10/18/15 Doug McVay

Century of Lies

This week we hear from Paul Stanford, founder and director of Portland Hempstalk, plus we talk about the upcoming UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs.

Audio file


OCTOBER 18, 2015


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

DOUG MCVAY: Hello! And welcome to Century of Lies. I'm your host, Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org. Century of Lies is a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network.

Now, on with the show.

Well folks, next week I'll have some fresh audio for you from this year's Hempstalk, a marijuana reform protestival held annually in the city of Portland, Oregon – my home town. Hempstalk's relations with the city of Portland, especially the Portland Parks Department has often been somewhat, well, strained. This year's permit had been denied by city park officials, and was granted only because the city council stepped in and voted to allow the event to proceed. Shortly before the city council voted to approve Hempstalk, I got the chance to speak with Hempstalk founder and director, Paul Stanford. Let's hear part of that conversation.

Paul, first off, what is Hempstalk? How long have you been sponsoring that event?

PAUL STANFORD: It's in favor of using hemp for fuel, fiber, and feed, and the adult social use of cannabis. It's been held in Portland parks for ten years running now, and we're trying to get our permit for the eleventh year, and the city of Portland had denied us our permit. They attempted to do the same thing last year, and we went before the City Council. The City Council ordered the parks department to issue our permit. But they imposed a lot of restrictions, we had to hire an event organizer for $12,000, they increased our security costs by about $55,000, and we really did crack down on any cannabis smoking in the park. Did you go to the event last year, Doug?

DOUG MCVAY: I was at last year's event, just one day of it, but I can say for sure there was no open marijuana use, I didn't see it, the news media didn't find any evidence of it and I know that they were looking a lot harder than I was. Yeah, I mean, there was some -- it was ridiculous, and yet, I see that in the Oregonian, one of the people from the city's park department is trying to say that there was so much marijuana use at the time that he felt -- what is the quote -- at risk of getting high himself?

PAUL STANFORD: Yeah, he keeps saying that, he said that about, I don't know, 6, 7 months ago in the media as well. It's ridiculous, you know, they're lying is what they're doing. But even so, we have a lot of evidence, and we are confident in the end we're going to get our permit.

DOUG MCVAY: Okeh, the city council hearing to discuss the, your appeal, is on August 27th. How do you think that hearing's going to go? Oh, and is this a public hearing?

PAUL STANFORD: It's a public hearing. It can be a little chaotic. People come in that have nothing really to do with the issue. Last year we had one elderly gentleman throw the Constitution, little copy of the Constitution at the mayor, and another old acquaintance of your and mine, Barry Joe Stull, came in and pretty much attacked our event, which was kind of surprising. But overall, we had overwhelming support from the public, and in the end the mayor ordered the parks department to allow us to have our event, and we were very stringent in terms of enforcing the city's no smoking ban. But they seem intent on creating this story that somehow we didn't do that, and that we encouraged cannabis smoking at the event, and that's just not true.

You know, they made us hire people who caused some of the problems I think they're referring to. We had one security company that had told several of our volunteers to smoke outside the event. Well, that's a -- we didn't want that to happen at all, but the security company that the city demanded, by name, that we hire, are the ones who were telling our volunteers to do that. And so, and then the city says we were telling people to do that, so it's kind of like, they made us hire people to sabotage our event. And so, but, even given that, there were numerous admonitions from the stage, hey don't smoke here, unfortunately the city is -- but you know, so we expect we will get our permit.

DOUG MCVAY: After much fuss and waste of time and money on all sides. Let's see, where can people find out more about the event, and keep up with news about it, you know, where and when it is going to be held, etc.?

PAUL STANFORD: Sure. Hempstalk.org, that's HEMPSTALK.org. Also have a facebook page, at facebook.com/hempstalk.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Paul Stanford, founder and director of Hempstalk. Again we did that interview shortly before the Portland city council voted in favor of Hempstalk's appeal and ordered the city parks department to issue the permit. Hempstalk is being held October 17th and 18th at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland. I will be there, I'm speaking both days, and I'm also going to try and get some audio from the event, which we'll listen to that next week.

