08/04/13 Katy Couric

Century of Lies

PM candidate Trudeau pos for MJ, Canadian cannabis rpt, Sheryl Shumans visit with Katy Couric, Pot shop opens in DC

Audio file


Century of Lies / August 4, 2013


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.


DEAN BECKER: Hello, my friends. This is Dean Becker, your correspondent here. You know the drug war is ending slowly, ugly, glacierly – if you will. It’s really up to you to do your part but the folks up in Canada are starting to smell the roses , smell the coffee, smell the weed – courtesy CTV:

FEMALE ANCHOR: Millions of Canadians think it’s a good idea. Many others are firmly opposed. Now a man with a very real shot of becoming our next Prime Minister says he wants to legalize marijuana.

MALE ANCHOR: Justin Trudeau spent the day here in Vancouver and as Peter Granger reports the federal Liberal leader is promoting what you might call a radical proposal to change the law.

PETER GRANGER: While glad handing voters Justin Trudeau says it’s time for conservative ideology about marijuana to make way for sound science.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU: I have evolved in my own thinking. I was more hesitant to even decriminalize so much as five years ago.

PETER GRANGER: The Liberal leader says decriminalization is only a half conviction of what he believes should ultimately happen which is out and out legalization.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Decriminalization just removes the criminal penalties that are applied to people for having marijuana and that tends to bog down the legal system and keeps the gangs and the criminal elements that are profiting from marijuana.

PETER GRANGER: BC Bud is a 6 billion dollar per year illegal industry. Now, as he runs for Prime Minister, Trudeau sounds like the mayor of Amsterdam.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Once we control it, tax it, regulate it we allow for development of a medical marijuana industry that will actually be responsive to the needs of the many consumers of medical marijuana.

PETER GRANGER: Trudeau appears to have decided that attacking the Harper government’s war on drugs could be a winning strategy.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU: This is an issue where the Conservatives are really out of step with the Canadian people.

PETER GRANGER: Dana Larsen is already pushing a pro-pot political agenda by organizing a referendum in BC. He says Trudeau’s new stance will push the issue.

DANA LARSEN: If we can win this marijuana referendum in British Columbia then we would see decriminalization coming into play in our province in early 2015 with the federal election in late 2015. This would ensure that marijuana policy reform is a big issue in the next federal election.

PETER GRANGER: Recent polling suggests 70% of British Columbians already favor legal reform of marijuana laws. We’ll have to wait until the federal election of 2015 to find out if Trudeau can turn public support for an idea into actual votes.

Peter Granger, CTV News, Vancouver.


DEAN BECKER: The following segment out of Canada is from Global National.


FEMALE ANCHOR: Good evening and thanks for joining us. We begin tonight with an exclusive look at a Health Canada program some say has been taken over by greed. It involves the medical use of marijuana. It’s legal in Canada but patients need a doctor’s signature in order to get it but finding a willing doctor isn’t always easy.

A Global News’ investigation has revealed some patients have resorted to paying hundreds of dollars to get the approval they need. Our health specialist, Jennifer Trion, has our top story tonight.

JENNIFER TRION: Marie Cole says she got blindsided trying to access Health Canada’s medical marijuana program.

MARIE COLE: I felt like I was part of a scam or something honestly.

JENNIFER TRION: She has MS and all of her doctors refused to sign the paperwork for a legal marijuana license. She had hope when she heard of this doctor – Dr. Ira Price – a doctor she says is known for being sympathetic to cannabis as medication.

MARIE COLE: I’m like, OK, finally I’m not going to have to worry about having to get arrested maybe.

JENNIFER TRION: She got an appointment, showed up, right time, right place and ended up here – not at a doctor’s office at all but at a law firm.

MARIE COLE: As I was sitting down he said, “OK, I need the thousand dollars.”

I’m like, “A thousand dollars for what?! What are you doing? Seriously I can fill out the paperwork myself.”

JENNIFER TRION: We asked the lawyer, Ron Marzel, at this law firm to explain why he’s intervening in this medical appointments and why patients are being charged for a program that is supposed to be free and accessible.

RON MARZEL: I will help people who want to be helped. There’s a market for it. There’s no question that there’s a market for it.

JENNIFER TRION: A big market. Global News has learned so few doctors are willing to help patients get legal access to Health Canada’s program that this lawyer has developed a network of doctors willing to sign for cash. He does the paperwork and they all make money.

[interviewing Mr. Marzel] It’s a little deceptive, though, for someone to be calling a doctor’s office and to be given an address and they show up here. You don’t see that?

RON MARZEL: I don’t know where the confusion was with this particular patient.

