10/06/17 Swami Chaitanya

California Cannabis Conference: Nicole Webber of Nug Digital, Dana Cisnero Cannabis Atty, Johnathan Heiniemi of ShieldNSeal, Martin Kaufman of Grasshopper Vending, Jigness Padhiyar of Matchmaker420, John Huusfeldt of Sunbelt Realty, Fadi Yushruti of RootScience, Swami Chaitanya +++ In the second half Doug McVay focuses on human rights and the drug war. We hear from Zaved Mahmoud with the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and from Christine Brautigam with UN Women, plus John Fisher addresses the UN Human Rights Council about human rights abuses in the Philippines.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Friday, October 6, 2017
Swami Chaitanya



OCTOBER 6, 2017


DEAN BECKER: I am Dean Becker, your host. Our goal for this program is to expose the fraud, misdirection, and the liars whose support for drug war empowers our terrorist enemies, enriches barbarous cartels, and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent US gangs who profit by selling contaminated drugs to our children. This is Cultural Baggage.

Hi folks, this is Dean Becker. Thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. This week, we've got another two-parter, if you will. First half, me and my interviews in Anaheim at the California Cannabis Business Convention, and the second half is going to feature Doug McVay, who produces Century of Lies, and he's going to focus this week on the national and international implications of this drug war.

We begin by focusing on the millions of new jobs that will be created in this cannabis industry. Example one.

NICOLE WEBBER: Hello, I'm Nicole Webber, the owner of Nug Digital Marketing. So, we have been doing marketing for the past 16 years, and that's anything from branding to websites to SEO, social media, digital marketing, and over the last year, we've had a few people in the cannabis industry want to, or talk to us about how to market this industry, because there are definitely some regulations around how to do advertising, and so we have created a private network, advertising network, that allows people to advertise. We have 250,000 apps that will allow cannabis advertising.

And, so, we do that in conjunction with what's called geofencing, so, like, for example, with a dispensary, we can create an invisible fence, like a mile radius around their dispensary, and then when somebody crosses into that area with their cel phone, we can serve up ads.

DEAN BECKER: That's interesting. You know, the -- there are so many new rules, regulations, situations, requirements, that are being put forward by government and or need that this will certainly help benefit those that are looking for cannabis. Right?

NICOLE WEBBER: Exactly. Yeah. Because with this private advertising network, we know that the people are 21 and older, because that's a sticking point, right, you can't advertise to people under 21, so, that's the way we're getting around that.

DEAN BECKER: What growth do you see for the future.

NICOLE WEBBER: Well, the company is 16 years old. We are, within this last year, have been focusing in on the cannabis industry, and, it's just, we just see huge opportunities to help people with their marketing and their branding and their advertising. So, yeah. I see huge growth.

DEAN BECKER: All right, Nicole, is there a website you want to share with the listeners?

NICOLE WEBBER: Sure. It's NugDigitalMarketing.com.

DEAN BECKER: Example two. I hope you lawyers are listening.

DANA CISNEROS: Yeah, my name's Dana Cisneros, I'm the owner and president of the Cannabis Corporate Law Firm, and we practice business and real estate law, and have recently moved into the cannabis space.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I was looking at your brochure here, and, you know, with all the requirements, regulations, taxing, and on down the line, it's important that you set yourself up correctly.


DEAN BECKER: To begin being a distributor, grower, whatever, isn't it?

DANA CISNEROS: Yes, absolutely. And, you know, people can do it themselves, just like they can do their taxes themselves, but most of us have the good sense to hire experienced professionals, and I've, you know, as I said, been practicing for ten years in business and real estate law, so this is, you know, cannabis is a new industry, the laws and regulations are not that unique, you know, and so, and so I take my expertise and my experience that I've already had in representing clients and investors and cultivators, manufacturers, and I'm able to offer them, you know, the A to Z services, because I've been everywhere from forming the corporation to, when things go wrong I'm a litigator. So I know what happens when things go wrong.

DEAN BECKER: Right, and, you know, I'm looking at some of the hoops to jump, California nonprofit benefit corporations, there's probably a particular set of requirements there, stock corporations and LLCs, those who do consulting and even the collectives. They all have a different set of rules which they must follow. Right?

DANA CISNEROS: Correct. They all have a different set of rules and they're also all sort of intertwined. And most of my clients don't just have a cultivation license, they also have a consulting company, because they have a nonprofit that's operating under the medicinal act, and so they need somewhere to really put their money, and so we help them in strategically planning how do you form those webs of companies so that they can actually, for example, deposit their money in banks.

DEAN BECKER: Now, you know, you talk about some people do their own taxes, and maybe some do an excellent job, and I would guess-timate that most miss a few opportunities, and I would imagine the same would certainly hold true in this field of endeavor. Any closing thoughts in that regard, maybe a website?

DANA CISNEROS: Oh, yes, sure, my website is CannabisCorpLaw.com. And yeah, of course, you know, having an experienced attorney to assist you and hold your hand is invaluable, but even more so is the fact that I act as the liaison for my clients between the city and county governments, so that when there's a question or if there's a question, it's me that they come to instead of my clients. My clients don't make a misstatement. I can also ask really difficult and specific and complicated questions of city planners, city managers, without raising red flags, I just go to them and say, hey, I've got a client that has this or they're trying to accomplish this, what do you think, how can we work this in, can we get a public hearing on it? Things like that.

DEAN BECKER: Whereas if you did it yourself, it would be kind of, just, culpability, if you will.

DANA CISNEROS: Yeah. You don't want to tell on yourself.

DEAN BECKER: Job opportunity number three.

