Johann Hari, author of Chasing the Scream - The First and Last Days of the Drug War + Austin CBS report in support of medical cannabis for children
Greg Gladden former head of Texas ACLU, Jason Miller of Texas NORML, President Obama on "The Hill", Houston Sheriff Garcia + NBC Houston & CBD for Texas
Howard Wooldridge, former cop and founding member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Ethan Nadelmann of DPA, Houston's Mayor & police chief + Wash Post report on asset forfeiture
Anthony Johnson of International Cannabis Business Conference, Jason Miller of Houston Norml re forthcoming cannabis conference in Houston, Drug Policy Alliance teleconference on national progress on legal cannabis
Jack Cole, founding member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition re police militarization & the "blue line" + Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland & report on danger of synthetic "marijuana"
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Cultural Baggage / May 27, 2012
Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.
“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.
DEAN BECKER: Hello, my friends. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I want to thank a couple of folks that supported us during our recent pledge drive: Dr. Evans, Phillip Sequintas and Suzie Wills. Without them we never would have made our goal. We don’t subject you listeners around the country, North America, in fact, to our pledge drive. We do appreciate your support in any fashion.
Today we are going to have an interview with Mr. J.R. Helton. He’s author of a brand new book, “Drugs”. There’s just a whole lot we want to talk about. Let’s just go ahead and bring him on board. John, are you with us?
JOHN. HELTON: Hey Dean. How are you doing?
DEAN BECKER: Good. John, I just finished the book today. At first I was getting a little leery, “Oh, this is making drugs look bad” and on down the line but I realized that you were giving the good, the bad and the ugly in this book.
JOHN. HELTON: Right. Yeah, I was trying to just, you know, give the truth about it even though it’s a novel. It’s fictionalized somewhat but based on my life. I was trying to counter so much of the drug war propaganda that’s out there. You notice that my book ends a lot different than most drug novels, drug memoirs, and drug movies as well. Most of those fit this sort of “kick it’ or rehab genre where drugs are evil and horrible and the person who wrote the book ruined their lives with these drugs and committed crimes or hurt people and all kinds of stuff and it ends up with them being repentant and begging for forgiveness in the end and things like that.
My life’s just fine. I didn’t do any of those things. I’ve never been to rehab or any of that stuff. Not denigrating people who do that. I’m just saying that’s the majority of books with drugs as the main subject that’s the way they end. The only way to get published is you got to end up apologizing for all your use and screwed up.
DEAN BECKER: Look, this brings to mind, it’s kind of like if you’re going to do a study on drugs that’s going to be paid for by the U.S. government it better have some bad results. It better show drugs are horrible.
JOHN. HELTON: Right.
DEAN BECKER: Let’s talk about this. You, as you say, there’s some hints of your actual life in this book. I’m not going to try to pin you down but the fact of the matter is you kind of go through the standard progression of drug use as you work your way through the book. Tell us a little about that progression, please.
JOHN. HELTON: .Well, yeah, I want to say that I think I’m just being honest about it, too. Frankly, there’s drugs in the book that I don’t do that other people have done. I have a mushrooms chapter but I haven’t taken LSD and don’t plan to. There’s a lot of people that have done a lot more drugs than I have.
I think I’m just being honest about it and I think this is a very drugged-up country of legal and illegal drugs and I’m counting alcohol in that as well.
DEAN BECKER: Well, yeah, there’s a significant portion which revolves around that. Let me share this with you, John. I am a former alcoholic. I’ll just say it that way or maybe you’re always an alcohol but the point I’m trying to get to here is I was busted 13 times with 11 of them for being drunk with drugs in my pocket. And that is a common factor, a common denominator, if you will with problems that most people run into. Your response.
JOHN. HELTON: You mean that alcohol inhibiting your judgment?
DEAN BECKER: Well, that alcohol is usually mixed in with all these other drugs and…
JOHN. HELTON: Well, I think alcohol is a really destructive drug but I’m not going to say that I don’t still drink. I still drink but I just do it in moderation and I function just fine and do well. I don’t drive drunk or anything like that.