JENNIFER TRION: We caught up with Dr. Ira Price who is signing these forms.

[questioning Dr. Price] Hi, Dr. Price.

IRA PRICE: How are you?

JENNIFER TRION: We need to ask you about why you are charging hundreds of dollars to…

IRA PRICE: I’m not. I don’t charge hundreds of dollars.

JENNIFER TRION: But when our producer went in posing as another patient sure enough he was charged – this time, $339.

We discovered the clinic is used exclusively to sign off on patient after patient paying for access to Health Canada’s medical marijuana program.

IRA PRICE: I don’t have any financial motivation in the clinic whatsoever. I’m assuming it’s a free market. If they want to charge a certain amount and the patient is willing to pay for it or a client it doesn’t have to do with me.

JENNIFER TRION: But do you know that’s going on?

IRA PRICE: I’m not familiar…I’ll have to familiarize myself with it.

JENNIFER TRION: Both the doctor and the lawyer said the Health Canada program is confusing for patients and it’s riddled with bureaucracy and they are helping patients navigate it.

RON MARZEL: Is there anything wrong with a doctor wanting to make money?

JENNIFER TRION: On the back of some of the most vulnerable patients?

RON MARZEL: Absolutely and it shouldn’t have to be that way. We need a better program.

JENNIFER TRION: The government is promising one but their spokesperson was completely unaware of what patients are faced with.

HEALTH CANADA SPOKESPERSON: What you are telling me I’m totally unaware of. We need to make a change so what Health Canada is going to be doing over the next 18 to 24 months is phasing in a new program.

JENNIFER TRION: A new program in the future while patients trying to access the old program now say they are being taken advantage of at every turn.

FEMALE ANCHOR: And Jennifer joins me now. Jen, this is the last thing patients need when they are in pain. What else have you uncovered about how widespread this problem is?

JENNIFER TRION: It’s far beyond just this isolated case. We discovered there are actually roving clinics where doctors see patients in hotels. Patient after patient showing up willing to pay access for the program – some are that desperate. Others are showing up with an ulterior motive. We know of some drug dealers with grow-ops all perfectly legal because of their medical marijuana license.

FEMALE ANCHOR: Jen, help us understand why there are so few doctors willing to sign off on medical marijuana use?

JENNIFER TRION: Well, for one it’s marijuana and it’s illegal so right away that puts many doctors off. Others who might be open to it have no guidelines. They don’t know how much to prescribe or what to use it for. So, those two together, many just say I’m not doing it.

FEMALE ANCHOR: Alright, Jen, thanks for your reporting on this.


DEAN BECKER: And, once again, from Canada’s CTV.


REPORTER: Kaitlyn Pogson is only nine-months-old but she already suffers from a form of epilepsy so rare it causes seizures that can last up to an hour. There is a treatment showing promising results in the United States but so far no trials have been conducted in Canada. It’s called CBD. That’s a strain of medical marijuana.

We’re joined this morning by Kaitlyns’ parents, Barry and Shannon Pogson. Good morning to you. Tell us exactly what form of epilepsy Kaitlyn has.

SHANNON POGSON: Kaitlyn has a form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. This is a form of epilepsy that is genetic and it’s very rare and catastrophic.

REPORTER: And she was the youngest one ever diagnosed with this. How old was she?

BARRY POGSON: At the time of her diagnosis she was about 7-months-old but they sent it off for testing back in February so she would have only been about 4-months when they suspected it.

REPORTER: So, what happens? Describe to me, if you can, what happens when Kaitlyn has a seizure.

BARRY POGSON: They really come out of nowhere. She could be playing. She could be sleeping. Sometimes it starts in an arm or a leg where it will start rhythmically twitching. Sometimes she’ll go into a full-blown catatonic seizure with both arms, both legs. Her face will be catatonic and she’ll just be rhythmically jerking for upwards of an hour.

So basically we call 911 every time and go to Sick Kids and have them do their best to bring her out of it.

REPORTER: And how often is she having them now?

BARRY POGSON: She doesn’t have much of a pattern right now. It used to be every 2 or 3 days. Now she’s going sometimes a week or two but they are getting longer.

REPORTER: There’s no medication for this in Canada right now?

BARRY POGSON: Nothing that’s worked so far. She’s tried 6 different anti-seizure medications and there is a variety of emergency medications and nothing has been effective.

REPORTER: OK, so there is some medication in the United States that contains a form of cannabis/marijuana called CBD. Tell me about that.

BARRY POGSON: It’s an extraction of marijuana. It’s non-psychoactive as opposed to THC so there’s no high involved in CBD. It’s administered as an oil or a paste or a tincture. There’s really no immediate side effects that anyone has discovered and it’s reducing seizures like crazy especially with Dravet syndrome but all intractable epilepsies are benefitting from it.

