Transcription of Chasing the Dragon – S1E2 – Lucy Sletvold

heroin and carfentanil

Transcription of Chasing The Dragon – S1E2 – Lucy Sletvold


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Annie Rouse: [00:00:30] This is the story of Harry Anslinger and the untold cannabis conspiracy.

Annie Rouse: [00:00:35] He’s Harry Anslinger ranked as a pioneer in the worldwide movement to eliminate illegal drug traffic. Who has served as US Commissioner of Narcotics since the post was created by Congress. But he’s devoted a major part of his career to the fight against what he calls “the living death of every dope dealer.”

Annie Rouse: [00:00:56] In this series, we’ll uncover how Harry Anslinger influence on cannabis policy infects much of society today, including war civic unrest, prison, the opioid epidemic, Big Pharma and life as we know it. I am Annie Rouse, your host and storyteller.

***Interviewee introduction***

Annie Rouse: [00:01:20] Our interviewee today is Lucy Sletvold. Lucy is a recovering heroin addict who spent seven years of her early adulthood life abusing hard narcotics. But after three different rehabilitation treatments she is now nearly six years sober and protects her sobriety, more than anything. Today, she will give us insight into the mind and world of a drug addict and she is a very special guest because she is also my cousin.

Annie and Lucy Age 4

Lucy Sletvold and Annie Rouse at a costume party, Age 4


*** Start of episode***

Annie Rouse: [00:01:48] On the last episode of Anslinger the untold cannabis conspiracy we learned about the narcotic framework leading up to 1930. We also learned about the life of the legendary drug czar Harry Anslinger and his pathway to first commissioner and chief of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. In my experience, a lot of people believe that when Harry Anslinger became commissioner he was handed the position by then Secretary Treasurer Andrew Mellon with a large budget an ultimate authority, but really it was quite the opposite. Anslinger first few months and really the first few years on the job were quite difficult for him because he was operating on a shoestring budget and what I’ve always imagined as the basement of the Department of Treasury. He knows he needs to prove himself and the worth of his team, which is a common occurrence throughout the early days of the Narcotics Bureau. In fact several times throughout the 1930s President Roosevelt and other government officials tried to reorganize the Narcotics Bureau from under the Department of Treasury to under the Department of Justice, a move that Anslinger is against, for reasons I’ve actually yet to uncover. But Anslinger keeps a close watch on these rumors and always seems one step ahead of the conversations.

Annie Rouse: [00:03:08] The good thing about Anslinger is appointment to Commissioner of the Narcotics Bureau is that fortunately, thanks to South Carolina Senator Coleman believes Capitol Hill is already aware of the major drug peddling problem in America. Just prior to Anslinger appointment as Commissioner, during his Senate session on Capitol Hill, Senator belly’s astonishes Congress by throwing a bag of opium onto the table in front of him, explaining that he hired an undercover agent to buy opium a block away from Capitol Hill. Senator belly’s ridicules Congress and criticizes the issue in general. Proving how easy it is to purchase the narcotic that seems to be drowning the United States. Senator Belize’s stunt rouses Congress to move the dangerous drug peddlers out of Capitol Hill and the only person who can make it happen is soon to be Commissioner Harry Anslinger. In the 1930s, smoking opium was seen as a troubling addictive issue that needed to be resolved, but the world understood that drugs like heroin were becoming larger issues. Today with the opioid epidemic plaguing America, the troubling issue is the proliferation and subsequent regulation of opioid pharmaceuticals like Oxycontin that have spurred heroin demand. But today’s larger issue is the skyrocketing amounts of overdoses caused by heroin cut with even more potent pharmaceutical grade opioids like Fentanyl.

Annie Rouse: [00:04:33] While the intensities of these drugs were far different in the 30s than what they are today, the similarity between these two areas of extreme opioid addiction was the diversity of drug addicts. People of all races ethnicities and economic status and very likely someone that you or your friends and family know in my life.

Annie Rouse: [00:04:55] The opioid epidemic hit home and our interviewee my cousin, Lucy Sletvold has joined us today so that we can understand the mind of a drug addict.

Annie Rouse: [00:05:08] So what is it like to buy drugs?

