zachary siegel

Episode 75: Copaganda — The Favorite Tool of Drug Warriors with Alec Karakatsanis

No matter what the problem is, whether it’s fentanyl overdoses or mass shootings, the solution to all of our problems is always more money and bigger budgets for police, prosecutors and prisons. Funny how that works, right? If crime goes up we need police, if crime goes down it’s because of the police, so we still need more police. They can’t lose!

One of the main ways public support for police is so insidious has to do with police propaganda (e.g. copaganda) but it can be hard to detect, let alone debunk, these powerful tools of controlling public opinion. Understanding how this works is crucial to any aspect of drug policy reform and holding accountable the journalists who perpetuate copaganda is an important step in undoing the harms of police states.

On this episode of Narcotica, co-hosts Zachary Siegel and Troy Farah talk with Alec Karakatsanis, the founder and executive director of Civil Rights Corps, a non-profit organization dedicated to challenging systemic injustice in the United States’ legal system–a system that is built on white supremacy and economic inequality. Alec has helped challenge the money bail system in California and is the author of the book Usual Cruelty. He is passionate about ending human caging, surveillance, police, the death penalty, immigration laws, war, and inequality, and he has made debunking copaganda into an artform.

Follow Alec on Twitter at: @equalityAlec and read his newsletter here: https://equalityalec.substack.com/

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 58: How Racism Fuels The Drug War with Kassandra Frederique
Episode 47: Can Harm Reduction and Cops Coexist?
Episode 62: Policing Pleasure — The Intersection of Sex Work and Drug Use with Tamika Spellman and Caty Simon

Follow Narcotica on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. We just opened a shop where you can order Narcotica merch: narcocast.myshopify.com Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us! Rate us! And thanks for your support!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy / Nomad1
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: The Noun Project edit: Troy Farah

Episode 74: Cannabis And Capitalism — Preventing Another Big Tobacco with Shaleen Title

For good reason, about 150 million people use cannabis, according to the World Health Organization. That’s around 3 percent of the global population or the entire population of Russia. In most places, smoking the flowers or extracts of this plant can come with some steep legal consequences: long prison sentences, heavy fines, loss of civil rights, the state may take away your kids or deny you medical care. You may even get executed.

For some of us, especially if we live in places where cannabis is legal, such dire consequences for using cannabis can seem like a distant nightmare. But even as we slowly emerge from the dark ages of marijuana prohibition, we’re encountering entirely predictable problems: unchecked capitalist greed. So yes, while it’s worth celebrating our emergence from the dark ages of cannabis prohibition, we risk entering into different forms of prohibition, oppression and inequality at the hands of the so-called “free market.”

Narcotica co-host Troy Farah talks with Shaleen Title, an Indian-American attorney and longtime drug policy activist who has been writing, passing, and implementing equitable cannabis laws for over 20 years. She is a former top regulator for the state of Massachusetts, where she served as commissioner of the Cannabis Control Commission from 2017 to 2020. She is the author of “Fair and Square: How to Effectively Incorporate Social Equity Into Cannabis Laws and Regulations” and “Bigger is Not Better: Preventing Monopolies in the National Cannabis Market.”  Currently, her primary focus is running the nonprofit think tank Parabola Center, which pushes for cannabis policies to protect people rather than corporate profits.

Follow Shaleen on Twitter at: @shaleentitle

Read Bigger is Not Better: Preventing Monopolies in the National Cannabis Market

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 63: Delta-8-THC And Other Obscure Cannabinoids with Jason Wilson
Episode 58: How Racism Fuels The Drug War with Kassandra Frederique
Episode 53: A Life of Getting Lit with Tommy Chong

Follow Narcotica on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. We just opened a shop where you can order Narcotica merch: narcocast.myshopify.com Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us! Rate us! And thanks for your support!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy / Nomad1
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: edit: Troy Farah

Episode 73: Oh No! Not Naltrexone! with Nancy Curran

Naltrexone, also known by its brand name, Vivitrol, is an opioid antagonist that kicks opioids off of opioid receptor in the brain, not unlike naloxone. But thanks to a combination of overprescription, unscrupulous marketing practices and ubiquitous use over more effective alternatives, naltrexone is a very controversial drug. In fact, a common reaction is Oh no! Not naltrexone!

Of course, naltrexone has some benefits and many people say their life has been saved by it. And at Narcotica, we don’t believe any drug is “bad” or “evil.” So where does this substance fit into the broader scheme of things? We’ve spoken about naltrexone many times on this show, but never this indepth before.

