08/16/18 Geoffrey Guy

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Geoffrey Guy
Tony Papa
GW Pharmaceuticals
Drug Policy Alliance

Geoffrey Guy, Chairman of GW Pharmaceuticals discusses Epideliex their cannabis medicine soon to be sold in the US, Irv Rosenfeld a man supplied with 300 cannabis cigarettes every 28 days by the FDA & Tony Papa of the DPA whose art will be included in a Houston Museum art show

Audio file


AUGUST 16, 2018


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, I am Dean Becker, the reverend most high, this is Cultural Baggage. Thank you for being with us. Today we're going to hear from Geoffrey Guy, he's the CEO of GW Pharmaceuticals, based in the UK. They're going to be selling cannabis medicines here in the US soon.

We'll hear from Mister Irv Rosenfeld again, he's going to talk about that same scenario. And we'll hear from Mister Tony Papa of the Drug Policy Alliance, who is going to be participating in an art show in Houston, Texas.

Doctor Geoffrey Guy is the chairman of the board and founder of GW Pharmaceuticals, based in the UK. They have a new product, Epidiolex, coming forward for approval within the United States. This is a cannabis-based product, should be available by the end of 2018. Early estimates that it will cost the patients approximately $32,000 a year to fill their prescription.

DR. GEOFFREY GUY: Well, I'm Doctor Geoffrey Guy, I'm a pharmaceutical physician, that means I've spent about 23 years in clinical research in the pharmaceutical industry, developing drugs, and I founded GW Pharmaceuticals right at the end of 1997 and early 1998.

I founded the company really in response to a debate that was beginning to become more pressing in the UK during 1997, and that was mainly that a number of patients were finding themselves in front of judges in court, having used cannabis, marijuana, for certain debilitating conditions, mainly multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and other neurological conditions.

But the courts were taking pity on them and letting them off, and this presented a quandary to the British government, and certainly civil servants at the Home Office, because the law was being brought into disrepute.

And therefore, a solution was sought, to find a way in which the patients could be treated, but with a legal prescription pharmaceutical. And I led that program, and developed the plan, which was then accepted by the UK authorities and the UK government.

DEAN BECKER: I understand that you have developed a couple of products under the brand name Sativex.

DR. GEOFFREY GUY: Well, Sativex is one particular product. That is a cannabis based extract, which is made from an extract of two cannabis plants. The plants have been bred specifically to exhibit one or other of the major cannabinoids in abundance. So one plant exhibits very high levels of THC, and the other plant exhibits very high levels of CBD, which is cannabidiol.

And we make extracts, pharmaceutical grade extracts, from each of these plants, and then we blend them in certain ratios.

DEAN BECKER: Again, that was Doctor Geoffrey Guy, the chairman of GW Pharmaceuticals in the UK. Next up we'll hear from Irvin Rosenfeld, he was with us a couple of weeks back, you may recall. Every 28 days, he gets a tin of 300 pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes, courtesy of the US government.

He's the number one expert I could think of to respond to this situation with GW Pharmaceuticals, and their impending release of this new cannabis medicine. My friend, Mister Irvin Rosenfeld.

IRVIN ROSENFELD: Well, what GW is trying to do, okeh, just so you know, is, once the government schedules Epidiolex, which will probably be Schedule Three, is what I'm guessing, GW's going to try to say that they now have a drug for a CBD product. Okeh?

And they're going to say that everybody else is infringing upon their prescription, meaning, okeh, and they're going to try to stop everybody in the country from selling CBD. That's what they're going to try to do.

Therefore, they have a right to, you know, use a prescription for, you know, two decades, whatever, and anybody else is infringing upon their prescription [sic: patent]. Therefore, they're not allowed to do that.

DEAN BECKER: We had you on a couple of weeks back, we were talking about progress, you know, around the country.


DEAN BECKER: The -- Oklahoma's coming around, I think, they're at least --


DEAN BECKER: -- medical. The governor, or some board, is trying to limit it to on smoking and no home growing, and, you know, there's always --

IRVIN ROSENFELD: That's what they're trying to do in Florida, that's what they're trying to do in Florida. You know, and no -- no flower, and no home grow, unless we get this ballot initiative in 2020. Yes, same thing.

