10/04/09 - Kirk Tousaw

Kirk Tousaw, atty fighting Marc Emery's extradition to the US + Paul Armentano and Steve Dillon of NORML & Abolitionist's Moment

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Guest: 
Kirk Tousaw
Organization: 
El Paso Council
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Century of Lies, October 4, 2009

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.
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Hello, my friends. Welcome to this edition of Century of Lies. I’m back from the conference tours, if you will, El Paso and San Francisco.

In studio, we have with us our oft-times engineer, Mr. Phillip Guffey, return from his tour of the salt mines of Louisiana to engineer today’s program for us. Here in just a little bit we’ll bring in Canadian Barrister, Kirk Tousaw to talk about the situation with Mr. Marc Emery, now behind bars and perhaps headed to a US prison for selling marijuana seeds.

But first, I want to do one last slice of the NORML Conference and we’ll tune in to Mr. Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of that organization.

Mr. Paul Armentano: …want to regulate an altered mood. Yeah, no s---. Why’s it important Paul? It’s important because most drugs, and I’m specifically talking about opiates here, these drugs also interact with receptors, but they interact with receptors in the brain stem. The brain stem doesn’t control emotion. The brain stem controls functions like breathing; consciousness and when you depress those receptors in the brain, you know what happens? People stop breathing, they lose consciousness, they go into a coma and they die.

The opiates work on these receptors. Alcohol interacts with these receptors. Cannabinoid’s don’t work on these receptors. Marijuana is not a central nervous system depressant. Yes, it works on receptors in the brain. It works on receptors that control mood. It works on receptors that control memory. That also shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone in this room. But, the important thing is that they don’t work on the receptors in the brain stem.

You’re not going to use marijuana, I don’t care what the quantity of marijuana is, to stop breathing. You’re not going to lose consciousness, you’re not going to die and that is why Judge Francis Young, whether he knew it or not in 1988, correctly declared that marijuana, in it’s natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. So, that’s part one. That’s the longer version of part one.

This is part two of my lecture. This notion of not defusing marijuana to treat symptoms, but to treat disease itself and this is what I call curative vs. palliative relief. Curative is defined as having the ability to cure. Palliate means to ease pain, without curing.

Now we have literally thousands of pharmaceutical drugs available in this country. Most fall into this later category. They palliate. They mask symptoms and you know, one of the conditions that most people here are fairly familiar with bolster the medical use of marijuana, but also pharmaceutical drugs as well, is Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis is a life-long disease, tends to strike women more than men. Tends to strike people in their early twenties.

Now it’s not going to kill somebody right away. If you’re going to live with Multiple Sclerosis for two, three, four decades, and this is what happens if someone’s diagnosed with MS in this country. They’re going to be given a drug to treat the spasticity associated with MS and they’re going to be given a second drug, possibly, to help them sleep. There might be even a third drug to treat the incontinence associated with Multiple Sclerosis. People with MS suffer from neuropathic pain. Give them a fourth drug for that. What they’re not going to be prescribed, is a drug to actually treat the Multiple Sclerosis.

The working plan is, you’re going to live with this disease for the rest of your life and we’re going to try and make your quality of life as good as possible by giving you a multitude of drugs to mask all these various symptoms and because MS is progressive, it’s going to get worse as the older you get. So you‘re going to need higher and higher doses of these drugs to maintain the same level of relief and you better hope none of these drugs are toxic to the liver, ‘cause then you‘ve got real problems. So, that is the way we deal with many, many illnesses in this country.

We have a whole bunch of drugs and they fall into the palliate category. What we need are drugs that fall into the curative category and while everyone in this room, I’m sure, is very familiar with the idea that marijuana can be a palliative drug, it can treat all sorts of symptoms, including all the ones I just named for Multiple Sclerosis, what I want to get through to the people in this room is, what I want you to leave this room and start talking about with your politicians, your family, your friends, your newspaper editor, whoever, is that marijuana has the unique ability to fit in both of these categories. It has the ability to be curative as well as the ability to be palliative.

