12/08/13 Ed Rosenthal

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Ed Rosenthal, the Guru of Ganja re failure of drug war, Jeff Mizansky serving life without parole for weed, Houston TV call to use the new law for cannabis possession, Doug McVay report on SAMHSA drug warnings.

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Cultural Baggage / December 8, 2013

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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.

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DEAN BECKER: The following segment comes to us courtesy of the Voice Media Group. The gentleman you hear speaking is Jeff Mizansky. He got busted 3 times. The third time for about 5 pounds of cannabis. He’s now beginning his 21st year in a Missouri prison serving life without parole.

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JEFF MIZANSKY: What else don’t make sense is I’m here on a non-violent crime. Since I’ve been here in prison I’ve met lots of people who have been here for murder, rape, all kinds of violent crimes. I’ve seen a lot of them go home on parole.

Some of them had done programs some of them hadn’t. I’m doing every program I can but I haven’t got a chance to make sentence.

I’m in here non-violent, life without. People with violent go home on parole. There’s a big distinction. What kind of people do they want out there?

You can handle marijuana and they’re going to throw you away. Come on. Should I have committed a murder so I could have gone home? That ain’t it.

But if I had been out there doing that kind of crap I could have gone home already.

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DEAN BECKER: Alright, that was Jeff Mizansky – a guy serving...well now in his 21st year in Missouri. A little hard to hear there but he was talking about in the time he’s been there he’s met all kinds of people for murder, rape and robbery and they’ve gone home. But him – three times busted with weed – he’s in there for life without parole.

I’m going to bring in a guest now who knows about these stories, who deals with these stories, a man who realizes the futility of this stupid drug war. I want to welcome my good friend, Mr. Ed Rosenthal. How are you doing, Ed?

ED ROSENTHAL: Fine and yourself?

DEAN BECKER: I’m good. You know it’s stories like that that just, especially in this Christmas season, kind of rip your heart out, doesn’t it?

ED ROSENTHAL: It does. I was involved personally with the case of Will Foster who originally given 93 years in Oklahoma. Luckily we were able to get him freed after 4 and one-half years.

The idea of sending people to prison for even one day for marijuana is absurd and it’s criminal and cruel and inhuman.

DEAN BECKER: I’ve been following this story of another fellow. You’ve probably heard of him. His name is George Mortorano. He got caught up...his dad was in the Philadelphia Mafia and they set him up. They sold him weed and bought weed from him three times and then gave him life without parole. He’s now in his 31st year.

It’s just ...George, I interviewed him. We were talking about he’s the one who trains those murderers and rapist how to behave once they leave but he stays behind.

ED ROSENTHAL: The entire drug war is based on a fallacy and it’s just based on profit making. What I mean by that is the only reason we have these laws truly is because the criminal justice system sees it as a jobs issue. And that’s basically the entire basis of the drug war right now and especially marijuana.

You know we have to separate marijuana virtually from the hard drugs and all these really harmful drugs because the difference between marijuana and these other drugs... everybody thinks they should be controlled - for instance, amphetamine and some of the opiates. The difference is if you ask people who have used marijuana whether they think it’s been good or bad for them they will say, for the most part, that it’s been good even if they don’t use it any longer.

If you go to somebody who uses other drugs – whether it’s alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs – and you say, “Do you think that this has been good for you? Do you think that you would want kids to be involved in it?”

Things like that...people would say no. That’s the difference that by users’ own evaluation marijuana has been a drug which enhances life while the other drugs (hard drugs and alcohol and tobacco) take life – they are life zappers.

DEAN BECKER: I wanted to kind of join forces with you on that thought. The objection we get from the prohibitionists is something to the effect that, “Oh, you’re getting high.” And they can’t even tell when we’re high basically. I think cannabis brings a sense of optimism. It helps you to negate the pain. It doesn’t necessarily make it go away. It just tells you that it’s possible to get through this day. What’s your thought there, Ed?

ED ROSENTHAL: First of all there are so many different marijuanas. I’ve written about this. The main difference between the varieties is that they contain different terpenes and those are the odor molecules and their also the same plant chemistry that is used in aromatherapy. You could say that the cannabinoids are the engine of the high and these terpenes are the steering wheel.

Marijuana can be used for so many things. It can be used to help focusing and attention and then you can get something that is very relaxing the same way that lavender, for instance, is. You can get many, many different...the way that these terpenes have an entourage effect with the cannabinoids means that there are so many different varieties and characteristics of marijuana that people have discovered and have been useful to individuals and to society.

