04/15/18 Windy Borman

Century of Lies
Windy Borman

This week on Century: legislation has been introduced in the UK House of Commons to allow for supervised drug consumption rooms; plus, we speak with filmmaker Windy Borman about her new film Mary Janes: The Women of Weed.

Audio file


APRIL 15, 2018


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

DOUG MCVAY: Hello, and welcome to Century Of Lies. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of

Well this week, we're going to be speaking with filmmaker Windy Borman about her new movie Mary Janes: The Women of Weed.

This is one of those throwaway questions that I'm -- you probably get all the time, but you know, I have to ask. What's a Puffragette?

But first, in the UK Parliament in March, the Right Honorable Alison Thewliss, Member of Parliament for Glasgow Central, a member of the Scottish National Party, introduced legislation to allow for supervised consumption facilities in the United Kingdom. We're gong to now here her introduction of the bill. The first voice that you hear on this will be that of Deputy Speaker Rosie Winterton, Member of Parliament for Doncaster Central, and a member of the Labour Party.

ROSIE WINTERTON: We know come to the ten-minute rule motion. Alison Thewliss.

ALISON THEWLISS: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I beg to move, that leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision about supervised drug consumption facilities, to make it lawful to take controlled substances within such facilities in specified circumstances, and for connected purposes.

Madam Deputy Speaker, one of my constituents mentioned to me on Monday that Glasgow already has drug consumption facilities: they're behind the bushes near his flat. They're in his close when it rains. Right now, they are also in bin shelters, on filthy waste ground, and in lonely back lanes.

They're in public toilets and in stolen spaces where intravenous drug users can grasp the tiniest modicum of dignity and privacy for as long as it takes to prepare and inject their fix. Often they're alone, and, far too regularly, drug users will die as a result. Madam Deputy Speaker, as a society, we can and must do much better than that.

There is a real and persistent issue in Glasgow. In 2016, there were 2,593 opioid-related deaths registered in England and Wales. That same year, 867 were registered in Scotland, and of those, 257 were in the city of Glasgow.

We have an ageing population of people with long-term problem drug use. They are increasingly vulnerable and require particular interventions to reduce harm and encourage them to engage, and remain engaged, in health services.

The largest cohort of drug users in Scotland currently are aged 35 to 44. This ageing population, people who have survived since starting to take drugs in the 1980s and 1990s, are in deteriorating health. Due to their sustained opiate use, they are assessed as having a physiological age 15 years greater than their actual age.

This population has complex co-morbidities, with above population-level instances of conditions including COPD [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease] and asthma, hepatitis C, liver disease, epilepsy, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, skin infections and cellulitis, depression, and psychosis. This population are vulnerable to overdose and to emergency hospital admission.

The Scottish Drugs Forum has carried out research interviews with a large group of older people with a drug problem. This group feel very strongly that they have been left behind, that they are seen as a waste of space.

There needs to be a recognition by this House that abstinence-based programs will not necessarily work for everyone, and that harm reduction and support will be better and more worthwhile interventions for a group of people who have not managed to eliminate drug use in the preceding decades.

Evidence shows that long-term engagement in treatment is a positive protective factor. The people in Glasgow who would use this facility are not in treatment. The facility would get them through the door and would provide a range of other social and medical support to help them to stabilize their lives.

The report, “Reducing Opioid-Related Deaths in the UK”, published in December 2016 by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, recommends that consideration be given by the governments of each UK country and by local commissioners of drug treatment services to the potential to reduce drug-related deaths and other harms through the provision of medically-supervised drug consumption clinics in localities with a high concentration of injecting drug use.

The report cites evidence demonstrating that such facilities reduce injecting risk behaviours and overdose fatalities. Furthermore, they say that they have been estimated to save more money than they cost, due to the reductions in deaths and HIV infections that they produce.

Such facilities have not been found to increase injecting, drug use, or local crime rates. In addition to preventing overdose deaths, they can provide other benefits, such as reductions in blood-borne viruses, improved access to primary care, and more intensive forms of drug treatment. No deaths from overdoses have ever occurred in such facilities.

