71: Looking at the War on Drugs Through the Racial Justice Lens (Sort Of)

We invite Kassandra Frederique, the Executive Director at Drug Policy Alliance and Tracie Gardner, Vice President of Policy Advocacy at Legal Action Center to help us explore the war on drugs through the lens of racial justice. We learn about the beginnings of drug policy, which started out punishing only the mode of opium use that was popular among Asian immigrants, the progression to the politics of Nixon changing his stance from one of therapeutic interventions to one of tough on crime during his run for presidency, the devastation the Rockefeller Drug Laws had on communities, and how the modern day war on drugs has seeped into every government system, as a form of controlling minorities. Kassandra and Tracie excellently explain how each governmental system has it’s own version of the war on drugs, how professional health care has abandoned helping persons with mental health, and how the system continues to exclude people of color. The conversation further goes into how the systems that started out as discriminatory toward race, have further taken on discriminatory attitudes toward class, only leaving the wealthy in our society not impacted by it. In celebration of Black History Month, we acknowledge the impact these systems have had on the vulnerable minority population, and celebrate how amazing humans such as Kassandra and Tracie are leading the charge of policy reform to create a better landscape so that future generations won’t have to be negatively impacted in the same ways and so we can create a safe and healing environment for all. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on TwitterFacebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

To learn more about Drug Policy Alliance, go here: https://drugpolicy.org/

To learn more about Legal Action Center, go here: https://www.lac.org/

To hear our episode with Daniel go here

Recommended by god:

94: Tradition 8 – Narcotics Anonymous Should Remain Forever Nonprofessional, But Our Service Centers May Employ Special Workers (Sort Of)

FacebookTweetPin Tradition Eight: Narcotics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ…

174: Women in Recovery – Don’t Be a Jerk (Sort Of)

FacebookTweetPin We have on Caroline Beidler, MSW and author of the book, Downstairs Church, to…

44: The Pain of Addiction Doesn’t End (Sort Of)

FacebookTweetPin 8/16/20 Addiction is full of pain for everyone. The suffering is great, and doesn’t…


recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

hi i’m jason i’m a guy in long-term recovery and i’m billy i’m also a person in long-term recovery and it’s recovery sort of and i did that backwards this week i hope y’all like that so today we’re going to talk about the war on drugs but we’re not just going to talk about the war on drugs we’re going to acknowledge this is black history month and then black history month generally we celebrate the contributions from the black or minority or person of color community and we wanted to kind of take that in a different direction and address people who are people of color who are doing things today people who are addressing topics that matter to the minority community and contributing to the betterment of society now and so we’re going to have a couple of guests on and we’re going to talk about the history of the drug war and how it ties into race and racism so we’re going to have one cassandra frederick from drug policy alliance

she is the executive director over there and also with her we’re going to have one from legal action center tracy gardner who is the vice president of policy advocacy and i think they’re going to help us explore the idea that the drug war was basically created around racist issues and to continue to marginalize certain populations what are you hoping to get out of this conversation today just that to to talk about some of how these issues impact minority communities i mean we’ve seen it in poor communities in our rural area but we’re predominantly white we have a very low minority community here and you can see how those policies have affected you know poor white communities at least from my personal experience but i’m not

i’ve never directly lived in a minority community so i don’t know how some of these policies and things have affected those communities and just to see some strong black women leading the charge in the war on the war on drugs like it’s the new it should be the new war it’s the war on the war on drugs that’s the fight we need to be having now so it’d be great to talk to them yeah i think you’re right i think exploring the topic historically of the drug war and how it’s has racial tones to it along with celebrating just people who are doing things and contributing to the betterment of society and the forwarding the progress the looking at these things from a different angle the spreading the word of awareness of where they really stemmed from and how they have not only not worked

i mean i think it’s easy for us to say oh the war on drugs doesn’t work but also how they have worked negatively to really just rip apart communities of lower socioeconomic status and not helped in the least to build up the population of america or the world you know anywhere that this is going on like it’s it’s not helping to keep us all healthier happier and in better places it has really held a lot of people back from getting anywhere in life yeah definitely and there’s a part of this too with identity i think it helps communities the the way i think the way out of this is to for us as people in the recovery movement in this change movement to get into our communities firsthand and help to lift them up

i mean not that having some bureaucrats or some some policy changes aren’t a great thing they’re definitely needed but it also takes you know individuals getting directly into their local communities to help really push these grassroots movements to lift up our damaged communities awesome so let’s have a moment now and we’ll delve in

we have cassandra frederick the executive director of drug policy alliance and we also are blessed with the presence of tracy gardner vice president of policy advocacy at legal action center and better than us talking a lot and saying a whole lot of stuff i think the most important thing is to let their voices be heard so i’m gonna let both of them take a turn and tell us a little bit about how they got into the work they do why their passion is in drug reform or in drug legalization what it means to do harm reduction policy anything that affects them and how they got here today

so cassandra i work at drug policy alliance i am drug policy action rc4 and i’m the new executive director i started in september 2020. i started as an intern at dpa in 2009 so i’ve been there for quite a bit and you know i get asked this question often about drug policy reform like what was my passion towards it and i often tell people that i actually didn’t know drug policy reform was a thing i got to the internship by mistake as in i didn’t choose it

i wanted to do something else in criminal justice i was supposed to be an intern at a different new york city criminal justice organization and there was an argument between colombia and that organization and then columbia was like cool we’re not giving you our student and then they were like yeah i got away real quickly i got stolen so quick today i was like they’re like you can pick between doing anti-racism workshops or you can work with drug policy alliance they just did rockefeller drug law reform and i was like i wrote that paper in college like five times

i’ll go there um and so i ended up at dpa and honestly i really was just trying to finish my internship i didn’t understand what they did at all it’s evident by the fact that i was applying for my job after graduation to work at onccp and some of the dba had to be like um girl that’s that last bit of what we’re doing and i was like oh i thought this would be good on my resume because you guys are like drug policy lines this is office of national drug control everybody was just like wow we got to start from the beginning with you and i was just like oh

but since i’ve read a bunch and learned more and have really seen drug policy as a praxis to reduce the harms associated with being black in america that is really what i care about i care about figuring out how to organize towards freedom and i think a lot that passion comes from the fact that i grew up in giuliani new york city so i was here i was born during the time of dinkins i don’t know much about it but i came into understanding when i was super young under giuliani new york and i understood things like stop and frisk i can name a lot of the people that were killed by law enforcement my first protest was around abner luima who got sodomized by law enforcement i’ma do diallo was the first death where i was just like oh y’all don’t care at all right and we had like a dare officer come to school and i don’t think anyone realized how ironic he came when it was like during one of these police killings and we were just like no pio reyes you have to get out like we don’t no we were like in sixth grade passing around like the front page of the post that was talking about a police killing we were like is this you this you that’s you because this this black and latino school we’re not we’re not about it so you can leave i don’t care don’t leave the stickers we don’t care so

