09/10/17 Dana Rohrabacher

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The #DisownStone campaign scored a win this week, we talk with Amanda Reiman, PhD, about building a diverse, progressive cannabis industry, plus, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment to protect medical cannabis programs is blocked from consideration in the new budget so we hear from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.

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TRANSCRIPT

CENTURY OF LIES

SEPTEMBER 3, 2017

TRANSCRIPT

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.

Now for an update on a story we’ve been following for the past few weeks. Loyal listeners will recall that Roger Stone, the Republican political operative, was to be a keynote speaker at an upcoming marijuana business conference. A growing number of people and organizations have been speaking out against that as part of the #DisownStone campaign.

For folks tuning in for the first time, Roger Stone is a vile hate-mongering misogynistic homophobic racist. He claims that the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville at the rightwing extremist rally was a false flag operation by leftist counterdemonstrators presumably intent on discrediting the KKK and nazis. Stone said recently that attempts to impeach the current president would result in a civil war and threatened that members of Congress who support impeachment should fear for their lives.

Stone has recently been worming his way into the marijuana business, thus his scheduled keynote address at the Cannabis World Business Conference and Expo. Well a few weeks ago, a friend who was to appear at that conference dropped out in protest, to protest Stone’s involvement. She made her protest public, becoming as far as I can tell the first in what became a long line of people.

That person is our guest, she’s a renowned researcher and expert on cannabis policies, a good friend and friend of the program, Doctor Amanda Reiman. Amanda, how are you doing?

AMANDA REIMAN, PHD: I'm doing great, Doug, thanks for having me.

DOUG MCVAY: Oh, thank you, it is an absolute honor to have you here. Now, so, first of all, congratulations. And, would you mind now explaining to the listeners why congratulations are in order?

AMANDA REIMAN, PHD: Well, as you very eloquently stated in your introduction, when I found out that Roger Stone was slated to be the keynote speaker at the Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo in Los Angeles, I immediately knew I was going to drop out. I could not imagine lending my credibility to his stage, I could not imagine applauding him or even giving him my attention.

And I didn't believe his motives. I didn't believe that he was here because he's some big drug warrior who really cares about the issue. I believe that he's an opportunist, and like some other folks in the industry, unfortunately, has plans and designs on building a fortune on the backs of those who are most impacted by the drug war.

So, you know, I got together with some other activists, I will say mostly women, who also felt that this was an affront to the very deep history of our movement, and we started this boycott of the conference. We contacted sponsors and speakers to let them know that this was the person who was going to speak, we made his history public so that folks could understand associating ourselves with someone like this was not the way to go for our industry, and then thankfully the conference decided to do the right thing, and today they put out a press release saying that they were no longer going to have Roger Stone speak at their conference in Los Angeles, or their upcoming conference in Boston.

DOUG MCVAY: That is a terrific success, and of course, this is being recorded on Wednesday, September 6th, so, I mean, I -- Betty Aldworth is one of the folks you were working with, I interviewed her at the, at Hempfest back in mid-August about the #DisownStone campaign that you were starting. And so, it took a couple of weeks. What kind of reaction did you get from people involved in marijuana businesses to this?

AMANDA REIMAN, PHD: Well, it was really interesting, because I felt that the reaction we got, a lot of ways, was connected to how long people had been working in this industry. I found that individuals who have been around for a while, who really understood the racist nature of the drug war, who were with the cannabis movement before it was an industry, they didn't hesitate. They immediately understood why we could not hold someone up like Roger Stone with any kind of admiration or validity in our industry.

The pushback that we got more was from kind of the new wave of business people. The folks who don't really understand the history, the folks who don't know who Dennis Peron is, who don't even know who Ethan Nadelmann is, and they're just here looking at cannabis as any other business, and in their minds, Roger Stone is this enigmatic guy who's really controversial and casts a lot of attention, and he's friends with Donald Trump, so we should have him come and speak at our conference, and so a lot of the pushback I got was, why aren't we inviting people with varying political views into this discussion?