DEAN BECKER: And, I even hear rumors here in Texas, we just had a seminar last weekend that the thought going around there is that there may be progress here in Texas next year, but it would once again limit it to no smoking and no home grown. And that's -- that means that the big boys, the dollar makers, are going to be in charge.


DEAN BECKER: That, you know, the little guy's going to be behind the eightball once again.

IRVIN ROSENFELD: Exactly. Which is wrong.

DEAN BECKER: What is your thought? I mean, I've seen this over the last twenty years kind of unfolding, and we were all so --


DEAN BECKER: -- we were all so focused on the fact that progress was being made, we weren't watching what was happening behind the scenes, where the big money guys are really in charge of regulations and how we move forward. Your thought there, Irv.

IRVIN ROSENFELD: My thoughts are, the sad part is it comes down to patients. And patients are going to suffer. And the point is, it's a regulated industry like it's been down in Florida and Ohio, I mean, it's a vertical situation where they grow, you know, dispense, and the lab, they don't do laboratory testing.

The point is that prices are expensive because it's not a regulated market. It's not -- it's not something, again, we're based, in the United States, we're based with competition. That's what we've [unintelligible] with, and they're trying to stop competition in this, you know, market, and that's wrong. That's totally wrong, especially for patients, because again, real patients are on disability. They cannot even afford hardly their food or their rent, and they're supposed to spend all this money on a dispensary to go get their medicine? They can't afford.

So therefore it needs to be unregulated to where, you know, you have more people growing, and especially, hopefully, the individual growing it, to where they can sustain and grow their own medicine for themselves.

DEAN BECKER: Irv, it's -- it's been almost fifteen years ago, I got the opportunity to speak to -- to interview Geoffrey Guy, who was then and may still be the executive director of GW Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of this product. [Note: That interview aired September 16, 2003 ]


DEAN BECKER: And then, I was thrilled with that opportunity. I --


DEAN BECKER: I still feel it was one of the high points of my career, if you will, because I don't think he's given an interview to others, at least not as indepth as he did with me. And, the point I'm getting to is that, what they were presenting at that time, fourteen, fifteen years ago, was a whole lot different than the equation that's now being unfolded for this pricing, because that was not a topic of discussion back then. Your thought there, Irv Rosenfeld.

IRVIN ROSENFELD: You know, that's very true. I mean, you know, Geoffrey Guy, who I met in '98, '99, and, you know, while I own stock in GW, I still do, you know, the point was that, you know, they demonized marijuana so bad that I was hoping that a prescription, a legal prescription, for some sort of cannabis, whether it's GW, whatever, other companies but GW's the one who's done it, would be beneficial because a lot of patients, and all -- that's all I care about is patients -- a lot of patients, if a doctor goes to them and said, you know, I want you to use marijuana now for your, you know, for whatever, I mean, it's been approved for -- Epidiolex is for epilepsy for children so it's not going to help adults, or whatever.

But, if they get, you know, Sativex, if they ever get it approved for, you know, anti-nausea from chemotherapy or whatever, or for pain from chemotherapy, then, it would be beneficial because a doctor could say, look, you know, I want you to use marijuana. And it's been demonized so much, for, you know, eight decades, that a patient's going to go, well doctor, I already have cancer, what do you want, to kill me sooner?

They're not going to do it. They're not going to do it. But if a doctor says I want you to try Sativex for your anti-nausea from chemotherapy, they would get it with chemotherapy, they're going to use it, because they're not going to know that Sativex is real marijuana, they're not going to know that. They're going to do a drug that a doctor's prescribed.

Therefore, I've always been in favor of GW because of the demonization of cannabis in this country. So if a doctor can say use this prescription, they may do it, versus, you know, versus a doctor saying, well, I want you to use marijuana, or cannabis, and, you know, and the patient's going to go, doc, I'm already dying of cancer, what do you want, to kill me sooner?

DEAN BECKER: Ah, yeah.

IRVIN ROSENFELD: So, you know, so therefore I'm happy, you know, with that, the point is, once they get it approved, it gives me a soapbox to stand on to say, hey, look, I've been saying this for four decades, that cannabis is a medicine, and if you're finally approving it in a certain form, then other forms are the same medicine. It's the same plant.

