a re-post from 1997 about the Drug Policy Foundation's denial of a proposed panel on Opium and Coca for their conference that year in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The Drug Policy Foundation (DPF) was the predecessor organization to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), that was created in 2000 with the DPF's merger with the Lindesmith Institute that was headed by Ethan Nadelmann- current DPA Executive Director. The President of the DPA's Board of Directors, Ira Glasser meanwhile served on the Board of Directors of the DPF. The DPA had been founded by Kevin Zeese from the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML), with Dr. Arnold S. Trebach of American University in 1986, who had left the organization in 1997.
The Drug Policy Foundation, and the Drug Policy Alliance have been advised through the bro bono program of Covington & Burling, Washington D.C.'s leading corporate food, pharmaceutical and Tobacco industry law firm founded by an instrumental figure in establishing the 1914 Harrison Act, since at least 1988; and since about 1993 or 1994 started receiving funding from George Soros.
DPF SAYS NO TO HOGSHIRE/OPIUM & COCA PANEL?
*From a recent -- May 25th 1997 -- article from The New York Times, regarding the legal persecution of Jim Hogshire, author of the book "Opium for the Masses"
"To opponents of the drug war, the case showed how drug policy could clash with other American values. 'The guy was being persecuted because of the fact that he wrote a book,' said Arnold Trebach, founder of the Drug Policy Foundation, a Washington D.C. group that seeks alternatives to the drug war. 'A book! In America! Have we totally lost our sense of who we are?'"
Indeed, have we totally lost our sense of who we are?!?! Like others, I was heartened to hear Dr. Trebach's words of support for Hogshire, and applauded his efforts at educating the public.
Inspired by professor Trebach's words of support for "controversial" approaches to solving the problem of the Drug War, I made this formal proposal to the DPF for a panel at this year's annual conference. I thought the subject would have been of intense interest to both activists and scholars involved in drug war politics. Along with Coca leaf, Opium was outlawed by the so-called Harrison "Tax" Act of 1914, which aimed at the issue of "habit-forming" drugs, banned the citizen's right to purchase or possess Opium and Coca, or any of their various components like morphine or refined cocaine. This prohibition effectively stopped the trade in the plant products, while making the trade in potent white powder derivatives - heroin and cocaine hydrochloride -- immensely profitable. With the dominance of the latter modes of "hard" drugs, we need independent scholar working to enlighten the public about the uses of natural plant versions of the now illicit drugs- in short a look at how drugs are more likely to be consumed WITHOUT the twentieth century drug war, particularly that substance called "God's Own Medicine" -- opium. Professor Trebach's 1982 book, The Heroin Solution, suggests the need to talk seriously about opiates, particularly their use in pain control and patients' access to relief. My panel would give D.P.F. conference attendees just this forum to hear about the therapeutic potential of the PLANTS targeted by twentieth century "drug" prohibition, giving us the chance to avoid the canard of "hard drugs" and focus on a realistic approach to drugs and drug use.
--- Below is my Proposal ---------
PLENARY PANEL/WORKSHOP PROPOSAL--- My proposed panel would fill this serious void in the conference. NONE of the other panels allow a direct venue for either Opium or Coca although I am convinced many people -- including Dr. Trebach -- would be interested in hearing about these subjects. Jim Hogshire could do double duty and speak about his legal difficulties on the panel, The First Amendment – The Next Target of the War on Drugs.