DEAN BECKER: It’s been a few years since we’ve talked and I apologize to the listening audience about that. Since we last talked there has been a tsunami of information about CBD, in particular, and these situations particularly in Colorado where these kids are given access to the Charlotte’s Web type of cannabis and it has made, truthfully, a miracle happen. You’re response there, Ed?

ED ROSENTHAL: I’m aware of that. I published a book some time ago called, “Jeffrey’s Gervais” and it was about a 7-year-old whose behavior was so intractable that the state considered him a threat and was going to take him from his mother and who happen to be a Christian Fundamentalist. In desperation she called up the Women’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana.

The late Dr. Mike Alkalay prescribed a brownie and he ate about one-quarter of it and in the car he says to his mother, “The noise has stopped.”

Within months he was able to go to public school which he had never been able to do before. So I know how powerful marijuana can be. I know also children with these rare types of epilepsy and other rare diseases that don’t seem to respond to anything else seem to respond to cannabis.

That very well could be the anandamide regulatory system. Anandamide is a retrograde signal number and let me explain that in a few words. The dendrites of nerves send chemical and electrical messages to the next nerve cell. If an event happens like, let’s say, you get touched then they start sending a whole bunch of messages to the next nerve cells.

Now the cannabinoid sender, though, is on the receiver side and it sends a message to the sender about regulating how much information it should send so it’s called a retrograde signal. It’s been preserved in animals from simple sea urchins up to human kind so it’s been in all of nature. It’s always been used. It is an essential part.

I think that a lot of these kids who have these undiagnosed diseases could very well be that their anandamide production, the indigenous cannabinoid – the stuff that we make ourselves inside our bodies – that that system is messed up in some way and that by supplying cannabis to the kids they are able to cope.

There’s work that was done by Dr. Ester Fried in Israel on rodents which supports this. These were rodents that had receptor sites but couldn’t produce anandamites. They couldn’t suckle or feed properly. They had failure to thrive. As soon as the mothers who also did not produce the THC were given THC which they expressed in the milk the babies were able to thrive.

That showed that anandamide is essential to life not only in higher animals but lower animals as well.

DEAN BECKER: I wanted to talk about the CBD structure...well, you were talking about the molecular realignment and I wanted to talk about there are a couple of products that are coming on the grocer or druggist shelf pretty soon. I hear that there are new batches of CBD that are made from hemp rather than cannabis and therefore legal and being distributed across these United States.

I also hear that GW Pharmaceuticals is producing a cannabis-based CBD that will be used in a study here in the United States for about 100 kids. I guess many of them with that same Gervais Syndrome. What’s your thought there? Does the hemp product suffice or does it necessitate the cannabis to make that CBD?

ED ROSENTHAL: Well, the difference between the plant that produces THC and one that produces CBD is found in one gene. They are difference versions of the same gene. If the plant has one version it is a CBD.

Our DNA is in duplicate so for each gene you have a pair. So let’s say you have two THC pairs then the plant will produce THC. If you have a CBD and THC pair the plant will produce both THC and CBD and there are a lot of plants that do that. If the plant has just genes for CBD it will produce only CBD.

Let’s say you had a plant that was producing THC and CBD you could easily get an all CBD version of that. If you have that then it really doesn’t matter...cannabis is cannabis. So the thing is commercial hemp usually has very low...virtually no THC and it has high amounts of CBD.

So why not use that? You know what? The thing about it is the part of the plant that is being used is right now considered waste material from the factories that mill hemp. There is a lot of it around and a lot of it is being produced all the time.

DEAN BECKER: I’ve seen it for sale on Amazon at an extremely high price - $200 ...I don’t know what size it was but it they’re are just getting it as waste material that’s some kind of markup.

I wanted to aim at the political arena a bit. In the last year there have been senate hearings and U.S. Attorney Generals and Sanjay Gupta and I think more recently and astoundingly Rand Paul was talking about the drug war being the wrong way to go. What’s your thought there, Ed? Are we rounding the corner?

ED ROSENTHAL: Rand Paul didn’t change his opinion – I doubt that. His father has always had that opinion that drug use is personal use and the government shouldn’t get into personal things so at least users themselves ( I don’t know about congress) but users shouldn’t be criminalized according to the Libertarian philosophy.