REPORTER: Is this taken orally because you’re mentioning that it’s an oil so is it taken orally?

BARRY POGSON: That’s right. People mix it with the food or just mix it with glucose so it’s sweet. Just a few drops in the morning or the afternoon and seizures are going down dramatically.

REPORTER: So in the United States 18 states have this. We don’t have it in Canada. What is the roadblock?

SHANNON POGSON: Right now the roadblocks is there are no clinical trials going on. There are no medical documents supporting this notion. It’s all anecdotal so there is nothing for the doctors to go by.

REPORTER: And Health Canada says they don’t fund or promote clinical trials so the object here would be to get some entity to begin clinical trials. Is that correct? Is that something that is beginning to happen? Is that something that you are pushing for? Where do we stand with that?

BARRY POGSON: Our doctors have been very good. In fact, Sick Kids, in general, are willing to put it on the table but it’s a slow process and time is kind of our enemy here. We could really have done with starting a trial yesterday especially if we’re not included in the trial then it could be years before we’re starting to see some benefit to that.

REPORTER: Kaitlyn is very young. What is the age limit for this? Can kids of all ages have this or is it more just babies and youth?

SHANNON POGSON: Typically it will start in a child around 6 months. For Kate it was 2 months so she was early. Usually you’ll have your first seizure before 2 years is the latest I’ve ever heard and then it’s a life-long battle.

REPORTER: The potential, I guess, is frightening. It could be up to 2 or 300 a week, I guess…

SHANNON POGSON: …a day. There is no medicine to control them. Because these seizures are so intractable…the kids are on so many medications so cognition and even physical development goes downhill.

REPORTER: Well, Kaitlyn looks like a beautiful little girl and good luck with getting things done. Maybe somebody will hear something today and help you out with this.


REPORTER: 15-year-old Tegan is exhausted after a night of severe epileptic seizures.

TEAGAN’S MOTHER: It’s heartbreaking to see this repeatedly.

REPORTER: Not one of the 14 prescribed medications have stopped her epilepsies. Her mother is now hoping to get her this – a liquid form of marijuana called CBD. It’s legal for some children in US states where parents are reporting often dramatic results.

Like 6-year-old Jayden who suffered untreatable seizures until starting CBD. He’s been seizure-free for 9 months.

But parents in Canada either can’t get this formulation of marijuana or can’t find doctors who will prescribe it.

SHANNON POGSON: For the people that are experiencing long or frequent seizures this is something they needed yesterday.

REPORTER: So some have launched a petition asking for emergency access to CBD like the parents of 9-month-old Kaitlyn who suffered over 50 seizures that can’t be controlled.

BARRY POGSON: Every day that we aren’t trying CBD or something like it is another day she could go into a status seizure and suffer irreparable brain damage or even die.

REPORTER: Advocates say this marijuana is a special strain that calms the brain without getting children high.

WOMAN: Their lives are completely changed. They can eat. They can put on weight. They can sleep. They can actually have a normal childhood.

REPORTER: But others say there’s little scientific proof that it’s safe or that it works.

MAN: If any doctor had used it and seen it to work it would have been published in a case report at least. There’s not a single case report in the literature.

REPORTER: Still some US doctors plan to begin studies of CBD in the coming months but the answers could take several years. Meanwhile these Canadian parents say they should be allowed on compassionate grounds to try it on their children because so far nothing else is working.

MALE ANCHOR: Canadian parents with children suffering from a severe form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome are trying to get access to an experimental treatment that’s being tested in the United States. It involves administrating a marijuana extract that is supposed to reduce seizures in kids.

FEMALE ANCHOR: For more on how it works we are joined by Dr. Alan Schackelford in Chicago. He oversaw the remarkable treatment of a little girl with Dravet syndrome who was given the marijuana extract.

Doctor, when I first heard that someone was giving marijuana to a child it is not exactly what you usually hear when it comes to medical experiments but I think we need to take a step back. Can you first explain to us what exactly is Dravet syndrome and how does it affect patients?

ALAN SCHACKELFORD: Dravet syndrome is an inherited disorder of sodium metabolism essentially. It’s a problem with the way the sodium ion moves in the nervous system across the membranes.

This is the cause of the dramatic and persistent seizures that these children have. These are generally Grand Mal seizures but they can also be a variety of other types of seizures. The nervous system itself is unstable. Dravet is rare and it doesn’t respond to any combination of pharmaceutical treatment.

In this particular instance this child has failed all prescription medications and has 2 cardiac arrests from some of the medications that she has been prescribed so the parents really had no alternatives.

