01/13/17 Phil Smith

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Phil Smith of Alternet, Drug War Chronicle re Trump, Appts., drug war + Dr. Robert Melamede re hypocrisy, failure of drug laws

Audio file


JANUARY 13, 2017


PINK FLOYD [MUSIC]: Are there any queers in the audience tonight? Get 'em up against the wall!
Against. The. Wall.
There's one in the spotlight, he don't look right. Put him up against the wall.
Against. The Wall.
That one looks Jewish, and that one's a coon.
Who let all this riffraff into the room?
There's one smoking a joint, another one's got spots. If I had my way, I'd have all of them shot.

DEAN BECKER: Oh yes. No, that wasn't a Trump rally, that was In The Flesh by Pink Floyd, but it sounds like a Trump rally, does it not? Look, folks, we have to stand up. We have to speak up and we have to actively participate. We have to end the madness of this drug war. It fuels the war of terror. It gives reason for these gangs to be prowling our neighborhoods. It's a fiasco. Please, please, help in this effort. You are listening to Cultural Baggage on Pacifica Radio, the Drug Truth Network. We're going to bring in our guest, Mister Phil Smith. He of the Stop The Drug War, DrugSense, and a couple of other fine organizations. You've probably seen his writing out there on AlterNet as well. The drug war, such a piece of work.

Perhaps you heard my interview with the police chief, Art Acevedo, a couple of weeks back. That night, it was covered by the Houston Chronicle. Couple of days later it was covered by the Houston Press. It was covered by NBC, Fox, and CBS. It's got dozens of reciprocating reports out there on the internet. The drug war makes no sense. Our sheriff, our police chief, and our district attorney all agree. They are working to curtail the destructiveness of this policy, and starting January First, right here in Houston, what used to be the gulag filling station of planet earth, we now have less -- excuse me, we will not have 12,000 youngsters arrested for marijuana possession. And that's under four ounces, that's a big fat bag of weed, four ounces. But that's no longer happening in our fair city.

But the whole point I'm trying to get to, folks, is that, you know, we own the moral high ground. We own the moral high ground. I don't how else to say this. I put my neck on the line fifteen and a half years ago, I came on the airwaves of KPFT, I called the drug war an abysmal failure. I said that Houston was the gulag filling station of planet earth, and indeed, at that time, it was. But the politicians, the sheriffs, police chiefs, and DAs, have slowly come around to accept much of what I've been putting forward over those years.

I'm told that we do have Mister Phil Smith with us. Hello, Phil.

PHIL SMITH: How are you, Dean?

DEAN BECKER: I'm good to hear your voice, Phil. Yeah, you're out there in California, things just turned legal. What the hell's going on?

PHIL SMITH: Well, it's a new era in California, and a handful of other states. It was legal immediately after the election, so on November Ninth it became legal to possess an ounce and grow six plants. It will take us a while to get pot shops up and running, I don't think that will happen until 2018. But in the meantime, we do have the dispensaries, and one thing that's happening already in California is that some dispensaries at least are just opening their doors to anyone over 21. That's technically a violation of the law, but they're doing it anyway.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Oakland had their Measure Z, which I think was a similar situation, right?


DEAN BECKER: And, it didn't seem to hurt Oakland.

PHIL SMITH: No, the authorities in Oakland turned a blind eye. They had other priorities.

DEAN BECKER: Well, now, Phil, I don't know if you've had a chance to listen, over the past few months I interviewed the district attorney, the sheriff, and just a couple of weeks back the police chief of Houston. And they all three are sick of this drug war, ready to stop arresting, and in fact, as of January One, 12,000 kids will not be arrested here in Houston for under four ounces. There's a shift taking place, isn't there?

PHIL SMITH: Yeah, and that -- it's very good, I mean, congratulations, Houston, America's fourth largest city, taking a progressive stance on marijuana policy. It's about time.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Well, for a while there, we had so many people we were shipping them to other prisons here in Texas, shipping them to Louisiana, shipping them to Oklahoma, because we couldn't keep up. It was crazy.

PHIL SMITH: Well, let's hope we're coming to a better time now. Though it's going to be a scary time these next few years. We don't know what the Trump administration is going to be like, and we see some very threatening signs in some of his appointments.

DEAN BECKER: I, every one of his appointments just seems bassackwards and wrong, I do not understand it, but, then again, there's nothing to understand with a Trump administration. Phil, let's tell folks about you, I mean, you work with Stop The Drug War and DrugSense, and you write for AlterNet. Tell us about some of your recent work, please.

