|Copyright © Rob Kall, All Rights Reserved. Do not duplicate or post on youtube or other sites without express permission. Creative commons permissions for this site do not apply to audio content or transcripts of audio content.|
Steven Jonas, MD, is specialist in preventive medicine and public health and is professor emeritus at Department of Preventive Medicine and the Program in Public Health, Stony Brook University
He's the author of over thirty books, including, Ending the "Drug War:" The Public Health Approach to the Drug Problem and the novel, The 15% solution; How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the US, 1981-2022
He's also written Triathaloning for Ordinary Mortals-- he's 80 years old and he's still running in Triathalons.
Here's his author page at OpEdNews: opednews.com/stevenjonas
Rough Interview Notes
Tell us about this book, Ending the "Drug War:" The Public Health Approach to the Drug Problem
The drug war is not a war on drugs, it's a war on certain users on certain drugs.
The drug problem in the United States, people are commonly talking about marijuana, heroin and cocaine" There's a distinction which goes back to the beginning of the drug war from when Richard Nixon intensified it in 1971. They were artificially separated from the much more common drugs used in our society-- that have an affect on alteration of mood.
The most commonly use mood drug, worldwide, happens to be caffeine. It is a mood altering drug that wakes us up.
published articles in academic journals and law reviews-- published a chapter in the standard text on substance abuse, titled SUBSTANCE ABUSE.
Let's have a common term used for most common addictive drugs-- nicotine and tobacco products and ethyl alcohol or
Recreational Mood Altering Drugs RMAD
Drug war criminalizes the other three, separating out the two most addictive RMADs and also the major killers.
Tobacco 480,000 deaths a year in US
Alcohol causes about 85,000 deaths
Licits and illicites
Illicit drugs Marijuana, heroin and cocaine-- artificially created category.
John Erlichman admitted that actually it was a political construct. "we wanted to stigmatize African Americans and the peace movement.
Report came out during Nixon administration recommending legalization of Marijuana. Nixon quashed it.
There's this artificial distinction between the illicits, and the others, which are "licit" use of tobacco and alcohol are legal. The problem is government policy. the problem is also the drug policy reform movement (DPRM). I am critical of the DRPM because they focus only on the illicits.
Recently, all the reform focus is on legalization of marijuana.
The legalization of marijuana doesn't solve the drug problem and the 480,000 tobacco and 85,000 alcohol deaths.
Half of murders are associated with people under influence of alcohol.
Either killer or victim or both have active levels of alcohol in their blood.
If we want to deal with the drug problem we have to recognize what all the drugs are, and it begins with alcohol and tobacco.
We have a major drug culture in the US.
We did heavily promote the use of tobacco products until the mid 1990s or so.
There are more current tobacco use related deaths in non smokers, about 50,000 than there were from heroin and related drugs. People who lived during the time when there was smoking in all kinds of public places.
While tobacco advertising is limited, the beer industry spends two billion dollars a year advertising beer.
We actually promote the use of recreational mood altering drug that results in 85,000 deaths a year.
They know they have to spend money on advertising because, in prohibition, the consumption of beer fell to almost nothing. Breweries were big and you had to drink a lot of beer to get drunk. Spirits didn't. The consumption of spirits remained the same. After the end of prohibition in 1933 it took beer companies 30 years to get beer consumption up to what it was in 1920.
You've written that the US has a drug culture and that every culture has a drug culture and getting rid of that culture necessarily shouldn't be.
heroin was invented in the 1890s. They thought that they'd invented a non-addictive morphine substitute.
Alcohol goes back to biblical times.
Tobacco goes back to the 17th century when colonist from the Americas brought it back.
COcaine has been used as a mild sedative
Rob: some anthropologists speculate that crops to produce beer were among the first farming efforts.
The drug reform movement will have nothing to do with dealing with the recreational drugs RMAD as a unity not a duality;
We train our c hildren from a small age-- if you have a problem, take a pill. We give them chewable vitamins because it will make you a better person.