You're listening to Century Of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

Next month will be the Drug Policy Alliance's international reform conference. It's being held November 18th through 21st in northern Virginia, just outside Washington, DC. I will be there, and I'll bring back a lot of great audio for you. For now, let's give a listen to something from the last DPA conference, in 2013 in Denver, Colorado. Here's Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

And, yeah, thirtieth anniversary of doing this stuff, and as long as I'm on the record, I'll say: Ethan, I want to thank you very much. You're one of the first people who accepted some twerp from Iowa as a legitimate part of all this stuff. Your friendship and your guidance has been so valuable, I cannot thank you enough, you're an incredible guy.

ETHAN NADELMANN: Well, Doug, I didn't know you were a twerp from Iowa, but I'm so delighted that you are, have been part of this movement and a wonderful ally for so many years, I mean, you've done great things, you really have, so thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: Thank you. Now for the real part.

ETHAN NADELMANN: Yeah, hi, I'm Ethan Nadelmann, I'm the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

DOUG MCVAY: Ethan, this has been a fantastic conference, congratulations on it. Do you have a few words you can say to the Drug Truth audience?

ETHAN NADELMANN: Well, I'll tell you, when we first planned this conference to be in Denver, Colorado, a few years ago, we were mostly expecting that we would be sort of commiserating, that, well we almost won that initiative. But in point of fact, it won overwhelmingly, and so there's a lot of really strong and positive energy here, there's these remarkable things, when you see a delegation coming up from Uruguay, which is itself about to legalize marijuana, to understand what's going on here in Colorado, and about to take a trip to San Francisco as well. You know, I mean, I think the thing we love to do at Drug Policy Alliance is to weave this movement together, and that means there's people who are most passionate about legalizing marijuana, and others who are most passionate about ending the racial injustice of the drug war and mass incarceration, and for others it's about treating addiction as a health issue, and for others it's an international human rights issue, and for others it's a matter of fiscal responsibility.

And taking people who are coming from all these walks and getting them to understand and feel how they're part of something much bigger, about eradicating this punitive prohibitionist way of dealing with drugs in our country and around the world. That's what we try to do, and that's what I feel is really happening these three days in Denver.

DOUG MCVAY: I think so, I attended your faith leader panel the other day, and I was in tears. It was so inspirational. The international plenary yesterday was absolutely fascinating, thank goodness I have a recording of it, I'm going to be sending it up -- I'm going to send it off to Robert as well as using it myself. Yeah.

ETHAN NADELMANN: Well, I'll tell you, you know, one of the things that we -- you realize when you do these things is that, you realize the things that are growing and the things that still need to grow, so you'll see that the inclusion and the participation of African Americans in the faith community is really just growing dramatically. The people from Latin America, the same thing, but at the same time it highlights what's missing, which is a significant presence of Latinos and certainly faith Latino leaders. What's missing are people from Asia and Africa, right? So we still have many years to go to become a truly global movement, and even in this country, to really move it out. I wish there were more people coming from the legitimate business world -- I don't mean legitimate business world but the non-marijuana business world here, seeing this as the fiscally responsible way, and public safety responsible way. So a lot of people at the table here, at this conference here, who were not here five or ten or fifteen years ago, but we've still got to get many more when we gather again two years from now in Washington.

DOUG MCVAY; Ethan, thank you so much. By the way, if they want to find out the details of when and where to get to that conference in 2015, where should they go?

ETHAN NADELMANN: Well, go to our website, you know, DrugPolicy.org, or go to the conference website, ReformConference.org. But it will be November 2015, two years from now in DC.

DOUG MCVAY: I'll put it on my calendar. Ethan, thank you so much.

ETHAN NADELMANN: Thanks so much, Doug.

That was Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, speaking at the DPA's 2013 conference in Denver, Colorado. The Drug Policy Alliance 2015 conference is being held November 18th through 21st in the Washington, DC area, just outside of the District in northern Virginia. You can find out more by going to the DPA's website, which is DrugPolicy.org. You're listening to Century Of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

Now in this final segment, we're going to look once again at global drug policy reform and international drug control policies. The United Nations is holding a General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in April of 2016. Recently, the UN's Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee, otherwise known as the Third Committee, held meetings on the upcoming UNGASS. That's a good thing. The discussion on international drug control was combined with the discussion on crime prevention and criminal justice. Combining those two topics, that was a bad thing. The biggest problem with international and national drug control policies is that they are dominated by law enforcement. So long as we think of drug control policies as criminal justice issues, drug control policies will continue to fail.