Madam Deputy Speaker, Glasgow has a proposal, a well-worked-through business case produced by Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership, which is supported by the Scottish Government. Drugs law remains reserved to Westminster, and Scottish Ministers have requested permission from the Home Office to allow for the proposal to go ahead. This has not yet been granted.

This proposal has the real potential to reduce drug-related deaths, and ongoing harm. It is for an integrated service, as also recommended by ACMD, not just a shooting gallery, as some have suggested. It will allow for engagement with a population who at the moment are not being assisted very well at all. There will be medically trained staff who can supervise and administer life-saving naloxone should it be required.

Some may say, Madam Deputy Speaker, that this is an unnecessary expense. I say to Ministers on the Front Bench that it will certainly cost them nothing.

For Glasgow, there is a significant cost in not doing this. There is a cost in treating the latest HIV outbreak and in treating hep C and other conditions. There is a cost in emergency hospital admissions and ambulance call-outs and police time dealing with complaints. There is a significant cost in cleaning up discarded needles, residents being charged by their factor for a problem not of their making and the council picking up the tab for public spaces.

A housing association told me how they are regularly paying to clear up areas of hundreds of discarded syringes. A constituent tweeted me today to say that there are syringes on her doorstep.

There is an ongoing public health risk to residents, who at any time could be pricked by a contaminated needle, and of course, there is the intangible cost, Madam Deputy Speaker, in human lives. We should consider all those costs that we are currently paying in a situation which helps no one.

Heroin-assisted treatment has been mentioned as an alternative to a supervised drug consumption room, and I would like to touch on some of the limitations of that. The Glasgow proposal does include provision for heroin-assisted treatment, but I would like to stress that while it can be a treatment for those for whom many other interventions have failed, it is not suitable for everyone.

There are also capacity and cost issues. Glasgow city centre is thought to have a population in the region of 500 injecting drug users. The Glasgow health and social care partnership believes that it would only have capacity for 40 to 60 individuals for heroin-assisted treatment, and only when the service was running to full capacity, which will not happen for some time yet.

I understand that the service also requires two separate licences to operate: a premises licence, which is in the gift of the Home Office, and a prescriber’s licence, ?dependent on the premises licence, for individual doctors directly linked to the site. It is not a simple process, but it has been developed very much alongside the proposal for a supervised drug consumption facility.

Madam Deputy Speaker, to operate a supervised drug consumption facility requires the consent of the Home Office. Those operating, working in, and using the facility require protection in law, hence my bill seeks to exempt staff and those using drugs within the facility from prosecution and remove liability for prosecution to the operators of the facility, in this case, the Glasgow health and social care partnership.

Madam Deputy Speaker, the supporters of the Bill come from a range of parties: Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and even the Conservatives. And a letter that I wrote to the Home Secretary earlier this year, ahead of the Honorable Member for Inverclyde debate, garnered similar cross-party support from MPs right across Scotland.

I am particularly grateful to the Honorable Member for Stirling, who said in giving his support that we should reach out to help those in the grip of drug abuse and do what can be done to help them escape the vile grip of the gangster pushers and dealers. This facility is very much a step in that direction, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Madam Deputy Speaker, in my 11 years as an elected member in Glasgow, the issue of drug taking has been a constant.

I have seen various police initiatives shunt people around, from bin shelter to close to waste ground. I have seen the council clear up the mess at significant cost and significant risk to its workers. I have seen residents at their wit’s end, worried about what they will open the door to in the morning, with blood, excrement and used syringes on their doorsteps regularly, daily. I have seen very vulnerable and desperate women and men injecting into their groin in hidden but still public places. They have nowhere else to go, Madam Deputy Speaker.

And I've listened to the heartbroken families who have lost loved ones. If it was their choice, they would not have their loved one die alone in a filthy back lane. They would want a medically supervised facility where treatment could be given and help could be sought.

The status quo, Madam Deputy Speaker, serves none of these people well. I cannot accept that this is the best we can do. It's unacceptable. We must try something different. I accept that it may not work, but we must at least try.

Today, Madam Deputy Speaker, is International Ask a Question Day, and my question of the UK Government is this: Glasgow has a plan which could reduce drug-related nuisance to residents, reduce harm to drug users, and save lives. Will the UK Government let Glasgow get on with the job? Madam Deputy Speaker, I commend this Bill to the House.