PHIL SMITH: Well, I do write the Drug War Chronicle for StopTheDrugWar.org. I've been doing that for -- since forever. This entire century, since 2000. I also write, I'm the AlterNet drug reporter/editor, so I write articles for AlterNet as well as look for other articles that we can grab and post on AlterNet.

One of the interesting recent articles I did was about California's monster marijuana crop. It was based on a report in the Orange County Register that analyzed the number of plants seized in the state, then used that common rule of thumb about how seizures maybe account for 10 or 20 percent of the crop, or the traffic, and came up with a figure, and then assessed a value to each plant, and assumed that each plant, you know, harvested a pound, and came up with a figure of $23 billion for the state's marijuana crop.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. That's -- which outweighs I would think the wine crop, would it not?

PHIL SMITH: It's bigger than the next five largest agricultural crops combined. I mean, bigger than dairy, bigger than grapes, bigger than --


PHIL SMITH: -- almonds. So it's a massive crop, but there's also another interesting facet to this as well. There have been estimates about the size of California's legal marijuana market. The Arcview Group, which is some financial boys who keep a real close eye on these things, estimates the California legal medical -- legal marijuana market is now about $2 billion a year, and could be $7 billion a year after legalization in a few years. That's still only a fraction of the amount of pot being grown in California.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and, you know, we have many other states now that are starting to have their own legal crops being grown, and, you know, the cops talk about the diversion, oh, we don't want that in Kansas or Nebraska or whatever. But the fact of the matter is, it's been going through Kansas and Nebraska since day one, it's nothing new, is it?

PHIL SMITH: No, it's nothing new, and that's the reason those state troopers are perched like vultures along the eastbound interstate highways. They know what's going on. You know, and nothing is going to stop this. You can have state troopers every mile if you want, but there are still going to be people smuggling pot, as long as there is a jurisdiction where pot is illegal and people want to buy it.

DEAN BECKER: Right. Right.

PHIL SMITH: So, you know, if Nebraska or Oklahoma has problems with the marijuana traffic, you know, maybe they should just quit enforcing that and legalize it, and deal with it.

DEAN BECKER: Well, very true. Friends, we're speaking with Mister Phil Smith of Stop The Drug War, AlterNet. Phil, the hell of it is, is, I want to touch base on this. You know, I'm giving myself a huge pat on the back for having helped expedite this change in the marijuana laws here, because it was my questions which opened it up, which allowed Fox, NBC, CBS, to, you know, quote from that interview. And I guess what I'm wanting to get to is that many of these corporate reporters, I think they know much of what you and I know, but somehow they've been constrained, and they leap on the opportunity to bring this information forward. Your thought in that regard, please.

PHIL SMITH: Well, I think, let's make a distinction between folks like you and I, and people who you call corporate reporters. I mean, you and I are both movement journalists. We try to be objective, sure, but we have a perspective, and that perspective is all about ending the war on drugs, and that informs how we report. Now, these guys coming from your local TV station or from the Houston Chronicle or whatever, they're not movement reporters, they're reporters, and they're trained to get side A and side B, and, you know, not evaluate, just get the two sides of the issue, assuming there's only two sides of the issue, of course.


PHIL SMITH: And do their jobs that way. So they're not very adventurous, and they're not necessarily very challenging. I, too, will give you credit, Dean, I mean, you've been hammering away at this for years, and the work you've done has legitimized the whole area of inquiry. So yeah, it's much easier for your local Fox affiliate reporter to come down and start asking about marijuana policy, after years of Dean Becker doing the same thing. Thank you.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Phil, for all your work too, my friend, it's -- it was a hard slog, didn't see much hope on the horizon there for a while, but damn it's looking better. Phil, I want to come back to something that just broke, I think it was yesterday. The National Academy of Sciences issued a report saying that marijuana under Schedule One impedes the advance of research, that it helps with chronic pain, nausea, vomiting, spasms, and sleep disturbances, and it does not cause lung, head, or neck cancer. It wasn't complete endorsement of cannabis, but damn, it was pretty good, right?