Of course, if drug control policies are to be viewed as a public health issue, we'll have to bring alcohol and tobacco into the mix. Now that would be a good thing, in fact the best and smartest thing we could do, because alcohol and tobacco are the biggest substance abuse concerns anywhere in the world. So long as we ignore them, we will keep shooting ourselves in the foot. The good news is, some nations and international agencies get it. The bad news is, the drug control agencies don't, or won't. We have a lot of work to do.

Part of that work involves studying, learning about what's going on, listening to all sides so we can move reform forward, and then getting involved to make it happen. So let's get into the process. The Third Committee met to discuss crime prevention, criminal justice, and international drug control on October 8th and 9th in New York City. Let's hear from the delegate from Brazil, Antonio de Aguiar Patriota

ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA: Thank you Mister Chairman. Brazil thanks the government of Qatar for hosting the 13th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, and notes with satisfaction that it acknowledged the mutually reinforcing relationship between sustainable development and the rule of law, especially in light of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

Brazil considers that efficient strategies for countering crime should have preventive policies as central elements, especially those policies that promote social and economic development, respect for human rights, and access to justice, an expression enshrined in SDG16. Public policies aimed at eradicating poverty, improving education and health, empowering women, and combating all forms of discrimination are essential for crime prevention. And for such policies to be effective they must be elaborated and implemented with the participation of civil society.

Mister Chair, Brazil welcomes the adoption of the CCPJ -- CCPCJ and ECOSOC of the revised standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners, also known as the Mandela Rules. Brazil has been a strong advocate for this position for this revision since the preparations for the 12th Crime Congress held in Salvadore, Bahia, and actively participated in this process. We were co-sponsors of the CCPCJ resolution that adopted them, and are pleased that the revised rules take into account the advancements in correctional science as well as the need to protect the human rights of incarcerated people.

Brazil also thanks the Secretary General for his report on capital punishment and implementation of the safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty. While we understand the priority attached to adequately combating and punishing crime, we believe that no crime warrants the application of the death penalty, and do not consider the death penalty an appropriate instrument for public security policies, since there is no empirical evidence establishing a causality link between the death penalty and effective crime control. We respectfully but strongly urge all countries that still enforce the death penalty to adopt an immediate moratorium with a view to its abolition, a step that would further reaffirm our common commitment to the values and principles of the universal declaration on human rights.

Mister President, Brazil associates itself with the statement delivered by Ecuador on behalf of CELAC under agenda item 107. We look forward to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem, which will be held in April 2016. It is a unique opportunity for serious and realistic reflection about the world drug problem, so as to encourage policies that are based on scientific evidence and on the respect for human rights. We also welcome the convening as part of the UNGASS preparations of General Assembly high-level thematic debate on the world drug problem this past May.

Brazil has been actively engaged in the preparatory process currently taking place at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. We submitted our national contribution to the UNGASS board in September, and look forward to negotiating its outcome in an open and inclusive process. Brazil welcomes that particularly since the 2009 political declaration and plan of action, the international community has progressively moved from an eminently repressive perspective towards a more comprehensive and balanced approach to this phenomenon, based on the principle of common and shared responsibility.

One of the key points of the UNGASS outcome must be the improvement of drug use prevention policies, to the development of cross-cutting, multidisciplinary, and integrated programs formulated on the basis of scientific evidence and from the perspective of the most vulnerable groups, without stigmatization of people who use drugs. Furthermore, there must be a balance between investments in supply and demand reduction policies. Brazil also expects the UNGASS final document to contain provisions on the adoption of alternatives to incarceration for minor drug-related offenses, and on the definition of quantity thresholds to differentiate between people who use drugs and drug traffickers so has to avoid the conviction of users as traffickers. We must also stress the importance of civil society in this debate, both in the multi-lateral sphere and at a grassroots level.

As I have previously mentioned, Brazil understands that no crime warrants the death penalty, and in this regard, one of our priorities for the UNGASS final document is the abolition of the death penalty for drug-related crimes. We welcome UNODC Executive Director Yuri Fedotov's, and the International Narcotic Control Board's statements on this matter. As the UNGASS preparatory process gains momentum, Brazil reaffirms its commitment to contribute to this debate in all aspects. Thank you, Mister Chair.