ROSIE WINTERTON: The question is that the Honorable Member have leave to bring in the bill. As many as are of thus opinion, say aye.


ROSIE WINTERTON: To the contrary, no.

MEMBERS: [silence]

ROSIE WINTERTON: I think the ayes have it. The ayes have it. Who will prepare and bring in the bill?

ALISON THEWLISS: Madam Deputy Speaker, Crispin Blunt, Mister Alistair Carmichael, Joanna Cherry, Ronnie Cowan, Christine Jardine, Stephen Kerr, Stuart C. McDonald, Ian Murray, Liz Saville Roberts, Mister Paul Sweeney, Doctor Philippa Whitford, and myself.

ROSIE WINTERTON: Alison Thewliss.

Supervised drug consumption facilities bill.

ROSIE WINTERTON: Second reading, what day?

ALISON THEWLISS: Friday, Twenty-Seventh of April, Madam Deputy Speaker.

ROSIE WINTERTON: Friday, Twenty-Seventh of April. Thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Alison Thewliss, Member of Parliament for Glasgow Central, member of the Scottish National Party, speaking in the UK Parliament to introduce her legislation to allow for supervised consumption facilities. The second reading of that bill will be on April 27th, and I and thousands of people around the world will be listening, and praying for its success.

Many thanks to Ms. Thewliss and to her colleagues in the House of Commons for putting forward this legislation.

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

Now, let's talk about marijuana. Windy Borman is a documentary filmmaker. She has a new movie out, it's called Mary Janes: The Women Of Weed. I had the opportunity to speak with her recently. Here's part of that conversation.

WINDY BORMAN: My name is Windy Borman, and I'm a filmmaker. I directed Mary Janes: The Women of Weed.

DOUG MCVAY: Let's start out, Windy, could you -- first, tell me a bit about yourself and your background.

WINDY BORMAN: Yeah, well, I actually started out as a cannabis outsider. So, I have been directing and producing documentaries for over fifteen years. My previous projects have focused on education, empowerment, you know, social justice issues. For example, one of the films I did was called The Eyes of Thailand. It was about elephants stepping on land mines in Thailand, and there's the world's first elephant hospital that built prosthetics to help them walk again.

I also produced a documentary about dyslexia. So, I've had a variety of interests in my films, but in 2014, I ended up moving to Colorado, and that was right when, you know, adult use sales were beginning for cannabis, and I had never used the product, but I couldn't help hear all these amazing stories about women have success in the industry.

So finally in 2015, I heard a statistic that 36 percent of senior leadership in cannabis was women. And when you compare that to the national average of 22 percent, there is a significant amount of female leadership that's coming to cannabis, and that made me really curious. So I started interviewing people to figure out what the heck was going on.

DOUG MCVAY: When you said, cannabis outsider, now, you don't just mean that you weren't part of the industry, or that you weren't part of a collective, or that you didn't have some -- it's not just that you didn't have a business interest, you'd never tried pot before this?

WINDY BORMAN: Correct. Yeah, I had really absorbed the DARE generation message of, you know, marijuana being a gateway drug. And there's alcohol and drug addiction in my family, so I had never really wanted to flip that genetic switch, so I obviously had ample opportunity to try cannabis, I mean, I grew up in Oregon, I went to the University of Oregon for college, and lived in the bay area and New York City. And yet, I was never curious to try it.

DOUG MCVAY: Yeah. That's -- okeh, yeah, you're an outlier.

WINDY BORMAN: I mean, the nice thing that it provided, from a film perspective, is I was that natural skeptic character. Right? There's a lot of films that have come out that have been inside the cannabis echo chamber, you know, they're produced or directed by cannabis activists.

And that's great, and, we haven't always brought in the people who were canna-curious. Right? And, frankly, a lot of cannabis culture can be really alienating to women. You know, that stoner dude image that's perpetuated in Hollywood. You know, women don't see themselves in that image. We've got a lot of s**t to do, whether it's in our families and our work and our communities.