Those periods in the book where I talk about heavy alcohol use I think I try to portray how it can kind of mess up your judgment. Also I think it can make people kind of tend to be aggressive and violent. I think it gets combined with a lot of other drugs.
I think, though, if there is a … I don’t believe in the gateway drug theory but I say in the book that if there was one it’s not pot – it would be alcohol. I show some of the most destructive scenes in the book was when I was a young, suburban teenager around alcohol which is just a wright of passage, you know, to get drunk and totally wasted and all kinds of terrible things that would happen.
I know that when I was in …I don’t know if this is in the book or not…but, when I was in high school when we used to get high we’d end up out in the country skinny dipping with our girlfriends and had the munchies and stuff. But, if we were a bunch of guys and we were all drinking and drunk up in the Texas hill country we’d end up getting into fights and all kinds of trouble or driving crazy and doing crazy stuff.
DEAN BECKER: Yeah, and John, if I could interrupt you, my thought being here that many times it is the involvement or just the outright use of alcohol that gets people in trouble. And, like I said, busted 13 times with being drunk with drugs in my pocket and of those 11 times they didn’t bust me for being drunk – they busted me for drugs.
JOHN. HELTON: I’m going to watch the Spurs play tonight here and they’re going to advertise on television a drug. I’m sure quite a bit tonight. There’ll be lots of beer commercials. That’s OK. I’m not saying that I believe in prohibition of that. I’m just saying the hypocrisy is so monumental. I think I say in the book that an eighth grader could figure out the idiocy of the War on Drugs and how illogical and hypocritical it is.
Just nicotine, alone, I mention at the end kills over 400,000 people a year but that’s legal. And, of course, they’re not going to try to prohibit that. Anyway…
DEAN BECKER: We tried that about 90 years ago. It didn’t work out too well.
JOHN. HELTON: It’s just so physically…I talk about that in the book - the difference between physical dependence and addiction. I think the word addiction is often used as a propaganda tool as well and there’s a difference between the two.
DEAN BECKER: Let’s get back to your book here for a minute. Folks, we’re speaking with Mr. J.R. Helton. He’s author of a great, new book, “Drugs.”
It’s got a picture here on the front by Mr. R. Crumb showing this guy, I guess, shivering and shaking himself to death. Look for it on the bookshelves. It tells if not a true story a very real, parallel to real story, of what it’s like to use these drugs. What it feels like in the beginning. How it can escalate into problems. How the difficulty in acquiring more drugs. All of these repercussions of that drug use. Then how the luster is gone. The thrill is gone and, just like most kids that use these drugs, they move on. They give it up or start doing something else. Am I right, John?
JOHN. HELTON: Somewhat though not completely. I do say at the end that drugs are mostly for kids. I say that movies are, too, in some way. I also say that I’m comparing that lots of things are drugs as well. I think anything that provides an outside sensory experience or chemical or visual aura that stimulates or dulls or warps – has some effect on the senses – is a type of drug. Positive or negative. And that I’ve …
but the book ends with Jake Stewart, the main character, on drugs. But he’s doing it in moderation. He’s listening to this sort of hypnotic music and taking the drug MDMA and he’s completely conscious and aware of his actions that day and he’s having a very heightened and conscious experience. Nothing wrong with it.
DEAN BECKER: No, I’m with you there.
JOHN. HELTON: And that’s one of the main take-aways that I do want to say before I forget. The main thing that I want people to know from this book is that you have a right to alter or simply control your own conscious as a human being. That is a basic, fundamental human right. If you don’t have that right then you are not free…at all.
DEAN BECKER: Well, John, the fact of the matter is that within the book it talks about dealing with alcohol and another with the downers or, if you will, the opioids, the uppers, the cocaine – all of these layers in “the drug use” and the fact of the matter is it’s very entertaining and it also, in the early days, kind of tells the story of life before AIDS. This is no “50 Shades of Gray” but …
JOHN. HELTON: God, I didn’t even think of that but you’re right.
DEAN BECKER: But it tells the story of what things were like…I’m sure for young people it’s still just as wild and free and crazy. But, for us older folks, we saw our friends dying of AIDS. We saw people catching HEP C. We cleaned our act up a little bit.