PHIL SMITH: Indeed. And you know, they did the same thing in 1998. So once again, we have a highly vaunted, objective body of scientists and academics examining all the data that they can find on marijuana, and telling us that yes, indeed, it is, it does have medicinal properties, is useful for certain conditions, may be useful for other conditions, doesn't seem to have especially bad side effects or harmful effects, and they're -- I mean, what this report does is really blows out of the water the placement of marijuana in Schedule One. Someone needs to tell Congress and the DEA about this report.

DEAN BECKER: Okeh, I'll send them a letter. Hey, Phil, you know, the situation is, in California, you know, you talked about a lot of clubs are just selling to people over 21, because it just kind of makes sense now. And I would imagine you have several friends that are growing, and having good crops out there now that it's legal. Right?

PHIL SMITH: Well, you know, it's a matter of timing. It became legal on November Ninth. So, it will be next spring before most people put their crops in the ground.


PHIL SMITH: But, of course, you know, like last year, I grew with a medical marijuana license, like many, many other people in California.

DEAN BECKER: Right. Well, like many, indeed. I've been out there, went up to Humboldt County, and damn, there's a lot of weed. Okeh, Phil, let's come back to what's going on in DC. They've been interviewing that Senator Sessions. He's, oh, I'm going to let you respond.

PHIL SMITH: He's bad news on drug policy. He's been a real staunch advocate [sic] of sentencing reform, he helped scuttle sentencing reform just a couple of months ago, a bill that had been worked on for about a year and a half in the Congress. I will give him credit for, in one case, compromising and helping get the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity reduced, but only from 100 to one to 18 to one. So he's not totally horrible, just like 95 percent horrible.

And when it comes to marijuana policy, he's even worse. I mean, he's got a real cultural hatred for the herb and a disdain for its users. He said things like marijuana users aren't good people.

DEAN BECKER: Right. Well, he's part of that reefer madness clingers, you know, I don't know. I got no words for those people that refuse to look at new science, I can't --

PHIL SMITH: Well, here's another thing that really struck me, another Sessions quote that really struck me and kind of gives you an idea of where his head is.


PHIL SMITH: When he was rejected as a federal judge in 1986, part of the reason was because of his alleged racism, and one of the quotes that came out at that time was him saying that he didn't have a problem with his local Ku Klux Klan until he found out they smoked pot. What the hell?

DEAN BECKER: Oh, yeah. Yeah. It is crazy. You know, Phil, a couple of weeks back, I interviewed a mother of a two year old that's having two to three hundred epileptic seizures a day, and through some miracle, they were able to get some jaden juice, some cannabis oil, and that's down to 2 to 5 seizures a day. The kid's starting to smile, he might walk again. You know, it's a miracle medicine, and damn those people who stand in the way.

PHIL SMITH: And, the way it deals with these seizures in epileptic children is really impressive.

DEAN BECKER: It is. And how can they ignore it? It's becoming so obvious. But then again, they cling to their superstition and lies.

PHIL SMITH: Well, that's why we, even in the most reactionary, Republican-dominated states, we have these CBD bills now, and CBD laws.


PHIL SMITH: I mean, they, you know, they can't bring themselves to actually okeh medical marijuana, but they -- neither can they bring themselves to vote against CBD cannabis oil, it doesn't have any THC, that helps little kids not have seizures. They just can't do that.

DEAN BECKER: No, it's so disgusting to me. Phil, we got to make this an official Cultural Baggage. We'll be back in twenty seconds.


DEAN BECKER: It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Unexplained rapid weight gain, trouble breathing, unusual fatigue, fast pounding heartbeat, changes in menstrual cycles, dark urine, persistent nausea, vomiting, chills, cold sweat, dizziness, drowsiness, shaking and confusion, and fruity breath odor. Time's up! The answer: Avandia, for diabetics. Approved by the FDA.

Ah yes. So much crap approved by the FDA. But, again, it was nice to hear that the National Academies of Science came out in favor of at least partial use of cannabis.

PHIL SMITH: Well, it was all they could do. What they did was, they reviewed the literature. And as honest scientists, they told us what they found, and we knew what they were going to find.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Phil, we've got just a couple of seconds. Do you want to share a website right quick?

PHIL SMITH: Yeah. Check me out at StopTheDrugWar.org or at AlterNet.org/drugs.

DEAN BECKER: Drug Truth Network programs are archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, BakerInstitute.org/DTN.

ROBERT MELAMEDE, PHD: Yes, hi, this is Doctor Bob Melamede, and I'm a retired biology professor. The last job I was the chairperson of the department of biology in the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and I retired from that and remained a professor until I had a heart issue. And then I retired, and at the same time I retired from Cannabis Science, and returned to my true love, being a hippie and an activist, and learning and spreading the truth. What else would I do now?

