10/20/13 Phiip Leveque

Century of Lies

Henry Lee, San Francisco Chronicle reporter on dangers of hash oil labs, Dr. Philip Leveque 90 Yr old pot doc writes pot column for Salem-News.com, Cheryl Shuman on Ohio TV, Mary Jane Borden of OhioRightsGroup.org seeking MJ on the ballot

Audio file

Century of Lies October 20, 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. Welcome to this edition of Century of Lies. We’ve got a great show lined up for you. We’ve got a report from Dr. Philip Leveque. Henry Lee, San Francisco Chronicle report. We’ve got a report from Mary Jane Border out of Ohio where they’re trying to legalize marijuana. We’ve got a little segment from Cheryl Shuman, Beverly Hills Marijuana Mom.


HENRY LEE: My name is Henry Lee. I’m a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. I’ve been with the newspaper covering crime and courts since 1994.

DEAN BECKER: Now, Mr. Lee, the drug war seems to be hitting nearly every front page of America nearly every day in one fashion or another. You recently had a story that talked about the dangers inherent in people making hash oil and the dab product at home. Do you want to briefly summarize it for the listeners?

HENRY LEE: What we have here are people who believe they can safely make butane hash oil in their own home whether it’s in a closet or a bedroom. They realize quite quickly and tragically that they can get injured while doing so.

DEAN BECKER: This is not just an Oakland or California problem. This is happening across America because so many people think, “Well, marijuana is safe. Hash oil must be safe as well.”

But that’s just not true is it?

HENRY LEE: That’s right. They’re saying, “The instructions are on the internet. I can go to my corner hardware store to get butane and other devices such as pipes and the like. It must be easy to do – easy as one, two, and three.”

But, again, it’s a very dangerous process to undergo.

DEAN BECKER: Can you tell us about some of the more recent occurrences out in California?

HENRY LEE: We’ve had a number of incidents in California in which there have been massive explosions that have resulted in injuries and death. In Livermore, California (east of Oakland, east of San Francisco) we had three individuals cooking hash oil in an apartment complex. There was a massive explosion that killed one of them and the two others were charged with murder, murdering their friend.

They eventually took a plea deal to lesser charges but the injury both psychically, physically and, of course, some legal exposure was quite steep.

DEAN BECKER: This is an example just today that was on the internet – there are people selling hash oil on Amazon. It’s really become a bizarre situation. You’re thought there, sir?

HENRY LEE: That’s right. With the prevalence of things on the internet and there was a Richmond story I did about an illicit drug website known as “Silk Road” which also had its roots in San Francisco. The feds just clamped down on that site, arrested the operator.

The sheer audacity of these sites and the individuals who believe they can safely make a drug using a very dangerous gas is staggering. Just over the weekend there was another incident in Freemont, California (south of Oakland) where there was yet another explosion.

These are incidents that are increasing simply because people believe that it is safe to manufacture butane hash oil in the comfort of their own homes.

DEAN BECKER: I noticed a mention in your story a brief touch on the clandestine amphetamine labs which are in many ways a greater danger to those in the neighborhood. Your thoughts on that?

HENRY LEE: That’s right. When I first started in this business in the 90s there were major reports of methamphetamine busts where there were explosions, homemade labs, toxic chemicals and then the spectacle of individuals dressed in suits trying to clean up the mess kind of like what you see in “Breaking Bad.”

Nowadays we don’t have that. The cleanup is less strenuous but the dangers are still there even though they all use less explosive chemicals than like those used in meth production. The butane that is used because it is a heavier gas it tends to collect on the floor and unbeknownst to the individuals if you got a cigarette in the neighborhood, a water heater with a pilot light across the room – the butane spreads across the ground and then tries to find an ignition source. It’s a very insidious process.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir and I’m a member of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. We believe that it would be much safer and less likely for our kids to get their hands on these drugs if it were made by Merck or Pfizer, sold in drug stores to adults for a penny on the dollar. Your response to that Mr. Lee?

HENRY LEE: That’s a good question because butane can be found in several ounce canisters. You can find plenty on the internet. There’s also the question of if prohibition of these inherent elements that are used to make these drugs is that a good idea or not?

I don’t take any position personally but, of course, now it’s a free country. People can get these canisters wherever they want. They can buy these pipes and Gerry rigs this together. Obviously no one can legislate stupidity. If that’s what people want to do in the comfort (so to speak) of their homes or apartments.

If you decide to rig some kind of contraption to make drugs not only are you putting yourself in jeopardy but the legal stakes are quite high. Regardless of anyone’s position on drugs - the legality of such – again, the dangers of butane hash oil are quite real.