JONATHAN HEINIEMI: Sure. My name is Jonathan Heiniemi, I represent Shield N Seal. We're a packaging company, dealing mostly with the hydro stores and the cannabis industry in northern California.

DEAN BECKER: Well, you know, at this conference here in Anaheim, it's amazing the diversity of the products and services, and abilities that are being presented, and you guys are just an integral part of that because you've got to seal this stuff up or you lose moisture, potency, aroma, et cetera.

JONATHAN HEINIEMI: Yeah, absolutely. It's very important to preserve your product afterwards, leaving it open for pathogens or to dry out too much. Sunlight degradation, all of that can be really damaging to your product, and your -- in your final endline, bottom line for making money.

DEAN BECKER: And, you know, as I indicated, the diversity of products and services is amazing, but, what I'm hearing from many of the vendors here is that the growth of their sales, their recognition of the need for their product, is really intensifying. Your thought there, please.

JONATHAN HEINIEMI: Oh yeah, absolutely. Since we started this company in 2011, we've been on about a 30 to 35 percent increase every year, year after year. This year's no different. At the beginning of -- for us, it was a little difficult to gauge where the market was going, because we weren't quite ready for how much the demand has grown every year, and we haven't seen a leveling off yet or plateauing on that yet. So, it's really an exciting, exciting time for cannabis.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and I would anticipate there's really no indications that that growth is going to slow down, certainly not with California legalizing and the other states moving forward. Right?

JONATHAN HEINIEMI: No, not at the moment. It's going to be really, really interesting to see what happens to the dynamic here in California, especially because there's a -- quite a large black market here in California, and to see how that affects production, and -- this is, it's going to be really interesting to see, I ...

DEAN BECKER: There are indications it's really going to impact price in not too long of a run here. Your thought there.

JONATHAN HEINIEMI: Yeah, I mean, I've looked at the model in Denver, I've looked at the model in Colorado, and when they first hit the scene, with their programs for recreational, the prices went up. I'm not sure that that's exactly what's going to happen here in California. There is so much product. The only thing I will say to combat that is a lot of the growers that I've talked to this year have been battling a lot of russet mites, so you might see this year it actually might go up a little bit, just based on the fact that a lot of growers have seen, you know, a lot of outdoor growers per se [sic] have been battling a lot of pathogens and mites and stuff like that.

DEAN BECKER: Limiting their total harvest.

JONATHAN HEINIEMI: Exactly. Exactly.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Well, once again, we've been speaking with Jon --

JONATHAN HEINIEMI: Jonathan. Yeah, Jonathan.

DEAN BECKER: Jonathan Hey--?

JONATHAN HEINIEMI: Heiniemi. I know, it's a difficult one.

DEAN BECKER: All right, we've been speaking with Mister Jonathan Heiniemi of Shield N Seal. Any closing thoughts, maybe a website?

JONATHAN HEINIEMI: Oh, yeah, sure. You can check us out, it's www.ShieldNSeal.com. That's ShieldNSeal.com.

DEAN BECKER: Opportunity number four.

MARTIN KAUFMAN: I'm Martin Kaufman, I'm here as the CEO and co-founder of Grasshopper Kiosks, which can be found at GrasshopperKiosks.com.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I was just out, you know, touring the convention here, the California cannabis business associates, and your's stood out to me. It looked user friendly, it looked useful, and like a sign of the what's to come in the future, I believe.


DEAN BECKER: This is a multi-billion, hell, some day it's going to be a trillion dollar industry. Tell us about your product, what is it good for, how does it work?

MARTIN KAUFMAN: Absolutely. Well, I'd love to give you a little bit of the history, so, you know, we've been in the industry for over a decade now. My wife, myself, and a couple associates of ours co-founded a dispensary chain called Blüm, ü with an umlaut m, it's now publicly traded under a company called TerraTech. We have locations across the country, but primarily in Las Vegas and California. Kind of went compliance very early, which allowed us to be one of the first publicly -- well, probably the first publicly traded, certainly dispensary and vertically integrated cannabis business.

And while we were running those dispensaries, we got to know a patient of ours who was deaf, and we also were really close with a couple of patients of ours who suffered from crippling anxiety. And so, Ron Christensen, the co-founder of Grasshopper, he had worked for decades in vending and automation, and he had a network of ATMs out there, which is actually how we originally knew him. He and I partnered together to just kind of create an automated interface that some of these folks could use as opposed to interacting with the -- our staff at the facilities, you know, the budtenders is what they're called currently.

And we quickly kind of came up with a very primitive version of what you see at the expo today, and, you know, these people loved it. And so we realized we should kind of put a little more effort into it. We evolved it, we got a touch screen attached to it, and it kind of became what you see today as Grasshopper Kiosks. Once we deployed them, kind of at a greater volume, we saw a ton of clients gravitating to them. Some of them were, you know, just suffered from various anxiety disorders, and really, you know, they would tell us at least that they love our staff and it wasn't that anyone was doing anything wrong, they just preferred to avoid that social interaction, and just kind of quietly make their purchases on their own.

Certainly some of our hearing disabled patients, for understandable reasons, use -- it's been clear it's become a very efficient, compliant express line for a lot of these businesses, so, so California, starting in, on January First, 2018, if a local municipality allows so, a legal dispensary can have both recreational and adult -- sorry, recreational and medical sales under one roof. However they would have to demonstrate that they're able to track and control the collection of the taxes and there's a different tax rate for medical and adult use in the state of California.

A lot of these guys are kind of just struggling to stay ahead because their businesses are booming, and as anyone who's ran a business that's expanding, that typically means you're spending more money than you even made last year to keep up with the growth of the company. So a lot of these guys don't have the bandwidth to, you know, train up staff, and bifurcate their sales counters, and set up a separate POS system to collect these different tax structures, whereas with Grasshopper, we're able to offer them a solution that they can basically roll out the following day.