DEAN BECKER: That's good to hear, sir, and you know, I'm proud of my hippie roots, if you will, peace, love, and understanding, all that good stuff that still we need to embrace, that's for sure. Doctor Bob, the fact of the matter is, it's a real, oh, wishy-washy, I don't know what, how the hell to call it, the reefer madness still exists, and yet the scientists coming forward, like, you know, a cavalry charge. What the hell's going on, my friend?

ROBERT MELAMEDE: Well, you know that I look at everything a little bit different than apparently the rest of the world, so I will tell you my perspective, and keep in mind that some of the things I'm going to say are extremely radical, but they are in fact all science based. Everything I say is science-based, and I'm a very conservative scientist. Filtered through the brain of a crazy hippie.

So, what's going on is this. The earth is one big chemical reaction that started four and a half billion years ago when the planet first formed. And the nature of that reaction is that it creates what's called flow dependent structures over time. And what that is, is complexity. Instead of just randomness, things are no longer random. And the energy from the sun and the planet keeps creating more non-randomness. Order out of disorder. And that eventually led to life. And life has certain characteristics that of course the doctors and the general scientists don't quite perceive in the correct fashion.

And, the basis of that is the physics from Nobel Laureate Ilya Prigogine, and what he basically created as a new field of science called Far From Equilibrium Thermodynamics, the flow of energy, thermodynamics. And what his science, what his physics shows, is that life must exist. It's a natural process. Flowing energy organizes matter, so this provides the scientific philosophical basis for understanding the origins of life. And when you follow the increased complexity of life until you reach the level of vertebrates, that we are examples of, prior to that you had no CB-1 receptor or cannabinoid receptors. You had the biochemicals, but you didn't have the receptors.

And, once the vertebrates appeared, we had the CB-1 receptor. And from my perspective, that has been an essential occurrence for the development of the human brain. And the reason for that is that the cannabinoid system, our endocannabinoid system, literally regulates everything in the human body from conception until death, meaning the immune system, digestive system, cardiovascular system, skin, bones, everything. From conception until death.

And with that foundation, the question is, how does it do that? And we started this off by saying flowing energy organizes matter and creates life, and creates evolution, and then as of evolution proceeds, the CB-1 receptor comes on board and what's it doing? It's regulating energy flow, and it's regulating the efficient use of energy via what's called the electron transport system to make ATP. And efficiency is great. But, it's also dangerous. You know, just like atomic power plants, you can make cheap energy, but if it blows up you've got a problem.

And that's kind of the way our mitochondria are, our energy factories. If there's any backup, when we're using carbohydrates in the efficient energy producing fashion, any backup in the flowing psychedelic biochemistry of life, that causes free radicals to be produced, which while on the one hand they're damaging, on the other hand, they serve as signals to readjust the psychedelic flow so that not too many free radicals will be made.

So the CB-1 receptor, by allowing for efficient energy production by fine tuning calcium channels, has allowed for the brain to continually evolve to higher levels of complexity, despite the dangers of using that mode of energy production, to the high degree that the brain does. That's why the brain is so susceptible to damage.

And, because it's in those sugar burning modes, and using so much, is also why you may get metastasis there. But that's a separate story, let's just stick for now with this overall thought. Just like in society, you know, we keep building and doing things and we generate new energy sources, but we still are polluting all the time, so the more we do, the more we pollute. And if you look at China for example, where they were more out of balance than other places, their pollution levels are so extreme that they can't breathe half the time.

So, similarly within ourselves, as we make energy efficiently, and we start making these damages, which are basically biochemical pollution, what the cells do, and man is slowly getting smart enough to understand what nature has created within us, is we recycle. And recycling is very critical. The discoverers of this process known as autophagy got the Nobel Prize this past year. But what recycles, they don't understand it in the context of the fuel. You see, when you burn carbohydrates, it's dangerous but efficient. When you turn on fat burning, you turn on recycling, and it also makes free radicals.

But, because you're recycling already built components, you don't have to build as much and you wind up having a net gain of health, and restoration of cellular health by getting rid of the garbage and cleaning it up. It's the same in society, right? Society and life simply what I call the dynamic fractal, it's an echo of what comes before it at the lower levels, it just reiterates the basic phenomena of life, so it's a fractal that changes all the time.

