug policy reformer and marijuana activist Mickey Martin we present an interview from 2013, plus June 26th is the Global Day of Action for Drug Policy Reform so we speak with Fergal Eccles of Students for Sensible Drug Policy Ireland about harm reduction and reform activism #SupportDontPunish #HelpNotHarm

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JUNE 25, 2017


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

DOUG MCVAY: Hello, and welcome to Century Of Lies. Century Of Lies is a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

Well folks, marijuana policy and the drug policy reform movement lost a hero recently. Mickey Martin, an activist, consultant, and friend, living down in the bay area in California, sadly passed away, unexpectedly, tragically. He left a family, a wife and children, he left a huge, huge extended family of activists and friends. Here's his interview I did with Mickey in 2013, when I ran into him at Seattle Hempfest.

Rolling, so, let's go live. And then we can just talk. Actually, yeah, the medical industry, your perspective, especially -- you've actually been part of California's medical industry, the medical marijuana industry, from the very early days.

MICKEY MARTIN: From the early days, when there was just a few dispensaries, and, you know, it's amazing to see how far the situation's actually come and evolved, and, you know, there's still a lot a lot of work to do in California, just because of the massive size of the state, but, there's been amazing work done, and it started there, and has evolved, and it's spilled over into other states.

And, you know, we're seeing states like Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, and Maine, and other places, you know, actually implementing dispensary policies where -- you know, dispensary's a term that, you know, was brought about, you know, by our community, just like the term edibles or other things like that, so I mean, a lot of things that are now mainstream lingo, even the term medical marijuana, you know what I mean, was something that a lot of people 20 years ago didn't, you know, wasn't in their lexicon, and now it's, you know, an everyday, modern, you know, part of everyday life.

So, it's -- you know, it's been heartening to see, you know, to see people come around and to see, you know, some of the research that's getting done now, and to see people who are actually having success with, you know, cancer and, you know, not even just treating it but actually curing, you know, parts of cancer, depending, you know, skin cancers and stuff like that, that have been -- it's been, it's been a very amazing, you know, journey, you know.

And then, yeah, we were, we developed an edibles company early, in the early 2000s, that, you know, was one of the first people to put forth packaging and labeling that, you know, included prominent warnings and, you know, directions for use, and other things like that. And, you know, brought about professionalism to the industry that is now standard, and, you know, demanded.

DOUG MCVAY: I feel bad because I forgot, normally I have people identify themselves at the beginning of these, so, say your name.


DOUG MCVAY: Who are you?

MICKEY MARTIN: I'm Mickey Martin, I'm the author of Medical Marijuana 101. I used to run a company called Tainted Medicinal Edibles. We were raided in 2007 by the federal government. I currently do consulting, working with people, developing businesses in the industry, including dispensaries, grow projects, edibles manufacturers, infused products, stuff like that, so.

DOUG MCVAY: And you're outside of -- you're not just in Cali, right, I mean, were you, you were just doing some work in Massachusetts, their new medical law is being implemented now.

MICKEY MARTIN: I am, I'm currently working on a dispensary project up there as well as a school project, to bring, you know, education, and what we've learned here in the west back east, where, you know, people are just getting into this industry, and there's a lot of -- you know, misinformation and stuff, that people need to, you know, learn to be qualified to provide well for patients, and to know what they're talking about, so we're working on that project and hoping to open the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis in, hopefully, fall, you know, and we're developing the coursework now for basic courses, for employment training, for service, for production, for people who want to get into the science aspects of it, and lab testing, for people who want to get into the cultivation aspects, for people who want to produce, you know, different types of medicine.

So it's an exciting time to be in cannabis, and Massachusetts, that vote passed by 63 percent, so, it's an interesting place to be developing business, because there's a lot more -- it's easier for local politicians and politicians who may be under fire to look at a vote of 63 percent, that Massachusetts had, and, you know, in some towns it's 65, 67 percent, and it's hard for them to, you know, try to zone something out or things like that.

There have been a lot of people who've tried to put moratoriums in, they've gotten voted down because -- because two thirds of your town voted for it, and it's -- so it's been, it's been nice to see. It's been more welcoming than, I guess, you know, some of the kneejerk reactions that you see in other areas, because the people did speak up there, and I think, you know, if there were initiative processes in all states, you know, I think medical marijuana would probably be, you know, a lot more prominent, and, you know, in everywhere, because people are, you know, overwhelmingly supportive, you know, I mean, what kind of jerk wouldn't let a sick person, you know, use cannabis, and what kind of person wants them to have to get that from the black market?