And I think that that really misses the mark, because we have no problem inviting people with differing political views into this discussion. I mean, it's very well known that Dana Rohrabacher has been a part of this movement for quite some time, and that he has political views that are quite in opposition with many of us in the movement. But it was the fact that Roger Stone is so public with his hate speech, the fact that he throws around racial slurs, and then doesn't even realize the impact that the war on drugs has had on people of color. I mean, it's almost like asking people who have been physically abused to show up and applaud a speaker who is a known abuser.

It just didn't make sense, and I think that there was a real divide between people who get the history, and people who are coming looking at this more as a business than an industry.

DOUG MCVAY: And of course it's important, I suppose, to clarify, to make sure that people understand, it wasn't just that he was invited to sit on a panel, he was actually one of the keynote speakers, that's -- that kind of, that's kind of how a conference says this is a really important person you all should pay attention to. And, well, I don't know whether he was being paid or not, I would imagine he was, but that's -- yeah.

Now, what kind of response did you get from people still in drug policy reform and the marijuana legalization movement?

AMANDA REIMAN, PHD: Well, they really understood. I mean, you know, the Drug Policy Alliance is one of the first organizations involved with the conference to step back, and I think that, you know, again, folks who have been involved with this for a while, anybody that understands the history of marijuana prohibition in this country, understands the importance of not inviting known racists and misogynists to be held up as keynote speakers at our industry conferences.

I mean, I've shared the stage with Kevin Sabet, I've shared the stage with people from NIDA, and I've had very civil conversations with these individuals. They never have crossed the line that Roger Stone has crossed. And the disrespect that he has shown for people that have been most impacted by cannabis prohibition is the exact reason why we have to draw that line, and the drug reformers understand that.

DOUG MCVAY: Right on. Right on. I, for what it's worth, I've been on a panel with Dana Rohrabacher, I did manage to check his website, and after Charlottesville, he issued a statement condemning the KKK, condemning the nazis. It was during that very brief time when our president had also said something almost intelligent, but then he backtracked, but during that brief time, Dana made his statement, and, yeah. Unlike Roger Stone, he's not trying to claim that it was a false flag operation, he's not buying into that kind of madness. It's, I mean, you're right, there are lines that you cross, and, an apology, sorry's not quite enough. Not enough.

AMANDA REIMAN, PHD: Well, and it's not just that, though. Rohrabacher's actually doing things, like, he's actually in Congress, introducing bills, telling people to vote to protect medical cannabis, like, he's actually taking action. Stone has made these offhanded comments about how he spoke at some speech against the Rockefeller drug laws once, in 1998, but let me tell you, Doug, you and I have been in the drug policy world for a few decades now. How many conferences has Roger Stone shown up at to talk about the evils of the war on drugs? I would say zero.

So, you know, we've got folks who we may not agree with but on this issue we come together, and they actually do the work to make the change, and then we have people that just blow hot air.

DOUG MCVAY: And, let's face it, his involvement with Nixon and then Reagan speaks volumes to what his real positions are. Now, moving forward, what impact do you think this is going to have on businesses? I’ve spoken a lot over the years about the split between the marijuana industry and the marijuana movement. Do you think that by bringing political concerns over justice and equality into such sharp focus, does the #DisownStone campaign show us a way to heal that split? Do you think it should it heal?

AMANDA REIMAN, PHD: Well, I think it's a starting point. It's a starting point. I think it's a wake-up call. I mean, I think for a lot of folks, especially the drug reformers who are now moving into the cannabis space, you know, there was kind of an acknowledgement that, yeah, there's too many, you know, white people running businesses, and there's not enough women, and there's not enough people of color, and it's really hard for people of color to get a footing in the industry.

And there's always been this recognition, but there hasn't been a whole lot of action, besides the people of color themselves, right, like the Minority Cannabis Business Association, but it's not just up to them, and in fact, it's really up to us white people to make the change, and to really get this going. So I'm hoping that this was a wake-up call for those of us who care about drug policy reform to say, wait a minute here. We've really got to keep our eye on this, or else we're going to lose everything we fought for in terms of making the cannabis industry reflective of the cannabis movement.