MARTIN KAUFMAN: That fully compliantly allows them to guide their either medical patients or the recreational patients to one of these automated devices, and they can at least get a feel for what that demand will be like, and they can always buy more devices or they can eventually add to that actual human interaction, which we obviously highly recommend as retail operators. We, you know, we love our staff, and we think that kind of personal experience that we're able to provide people in a retail store is priceless. I mean, that's really what we're about is the character behind our brand and our company.


MARTIN KAUFMAN: And so with Grasshopper, it's not -- it's not about getting rid of employees, it's just about improving the efficiencies of some of these companies, and making it a lot easier for -- to stay ahead of a lot of the stuff that humans typically get tripped up by, which is accounting, and inventory, and compliance, and really the stuff that no one wants to do to be frank.

DEAN BECKER: Those that know what they want, and if they've got it coordinated with the Grasshopper machine, that makes that visit as quick as possible.


DEAN BECKER: And then, again, there are those that love the customer contact, the interaction.


DEAN BECKER: To perhaps learn about new medicines, techniques, or whatever, from --


DEAN BECKER: -- the guy behind the counter.

MARTIN KAUFMAN: We, and we have a few regulars at our Oakland store, which is where I spend a lot of my time, and, you know, I saw one of them going to the kiosk a few times, it was like, I hope no one offended you, I hope none of our staff, you know, he said no no no no no, I love your staff, it's, you know, especially the cute ones, and you know, he's an interesting character, but he was just, you know, he's like, no, some days I'm just in a hurry and I've got to get out of here, and I really appreciate having this as an option. Because he checks in, he gets through security, verifies his ID, and he can go straight to the automated kiosk, make his purchase, and he's able to leave.

We have a couple of other patients that we made sure they're ADA compliant. So, even for some of those folks, who don't -- who prefer not to kind of wheel themselves around the line, they can just kind of go straight to the kiosk and be on their way.

DEAN BECKER: Right. Once again, we've been speaking with Martin Kaufman of Grasshopper, based out here in California, I guess. Is there a closing thought, a website you might want to share?

MARTIN KAUFMAN: Right, www.GrasshopperKiosks.com.

DEAN BECKER: Next up, opportunities five and six.

JIGNESH PADHIYAR: Hi, I'm Jignesh Padhiyar, I'm employed at CB Labs, and we're promoting a platform called Matchmaker 420. It is an online wholesale marketplace for cannabis distribution and purchasing. Growers will have the opportunity of going in and posting products, and deliveries and dispensaries will have the ability to go in and purchase products, and distributors will be working the middle route, taking the products from the growers to the dispensaries. It only makes sense in today's world that we buy everything online, so cannabis as well should be something bought online as well, for a smoother business practice. And that's what we're promoting as well.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I would think it's a way of taking out some of the quote "middle man" costs, the bartering that tends to go on, to actually bring things to the shelf, right?

JIGNESH PADHIYAR: Yeah, definitely. And more than bartering, it's an open marketplace, so what it allows you to do as a grower, you post a product for a thousand dollars, you don't know if you're underselling or overselling your product on a marketplace, and with this platform, you can see the different products, you can see the different options, and you'll be able to see if you're losing or making not enough money, and fluctuate it properly.

DEAN BECKER: What is the price range, I mean, is this for the everyday dispensary, or for the big boys?

JIGNESH PADHIYAR: This is free, so this is for the everyday dispensary right now. We're just trying to go ahead and get enough traffic on here, enough business on here. Eventually we'll probably start doing advertising, paid programming, stuff like that, but for right now, it's free, and you can get on with any dispensary, or to growing or manufacturing, or distribution.

DEAN BECKER: Well, then, tell folks where they can learn more about your system.

JIGNESH PADHIYAR: Yeah, you want to go to MatchMaker420.us.

DEAN BECKER: All right. We got it that time.

JOSH HUUSFELDT: My name's Josh Huusfeldt, I'm with Sunbelt Rentals, and we have temporary generators for power, as well as air conditioning, temperature control, and stuff like that.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and, there's two separate subcompanies here, if you will. I want to first talk about the Sunbelt Rentals Pump and Power Services. You've got the trailers, you've got the equipment, the generators, and all these other things I suppose. People rent these for a growing season?

JOSH HUUSFELDT: Yes. They utilize the generators for power, when they need to harvest, and then they also could use the air conditioners as well to control the temperature in the grow room.

DEAN BECKER: Now, this is, you know, I'm from Texas, this is very unique, innovative, from my perspective, but, this is just a case of growers needing bigger room to meet a demand from a buyer, I would guess, right?

JOSH HUUSFELDT: Yes, sir. Yeah, that's -- when the need for power comes in, and they utilize the generators.

DEAN BECKER: Well, it's so diverse out here, I must say. And then the other side here is the ability to capture data 24-7, send out alerts to the stores, maintain records, all that. Tell us about that side, if you will.

JOSH HUUSFELDT: We have monitoring systems, basically, so that they could set them up to monitor the temperatures and the humidity in the grow area, and it will alert them, you know, if it's out of the range needed for the grow to, you know, harvest at what they're looking for.

DEAN BECKER: It's amazing stuff. I appreciate it, Josh. Is there a closing thought, a website you might recommend?

JOSH HUUSFELDT: Yeah, we do have a website, it's www.sunbeltrentals.com.

DEAN BECKER: Opportunity seven.