And then, you know, you're at an event like Hempfest, where, you know, you're seeing the legalization just coming to be here in Washington. You've got police officers handing out Doritos, you've got, you know, people who are a lot more open in their use, I guess you could say, a lot more comfortable in who they are as a marijuana user, and it's heartening, you know, to have worked on projects this long, and to see them, you know, see the fruits of your labor come to be something.

I mean, Hempfest has grown and grown, but I think, you know, it's symbolic of the bigger picture, which is what our society's doing, and, you know, there's a conversation happening in our world that I think is very important that people need to, you know, wake up and recognize that nobody wants to see us taking our neighbors to jail for cannabis anymore. I mean, nobody wants to see people getting their cars searched, and losing their kids, and losing their jobs, and their standing in the community, over simple cannabis use, when, you know, any person in their right mind knows that there are much more dangerous substances available legally, or through a prescription, and I think the jig is up.

You know, I think the drug warriors, and the prohibitionists, you know, have lost, and you see them, you know, backpedaling, and, you know, trying to cut the mustard still and figure out where they, you know, can still fit into the scheme of things when cannabis is legal, because I think now it's not an if, but when.

And I think when's coming, and I think when's coming fast, because -- because people are there. You know? People like to have, you know, freedom.

DOUG MCVAY: This thing just ran out.


DOUG MCVAY: Yeah. Oh, but, before we close, where can people follow you, blog -- follow your blog?

MICKEY MARTIN: Sure. I'm at www.WeedActivist.com. My business website is tcompconsulting.com, that's tcompconsulting.com. And, yeah. Facebook, Twitter, all that fun stuff. Trying to figure out Instagram.

DOUG MCVAY: Good luck with that one.

MICKEY MARTIN: Good luck, ah, got to talk in pictures. All right, Doug, thank you very much.

DOUG MCVAY: Thank you, Mickey.

That again was Mickey Martin. WeedActivist.com, you can also find his work, well, a lot of places. Mickey Martin was a good friend. He was an activist, a reformer, a consultant, and a major figure in the marijuana movement. And he is missed. My deepest condolences to his family, and to everyone who knew him.

You're listening to Century of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

Next up, I have an interview with Fergal Eccles. Fergal is with SSDP Ireland, and also part of a group called Help Not Harm. We spoke recently about things going on in Ireland, and also the Support Don't Punish Global Day of Action for Drug Policy Reform, which is coming up June 26. June 26, once again, is the Global Day of Action on Drug Policy Reform, Support Don't Punish.

I'm on the line with Fergal Eccles, he works with Help Not Harm and Students for Sensible Drug Policy Ireland. Fergal, how are you doing?

FERGAL ECCLES: Not too bad, not too bad at all.

DOUG MCVAY: So, SSDP Ireland, tell me about -- tell me about the group, tell me about the chapter, and how long have you been -- how long have you been working on drug policy?

FERGAL ECCLES: So, we're -- in Ireland now we've got about six chapters, so we pretty much have all our major universities covered. We consistently score in the top ten colleges, I think we have three of our chapters in the top ten SSDP chapters worldwide. So we really pack a punch with very little budget, you know?

We've been operating for I think about five or six years now. I've only really been involved for maybe about the last year and a few months, so, I was always a supporter but I never motivated to join, and, you know, it all kind of suddenly changed, and it's been a bit of an adventure, you know. I think you can meet some interesting people, and it really opened up a lot of opportunities, so, it kind of just become this passion over the last year.

DOUG MCVAY: So, yeah, we were talking earlier. Would you mind telling the listeners, how did you get involved?

FERGAL ECCLES: Yeah, yeah, so, I guess I've never really talked about this publicly much before, but, yeah, I got arrested on two possession charges about a year and a few months ago now. And it was like a pretty uneven situation, you know, like, it really stirs things up, they had my parents' house raided, and that didn't go down so well.

But you know, like I wasn't really caught up in too much, like, really dodgy activity and all that like. I've always been a hard worker, you know, and at this point I had like, you know, like I was a software developer and I'd made several apps, and I was even in college, so my, you know, I think my parents weren't entirely sure what to make of it, but like most of my friends say I'm kind of the opposite from what most people would do. It can really break people down, like.

I didn't realize how much of a stress it is on your mental health until I got through my court case okeh. Just recently, just within a month ago now. And the weight that that lifts off my shoulders is incredible. I mean, I'm good with handling those kind of -- but it can really destroy people, but, like, I went to the Students for Sensible Drug Policy for, for advice. I went to a hemp event, and afterwards got talking to one of the leaders who helped found it a few -- several years ago, he's a post-graduate now.