Real quick, I’m just going to touch on these for about two minutes, because I’m assuming most of you know this information. But when we’re talking about symptomatic relief, and I think one of the reasons we talk about symptomatic relief and marijuana so often, is because there are so many symptoms that marijuana can alleviate and this is because there are so many unique therapeutic compounds in marijuana.

When I was writing my book, about a year ago, I said there were sixty-five ’mary’ Dale Gieringer’s book and they say there’s 85. So the idea is, we’re learning more and more about the unique compounds literally every month / every year. There are at least a dozen of these compounds that have been very well studied and that all seem to have different therapeutic purposes.

So when we’re talking about treating symptom’s, we’re talking about appetite stimulation; we’re talking about pain relief; we’re talking about using marijuana as an anti-nausea, as a mood elevator. We’re talking about the anti-anxiety activities in marijuana. We’re talking about the anti-inflammatory activity on marijuana. They’re very important for people suffering from chronic pain diseases and nerve pain diseases, that are rheumatoid arthritis.

It’s also very important, we’re talking about people’s gastrointestinal disorders like crohn’s disease. We’re talking obviously about the reduction of intraocular pressure, the reduction of pressure in the eye for people suffering from Glaucoma. We’re talking about the anti-spasticity of properties of marijuana. The anti-tremor property of marijuana. The fact that marijuana can be a sedative that can help people sleep, that it can actually help a eliminate bladder dysfunction or can help reduce or mitigate bladder dysfunction. We’re also talking about a reduction of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. You see there’s some patients suffering from Tourette’s and people suffering from ADHD. There’s other symptom’s as well that I’m not actually taking the time to go into here.

The point being, of course, that we’re talking about a broad range of symptoms that can be treated with marijuana. Going beyond this concept of symptomatic relief, this is what excites me, the idea of using marijuana not to treat symptoms, but to treat disease itself and we see this in about four or five different families of diseases. We see it in auto-immune disorders like MS and Diabetes.

We really start to see this, or we’re starting to see this in Neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Parkinson’s / Huntington’s disease. We’re seeing this in cancer, actually I should say we’ve seen this in cancer because the federal government in this country actually first documented the anti-cancer properties of marijuana at the Medical College of Virginia in 1974. So this is not new information. But we’re talking about the use of marijuana to actually treat cancer itself, not the symptom’s of chemotherapy, but to actually treat cancer.

We see this in the category of MRSA, multi-drug resistant infection. I don’t know why as a community we don’t talk this. Every year twenty thousand people die because they have compromised immune systems, their in the hospital, they pick up a disease like staph and it’s a form of staph, it’s an infection that’s become resistant to penicillin and the doctor’s say, “If it’s resistant to penicillin, we don’t have anything else,” the patient dies.

What we have found, I shouldn’t say ‘we’ because the research is being done overseas, but what other researcher’s have found in other countries that have looked at this, is that these Cannabinoid’s have topical agents that actually treat these forms of multi-drug resistant infections that have grown immune to penicillin and other drugs like that and we see this in the family of diseases that involve neurotoxicity and neurotrauma. These are diseases where there has been a blood or oxygen has been cut off to the brain causing irreparable brain damage.

So the first category I’m going to talk about is Multiple Sclerosis, arguably I going to talk about this because we know the most about it. This concept that marijuana can actually treat Multiple Sclerosis rather than just treating the symptom’s of MS. It’s not new. Price and colleague’s were talking about this almost ten years ago writing in brain when they talked about when in an animal model of Multiple Sclerosis, marijuana may also slow the neurodegenerative processors that ultimately lead to chronic disability in Multiple Sclerosis and probably other diseases like Multiple Sclerosis.