FADI YASHRUTI: My name's Fadi Yashruti, I'm one of the co-founders of Root Sciences. We distribute and sell wiped film distillation plants manufactured in Germany by a company called VTA. Basically wiped film distillation is really a purification process of crude oil, so you can take anything like CO2, crude oil, BHO, or ethanol extract, and you can run it through one of these machines here that basically purifies the oil, clarifies color, and bumps potency up.

DEAN BECKER: Which is exactly what the government says they want, they want a known quantity, quality, all that stuff, and yet, and in many of the states across America, they don't want it even no matter how pure it is. Your thought there, please.

FADI YASHRUTI: Absolutely. So, I do believe that consistency would be key. The nice thing about these machines and this kind of technology is that you come out with a very consistent product, so you can always expect the same type of potency results, based on the quality of the material that you're putting in, you're going to get the same consistency and quality, but your yields may fluctuate, so the less quality that you put into the machine, doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to get a subpar product, just that you're going to get less of it.

DEAN BECKER: Which makes sense, that's what a good process should do, give you the best result. You know, I used to work in oil and gas, and I walked over here, and it looks like a mini-refinery, almost, you know, out in the middle of like Galveston or something. Your thought there.

FADI YASHRUTI: These -- actually these plants have been around for 25 years. This model that we're looking at now is a VKL 70-5, which has been around for 20, 25 years. These were actually used in the petrochemical industry, so it's the same concept. It's really similar to a gin still, and that's how we're distilling the oil, basically separating the cannabinoids and terpenes and impurities, and really concentrating more on the cannabinoids and the terpenes.

DEAN BECKER: Well, that's amazing stuff, and it sure seems like it's doing a good job over there. Is there some closing thoughts, maybe a website you might recommend?

FADI YASHRUTI: Yeah, absolutely, you can reach us at www.rootsciences.com, you can also find us on instagram, twitter, and facebook.

DEAN BECKER: Our last example for today.

We'll just start the discussion here. Can I see your card so I get it pronounced right and all that? Here we go. Now, do you have one, or --

SWAMI CHAITANYA: Yeah, yeah, there you go.

DEAN BECKER: Swami -- ?


DEAN BECKER: Chaitanya.


DEAN BECKER: All right. Okeh. It's rolling. Okeh, it's still day one here at the cannabis business conference in Anaheim. I'm here with Swami -- Chaitanya?


DEAN BECKER: I'm here with Swami Chaitanya. He's rolling up a joint while we speak, but the fact is, we want to talk about the normalization of the cannabis product, because it has over the years become closer and closer to normal. California's fixing to quote "legalize," I don't think it's quite where legalization needs to be, but they're making a bold step in that direction, aren't they, Swami?

SWAMI CHAITANYA: Exactly, they certainly are. When they're -- all those cannabis jokes in the New Yorker are, you know, it shows up in all these places then you know it's heading towards mainstream, that's for sure.

DEAN BECKER: Sure. And the billions, they're starting to attract the folks with the clout. Am I right?

SWAMI CHAITANYA: Well, that's true, that's true. But it's a funny thing about, you were talking -- you've been reporting on the drug wars, and I think about the drug wars is that it's simultaneously the most successful and most unsuccessful war ever fought. Right? So, and if you want to stop cannabis, it has not been successful at all, and in fact, front page news of a bust is about the best advertising you can get, because there's kind of a reverse psychology here, it's like, if it's forbidden and people are willing to go to jail for it, must be good. Right?

And so --


SWAMI CHAITANYA: Right? So you tell your kid, don't eat that cookie, and of course that's what the kid wants to eat.

DEAN BECKER: The kid's going to sneak it because he can.

SWAMI CHAITANYA: Right? And we're trying to -- and you try to sneak it, and that's the same thing with us and cannabis. We've been sneaking in the back all the way along for the last 50 years. Now, it's coming out in the public, and so I feel no nervousness at all about sitting in this room in a big fancy hotel, the Marriott, and I'm rolling a fat joint. Now, I have to go outside to smoke it at this point.


SWAMI CHAITANYA: But, and I'll still -- there will still be a little thrill.

DEAN BECKER: Sure. Sure.

SWAMI CHAITANYA: Because it's still not quite. Right?

DEAN BECKER: Well, I remember in my youth, we were close enough to Mexico. I did a couple of smuggling runs.


DEAN BECKER: And it always felt so good to get across that border, and especially to get home, knowing that you had fooled them --

SWAMI CHAITANYA: You ain't a smuggler til you get it home.

DEAN BECKER: Absolutely. But, it is part of that attraction, the two sides of it, it's a Yin and Yang in so many different ways.

SWAMI CHAITANYA: Absolutely. But, it's been successful for the police, too.


SWAMI CHAITANYA: Right? Because all that trillions of dollars, where did it go? It went into police cars and prisons, hiring all sorts of, more sheriffs and so on, right?


SWAMI CHAITANYA: It also went to attorneys and everything else. So, for the police, it actually was very successful.


SWAMI CHAITANYA: But the other thing, for the cannabis growers, it's been fabulously successful, right?

DEAN BECKER: Oh yes. Yes.

SWAMI CHAITANYA: So, say maybe in 1940 there were what, 50 or a 100,000 smokers in the United States, I don't know, but --

DEAN BECKER: Not many.

SWAMI CHAITANYA: Not many, and now there's what, at least a hundred million, I'd say, people who, so on, so, anyway, so.

DEAN BECKER: Whether they're still using or not, there are at least --

SWAMI CHAITANYA: This is the Mendocino mating call, we call it. It's the grinder shaking out the weed.

DEAN BECKER: People begin to gather around.

SWAMI CHAITANYA: Right, exactly. Exactly.