A website to map -- a website and app to map drug litter. He's actually released it recently, it's called Open Litter Map. And like the idea is that you can use citizen science to map drug litter globally. So, I was helping him on this project, and I got kind of caught up in the Students for Sensible Drug Policy office, and the people there were just incredibly bright, inspiring individuals, and I got caught up. I did Festival Welfare, I even, back in college, we, you know, we pushed the medical cannabis bill, and I got really hands on with that, so, you learn a lot very quickly with the community, and it's -- and you learn a lot about yourself as well.

So, like, I'm really glad it happened, it powered me through, through being arrested and like the shock of that. And it, you know, I think it allowed me to kind of escape, like, the hole people can find themselves trapped in, you know, where they -- you know they suddenly have their, you know, their friends and everything ripped away from them, and, you know, they can't have any opportunity, like, I was given a lot of opportunities.

You know, which helped, in the long run, with, you know, with the case, and with -- yeah, and my own, you know, my own mental health, and my own, you know, kind of success in that regard. So, yeah, really happy I got involved.

DOUG MCVAY: Well, and it's good that you, when you got -- it's good that you got motivated like that, after -- after that experience. It's -- and congratulations, congratulations on coming through the other end of it.

FERGAL ECCLES: Yeah, absolutely, and I think as well, like, a lot of it, people come to us, like, other people come in the same situation that I was in, and it's like nice to be able to -- you know, it's quite a scary situation, and I think that's one, like, one of the things that we kind of focus on, and SSDP is providing that safe space for people there. You know, it's, you know, how -- it's harm reduction in a sense, sort of like stopping the harm that comes from law enforcement.

A lot of people get stuck in dodgy situations when they leave home for the first time, and, and in college, you know. Here in Ireland, we have a lot of that of that culture anyway, a lot of people move from the countryside and they don't really know how to handle themselves.

DOUG MCVAY: I'm from a small town in Iowa. I, I -- I'll just leave that there. So, now, it's -- harm reduction. This is -- I want to talk about some of the stuff that SSDP Ireland, and that's -- again, it's not like it's a chapter at, at -- ooh, this is Ireland College. This is SSDP Ireland, and then you have six campus chapters, which is brilliant.

You folks have done -- SSDP Ireland has done some great work along with members of your Oireachtas, of your national legislature, and the -- we were talking before, there's a couple of things. The medical marijuana, I -- okeh, I don't know as much as I pretended to, so, tell me about the medical marijuana bill that y'all got through.

FERGAL ECCLES: Yeah, so, it was co-written by Help Not Harm, which is an NGO here in Ireland, and also the People Before Profit political party. You know, basically, you know, Easter last year, it was kind of written and introduced, and then we had a kind of a, a very iconic, a very, like, she became very famous, woman named Vera Twomey, who was being denied the right to medical cannabis, so, her daughter had Dravet Syndrome, you know, a treatment resistant form of epilepsy, and her campaign, it just became huge. Everyone was talking about it, you know, every day.

And, you know, the media was really on board, and it was kind of a stop start thing, and it culminated with Vera Twomey deciding that she'd walk from -- to Dublin, our capitol city, to the Dáil Éireann, which is our government parliament. And then, that walk really, it really won it over, and they decided to fast track the medical cannabis bill, so on December Eleventh, last year -- well, it was announced that it would be voted on in its first session on December Eleventh, so it went from us having, you know, six months to prepare, to, you know, like seven days or something, I think.

And, like, the community rallied, and it really inspired a lot of -- like, a huge variety of people in Ireland. The bill passed, and but then it started getting delayed, and delayed more, and, you know, our medical minister, Simon Harris, requested a report from the Health Authority that didn't seem to have researched, you know, examples, like set examples of medical cannabis programs.

So, since then, like, one patient has been permitted medical cannabis and received it. Vera Twomey still hasn't received any medical cannabis, she's actually just left, to go to Holland for treatments, so, the bill doesn't seem to have gone anywhere, you know. It had a very good energy, and it's almost been hijacked, and kind of torn apart and that, so. But, there's mixed news about it, like, it seems to be going, you know, pharmaceutical -- down the pharmaceutical avenue, and quite a restrictive avenue. So, I'm not entirely hopeful about it, for the, for like, the near future, but we might see something in the next two years.