And what GW's going to try to say, which, especially with Epidiolex, is, they're going to say that, you know, we control CBD. And they're going to try to say that all CBD use is an infringement upon their prescription. And therefore, you know, they're not going to allow to be doing that, because it's an infringement, it's like a generic drug.

And they've got a prescription, it's going to be allowed for twenty years, and therefore a generic drug is not going to be allowed. So they're going to try to stop CBD use in the entire country.


IRVIN ROSENFELD: Which, states are not going to live with that. They're not going to live with that.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and I want to --

IRVIN ROSENFELD: But that's the whole point.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, and thank you for that, Irv. I want to clarify something, that Epidiolex is one of the new medicines being brought forward by GW, it is the CBD side, and you mentioned Sativex, that is the THC side, which --


DEAN BECKER: -- would have -- would present some type of euphoria, if you will, to many of its users, and, they -- which brings to mind, there is another gentleman, Rick Simpson, who put forward the idea that by making these concentrated extracts from cannabis, that it, you know, I'm not going to say that it necessarily helps those suffering from cancer, but there is a lot of indications that it does, but that it is also of great benefit for many people.

And it's a homemade product, it's something that you can make by growing cannabis and doing a very minimal type of extract. Your thought in regards to Rick Simpson's oil.

IRVIN ROSENFELD: My thought on that is, you've got to be in a state where it allows you to grow it, and very few states allow you to grow it, and that's the problem. Okeh? And that's the whole situation that we're fighting, is again, we've come a long way, but we're not there yet, because we've got to allow patients to grow their own. We really do.

They grow their own medicine, and to make it to where, you know, they can do this and to make the best extracts for their disorder. I mean, that's what this whole thing is about, it's about patients. That's the thing, it's not about money. And that's what the states are doing, it's about money, that's what the states are saying, it's about money. We want to -- you know, we wanted to, you know, only have certain companies that are allowed to grow it, and dispense it, whatever, it's about money and tax and whatever. I'm sorry, it's about money. That's not what Bob Randall and I did in '82.

What we said was that we want this medicine to be for patients, and to make it the best patient -- you protect this, you know, medicine, and that way they get the best medicine, the best prices. And then what states are trying to do now is they're trying to say, well, we won't do that, but we're going to regulate it, and we're going to only allow certain, you know, companies to do it, and you've got to pay the price.

And that's not what we want to be, because it can -- people on disability cannot afford their food, afford their rent, and they're going to go to a dispensary for their medicine? They can't do it. So that's what we need to change.

DEAN BECKER: And, the heck of it is, these dispensaries, controlled through, by the state, only have to compete with the black market. Only have to be within shouting range, if you will, of that black market price, which is highly inflated and was making these patients suffer in the first place, over the decades. Am I right?

IRVIN ROSENFELD: Correct. You know, one of the things is, you know, which, I want to compliment Oregon. I really do. Oregon's done fantastic, because what did they do is they allowed -- they allowed companies to grow their own, and they let everybody grow their own.

So what has happened? Three years ago, two, three years ago, cannabis sold for two to three thousand dollars a pound on the black market, or, you know, to legalized. So Oregon allowed everybody to grow it. And this past growing session, pounds instead of two to three thousand dollars, was a hundred to three hundred dollars a pound [sic: the average in Oregon at the end of 2017 was approximately $900, ranging from around $200 to around $1200], because there was an overabundance of marijuana, overabundance of cannabis.

Therefore, the price dropped. Now, as a stockbroker, which I am, that's horrible. You know, the price dropping like that. As a patient, I think it's fantastic, because patients now can afford it. And that's really the bottom line for me, is patients, patients, patients. So therefore, this should not be a commodity where states are, you know, are regulating it to where they can make money off of it, taxes and everything else. I'm sorry, but I'm not that way, I'm -- you know, this is the only medicine that's taxed. There's not another medicine in this country that's got a tax on it, but marijuana.

And it's a medicine. Therefore, there should not be a tax on it, and states should not be able to make money off of it, and it should be regulated to where patients are allowed to grow their own and make their own medicine, because that would be the cheapest price, and that's what I want to see.

DEAN BECKER: You mentioned that cannabis, being the only medicine that's taxed, that's treated differently, that's --


DEAN BECKER: -- not given the, I guess respect that other medicines get. But it brings to mind that it, in many ways, cannabis is treated almost as if it's nuclear, you know, product, uranium or something, that it's so dangerous and feared by these politicians, when there's no legitimacy or reason for that attitude, that perspective, is there?