i think for me that’s where my passion comes from is i’ve always been present to the state violence right so i’ve always been aware of it um and drug policy alliance really gave me a way to organize the way that i think and give me an organizing practice to do the work that i care so deeply about which is how do we decriminalize substances people and systems and that practice comes from the fact that i went to social work school so i think drug policy for me is how do i turn my rage into action and i find that your policy does that for me i like that with the operating theme of rage so i’m tracy gardner and i you know again must say i am so very grateful to cassandra because in some ways you know i am definitely kind of cl eastwood get off my lawn i came to new york from western massachusetts in 1989. so that’s when dinkins was coming into office and i was delighted to be in new york with the first black mayor but my way into this work was kind of personal as political and so i love my childhood friend to aids in 1985 and from that point on

i you know we can call it galvanize we can call it activated but it was rage and it was rage also about issues that people didn’t want to talk about primarily sex and drugs so came to new york in 1989 to work with a community-based organization an hiv organization in harlem the day that magic johnson announced that he was hiv positive you know the whole community kind of exploded and kind of the impact of hiv on black people was i knew it from my friend but it just you know it was also it was a community issue it was uh equity issue it was uh what we don’t want to talk about it was who do we value and not value and in that time of hiv in harlem there was also a lot of talk about the best way to cure junkie is death you know and

so i was working at an organization small organization that had compassion and knew the stigma around hiv which was really stigma around sex and stigma around gay people and the stigma around drug use and injection drug use and the association that people had with drug users really created so many problems for people who were affected by hiv so hiv was kind of my racial justice lens if you will because everywhere that hiv appeared was where there was some broken system that was harming black and latino people so hiv brought me to criminal justice because new york for a long time had the highest number of people with hiv in prison in the country and the reasons for that had a lot to do with the hiv in communities where people were coming from and people were coming from communities into prison in jail from communities hard hit by laws like the rockefeller drug laws

in many ways rockefeller drug laws fueled hiv infection in black and brown communities because of what it did in terms of weakening communities and that there were only like five or six communities around the state that were feeding something like 80 of the population of the state system and never mind the jails and so from criminal justice with substance use issues being all the way in that you know that’s pretty much kind of informed my career since 89 i stumbled into legal action center in 2000 because i knew their hiv work and they had an attorney named katie o’neill who was just like the boss and i just wanted to be around her and i would have volunteered for the agency but they had a state policy position open and so that’s where i went and uh legal action center worked a lot with drug policy alliance in dismantling the rockefeller drug laws

so that was a definitely a big piece of my work at the time an amazing attorney named deborah smalls was leading the rockefeller work and then from there the focus on criminal justice for me it became that we as a society had made these investments into quote unquote the carceral system but it became a health care system and one of the wake up calls for me on that one was in looking at hiv infection rates among black women and seeing that you know when you looked at it map wise the overlay of admissions to prison and hiv infection in women was exact like they were right on top of each other and that had a lot to do with the fact that drug policy and other law enforcement interventions and actions were destabilizing communities and making communities more vulnerable to hiv infection if for the sheer number of just removing or recycling black men and women in and out of the community and the poor health of the correction system

so my work has always been about helping people understand the why of the what and this was a big revelation for me to see the clear connection between correctional health and community health and the fact that there are systems that perpetuate that so fast forward a little bit and we used to have this commercial on tv that was like i’m not only the hair club president i’m a client for me i got to learn firsthand the addiction treatment system because of my own struggles with substance use disorder and this was in the early 2000s and what i got was harsh family court involvement because i was in treatment and i had my children taken from me because there was nothing worse than a black woman who was using substances including crack and that everything was a nail and everything got a hammer so that experience of both the family court system the criminal legal system and the addiction treatment system taught me how deeply embedded systemic racism was in these systems and that there wasn’t an interest at all in rehabilitation or corrections or treatment even so that made a big impact on then

how i moved in the work growing up professionally in hiv i always knew you know this notion of people who are closest to the problem are closest to the solution and that the best policy is made when it involves people that it impacts but since coming into recovery being able to speak from my experience as a black woman as a woman involved in the quote unquote child protective system as a woman involved in the treatment system and having been through a number of different modalities of it i can say that all of it needs to be thrown out it just needs to be thrown into a bin and set on fire and we need to start all over again and that history will look back on how we treated people with a health issue with horror because it’s medieval

so i’ll close by saying that right now a lot of my work is focused on the opportunities of the new administration and the new congress and um we’re doing a lot of work on something called the medicaid re-entry act which it allows medicaid which can’t be used to pay for care for anybody and who’s incarcerated but this act will allow for medicaid to pay for care for people in the last 30 days of their incarceration or the first 30 days because 80 to 90 of people come home from their incarceration experience and where people in particular are at risk is as they’re transitioning from the car school system into the community and it took the impact of the overdose opiate epidemic on white people to understand that the mortality of people who’ve used opiates when they’re coming out of prison or jail is like 120 times worse than non-opiate drug use and so that has fueled this act which is great

but i can also say having done this work for 30 years now that this has been something that we’ve been trying to make happen in the advocacy world for decades medicaid law has been in place since 1965 and the recognition of the impact of denying medicaid coverage to people because they’re involved in the justice system is also what has us in trouble today because the health care system is racist and you can’t get the health care system to do anything unless you monetize it so that’s some of the work i do some of the pointy head policy work but my passion is this work like with the black harm reduction network and working with cassandra and

there’s a bunch of us kind of running around elevating this idea that almost everything you know in how this country is set up is based on shadow slavery and everything that grew out of that every single element and in the addiction treatment system and in the justice reform area not acknowledging that means we’re going to be at risk of repeating it wow a lot of information there and i thank you both and really what i thank you for i think it’s just the work you do it’s just incredible to me i think it’s work that needs to be done how to say this in a polite way

i think there are racist people and then i think there’s other people who just support the ideas of the drug war or drug policy because they’ve been sold that that’s what makes sense and they don’t understand yeah just to highlight some of this so segregation supposedly ended in 1964 and kind of people who didn’t feel like that was a good idea didn’t have any new way to talk about racism or white supremacy openly and so from that point to the best of my understanding they kind of decided to come up with code words and law and order and you know all these terms around the fact that we were gonna be tough on crime and the drug war started out of that going into nixon a lot of policies around the criminal justice system and drug policy and things that don’t measure up right when we look at the facts marijuana is not really a drug that is all that harmful and yet it’s been listed as a schedule one ignoring all the recommendations of the people in his administration that said hey this doesn’t belong as a schedule one it’s really not that bad for you