Tinctures of Opium, Wines of Coca, etc:
Popular, Pre-prohibition Uses of Natural Plants
Perverted by Drug Prohibition into today's "Hard" Drug Plague
11th International Conference on Drug Policy Reform,
October 15-18, 1997
Douglas A. Willinger, moderator
Submitted to the Drug Policy Foundation. Speakers that it is proposed that the Drug Policy Foundation formally
Jim Hogshire, author, Opium for the Masses
Dr. Andrew T. Weil, author Chocolate to Morphine
Dr. Lester Grinspoon
Cynthia Cotts, writer, National Law Journal
Dr. Ronald K. Siegel, UCLA, author Intoxication (1989)
Michael Montagne, Boston College of Pharmacology
Dr. John Morgan
"Hard" drugs - e.g. "heroin" and "cocaine" -- have evoked great fears, leading people to advocate or acquiesce to more repressive and expensive drug laws and drug law enforcement, as if these molecules were necessarily pernicious. Yet prior to prohibition, opiates and cocaine were widely used as safely as aspirin and caffeine are now. Because we are so conditioned to react to the powder forms of these drugs, we forget that these more direct modes of ingestion -- sniffing, smoking and injecting -- were formerly a relatively rare phenomenon. Prior to the twentieth century's "war on drugs," most people using these drugs took them in dilute form, whether as raw plant material, or plant preparation of comparable potency. Such plants and their popular preparations, were widely recognized medicinal agents, worldwide. These substances have long and positive histories predating their criminalization by U.S. federal statute via the 1914 Harrison "Tax" Act and successive laws, and were used throughout the medical community as effective, cheap, and safe treatments for a variety of ailments. Opium poppies have been taken medicinally for thousands of years, taken topically, smoked (and even brewed as a tea, as suggested in Hogshire's "Opium for the Masses.") "Cocaine" -- or more accurately, Coca just had many uses. The Extra Pharmacopoeia (the British counterpart to the U.S. Pharmacopoeia) cited Coca as a "nervine and muscular tonic, preventing waste of tissue, appeasing hunger and thirst, relieving fatigue, and aiding free respiration ... useful in various diseases of the digestive and respiratory organs.... " Meanwhile, the Wine of Coca, , became the most widely praised plant preparation of the time. ’s creator, Angelo Mariani was hailed by Pope Leo XIII as a "benefactor of humanity" for making Coca available around the world- after 40 years of Coca wine distribution." All of this of course, prior to prohibition. Any honest program of harm reduction in drug use must go beyond the narrow-minded discussion of today's "hard drug problems": heroin and cocaine hydrochloride, to look at Opium and Coca, to reveal the drug war's most intense effects upon drug abuse -- shifting markets to the infinitely more dangerous concentrated substances, while the natural forms are virtually forgotten.
Besides Hogshire, this proposed panel has a good list of speakers of interest to the conference attendees. Dr. Lester Grinspoon would make an excellent speaker about both Opium and Coca. So would Cynthia Cotts, drug reporter for a number of publication now on the staff of the National Law Journal; as well as Dr. Ronald K. Siegel of UCLA, who has long researched the psychotropic plants, and gave a good presentation at my 1995 DPF conference panel COCA '95: A Necessary Drug Policy Alternative From Abroad, that I moderated on October 21, 1995 in Santa Monica. Dr. Andrew Weil would certainly make an interesting presentation.
Given his background, I find it incomprehensible the DPF has not featured him as a conference speaker in seven years! All of my proposed speakers have indicated their interest in appearing on DPF panels, so the problem isn't lack of suitable material or interesting speakers. And I doubt the problem is lack of intellectual curiosity by Trebach and other DPF members.
So how come the DPF doesn't seem to be able to walk the walk -- after all, it certainly talks the talk!
Just who makes the decisions regarding conference panels?
Maybe Arnold Trebach doesn't know what his underlings are doing with his organization, which seems to be playing it so cautiously it's hard to distinguish between them and some of the drug warriors. Did this panel proposal: Tinctures of Opium, Wines of Coca, etc -- Popular, Pre-prohibition Uses of Natural Plants Perverted by Drug Prohibition just slip between the cracks amidst DPF staff changes? If the cause is political fear of "controversial", non-establishment ideas on promoting and end to Drug War mayhem, I am not alone in thinking that kind of compromise is fatal -- and should be fatal -- to any movement that pretends to advocate for people's rights. What if civil rights workers of the 1950s and 1960s had, rather than challenge segregation as wrong (and stick to their guns) instead chosen to meekly apologize for the color of their skins and an oppressive government policy? Does anyone out there have any advice about how can we get through to the right people within the D.P.F. [main phone 202 537 5005; fax 202 537 3007, web site with chat rooms and forum boards,http://www.dpf.org], for them to recognize the very fallacy of NOT pointing out how twentieth century prohibition is morally WRONG, and thus the need to attack the very dogma of the State Party line that [certain] drugs are evil? As the D.P.F., after all, was initially founded to help educate the public about the issues of drug policy, it would be a shame for it to lose its sense of what it was.
Douglas A. Willinger
Tinctures of Opium, Wines of Coca, etc:
Popular, Pre-prohibition Uses of
Natural Plants Perverted by Drug Prohibition
Into today's "Hard" Drug Plague
This is all a pity.
The Drug Policy Foundation that was founded by Zeese and Trebach had done a relatively good job during the organization's early years, into the early 1990s- something I can attest to having attended all of their major conferences since 1989.
But starting in 1993 they have become increasingly timid with a tunnel vision focus more upon drugs in their more dangerous feared forms rather than the broad context of how such drugs - namely opiates and cocaine -- became perverted by prohibition, nor the potential benefits of the banned substances, as well as the rippling effects of the market distortion created by the 20th century "progressive" policies as the drug war.
To wit: where are the DPA panels spotlighting the use of Cannabis Oil to treat-cure cancer?