DOUG MCVAY: These are the kinds of -- it's -- we were talking before, about the, you know, it's the limits of reform. They offer you this much and see if you're happy, and if you're not, then well okeh, we'll give you this, this -- you know, we'll make this concession. And, you know, it's -- and when they make, when they make a concession and it's so insulting that it, you know, they may as well have just stayed silent.

It's just -- yeah, in fact I just opened up the IrishExaminer.com, and, we're recording this on Tuesday June 20th. Vera Twomey and her seven year old daughter Ava, and the reason they've arrived in Ireland is because -- in Holland is because "the government, the HSE, the neurologists, have demanded that we would go to another country to provide evidence that this treatment would work for our daughter." That is outrageous.

FERGAL ECCLES: Basically. And, it's -- I think so, and to the point here as well. Ireland is, like, very, you know, famously a tax haven. You know, like, the big tech companies are here. They pay very little in tax, but at the same time, you know, we've also got a huge amount of pharmaceutical industry here. I think it's largely due to, like, we're a European country that speaks English, and, you know, like, even, like, without Brexit there, UK have the pound, so like Ireland had this kind of unique advantage. English speaking and a Euro country.

So, you know, we're kind of, you know, in the grasp of a lot of American pharmaceutical companies, and, like, I think it feels unlikely to get something like medical cannabis through here, you know, there will always be a lot of push back, you know, when it comes to lobbying in our government, because of this.

DOUG MCVAY: You just have to keep pushing back even harder, that's -- the, you did have one pass in, was it February? The -- for, which is a supervised injection site. You've had, Ireland has had needle exchange for some time. Right? But this is, but this is, but -- I mean, have you -- talk to me about harm reduction in Ireland.

FERGAL ECCLES: As it goes, I think, you know, there's a good buzz going, like, around the country's services, I mean, like, the services, like, you've got amazing, amazing health services, public health services, like Ana Liffey, and CityWide. You know, doing great harm reduction work, you know, operating heroin clinics and doing homeless services. And, I think of it kind of like harm reduction was a kind of a taboo here as well, like, the concept of it.

In total, the last few years, well, it's really culminated with a drug policy conference that happened here in Dublin, I think two or three weeks ago. It was, you know, well near like, at the conference, everyone was talking about decriminalization. Everyone was talking about harm reduction. And it felt friendly and, like, in that you were really involved, you know, and I think that's been quite interesting.

Like, the push for the injection centers has been -- has been our, you know, NGOs, health NGOs, and health organizations, doctors' associations, they've been passing motions and really pushing legislatively, which is, I think it's really cool to see. But like, the bill, like, supervised injection center bill? It just -- it passed, you know, it really just went through, there was a small bit of public, you know, opposition, you know, people were afraid that, you know, it would bring an attraction of people who use drugs to the city center, particularly the homeless society.

But, like, I don't know if you've ever been to Dublin, but, like, use of drugs is not hidden here, you know, it's very public, so, I think people know that it's time for some sort of change. We have one of the worst homeless crises in Europe at the moment. So the, we really are in a strange place with these. It was very well underfunded, services here. So, hopefully proactive measures again will start making changes, and it will kind of come out of a lack of funding, yeah, is what it's really pushed it. Like, where they don't have the funding to make, you know, a real dent anymore. So, they have to find, you know, some other solution. Necessity is kind of the mother of invention in this case, I think.

I think the penny has dropped in Ireland, with kind of, you know, the organizations that kind of couldn't speak up because they'd lose their funding, like, that, you know, the penny's dropped now and they can speak their mind, you know, in the same way like Canada and Toronto, you know, it really pushing on -- by single characters, you know, and then you see some good results, and it pays off.

That's why I'm hoping the next phase for Ireland is that you get some good results out of our new supervised injection centers, you know, you show change, and like, hopefully with that, with the litter mapping project, produced by a member of SSDP, you know, Open Litter Map, hopefully we'll be able to actually show a decline in discarded needles in public, once the injection centers are open. That would be the real, you know, pillar when it comes to passing public opinion and like passing the test in public, and when you see a reduction in, you know, in the visual aspect of the more harmful drug use, I think it will be a real big thing for public opinion in Ireland.
DOUG MCVAY: Thank you, because you reminded me of the thing I wanted to ask you about, you mentioned at the very beginning and you just mentioned it again, but a litter mapping project, which, I kind of -- I started to guess what you meant, and, but you're talking about drug litter, you're talking about discarded syringes and such. So, talk -- tell me about this project, what is this?