Well very interesting, the last couple of years we’ve got clinical trial data from Rouge colleagues and Wayne colleagues over in Great Britain. It’s not a coincidence we have this research coming from Great Britain. There is a drug, probably many of you in this room are already familiar with it, called Sativex. It’s a natural cannabis extract drug, CBD and THC, a one to one ratio in an alcohol based tincture. It’s legal in Canada and it’s gone through the regulatory approval hoops England and the E.U.

Well, when they were testing Sativex several years ago in clinical trials, they were looking to see if Sativex could treat symptoms, specifically in the case of MS spasticity and bladder incontinence and they set up a short term clinical trial. Two weeks, four weeks, they wanted to see you at the end of four weeks, these people have a reduction, need to bring them back, they did. Here’s what’s unique in Great Britain, if you are in one of these clinical trials as a patient, you can elect to stay on the drug even after the clinical trial is over.

Now many of these patients, not surprisingly, because they found symptomatic relief from marijuana, in this case side effects, they said, “Yeah, I’d like to stay on the drug.” We now have dad going over three/four years. What these people / patient’s experience is while on Sativex, and both Rouge and Wade found it that these people have been on the drug now for well over one year, two years, three years and they’re reporting lower median pain scores the longer they took the drug or they’re reporting long term use of MS associated symptoms like spasticity and incontinence, without having to increase their dose.

That shouldn’t be happening. Multiple Sclerosis is a progressive disease. The Multiple Sclerosis should be getting worse, hence requiring these patients to either use larger doses of Sativex to obtain the same relief they were getting when they first get in the trial, or they should be using the same amount of Sativex so their symptoms should be getting worse. That isn’t happening. What we’re seeing is patients are actually reducing their use of Sativex.

The only reason that would be happening, unless these patients on-their-own found some holy grail of the cure MS that we don’t know about and they’re not telling anyone about, is that in fact the Sativex that they are taking, the marijuana based medication they are taking, is slowing the progression of the MS and that shouldn’t come as a big surprise because we have animal models going back ten years ago, telling us that that would happen.
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You are listening to Century of Lies on the Drug Truth Network and that is Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML speaking at the NORML Conference in San Francisco. Many hour of audio and video from this conference are available on web at norml.org
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So, Alzheimer’s Disease. Once again, we’re talking about Alzheimer’s Disease in humans. This is a fatal illness. We have drugs that we give people for Alzheimer’s Disease but they don’t treat Alzheimer’s itself. All they do is basically treat things like the agitation that’s associated with Alzheimer’s, because people that are diagnosed with a terminal illness and they’re also losing their mind, they tend to get agitated, so we give them drugs to sedate them. But we don’t give them anything to actually halt the progress of the Alzheimer’s.

I really want to highlight this study by Campbell in 2007, British Journal of Pharmacology. I’m going to read these two sentences that come from the abstract. Keep in mind, we’re living in a country that says right now 2009 that the Federal Government says, ‘there’s no medical use for marijuana’ ‘that by federal law, the Schedule One labeling of marijuana says there’s no medical use in treatment.’

Compare that reality vs. Larowe in 2007. He was reviewing the effectiveness of Cannabinoid’s to treat Alzheimer’s. When he wrote, “Cannabinoid’s offer an multifaceted approach to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease by providing neuroprotection, that means they protect the brain. I know the federal government says it damages the brain, but the opposite is true. We protect the brain by reducing neuroinflammation while simultaneously supporting the brain’s intricate repair mechanism by enhancing neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is a fancy scientific term for, stimulate the creation of new brain cells.