That was Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations, speaking to the UN's Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee, also called the Third Committee, on October Eighth. The Committee was discussing crime prevention, criminal justice, and international drug control. You're listening to Century of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

Now, let's hear from someone with less progressive views on drug policy. Russia has assumed a leading role among prohibitionists on the international stage in the last few years. Let's hear now from the Russian delegate, Elena Mukhametzyanova:

ELENA S. MUKHAMETZYANOVA [interpretation provided by the United Nations]: Good morning. Thank you, Madame Chairperson. First of all, may I congratulate you on your election and wish you and the other members of the bureau every success, so that we can work fruitfully at this 70th session.

Against the backdrop of an unprecedented rise in the challenges and threats from transnational organized crime, we think it important to further strengthen international cooperation under the auspices of the United Nations, which has such unique opportunities and legitimacy. Russia always believes in the international community working as one to effectively counter criminal challenges and threats, with the UN playing a central and coordinating role.

We believe this solid foundation for that interaction should be a comprehensive and balanced approach on the basis of strict respect for international legal norms and principles. So we call for more states to become party to the UN Conventions against transnational organized crime, and the protocols and the United Nations convention against corruption, and for there to be effective implementation of them. As for a review mechanism, we would prefer to proceed on a step by step approach without rushing it through, taking into account the experience of how the mechanism has applied in the convention against corruption. We are against any attempts to make this mechanism into a politicized or intrusive tool.

We welcome the global plan of action to combat trafficking in persons, and an increase in the voluntary trust fund for victims of such trafficking. Particular attention should go to illegal trafficking in human organs. We support the work of UNODC in combating crime. We call for a real improvement in the financing of it, including possibly increasing the amounts from the United Nations regular budget. Madame, the Russian Federation believes in elaborating under UN auspices a system-wide strategy to set clear priorities to deal with the challenges and strengthen this approach in the major organs of the UN system, primarily the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

We should step up efforts to improve the international legal framework for combating crime. We should develop a convention on reciprocal legal assistance, and also on dealing with protecting wildlife. In Qatar this year, we had the 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. A key document emerged from that, the Doha Declaration, and it's an important way of setting key guidelines for joint work in the future to combat crime. The priorities should include combating illicit trade in cultural artifacts, precious metals, and wildlife.

Madame, we are preparing for a meeting in early November this year in Saint Petersburg, namely the sixth session of the conference of state parties to the UN convention against corruption. It will be considering a broad range of issues, including review of implementation of the convention, preventing corruption, and returning assets and how to deal with money laundering. We trust that delegations will represented at a high political level at the meeting.

Madame, we are still concerned over the drug situation, and we believe we should work on the basis of the conventions. We are deeply convinced over the need to strengthen the current regime, particularly in the context of the upcoming April next year special session of the General Assembly. We are really strongly against any attempts to review the fundamental principles in the current system, supposedly questioning some of it and suggesting something like quote "harm reduction" unquote. We should focus on a scientific approach to prevention and providing care for drug dependency, which is not compatible with legalizing drugs in any way. We are particularly concerned over the drug threat from Afghanistan. We should put an end to drug production in that country, for it is a threat to international peace and stability, and the situation where there is a link between Afghan opiates and international terrorism is also a very serious threat.

We have to work together with UNODC and the Paris-Moscow process. More attention should be given to countering the growing threat of synthetic psychotropic substances, and we have to monitor trafficking in those narcotics. The Russian Federation makes a significant contribution to countering the dissemination of drugs inter alia by participating in the collective security treaty organization mechanism CANAL, and other initiatives through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS, and OSCE.

In May this year we'll be holding the second ministerial conference against drugs in Moscow, and lastly may I say that we want to have a constructive dialogue with all interested parties and we intend to continue actively participating in global efforts to combat the threat of drugs. Thank you very much, Madame.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Elena Mukhametzyanova, first secretary to the permanent mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, speaking to the UN's Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee, also called the Third Committee, on October Eighth. Simultaneous interpretation of the Russian delegate's speech was provided by the UN. The Committee was discussing crime prevention, criminal justice, and international drug control. The UN General Assembly Special Session on drugs will be held in April 2016 at UN Headquarters in New York City.

And for now, that's all the time we have. Thank you for listening. This is Century Of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org. We come to you each week with thirty minutes of news and information about the drug war and the drug policy reform movement.

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We'll be back next week with more news and commentary on the drug war and this Century Of Lies. For now, for the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay saying so long. So long!

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