Addiction Specialist Joe Schrank’s Featured Interview with Newsy Discussing Justice Clarence Thomas, Marijuana laws, and The Heavenly Center.
Joe Schrank: Thank you.
Newsy Interviewer: One of the U.S. Supreme court’s most conservative justices took a stand against strict marijuana laws. Clarence Thomas wrote federal laws restricting the use of the drug may no longer serve a use useful purpose. He called the federal government’s approach piecemeal. To take us a step deeper on this tonight, let’s bring in an addiction specialist at the heavenly center in Los Angeles. Joe, justice Clarence Thomas of all people, a conservative’s conservative called the government’s approach a half in and half out regime. You work with people every single day who are trying to overcome addictions, is that significant when they hear probably the most conservative voice on the supreme court say that? 00:01:00
Joe Schrank: It is significant for a bunch of different reasons. One of my theories has always been that drug policy reform is actually an issue for the right because there isn’t bigger or more wasteful government than the drug war for one. For people who align with the Christian ethic of family values, there is nothing Christian about breaking up families because somebody has a drug problem. I am always wondering where is the right on this issue. I am not shocked it’s justice Thomas who made this statement. He’s correct what he’s saying. It’s perfectly legal at the state level, but still illegal at the federal level meaning there are things we cannot do. For example, we can’t give vets medicinal cannabis through the V.A. Because it’s federally illegal.
Newsy Interviewer: You deal with people who have very real addictions. We are understanding more and more marijuana addiction can be a real thing, maybe it’s not quite as common or severe as someone with an addiction to heroin. 00:02:00
Joe Schrank: Right.
Newsy Interviewer: What’s the impact on real people?
Joe Schrank: The impact is massive. The drug war is 50 years old. It’s been $1 trillion. There is no meaningful or measurable change in the amount of elicit drugs on the streets of America and no meaningful measurable change in the rates of addiction. What has it done, other than incarcerate people. Young black men pay a much higher price for the drug war and for bad policy. It’s a matter of what do we think addiction and mental health really is? We say it all the time addiction is a disease. Then we need to treat these people like patients and not criminals. It makes no sense to arrest people.
Newsy Interviewer: We are seeing a move to decriminalization in many states. Decriminalization means you won’t be prosecuted. Legalization means it can be sold over-the-counter. 00:03:04
Joe Schrank: In my view it would work. In my view we need a massive dialogue about intoxication and policy reform to improve this. We are Americans. We believe that it is our birthright to have a gun and to have a drink. You know, we are not going to change the very fabric of America, but we can certainly do better than what we to now. There are 1,800 college kids a year who die in the culture of binge drinking. That has to change. There are a bunch of different things that we could do to make policy better.
Newsy Interviewer: You work with this face to face every day, Clarence Thomas, justice of the supreme court saying things need to change. Let see, Joe Schrank with The Heavenly Center. Thank you so much.
Joe Schrank: Thank you so much.