Cannabis has been known as an effective treatment for associative disorders for a very long time but it hasn’t been investigated properly. As a last ditch effort we provided very high cannabidiol content cannabis extracts for the child’s use and it was absolutely remarkable in its effect.

REPORTER: Walk us through it if you can in layman’s terms how this marijuana extract was used and the effect of it.

ALAN SCHACKELFORD: The extract came from a particular plant that was cultivated to have very low THC which is the psychoactive component of cannabis and very high amounts of cannabidiol which is known to be a neurostablizing compound.

It was extracted from the plant and put into an oil and administered in low doses along with food. The effect was to change the manifestation of the seizures, to stabilize the neurological system so that the seizures went from one Grand Mal seizure every 15 minutes (or 300 seizures per week) to none at all within the first week.

REPORTER: What kind of form does the child take the marijuana? Is it a pill?

ALAN SCHACKELFORD: It’s an oil that is administered either directly into the mouth or along with food – a spoonful of rice or something. It takes very, very little and the dose has to be adjusted with the child but, in general, low dose cannabis extracts are remarkably effective with no psychoactivity.

REPORTER: So, I guess, another side question is there any risks involved with this treatment?

ALAN SCHACKELFORD: I have seen absolutely no indication that there are any risks. Of course it is new and we don’t have a great deal of data on this but cannabis has an extremely long history of use with absolutely no major side effects and certainly no fatalities.

REPORTER: What about some legal barriers that are stopping this from becoming mainstream?

ALAN SCHACKELFORD: In general terms this sort of treatment is legal only in areas where medical marijuana legislation or in countries where medical marijuana legislation is law. The problem…

REPORTER: But does the legislation apply to children?

ALAN SCHACKELFORD: Yes, in some states. In Colorado it is legal for children to be provided with marijuana if 2 doctors agree it could be beneficial for the child.

In other states it varies and certainly in some countries which have medical cannabis.

As always we have to look at risk versus benefit and in this case the risk was so miniscule compared to the benefit which was, in fact, born out once the child received the extract that it made sense to use it.

It is extraordinarily difficult to do clinical trials on cannabis due to a variety of different restrictions and regulations.

Canada is different. There is an openness to doing research on cannabis which is refreshing. I think it would be possible in Canada and some countries such as Israel and perhaps the Netherlands to do the types of studies that would allow this particular kind of treatment to become more mainstream and we would be able to more effectively dose it and understand its mechanisms better but in the United States it’s extremely difficult to do the studies that are necessary.

REPORTER: Dr. Schackelford, thanks so much. We don’t want to take up anymore of your time. No doubt you are a busy man but thanks for talking to us.

ALAN SCHACKELFORD: It’s been a great pleasure. Thank you for having me on your program.

REPORTER: I don’t think we have enough information to know whether cannabadiol works for Dravet or other types of epilepsy and we need studies to answer that.


DEAN BECKER: And now for some mind bending news out of our nation’s capital.


ANCHORMAN: First licensed medical marijuana dispensary is now open for business in D.C. It is called Capital City Care and it is over on North Capital Street. The opening comes more than a decade after the voters of D.C. passed and initiative allowing people with serious illnesses to legally get marijuana.

Our Ko Im visited the dispensary and talked with one of the first patients.

WARREN: I don’t even think I can put it into words. It’s amazing.

KO IM: 33-year-old Warren didn’t want to share his last name or condition just his sheer excitement with us. He’s getting his first dose of medical marijuana today at Capital City Care on Capital Street Northwest.

For the folks who run this dispensary it’s been all about patience.

OWNER: This project here is three years but in a minor way I helped to pass the initiative back in 98 and I’ve been waiting for 15 years.

KO IM: And now the patients (plural)…

WARREN: It’s been a long wait not only for me but for lots of others. I know there are a lot of people who don’t even know where to begin the process. There are a lot of doctors who are kind of uneasy about doing it. I just encourage the more people who do it the better the chances we have of it working.

KO IM: The Department of Health says there are 20 approved doctors and 9 registered patients so far in the District. 7 will be seen here and they are expecting another 2 patients this week. And more may come calling like Sidney Porter who says he’s in pain every day.

SIDNEY PORTER: I’m HIV positive for 21 years. I’ve been in a coma, two strokes – I mean there is so much I’ve got going on I just want to relax and enjoy my time on earth.

OWNER: Waiting that long builds up a little bit of frustration at times but I think that’s all be subsided now. I think people will really be excited.

KO IM: No more knocking on wood just seeing the marijuana finally leave the building. Reporting in Northwest, Ko Im, WUSA 9.