but we ignore that because well we can use it to arrest people like nixon’s enemies were you know hippies and black people basically and he found ways to make sure that it was illegal to be either and so from there obviously you talked about the rockefeller drug logs we get up to that where it’s mandatory minimums it’s you know increasing sentences but even then that’s only enforced in communities that are of minority population like we we know that there’s more white drug dealers out there but we’re not enforcing or policing for rockefeller drug laws in their communities and then you get into reagan and you talk about all these white people do cocaine but we’re gonna take the same drug that’s sold by black people as crack even though it’s the exact same chemical composition but for crack we’re going to have much higher sentences because that’s what’s it’s just this whole focus and code words and everything that has led this to be a racial issue not a war on drugs it’s more of a war on minorities it seems and even if nobody that just listened to that believes that the numbers of how it’s enforced bear it out so whether that was the original intention or not i don’t want to argue with anybody maybe that wasn’t the original intention maybe they really just

oh it certainly was i totally hear i agree with what you’re saying what i’m saying is that it actually was because the drug war drug prohibition in general is a racialized tool of social oppression and that doesn’t start at nixon that starts in the 1800s the first drug laws in the u.s were against chinese migrants in san francisco they made opium illegal but not all forms of opium just the forms of opium that were associated with chinese migrants because white people were using opium so they didn’t make the way their modes of use illegal the way that white it was perceived that white people used it just the way that chinese folks were perceived their mode of use and so i think what’s really important is yes in june it’s going to be the 50th anniversary of nixon declaring the war on drugs in our modern society and i hear you jason when you’re like folks are like is is the drug race has nothing to do about it but i think it’s because everyone starts at the nixon thing and they pull the ehrlichman quote and

what i would offer is that we have a hundred more years of evidence that shows that this was about race and in fact a black man wrote a book about it his name is troy duster he wrote the book called the legislation of morality and that book was actually published in 1969 and he used 100 years of history now remember what i just said 1969 that book was published 1969 1970 nixon declared the war on drugs in 1971 which means that we already knew what time it was when it changed laws right and that the history the main thesis of the book is that drug laws are not based on the pharmacology of the drug they are based on the perceived face of the dominant user population race and so when you’re thinking about things like opium heroin marijuana why we even use the word marijuana in the united states and everybody else uses cannabis is because they wanted to associate it in the southwest of mexicans right and so i think one of the things that is really important about drug policy and it’s the point that you’re making json is that there’s no both sides of this issue of is the drug war racist drug prohibition was fueled to control people racially and so there’s no like oh there were other things and treatment and everyone was addicted and we wanted people no it was used as a way to exploit a group of people that have come to this country had given their labor were exploited and then the us was like y’all getting too comfortable here and now we have to control you and

both tracy and i know that this is how the u.s rolls because technically we shouldn’t be on this hemisphere right like we we are on this hemisphere because they wanted to use this to exploit us for labor right and so i think the thing that is really important for readers to understand is that you cannot separate the way that we control drugs in this country from the way that they use that drug control as a practice to control people that are not white and what i would also add is that i think it’s really important to show what the opportunity around fighting the drug war is for a multi-racial campaign because the overdose crisis everyone says the the rhetoric right which is like they didn’t treat white people the way they treat black people but i want to be really specific they didn’t treat white people with means the way they treat it with black people four white people have been getting the short end of the stick for a long time when it comes to drugs and you see that in the way that they’ve divested their health infrastructure you see that in the way that they have incarcerated why people for drugs a lot of people went down from that a lot of people have gone a lot it’s it’s super important for us to be really precise it is white people with money that are not getting locked up right by people with insurance but these poor white people they’re getting their ass handed to them because when you create a machine it has to eat and so therefore the machine can go through the dark meat but once the dark meat is done they still gotta eat baby right and

they have and you see it across look at the states that are struggling with overdose right it’s the west virginians it’s the kentucky it is states that did not do the medicaid expansion right it’s the states that don’t have universal healthcare is the states that have economic depressions right like this thing it starts as a race thing but that class thing is right there and it shifts up and it’s important because it’s also about the historical context and the only way we’re actually going to win this is when we actually do as the chairman fred hampton says like when we actually build that multiracial democracy where people actually see that like the people at the top are setting it up for us to be fighting against each other fighting against the drug sellers so you lock people out of the regular economy so people get locked up for drugs right they come out they can’t get a job because their records are messed up they can’t do anything that has to do with these issues we see it in the cannabis space you got cannabis now legal people that sold cannabis before can’t get into the industry why records no access to capital they’re not a safe bet for loans business loans from so it’s like this whole thing this thing was intentional and

i think that that’s what’s really important is that it was an intentional political tool of social pressure around race around class around gender right around like nationality the reason why they also targeted those chinese migrants was because it was anti-immigrant that was one of the first like anti-immigrant laws was drugs they have used drugs as a practicism for classism for racism but also xenophobia and i think it’s really important that when we tell the story of race and the drug wars we can’t start at nixon because it gives people an out right like oh drug use was going up and all it’s like nah from the beginning the first drug laws were about chinese people not even black people chinese people who came here to build a railroad and then got exploited and it wasn’t even all of opium it was just the way that chinese people were using it and it really is like focusing us to be like there is no other way because

i think the thing right now especially in such a polarized time is people are looking for other excuses so they move away from race and so that’s why i bring the story to the 1880s because i think like what do you say there what else what’s happening there where you can have this conversation why do we use the word marijuana which happened in the 30s why don’t we use cannabis right and then you can get to the 70s because the 70s give us a whole lot of stuff to talk about but that first hundred years there’s a whole book on it right there’s a whole book on it before richard nixon even declared the war on drugs a black man wrote a book and said this drug thing this drug thing right here is about race it’s not about anything else but race i think it’s super important because i think people just have to make the decision like i don’t care if you think you’re racist or not you support racist policy right and so like that’s really what it is and you can’t deny the historical roots and you can say like i think that deterrence is a way for us to deal with addiction and blah blah blah blah you can say that you can have those opinions we can argue back and forth on that but what we can’t argue on is the roots of the drug war were racist that’s absolutely it

not to mention the fact that what i was saying earlier the politics and the politics of capitalism that we don’t speak about enough nixon actually was forward thinking in his approach to heroin addiction because the vietnam vets were coming home with it there was a whole panel commission set up to talk about how to get medications to vietnam vets who are coming home addicted to opiates and that brings in all of these more modern things that we now know that these men and women coming out of war situations are traumatized the idea of using medications using drugs to self-soothe and that it wasn’t until nixon needed to gear up the presidential machinery for the run that he was encouraged to be more punitive but he started out looking at this more therapeutically and so i marvel at the fact that there’s so much more information that’s available now a lot of it is is not accurate but a lot of it is and much more information is available than was so the excuse of not understanding what the roots are right we can fuel a whole what q anon conspiracy about politicians eating babies and drinking blood but we don’t want to believe in the racist underpinnings of the history of this country and how other ring is public policy othering the ability to marginalize stigma is oppression