But this tells a story of…you say you’re a protagonist – I don’t know if that’s the word, but Jake Stewart, his wife, his several wives and girlfriends and others along the way…
JOHN. HELTON: Yeah, there’s a lot of raunchy sex in it.
DEAN BECKER: The fact of the matter is it tells a rather, again being a novel, but a rather truthful story about how things were and I commend you for telling it like it was and …
JOHN. HELTON: That’s what I was trying to do. I appreciate that. I try to do that in all my books whether it’s a memoir … Drugs was the focus of this book. I wrote a book called, “Below the Line”. I’ve worked on about 25 movies as a scenic artist. Lonesome Doves …
DEAN BECKER: Stay in that phone. You’re fading on us a bit.
JOHN. HELTON: Oh, OK. I wrote about films. I just went through those experiences. I wrote my book, “Below the Line” about working in the film business. I did the same kind of thing with “Drugs” so it does have…it is a particular focus as far as telling this story. I am particularly focusing on drugs kind of like I was a Burroughs in Junkie was focusing on John, on heroin, you know.
I kind of got the idea…the book came from a couple different things. The delayed thesis lecture I used to give to my students in my lecture in college on the War on Drugs. They were really hungry for it – these 18 and 19-year-olds were just hungry for any truthful information they could get. Somebody that just wasn’t ….you know, the good and the bad about drugs.
DEAN BECKER: and the ugly.
JOHN. HELTON: Yeah. It was one of the few lectures that really held their attention. Then there’s a glossary at the back of my 1977 edition of “Famous Burroughs Junkie” that had a list of all these drugs and it was thing they made them do for slang at that time to help squares, I guess, figure out what he was talking about. That kind of got me thinking about going through drugs. Then I wrote a letter to Robert Crumb about a mushroom experience I had had.
I took mushrooms for the first time when I was like 40-years-old which is much different when you take it at 40 than if you’re 20-years-old at a concert or something. I had a, the first few times, had a very profound experience. Even though the second experience was very negative, at the time, it was a very bad trip. That turned out to be the most beneficial for me, personally.
DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Again, friends, we’re speaking with Mr. J.R. Helton. His new book, “Drugs.” Please, get you a copy. Check it out. It’s got “lessons learned.” It’s got things that can teach you a bit about the drug experience, if you will, that may help you avoid some pitfalls it you’re young and curious. Check it out. There’s good and bad ways to do all of these drugs if you’re going to do them.
Now, you mentioned earlier, later you’re going to be watching a basketball game. The other day i was watching on Fox the Houston Astros were in Los Angeles playing the Dodgers. As the game was opening one of the announcers, Fox Network announcer, says, “Hmmm, here in Los Angeles you can sure smell the warm colitis rising up through the air.”
I found that, again, that they would talk about this. That it has become such a mainstream issue, if you will – cannabis use here in America. And your protagonist, you say he’s using MDMA, he’s also smoking a little weed. Those of us who’ve been through this know which drugs are really beneficial or not. Your response, please.
JOHN. HELTON: Absolutely. I say at the end of the book, and that’s another big point that I’m making, I’m trying to use myself as an example here, Alright? In that of all of these drugs I’ve done throughout my life and the character has done, of all of them cannabis is the least harmful and the most beneficial in the end. I’m going to make that point. It’s not even remotely addictive. You can smoke pot for 10 years straight and then just stop the next day. The only thing different is your short-term memory might improve or something.
I was addicted to cigarettes for years. I smoked a pack a day of Lucky Strikes and that was hell.
DEAN BECKER: Eat you up. I know that.
JOHN. HELTON: Yeah, and that was so difficult to quit that. Then I quit a ten year opiate dependency on hydrocodone after I broke my back. That’s an extremely strong drug they wrote over 80 million prescriptions for last year. If you have insurance it’s pretty easy to get or even if you don’t some money to get on the internet. And they list marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic. It’s just ludicrous.
They list is and it’s not even close to as power or as dangerous…it’s not even dangerous compared to these other ones that are legally, I would say, pushed on us on television and by the medical profession.