FERGAL ECCLES: I get you the address now, let me just look it up to make sure that I get it absolutely right, but it's called Open Litter Map. It was founded by a guy named Sean Lynch, who lives here in Ireland. And -- OpenLitterMap.com -- and what he's trying to do, he's an environmentalist. He's looking at all kinds of litter, but he also focuses on drug litter as well. So, you take a photo with your phone, with your location services turned on, you upload those photos to his site, and he'll mark it on a map. So it has very, very fine resolution.

I think the Irish government were recording cases of discarded needles on paper, and, you know, this -- there are something like four million Euro paid out in damages to, you know, city council workers who had been injured by needles, discarded needles on the ground. So, this app allows you to report it, too, you know, and he's got your data across, when there doesn't seem to be a sort of relative authority to kind of deal with the problem, you know, when used needles start turning up in people's back gardens.

I mean, when we were searching for them to get the first data for the map, we found needles in school grounds, you know, like on school grounds, around bus stops, bus stations, we had reports of children picking up needles from bus stations, you know. So, like, I think it's a really cool project, and it works globally so anyone can use it, no matter what city you're in. I really suggest checking it out. If you want to get a point across, you know, it has categories so that you can, you know, describe, you know, the syringes and other sorts of paraphernalia, you know, smoking litter, and all kinds of other, so it's a super cool project. I believe it's like an open source project, pulled an amazing project together, so I really recommend checking it out, and getting an account.

You can even get a global map going, and, I think it really gives a visual aspect of drug policy. So far, he's reached Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Spain, India, Ireland, so, Italy. So, I think it could be a very powerful tool, if you want to get involved.

DOUG MCVAY: So, getting up close to the end of the show. Again we're speaking to Fergal Eccles from SSDP Ireland and Help Not Harm. Tell me how to -- I mean, SSDP.org/ireland is one way to find SSDP Ireland, but do you have Facebook and some other stuff? How do people find the work you're doing?

FERGAL ECCLES: Yeah, so you can find SSDP Ireland -- yeah, it's the full name, sorry, Students for Sensible Drug Policy Ireland, you can find that on Facebook. Our handle on Twitter is @SSDPIreland, and you can find Help Not Harm on Twitter and Facebook. There's a Help Not Harm website, HelpNotHarm.org. And there's a Students for Sensible Drug Policy website on the way for Ireland, it's not here quite yet, but, we're kind of growing now so things are moving. If you, or if anyone listening is based in Ireland, or in Dublin, we're going to have like a Support Don't Punish event next Monday, on the 26th, and you can find out about that on our Facebook pages.

DOUG MCVAY: Cool. Ah, that's right, June 26th is the annual day of action. Yeah, so tell me about -- what do you folks have planned? Tell me what you have planned.

FERGAL ECCLES: Yeah, so like we were a little bit like kind of unorganized this year, but we've got kind of like a flyering day of action. We're hoping to get out in more than one city. Then later on that day we're hoping to have Senator Lynn Ruane, I think she's just confirmed with us, at a location in Dublin City Center, it's a pub called Bagots Hutton. Fantastic venue, and we're hoping to have a kind of a display there, and include drug services from Dublin in Ireland, which is CityWide, and Ana Liffey were going to send someone but it was clashing.

But we've got a nice kind of line up to kind of inform the public on what drug policy means to the organizations that are like really on the front lines, you know, people like Senator Lynn Ruane. We've reached out to Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, but we're waiting to hear back from him as of now, so, but I'm hoping it's going to be a good event, and kind of bring some attention to the bills, you know, because there just hasn't been enough focus, and kind of media buzz around them, so I think hopefully kind of stir some of that would be good.

DOUG MCVAY: That was an interview with Fergal Eccles, he's with SSDP Ireland and Help Not Harm. Lives in Ireland, and it was a pleasure talking with Fergal. We of course also were talking about the Support Don't Punish Day of Action which is June 26th. Hopefully folks, try and get to one of those events, if you can't then be sure to be on social media, #SupportDontPunish.

And well, that's it for this week. Thank you for joining us. You have been listening to Century of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. The executive producer of the Drug Truth Network is Dean Becker. Drug Truth Network programs are also available via podcast, the URLs to subscribe are on the network home page at DrugTruth.net.

The Drug Truth Network is on Facebook, please give its page a like. Drug War Facts is on Facebook too, give its page a like and share it with friends. Remember: Knowledge is power. Follow me on Twitter, I'm @DougMcVay and of course also @DrugPolicyFacts.

We'll be back next week with thirty more minutes of news and information about the drug war and this century of lies. For now, for the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay saying so long. So long!

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition: the century of lies. Drug Truth Network programs archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

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