Sanjay Gupta...you know, I really feel sorry for this guy because he said himself that he was duped by the government and he believed all the government’s claims. So all the reports that were available to him and I’m sure people have written thousands of letters of personal experiences with marijuana as well as other material about it but to all of that he would say, “The government must be right. These people all must be wrong.”

Of course he didn’t have access to the internet so he was never able to look up medical marijuana and find out there was anything to it. It took all this time for him to get un-duped. I really feel sorry for this guy...

DEAN BECKER: Well, at least he had...

ED ROSENTHAL: Wait a second. With that being said I’d soon rather he came out now than that he was saying the opposite as he had been before.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah and it took courage.

ED ROSENTHAL: For him to say, “Oh, I was duped.” Come on, I mean, like...I was irritated by the insincerity of that. On the other hand, as I said, if I actually met him I would thank him for doing that.

DEAN BECKER: The truth of it is there are tens of thousands of politicians who have made their bones by believing in this perhaps without ever investigating the reason why but it’s hard for them to back down now but we damn sure got to make them do it, don’t we?

ED ROSENTHAL: I think it’s going that way. I think what’s happening is there is a new group of people who are coming more familiar with marijuana and even some conservatives though not very many because ...well, I won’t get into that but anyway who feel that the war on marijuana does not work and that just from practicality it has to be changed.

I think that that’s happening. I don’t see individual politicians changing their opinion. I see different politicians coming in. I’ll give you a case in point. Bloomberg smoked marijuana. You know that?

DEAN BECKER: Yeah.

ED ROSENTHAL: And he says that he liked it. He says he smoked it because he liked it but then he continued Giuliani’s policy where in New York City there were 40,000 people a year arrested for marijuana – a state where it’s decriminalized. Can you imagine that? They’re supposed to give out tickets but instead they arrested people just for the hell of it.

DEAN BECKER: They do it in Houston every day. I’m with you.

ED ROSENTHAL: 40,000 a year in New York City – that’s about one-fifth of all of the marijuana arrests in the country.

DEAN BECKER: It is preposterous. We got about 30 seconds left here. I want to kind of hand it over to you – any websites you want to point to, any closing thoughts to the listeners.

ED ROSENTHAL: If you go onto Google and just look up my name you’ll see a number of websites. You can go also to Quick Trading Company which has great website and I do stuff for them. I have Facebook page – come and enjoy my Facebook page. I don’t Twitter a lot but I do a little bit and they are usually pretty interesting. So that’s how to get a hold of me.

DEAN BECKER: Ed, I gotta go, buddy. Thank you so much. Have a happy Festivus and happy holidays and we’ll talk soon, alright?

ED ROSENTHAL: OK, thank you so much. Thank you for having me on.

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[music]

SINGERS: They nailed me for possession.
Lord, they nailed him to a tree.

But Jesus was a felon just like me.

DEAN BECKER: From the demo “Jesus” by Jo Lynn.

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(Game show music)

It’s time to play: Name That Drug By Its Side Effects

Flying projectiles, flu like symptoms, itching, pain, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, low blood pressure, may affect heart function and immune response, should not be used by pregnant or breast feeding woman nor children by children under the age of twelve.

(Gong)

Time’s up!

(Kissing sound)

The answer: mistletoe. The American mistletoe is poisonous; deadly in fact, the European mistletoe is in clinical trials because it had been shown to kill cancer cells.

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DEAN BECKER: The following segment courtesy of KTRK TV, Houston.

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ANCHOR: One group wants to stop arresting people busted for pot possession. An interesting plea today at the commissioners’ court called for a change in how some of those cases are handled.

IWitness Studio Reporter Pooja Lodhia joins us live to explain her story. Pooja?
POOJA LODHIA: Gina, proponents believe that this would reduce jail overcrowding and give officers more time to deal with more violent crimes but the Sheriff’s office says it’s not that simple.

Possessing any amount of marijuana will get you thrown in jail in Harris County.

KEITH WOODS: If you have a joint in your ashtray – no, I don’t see that it’s any reason to arrest someone for that.

CHAFIC ISSA: Small quantity or big quantity is the same.

POOJA LODHIA: A group of marijuana advocates came to commissioners’ court this afternoon arguing that those caught with less than 2 ounces should be given tickets and released instead of going to jail.

“Cite and release” is allowed under Texas law and cities like Austin have adopted it.

CLAY JONES: We need people in jail that we have to be protected from. We don’t need people in jail that we’re angry at because they didn’t follow the law exactly.

