Film 'Dope is Death' tells story of '70s New York detox centre with an anti-racist approach towards addiction

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Image: Mia Donovan and Eye Steel Films

Dope is Death is a film which tells the story of how political radicals developed the first acupuncture detox clinic in America during the early 1970s. Under the leadership of Dr. Mutulu Shakur, stepfather of the late Tupac Shakur, Lincoln Detox became the first and only politically run drug treatment program ever funded by the government.

The clinic grew out of a militant occupation of the Lincoln Hospital by members of the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords who viewed heroin and methadone as weapons of chemical warfare waged on poor, Black and Puerto Rican communities to pacify resistance.

The clinic's overt rejection of methadone maintenance and its deep political ties with Black and Puerto Rican nationalist groups directly confronted Nixon's freshly launched war on drugs campaign, and Big Pharma. Despite the fact that Lincoln Detox helped thousands of people detox from heroin and methadone, the clinic was shut down in 1978. The radicals were disbanded. Some went back on the streets.

Dr. Shakur continued his work at his new clinic in Harlem called BAAANA (Black Acupuncture Advisory Association of North America), however the lack of government subsidies made the clinic less accessible to those who really needed it and forced them to look for other ways to procure funds.

Face2Face host David Peck talks to Mia Donovan about her new film Dope is Death, community acupuncture, police resistance, drug addiction, protest that leads to practical action, freedom from oppression and health care as a human right.

About Mia Donovan: Mia Donovan is an award-winning filmmaker based in Montreal. She made two documentaries, Inside Lara Roxx and DeProgrammed. She was the recipient of the prestigious Don Haig Award for outstanding achievement as an emerging filmmaker in 2012. Her films have been presented worldwide at film festivals, on TV broadcasts, theatrically and on digital platforms such as Netflix. In 2016 she wrote and directed her first virtual reality experience called DeProgrammed VR, which won the coveted IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling that year. She is currently in development on her first narrative feature film called The Touch of Her Flesh. She recently directed and produced her first music video for Rufus Wainwright's song "Trouble in Paradise."

Image: Mia Donovan and Eye Steel Films.

F2F Music: David Peck and Face2Face. 

For more information about David Peck's podcasting, writing and public speaking please visit his site here. With thanks to Josh Snethlage and Mixed Media Sound.

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