Anyway, the CB-2 receptor turns on fat burning, so it turns on recycling, and when you have cells like cancer cells, that have grown up so to speak in a sugar burning environment, that's their preference. And one of the ways that they escape death is by opening up a couple of new less efficient roadways for energy production that allows them to survive rather than overloading with free radicals. And that's called aerobic glycolysis, or the Warburg effect. So when people say, you know, cancers like acid, blah blah blah, that's because they make acid, they make lactic acids, via this process of escaping cell death.

So by manipulating metabolism, you can manipulate cancers, CB-2 receptors turn on fat burning. Most cancers start out as sugar burners. If you haven't screwed them up with chemo and radiation and you subject them to high doses of cannabis and other things that turn on fat burning, you kill those sugar burning cells. If you pre-treat with chemo or radiation, they learn how to metabolically go between fuels.

You know, normally it's like, if you're driving a gasoline car and you fill it up with diesel, the car doesn't work. Right? So here you've got all these cancer cells burning gasoline, and all of a sudden you force them into fat burning and they choke on the diesel, basically. On the oil. Kind of a funny parallel. Anyway, so there's a lot of things going on. Cannabis has an incredible role in all layers of humanity, and what we're seeing is the world, the chemistry set, as a whole, is undergoing a change. And our financial situations, our weather patterns, all aspects of the chemistry reaction that's happening are now fluctuating, and what that indicates beyond their normal levels, what that indicates is that the entire system is going to undergo a rearrangement.

So with the increase in cannabis activity in the human biochemistry, within that chemistry set, that is now going to create a new layer of humanity, because humans and all vertebrates have always increased their brain cannabinoid levels, and always in the most evolutionarily advanced areas, because we needed more and more protection from the efficiency that was required to create the organization so we could think and have these television shows, and converse with people who are open minded, and make enough cannabis that they can become the future, the forward looking people, as opposed to cannabis deficient backward looking, uptight, angry, assholes who run the world and who will go extinct because we no longer need cavemen with their finger on the atomic weapons.

That want to ultimately go to the world court, because what the governments of the world are undeniably doing with cannabis prohibition is they're forcing the citizens -- see, cannabis is not a drug. It's an essential nutrient for modern man. If you want to live longer and be healthier, and not suffer as rapidly and as severely the age related illnesses that are killing us, you need to increase your endocannabinoid and your cannabinoid activity, just as has always occurred evolutionarily.

So to go against that truth goes against my religion, which is evolution and science, and the religion of everyone where basically most people want to help people and be kind, and move forward with their families and their communities. That all happens through cannabis. And the assholes who are running the world have outlawed the absolute exactly wrong thing that they could have ever possibly outlawed, that which has driven evolution and is the foundation of human health.

So we have to get rid of this idiocy, and this is part of the global phase change that's happening through cannabis consumption and the cannabis awakening that's spreading around the world. And that's why Donald Trump got elected, because he provides the possibility of change. He may be totally nuts, we agree with that, but, at least there's a possibility of a redirection of the stagnant status quo of the insanity that has become our government and international affairs over the past -- ever since cannabis was prohibited.

It was just at the right time to explode into human consciousness, and it was delayed, but as the hippies matured and the concepts of 70 years ago permeated and penetrated society, we've now reached the point where the knowledge and the truth is going to change the world. And the assholes by keeping cannabis illegal are creating an epidemiological experiment that will be their own self destruction.

As they keep cannabis illegal, the only people who will use pharmaceuticals are the blips, the cannabis deficient people too uptight to try cannabis. Whereas all of the cannabis-endowed people, with friends who are having their lives saved and are seeing the benefits in countless illnesses, will use state run cannabis. Trump says cannabis is a state issue. We know what states are doing what, you know, and if you need help, you move to that state, just like people do until the idiots finally see what happens from the experiment that they created.

The cannabis deficient people will die younger, unhealthier, unhappier, and the cannabinoid endowed people using cannabis will live longer, be healthier. We already see they use less federal health care, a hundred million dollars in Colorado. We see they have less bladder cancer, we see they have thinner waists, we see they have less insulin, that's just the beginning. They have created the experiment for their own self destruction. Bleep them. Got it?

DEAN BECKER: I've got it.


DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Doctor Bob. There you have it, my friends. Doctor Robert Melamede.

Thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. Be sure to join us next week. Just enough time to remind you that because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful.