Doug Fine author of "Hemp Bound - Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Next Agricultural Revolution" + Lynn Paltrow of Advocates for Pregnant Women
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Mon, 03/24/2014 - 15:59
Cultural Baggage / March 23, 2014
Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.
“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.
DEAN BECKER: Hello, my friends, welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I’m glad you could be with us. Here in just a little bit we are going to bring in our guest, Mr. Doug Fine. He will be speaking in Houston on March 31st at the James A. Baker, III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. He will be talking about his new book and I would think the drug war in general.
With that I want to go ahead and welcome our guest, Mr. Doug Fine. Are you there sir?
DOUG FINE: I am here, Dean. Thanks for having me.
DEAN BECKER: The thing is the news is being recognized. The news has been out there about marijuana and other drugs for quite some time but it’s being recognized at last. Am I right?
DOUG FINE: You are absolutely right the world over with the US amazingly leading the way.
DEAN BECKER: You just returned from Vienna, right?
DOUG FINE: That’s right.
DEAN BECKER: I got to see a little bit of the discussion there and some Latin American leaders chastising the US pretty good for continuing this policy.
DOUG FINE: I noticed in the intro that you talked about this show examining the dangers and costs of the perpetual drug war and the reality is it is not perpetual anymore. The American people, the large majority (and I’d like to add the majority of Texans), want to see an end to the drug war and particularly the war on cannabis is not healthy.
My perspective comes both as a journalist and as a father. I want increased public safety and that’s what I’m going to be talking about at the Baker Institute at Rice University on March 31s t – that’s a week from tomorrow.
I’m also about hemp which, as you mentioned, is my new book but you are right. The US in many ways started this drug war with the 1937 Marihuana Stamp Act and in many ways the voters, the people in many places like Colorado and Oregon are helping end it. The rest of the world recognizes that and are using our states as a model as well as Uruguay and Portugal which are both successful in ending the drug war in their countries.
DEAN BECKER: Just yesterday I was looking at some pictures taken in front of the Colorado governor’s mansion. That scamp, Mr. Mason Tvert, was there in a toga talking about how the governor just installed a beer tap while going after going after recreational marijuana. It’s our time to go after them, isn’t it?
DOUG FINE: Yeah. That type of dynamic you are talking about...the metaphor is at the end of many wars the losing side, as they retreat, will mine the harbor. Do you know what I mean?
DEAN BECKER: Sure.
DOUG FINE: They’ll make it difficult for the advancing victorious troops to start the peaceful era again. They’ll leave land mines, etc. We’re seeing that now with the point of view that I’ll shorthand as the drug warriors.
I covered this as a journalist so I don’t want listeners to think that there is some kind of political rhetoric at this. I am law and order supporting, patriotic, father of two. I’m a goat rancher here in nearby New Mexico. I am a law abiding citizen and I support law enforcement.
The fact is the drug war is America’s worst policy since terrible things like racial segregation. It’s just a terrible disservice to Americans for so many reasons as you talk about on this show – cost and creating criminals south of the border and putting millions of our young people in prison for nothing.
The people that I call the drug warriors are losing and as they leave they are mining the harbor. Some of the things they are doing as they mine the harbor are quite unacceptable as well as un-American.
One that really bothers me is setting arbitrary, unscientific THC blood limits for drivers which many listeners are familiar with the issue but the bottom line is even if one argues that someone who has used cannabis the same day could be intoxicated for a couple hours nobody would argue that they would be the next day let alone three weeks later and that’s how much THC some states still have as a limit that could indicate intoxication for cannabis. That’s just bad science and bad policy especially since we have a real epidemic in this country which is prescription pill abuse and that’s what we need to be worried about – making sure people aren’t driving around under and, the traditional, of course, under the influence of alcohol.
Cannabis is the least public safety worry and if you want to set a THC limit it should be something that is scientific and, better yet, knock out all limits and arbitrary numbers for all substances and simply ask law enforcement to determine whether or not someone is impaired.
I just mention it as one example of policies that we are going to have to clean up and I say we (the American people) as we force an end to the drug war. We now have a sort of clean it up and educate our politician and our law enforcers that social cannabis is actually (especially if it causes people to substitute cannabis for alcohol in social situations) but it actually good for public safety. Once again, I say this as a father.
Another thing about legalization is that youth use rates go down after legalization. This has been proven in a Brown University study of medical marijuana states on the east coast as well as big studies in Portugal and the Netherlands. The fact is when young people don’t see cannabis as the forbidden fruit and they get accurate information and education about it they use it less. That’s something that as a father even though I don’t have anything against the cannabis plant I don’t want my kids using it as minors. That’s something that also encourages me from a public policy safety perspective.
DEAN BECKER: Alright, friends, once again we’re speaking with Mr. Doug Fine, author of a couple of books. His first one is “Too High to Fail” but he’s got a brand new one out he’ll be talking about at the James A. Baker, III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University on March 31st. His new book is “Hemp Bound: Dispatches from the front line of the next agriculture revolution.”
Cannabis is going to benefit not just as a medicine or a recreational product. It’s got so many uses, right, Doug?
DOUG FINE: Yeah. I just spent a couple of years with really fun, fun research of the hemp plant – the industrial side of the cannabis plant. Many listeners already know that up until the 1930s the US was the world leader in hemp. Kentucky’s hemp was besides creating tons of millionaires and employing thousands upon thousands of people was the finest in the world. It was the prestige hemp of the whole world.
This year the Farm Bill, Thank God and God Bless America, the US congress went ahead and re-legalized hemp. At first only for research purposes but that’s fine because unfortunately that great Kentucky hemp germ plasm spoils. It went bad in the national seeds storage facility so we have got to redevelop the seed.
Why should we care that hemp is re-legalized? Let me count the ways. The most important one to me is as an energy source. We’re all desperately seeking an alternative to fossil fuels for environmental reasons or for Homeland Security reasons – in my case both. Hemp is a real strong player in a very interesting carbon friendly process called gasification. The Europeans are using it to make entire swaths of Germany and Austria energy independent.
You can put any farm waste in it. It doesn’t have to be hemp but hemp grows so easily and so prolifically and it’s so profitable today. There is a billion dollar industry just on the nutritious hemp seed oil and it’s growing 20% per year. You bet North Dakota and Kentucky wants to be growing for profits at 10 times that of wheat or corn and it uses half the water so many people are going to be growing hemp. They are going to be profiting on the cash side of it and they can also become energy independent from the unused cellulose in stocks.
That’s not even getting into the fiber applications. Today hemp fiber is in BMW and Mercedes door panels not because anybody is flashing a peace sign but because it is the strongest fiber and it’s very easy to produce.
That’s what I’m going to be talking about a week from tomorrow on Monday, March 31st at the Baker Institute at Rice University.
DEAN BECKER: You mentioned the Canadian billion dollar industry with hemp and it’s ironic and outrageous that the month that we put forward the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act Popular Mechanics came out with an issue talking about hemp becoming America’s first billion dollar industry. It wasn’t to be. Your thought there, sir?
DOUG FINE: It wasn’t to be for another 77 years. Hemp is going to take off and it’s going to take off big. Here’s what I like to say whenever I am tempted to get frustrated about the unpatriotic stifling of a crop that in 1996 and ever since the Whitehouse in its emergency departments for the nation includes a crop that must be seed stocks for the future. Anytime I’m tempted to frustrated about it I like to point out (and this is in Hemp Bound, the book that I’ve just written) that there is a bright side to this disruptive prohibition of the hemp crop and that is we’ve seen now what works.
For instance, China really ruled the fiber industry for anybody that has any kind of hemp clothing today it was probably grown in China. Canada, as we discussed, are the kings of the hemp seed industry. Both can be grown from the same harvest and nobody is doing it because the two industries have developed separately over different times.
We can in our very first facilities that we are building can prepare them to harvest both the fiber and the seeds and maximize farmer profits and, as I said, that third application – the biomass gasification for regional energy that can feed back into the grid and make communities independent. It doesn’t take much.
In fact, the Army is interested in this technology and we’re building ones that are kind of like the size of an outhouse. This is something that individual farmers or individual farm processing communities can do.
There’s an upside – an upside to prohibition. We have learned what we need to do now that we are revving back up.
DEAN BECKER: Once again, friends, we are speaking with Mr. Doug Fine, author of a couple of great books. His most recent is “Hemp Bound: Dispatches from the frontlines of the next agricultural revolution.”
He’ll be speaking at the James A. Baker, III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University right down there by the Medical Center. They are on Main Street. You can’t miss it. I think it’s a rather prestigious invite there, Doug. This is a high class venue and I’m proud that you are going to be speaking.
Closing thoughts, please.
DOUG FINE: I appreciate you saying that. It is an honor. If you go to the Baker Institute (http://bakerinstitute.org/) and click on their drug policy link - they get it. They are fellows and researchers starting right from their chief, Bill Martin – terrific and very smart guy – have researched especially what is happening with criminal drug organizations south of the border.
They know how much the Mexican cartels have profited and the havoc that has killed 80,000 Mexicans in recent years and how much of that is caused by prohibition of cannabis in particular but, in general, the ridiculous zero tolerance drug war that we have been fighting.
It’s expensive to Americans, too. If you don’t like paying any more taxes than you have to we are paying tens of billions of dollars every year for ineffective, counterproductive drug policy.
The Baker Institute folks realize this. On the surface...I’ve got friends that are on the left side of the spectrum and friends that are on the right side. I tell friends that are on the left side that I’m going to give a talk in Houston...”Oh, really? Where?”
“Oh, really? What’s the department?”
“Baker Institute.” And their eyes go wide so I show them the website and it makes sense. These guys are really on the ball with drug policy research.
DEAN BECKER: Hey, you’re speaking at the UN, at the Baker Institute – you made it. You’re on the mainstream now.
DOUG FINE: I think it’s the mainstream opinion. Many evangelicals understand to end this drug war since we’re not standing as a nation spiritually by throwing young people in prison especially for a plant, cannabis, that is actually statistically quite a bit safer than alcohol.
DEAN BECKER: I got to throw this in. I feel privileged that I am listed as a research associate with the James A. Baker, III Institute. They’ve got me picture up. They carry all my radio shows and my TV shows online. It’s good to be accepted, isn’t it?
DOUG FINE: It is fantastic. We’re in good company there. Don’t you think?
DEAN BECKER: Oh, yeah. I really do.
Once again, friends, we are speaking with Mr. Doug Fine, author of a couple of great books. His most recent is “Hemp Bound: Dispatches from the frontlines of the next agricultural revolution.”
He’ll be speaking on Monday, March 31st at 7 to 8:30 pm at the James A. Baker, III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.
Doug, is there a website you want to recommend?
DOUG FINE: http://dougfine.com/ That’s got everything. It’s got short films about the amazing hemp applications we were discussing as well as an events page in case folks want to get directions for the event on the 31st.
DEAN BECKER: Thank you, so much, and I’ll see you in about a week.
DOUG FINE: Look forward to meeting you. Thanks for having me on the show.
It’s time to play: "Name That Drug - By Its Side Effects!"
Agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, face chomping, lip eating, brain slurping, ecstasy, suicide, zombieism….
Time’s up! The answer according to law enforcement from some crazy-ass chemist somewhere – methedrone, otherwise known as bath salts.
[music: impossible dream]
To dream the American dream
To lie still and hope
With both of your eyes closed
To ignore the nightmare that surrounds you
Just to try, try to reach the American dream
DEAN BECKER: The following segment is taken from a recent teleconference sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance. The speaker is head of Advocates for Pregnant Women, Lynn Paltrow.
LYNN PALTROW: ...that women, like men, have been directly affected by the drug war in its applications in the criminal justice system. They’ve been arrested. They’ve been incarcerated. They have become the fastest growing group of incarcerated people in this country and their incarcerations show a level of disregard for family well-being that is extremely foreign to many countries outside of the US.
To really take into account some of these parenting issues before they decide to incarcerate them for years and years. As you indicated the vast majority of women are people who have primary responsibility for children and they are nevertheless incarcerated.
What I can bring to this conversation and what I think has been...in addition to the ways that women experience of incarceration...of what happens to them when they are pregnant and in prison is there is a whole other place in which women are affected which has received no attention from drug policy reformers and, really, from any movement and that’s the way in which the child welfare system has worked as a vector for expanding the War on Drugs to women and exasperating all of the myths and misinformation about it so that while there are now hundreds of thousands of women in prison in large part because of drug laws there are probably many more women who are into the civil child welfare system based on the same mythology with special stigma associated with women’s drug use and their responsibility for children.
I don’t know if this is exactly right historically but it does seem that when finally states and the federal government were running out of steam in terms of things that they could criminalize – although there’s resurgence of criminalizing chemical endangerment of children which has to do with children and parenting – they started to pass laws in the civil law child welfare context.
CAPTA was amended a little bit late. CAPTA is the Federal Child Abuse and Treatment Act. The federal government doesn’t legislate child welfare issues. It leaves that to the states but it gets states to comply with various theories and ideas by saying, “If you want federal money to deal with child abuse you will do the following things.”
In 2003 they amended the CAPTA to require states to have a mechanism for reporting “drug affected newborns” to state authorities. The law included no additional funding for treatment and was passed without any hearing. It was re-visited in 2006 and despite of the fact that there’s been no research it was expanded to include children who were born exposed prenatally to alcohol.
What we are seeing across the country in the 1990s...and the other particular thing that I can bring to this conversation is that women have started being arrested for being pregnant and also using a criminalized drug. In other words, drug use by in large is not criminalized by any state but what is criminalized is possession. There are just a handful of states that actually define use and that provides a little bit of protection if, for example, you are in a government emergency room for health care and you test positive it’s not the fact that you test positive or you admit to your physician that you have a drug problem is not the basis for an arrest.
However, if pregnant women become subject to criminal law pregnancy makes them vulnerable or they pass particular laws then drug use for pregnant women, in particular, can become a crime. Our research looked at arrests of women in which pregnancy was a necessary element of the crime between 1973 and 2005 and identified over 400 cases which is a very small number compared to the number of women that get pregnant every year (6 million) and the number of women who have been incarcerated directly under punitive drug offense laws but each one of those cases has the potential for setting a precedent that would outlive legislation because to this day no state has made it a crime to be pregnant and continue using a criminalized drug.
Two states as a result of judicial interpretation allow those arrests. Every case that comes up in the states with pregnant women relating to drug use could set a precedent not only the arrest of women for use but it then also sets precedence for arresting women for anything in addition to pregnancy that is perceived as risk including not having cesarean surgery and things like that.
I want to get back to the civil child welfare issue. Mary Marshall who is at the University of Virginia in the late 1990s...I want to read to you just a little something she said, “Although its efficacy has not been established the most common sanction imposed against women who are pregnant and use drugs is temporary or permanent removal of the newborn. Removal of the newborn and older children from a mother’s custody may result from a single positive drug test.
“Some states have enacted policies in which a positive drug screen results in automatic neglect proceedings for removal of child custody. This approach is complicated on the assumption that parental drug use or the presence of a maternal or newborn toxicology establishes parental unfitness. Such an assumption with no material foundation provides an unsound basis for social policy.”
That basis provides a basis a policy. At least 16 states as matter of statute now have laws that say any evidence of drug use by a pregnant woman is considered presumptive neglect and those states also have mandatory reporting. Two of those states have not only presumptive neglect but also removal of the child.
There are many other states that as a result of judicial interpretation also effectively have laws like this. There are states like California which specifically say that a positive drug test is not the basis even for reporting to child welfare for purposes of investigation.
We know that Medicaid women in L.A. every one of them is tested and they are all reported. One of the things that I do and I did this morning at the University of Maryland Medical School...Maryland is a state that says a positive test on a mother (so these are explicit sex discriminatory laws) is neglect.
Now their application of that law is a little less horrific than other states. What I do when I speak is I bring my urine cup with me and I make sure it has my pee in it and I take it out of my bag and I pass it around the room and I say, “There is nothing about this pee that can tell you how I parent and yet every day in hospitals (particularly hospitals that service low-income women, particular women of color) a urine test can only tell you whether someone has used a drug in a particular time. It doesn’t even tell you if they are dependent. It doesn’t tell you if they are addicted. It is used as a surrogate as if it can or cannot tell you that somebody can or cannot parent. There is nothing about my urine that can tell you - even if it’s positive for heroin – whether I love my children or whether I take care of my children, whether I prioritize my children over everything else.”
What’s happened and this is also a combination of drug war propaganda, the fact that we allow ourselves to demonize and demean people who use drugs...we have a history of that and on top of our society that is based on fundamentally upon a patriarchy. A word I don’t use that often but I feel I can use.
I read from Mary Marshall that laws are being implemented without any research.
Criminals get so embolden – Rip you off thinking you’re holdin.
Can’t tell the policeman what you know – got no recourse to the law.
Bad guys duct tape and beat you – they’re just lookin for that easy score.
They will rob, rape and kill ya cuz we go no recourse to the law.
We all love Big Brother. He protects us from the evil one. Bow down to Big Brother – to his satellites and guns. We need him and adore him. Freedom is so over-rated.
DEAN BECKER: Friends, I got to ask you to listen up for just a second. I got a note here from my good friend who is a former captain, Peter Christ, of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Here’s what he had to say:
“’To End the War on Drugs’ incorporates the logic, science and rationale of more than 100 experts who recognize the obvious failure of drug prohibition. The thoughts of government scientists, doctors, nurses, legal professionals, cops, wardens and prosecutors are brought together in this book and stand together proclaiming the need to eliminate this war on our own people.
“If you are looking for a single read that hits all the bases you have found it here. I highly recommend it.”
Again, that’s Captain Christ, one of the founding members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. That book is available in paper and digital format. You can learn more at http://endthedrugwar.us.
Friends the drug war is ending. We could use your help. That’s the truth of this matter. We could use your help. I would urge you to get the book or somehow educate yourself and become part of the solution rather than part of the silent majority which is really the problem. Therefor is it is imperative that we do something about this drug war.
How many millions of our children do we need to lock up to feel safe? That’s the real question. I urge you to, please, get yourself a copy.
As always I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.
DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.
This show produced at the Pacifica Studios of KPFT Houston.
Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org