And so, one of the things I found was that women were coming to cannabis for two main reasons. One was, they're smart. They see the same opportunities that men see. But, they're able to create the corporate culture that they will thrive in. So, instead of being stuck at the glass ceiling, you know, in these other careers, maybe they're the SVP, but all these men get promoted around them. They get to be the CEO. They get to be the founder. They get to hire the people they want to work with.

And we see that when women and people of color start businesses, they hire more diverse people, because they intuitively know that diversity is going to increase their success as a business.

And then the second reason women are coming to cannabis is, they're able to create products that fit into their lifestyle. You know, most women are not interested in owning the tallest bong ever built, nor are they interested in having the most THC possible in a strain so they sit on a couch for three days. You know, they need something quick, easy, discrete, something that can fit into their bag, and they can still go pick their kids up at school and go to the board meeting and volunteer and get dinner on the table and do all the other things that they need to do.

So, just seeing how we -- cannabis can be economically empowering to women as well -- and it can fit into their lifestyle. It turned out that after a year of filming, I was finally curious to try cannabis. And I did, and I included it in the film.

DOUG MCVAY: So we get to experience your first high?

WINDY BORMAN: Yeah. Yeah. And, what's great is, I had asked for some advice, so I actually started with a topical, and that's kind of a bridge for a lot of people, especially when you look at people who've never used cannabis before, or maybe they used it, you know, in the '60s, but then they stopped using it and now they're dealing with pain, or inflammation, or arthritis, or, you know, all those things that happen with aging. Right?

So a topical felt like a really safe, easy way for me to try, and I knew it wasn't going to get me high. Right? But it could help deal with, you know, a tight neck when you sleep wrong, or whatever.

So I tried that. I started with an Oregon product, actually Empower Body Oil is what I used. And it was really amazing, because I came at it, you know, as journalist, kind of scientific, and I put it on, and I set the timer, and we saw if it worked.

It was about three minutes, and I had the mobility back in my neck. And that was just amazing to me, you know, that all of this propaganda that I'd been told ahead of time had brainwashed me. Right? To the point that I wasn't going to try natural plant medicine, when it could help me, as opposed to popping a pharmaceutical or something over the counter.

So that really opened my eyes, and from there, I was like, okeh, let's try this recreationally and see what happens. So I went shopping at a dispensary, and figured out what I wanted, and put together a group of women who I call my cannabis fairy godmothers, and they really guided me through that experience.

DOUG MCVAY: The website for the movie, where you can find schedules of appearances and lots more information, is

So now, Windy, you mentioned Madeline. I -- looking over the press materials, I know several of the women you have, who are featured in Mary Janes. Madeline, I mean, there's -- Madeline was involved in reform before she got into business. She's been a leader of Oregon NORML for years, she was, I think she may still be, a member of the national NORML board of directors. Very involved politically through the legalization movement and medical movements here in Oregon.

Were many of the other women you spoke with involved in the political movement prior to getting involved in the industry, or did most of them come into it afterward?

WINDY BORMAN: When we were figuring out who we wanted to include in the film, I felt the social responsibility to show a broad cross section of women that were involved.

So, that meant everything from ages, ethnicities, expertise, geographical distribution, sexual orientation, you know, we -- if this is a film about women leading cannabis, let's show all the different types of women who are leading cannabis.

So, within that, I started by interviewing over 100 people over the phone, just to really wrap my head around all these different issues about cannabis. And I realized that not only was gender parity a topic in cannabis, but you also ended up talking about social justice and environmental sustainability.

So those three core values had been present in all my other projects, and that became the structure to figure out, how can we start dividing up this huge topic of cannabis into these, you know, chapters, if you will, to get people up to speed quickly.

So within that, we have 40 women who ended up being interviewed for the film, and I would say over half of them were the activists who helped build this movement, and turn it into an industry. You know, as you said, cannabis started as a movement, you know, we've had people working on normalization and legalization for decades. Right? So those voices are absolutely represented in the film.

And, there's another wave of people who, maybe they've come from other segments, you know, they were the CEO of a tech company, or they've been, you know, in Fortune 500 board rooms, and they're finally ready to make a product that's going to speak to a female cannabis consumer, because they were having to hide things in little baggies in a briefcase, you know, they can now create a purse that fits into a briefcase for other women.