DEAN BECKER: I hear you, man. Well, I'd like to think of California as, you know, you guys were the trail blazers. Colorado kind of went ahead for a while, and Washington, but it's not a competition necessarily, it's just an idea that is catching on. The politicians and the corporations and even the police in many locales are beginning to say it's a good idea.


DEAN BECKER: And, it's gaining traction. There's still the recalcitrant bastards in certain offices around the land that --


DEAN BECKER: -- that slow progress. What's your thought there? They're losing, oh, respect for clinging to those old ideas, aren't they?

SWAMI CHAITANYA: That's true. Well, history will show them to be in the fool's corner, because this is not only an extremely valuable medical addition to all sorts of healing processes, but for me, I always talk about the inspirational side of cannabis.


SWAMI CHAITANYA: And that's why we all started in the old days, because it helped your pain, or play music, or cook a great meal, or build a house.

DEAN BECKER: Or it, music sounded a little better.

SWAMI CHAITANYA: Exactly, yeah. And so all those things were the inspirational use. Now they're calling it adult and all that sort of stuff, but to me that was the key of it, and that's a spiritual basis, right?


SWAMI CHAITANYA: That's when you're -- actually get a sense that, you know, this living plant has opened you up, it opens up your senses, you can see better, and hear better, and smell better, and taste better, and all those things.


SWAMI CHAITANYA: So it puts you more in touch, not only with nature but with yourself in certain way.


SWAMI CHAITANYA: And that's where the inspiration comes in, so ....

DEAN BECKER: Well, I think about the religious side of this, if you will, because I, I'm, you know, I'm ordained by the, what, Universalist Church or something, I --


DEAN BECKER: I've preached prohibition is evil from the pulpit in nine churches in and around the Houston area.


DEAN BECKER: Been well received by the community, ate dinner with them, played with the kids, no one challenged the logic when you're done explaining we're empowering terrorists, with cartels, we give reasons for these gangs to exist, we're ensuring more overdose deaths with, that there is no, you're talking about who benefits? Well, the cops, and the pharmaceuticals, all these people.


DEAN BECKER: But, we, the people, there is no benefit to us, is there?

SWAMI CHAITANYA: Well, I have this phrase I'm changing, it's like, that cannabis of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the state. Right? Because, batch grown, small cannabis farmers, we're the source of it. And that's your guarantee of purity.

DEAN BECKER: Sure. And diverse --

SWAMI CHAITANYA: And heart and soul, in the plant itself. Right?

DEAN BECKER: Right, right. And different enlightenment from the different strains, and --

SWAMI CHAITANYA: Now, that's it. When you get this huge market of mass production, you're going to get uniformity of strains. But see, I see, the whole war on drugs has just been pointless, but it, what it is, when you have a prohibition, you kind of remove the possibility of making an ethical choice.


SWAMI CHAITANYA: It's been made for you by a government that says you can't do this.

DEAN BECKER: You are immoral to believe otherwise.

SWAMI CHAITANYA: Yeah. Exactly. And there's almost like this theological basis to this, because our Puritan ancestors and our Catholic founders of this country, both are against --

DEAN BECKER: Right. Right.

SWAMI CHAITANYA: -- having fun, basically, is what it comes down to.

DEAN BECKER: Very true.

SWAMI CHAITANYA: But they're against having a direct interaction with divine forces.


SWAMI CHAITANYA: They have, you have to go through the church, you have to go through the priest, have to go through those things, and so here comes this substance which enables you to have fun, but also enables you to have a different relationship with nature, and with your loved ones, and this is something that is not -- it's not between you and your experience, it's augmenting your experience.

DEAN BECKER: Sure. Sure.

SWAMI CHAITANYA: Right? And so that's part of the spiritual basis of it, and that's why they're so afraid of it. Because you don't need them, you don't need the structure of the standard religion to have your experience of being at one --


SWAMI CHAITANYA: -- with nature and your environment.

DEAN BECKER: Better appreciation of life. Well folks, we've been speaking with Swami --

SWAMI CHAITANYA: Chaitanya. Think of chai and a Russian figure skater. Right?

DEAN BECKER: We've been speaking with Swami Chaitanya here at the cannabis business conference in Anaheim, California. Sir, Swami, is -- Swami, are there some closing thoughts you might like to share, maybe a website?

SWAMI CHAITANYA: Oh yeah, we have a website, which is SwamiSelect.com. And we also do a Youtube, which is called Smoking with Swami, where I roll up a big fattie and either Nikki, my companion wife, we talk about our old time experiences in the Haight, or in India, whatever, or we try and interview people just like you're doing who are essential to the cannabis industry and bring some sort of real intelligence and knowledge to share with people, so that's Smoking with Swami, and SwamiSelect.com.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you.


DEAN BECKER: Good stuff.

In the meantime, we're all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss. Here you go, Doug.

DOUG MCVAY: Thanks, Dean. I'm Doug McVay, and it’s an honor to join you this week for the second half of Cultural Baggage, the flagship program on the Drug Truth Network. I regularly host the network’s sister program Century Of Lies, a show you created many years ago and each week brings thirty minutes of news and information about the drug war to listeners around the world.

This week we’re going to focus on human rights and the drug war. The Commission on Narcotics Drugs held an intersessional meeting in September. They’re following up from the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on drugs that was held in April of 2016, the UNGASS. The UN agreed on the UNGASS outcome document before the UNGASS meetings were even held. That outcome document was essentially prepared by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs at its annual meeting in Vienna that was held a month before the UNGASS, which took place in New York.

If you go to the UN Web TV website at webtv.un.org, you can find archived video of the main plenary sessions of the UNGASS. The UN has a great video archive for most of its proceedings and meetings. Most, not all, and significantly they have no archive of any meetings of the Commission on Narcotics Drugs. The CND meets each year, it has a great impact over international drug policies, in fact that's the agency that's responsible for overseeing the implementation of the three international narcotics conventions. Their meetings are live streamed, and yet they refuse to maintain an archive.