ALAN BERSTEIN: [Harris County Sheriff’s Office] HPD has chosen not to use it. Sheriff Garcia, at this time, has chosen not to use it but it’s always an issue that is under discussion.

POOJA LODHIA: Bond for misdemeanor possession is set at less than $100 so only about 25 inmates are currently incarcerated for it – that’s less than 1% of the total jail population.

But “Cite and release” would alleviate processing backups.

ALAN BERSTEIN: It would have a reduction in the number of people being processed through the front door and posting bond and heading out the out door.

POOJA LODHIA: KTRK Legal Analyst, Joel Androphy, says cite and release would only work with cooperation.

JOEL ANDROPHY: You could be driving through Houston, where it's legal per se, and then you drive to Fort Bend County where it's illegal and you're not supposed to go through that.

POOJA LODHIA: And the sheriff’s office here says it does reconsider and revisit this issue often and it’s not ruling out possibly adopting it in the future.

Live at the Harris County Jail, Pooja Lodhia, 13 IWitness News.

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DEAN BECKER: They seem to want to negate this situation by saying there’s only 25 people currently being held unable to post bond but the fact of the matter is tens of thousands of basically young people are jailed and ran through the system every year for minor amounts of pot right here in Houston, Texas.

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DOUG McVAY: The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, has released a brief report on MDMA use and admissions to emergency departments. They found that during the period 2005 to 2011, there was an increase in the number of emergency department visits reportedly involving ecstasy among patients under 21. Specifically, it went from 4,460 in 2005 to 10,176 in 2011. In about one third of these cases, alcohol was also involved.

While SAMHSA's warnings about dehydration and about not using alcohol in combination with ecstasy were correct, they were lost amid the basic scare story about increasing numbers of young people going to ER probably for ecstasy. So let's go over the facts.

First the basics. According to the online edition of the Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals, quote:

"MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is an amphetamine analog with stimulant and hallucinogenic effects.

"MDMA acts primarily on neurons that produce and release serotonin, but it also affects dopaminergic neurons. MDMA is usually taken as a pill; effects begin 30 to 60 min after ingestion and typically last 4 to 6 h. MDMA is often used at dance clubs, concerts, and rave parties.

"MDMA causes a state of excitement and disinhibit ion and accentuates physical sensation, empathy, and feelings of interpersonal closeness. Toxic effects are similar to those of the other amphetamines but are less common, perhaps because use is more likely to be intermittent. However, even with casual use, significant problems such as hyperthermia and centrally mediated hypernatremia may occur. The effects of intermittent, occasional use are uncertain. Rarely, fulminant hepatic failure occurs."

End quote. Hyperthermia, that's overheating, that's why people are cautioned to hydrate. And MDMA is a stimulant, so people with heart conditions and the like should probably avoid the stuff.

And there's more. One of the problems with an unregulated, uncontrolled, illegal market is that substances may not be what they are sold as, even the potency and purity is unknown. Let the buyer beware is one thing, but there's serious risk involved here. Actual MDMA deaths do happen, they're relatively rare, so though an overdose may not lead to death it may lead to an emergency room. And there's also the chance that the ecstasy may have been cut with something dangerous, or that it was something different altogether. That's why Good Samaritan laws are so important, people need to be able to help their friends without being afraid of getting busted for it. And that's why pill testing is important, though it's certainly not the solution and in the United States, it's still controversial. In some European Union nations, pill testing is legal and accepted as a legitimate harm reduction measure, and in fact in Manchester, England, the Warehouse Project – which is the UK's largest nightclub – is conducting a pilot project involving onsite pill testing. As they note on a sign inside the club: “Just because you know your dealer doesn't mean your dealer knows what is in the drugs that he is selling. Please be safe!”

You can get more information about ecstasy at my website at drug war facts dot org. Also check out Dancesafe dot org, where you can find out a lot more about ecstasy and other party drugs, and also about pill testing and other harm reduction strategies.

For the drug truth network, this is doug mcvay with common sense for drug policy and drug war facts.

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DEAN BECKER: I want to thank Doug McVay. I want to thank Ed Rosenthal and I want to thank you for listening. Look, the fact of the matter is this drug war is ending slow, ugly, bloody and sleazy. We’ve got cops and prosecutors in charge of our kids’ future and why? Because we remain so silent and just refuse to speak up when we see this absolute bullshift.

I’m asking you to do your part, to stand up, to speak up, to be a part of ending this madness called drug war.

Until next time I urge you to please remember that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.

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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