ANCHORMAN: People with HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma or other diseases are eligible to participate. More medical conditions may get in the pipeline to get approved as well.


DEAN BECKER: Next up, the head of the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club, Sheryl Shuman visits Katie Couric.


KATIE COURIC: You’ve really made a cottage industry out of cannabis but it comes from your own experiences with marijuana. Tell me about when you started using marijuana and why.

SHERYL SHUMAN: I was a corporate woman working in television specializing in PR and product placement. In 1996 I was going through a really bad divorce and stressful times and my psychiatrist had prescribed Prozac and Xanax and a number of pharmaceuticals.

One day he looked at me (and nothing else was working) and he said, “Prop 215 just passed. It’s legal and lady you need to smoke a joint.”

So he rolled one up for me and showed me how to do it because I’d never even smoked a cigarette. I didn’t drink. I didn’t do drugs. Within 2 puffs I was smiling and laughing for the first time and I would rather have those side effects any day.

Fast forward to 2006 and I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and I used cannabis as a last resort and it saved my life. I don’t smoke cannabis. I vaporize cannabis. It’s a healthier alternative.

KATIE COURIC: So you’re a true believer. We don’t want to give people false hope that marijuana can cure their cancer but you feel it had an instrumental role in your recovery.

SHERYL SHUMAN: Agreed. I would never be a person that would go out that and claim this is a miracle cure – stop everything you’re doing. I don’t believe that. I believe it was a combination of different therapies and it worked for me.

KATIE COURIC: Tell me how you turned from using marijuana to turning it into a multi-million dollar business.

SHERYL SHUMAN: I juice the plant. I have cannabis juice every morning which is a non-psychoactive way to use cannabis. It’s specifically for tumor growth. When I decided to use cannabis I needed a lot of it so we decided to grow our own garden.
My daughter and I planted our garden right there with my tomatoes and zucchinis and everything else. We formed a legal collective because we wanted to do everything legal. With the extra that we had when people found out that I was back in town from the entertainment industry I started getting calls from all my friends who are producers, actors and so forth.

They said, “Oh my God, we heard you have cancer but we also heard you have a marijuana garden. We want to be a part of it.”

KATIE COURIC: [laughing] More importantly, I guess.

SHERYL SHUMAN: It was strange…the day I got back I got a call from a friend of mine who was the Executive Producer of Wilfred and he said I need your plants for a TV series that we’re doing. That’s when I realized, “Hey, there’s a huge opportunity for a business here.”

KATIE COURIC: Amy, how is it for you? Your mom’s sort of the “Martha Stewart of marijuana”? Is there any part of you that thinks this is a little strange?

AMY SHUMAN: No, absolutely not. My mom is an amazing role model and I consider her the modern day Pauline Sabin, the woman that turned over alcohol prohibition. My mom is going to overturn marijuana prohibition so this is historical. This is like, “I can’t believe she’s my mom at the same time.”

KATIE COURIC: We have a mom here, actually Sheryl, who is an advocate. Georgia Etson is from Denver, Colorado and a mother of an 8-year-old boy. Georgia, I know in Colorado marijuana is legal as we heard for recreational in addition to medicinal use. How did you start using it?

GEORGIA ETSON: I started using medical marijuana because I’m a runner and I was diagnosed with horrific bursitis and my physician said you are going to be taking high doses of Ibuprofen and getting cortisone shots in your hip for as long as you continue to run. Stopping to run wasn’t an option.

The idea of potentially wearing out the joints because of cortisone shots and continuing to take large doses of Ibuprofen wasn’t really a good health option for me. The idea of using a topical infused with cannabis was interesting to me. In fact, I had never heard of such a thing.

It’s literally a lotion or a cream and you apply it to the infected area. Cannabis is a natural anti-inflammatory and within three months of using only the cannabis-infused topical I was able to run a half marathon.


DEAN BECKER: I hope you enjoyed this edition of Century of Lies and that the truth, the information about medical marijuana has helped to influence your concept of this drug war.

Let me close out with this thought. The proven methods of the drug war were immediately leveraged following 9/11 to allow the immediate creation of the War of Terror because there is terror inflicted on both sides of this second war declared for eternity. But we, Americans, now have a choice to cling to the fear and propaganda churned out on a daily basis by the government corporations or to educate ourselves to the fact that these eternal wars are based on over-hyped data and compared to the very real problems we face in the 21s t century that the War on Drugs and War of Terror are nothing more than cheap and obvious magic tricks that fool only the foolish.

My dear friends, it is absolutely foolish to remain silent in the face of these irrational eternal wars. Please do your part. 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: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org