We have a message of take this pill, drink this liquid, use this substance from childhood into adulthood.
This is the larger drug culture.
Look at advertising on televisions-- three big groups-- insurers, automobiles and then you have lots of advertising for prescription drugs
Rob: And alcohol.
If you have a problem you solve it with medication. That's part of the larger drug culture.
Rob; and we've p published many articles showing how the pharma companies want to identify diagnoses for every person so everyone needs a prescription.
The fact that the drug policy reform movement refuses to look at the unity picture, including alcohol and tobacco.
47,000 heroin like substance deaths a year is half of what we have from alcohol.
Rob: How many deaths are attributed to marijuana every year?
I've never seen a count. Practically none.
The only argument you need to make for marijuana is, if alcohol is legal and advertising all over the place, don't tell me that marijuana should be illegal. Go away.
Ethan Adelman is a major name in the conventional drug policy reform movement. Was the head of the drug policy alliance, which is funded by George Soros. I presented him my model. he replied, that's an interesting academic argument and turned away.
a major part of their argument is the destructiveness of the drug war and the damage done to the black imprisoned population.
Public health approach, we have a model. The 1964 Surgeon general's report on smoking and public health-- showing relationship between smoking, ill health and disease. There was a government that came to the conclusion that there was a connection between smoking, disease and ill health-- the Nazi government of 1935. Hitler was a vegetarian and supported a national anti-smoking campaign for everyone except the members of the armed forces.
For the first 34 years of its existence the tobacco industry fought efforts to combat smoking. The same forces were at work with fossil fuel industry and pollution-- Burston and Marstellar-- one of the principle agencies helping the tobacco create the impression that we were not sure that there was a direct cause between tobacco and ill health.
In the 1950s there were internal memoranda between tobacco companies on relationship between tobacco and ill health. Just like Exxon has records going back decades on effects on global warming.
Since end of 90s when the tobacco industry was forced
in 1964 45% of adults were smokers. It's now 18%. We have had a very successful public health program for dealing with cig smoking and we didn't lock up a single smoker, The drug war has locked up several million people and has had very little effect on the use of the illicits.
I go into great detail on what the components of the public health approach should be. Then we look at a related industry in which addiction is a serious problem-- gambling, which produces gambling addicts. State governments raise hundreds of millions of revenues every year knowing that from the promotion of gambling you will get a certain number of gambling addicts.
Rob: Where does digital addiction to iPhones, computer games" where does that fit into this. Mari Swingle has written about this. Early use leads to substance abuse addiction.
Rob; Talk about the groups that benefit from keeping the drugs illicit.
There are half a dozen major groups that would be totally against ending the drug war. The biggest would be the cartels. They're out of business. Cocaine is cheap. Marijuana is a weed. If Marijuana and cocaine had been legal El Chapo would have been a moderately successful entrepreneur in Columbia.
Tobacco and alcohol would be against it, private prison industry in this country is s supported by the drug war. Probably the pharmaceutical industry would be against it. It would be difficult to do it politically. If the drug war had a real affect on the use of the substances on which it was aimed, you could justify it. But it doesn't, hasn't.
Rob: What is your answer to dealing with the political and economic forces which oppose the public health approach?
Do it like they did it with tobacco.
I think heroin should be sold in known doses in govt stores. Most deaths from heroin are related to overdoses because people don't know how much is in the packet they buy. That's how we lost Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Keith Ledger.
Rob: What about other countries? How do they handle it?
Portugal has legalized all drug use and they haven't seen increases in drug use.
Uruguay has legalized marijuana.
Countries that have implemented legalization-- none of them have noticed an increase in the use of the drug.
Rob: tell us about your book, The 15% solution; How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the US, 1981-2022
I looked at what the religious right and the Republican party were telling us what they would do if they got control in the US.
Now we have a man who will probably become the secretary of the interior
Size: 31,803,392 -- 1 hrs, 6 min, 14 sec