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and their Drug Reporter project does video taping at these CND meetings, so parts get captured, just sadly not all of it. Fortunately, I was able to get at least part of this intersessional meeting.

I should also mention the International Drug Policy Consortium also reports live from the CND in Vienna. They maintain a written blog about CND meetings at CNDBLOG.org. Unfortunately it’s only a written summary, and it’s written by reformers, so some NGOs and some nations – the Philippines for example – would claim that the IDPC's reports may be biased.

The CND is going over the UNGASS outcome document chapter by chapter in a series of intersessional meetings. In this one in September, they discussed chapter one, on demand reduction; chapter two, on access to controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes; and chapter four, on human rights, women, youth, and children.

First, we’re going to hear from Zaved Mahmood, the Rule of Law and Democracy Section at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

ZAVED MAHOOD: The UNGASS outcome document encourages the development, adoption, and implementation of alternative and additional measures with regard to conviction and punishment in cases of appropriate nature. My colleague from UNODC already addressed this issue, but however, I would like to address two critical issues from a human rights perspective.

The punishment, whenever it's provided, or prescribed, in accordance with international human rights standards, it should meet the obligation under human rights treaties. In this regard, first I would like to highlight that the right to life of persons convicted of drug related offenses should be protected, and in accordance with the international covenant on civil and political rights, and the jurisprudence of the International Human Rights Committee, such persons should not be subject to the death penalty.

I also refer to the INCB's position on this issue. In its 2016 annual report, INCB has continued to encourage states that retain capital punishment for drug offenses, to commute -- first to commute death sentences that have already been handed down, and secondly to consider the abolition of the death penalty for drug offenses.

Second, taking into account the severe impact a conviction for a drug related offense can have on a person's life, consideration should be given to alternatives to the prosecution and imprisonment of a person. In particular, for minor and individual abuse, non-violent drug offenses should not be -- should not be -- provided, provision should not be provided for imprisonment.

Reform aimed at reducing over-incarceration and decriminalization of certain acts should also be taken into account.

Further, the outcome document also recommends taking practical measures to uphold the prohibition of arbitrary arrest and detention, and of torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and punishment. States are urged to eliminate impunity. In his report, 2015 report on the impact of the world drug problem on the enjoyment of human rights, to the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner for Human Rights discussed various forms of human rights violations related to arbitrary arrest and detention.

For example, persons who use drugs or who are suspected of using drugs may be confined in compulsory drug detention centers or rehabilitation centers without trial or even evaluation of their drug dependency. Often for months or years. And frequently outside the supervision of the criminal justice system. Nonconsensual experimental treatment, torture, ill treatment, or sexual violence have also been reported in compulsory detention centers. Pursuant to the human rights commitment of the UNGASS, compulsory detention centers should be closed.

In terms of practical measures for the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment, and to eliminate impunity, this was committed by the members to do so in the last paragraph of chapter four. In this regard, a state should implement their obligation under the Convention Against Torture. As of today, 160 states have ratified this Convention. OHCHR urges all remaining states to move to ratification and for states that have not already done so, torture should be made a crime in domestic legislation.

National mechanisms for prevention of torture, as well as national human rights institutions, should be established where they do not exist. They should be empowered and supported to investigate all allegations of torture and other cruel, inhumane, and degrading punishments, and other serious human rights violations where reported in drug control efforts.

Since UNGASS, the right to life has continued to be challenged in some states. In one state in particular, there has been a notable and dramatic upsurge in extrajudicial execution of suspected drug traffickers and drug users. Extrajudicial executions are among the most serious human rights violations, and they must be subject to prompt and effective investigation by an independent and impartial body with a view to bringing perpetrators to justice. Otherwise, impunity will prevail.

The right to life should be protected by the law enforcement agencies in their effort to address drug related crimes. Only proportional forces should be used when necessary.

Human rights defenders, including members of the legal profession, health workers, journalists, and other stakeholders who are involved in the promotion and protection of human rights in drug control efforts should be provided with full protection from any threat, harassment, and reprisal.

Mister Facilitator, one last point, with regard to a human rights approach to data and information collection. One key issue of the implementation of the UNGASS outcome document is how drug policies are measured, including their impact on human rights. In chapter four of the outcome document, member states committed to consider, in a voluntary basis, when furnishing information to this Commission, pursuant to three drug control conventions and relevant Commission resolutions, the inclusion of information concerning promotion and protection of human rights, and the health, safety, and welfare of all individuals.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Zaved Mahmood from the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, speaking before the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. Now, let’s hear from Christine Brautigam, Director of the Intergovernmental Division of UN Women.

CHRISTINE BRAUTIGAM: As the UNGASS outcome document states, efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to effectively address the world drug problem are complimentary and mutually reinforcing. At the same time, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development confirms the centrality of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and emphasizes the crucial role of systematic gender mainstreaming in the implementation of the Agenda.

This interlinkage presents a key opportunity for governments and other stakeholders in their commitment to effectively address and counter the world drug problem in a gender sensitive manner, and ensure that national drug related policies and actions consider the specific needs and challenges, and help realize the rights of women as actors of change.

Evidence highlights critical gender related differences in regards to the causes and consequences of women's involvement with drugs. Around the world, women face stronger stigma associated with drug use, and such stigma is typically compounded by existing gender inequalities and stereotypes.