Now, I don’t need to tell you how rare it is that we have any substance, no less a medicine, to actually stimulate the creation of brain cells. This offers the pharmacological approach to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease that may be more effective, not as effective, not possibly effective, maybe more effective than current treatment regimens.
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Dean Becker: It’s a shame we don’t practice medicine in America, but we’re still practicing some kind of witchcraft here. Next week we’ll have an interview with Robert Field. He’s one of the handful of millionaires who fund much of drug policy reform. Robert is a hotel owner, head of The Manor Group and is co-chairman of Common Sense for Drug Policy. We’ll have our live interview with Mr. Kirk Tousaw in one moment.
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Opening up a can of worms
And going fishing for truth

This is the Drug Truth Network
drugtruth.net
________________

(Teddy Woodward’s ‘I’m not a criminal‘)

I’m not a criminal, no no not me
I believe in all of God’s laws about decency
But I’m sure tired of being treated like one
‘cause I smoke a little weed
I’m not a criminal, no no not me…
________________

Alright. Speaking of people who are not criminal, there’s a gentleman up in Vancouver, Canada, name of Marc Emery, fought for years against the US drug war and perhaps is going to pay a price. In that regard, we have one of his attorney’s with us now. Mr. Kirk Tousaw, are you there sir?

Mr. Kirk Tousaw: I am. Thanks for having me on.

Dean Becker: Kirk, speaking of people who are not criminal, Marc Emery is not a criminal, is he?

Mr. Kirk Tousaw: I don’t think so. I think he’s a freedom fighter in a great tradition of freedom fighter’s and unfortunately, like so many that have gone before him, he’s going to be made an example of for daring to speak truth to power.

Dean Becker: Let’s give a little bit of detail first off let’s say, your background. I mean, you’re a very bold activist in your own right, up there in Canada working with-in and with-out the system to make changes, are you not?

Mr. Kirk Tousaw: Well, nice of you to say that Dean. I always appreciate compliments. I don’t know how bold I am but I certainly have been working up here in Canada for quite a while towards reforming our drug laws. I’m a criminal defense lawyer. I run a non-profit foundation also called The Beyond Prohibition Foundation which your listeners can visit at whyprohibition.ca and we’re trying very hard to really make Canada live up to what I think most Canadian’s think our identity is, which is a progressive, peaceful and compassionate nation.

Dean Becker: O.K. I really wanted to talk about the NORML Conference and many things, but I do want to talk about the fact that just, was it last week, that Mr. Marc Emery was confined and is potentially being delivered to the United States within the month?

Mr. Kirk Tousaw: That’s correct. Marc was committed for surrender to the United States. He’s been sought for extradition for four years now. We’ve been fighting a battle up here for him along with his co-accused, Greg Williams and Michelle Rainey. Greg and Michelle resolved their cases with probationary dispositions, that they’re serving in Canada and Marc is now sitting in North Fraser Pretrial Detention Centre here in Canada, waiting for our Minister of Justice to make a decision on whether or not to surrender him to the United States where he’ll actually then be called upon to serve five years in prison for selling marijuana seeds over the internet, predominately to Americans.

Dean Becker: As I understand it, the DEA named him one of the ten most; the biggest traffickers in the world at one point, right?

Mr. Kirk Tousaw: Yeah, well when they arrested him, there was obviously a whole lot of bluff as there always is with the Drug Enforcement Administration and they talked about him being one of the top ten drug traffickers in the world, I guess. Never mind the Hell’s Angles, never mind the massive criminal organizations that have sprung up as a result of this tragedy of prohibition over the last thirty or forty years.

I guess the guy that’s sitting in Vancouver selling seeds to our truly unique and medicinal and safe plant is going to be the focus of all that might and all that power of the US Drug Enforcement Administration and I think most of your listeners and most people that really consider this issue, understand that it’s really not about marijuana seeds at all.

It’s about the DEA really being afraid that Marc Emery was using the money generated from the sale of those seeds to help push the agenda of Cannabis policy reform forward both in Canada and in the United States and really across the world and he was a guy that wouldn’t stop talking about his belief’s and was very outspoken and very much in the public eye and doing this all aboveboard, in full view of everyone.

Paid taxes to the Canadian Government. Listed his occupation as Marijuana Seed Sales. Donated to the politicians up here when they wanted to run for re-election and they took his money then, and really turned a blind eye to the activity. I think in some respects, because that kind of activity here in Canada’s not going to get you a jail sentence. It’s historically going to get you a small fine and so, I think frustrated with that, the police here brought in the American’s and the American’s wanted to shut him up. They wanted to stop his politics, not caring really about the sale of the seeds.