i always say that if you think about the word stigma when you’re using the word stigma switch out stigma and just say oppression and then it explains what it does how it’s used you know what it ultimately is for is to marginalize to crush people to keep them down right fighting stigma is about fighting oppression people don’t want to acknowledge that who’s doing the oppressing the systems in which we have built these inequities around race and around class and the point that cassandra brings up about how much this country hates rural whites that’s been going on right that is kind of some of the underpinnings of even the civil war really this concentration of wealth and power among two percent of the population and the inequity that it spawns and that we’re fighting one another instead of addressing that we would have no movement on the overdose epidemic if it didn’t have an impact on the children of wealth and that’s what really got it happening

i worked for a politician whose name i’m not going to mention and i know for a fact he was getting calls from donors whose children were struggling with drugs whose children were engaging in criminal acts and they were like this cannot be for my children we have to figure out a better way a gentler way a health approach that conversation did not start in earnest until the children of wealth started being impacted and

i can’t thank you enough for interjecting there and putting that out there and i think this is the exact reason that billy and i don’t want to do this kind of podcast by ourselves we want to have the experts on to like please come help us get a better understanding as we go we have some understanding but the more we can hear it and the more we learn and the more viewpoints we get the better we’re going to understand this to continue the process of fighting it ourselves that’s right and i love that it was framed from both of you as this isn’t just minorities this isn’t just people of color like this is people who don’t have meat because that makes a lot of sense and it’s much more inclusive right it feels like it’s not so black versus white now it’s like oh hey like maybe we’re all in this together and all kind of getting screwed over in this process that’s absolutely right

this episode has been brought to you by voices of hope inc a non-profit grassroots recovery community organization located in maryland voices of hope is made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the dignity and respect of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment support resources and mentoring please visit us at www.voicesofhopecilmd.org and consider donating to our calls

we’re in a particularly like rural area here in maryland it’s a very low minority community but like you said we still see in the poor communities the same policies and the same effects on those communities where there’s single moms raising kids in poverty and continual perpetual cycle of the young men in and out of jail and incarcerated and you know it’s easy for people to say well see it’s not racist but it is definitely based in some racial policies and now into like a class warfare thing and i think it is important for us to look for people that are our allies so like for us in our small community when we can look i mean just to get funding and stuff look to some of the bigger cities like baltimore city find some allies down there and some of those communities say we need to fight to change some of these policies they haven’t worked for the past 100 years you know why do we keep doing this and harming the most vulnerable in our society like

that’s right that’s right so let’s talk about why that is so important and even using maryland as an example states that have a combination of rural quote-unquote conservative predominantly white versus urban suburban where it’s more mixed or it’s more black and brown communities the law makers that perpetuate it’s not just about federal law it’s about the patchwork of state law that makes for some states to be able to do better and some states to be wallowing in misery because of mindsets right the rejection of quote unquote obamacare and the medicaid expansion is one of the most important examples of where talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face because lawmakers were happy to deny their constituents broader health access so that they wouldn’t give the win to the black president right and then at the state level if rural conservative plus suburban urban weigh in on an issue it will change when the perception that it’s benefiting one or another and this is a big feature in new york where i do most of my work then it doesn’t happen but the overdose epidemic has definitely helped people understand that it is equal opportunity and that it really speaks to kind of structural inequities fueled by race but now having an impact on or always on white people it thrives in poverty right so in new york as in other places there are fewer treatment programs available fewer alternatives to incarceration fewer diversion programs lots of local jails lots of jobs for ceos lots of investment in the punitive system rather than the therapeutic system and

i listened to a couple of your podcasts too and you know the other piece is i’m not knocking 12-step at all but understanding fundamentally that it was a system segregation if you will of health issues of the mind mental health and addiction from health issues of the body right that the health care system that is fueled by elite medical schools did not want to deal with people with mental abnormalities that has been consigned to mental hygiene arena and what did those health issues get they got mental institutions they got jail you know we’re still talking about trying to make medications available to people in jail how about we give them in the community so they don’t have to go to jail in new york a big discussion is being able to close riker’s island and the reality is we can’t close rikers island because rikers island serves as a hospital it serves as a health care provider for people with mental illness and people with addiction and

that reflects our investments we didn’t invest in the community so the people who had those issues unaddressed ended up in the justice system and inside the jails and other correctional systems and that is also now what’s happening upstate people are going to jail even as we’re emptying the jails because of kovid the people who are ending up in jail are the people with unaddressed untreated mental illness and addiction so there is a lot of work for me this fundamentally boils down to as a person in recovery if you are not somewhat active in the not just the electoral process but understanding what’s going on knowing who your representatives are being involved being aware then you are not helping another you are not helping another and that also goes to the whole bifurcation between people who use drugs versus people who are in recovery and abstinent from all drugs right there are laws that protect people who are in recovery who are abstinent

if i relapse tomorrow i no longer have the protection what’s different what’s changed why don’t i deserve it because this hierarchy of who doesn’t use who uses that it’s full abstinence or gradations that we talk about as harm reduction but what it does is it has created another caste system within the world of people who use drugs the people who use drugs are the predominant the people who have problematic drug use are the minority being in abstinence for decades is unusual it is an abnormality in 12 step we elevate it and it’s great because it does save people’s lives but it is not normal and that’s why people talk about the opposite of active use is connection because with that connectivity with that fellowship you’re able to do that but let’s not be fooled being able to be abstinent for decades is unusual

it is not normal most people are using drugs at different point in time in their life and let’s not ever forget that alcohol is our biggest drug please compare the mortalities associated with alcohol with the mortalities associated with cannabis that usually just shuts it down we are not being real with our young people and have not been real with our young people for a long time when we try to equate the two so that has to change i always try to tell billy with his decades he’s an abnormal guy

yeah absolutely tracy we have addressed that on here a couple times how ridiculous it would be to walk into a doctor with a broken arm and have him guess at what was the best treatment you know as treatment centers do for addiction or mental health and possibly give you a decent treatment and then tell you he hopes it works and right just go or look up on the wall see these 12 points if you follow these 12 points your arm will heal right right exactly and that’s all you need don’t ask me for any medication that’s all you need because i wanted to bring something up from what billy was talking about because i actually do believe that drugs and the drug war give us a real opportunity for us to do multiracial organizing and i think part of it is because there’s a cognitive dissonance that is happening because so much of the public narrative around drugs is that it’s bad for you you shouldn’t do it and that’s why black people are like so poor and that’s why they’re all incarcerated right like and