Narcotica co-hosts Zachary Siegel and Troy Farah speak with Nancy Curran, a nurse practitioner who has been practicing for 5 years in an OBOT clinic in the Lowell Massachusetts area, treating both opioid and alcohol use disorders. She prescribes buprenorphine (both Suboxone and Sublocade), as well as naltrexone (Vivitrol). She also treats patients who need Hep C treatment. Nancy is passionate about advocating for and educating her patients on their medication options, as well as their rights.

They discuss the history of hallucinogenic opioids, the shrewd and quasilegal marketing practices of Alkermes, Inc., how naltrexone stacks up against buprenorphine and methadone, why stigma persists against people who take certain opioid use disorder drugs but not others, the difference between addiction and dependency, some basic opioid receptor science, and much, much more.

Follow Nancy on Twitter at: @cashboygo

More background on naltrexone and the XBOT Studay can be found here and here. We also recommend reading Walter Sneader’s book: Drug Discovery, A History and also Nancy Campbell’s book OD: The Politics of Overdose.

You can read Zach’s article on Four Good Days and more here: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/11/magazine/addiction-movies.html

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 19: Debunking Bupe Diversion Myths with Molly Doernberg
Episode 30: Getting Wrecked with Dr. Kim Sue
Episode 36: Moral Hazards and Naloxone, A Toxicologist’s Perspective with Ryan Marino

Follow Narcotica on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. We just opened a shop where you can order Narcotica merch: narcocast.myshopify.com Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us! Rate us! And thanks for your support!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy / Nomad1
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: edit: Troy Farah

Episode 72: When The Trip Doesn’t End with Ed Prideaux

Psychedelics and other drugs can trigger a condition called Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder, a terrible name for a real condition that we don’t have much data on and is poorly understood. But while it’s clear that psychedelics shouldn’t be illegal, it’s also clear we’re still learning about some of the risks. This fascinating and often distressing phenomenon deserves a closer look, but not everything about it is devastatingly tragic, either.

In this episode of Narcotica, co-host Troy Farah talks all about HPPD with Ed Prideaux, a master’s student in psychology at the University of East London with a background in journalism. Ed is currently focused on researching and addressing the problems, possibilities and questions raised by HPPD: a broad, under-researched and not entirely uncommon condition in which people experience sustained and distressing changes to their visual perception (among other effects) after psychedelic trips. Ed has lived with these visual effects for nearly seven years, and is affiliated with a nonprofit launched last year to promote harm reduction around HPPD called the Perception Restoration Foundation.

Follow Ed at https://edprideaux.journoportfolio.com/
Visit the Perception Restoration Foundation at: Perception.Foundation

Some more info on perception as a hallucination: https://www.newstatesman.com/science-tech/2022/02/is-reality-a-hallucination-the-neuroscientist-anil-seth-thinks-so

Some of the studies mentioned in this episode:
The abuse potential of medical psilocybin according to the 8 factors of the Controlled Substances Act
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29753748/
Flashback phenomena after administration of LSD and psilocybin in controlled studies with healthy participants
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35076721/
Adverse effects of psychedelics: From anecdotes and misinformation to systematic science
https://doi.org/10.1177%2F02698811211069100

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 57: Autism, Acid and the Altered Brain with Aaron Orsini and Justine Lee
Episode 64: LSD And Psilocybin For Physical Pain? with Greg McKee and Dr. Johannes Ramaekers
Episode 59: Psychedelic Extinction—How Poaching Endangers Some Psychoactive Plants with Dr. Anya Ermakova

Follow Narcotica on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. We just opened a shop where you can order Narcotica merch: narcocast.myshopify.com Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us! Rate us! And thanks for your support!

*Note: Troy says niacin is Vitamin C, it’s actually Vitamin B3. We regret the error.

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy / Nomad1
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: David J / Flickr // edit: Troy Farah

Episode 70: How Testosterone Bans Criminalize the Body with Adryan Corcione

Imagine banning a chemical that we all make in our bodies. But that’s exactly where drug war logic takes us and why testosterone is Schedule III on the Controlled Substances Act, alongside ketamine and buprenorphine. Testosterone is painted as some dangerous substance that must be locked up. These outlandish fears led to restrictive laws which lead to criminalization and barriers to access—essentially criminalizing identity and the very bodies we inhabit. But bans on testosterone, ostensibly to stop athletes from boosting their competitive abilities, can have real world impacts, especially for gender variant people, especially transmasculine people.

Narcotica co-hosts Zachary Siegel and Troy Farah talk with Adryan Corcione about the climate of testosterone, why this hormone became so scrutinized (and how Joe Biden was part of that), and how syringe access programs have stepped in to help folks get the recognition and healthcare they deserve.

Follow Adryan Corcione on Twitter and read their piece in Filter Magazine here.

A few resources:
https://www.transformationsproject.org/legislation – anti trans legislation tracker by state
https://www.them.us/story/anti-lgbtq-bills-2022-explained-trans-sports-laws-youth-healthcare-mandated-reporter – recent roundup of anti-trans bills
https://translifeline.org/ – trans lifeline, peer hot line for trans people experiencing crisis
https://www.thetrevorproject.org/ – 24/7 LGBTQ+ hotline for young LGBTQ+ people
https://reconcilearkansas.org/ – Arkansas specific group to support trans/gnc youth
https://www.transtexas.org/ – transgender education education network of texss
https://tranzmission.org/ – trans rights org in western NC

Also, reach out to trans-specific groups local to you.

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 62: Policing Pleasure — The Intersection of Sex Work and Drug Use with Tamika Spellman and Caty Simon
Episode 33: Party and Play—An Intro to Chemsex with David Stuart
Episode 60: Perinatal Panic—Drugs, Pregnancy and Stigma with Ria Tsinas, Joelle Puccio and Erika Goyer
Episode 24: How To Get Abortion Pills Feat. Lynn Paltrow and Francine Coeytaux

Follow Narcotica on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us! Rate us! And thanks for your support!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Paddington Bear
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye

Episode 68: Is The Drug War Getting Better… Or Worse? with Zach Siegel, Chris Moraff and Troy Farah

On this episode, Narcotica co-hosts Zachary Siegel, Chris Moraff and Troy Farah interview each other, riffing on one question: Is the drug war getting better… Or worse? They cover everything from nitazenes, Dopesick, the Drug User’s Liberation Front, banning psychedelics like DiPT, benzo dope, West Virginia, buprenorphine, psychedelic exceptionalism, drug testing, crack pipes, supervised consumption sites in NYC and much, much, more.

Their conclusion? You’ll have to listen to find out. OK, not really: Like many things, it’s a mix of both progress and backsliding. Narcotica’s founders discuss their current frustrations and what’s giving them optimism in America’s longest running war, a conflict directed at people. Maybe the end is in sight after all.

Follow Chris Moraff on Twitter: @moraffreports
Follow Zach Siegel on Twitter: @ZachWritesStuff
Follow Troy Farah on Twitter: @filth_filler

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 27: What’s the Most Dangerous Drug?
Episode 58: How Racism Fuels The Drug War with Kassandra Frederique
Episode 51: The Joy of Drug Use with Dr. Carl Hart

Follow Narcotica on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us! Rate us! And thanks for your support!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah / Troy Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Holly Mangler
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Noun Project // edit: Troy Farah

Episode 63: Delta-8-THC And Other Obscure Cannabinoids with Jason Wilson

Nearly half the U.S. population now have access to adult-use cannabis. Marijuana is a medicine, if it’s cultivated or extracted right, and millions of people find relief or pleasure from this fantastic plant. But as legalization accelerates, regulations have struggled to keep up. Most experts and maybe many consumers would agree that cannabis is not well regulated or could use some improvements.

Meanwhile, new cannabinoids like delta-8-THC, THC-O and more are hitting the streets, licit and illicit. This is a rapidly changing environment, which is far beyond THC and CBD, the two most well-known drugs in marijuana. It leaves a lot of questions: Are these ‘new’ cannabinoids safe? What do they do in the body? What about vaping them?

Narcotica co-host Troy Farah speaks with Jason Wilson of Medford Oregon, host of the Curious About Cannabis podcast, and author of the book of the same name, which can be found at CACpodcast.com. Jason is a biologist and science educator that has been studying the biochemistry of the cannabis plant and cannabis-derived products for nearly a decade. Jason has done work with groups like the International Institute for Cannabinoids (ICANNA) and serves as a member on the board of directors for the Oregon Cannabis Education and Resource Center.

Follow Jason on Twitter @AboutCannabis

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 53: A Life of Getting Lit with Tommy Chong
Episode 49: Salvia: Psychedelic Oddity (Plus, Canada’s Emerging Psilocybin Scene)
Episode 25: Banning Kratom Will Escalate the Opioid Overdose Crisis with Walter Prozialeck

Follow Narcotica on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us! Rate us! And thanks for your support!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Done With Fish
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Flickr — Willpower Studios // edit: Troy Farah

Episode 62: Policing Pleasure — The Intersection of Sex Work and Drug Use with Tamika Spellman and Caty Simon

Sex work is work, just like coal mining, professional sports and literally any job that involves physical labor. So why is a show about drugs interested in sex work? For starters, there’s a lot of overlap in terms of harm reduction services that help people who use drugs and sex workers. Unfortunately, these services can be criminalized and weaponized against both communities.

One analogy is condoms and syringes: Syringes can be, and sadly often are, considered paraphernalia and evidence of illegal drug use. Believe it or not, police can, and do, consider condoms as evidence of engaging in sex work. Policing actively counteracts harm reduction services. Thus, there’s real reasons for solidarity among sex workers and drug users. And, as this episode will spell out, there are amazing activists who have bridged these communities together.

Narcotica co-hosts Zachary Siegel, Troy Farah and Chris Moraff speak with Tamika Spellman and Caty Simon. Tamika is the Policy and Community Engagement Manager of HIPS, Honoring Individual Power and Strength, a Washington D.C. based organization advocating for the rights and health of people impacted by drug use and sex work since 1993.

Caty is a leadership team member and sex worker liaison for Urban Survivors Union, the American national drug users union, founding-co-organizer/executive director of Whose Corner Is It Anyway, a harm reduction, mutual aid, political education, and organizing group by and for low-income, street, and survival sex workers who use opioids and/or stimulants and/or experience housing insecurity.

Follow Caty on Instagram @marginalutilite and Tamika on Twitter @tamikahs66

Follow Narcotica on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us! Rate us! And thanks for your support!

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 26: Housing As Harm Reduction
Episode 42: Supervised Consumption is an Essential Service
Episode 20: The Pitfalls of Mainstream Harm Reduction with Eliza Wheeler

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson / Troy Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Aaron Ferguson
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Juno Mac Flickr edit: Troy Farah

Episode 61: Undoing Drugs—Harm Reduction’s Early History with Maia Szalavitz

We’re truly living through a disaster. Drug overdose deaths rose nearly 30 percent in 2020 to a record high 93,000. This is no longer an “opioid” crisis. What I mean is, 2020 overdose deaths linked to stimulants, especially methamphetamine, also broke records. The other key development here is the further entrenchment of illicit fentanyl in the drug supply, it’s a contamination at mass-scale. At this point, we’re in a poisoning crisis driven by one thing: prohibition.

But harm reduction is the movement that continues to push back against draconian drug policy, even when the odds seem against us. Longterm listeners of this show will be familiar with how harm reduction saves lives, but how did this movement get started in the first place?

To learn more, all three Narcotica co-hosts —Zachary Siegel, Troy Farah and Chris Moraff—speak with author Maia Szalavitz, whose new book Undoing Drugs—The Untold Story of Harm Reduction and the Future of Addiction—is available now. We discuss the struggles of syringe access in the early days to the present, the challenges of being a functioning drug user, and how harm reduction can help address policy changes beyond drugs.

Follow Maia on Twitter @maiasz

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us! Rate us! And thanks for your support!

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 22: Changing the Narrative with Maia Szalavitz and Leo Beletsky
Episode 51: The Joy of Drug Use with Dr. Carl Hart
Episode 20: The Pitfalls of Mainstream Harm Reduction with Eliza Wheeler

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson
Music: Glass Boy / Aaron Ferguson
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Piqsels edit: Troy Farah

Episode 60: Perinatal Panic—Drugs, Pregnancy and Stigma with Ria Tsinas, Joelle Puccio and Erika Goyer

One area where drug stigma especially persists, even among harm reduction advocates, is the prejudice against mothers and pregnant people who use drugs. Even some people in syringe exchange or who work in drug policy are against the idea of people with the capacity for pregnancy, (i.e. anyone with a uterus), using pretty much any drugs for any purpose.

It’s not clear why the principles of harm reduction that we extend to almost everyone else suddenly stop when it involves a fetus or a uterus. But the lives of pregnant people are no less important than anyone else who uses drugs, and the same attitudes of stigma, abstinence-only and surveillance don’t work here either—they just make the situation worse.

Narcotica co-host Troy Farah speaks with not one, but three guests from the Academy of Perinatal Harm Reduction, a non-profit that focuses on people with the capacity for pregnancy, who also happen to use drugs. They are:

Ria Tsinas, based in Portland, Oregon, who works at Outside In as a syringe exchange specialist and community health worker. She is also the mother of a wonderful kid.

Erika Goyer, based in Austin, Texas, Advocate at National Perinatal Association and co-founder at Academy of Perinatal Harm Reduction. She is also a parent.

And Joelle Puccio, a travel nurse who is sometimes based in Seattle, Washington and works as a voard of directors at The People’s Harm Reduction Alliance.

Learn more at perinatalharmreduction.org/

Follow Joelle on Instagram @joellepuccio
Follow Ria on Instagram @gtsinas
Follow Erika on LinkedIn

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter, YouTube and support us on Patreon. Help keep this podcast ad-free! Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 48: Moms And Methadone with Elizabeth Brico
Episode 30: Getting Wrecked with Dr. Kim Sue
Episode 24: How To Get Abortion Pills Feat. Lynn Paltrow and Francine Coeytaux

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy / done with fish
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Pixabay edit: Troy Farah

 

Episode 59: Psychedelic Extinction—How Poaching Endangers Some Psychoactive Plants with Dr. Anya Ermakova

Psychedelic drugs are well beyond the quote ‘renaissance’ stage and relatively recently entered a ‘gold rush’ as dozens of companies maneuver themselves to make this nascent industry as profitable as possible for themselves. At least that’s part of their motivation. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword for folks that want to see an end to the drug war, but also don’t want access to these substances available only through doctors and therapists.

While Big Pharma slowly ambles onward to transform psychedelics into the next blockbuster pharmaceutical, the plant medicine decriminalization movement is steadily growing in the United States and more and more people are taking plant-based psychedelics for spiritual, medicinal and yes, even recreational purposes. No judgment here.

The thriving popularity of naturally-occuring entheogens has sparked a lot of concern from some in the psychedelics community, who warn that overuse of these plants for any purpose could drive them to virtual extinction. Imagine if ayahuasca became like Silphium, the ancient contraceptive used by the Greeks and Romans that was consumed to such excess that it is now believed to have vanished from the earth. Could the same happen to psychedelic plants?

Narcotica co-host Troy Farah speaks with Dr. Anya Ermakova, a researcher based in London with a very extensive background in conservation, ethnobotany, neuroscience, psychiatry and more, almost all of which relates back to psychedelics in some way. She has a master’s in Conservation Science from Imperial College London, a PhD in Psychiatry from the University of Cambridge and a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Edinburgh. She’s worked as a science officer at the Beckley Foundation, and has provided psychedelic welfare and harm reduction services with PsycareUK and Zendo and so much more.

You can read Dr. Anya Ermakova’s research on ResearchGate.

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!

Some psychedelic plant organizations you can support include The Cactus Conservation Institute and Blessings of the Forest.

That paper on the jaguar trade and ayahuasca is here:
https://doi.org/10.1111/csp2.126

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 49: Salvia: Psychedelic Oddity with Ivan Casselman (Plus, Canada’s Emerging Psilocybin Scene)
Episode 35: Holding Space — The Values of Trip Sitting with Michelle Janikian
Episode 57: Autism, Acid and the Altered Brain with Aaron Orsini and Justine Lee


Producers: 
Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson / Troy Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Kesta “Rekindle”
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Flickr edit: Troy Farah
(**Note: At one point Troy says that Indigenous people are afraid of losing the ‘privilege’ of having access to peyote, when it is more accurately described as a ‘right.’ A non-trivial distinction! We considered rerecording this question, but decided to leave it as is.)

Episode 58: How Racism Fuels The Drug War with Kassandra Frederique

Few social justice groups have put in as much work to end the war on (people who use) drugs like the Drug Policy Alliance. Since 2000, DPA has been behind some landmark drug reforms, such as leading a campaign to enact major reforms of New York’s notorious Rockefeller drug laws, assisting in a public education campaign that saw Uruguay legalize cannabis in 2013, not to mention funding and drafting the Oregon drug decriminalization measure that passed last year. According to the organization, DPA has played a pivotal role in roughly half of the campaigns that have legalized medical marijuana in the U.S.

Narcotica co-hosts Zachary Siegel, Chris Moraff and Troy Farah speak with Kassandra Frederique, the executive director of DPA, who has been with the organization since 2009 as an intern. We discuss everything from racist policing, cannabis reform laws, and the future of drug policy reform.

This interview was recorded around the time of the Derek Chauvin trial, so some states, like New Mexico, had not yet legalized adult-use cannabis.

You can follow Kassandra Frederique on Twitter: @Kassandra_Fred and learn more about Drug Policy Alliance’s work at drugpolicy.org

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 44: Reimagining Public Health and Racial Justice with Dr. Ricky Bluthenthal
Episode 30: Getting Wrecked with Dr. Kim Sue
Episode 11: Beyond Borders — How the U.S. Exports Dangerous Drug Policy with Sanho Tree

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson / Troy Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Aaron Ferguson / Nomad1
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Pixabay edit: Troy Farah

Episode 56: Drug Use During Disaster with Aaron Ferguson

Our planet is in crisis, plagued by an increase in wildfires, floods, hurricanes, freak storms and outbreaks of disease. As a result, we’re seeing more and more people isolated, left to fend for themselves, as the cracks in public infrastructure only seem to widen.

To use one prominent example, the state of Texas has been slapped with recurrent cataclysms and catastrophes of late, most recently the February winter storm that crushed the power grid, leading to food and water shortages, which left at least 111 people dead.

At Narcotica, we always wonder about what happens to people who use drugs whenever ecological disaster strikes. Co-hosts Zachary Siegel and Troy Farah talk with Aaron Ferguson, who works as an outreach provider in Austin, Texas and is also on the leadership team of the National Drug Users Union. (Aaron was also a our co-producer on the show for about 20 episodes and volunteered to help with sound editing this one as well!)

We discuss everything from the evolving drug trade in Texas to the cult-like mentality that can sometimes manifest in the addiction recovery community and much more.

You can follow Aaron Ferguson on Twitter: @sciencenotheism and watch The Methadone Manifesto, a recent webinar hosted by the Urban Survivors Union. Aaron also co-authored a piece in the National Academy of Medicine discussing some of the public health challenges addiction treatment services faced during the recent Texas storm.

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 51: The Joy of Drug Use with Dr. Carl Hart
Episode 18: Drug User Unions – The Rebirth of Harm Reduction with Jess Tilley and Albie Park
Episode 42: Supervised Consumption is an Essential Service

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Aaron Ferguson / Troy Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Suhov
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Justin L. Flickr edit: Troy Farah

Episode 55: Street Sampling Synthetics, from Carfentanil to Xylazine with Alex Krotulski

Amid a wave of synthetic drugs in recent years, Kensington, Pennsylvania has emerged as the locus for a different kind of experimentation, through a new generation of freelance entrepreneurs. Their bathtub chemistry is often guided by trial and error—leaving doctors, public health officials and harm reductionists struggling to understand the latest side effects.

Last year, a concerned toxicologist from the nonprofit Center for Forensic Science Research & Education (CFSRE) at the Fredric Rieders Family Foundation, the academic and research arm of NMS Labs outside Philadelphia, conceived of a new testing program. It employs sophisticated mass spectrometry to reveal the composition of retail-level street drugs.

Alex Krotulski, an associate director of the CFSRE, spoke to Narcotica co-host Chris Moraff about everything from synthetic cannabinoids like 5F-APB to carfentanil to xylazine.

You can follow Alex Krotulski on Twitter: @alexkrotulski and read Chris’s report on this subject in Filter Magazine.

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Suhov
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: edit: Troy Farah

Episode 54: West Virginia, America’s Worst Overdose and HIV Hotspot with Lauren Peace

There’s a “twindemic” raging across the state of West Virginia: Covid-19 has collided with an outbreak of HIV and hepatitis C. If that’s not bad enough, West Virginia has the highest overdose death rate in the nation. The CDC recently called the HIV outbreak in Kanawha County, West Virginia the “most concerning” in the country. Make no mistake, this outbreak is preventable, and is largely driven by the failure of local governments to provide syringe service programs to people who use drugs.

Even worse, West Virginia lawmakers are actively trying to pass legislation to further restrict harm reduction programs across the state. Covering this disaster of health and reactionary politics is Lauren Peace, a local investigative reporter at the nonprofit news outlet Mountain State Spotlight. Lauren has been providing vital on the ground coverage of embattled harm reduction programs—programs like Solutions Oriented Addiction Response (SOAR) that are working against a toxic backlash to prevent more HIV cases from spreading and save lives.

This episode is a one-on-one conversation with co-host Zachary Siegel and Lauren, who discusses what it’s like on the ground in West Virginia and the endless battle to put out science-based information in the face of stigma and misguided narratives about harm reduction. Plus, a bit of news at the top of the show about Biden’s pick for ONDCP director (read Zach’s piece in Filter) and Senate Bill 334, a piece of harmful legislation moving through West Virginia’s legislature.

You can follow Lauren on Twitter: @LaurenMPeace and read her work at Mountain State Spotlight.

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 37: Covering Culture and Drugs with Substance with Kate Knibbs
Episode 19: Debunking Bupe Diversion Myths with Molly Doernberg
Episode 36: Moral Hazards and Naloxone, A Toxicologist’s Perspective with Ryan Marino

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Lasers
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Bill Dickinson via Flickr // edit: Troy Farah

Episode 53: A Life of Getting Lit with Tommy Chong

It’s kinda weird hearing people say “weed is mainstream” now, when merely possessing the plant stuff can still earn you serious consequences in many parts of the world. But the growing popularity of cannabis is unmistakable. Marijuana is now a global, multi-billion dollar industry—well, to be fair, it always was, only now it’s all legitimate and overtaxed and commercialized instead of enriching drug cartels. 

Regardless, cannabis is more popular than ever, with a rapidly growing fandom among older generations. Even Martha Stewart is into CBD now. But while it’s great to see so many people starting to dig the awesome benefits cannabis sativa offers, it’s important to contextualize the culture and history that got us here. 

On Narcotica, we’ve done more than 50 episodes about all kinds of drugs: opioids, meth, cocaine, psilocybin magic mushrooms, ketamine, even sorta obscure stuff like antibiotics and salvia. But we’ve never done an episode entirely devoted to cannabis! How weird is that? One of the world’s most popular drugs, one I use every day and we just… haven’t gotten to it yet.

So we thought we’d start things off with a bang and bring in one of weed’s biggest fans, none other than comedian, musician and world famous stoner Tommy Chong, of Cheech and Chong fame. We discuss everything from prison life to getting high in old age to how ‘Up In Smoke’ became a blockbuster hit to the emerging cannabis industry.

You can follow Tommy on Twitter @tommychong

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 2: Anthony Bourdain, Suicide and the Myth of Cross Addiction
Episode 49: Salvia: Psychedelic Oddity (Plus, Canada’s Emerging Psilocybin Scene)
Episode 25: Banning Kratom Will Escalate the Opioid Overdose Crisis with Walter Prozialeck

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Jesse Spillane
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Wikipedia / FreeSVG // edit: Troy Farah

Episode 52: The Fundamental Human Right to Get High with Casey William Hardison

Maybe it seems like an obvious question, but why is certain drug use illegal in the first place? Don’t you, as a human being, have some bodily autonomy and doesn’t that extend to alterations in the mind as well? What about the fundamental right to change your mind?

On this episode of Narcotica, co-hosts Troy Farah, Chris Moraff and Zachary Siegel talk with Casey William Hardison about cognitive liberty, the freedom of thought, and how that relates to prohibiting some drugs but not others. Hardison is a giant in the underground chemistry scene, who has rubbed shoulders with many legends in obscure chemistry: Sasha Shulgin and Darrell Lemaire, for example, and he was featured on Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia, in the episode ‘The Lazy Lizard School of Hedonism.’

In the past, Casey operated several infamous drug labs producing things like MDMA, LSD and 2C-B. That’s all behind him, but unrelated to that, Casey has had a bit of legal trouble lately, which we’ll discuss more, but his central argument in court is quite unique. 

This episode is being produced in collaboration with Filter Magazine. Troy wrote an article that goes into some more detail about Casey’s life and the implications for this court case. You can read the article at filtermag.org

You can follow Casey on Twitter @asthouwilt

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 49: Salvia: Psychedelic Oddity (Plus, Canada’s Emerging Psilocybin Scene)
Episode 15: Accurate, Compassionate Drug Journalism with Filter Magazine
Episode 17: Using DMT To Contact Aliens

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Checkie Brown
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Pixabay // edit: Troy Farah

Episode 51: The Joy of Drug Use with Dr. Carl Hart

Dr. Carl Hart has long been known as America’s preeminent drug scientist. If you listen to our show regularly, you’ve probably heard of him. He appeared briefly way back on Episode 6, talking about crack-cocaine. For the uninitiated, Dr. Hart is a neuroscientist at Columbia University, and he’s published well over 100 peer-reviewed, scientific papers, which produces vital knowledge and understanding of how drugs work not only in the brain, but how they work in people’s lives and society at-large.

But lately, Dr. Hart has taken his work outside the lab with his new book, “Drug Use for Grown Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear.” On this episode, Narcotica co-hosts Zachary Siegel, Chris Moraff and Troy Farah discuss with Dr. Hart everything from using cannabis while pregnant to housing as harm reduction to taking MDMA as a way to romantically connect with your partner.

We debunk a lot of myths, but especially the idea that drug use is only a form of self-medication. Sometimes—a lot of the time—people just use drugs to feel good. Acknowledging the joy of drug use is essential to dismantling the war on people who use them.

You can follow Dr. Hart on Twitter @drcarlhart and learn more at drcarlhart.com

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 47: Can Harm Reduction and Cops Coexist?
Episode 44: Reimagining Public Health and Racial Justice

Episode 27: What’s the Most Dangerous Drug?

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Revolution Void
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Hartwig HKD Flickr // edit: Troy Farah

Episode 50: Sicarios and Supply Side Economics with Stewart Scott

On this episode, we discuss how Mexico became a flashpoint of the war on drugs, broader trends in American foreign policy and drug policy, as well as the evolution of synthetic drugs as the main category of illicit narcotics. Our guest is Stewart Scott, a security analyst who for years penned one of the best annual assessments of Mexico’s evolving cartels for Stratfor and has since transitioned to Torchstone Global, a private security consulting firm. 

Scott has worked in the trenches of intelligence and security for 35 years and began his career in army reserve and National Guard intelligence before spending 10 years as a special agent with the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. 

During the height of the drug war’s surge under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Scott was assigned to protect a Colombian judge who had signed an arrest warrant for Pablo Escobar. In 1993 he traveled to Bogota to help the Colombian government investigate a car bombing at a school supply market.

You can follow Scott on Twitter @stick631 and learn more at torchstoneglobal.com

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 11: Beyond Borders — How the U.S. Exports Dangerous Drug Policy
Episode 31: Supervised Consumption: Narcotica Breaks Down Safehouse Ruling with Av Gutman
Episode 34: “Inside the Bloody War on Drugs”

Follow Narcotica on FacebookTwitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy / Chandiliers
Intro voice: Jenny Schaye
Image: Pixabay // edit: Troy Farah

Episode 48: Moms And Methadone with Elizabeth Brico

Is there any class of people who receive more stigma, who get more shit and abuse for using drugs, than mothers? Probably not! For whatever reason, society really looks down upon mothers who use drugs. And too often, Child Protective Services use evidence of drug use, even prescribed drugs like methadone or buprenorphine, as a pretense for seizing children from parents, even when there are no signs of abuse or neglect.

At Narcotica, we believe in safe drug use no matter who it is. On this episode, Troy, Zach and Chris talk about how stigma against drug use is contributing to an overloaded foster care system, how so-called ‘fetal assault laws’ are used to control women and pregnant people, and the various ways the war on drugs can be used to dehumanize parents.

Our guest is Elizabeth Brico, a freelance journalist and author from the Pacific Northwest. Her work has appeared in Politico, Columbia Journalism Review, VICE, Undark and many others. She is also the mother of two little girls.

Follow Elizabeth Brico on Twitter @elizabethbrico

You can read some of Elizabeth’s work here: https://filtermag.org/motherhood-legally-terminated/

Sign Elizabeth’s petition to get her kids back: https://www.change.org/p/florida-department-of-children-and-families-reunite-the-brico-girls-ages-5-and-6-with-their-mama

If you liked this episode, here are others you might enjoy:
Episode 24: How To Get Abortion Pills
Episode 30: Getting Wrecked with Dr. Kim Sue
Episode 6: Speed Up, Slow Down Pt. 2 — Myth Evolution: From Crack Kids to Addicted Babies

Follow Narcotica on Facebook, Twitter and support us on Patreon. Your support is appreciated! We’re on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher and more. Tell your friends about us!

Producers: Christopher Moraff, Troy Farah, Zachary Siegel
Co-producer: Garrett Farah
Music: Glass Boy / A.A. Aalto
Image: Wacky Stuff // edit: Troy Farah