There's also, you know, technology, and scientists, and a lot of the people who are involved in medical marijuana. Right? Maybe they started as doctors, or they started as researchers, and they realized that they've been lied to about cannabis, and so they bring their experience to the cannabis movement, and now they're able to participate as an industry.

And that's really groundbreaking. Right? We've got a lot of states, we have a majority of states that have legalized some type of cannabis, and this has really opened the floodgates for funding to come into the cannabis industry, and that's creating another challenge. You know, what we're seeing, because we filmed in 2016, and that year eight new states legalized some form of cannabis, whether it was medical or adult use.

And when California and Massachusetts came on board that year, that opened a whole new round of funding to come into cannabis. And sadly, what we're seeing is a lot of the activists who helped build this movement into an industry are losing out, because they don't know how to write a business plan, or they don't know how to pitch to investors, or have a pitch deck, or, you know, even get a valuation on their business.

You know, maybe they've been growers or medical marijuana providers to patients, but, you know, once you apply this old paradigm of how you do business in the United States onto it, not everybody fits. So one of the challenges that we're seeing is how do we get access to funding, for a lot of the people who are the old guard. Right?

And the nice thing, we've seen some equity programs, or some incubator programs, pop up in states where it was part of the -- their legalization process, that they would make sure that the people who had been targeted by the war on drugs were not excluded from the industry.

So that's groundbreaking. The other thing that's really going to be helpful to make sure that we have good representation in the cannabis industry is mentorship. You know, we can't be comfortable saying that, oh, we have one diverse face in the boardroom, and all this other outside money from old rich white guys has come in, but, you know, they've kept one woman, or they've kept one person of color, that's okeh.

We can't be satisfied with that. We really need to make sure that the people who are there reach back down the ladder and help mentor and nurture the next round of leaders, to make sure that we do have parity. You know, I would love to see fifty-fifty parity in terms of gender as well as people of color.

DOUG MCVAY: Right on. Right on. There's a question that I have to ask and I hate to do this, but, I, again, we're coming up to the end, and this is one of those throwaway questions that I'm -- you probably get all the time, but you know, I have to ask. What's a Puffragette?

WINDY BORMAN: So, as we were filming, we focused on women who could speak to our core values of gender parity, social justice, and environmental sustainability. And we were struggling with figuring out, what do we call the women and the men who focus on this. Right? There -- you can look on social media and there's all kinds of cute little words, like, you know, women of weed, and ganja girls, and green goddesses, and, you know, there's all these types of things.

So I was actually meeting with my marketing team, and we were kind of brainstorming some ideas, and the word Puffragette came out of that. So it's a combination of pot, plus suffragette, and we define it as a women, or a man, who is building gender parity, social justice, and environmental sustainability into the cannabis industry.

So, are you a Puffragette, Doug?

DOUG MCVAY: I -- I hope so.

WINDY BORMAN: I think you are.

DOUG MCVAY: I do hope so. I've been at this for a little while. Well, again folks, we've been speaking with Windy Borman, a documentary filmmaker whose latest work, Mary Janes: The Women Of Weed, is now showing at film festivals and movie houses around the country, possibly at a theater near you. The website for the movie, where you can find schedules of appearances and a lot more information, is

I'm hoping this is going to get picked up by one of the streaming services, not netflix, but one of the good streaming services, and so it will be available, because I think this is important stuff for people to learn about.

WINDY BORMAN: Thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: Oh, thank you. And thank you for all your time, this has been a fascinating conversation.

WINDY BORMAN: I really appreciate it. And on that note, I would just encourage people to sign up for our newsletter on our website, and follow us on social media, so we are @MaryJanesFilm on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and as you've said, we're

DOUG MCVAY: Windy Borman, thank you so much.

WINDY BORMAN: Thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: That's from a conversation I had with Windy Borman, her new movie Mary Janes: The Women Of Weed.

And that’s it for this this week. I want to thank you for joining us. You have been listening to Century of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at I’m your host Doug McVay, editor of

The executive producer of the Drug Truth Network is Dean Becker. Drug Truth Network programs are available via podcast, the URLs to subscribe are on the network home page at

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

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

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