Lucy Sletvold: [00:05:14] That’s part of the high. It’s not just when you’re high, like going to calling your drug dealer. You know, you call them and you say hey I need x amount where you know where do you go and they meet you at Walgreens or the gas station or anywhere. You’re in public. I mean you’re in the public eye and you think people don’t know what’s going on and a lot of people don’t, but me being where I am today I could probably spot it from a mile away and stay very clear of that. But you wait for a long time sometimes. They’re like I’m on my way and they’re not. You wait three hours for that that heroin you will you will wait or you’ll call your other drug dealer because the other one’s being slow and then you’ll wait for another hour. I mean it it just depends. It’s nerve wracking, but it’s exciting there’s like a thrill to it. In the beginning, I would wait till we get home to do and then I got to where I was like “Why am I waiting?” like a habit. Now I’m going to do it now. I would drive down. This sounds horrible. I would drive down the freeway shooting up heroin while driving a stick shift vehicle, tying off with a seatbelt. I mean it’s ridiculous. You do really, really dangerous things and it’s not it’s not me that I’m looking back. I’m like there’s so many other people out on the road that I could have harmed. I could have nodded out at the wheel and murdered someone. And I’m so lucky I didn’t. I can’t imagine, I can’t imagine that feeling. But yeah we’re waiting for the drug dealer for wasting a lot of time. That’s a life. If racked up all the time I waited, that was a lot.

Annie Rouse: [00:06:58] Were you ever scared to buy it?

Lucy Sletvold: [00:07:00] In the beginning. You can get past that because eventually I was driving into some really, really gnarly parts of town to get it. Parts of town, that in Memphis that the cops don’t travel to because they get shot at for driving through there. There are parts of Memphis that I wouldn’t step into today knowing what I know.

Annie Rouse: [00:07:19] But you did?

Lucy Sletvold: [00:07:20] I did and didn’t even think about it didn’t even bat an eye. I saw so many people die over that. So we’re going to buy drugs.

Annie Rouse: [00:07:28] Explain the effects of heroin on the mind and the body.

Lucy Sletvold: [00:07:32] Euphoria physically. I mean you, you I can’t describe it, but I mean like your body, your body is, is it’s like you feel this warmth travel through you and then you’re just, I mean you can’t explain. It’s euphoria. Honestly, is the only thing I can think of. Mentally, you aren’t sad. You think you’re happy, but you’re really probably not. You just you think you are because your body feels so good. And I mean mentally, I hardly remember things. Friends of mine from back then, do you remember that one time? And I’m like No, no I don’t. Sorry, like I don’t remember. If I do remember things, I don’t remember the order in which they happened over a course of five to seven years. There is like, like it’s all chopped up and like misplaced. It’s not worth it.

Lucy Sletvold: [00:08:25] Yes it gets sort of physical pain for like my migraines. I realize that it also makes you emotionally numb. You don’t, you don’t feel a whole lot of anything and I was okay with that at the time because I didn’t want to feel I’ve had things happen in my life that were just sad you know. And I was coming to the realization I was like wow I care about you and not feel anything you know mentally, emotionally, but physically it was an euphoria. Heroin became almost like not enough. At one point, I was doing cocaine and heroin together. I didn’t know how dangerous that was at all. Nobody told me, you know I was like That’s not a good idea.

Annie Rouse: [00:09:05] Not in D.A.R.E class?

Lucy Sletvold: [00:09:05] Nope, they didn’t teach me any of that. They didn’t say well don’t mix this and that, they just don’t do any of it. I’ve had friends who have died from eating Xanax and drinking. I’ve had a handful of them die that way. I mean and it’s you never know it could affect you and not me. It depends on the person. It depends on a lot of things.

Annie Rouse: [00:09:32] Now, back to the story of Anslinger and the untold cannabis conspiracy. When Harry Anslinger is appointed the Commissioner of narcotics, he’s already quite cognizant of the situation that Senator Blease has introduced to Congress and considering Anslinger sphere of the Feds shutting down his narcotics bureau. He chooses this situation as a means to prove the worthiness of the Narcotics Bureau. At the time, in the early 1930s two Chinese families controlled a large opium distribution network in the U.S., very similar to the Italian Mafia in the 1940s. However, the Chinese mafia is referred to as the Tong’s. The Tong’s operated opium dens and illegal gambling facilities and brothels throughout America and they had quite a few nestled on Pennsylvania Avenue which is just around the corner from Capitol Hill. The opium dens varied in luxury or simplicity depending on the wealth of the common visitor and the distance of the town from China. The opium dens found on the west coast, more resembled the lavishness of the best opium dens found in China; where as the opium dens in the East Coast like those found on Pennsylvania Avenue were not as lavish. Each den had unique attributes, but their commonality was that they were a place where opium was commonly bought, sold, and smoked. Anslinger and his men had been watching these dens, since the first day on the job because the dens were not only a source of trafficking narcotics, but also where a place where an increasing number of young white girls were finding themselves in trouble. And while at the time, the dens were mostly fueled by opium directly derived from the poppy plant. New quote unquote white drugs were beginning to be circulated in the dens, like heroin, as well as sexual stimulants, like Cantharides and these young girls were often tricked into visiting the dens by men promising them a quote unquote job. Because let’s not forget that this is the early 1930s, just before the height of the largest economic depression in the recognized history of mankind. So any wind of a quote unquote job sounded like a great opportunity, but little did the women know the dreadful job of addiction that lay ahead of them. So the men would bring the young impressionable girls into their dens. Once inside the men would convince the girls to smoke opium, then they would give them hard candies that were laced with sexually stimulating Cantharides. The men would always keep the den’s really hot. So when the girls ate the Cantharides they would not only be sexually aroused, but so hot they’d want to take off their clothes. When the opium would wear off, the girls would begin to feel tired and want to go home. So the men would offer the girls a capsule of heroin, telling the girls that it would make them feel better. It would kick up their mood. So the girls, with their head really still in a cloud would accept the capsule and leave the den. Unfortunately, when the heroine would wear off the girls would want to feel energized and happy again, so they would go back to the den to get the free drugs. The men, knowing the addiction rate of heroin would offer the girls a few more capsules for free, until one day when the men would cut off the heroin supply and demand payment for more capsules.

Annie Rouse: [00:12:56] Now of course the women couldn’t pay for the heroin and of course they couldn’t ask their parents for money to buy the heroin. So the men would offer them the quote unquote job they had been promised from the start. It was a choice, the girl could either become a prostitute for the men or the girl would have to recruit other young girls into their system, as a form of payment.

Annie Rouse: [00:13:24] When they first took that heroin what do you think they felt?

Lucy Sletvold: [00:13:28] Euphoria. They felt good and in the beginning, it was almost like it was felt like I was on an upper. I mean how did clean stuff. I wanted to clean my apartment and then it gets to the point where it is kind of like a down nodding out in public, but yeah, I would say they probably felt pretty, pretty good and didn’t feel so hot after it wore off. They wanted more, I’m sure.

Annie Rouse: [00:13:54] So when was your first encounter was with opioids?

Lucy Sletvold: [00:13:59] When I was 15 I started, I started getting migraines pretty badly. A family member would give me Lortabs. Not really, you know thinking oh this person could become an addict, like it was a harmless thing trying to help me because it was excruciating. It was miserable and it helped, but I didn’t think about the addiction aspect of it. I was not super aware of addiction. I knew about alcoholism, but not, not so much drugs.

Annie Rouse: [00:14:29] So when was your first encounter with drugs?

Lucy Sletvold: [00:14:33] The first time I ever did drugs I was 18 and it was cocaine. Technically they considered alcohol a drug, but I had drank when I was younger, illegally. So cocaine, I consider that my first drug and that went on for a couple of months and then it escalated into smoking crack, which is essentially cocaine. It’s just a different way of doing it and then from there it just kept getting worse and worse. The first time I came across heroin, I was with a guy. Hanging out with one of my guy friends and I knew that he did it, but I didn’t really. I had never witnessed him do it. He asked me to drive him to somewhere and I did and he was picking up heroin and I was fascinated by it. He was actually injecting, it and I was so intrigued by it. I was fascinated by all of it and he was like you should try it. And I was like no absolutely not, I will not be doing that. And then he said well you don’t have to shoot it up because in Memphis it was like powdered form. Whereas unlike California I guess it’s more of like a black-tar. He was like you can snort it you know. And so I was like well that’s safer. You know, like that’s not going to do anything and just feel it you know, a little bit. And so I started out snorting it, kind of went from there. I had like this rule that I would never shoot up, but you know, we say things that we’re never going to do and we do them anyway. So then I met this girl. She, she was the first person to, she actually shot me up and that, that feeling is a feeling you’ll never feel again. That’s what you chase the entire time you’re, you’re wanting that exact same feeling again and you’ll never again it. Doesn’t matter how much you do or how long you go without doing it and then starting up again you don’t ever feel that same feeling again, so.

Lucy Sletvold: [00:16:45] Well it got pretty bad for awhile. I mean, I did go for nine days to this one rehab and it was around, my family didn’t know that it was around the corner from my drug dealers house and so it was super hard for me to stay there and it was just a weird place. It wasn’t a very comforting environment and when you are withdrawing that’s the worst feeling. I don’t ever want to feel that again that’s another reason why I stay sober, but checked myself out after nine days. Went home and I was kicked out of the house. And that, I needed that, I needed them to kick me out. I ended up going and getting an apartment and it was just a party, party place. People were living with me that I didn’t know very well but they seemed OK. In all reality they really honestly were OK, they were just. They actually were the ones who I was doing a lot of acid with and I stopped doing heroin for a couple months and was doing acid for a long time.

Lucy Sletvold: [00:17:42] It got to the point where it was not fun anymore. All you do is chase the high if you don’t have drugs. Your main goal is to get them. It wasn’t fun, it was a chore. You get sick of it and you want a vacation from it, but you, you can’t. Like you try, I tried multiple times to quit myself just by myself and it was excruciating and miserable. I ended up in jail. I got arrested. Went to jail for not even probably not even a day and was miserable and was upset. I was like this is not where I am supposed to be and got put on probation, Drug court and the Judge in Memphis, who was the Judge over my case, created the drug court program there. So he is very adamant about you having to do it, like you have to. Like that’s what is going to happen. I know people who have made it through it, it’s very difficult and there wasn’t really a lot of support. There wasn’t like a let me help you get clean. It was like just stop, stop doing drugs. You can do it. Just stop. And I couldn’t, I was not able to do that. Didn’t make it very long and I was relapsing again and went back to jail and then I think they issued a warrant for my arrest at one point and my mom showed up and she was like pack a bag we’re going to Texas and I was like why? She’s like You’re going to rehab and I was like OK. So like that is what I consider my first true rehab. I went to the Menninger Clinic in Houston Texas, dual diagnosis and they deal with you know mental health and drug addiction. Some people only have one or the other, some have both. And so then, I went to a step down program. So they consider that like a transition slowly transition back into the real world. So I was at Menninger for two and a half months, 90 days in the next place and then sober living and I had eight and a half months and then I relapsed and went back into another rehab, lasted a couple more months. Relapsed because I was hanging out with a person that I probably shouldn’t happen. In Memphis, it was it was a lot of time people that I was living with in sober livings and you know take you back out and you can’t let it happen. I mean that’s, it’s really hard to say no. You know the ads are, just say no to drugs and it’s like, oh I don’t want to. It’s hard, it’s hard to say no.

Annie Rouse: [00:20:13] No to a lot of things.

Lucy Sletvold: [00:20:14] It’s hard to say no to a bread and sugar. I mean those are highly addictive things and caffeine.


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Annie Rouse: [00:20:42] Now getting back to the story of Harry Anslinger and the untold cannabis conspiracy. The opium dens were an utterly disgusting vicious cycle. Entangling young American girls into opioid addiction. Anslinger despises these dens not only because the opium that’s dealt in them, but also because he’s a racist. So he loathes the thought of Chinese immigrants creating addiction in young white Americans, with the drug he detests most of all. Anslinger is determined to stop it. So he gathers the support of his men, even bringing in extra enforcement from the Washington Metro Police to successfully take down the group. He leaves nothing to chance. The raids needed to go off without a hitch. He chooses the timing perfectly. One week, the Tong’s meet in Washington for their annual conference and it is during this week that Anslinger decides the bust will occur. The agents raid 30 dens in one night, with Anslinger participating in several of the raids himself and they are quite successful.

Example of a Chinese Opium Den

The raids lead to many arrests within the Tongs and the cleaning of the Pennsylvania Avenue opium dens. While in swinger’s men are busy making arrests, Anslinger takes to investigating the scenes. As he’s investigating one of the scenes, the Mayor of Chinatown appears out of the darkness. The mayor approaches Anslinger with a bit of arrogance and he’s furious that Anslinger and his men have just embarrassed Chinatown, his town with these actions, but when he steps forward to express his distaste for the busts, Anslinger shut them down immediately. Instead, Anslinger objects to the mayor’s comments and asks why the mayor wasn’t thrown in jail himself for letting the racket continue. Anslinger slams him for allowing the dens to operate and demands the mayor forbid the Tong’s from the neighborhood. The raids and Anslinger intimidation tactics on the mayor and the Tong’s work brilliantly. The dens close permanently or left the city for somewhere else. Somewhere Anslinger’s men eventually find, infiltrate, and arrest, until smoking opium is finally controlled nationally. His first bust cleans the streets of the nation’s capital, allowing him to earn the respect of congressmen and administration. He proves the worthiness of the federal bureau of narcotics, for a short time, until FDR comes into office and threatens Anslinger and the Narcotics Bureau with the organization. But what Anslinger maneuvers do most of all is showcase the new underworld. One much scarier and interlaced than the alcohol underworld. It’s more dramatic, more addictive, more influential, more dangerous and more prosperous. The narcotic underworld is an international ring of associates, manufacturing abroad and selling to U.S. citizens. It’s an international ring that Anslinger knows is valuable to control, if he wants to keep his job. Anslinger refuses to stop, until he can control it. He despises opium and its derivatives and fears any drug that might resemble its euphoria, especially if it’s entangled with minorities and immigrants. This included cannabis. Anslinger tactics are to focus on the supply side of narcotics. He thinks curbing production will curb drug use and had very little thought for the addicts themselves. Sadly Anslinger’s tactics only really works on the regulatory front, but did very little to resolve addiction problems. Instead, he forced the entire narcotic drug trade underground and in this process, he and other influencers also stigmatized addiction, making people see that addiction was the fault of the addict as opposed to a mental disease and a public health issue.

Lucy Sletvold: [00:24:50] I still talk to my addictions counselor from the Menninger Clinic and the big thing he talked about, like when you break down the word disease its “dis-ease” your, it’s a discomfort. I mean essentially it is what is. I think it was important for me to go somewhere far away. For some people they might stay, but when you’re checking yourself in somewhere, you can check yourself out. If you really want it, like you’ll stay, but it made it a lot harder for me to leave a rehab, if I was not somewhere where I was comfortable and knew I could score drugs as soon as I got out. If left that one in California I was probably going have a hard time. I was up in the mountains, like I would of been pissed off of myself hitchhiking and just angry because I wasn’t getting high and I just you know, screwed up again. So it’s hard it doesn’t care who you are. It will pick anybody. I mean addiction, addiction is, is interesting because people who are Normy who can…, we call them Normy, people who are Normy those who don’t suffer from addiction will never really truly understand the mind of an addict and it’s so hard to try and explain it to someone who doesn’t get it.

Annie Rouse: [00:26:08] But what is that withdrawal? What does it feel like?

Lucy Sletvold: [00:26:12] So that I can describe. Your legs hurt. You like just like cramping in your legs 24/7 and unless you’re standing, it’s happening. Even when you’re standing it probably happens a little bit, but I just remember kicking my legs all around like if I was trying to sleep, you don’t sleep a lot because your legs hurt. Your skin hurts. It feels like your skin is the most sensitive thing in the whole world and anybody that touches you, you just want to scream at them. For me that’s how it was. I was hot. I was cold. I was hot. I was cold. I was sweating like crazy. My head was hurting. I didn’t get the nausea that some people talk about.

Annie Rouse: [00:26:56] Did you shake? You were physically shaking?

Lucy Sletvold: [00:27:00] Yeah my legs, I was just kicking, kicking, kicking my legs around a lot because it just hurt. My back hurt at one point, to the point where I thought I was going to, it was going to implode. I was like, what is it happening right now with my back and I like I didn’t understand how you could feel that way. So like all you want. Because you know what’s going to fix it. And all you want to do is go get high again. So I think that going through detox before really starting rehab. Yeah it’s helpful, but I think experience experiencing withdrawal without the help of a detox place or any any really any kind of anything. I needed it, to know that I don’t want to go through it again because even with the help of a detox center, it’s still pretty miserable after. I mean your body is. I wasn’t eating a whole lot at the end. I was very very skinny, but my face was swollen. I don’t know if it was because I was mixing heroine and cocaine… I don’t know. I don’t know why. You have these goggles on that you think you look so good and you don’t because you look like Skeletor. You look like you’re going to keel over and die. It was bad, it was bad.

Annie Rouse: [00:28:29] Harry Anslinger never had much sympathy for the drug addict and the Anslinger is regulatory front did very little to help them, but what Anslinger policies and the public health service did create, was a system to study the addict and to research narcotics and their use at a facility called the narcotic Farm, in Lexington, Kentucky and Fort Worth, Texas; which we’ll discuss at depth throughout the series and for the most part unless there was some sort of an advantage to Anslinger helping an addict. Sending addicts to this farm was as far as Anslinger went to sympathize with the addict. As we can glean from our interviewee Lucy’s experience, Anslinger’s regulatory front is still impacting our world today and the way that we view the addict. Insurance is unavailable for most rehabilitation programs and many addicts are thrown in jail or prison, which only hurts our economy more. Jail became an ever popular demand after Anslinger retired and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics transitioned from the Department of Treasury to the Drug Enforcement Agency under the Department of Justice. Just prior to President Reagan’s War on Drugs, minimum prison sentences were initiated, which continued to burden minorities and immigrants, like African-Americans and Latinos more than anyone. By 2014, Anslinger was long gone, but the framework for his narcotic policies remained, creating the drug enforcement agencies annual budget of two billion dollars, to combat drug smuggling and use in the U.S. and abroad. The DEA budget is truly much more than that, but maintaining a low budget was a strategy Anslinger lived by, while Commissioner. He felt that departments with high budgets were often scrutinized by the public. So Anslinger purposefully kept a low budget, knowing he could offset his costs with seized assets. Today, a common practice for the DEA and police force is hosting fundraisers were seized assets of drug dealers are commonly auctioned. This budget doesn’t account for the budget of the federal and state prison systems. Federal prison systems alone have a budget of seven point three billion dollars with half of these individuals incarcerated for drug related offenses. I don’t even think this accounts for corporate prison systems, which are a beast of their own. Finding the drug source is a difficult task and rarely occurs, but possession arrests are easy enough to nab on the street corner, allowing officers to hit quotas. According to the drug policy alliance, in 2016 there are one point six million arrests for drug law violations, with 84 percent arrested for possession alone. Of the one point six million, 650,000 were arrested for cannabis law violations, with 89 percent arrested for possession only. In a nation where eight states have approved legal taxing and regulation of cannabis marijuana and 29 states plus our nation’s capital allow medical use of marijuana, the fact that we’re arresting 650,000 individuals a year for cannabis possession and sales, is absolutely ludicrous. Particularly, when you consider that Colorado topped one billion dollars in legal marijuana sales in 2016, within a ten month span. In total, accounting for actual costs and externalities, it was estimated by Harvard economist, Dr. Jeffrey Myron that the war on drugs cost the United States fifty five billion dollars in 2016 alone. This isn’t too surprising considering the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with half of these individuals incarcerated for drug related offenses.

Annie Rouse: [00:32:22] Of course all of this is that the burden of the taxpayer who is paying for the drug related offender to receive shelter food and of course medical care, while they’re in prison. Alternatively, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, if the current illegal drugs were legalized and taxed, like tobacco and alcohol. It would create nearly forty seven billion dollars in revenue stream, as opposed to a fifty five billion dollar tax burden. It’s a pity really because not only isn’t it an enormous social burden, but before these policies the sale of these drugs, which became demonized as narcotics were a tax and revenue to the American economy and not an enormous financial burden, as they are today.


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Annie Rouse: [00:33:34] I’m sure you’re probably wondering did Harry Anslinger know what he was creating? I’ve asked this question so many times over the last 10 years and when the question pops in my mind I often think back to a quote I came across an Anslinger archives. The document was written in the early 1930s and discusses the extreme growing drug addiction problem in California. The following quote was from the California State Narcotics Committee declaring that quote for every peddler captured, 10 or more spring up to take his place because of the great profit in the business. One peddler can make twenty thousand dollars per day. If demand for drug continues, peddlers continue to supply it, regardless of the risk of capture. And just so you know 20,000 per day in the 1930s is comparable to almost three hundred thousand dollars, today. Anslinger’s regulations created exponential growth rates for drug peddlers, the very peddlers that Anslinger and his men were capturing. Not only was the regulatory game creating job security for Anslinger and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, but also for the dope peddler. As long as they didn’t get caught because the profits of the dope peddler were also high and addiction rates were higher. With addiction probability often correlated with strength, the stronger the substances the peddler sold, the more likely the addicts would desire. With heroin three times stronger than morphine, heroin was a hot commodity and in constant demand. Of course now, pharmaceutical companies have manufactured even stronger drugs like Fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger than heroin and Carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer, which is 100 times stronger than heroin. It’s no wonder that we’re in an opioid epidemic today.

Annie Rouse: [00:35:33] I don’t do heroin, so I don’t really know, but what I’ve heard more recently with the opioid epidemic that actually the most popular drug dealers on the street are the ones that have the most deaths because they have the best drugs.

Lucy Sletvold: [00:35:45] See that’s weird to me and I don’t, like that’s different than back when I was doing any thing. I think, it’s changed a lot in the past five years or in the past one year. I mean it’s become scary and that’s another reason why I want to do it. I’m too scared to. I know people have died from the Fentanyl laced heroin. I don’t know why you would ever want to kill your client, like that doesn’t make any sense. These people that are overdosing and or, or dying I have never overdosed. I don’t know what that feels like. I pulled someone out of one once and that was a really, really scary situation and it was just normal. They just did too much heroin. It was normal quote unquote normal heroin, but it was, they had been doing it all day. They just, they were pushed to the limit and I was like I walked into my bedroom and they were blue and um… I smacked the hell out of him and then he wouldn’t come. I mean I left a handprint on this man’s face and he still didn’t, didn’t come out of it so then I was doing CPR on him and he was, I mean he was taking one breath per minute when I found him and then you know he started like his eyes started fluttering and he was like where am I? And I was like, I don’t know right now, but let’s get back to the present moment because you’re freaking me out. You know, I was like and then sat right up and was like five minutes later I want to do more. And I was like hell no. Like you’re grounded for the rest of the day, like no more like Are you crazy? Like you almost, like you almost just died. You were blue.

Annie Rouse: [00:37:29] You didn’t call 911?

Lucy Sletvold: [00:37:30] I should have, but I think I was too worried about like I’m with him right now. Like wake up, like it’s like my first instinct was not pick up my phone and dial. It was like get him alive.

Annie Rouse: [00:37:46] Now back to the story of Anslinger: the untold cannabis conspiracy. While Anslinger is regulation’s may have reduced agricultural production of naturally grown narcotics. His regulations opened the floodgates for pharmaceutically manufactured narcotics, which in the past 10 years has worsened the situation. So the regulations that were put in place, simply shifted supply from less potent natural drugs being highly regulated, to more potent synthetic drugs being legally available with a prescription. When these drugs leak into the illicit market, which they’re bound to do. The addicts give them a try, with a bigger and better high, the addict continues to demand them, so the peddler will continue to supply them. And now that these stronger drugs hit the market, people have reverse engineered the drug and manufacture it at home, for illicit sales. So how do we fix this problem? We know from nearly a hundred years of prohibition, regulating supplies and very little to help the situation. The demand remains because the addict is vulnerable, the addict has been taken advantage of by peddlers, by regulators, by insurance companies and by pharmaceutical companies. To fix the problem, we must resolve the root of the problem. The disease of addiction.

Lucy Sletvold: [00:39:15] So the fact that, I mean you said that like insurance companies they don’t consider it a disease. A lot of rehabs do you recognize it as a disease. So I mean, they explain addiction just like your mom goes to the hospital and then she gets diagnosed with cancer and she comes home, you don’t yell at her for having cancer, do you? You know you don’t yell at an addict for being an addict. I mean so many parents yell at their kids, so many friends will yell their friends or be upset with them. But it is, it is a disease. When you really look at it and you break it all down because I think that people, you know, people, there are people who can do cocaine right now and then never hear about it again, never want to pick it up and be like it’s fun, but they don’t really care about it. And then there are people like me, if I did cocaine right now I’d be on it and I’d be going to get more and I’d be stuck on it, until I either died or went to jail or got sober again. Hopefully, if I could you know what I mean? So it’s, there’s a huge difference and people don’t understand and it’s interesting that it went on back then and it’s still going on today and…

Annie Rouse: [00:40:29] Fighting the same fight. Clearly something is not working.

Lucy Sletvold: [00:40:33] No. Right. I had to change something. I mean, I had to really, it wasn’t just that rehab, they didn’t do it for me. Nobody can do it for you. You have to want it. Just like I wanted to go buy more drugs and I made that happen I wanted to get sober and I made that happen. I needed help. Couldn’t do it by myself. Some people do and maybe they make it pretty far, but I needed help. Everybody’s different. So they taught me how to deal with life on life’s terms like you figured it out like they give you the tools and they’re just inner tools that you have with you always and you just you have to find it. You have to find the right tool for the right moment and I can walk into a room and analyze it and know, is this a safe place for me to be? As you know, is the person over there doing something shady that I need to be aware of? Do I need to vacate the premises because some something’s going to happen? Like I need to be safe, so I’m very particular about who I hang out with now and where I go, what I do. I will say that, as far as alcohol and marijuana, like it’s everywhere, just like sugar and bread, everywhere. It’s easier for me because I was not very attracted to either of those things. Yes I did them, but I mean I can take it or leave it. You know obviously I don’t have anything anymore but it’s easier for me having only been super attracted to heroin and cocaine. So it’s not everywhere you look. Whereas like for some of my friends who are alcoholic, solely alcoholics didn’t ever do drugs or care about drugs to drive down the street after a really hard day and to see a liquor store. I mean that’s the hardest thing. I can’t imagine it. So, I feel lucky that just a heroin addict, you know that. You never know. I won’t drink beer because it could be what takes me out, like my mind is I have a sobriety date and I hold that day and I protect that date and if I have to drink beer that day it’s gone and I’m like are going balls to the wall. You know, we might as well, that sobriety date is messed up. So, I don’t do anything I’m not supposed to.

Annie Rouse: [00:42:48] But where does cannabis fit into this puzzle? We know that it is not addictive or dangerous as heroin or Fentanyl or Carfentanil. It is regulated in the exact same drug category. What did the Anslinger in the world know about cannabis when they created these policies? And how did the plant get mixed into this narcotic framework? You’ll find out on the next episode of Anslinger the untold cannabis conspiracy.



Annie Rouse: [00:43:19] Thank you for listening to this week’s episode sponsored by Anavii Market if you like what you hear. Please subscribe to our podcast. Writer of you and tell your friends to tune in. For more information visit Think Hempy Thoughts dot com and follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Think Hempy Thoughts. It’s like think happy thoughts, but hempy. This podcast is written and produced by A. Rouse Production with facilities provided by the Media Collaboratory and audio support by Jake Mannino.


***Episode 3 Teaser***

Annie Rouse: [00:43:50] On the next episode of Anslinger the untold cannabis conspiracy, we discussed the first major discovery of modern day marijuana and the effects it had on a human test subject. We also interview Mary Carneglia, the great grand niece of Harry Anslinger, about her uncle’s reputation and why she is working so hard to reverse the stigma he created.

Mary Carneglia: [00:44:13] Basically, I feel like you know Uncle Harry was a front man. They used him for what the people would believe and I truly believe that he had no idea that cannabis in people’s medicine was the same as the marijuana that the folks were complaining about.

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