FEMA issued a warning earlier this year warning authorities to be careful of these blasts are becoming more prevalent, that they might be mistaken for pipe bombs, meth blast explosions. This is a growing trend unfortunately but the dangers are quite real and quite risky. You do not want to injure yourself by trying to make this kind of drug.

DEAN BECKER: One last thought I did want to include here. Thank goodness in California and the legal states (if you will) there are legitimate manufacturers who are doing this safely. I’d say leave it to the experts, right?

HENRY LEE: We do have medical marijuana cooperatives who or so-called pro-marijuana groups who are themselves issuing stark warnings. They are saying, “You know what? Yes we support medical marijuana. Yes we understand that the voters in California are overwhelming for it but that does not mean you have the wherewithal and the ability to try this willy nilly. This is some kind of 4th grade science experiment.”

Again, even pro-marijuana groups are sounding the alarm that this is a very, very risky thing to do.

DEAN BECKER: Once again I want to thank Mr. Henry Lee, reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle.


PHILIP LEVEQUE: This is Dr. Philip Leveque from Portland, Oregon. I was a professor of pharmacology and toxicology for approximately 25 years. I’m also a practicing physician - have been that for about 20 years.

My past history I was first introduced to marijuana about 1928. I was a newspaper boy in southern Oregon. The newspaper boys were all smoking cigarette butts but the Mexican kids were smoking “loco weed”. I was 5-years-old at the time and I knew what weed meant but I couldn’t figure out what loco meant locomotive or what the heck it meant.

My next exposure to it was in 1949 when I started to medical school for pharmacology and toxicology. The first day I started the professor of pharmacology says, “Leveque, would you go into the stock room and see if you can straighten things out so we can find something, anything that we’re looking for.”

One of the first things that I found was a gallon jug of cannabis cough medicine manufactured by Parke-Davis which is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. I said to myself, “Well, if cannabis works for cough I’m going to get myself some so I poured a pint of it and I brought it home.” And it works for cough and the pint bottle is still out in my barn some place. I haven’t seen it for about 20 years but it probably still works.

I have studied the pharmacology and the therapeutics of marijuana since 1950. I have probably read or reviewed more than 2,000 medical research articles. I was one of the advocates for legalization of marijuana in 1998 in Oregon. It was a state medical marijuana plan with 9 different medical conditions and I looked at it as a pharmacologist and a physician and I said there is no medicine in the world which is good for all of these purposes.

But, nevertheless, I started being a doctor for medical marijuana and the state office said there would be 500 people in Oregon who would be eligible for medical marijuana permits. At the end of the first year I had 900 patients myself and the next doctor had 71 and this created quite a furor in the newspapers and with the board of medical examiners.

As the time went on the second year I had about 2,000 patients, the third year about 3,000, the next year about 4,000. I had signed probably about 45% of the medical marijuana permits myself.

As time went on up to 3,500 physicians in Oregon did sign applications but approximately 10 doctors signed 10% of the total. At the present time in Oregon we have 59,000 medical marijuana patients and about 29,000 caregivers who grow marijuana for the medical patients but as far as I’m concerned most of them use also.

In Oregon we’ve got approximately 90,000 people who have access to medical marijuana. The clinic where I used to work now has over 150,000 patients, in 9 states 27 different cities throughout the United States.

DEAN BECKER: Dr. Leveque, you also write a column as well.

PHILIP LEVEQUE: Salem-news is a newspaper on computer only. I try to write at least one article a week, most of the time I write 2. At the present time I have about 200 articles. Most of them are about marijuana. You have my permission to use any one of those stories in any manner which you find useful as long as it is attributed to me with my name and address.

DEAN BECKER: Now the column which caught my attention here recently dealt with the fact that many of these treatment centers are making a living by declaring marijuana to be so addictive that long-term treatment is necessary, correct?

PHILIP LEVEQUE: That is correct. The whole thing is the drug treatment centers in California have not been monitored by the Medicaid (or whatever the heck it is) and you know the stories so you know what I’m talking about. These guys have been getting away with murder and apparently it has been costing the California Medicaid approximately 100 million dollars a year.

There were 180,000 patients in these drug rehab programs – 180,000. Most of them are for marijuana because marijuana is the most used illegal drug here, there and every place. These treatment centers actually pay people to come in and state that they are addicted to marijuana and they need treatment and the treatment probably costs a minimum of $100 a day.

DEAN BECKER: This brings to mind this scenario you spoke of 1949 you found that big gallon jug of cough syrup made by...

PHILIP LEVEQUE: ...cannabis cough medicine, yeah.

DEAN BECKER: ....made by a reputable firm. Content and quality known and it was in use across America. It was understood to be a medicine. This harkens back to the time when Harry Anslinger was touring the country frightening people with the word “marijuana” never once mentioning the fact that it was identical to that cannabis which was in their cough medicine. Your response there, sir?

PHILIP LEVEQUE: There were 30 separate pharmaceutical companies who had cannabis medical products – Parke-Davis, Ely-Lilly and Mercke were probably the most notable ones but there were 30 different companies. It was recommended for 100 different medical conditions. That went on up until 1937 where the congress made any kind of cannabis illegal.

DEAN BECKER: This brings us back around to that overpopulation at the treatment centers. Let’s be truthful. Pot stinks. If you smoke pot in your car, your room it gets on your clothes, your breath, your hair. It is something that is just recognized. It is not the behavior that typically sends people to these treatment centers. It’s just that leftover smell of marijuana. Am I correct?

PHILIP LEVEQUE: It easily can be and you’re correct it sticks to your clothing, to your hair, to your skin, to any kind of cloth in your home, automobile and so forth. Apparently there’s a lot of cops who randomly stop people and if they smell cannabis smoke in the car that could be anywhere up to 5 years in the penitentiary with one stick of grass in your pocket.

DEAN BECKER: I just want to say this that the knowledge of the folks who have been around long enough to have seen this transition, to have witnessed this – I call it an abomination – are to be applauded for stepping forward. Is there a website you might recommend, some closing thoughts you’d like to share?

PHILIP LEVEQUE: My website, http://www.salem-news.com/, is the best one. I am the only professional pharmacologist, professor of pharmacology who has been also a medical marijuana doctor. There’s a lot of people who talk the talk but they don’t walk the walk.

I don’t know of any other site on the computer that has my kind of articles. There just isn’t one.


DEAN BECKER: Once again we were speaking with Dr. Philip Leveque, 90-year-old doctor, pharmacologist who saw the beginning of marijuana prohibition and is hoping and helping to bring about its demise.

You can check out his columns at http://www.salem-news.com/ He would love to hear from you.

The following segment courtesy of NBC TV.


ROBIN HAYNES: Cheryl Shuman describes herself as the modern face for marijuana. She is the mother of two, a career woman and uses cannabis on a daily basis.

CHERYL SHUMAN: I heard about cannabis in the past but I didn’t know that much about it.

ROBIN HAYNES: It started when Shuman was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She came home to Ohio, Siota County, to prepare to die.

CHERYL SHUMAN: I went from dying and on 27 pharmaceuticals and an intravenous morphine pump and then within 90 days being in remission, being able to go back to work full-time.

ROBIN HAYNES: Shuman credits the marijuana with shrinking her tumor and says that’s why she is putting her face out there hoping a re-branding will make people look at marijuana in a different light.

CHERYL SHUMAN: It’s very important to show that there are mainstream moms and corporate women who use cannabis successfully and it’s providing them with a much better quality of life.

ROBIN HAYNES: She is making stops at 5 Ohio cities in 7 days trying to gather enough signatures to put the legalization back on the ballot on behalf of the Ohio Rights Group.

Ohio voters have already rejected the attempt twice but as Cheryl sees it – now is the time.

CHERYL SHUMAN: We’re at a tipping point right now in this country. 20 states have already approved of legal medicinal marijuana across the country. Every single day when you listen to the news there’s another state and another state from Illinois to Rhode Island to Massachusetts. It’s not stopping. The genie is out of the bottle.

ROBIN HAYNES: So far they’ve collected about 35,000 signatures. They need just over 350,000 to get it on the November ballot. Shuman is confident in her mission and her marijuana.

CHERYL SHUMAN: There’s not a question in my mind this plant saved my life.

ROBIN HAYNES: In Columbus, Robin Haynes, NBC 4.


DEAN BECKER: You know as we report the drug war news it seems on a weekly basis more and more states are starting to reexamine their drug war policies especially in regards to marijuana and, in particular, medical marijuana. Ohio is no different in that regard.

Here to tell us about their efforts in Ohio is one-time former reporter for the Drug Truth Network, Mrs. Mary Jane Borden.

Please tell us what’s going on up in Ohio.

MARY JANE BORDEN: We’ve crafted the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment in the first part of this year and it was certified to collect signatures statewide by the Ohio Attorney General on May 23rd.

You flash forward about 5 months later here in October and we’re just growing by leaps and bounds. The growth rate is incredible. The interest is incredible. Let me give you some examples.

Ohio has 88 counties in it. We have county captains who had about 50 of those counties just come on since May 23rd to coordinate the signature gathering for the number of signatures that we have to get. I think the base number is something around 385,000 and we probably have to go double that to account for people who have moved or have died who may have accidentally signed twice.

Of the 385,000 signatures we get there is also something called a county requirement where we have to have a certain amount of signatures from 44 of Ohio counties. Already, as you said, we have probably 33, 35, 40,000 signatures and county captains heading up 50 Ohio counties. 3 of the counties have already met their signature gathering requirements.

That’s just one side of it. We have probably easily a million dollars’ worth of media. It’s just been incredible. This past week we’ve enjoyed a tour of Ohio with Cheryl Shuman who has been on just about every single major network I can think of. Just recently she came off of an interview with Dr. Phil concerning Antonio Sebato, Jr. who wants to make medical marijuana illegal in the same household with a child present. He wants to make sure that the children can’t be in those kinds of homes and I think she just blew him away because her arguments were so astute and so on point in terms of marijuana being a medicine for people and an exit drug from hard drug addiction which was one of his central concerns and really in support of mothers and their children who if you think about it this way...I can’t think of anything worse than removing a child forcibly from a home and then to do that for a medicine it just makes that worse.

I think she’s driving that point home in a very excellent and provocative way. I think all good is going to come from that interview. She’s joining us here in Ohio to promote the amendment.

Already we’ve covered Troy, Toledo, Dayton, Cincinnati and now we’re in Columbus and we’re headed back north to Overland and Cleveland for the weekend.

DEAN BECKER: Many of the states that have put forward marijuana laws have complicated things for themselves in the way they worded their resolution. You guys are trying to avoid some of those pitfalls. Tell us what yours is comprised of.

MARY JANE BORDEN: Our amendment is unlike any other amendment that has ever been fielded in marijuana reform. Ohio was at the forefront of the states that were decriminalizing marijuana where marijuana in Ohio became a minor misdemeanor in 1976.

We have been one of the most lenient if you want to call it illegal states in the nation but for patients and for the sick and even the farmers...the fact that there is still any penalties whatsoever associated with marijuana is first all it’s an impediment to any type of businesses or industries that concern these communities and the drug war itself is so darn expensive in the toll that it takes on our society and the toll it takes on families and the toll it takes on children. It’s just incomprehensible.

Instead of being in the forefront of the medical marijuana movement (which I think we probably should have been early on in the 90s) – now here we are at 2013 – but, in a way, it was helpful to us because we were able to look at the mistakes that have been made in these other states which I think has exacerbated the drug war. Let’s say marijuana became legal quote, unquote – marijuana became legal...prohibition has a way of metastasizing itself into other areas such as...of course there’s a significant problem of asset forfeiture. There is a significant problem of people who lose their jobs.

We were talking about children. Why a Child Protective Service would come and take a child simply because a parent is using medical marijuana to alleviate their suffering from any ailment. We took a different approach.

We decided instead that we’re going to focus on the fundamental human right. The fundamental human right to utilize a safe medicine in lieu of all these other dangerous substances out there that truly do kill people.

The Constitution tells us that we have that we have those inalienable rights. Based upon that our amendment reads that we have the right to possess...if you’re eligible to do this, of course, you have the right to possess a quantity of cannabis sufficient to alleviate your suffering. You have the right to have privacy and confidentiality with respect to your use of cannabis in this manner.

You have the right to acquire it so that it can alleviate your suffering and that’s the basic jest of the amendment to establish first of all the right to use cannabis as a medicine. Here we are we’re human beings. Every one of us has a cannabinoid system whether you’re a cannabis user or not. This is in the body system that I would call the body building blocks of life.

It’s a system that controls our digestive tracts. It controls our nervous system. It controls our emotions. This is what life if built upon on and we have that fundamental right to life as we define it through the use of cannabis as medicine should we choose to use it.

I have to say this. We’re removing cannabis from under the control of the worst of society – the drug dealers, the liars, the thieves – the people who would exploit. Those are the people that we’re trying to rest this industry from and set it up in a well-regulated manner so that it becomes accessible to patients, accessible to farmers but there is level playing field and it is the system kind of modeled on the ultimate constitution of checks and balances.

We establish in that context an Ohio Commission of Cannabis Control in the amendment charged with regulating the market. It will also be charged with supporting, upholding and defending the rights. When the state comes in and says, “We’re going to take your children because you are using cannabis as medicine.”

You say, “No, no, no you’re not. I have the fundamental inalienable right to use this exceptionally safe medicine to alleviate my suffering and to heal my body.”

That’s pretty much the synopsis of the amendment. Our website is http://www.ohiorightsgroup.org/


DEAN BECKER: Thank you Mary Jane Borden, Dr. Philip Leveque and reporter Henry Lee as well as Cheryl Shuman. Keep up the good work.

As always I remind you there is no justification for this drug war. 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