DOUG MCVAY: Amen. Amen. I could not have said it better, that is -- yeah. What you said. What absolutely -- So, just once again, congratulations, this is a tremendous -- it's a win, and it's, you know, this is great. Any closing thoughts for the listeners? And, where are you at these days? I lost track. You're at Flow Kana now, vice president of something or other, or do I have the title wrong? And --

AMANDA REIMAN, PHD: That's correct.

DOUG MCVAY: Okeh. Vice President of Communications, I think?

AMANDA REIMAN, PHD: No, Community Relations.

DOUG MCVAY: Community Relations.

AMANDA REIMAN, PHD: So, I'm kind of getting back to my social work roots, and doing community work out here in Mendocino. So, yes, I've moved up to Mendocino County from Oakland. I'm working with Flow Kana, and we're working to develop this 80 acre campus up here in Redwood Valley that's going to be centralized processing, testing, and manufacturing for the small sungrown farmers in Mendocino and Humboldt Counties, and is also going to serve as an education center, so that we can educate the public on cannabis, organic farming, and really take advantage of the beautiful location that we are in to attract the public and to help educate them so that they can take these lessons back and help spread the word.

DOUG MCVAY: Very cool. And, their website is FlowKana.com, if people want to find out more about that. So, yeah, any closing thoughts for the listeners?

AMANDA REIMAN, PHD: Well, I'm very happy to say I will be speaking at the conference in LA, now that that issue is taken care of. So I'm very excited because I'm going to be on a panel on cannabis and opiates, talking about harm reduction, with Mark Welty, who is a researcher from Ohio who I recently completed a study with looking at cannabis substitution among medical cannabis patients, as well as Joe Shrank, who is the head of High Sobriety, that's the treatment center in LA that uses cannabis as a medication assisted treatment.

So, I'm really glad that Roger Stone didn't get in the way of getting this really important information out to people, because cannabis and opiate substitution I think is something we're going to be hearing more and more about, and that's what we should be focusing on.

DOUG MCVAY: Terrific. Well, once again, folks, we've been speaking with Amanda Reiman, PhD, MSW, a lecturer at Berkeley, a brilliant researcher, and expert on cannabis policies at the international, national, and local levels. Yeah, and, all that and a good friend. Amanda, thank you so much.

AMANDA REIMAN, PHD: Oh, it's my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

DOUG MCVAY: Cheers.

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

We mentioned Dana Rohrabacher a few minutes ago. On September 5th, Dana spoke in Congress about the various medical marijuana initiatives, including the one that has his name on it, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, which would prevent the Department of Justice from spending funds to go after state legal medical marijuana programs.

Unfortunately, just a couple of days later, the Rules Committee of the House blocked that amendment from being included in the new funding bill. Several other amendments dealing with marijuana were also blocked. That means unfortunately there's going to be more of a struggle to try and get those amendments into the final bill.

The Rules Committee is blocking it on the House side. The Senate has already looked at, and looked favorably, at a medical marijuana amendment. The problem is that the bills which each side has to pass will eventually have to be reconciled, and when they get to that reconciliation stage, anything goes. The budget process is ugly, and there are no guarantees.

As it is, there is likely to be an extension of the current budget for another few months. The end of the federal fiscal year comes on September 30th, so by the close of business on September 30th, Congress and the president either agree a new budget, or they agree on an extension of the previous budget, leaving most of the laws that had -- and amendments, which were enacted before, in place.

It's not a guarantee. This extension could in fact exclude certain amendments, including the medical marijuana ones, but so far, it's possible that they're going to be included in the extension. Again though, that's just an extension of the past budget bill. The new budget does need to be approved eventually. When it is, whether or not that amendment makes it in, is going to make all the difference.

Various courts have held that the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment does in fact prevent Department of Justice from going after state legal businesses. Unfortunately, if that amendment is not included in the next budget bill, then the gloves are off. As I said, Rohrabacher spoke on the Fifth. Let's have a little bit of Dana's speech. The following audio comes to us courtesy of C-SPAN.

REPRESENTATIVE DANA ROHRABACHER (R-CA): For us to turn our back on these seniors, to say that these people who have young children who had seizures and they couldn't stop them and to turn our back on those people, to turn our back on our veterans, that's what this vote is all about.