Women with a history of drug use are often seen as unfit parents. Pregnant women who use drugs can face civil or criminal detention. Women drug users experience higher rates of physical and sexual violence than women who do not use drugs. Women who inject drugs are at a higher risk of contracting HIV. This higher risk factor is often due to their limited access to demand reduction services, such as -- as well as sterile injection equipment, as well as health related services including for sexual and reproductive health.

Lack of gender sensitive drug treatment opportunities constitute a barrier to women who seek access to such services. Without effective drug treatment, women drug users are less likely to re-integrate into society. Women may enter the drug trade for a range of reasons. The need to provide for their families in the face of economic constraints and gender based discrimination are among the causes that lead some into the trade, often as low-level couriers.

Globally, women are imprisoned for drug related offenses more commonly than for any other crime. In some countries, women convicted for drug related offenses constitute the fastest growing part of the prison population. When arrested, women can face severe criminal penalties, which are often not proportionate to their offense. Once in prison, women in prison can also be subjected to sexual violence by law enforcement personnel.

The UNGASS outcome document outlines key actions to be taken by governments and other stakeholders to address these specific challenges in the context of the world drug problem. Let me highlight four key areas of action and intervention.

First, discrimination against women and girls must be addressed and eliminated, as is also highlighted in target 5.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals. Drug related policies should address structural barriers that prevent women from accessing treatment for drug use. Given the commitment of the 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind, and to reach those furthest behind first, focused attention is needed for women who face intersecting forms of discrimination in the context of tackling drug problems.

A human rights based approach to the administration of justice is one critical area that offers significant scope for ending such discrimination against women. Criminal courts and sentencing for example should address the level of women's involvement in drug related crimes, and alternatives to sentences should be considered, in line with the Bangkok Rules.

Second, women's full participation and leadership in decision making at all stages of the development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of drug policies and programs should be pursued more vigorously. This should aim for women's equal representation in justice systems, including in law enforcement. The role of autonomous feminist organizations in advancing women's rights and in the implementation of gender equality policies is well recognized.

Women's organizations should therefore also be involved in national decision making processes pertaining to drug policies, including organizations that represent women drug users and women imprisoned for drug related offenses.

Third, mainstreaming a gender perspective into drug related policies and programs is crucial for policy coherence, and to ensure that areas of public health, education, law enforcement, et cetera, contribute effectively to gender responsive action. This was also confirmed in the ministerial declaration at the most recent high level political forum.

Gender equality strategies need to be fully integrated into national sustainable development frameworks, so as to promote greater policy coherence. Ministers recognized that achieving gender equality will require both targeted action as well as mainstreaming gender into all efforts.

National mechanisms for promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls have a catalytic role in supporting gender mainstreaming at the national level, and should have the capacity and authority to work closely with relevant national mechanisms tasked with drug control and prevention, and to help shape policies that contribute to the realization of gender equality, the empowerment of women, and women's human rights.

Lastly, gaps in gender statistics as they relate to the world drug problem should receive increased attention. As the 2030 Agenda confirms, quality, accessible, timely, and reliable disaggregated data are needed to help with the measurement of progress and to ensure that no one is left behind. Such data is key to decisionmaking. Together with better quantitative data, improved information and knowledge of the impact of drug policies, including of criminal law, on women and their families, and of the needs of women who use drugs, can support more effective and targeted policy responses and ensure that discrimination against women is not perpetuated or that women are disproportionately adversely effected.

In the context of our mandate, UN Women provides normative support to intergovernmental processes; leads, coordinates, and promotes the accountability of the UN system in its work on gender equality and the empowerment of women; and undertakes operational activities with a presence in close to 100 countries, supporting governments, and working with the UN system and civil society organizations including women's organizations.

Let me mention some examples of our support and contribution to the implementation of the UNGASS outcome, across the above mentioned four areas. UN Women country offices have contributed to the review of national AIDS strategies, providing a platform and bringing together stakeholders, including women living with HIV and women injecting drug users, to share lessons and facilitate elaboration of steps towards greater attention to gender equality and women's participation in decision making on HIV.

UN Women country and regional offices have supported greater coordination and strategic planning among women living with HIV and harm reduction organizations for greater impact, such as in the context of the Eurasian Women's Network on AIDS, bringing together eleven national networks of women living with HIV, including women who use drugs.

UN Women in collaboration with partners through our flagship program initiative entitled Making Every Woman And Girl Count assists countries in developing the technical and financial resources required to monitor the implementation of the SDGs. This effort also contributes to strengthening the production, availability, analysis, and use of gender statistics that can enhance the knowledge base for drug related policies.

And at global levels, through our normative support function, UN Women collaborates with UNODC to facilitate interaction and cooperation between the Commission on the Status of Women and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs through a series of activities referred to on Tuesday by the CND Chair, Her Excellency Ambassador Bente Angell-Hansen. We look forward to the continuation of this mutually beneficial exchange among the Commissions for enhanced gender mainstreaming, better implementation of the UNGASS outcome, and better results for women and girls everywhere. Thank you, Chair.

DOUG MCVAY: You just heard Christine Brautigam, Director of the Intergovernmental Division of UN Women. She was speaking at a meeting of the UN’s Commission on Narcotic Drugs in September of this year, at which the UNGASS outcome document was being discussed. The CND has intersessional meetings scheduled for October and November of this year at which they will be discussing other chapters of the outcome document.

You’re listening to Cultural Baggage, a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I’m Doug McVay.

Continuing on the theme of human rights. The United Nations Human Rights Council met in New York recently [sic: the UNHRC met at the UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland]. Among other things, they discussed Universal Periodic Reviews of human rights conditions in several UN member states. One of those member states was the Philippines.