IRVIN ROSENFELD: There's none, so we've got to overcome that stigma. We've got to overcome this, and the states are saying, well, fine, you know, let's overcome this and make it, you know, a legal drug or whatever and tax it.

I'm sorry, you know, it's a medicine, and if you're not going to tax other medicines, you shouldn't be taxing this. You know, if you want to put a tax to it, then put a small tax to it, you know, to make, you know, and make it pay for itself for the states, but the point is, don't make money off the backs of people who are legitimate patients. That's the point.

DEAN BECKER: I'm with you there, I would even put forward the thought that any tax should be utilized to provide free medicine for those who cannot afford it in any fashion.

IRVIN ROSENFELD: Well, that's a point, too, and especially people on disability. I mean, you know, most patients, real patients, okeh, are on disability and they can't afford it. So therefore, they never do, and states haven't set that up. States could care less about these patients. You know? And that's the sad part.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. No real compassion there at all. Well friends, we've been speaking with Mister Irvin Rosenfeld, a stockbroker down in Florida. Irv, closing thought, a website you might want to share?

IRVIN ROSENFELD: You know, if you want the history of the medical movement in this country, you know, get my book, which is My Medicine, it's at, repeat,, you can order a copy of my book, which will be signed, and also, you know, what we try to do is patient navigation, meaning cannabis is great but a lot of -- a lot of states only allow oil or things like that, and they take out the terpenes, and they don't have essential oils, and so what we try to do is help patients, you know, with that, to add to it, add to the essential oils and to the terpenes, and that's through

DEAN BECKER: It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Confusion, changes in breathing, heartbeat, or blood pressure, unusual changes in behavior, agitation and irritability, worsening depression, suicidal thoughts, leaking or enlarged breasts, impotence, stroke, and death. Time's up! The answer, Latuda, from Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Incorporated. For depression.

Over the last few years, the focus has really been shifting. Television, radio, and the newspapers have been changing their focus, have been speaking more openly, about the need to change our drug laws, to change the focus, the penalties, the means, the way that we go about all this, and I'm real happy to say that there's going to be an event that kind of proves how that focus, that change, is expanding.

The Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston is having a major art show titled Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront The Justice System. And one of the gentlemen who has been the focus of our show several times before, a man who was sentenced to fifteen years to life for hauling a bit of cocaine across town, who now works for the Drug Policy Alliance, my friend, Mister Tony Papa, will be represented at this gathering at the Contemporary Arts Museum, and I want to welcome him to the program.

Tony Papa, how are you, sir?

TONY PAPA: Dean, thanks so much for having me on your show. Yeah, this is going to be a huge event. It's a happening, actually. Risa Puleo, the curator, contacted me a few months back, and she asked if I would like to participate in the show, because she knew my history as a person who was subjected to the criminal justice system, and I was sentenced to two fifteen-to-life sentences for a first time nonviolent drug offense.

While I was in prison, I went to Sing Sing, I discovered my talent as an artist, and I used my art actually to literally paint my way to freedom. In 1996, Governor George Pataki granted me executive clemency based on my art. I did a self portrait, I painted a self portrait, Fifteen To Life, which is going to be shown at this exhibit.

And it, basically, we showed it at the Whitney Museum of American Art while I was in prison, it got a lot of publicity, and the governor heard about my story, and I got my freedom through my art.

Art is a great vehicle to fight for justice. The artist has a -- has an opinion, the individual that becomes concerned with social justice is a very powerful individual. There's going to be forty artists in this show, and they range in their work and what they do, but they all have one common link: they're fighting the criminal justice system, fighting mass incarceration, and my part, I'm fighting the war on drugs.

For many years, I tried to make the connection between the drug war and the prison industrial complex, and I did it through my art, having exhibits, showing my art. If you look at my art, it's all about the prison experience, and, you know, what happens when you're subjected to arrest and then confinement, and then actually being in prison. You can see it through my art. I've managed to capture the whole prison experience.

DEAN BECKER: And, Tony, if I dare put words in your mouth, it was that experience that gave you the commitment for your now, I think, lifelong commitment to work with the Drug Policy Alliance to expose this situation for what it is, and to expose it as a failure. Am I right, sir?