This isn't about, oh, well, somebody can just go smoke marijuana. And, by the way, if someone, an adult is smoking marijuana in their backyard, yes, I don't think that we should waste police resources and billions of dollars of law enforcement money to try to stop an adult from using marijuana in his backyard.

But that's not the issue. The issue is whether States that have legalized the medical use of it should be superseded by us here, by the vote that we are going to have here in the next few days.

Let me tell you something of how, I didn't know how the public would respond to the fact that I am one of the leaders in this whole effort to legalize the medical use of cannabis.

And, you know, I was Ronald Reagan's speechwriter, and I've been a Republican all my life. I get the top score on conservative groups that are, you know, giving you a score of how you voted and everything. I have received very high marks in all of those groups, and I have been a conservative voter. I have a conservative, libertarian background. I was Ronald Reagan's speechwriter for 7 and a half years in the White House.

Well, I didn't know. I got elected in 1988, the last year of Reagan's term in the White House, and I sort of slipped into this issue because it is a principled issue to me. The principle is freedom, liberty, justice, and if you are not hurting somebody else; but especially we should let people who are suffering, at the very least give them some leeway when it comes to medical uses.

Well, I knew that I was getting a lot of publicity on this, and a fellow came into my office to talk to me about a totally different issue, about an aerospace issue. And, I am one of the senior members of the Science Committee, and I said, now, this guy represents, to me, my typical voter, my conservative voter in California.

The conservative voter was a guy who has been a commander or a captain in the U.S. Navy, a pilot. He was now in aerospace, and I am sure he always voted Republican. And so I asked him, I said: Look, what do you think about the fact that the guy you have been voting for all this time is now the leader in the fight to legalize medical marijuana for the people of this State and this country?

He looked at me, and he said, Dana, you really don't know me very well.

I said, well, I know you are a former pilot in the Navy and you are now in aerospace and you are a conservative vote.

And he says, yeah, but you don't know that I have three sons -- three sons -- and the day after 9/11, they all marched off and joined the military. And then what you don't know also is, a few years later, two of them came back, but the third one who came back wasn't my son anymore. The third one that came back was on the floor in seizures because he had been in some kind of an explosion that had rattled his brain, and he was on the floor over these seizures and they wouldn't stop. How would you feel about your child on the floor having seizures that you cannot stop?

And now when I tell these people, we don't care about that; you are not going to get to try medical marijuana -- well, this guy said he tried everything. He took him to the VA, and it didn't help. After about a year, this guy said one of the guys at the VA hospital pulled him aside and said, hey, you want to help your son? See me off campus.

They saw him in his office off the VA hospital, and the guy said, look, your son needs marijuana. Here is the prescription. Here is how to use it. Go do it.

And do you know what the guy said to me there in my office? He said, my son hasn't had a seizure since that day. Do you wonder what I want to do about you being the point man on legalizing medical marijuana? I want to go over and give you a big hug is what he said.

Now, I hope that my colleagues take this seriously because there are children on the floor having these seizures. There are veterans waiting there in seizures. There are old folks who are having arthritis and they can't move their hands, or they're out there, they've lost their appetites in these senior citizen homes.

Yes, there is nothing wrong with us using cannabis to help alleviate their pain. And they've been doing that for three years, and now the Rules Committee may not even permit us to have a vote on it, and they will take it out of this bill. We will be taking this away, without even having our people have to vote on it or not.

Well, I say if you disagree with me, that's fine. If you don't think the drug cartels will be enriched, fine. Come up and make your arguments.

When I lost this vote on a number of occasions, before we won three or four years ago, I lived with it. I said fine; I lost the vote. I respect those people's opinion, and they beat me. Well, I expect that's what a democracy is supposed to be all about. That's what it's supposed to be all about.

Let people be held accountable for this. Don't take it out of the bill. If they take it out of the Justice appropriations bill, I am asking my colleagues to stand up and vote against a rule that is shielding us from accountability, shielding us from taking, from having to have, you know, to have basically, responsibility for handing billions of dollars over to the drug cartels.

And now the argument, of course, is, oh, there's an opiate -- you know, some kind of, what do they call it, an epidemic. An epidemic that is crossing America is opiates. Well, yes, there is.

When young people, or old people, are given opiates by their doctors, that's what happens. They get addicted to the opiates. If their doctors have no alternative, like cannabis, to provide their patients with something that might help them with their challenge, well, then you're going to get opiates, and that is what has happened. Our doctors have been passing out opiates as if they are candy.

It's the legalization of medical marijuana that makes it more likely that we will defeat the opiate epidemic and get our people back to a point where they can actually control their own lives. No one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana.

Now, I can tell you this. I understand that people really want to help young people, and others, not to get addicted to drugs. And I will say, as I say, no one has ever been overdosed on cannabis. But yes, there are some serious concerns of why you don't want young people in particular using cannabis.

But to make it illegal, to put people in jail for using this, for making -- for basically leaving the distribution of marijuana in the hands of criminals, is far worse in what happens than any of the things that happen if young people – or, well, if anybody -- starts smoking a joint.

And let me just say, I think young people, we need to talk to them seriously. And when we tell them we don't even think marijuana should be used for medical purposes, they tune out. But if we say, we know there are some legitimate uses for this, but when you're 20 years old, it's going to hurt your mind development, do not use marijuana until at least you are over 20 years old, and we are only making it legal now in this bill, or if you have some medical problems.

Well, the fact is that young people can understand that. And that's one of the reasons why we've got to have research into cannabis, other than just leaving these opiates as the easy answer for doctors. In fact, one of the greatest sins, I believe, committed against the American people in the last 100 years has been really a lack of research into cannabis as a potential healthcare device or, shall I say, entity so that we have, instead of doing research into cannabis for the last 100 years, research has been suppressed.

Now, there could be some really wonderful things, and we are learning about them now. A few years ago, for example, Israel -- Israel had to lead the way on this and introduce a major research effort into cannabis, and their results have been spectacular.

Why does that happen in Israel and not here? Don't we care about whether those things that they discovered there that affects their people will help our people as well? No, no. We couldn't do that because we have people who are still living in the 1960s when to them cannabis -- marijuana -- means everybody growing their hair long, smoking dope in the park, and fornicating in the park, and just, you know, failing in life, becoming hippies, and all of that.

The bottom line is, that image is destroying the well-being of millions of Americans today. We've got to get over that image because that is not what medical cannabis is all about.

And as I say, young people under 20 years of age, I've got no problem outlawing it for them and having some kind of severe penalty for people selling that to them. We need to protect them because it does impact negatively on kids who are under 20 years of age, or in that age group.

But let me also note: those kids shouldn't be drinking as well. The same studies that show that marijuana will really hurt the development of their brains and affect their electrical system also says that when they over-drink at an early age it has that same type of impact.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Dana Rohrabacher speaking on the floor of the US House of Representatives on September 5th. Audio courtesy of C-Span. He was speaking first of all to defend his president, and secondly to push the idea of his medical marijuana amendment. Unfortunately, those efforts failed, and the medical marijuana amendment was excluded by the House Rules Committee from the budget bill. The hope now is that the amendment will be included in the Senate side, and make it through the final Senate version, and then that the House and Senate conferees, who try to come up with the compromise, would include that Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment on medical marijuana as part of the budget.

NGAIO BEALUM: How about this one? So, marijuana's legal in Nevada now, right? And I heard a story about this guy who won a lot of money, won like a hundred thousand dollars, and this stoner came up to him and said, hey man, I know you won a hundred thousand dollars. I normally wouldn't ask this, but my girlfriend's very sick, I need ten thousand dollars so she can have an operation. And the gambler says, well how do I know if I give you this ten thousand dollars, you're not just going to buy some marijuana? And the stoner goes, man, I have weed money.

DOUG MCVAY: That was a little bit of humor from Ngaio Bealum, live at Seattle Hempfest. Ngaio performs all over the place, he's at a lot of these conferences, he's at a lot of festivals, he's at a lot of comedy clubs. He's jobbing comedian, he's one of the funniest people I know. If you get a chance to see Ngaio, do it. You'll be glad you did.

And well, that's it for this week. Thank you for joining us. You've 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. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org. 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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