The Philippine government has waged a bloody campaign of murder and violence against poor and disenfranchised segments of its population under its current dictator Rodrigo Duterte. Thousands of innocent people being slaughtered by police, military, and unofficial death squads. The excuse they’ve used has been a war on drugs. That excuse is a lie.

Human rights activists in the Philippines and around the world have condemned Duterte for the brutality and abuses and thousands of murders that have been committed on his orders. Speaking before the Human Rights Council, here’s John Fisher:

JOHN FISHER: Mister President, we are dismayed that the Philippines rejected all UPR recommendations that would make a practical difference in ending extrajudicial killings perpetrated in the name of its murderous war on drugs. It rejected Peru's recommendation to cooperate with special procedures by extending a standing invitation and recommendations by Ghana, Hungary, and others to allow access to the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions without conditions that might compromise her impartiality.

We are deeply concerned that rather than investigating compelling evidence of culpability of police and their agents in many of those killings, President Duterte has launched a campaign of vilification and harassment against individuals and institutions pursuing accountability for these abuses.

In its UPR responses, the Philippines even refused to accept recommendations to protect journalists and human rights defenders, or to reject incitement to violence. Instead of calling for respect for international standards or due process, President Duterte has said of drug suspects, quote, "My order is to shoot to kill you. I don't care about human rights, you better believe me." And, quote, "I will kill you. I will kill you. Forget about the laws of men, forget about the laws of international law, whatever." Unquote.

Does the delegation deny President Duterte made these remarks? Does it believe that any killing without due process is justified if perpetrated in the name of the war on drugs? The High Commissioner said in his update to this Session, quote, "I continue to be gravely concerned by the President's open support for a shoot to kill policy regarding suspects, as well as by the apparent absence of credible investigations into reports of thousands of extrajudicial killings, and the failure to prosecute any perpetrator." Unquote.

If the Philippines will not face up to its international responsibilities and obligations as a member of this Council, the Council should step in and do all that it can to end the violence, support independent international investigations into the deaths, and demand accountability for all unlawful killings. Thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: That was John Fisher from Human Rights Watch, speaking before the UN Human Rights Council during its Universal Periodic Review of human rights in the Philippines on September 22. I should note that the Philippines is a member of the UN Human Rights Council.

And finally, some news from the United States. The Federal Bureau of Investigation released its 2016 Uniform Crime Report in September. These reports are issued each year and provide data on reported crime and arrests in the US.

The FBI further estimated that there were 1,572,579 arrests total for drug law violations in the entire US in 2016. They had enough data to do a deeper analysis of nearly 1.2 million of those arrests that were made by US police agencies that cover 77.37% of the US total population. That analysis found that 84.7 percent were for simple possession of a controlled substance. Only 15.3 percent were for the sale or manufacturing of a drug.

It is not possible to say for sure whether those percentages would hold true for the population as a whole, but those percentages are pretty close to the FBI’s estimates for the US as a whole in 2015 and 2014, several previous years really, so it’s a very strong probability. Presuming that’s the case, then we had more than 600,000 arrests in the US for simple marijuana possession in 2016, which is an increase from the year before.

That’s a big number, and in context, that’s alarming. Remember, we have several states now that have legalized marijuana possession by adults. Granted California only legalized in 2016, but they changed the law regarding possession a few years earlier so starting in 2011 simple possession in California was no longer counted as a criminal arrest for purposes of the UCR. So even though a growing number of people in the US live in states where marijuana possession is no longer a crime, the number of arrests for simple possession is staggeringly high.

For more context, are some more numbers: in 2016, there were a total of 10,662,252 arrests nationwide for all offenses. Of those, authorities reported there were 515,151 arrests for all violent crimes and 1,353,283 arrests for all property offenses. And as I said a moment ago, there were 1,572,579 arrests for drug law violations in 2016, of which more than 600,000 were for simple possession of marijuana.

To find out how effective those arrests really are, let’s look at clearance rates. In the UCR Program, a law enforcement agency reports that an offense is cleared by arrest, or solved for crime reporting purposes, when three specific conditions have been met. The three conditions are that at least one person has been: arrested; charged with the commission of the offense; and turned over to the court for prosecution (whether following arrest, court summons, or police notice).

According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, in 2016, there were a total of 1,183,933 violent offenses reported to police. Law enforcement managed to clear just 45.6 percent of those. There were 7,319,177 property offenses reported to police in 2016, and only 18.3 percent of those were cleared. Again those are just reported crimes, the majority of property and violent crimes are never reported to police.

The FBI provides data on the people who get arrested. According to the feds, in 2016, 69.6 percent of arrestees were white, 26.9 percent were black, 2 percent were American Indian or Alaska Native, 1.2 percent were Asian, and 0.3 percent were native Hawaiian or other Pacific islander.

What’s not reported in that demographic breakdown is the number of people of Latin American ethnicity. Under the FBI’s reporting guidelines, Latin American that’s an optional data point, it’s not required. People of Latin American ethnicity are included under whites. In reality, about a fifth of the so-called “whites” who get arrested each year are in fact Latina or Latino.

Some states have taken the step of mandating that their law enforcement agencies gather and report data on ethnicity, but it’s not a national requirement so the annual reports from the FBI continue to mislead people about the reality of racial profiling and biased law enforcement.

You can find the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for 2016, and for previous years, by going to UCR.FBI.gov, and you can find data from those reports along with a lot of other information about criminal justice, public health, and the drug war by going to DrugWarFacts.org.

And well that’s it for this week. Thanks for joining us. You’ve been listening to Cultural Baggage, a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. Your host and the producer of Cultural Baggage is Dean Becker. I’m Doug McVay

DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the unvarnished truth. Cultural Baggage is a production of the Pacifica Radio Network, archives are permanently stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. And we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.