Dean Becker: That’s the point. I freely admit, I was one of those who received money. Back in the early days of The Drug Truth Network, our boat was about to sink and Mr. Marc Emery sent us some several thousand dollars in order to keep the boat afloat and to keep The Drug Truth Network alive and I thank him for that support and I freely admit that if he’s part of some grand conspiracy, throw me in the same bucket because I admit to believing 99% of what Mr. Marc Emery does.

Mr. Kirk Tousaw: Well, that’s bold of you to admit that, if I can turn that phrase around but I can tell you this, there’s a lot of organizations across this country, a lot of people, who benefited from Marc Emery’s, really I would say his, entrepreneurship in the social interest. Social justice entrepreneurship. I mean, this is a guy that could have, as so many people that sell cannabis seeds or cannabis itself or all other illicit substances do, he could have lined his bank accounts, he could have lived the high life. Didn’t do that.

Put his money into his belief’s and his belief’s are those that I think most normal people share these days, that those who have an intelligent preference for cannabis over other substances shouldn’t bare the brunt of the Criminal Justice System, shouldn’t go to jail, shouldn’t have the police kicking down their doors. Peaceful farmers shouldn’t be locked up in cages for growing a truly unique and beneficial plant.

Marc’s been a hero of mine for a long time and a guy that I admire, probably more than I can say and certainly we’re hoping to do everything we can to keep him in Canada. It’s a possibility, of course, that our Justice Minister will refuse surrender. In fact, history was really set last week. Our Justice Minister, currently Rob Nicholson - conservative, refused to surrender a Canadian to the United States. I think it’s the first time any Justice to serve Canada has ever made that decision and it was in a case of a man who everybody admitted was guilty of selling Polar bear rugs across the border and into the United States.

Hadn’t gone there and so, what the Justice Minister said is, “Well, these are sort of unique circumstance and I’m not going to surrender this man,” and I think, ‘Look, if that individual isn’t going to be surrendered, why should Marc Emery be surrendered? He’s really a Canadian Hero. He should be freed and we should really be praising him. So, I urge your listeners, even in the United States, across the world to call our Justice Minister and to tell him, ’Don’t surrender Marc Emery to the United States.’ His phone number is (613) 995-1547 and folks can go to noextradition.net for further information on what they can do to help prevent Marc Emery’s extradition.

Dean Becker: Once again, we’re speaking with Barrister Kirk Tousaw out of… You’re out of Vancouver, right Kirk?

Mr. Kirk Tousaw: Well, I practice in Vancouver. I just moved over to Vancouver Island. I’m involved in some litigation over here on behalf of The Vancouver Island Compassion Society. It’s medicinal cannabis producer Mat Beren that, in fact I’ve got a Supreme Court of Canada filing due tomorrow. We’re hoping that our highest court takes on the issue of access of medical cannabis, because our system up here’s a real mess.

Dean Becker: Well, and that which brings up my last question where we got just two minutes left here Kirk and I wanted to… I’ve often thought, it seems like that Canada is trying to parallel, trying to run the same course in their drug war that the US has put before them. Quick. Your thoughts on that.

Mr. Kirk Tousaw: Yeah. I think unfortunately the reality is that our conservative government’s a minority conservative government is taking a real drug war path there. They’ve run on what they call a law and order agenda. I call it a disorder agenda, because as we know increased prohibition simply increases the level of violence on the streets. It increases the danger in the market place. It increases the chaos and so it’s not a law and order agenda at all, it’s a lock ’em up and create chaos agenda, as we all know.

But they’re unfortunately going the wrong direction and the thing that really inspired me when I went down to the NORML Conference a week ago is to see that, it seems to me at least, that many parts of the United States are headed in a positive and progressive direction and I hope that we can turn things around here in Canada and get back on the right track and get back to a drug policy and a cannabis policy based on science, evidence, reason and compassion.