i think it’s so interesting because i find that drugs are often used as a scapegoat in society and they distract people from asking the bigger question that is actually going to get to the root of the issue when we’re saying well why are all these you know people for a long time mass incarceration was happening and folks were just like oh it’s just because black people have a higher level of criminality right when people were talking about you know crack for example you know there’s actually more white people who use crack but the popular mainstream face of crack was black people right and i think that it creates this kind of cognitive dissonance and there was this narration that drugs were an issue of the urban person of color and then the overdose criticism came and the face of that crisis in mainstream media was this white person who was of means right like the accidental addict the cheerleaders the grandma the football player right and

i think the overdose crisis gives us this opportunity because everyone’s trying to navigate well how did this happen and so now all of a sudden the doctors are in like the doctors are the reason why we are all you know and the doctors definitely have some responsibility for it then it’s like and then these big ass companies the prescription people you know they’re terrible they did this to us and it was just like or as the research shows most of the people that are addicted to prescription drugs did not get those prescription drugs from their doctor that’s what the research bears out the research base sure the doctors flooded the market sure you can have that narrative but the people that got addicted based on the research did not get those drugs from the doctor those drugs were for somebody else so now what is the question right the question is not what what were the doctors doing the question is why did you have pills that didn’t belong to you and what were you searching for in those pills and what has society not giving you that you needed to use those pills to deal with that’s right that’s the bigger question right and the is

is that white people are asking that question the same way that we should be asking that guy on the street that’s using heroin right it’s like that conversation like what is missing for people because if the opposite of addiction is connection then a lot of people are disconnected in this country that’s right and where is that disconnection coming from and in this moment of cognitive dissonance if communities are asking each other like when did that disconnection start for you if we could start having that conversation across and start pointing to what are the things that pulled us out of connection that’s right that’s going to get us to a better understanding as opposed to let’s block prescriptions let’s do all this stuff like that’s the conversation but because race so weaponized in this country you get things like governor lepage in maine who says jay smooth and ty boogie are coming up to me and addicting our white daughters and impregnating them and then they’re leaving right like that’s what you’re getting right and then you’re getting people having to protect whiteness because now they have to find out an excuse as to why they have the same behaviors as that black person on the corner like

now you’ve got to find excuses as to why you still are deserving of whiteness and preserving that power right and then that’s when you bring in the doctors that’s when you bring in the big prescription companies i’m not absolving them of what they did but what i’m also saying is that there are a lot of people that got those same prescriptions that never got addicted and majority of the people didn’t get addicted right that’s right and so it’s important for us to recognize that drugs are often used as a scapegoat to not ask the broader societal questions and that there’s an opportunity here for us to have a conversation across race to say like how is it messing us up and here’s the thing we have been here before right we were here before when we had indentured servitude poor people coming from european companies who came here right and who were doing the labor like enslaved africans and then there was this conversation when they started organizing and then all of a sudden they cut it and then also they was like well you may be poor but we’re gonna you don’t have to do indentured servitude for the rest of your life you can do it for a couple of years and then you can be like us right like us they did that they have done this before this is one of those things where it’s cyclical right

our society hasn’t learned the lesson so we keep having to do it over and over again drugs is our lesson we can get it right this time where we actually build the multiracial power to take over the ruling class which is using drugs as a way to control us right i think we’re in a moment now if for no other reason what cassandra says is what’s playing out now kovit is showing us so much including the fact that what people do when they get disconnected right i can tell you i have been amazed at the number of people who are coming into the 12-step rooms who have never been in an actual space because this situation this kind of overall worldwide trauma of a pandemic is now that thin veneer that kept you know people kind of stabilized in their normalcy uh stabilized in their well at least i got at least on this now we’re starting to see it the people who have always been at the quote unquote bottom are really acutely feeling this but this sense of isolation this sense of mental illness and mental health fragility covet is teaching us that we have to address it in ways that we haven’t been willing before and once you know what you know you don’t go backwards we’re not gonna go back from this and telehealth for example we’re not going to go back to a whole bunch of things that we now know we can do with kovit

this experience has definitely been the leveler i think it has created insight into what it is for people who use drugs who and alcohol who use drugs and alcohol problematically what it is that they’re the why as cassandra pointed out we have to get to the why we have to ask them why in typical treatment programs we don’t ask the why it’s like oh well it’s because you’re an addict it’s because you’re an alcoholic well why right yeah it’s genetic yeah it’s environmental yeah it’s family but why do you self-suit this way and then why do we villainize the other ways that people self-soothe whether it’s coffee cigarettes the gym you know what i mean like we are creatures who self-sue that’s what we do and when it gets out of hand there’s an imbalance this is what i believe but i have not been in any rooms of 12-step where i don’t care about some kind of level of trauma that people are trying to address and sometimes it’s their own it’s just their own it’s not what would be traumatizing to anyone else and again we have allowed what is fundamentally was a religious program to become therapeutic care and

we’ve got to pull ourselves into 21st century addiction treatment which is about looking at the whole person and looking at how they got to where the use is problematic instead of villainizing and criminalizing why do we do p-tests what does that tell us what does that tell us except you’re wrong or you’re right you made a mistake or you’re right what does that tell us we are on the verge of pulling ourselves literally into the 21st century of healthcare by addressing addiction and mental illness the way we need to which is that brain and that body go together yeah and i know i’ve felt you know over the last couple years the podcast has been amazing for me to sort of research and dig into some of these topics like for years when i first got clean i was the typical like abstinence is the only way this is all that works and then over the years like my wife got heavily involved with a grassroots organization to help addiction and treatment in our area and so that sort of brought on some conversations and things and you start to learn about things like aces and like the you know adverse childhood experiences and you know why people turn to self-soothe because of their social mental and physical problems and it’s been very educational sort of getting into the war on drugs as we sort of move forward like what do you see is some of the say immediate policies but some of the things we need can be doing right now like obviously changing some of these drug laws to stop locking up anyone that possesses marijuana i think we’re starting to see some of that but what is i guess for cassandra more what is your organization doing specifically now to try to change some of the policies to address some of those issues

so for dpa we are all in on decriminalization we believe that we need to decriminalize your possession um and honestly we’re starting to have the conversation about sales because people a lot of people are in that space because of the same reasons why people use drugs right and being a part of that market is a larger conversation about how people are able to provide for themselves the other thing that we think is super important is that we need to decriminalize supports and systems so a lot of these systems that we ask people to go to but be it treatment be it housing be an employment all these systems are still punishing people who use drugs that’s right in order to gain access and to gain support our love comes with conditions and i think that that is really hard because some people can meet those conditions and then a lot of people can’t and then therefore we don’t actually give people many alternatives and so one of the things that we’re doing and we’re getting a lot of flack for

we need to disrupt the relationship between treatment and the criminal justice system it cannot be connected because here’s the thing when you connect treatment with the criminal justice system the influence only works one way the criminal justice system influences treatment treatment does not influence the law enforcement and if it does it’s never at the same proportion and my dear colleague denise thomasini joshie she often says that she was like the influence works overwhelmingly one way and you know you see this you know in maryland actually i was in a fight with some folks um in one of the newspapers because with kovid the district attorney said i’m no longer going to prosecute drug possession because i want to stem the flow into congregate spaces like jails in prison and he literally had a treatment facility getting the paper talking about we’re losing money because we can’t fill beds and i’m like why can’t you fill beds without people forcing them to go in there and then

the question is oh well people who struggle with addiction don’t want treatment it’s like why aren’t we asking the question why isn’t your treatment attractive to people who are struggling with addiction right like why is it we automatically point at the individual and not look at why the system is not set up to meet the need that is not responsive to different people right it was interesting because people were going back and forth and i was like i’m not fighting with y’all if your main revenue stream is from the criminal legal system we can’t play this game right and i’m a social worker and i get in trouble with that because you know in the summer when everyone was talking about defund the police we just need more police officers in the police station i was like absolutely not that is not our role i mean like the cognitive dissonance but also the mixed messaging we give people

like my friend works in dv she’s like love is not supposed to hurt and i’m like okay so in dv situations we say love is not supposed to hurt but in the treatment facility we say love hurts in the housing we say love hurts no we have to decide our love is not supposed to hurt right and if we want to support people and a system that is set up given money to support people it’s not supposed to love people with conditions i’m not your mama me i can have conditions you know if i have a loved one who’s struggling i feel like yo i can support you up to here after here i have to protect my energy and you have to figure something else out because we can’t have a navigation but a system that is set up to supposed to help you they need to figure it out and i think that for us at dpa we are saying like no because before we just be like you know treatment instead of incarceration and then it turns out treatment is bunk so now we’re like okay let’s talk about treatment you try to push us and we’re trying to say cool

you know i’m abolitionist so i’m like tear the thing down build something new right and so it’s like to build something new can’t be with the treatment that we have now and so the policies that we’re looking at is we need treatment principles and we need other organizations to start taking on the treatment industry because they are out of control they are very much in the same pocket as the prescription people everyone’s suing them right now let’s start getting some class-to-action suits against some of these treatment facilities if you want to be honest that’s not what dpa is going to do currently it’s not currently in our strategic plan but i’m saying we have on it we see it and we’re going to start talking about a little bit more and then understanding that i think for us it’s like decriminalizing the possession of drugs right figuring out what to do with drug sales i think decriminalizing systems and so we have a project coming out this week called uprooting the drug war which is going to expose the way that other systems enforce the drug war so jason when you were talking about your you know records and all that stuff if that is not secondary that is the drug war that is the system of employment figuring out how they can do their version of the drug war right and so you don’t need to pee in a cup to fold some t-shirts at walmart it don’t make sense what are we doing why are we doing this why are we doing it like we end up we’re not asking these guys on wall street to pee in a cup while they play with imaginary money and rob our economy are they doing that no so it’s like it and that’s another thing of the class and the race you know what i’m saying

so it’s that and then it’s also it doesn’t make sense for gpa to be like all right we’re going to decriminalize people we’re going to decriminalize people who use drugs but a lot of times people who use drugs are also homeless they’re also involved in sex work then what so it’s like okay so we did our part you’re not going to be different lives for drugs no more but you’re just going to get popcorn you’re on your own for the rest you can just get pop up you know so while we’re not going to work on those issues we’re going to work with those movements because we want our people to become be decriminalized at all systems right and that that shouldn’t be predicated based on how organized the movement is and it shouldn’t be predicated about how resource the movement is right people resource the drug world because frankly white people want access to their drugs they want their weeds they want their mushrooms they can give a [ _ ] less about people who use heroin and so it’s like you know it’s like you know some people so not all people but some people and i think for us it’s like how do we start redistributing the resource so that we make sure that the drug war ends for everyone and i think the movement that i look at this a lot with is the hiv aids movement because that money came in and

when you look at the rates of the people who are still being affected it’s people of color it’s not white people like that anymore and part of it is because the aids epidemic ended for white people in some ways and not for everyone else we cannot do drug war and that means that we have to be unapologetically intersectional focused on drugs but not ignorant to everything else that’s right that’s beautiful i think we can go over the numbers it’s easy enough to look up exactly how the drug war has disparagingly affected black communities black people and feel free to throw some of them out too because just because we can look them up doesn’t mean people are actually looking them up but i think billy and i were really interested too in like what does this look like because look it’s easy to say oh man those people far far away are being hurt by this but personalize this what did this look like in the communities you guys grew up in like how did this affect the families next door or or your own families or any way that you’d love to talk about it that gives it a more personal feel like what does this actually do to your communities this war on drugs

i mean and again my community is black people affected by racist systems right so anywhere you go in the country with the exception of a handful of wealthy black enclaves anywhere you go in the country you’re going to see how policies that have their roots in othering and controlling black people and then just continue to be perpetuated to affect other people it has created less than healthy communities right we do patchwork band-aid approaches to things that are broken i was always impressed that when bill gates philanthropy did work in africa they didn’t just work on the water system or educating children or getting reproductive health care to women they selected an area and they did everything they funded everything because it’s all connected and so where i have seen that that has had an impact is that we band-aid the core health structures

i don’t mean just health care structures but the structures that influence health in communities whether we’re talking about food deserts whether we’re talking about not enough federally qualified health centers whether we’re talking about not enough black and brown healthcare providers which is a big issue for us and for me at my wards with the healthcare system right the healthcare system has a role in the drug war by criminalizing health issues criminalized mental illness it criminalized addiction and threw it away so my work until i die is to get the healthcare system’s neck in my fist and drag it to the people it should have been addressing all along you talk about segregation segregation and racism and health care has contributed to so many deaths what we’re seeing now in kovid is the legacy of racism in health care right and so that is the work part of it is incentive but the other part of it needs to be to drag them kicking and screaming into caring for the people that they need to care for and

i am heartened that there is a generation of healthcare providers a generation of doctors and nurses who get the social construct they get the social justice element of their work they are getting it in medical school they are they’re seeing the discrepancy and how we treat medications for people with addictions very differently why is methadone regulated by a criminal justice agency right like never mind what the whole 12-step attitude is about methadone methadone is a medication why do we have judges able to tell people when they can get on or off of methadone or buprenorphine that’s the work that i look at which is that it needs to be a holistic approach and as cassandra mentioned too there are other systems that are perpetuating the drug war what the child protective system has done to families that have a drug problem particularly mothers what happened to families where parents were um struggling with meth it’s the same thing they did with crap it’s the same thing and then they don’t care about how those children are impacted by the way the parents were addressed so that is a bit of work not a bit

it’s a big piece of work that we also have to address where the state in protecting the children actually does more harm to the children by not supporting the family by not supporting the parents who are struggling by criminalizing them because it certainly did not help my treatment to take me away from my children and the cases where children get hurt by parents who are either quote-unquote neglectful or who abuse children are the exception we shouldn’t have full policies based on those exceptions so for for me personally you know my children are adults we have been able to thrive and have a whole family life that systems try to destroy and partly that’s because i was employed and i was able to pay for the care that i should have gotten through these systems that were ostensibly trying to protect my children and trying to heal me i had insurance and that is very unusual but what of the other black women with children in these systems they don’t fare as well as i do and i am aware of that discrepancy and

i will fight to eliminate that discrepancy until i die and we had a direct family incident we had a family member she suffered an overdose and was narcan and her first phone call was to my wife to see what she should do versus calling like a health care person because she was scared that if she called the doctors or the paramedics or 9-1-1 they’d come in and want to take her kids away that’s right it’s like sad that she’s gotta weigh all that out in the midst of a health crisis you know you have to lay out that the state’s going to come in and take your children away and what does that say and what is that that you literally are brought back to life and your first thought is how can i protect my family not how can i get myself more help right and then we had another incident with a gentleman and he had a fight through the court system so he was addicted and ex was addicted and had a child that he didn’t even know about the child was taken away and placed into foster care so he found out about the child got involved it took him two and a half years he had been clean at that point i think he had been in recovery five years maybe a little more he had actually fight in the court system for two and a half years to get custody back for his child that they wanted to give his child over to the foster parents even though now he was in recovery and clean and wanted to take full custody was in a stable home with a stable job you know it’s just it was crazy the amount of work that it took to try to keep a family together because of some past drug use it’s sad yeah and

most people miss the fact that the child welfare system is also based in racism right like that whole system was created to like take indigenous children away from their families and give them to white people right and so again you know this whole like it’s about helping the kids like that system is predicated on removing non-white kids from their families and people don’t realize that also baked in in some places some states give more money to foster families to take care of these kids than they ever would to the biological parents right so there’s an incentivization here to disrupt families and a lot of these child the the allegations are based on something called amorphous thing called the neglect right and a lot of those issues around neglect are around like poverty or drugs right so oftentimes when people hear like oh child welfare is here everyone’s thinking of the worst the scariest thing right and most of it is not that

i think what’s often really important is it’s always interesting to me to hear folks recovery story because i think so much of the journey is influenced by certain things like are you going back to your family can you get a job do you have money are you food secure are you disruptive from your family and i think that that proximity is like based on money and it’s also based on race i think that it’s really important to realize that um how much you are reliant on systems of care in this country really shapes how you’re able to access recovery right now so in our local community we have a local hospital that really stigmatizes the using community they don’t serve that community in fact they turn people away they’re not you know it’s like if you come in with a drug problem they will almost send you back out the door just be like we don’t even want to deal with you what is a way to to try to get that to chill like like what do you do to try to change that fighting against your local health care providers to get services for people in need they’ve taken on at their organization a wound care nurse that will go out into the poor communities and he’s a volunteer you know it’s not something that the local hospital wants to do it’s a local volunteer that wants to go out into these communities because

they’re tired of being treated like [ _ ] by the hospital or being shamed and and treated like they’re second-class citizens you know they got to get services from a guy in a van it’s sad and what can be done to change that one of the things the immediate thing that i’m thinking about is build around that person build around people that want to be in the medical profession that have an interest in supporting it have that person teach other people how to do home care i think one of the biggest things that i would offer i think part of this comes from the fact that it is disappointing when the systems that are supposed to help you don’t want to help you but i was born into an identity where the systems don’t want to help me because they were never supposed to help me and so part of that survival strategy is to build the thing that we know we deserve and i think one thing about being in this movement the drug policy movement is that people that use drugs have built their own health care structures and i would say you have a really good resource in this person who wants to do wound care and

i think about a community in upstate new york where there was an er physician who also felt like that and she created her own organization and got funding from different people and the community rallied around them and have created their own health care and then now the hospital is like oh well where’s what well we’re supposed to be doing this and now they’re like trying to figure out how to integrate it and so i think sometimes you got to stop begging the people that are supposed to give you and like build the power and i have no problem talking to you offline about ways that we could provide that support to like how to build around that community that knows that those people are worthy of help um and are deserving of help they don’t have to crawl to get the help and i think if you already have that resource there’s a way to build around them in the meantime while you’re working with cassandra have your wife call legal action center because suing the out of people the general counsel of that hospital needs to be made aware of what laws they could possibly be violating by denying people emergency room and other kinds of care based on their disability so you can call us and our number is right on our website lac.org there is a lot that’s happening around acknowledging addiction as a health issue and it’s one of the strategies for dragging people into doing what they’re supposed to do

well i definitely wanted to thank you ladies for taking your time out this morning to come talk to us i think it’s incredibly important to inform people and to spread this kind of awareness and message to more people so that we can change attitudes around this topic but even more so or at least along with that just celebrating people who are doing something about this right to celebrate cassandra and all the work she’s done to celebrate tracy and all the work you’ve done for all the years you’re doing it like i don’t know how often people congratulate you but i hope that we can take this time right now and just say thank you like thank you for this work man this is stuff that not everybody is doing and we appreciate for sure we know people love the statistics but you can just just google it yeah well you guys are standing up for people that and again in our community like people do have the attitude of like drug addicts you know they don’t matter they don’t lock them up and who cares and let them die and you gotta really fight back against that you know for people that sometimes don’t even care about themselves you know they’re living in harming themselves and they don’t realize that it takes that love and connection of a community to lift them up out of that that’s right right so it is beautiful and it’s

it’s thankless work i know my wife’s involved in it one thing i did want to say because jason i know you said thank you i do want to thank tracy because i think that i came into this space when so much had already been done and there was a desire for change and a difference i think people have been really beaten down and realized that what was happening wasn’t working and so it’s easy to come in when everyone’s already like well [ __ ] we’ll try anything you know and then i’m like all right let’s do all these things right it’s more difficult to do it when nobody knows better or the people that do know better still don’t want to do better and for people to stick around so tracy’s been in this space for a very long time and a lot of people left and tracy didn’t and she has been saying the same thing for a very long time and yes she’s been learning and everyone learns and i’m sure she knows way more now than when she did in 1989 but she stuck with it and she stayed in the space and it’s like her work that made it possible for me to come through right like i stumbled on different things than tracy did because tracy stumbled already and was able to guide