TONY PAPA: Definitely, you're definitely right, Dean. You know, I commend you on your work, you've been doing these many years, and using the arts as a vehicle, you know, and a media vehicle, to get the issue across, is a very powerful tool.

I think now, in this -- with mass incarceration, many artists are speaking out, using their art as a vehicle to talk about the injustice that exists in the United States. So this show is a groundbreaking show. It's the first of its kind, I think, in the history of art. I've been trying to make that connection, like I said. Drug Policy Alliance, we used to have reform art shows, we had five of them, and we, you know, got artists to contribute art in the show, and we talked about the war on drugs.

This show is going to talk about many social justice issues, those that affect individuals, the criminal justice system. It's going to be a great show. Hopefully people can attend it. It's going to be open -- it opens on Friday, August Twenty-Fourth, and it's going to stay open until January of 2019.

So there's an opportunity to go see this show, and hopefully people will support these artists and come out to the show and see it.

DEAN BECKER: Well, again, this is at the Contemporary Arts Museum, I think it's at the Brown Foundation Gallery, and --


DEAN BECKER: And Tony's right, it's going to be August 25 through January 9 of 2019, I'm looking at the list of artists, they're from all over the country, even from the United Kingdom. This is a chance for folks to see the feelings of this -- this drug war, of the failings of this criminal justice system, expressed through paintings and statuary, and other means, through these great artists.

Tony, I want to come back to you for a second. You have, I think, stood forth for others, given them the courage to perhaps follow in your footsteps, and to join in creating this exhibition.

TONY PAPA: Yes, I've used this vehicle, my art, for many years, at different shows, different venues, and major galleries, you know. It's a great vehicle because it gets together people that talk about this issue. You know, right now, Sessions and the Trump administration want to bring back the war on drugs from the '80s and '90s, it's a big mistake, and mandatory minimum sentencing, and this show is going to talk about this issue, and many other issues concerned with the criminal justice system.

So I hope people can come out and see this show, and enjoy the art from these fantastic artists that are going to be in the show.

DEAN BECKER: All right, folks, once again, we've been speaking with Mister Tony Papa with the Drug Policy Alliance. I urge you to go to their website, you can learn not just about the artistry of Mister Tony Papa, but of the work and the endeavors of many of the good folks at the Drug Policy, and that's at

The following is a Drug Truth Network editorial.

So many citizens dabble, part time, in ending prohibition. Usually the prohibition of their drug, their medicine. They feel slighted, thinking they deserve better. They're seeking absolution because of how bad they've been shafted by marijuana prohibition.

These cannabis saints would do well to stand for the other fifty percent who have been busted, those who use heroin, cocaine, pills, et cetera, who get longer sentences and less sympathy.

Prohibition does not work anywhere, and it never will. Potheads would look a lot more serious and less self-centered if they dared to broach the full subject of drug prohibition head on with their elected officials.

We are currently and eternally empowering terrorists, cartels, and gangs, we're providing billions to banks that money launder, ensuring record number of overdose deaths and diseases being caught, of being the world's leading jailer.

I want to ask one question: what is the benefit of drug war? That is the question, the only question, that will end this eternal war on logic, freedom, progress, and sanity. Just being a good pothead is slow, plodding, very incremental work. But being a knowledgeable citizen, ready, willing, and able to discuss the abject failure of the whole of the drug war is certain to move things much quicker.

Compared to funding terrorists, cartels, and gangs, filling prisons, ensuring more overdose deaths, disease, and children's access, we must realize there is no benefit whatsoever to this prohibition. We must own this discussion, we no longer can pussyfoot around. We've been doing that for decades. We must own it.

There exists a quasi-religion we call drug prohibition, based in lies, racism, intolerance, and hard hearted evil that persist until such time that the number of activists can expose, embarrass, belittle, and otherwise force the intolerant believers of prohibition to realize they're on the wrong side of this issue.

This drug war continues because it creates massive power where none should exist. We only need to ask the one question to expose and eventually end this eternal prohibition, this madness: What is the benefit?

All right, that's about all we can squeeze in. Thank you for being with us, and again I remind you that because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag. Please, be careful.

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.