Dean Becker: Kirk, we’ve got thirty or forty seconds here and I want you to go back through the website and the phone numbers where folks can show their support for Mr. Marc Emery.

Mr. Kirk Tousaw: Absolutely, Dean. You can call Justice Minister Rob Nicholson. Tell him to refuse to surrender Marc Emery to the United States. His number’s (613) 995-1547. You can also go to www.noextradition.net for more information on how you can get involved or you can visit my organization’s website www.whyprohibition.ca and there you can see what we’ve got going on in Canada. It’s some very exciting stuff.

Dean Becker: Kirk, it was very nice to meet you at NORML. We’re going to invite you back real soon to The Drug Truth Network.

Mr. Kirk Tousaw: Anytime. I appreciate the opportunity.

Dean Becker: Thank you, Sir.
________________

This bud’s so good, that when I smoke it,
the government freaks out.
________________

Dean Becker: I’m here with the chairman of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Mr. Steve Dillon.

Mr. Steve Dillon: Yes We Cannabis! This years theme is the positive hope for the change that we’re recognizing and that we know is going to happen all over the country. Hopefully within the next few years. It’s a positive conference. We’ve got a great blend of experts and activists and patients and doctors and lawyers, who all contribute and learn and share during this conference.

I think it’s been extraordinarily rich in the amount of content and material and people we’ve had available to participate this year. I think we’ve probably had 600 people here the other day. That’s one of the largest conferences I can remember. San Francisco seems to be a great place for it and California seems to be the spot where the most is happening in this country. It has been for a long time.

But you know, I think this conference sums up in the positive attitude of the theme, Yes We Cannabis! and I think the fact that the baby boomer’s have aged, myself included, to the point we have and gotten as involved in the communities and politics and government as we have, I think we’ve impacted the nation in that way. The economy certainly has something to do with ending this prohibition. The fact that we can make billions of dollars in legal tax revenues and save billions more from fruitless and counterproductive law enforcement.

I’ve got to remind people that even though as we talk positively and that the prohibition is ending, that there were still over 800,000 people arrested in this country for marijuana in the last year and over 90% of those, for possession of a small amount. One out of eight people in prison in this federal and state prison system in this country, is there for marijuana. That half the people that got arrested for drugs last year in the United States were arrested for marijuana.

That it’s a real continuing social cost and law enforcement cost and truth cost that needs to be changed and even though we’re positive and we recognize the economist in the Wall Street Journal and Mother Jones and Fortune magazine and all these mainstream type magazines that are calling for the end of the prohibition are recognizing that the war’s lost, that we still have work to do because the politicians seem to still be afraid to devote to what has now become the majority view in this country. That people should not be arrested for their choice to use marijuana, whether it’s recreationally or for medicine.

So, we’ve got work to do, but I’m hopeful and I’m positive that this job is going to be done and that’s what this conference is all about.
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OK, that might be the end of our pre-recorded stuff from these conferences but I’ll be bringing you additional segments for sure, including a little bit from assistant administrator of the DEA. Get to hear his funny stories and to Mike and all the other’s who called during the show, I want to let you know that we will let you know when we’re ready to march. Perhaps it’s soon. It’s time for us to do something to end the madness of this drug war. Is it not?

Are we the immoral majority? Is that where we’re at? We need to change the equation; the definition, of what we are because we are certainly not immoral through our use of marijuana or some of these other drugs.

Be sure to tune into this weeks Cultural Baggage. We’ve got the Mayor of El Paso, the Mayor of Ciudad Juarez and many other experts from that major conference down there and I remind you, there is no truth, justice, logic. No reason for this drug war to exist. We’ve been duped.

Visit our website. endprohibition.org

Prohibido istac evilesco.

For the Drug Truth Network this is Dean Becker, asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.

The Century of Lies.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston

Transcript provided by: C. Assenberg of www.marijuanafactorfiction.org