i think the drug policy movement had a lot of like black women that came in and like did amazing work and they were pushed out and tracy is one of the few that got to like you know just keep pushing and then was nice when she met me when i’m super young and that often sometimes that doesn’t happen like that’s true and no she didn’t have she didn’t always have nice black women working with her right and she did different and so i just wanted to acknowledge that and think tracy about sticking it through and like doing it and not just talking about like there are multiple reasons why tracy could have stopped based on like institutional racism and our economization and she did it and she keeps doing the work and she does it brilliantly and that’s why she’s like the national coordinator of the black horn reduction group for us because she understands what it means to build systems and like how to navigate and it’s been really dope and i’m glad you said yes to coming on all i would say is that idea of being the phrase i’m my ancestors wildest dreams that’s cassandra it’s like why do the work unless you know and have to believe that a cassandra is coming and that’s what made it all worth it it’s just like i’m standing on shoulders and i want to be shoulders for someone else to stand on and for the dynamism that cassandra brings to this work it just made all of the ass kickings from before completely worth it completely

it is a joy to see her and we appreciate this podcast because for me it’s a whole new world of getting the word out if you will and i’m sure you’re reaching people that hundreds and thousands of philanthropy dollars would not have been able to enable this kind of connection the gratitude is for you to as well whatever reasons you had and i’m sure they were great for starting this and i’m sure you’ve saved more than a couple of lives just just by doing this podcast you know what yeah okay thanks again appreciate it so much take care man what a great conversation incredibly informed people on the topic for sure you know there was so much we didn’t get to i know you and i both had a ton of questions that we wanted to ask that there just wasn’t time for the work they’ve done both organizations that they’re involved with legal action center and drug policy alliance the oregon bill that just got passed into law they were both part of the organizations that championed to get that into a voting measure to begin with and if you don’t know about that you know oregon has just decriminalized all drugs which is an incredible move forward for somewhere in the united states we talked to daniel when we talked about smart recovery and he talked about some of these kind of measures in canada of the progressive harm reduction and drug decriminalization and

i thought at the time yeah that’ll never happen anywhere here but i mean here we are and these two ladies were part of the process the fact that it passed and is now law and now even if it doesn’t take off immediately everywhere else we’re at least going to start to see the research and the statistics on how it works out and if it’s a better policy and what comes out of that okay okay we decriminalized it well now we’re going to realize all these other needs that we have to put in place of decriminalization like well now we need to address this from a health care angle kind of like tracy was talking about included in the health care model and how do we do that what’s the best practices yeah and i think the more conversations we have with different people involved in the recovery movement the more i come to understand again as tracy said this is like we really need a holistic approach decriminalization is a great first step but just decriminalizing drugs is not going to fix the addiction problem in fact it might even in an immediate aftermath make it a little worse but we’re going to need to make sure that the resources are there for recovery how we get people connected back to their communities how we get them connected to a bigger society and

i think that starts with the decriminalization part stop shaming people for using stop putting them down but yeah the conversation with that subject alone could be a topic of its own podcast i know i know we definitely want to talk about that and maybe we can get somebody if not them somebody from their organizations that would like to come on and talk about just the research of different places that have decriminalized or legalized and what that bears out statistically down the line i would love to know more facts about it because i personally i’ve done a little research and it’s like enough to make me think that that’s definitely the way to go but i would love to be more informed about it so that i can better tell everybody how wrong they are when they want to do law and order but i love conversations centered around recovery and changes and going forward how we start to address this and i really did appreciate you know both those ladies coming on and spending their sunday morning with us

i mean it’s so much fun you could tell they had passion for their work and you know that’s what it takes to really make a mark to make a difference in this i don’t know what you want to call it entrenched bad policies of the last 100 years right right and you know look i mean ultimately my hope and goal for life is to have less people who struggle with problematic substance use disorder die or struggle or have really bad outcomes right i want better outcomes and things that work and while i love the 12-step community while i love some of the harm reduction methods we’ve come up with i still don’t think we’re to the point where we really have good solutions that have high success rates right like i still think most of what we do is failing or not working well enough and so i think it takes these outside the box ideas to like move us towards something that works better something that gives more positive outcomes for more people i don’t think we’re getting there like you said in the direction we’ve been going all right so definitely if you guys get the chance you can go to legal action center’s website that’s lac.org and check them out they’ve got a whole slew of information if you were interested in learning more about policy reform or any of the subjects that tracy touched on they’ve got a bunch of it as for cassandra’s organization drug policy alliance they are located on the web at drugpolicy.org and they have some really interesting stuff you can definitely check out they have just a little

if you like the history of drug policy in a short blurb they got s dot carter good old jay z narrating a four minute video that i enjoyed and you know you said you enjoyed it as well yeah and the artistry on it was incredible i know we mentioned jay-z because he’s a name-drop but like the person who did the artistry on it was yeah the animation phenomena yeah and just there’s such a wealth of information that i think we don’t take the time to look into like did i know that the drug war had negative outcomes towards you know minority communities yeah i knew that already but did i ever look it up to see exactly how bad it was not before i needed to research for this right so there’s sites out there where this information is easily digestible and easy to understand and in short blurbs because they know our attention span isn’t that long though if you listen to our podcast maybe you have a great attention span and

i applaud you for having such a wonderful attention span but these sites are places to go if you’re interested in being involved like both of the ladies mentioned it takes us getting involved you know and i think you just said that recently it takes these grassroots movements it takes us all getting educated and pressuring you know the politicians that we elect and it takes the information and it takes us it takes us telling our neighbors who’s got a neighbor that will never ever be introduced to the idea that racism is still real if it wasn’t for you right like who who’s got that neighbor they’re not going to be reached by anybody else and so it does take us all to be informed and to stay abreast of the new topics and to spread this information and champion for something different like we deserve better we as a population deserve it

i believe cassandra brought up too like that’s where we can make the most changes in our immediate communities in our local policies and our local laws you know we we begin changes there and hopefully they build momentum it’s really hard to change national policy it’s not quite as hard to change some of our local policies yeah i mean we see that with marijuana still being listed as a schedule one narcotic and yet it’s legal in a bunch of states at this point 15 and the district i believe is the current number so it’s like yeah we can affect our local policy quicker at least i don’t know if we can affect it more but we can definitely affect it quicker so any other thoughts about drug policy today no i think i’m good again i could talk about it for hours but i will rest on what we’ve talked about so far awesome so i hope everybody enjoyed this and we will see you next week share this podcast with people in your life who might enjoy it check out recoverysordub.com to find our episodes and link up with us on facebook twitter and instagram we’re always looking for new and interesting ideas for topics sort of if you have any ideas for episodes or think you have something to come on and talk about reach out to us


One response to “71: Looking at the War on Drugs Through the Racial Justice Lens (Sort Of)”

  1. Nice post thanks for sharing… really interesting,
    great job as well as thanks for sharing such a good blog.