DEAN BECKER: I was going to say as soon as we’re done with this the good listeners on the Drug Truth Network are going to get a chance to “Name that drug by its side effects.” We’ve been doing that for 10 years now. You’re right. Some of those drugs they are selling on television – I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.
JOHN. HELTON: Exactly. Have you heard the new one? It’s an anti-depressant to double up on your anti-depressant with. It’s an anti-depressant to take with your anti-depressant.
DEAN BECKER: Except it may depress you more and cause you to kill yourself.
JOHN. HELTON: It may cause you to kill yourself. Also uncontrollable movements of all your limbs and muscles.
DEAN BECKER: And you may go out and have a wild night of gambling and sex and not even know you did it.
JOHN. HELTON: Right. But, whatever you do, don’t smoke weed.
DEAN BECKER: No.
JOHN. HELTON: It’s so ludicrous but, you know, it’s one of the things….the reason I wrote this too was we laugh about it and stuff but there’s a lot of people who are getting hurt and this has been going on for a long time. Nixon started this crap 40 years ago. It needs to stop.
Every year I’d have students writing papers and stuff but it doesn’t really change whether it’s Democrats or Republicans in office – the drug war budget increases.
DEAN BECKER: Yep. Whether they win, whether they lose – they always need more money. That’s the name of the drug war. That’s for sure.
We’re going to have to wrap it up. J.R., is there a website where folks can learn more about your book?
JOHN. HELTON: My website is http://jrhelton.com My publisher is great, progressive publisher up in New York City, up in Manhattan, Seven Stories Press. They publish lots of really good people as well like Howard Zen and Chomsky and all kinds of good people and Kurt Vonnegut. They’re just a real good publisher. I’m real happy to be with that press.
DEAN BECKER: Once again, folks, we’ve been speaking with Mr. J.R. Helton. Go to http://jrhelton.com to learn more about the book. It’s starkly funny, cutely observant and it does capture the tragic absurdity of life – the way we treat people who use drugs and the way they have to act because they are doing drugs. Driven to the fringes to of society and little wonder that B.S. happens out there, huh, J.R.?
JOHN. HELTON: That’s it, exactly.
DEAN BECKER: Alright, J.R., thank you so much and we’ll be talking to you.
JOHN. HELTON: OK. Thank you, Dean.
It’s time to play: "Name That Drug - By It’s Side Effects!"
Headache, low blood pressure, dizziness, fainting, unexpected sleepiness, nausea, excess perspiration, trouble controlling your muscles (dyskinesia), hallucinations, uncontrollable gambling urges, compulsive eating and increased sex drive.
Time’s up! The answer from Boehringer Ingelheim laboratories:
Mirapex! For restless leg syndrome (RLS)
DEAN BECKER: With great pleasure I introduce my friend the Libertarian candidate for Vice President, Judge James P. Gray. How are you, sir?
JAMES GRAY: Dean, I’m just great. I’m excited and, of course, it’s always nice to talk with my friends.
DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. Now you and former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, have the Libertarian candidacy for President and Vice President. There’s much that we need to do to realign our priorities in our country.
JAMES GRAY: Well, yes indeed. Dean, I tell people and I mean it if people are comfortable and happy with what has happened in our country with the “leadership” of Republicans and Democrats over the last 12 years then vote for the Democrat or the Republican. But, if you’re not and I don’t know many people who are – you have only the choice of voting for Governor Gary Johnson for President. I’m on the ticket as well.
We will do you proud. And not only because of what we say but because of what Governor Johnson has done in New Mexico. His record is clear. He left the state with a budget surplus of one billion dollars. He was still standing up for liberty and equal opportunity. He understands all of these issues. I’m flattered that he asked me to be his running mate. We’re running hard. We’re running to win.
Let me just quickly say that our strategy is really straight forward. By the end of September if we are polling at 15% it’ll make a huge difference because then we will be a part of the Presidential debates and I will be in one Vice Presidential debate.
Once people realize that they actually have a viable choice other than the lesser of two evils of Obama and Romney. So it’s exciting and I hope that you and your listeners are excited as well. Now stop that excitement sitting in your chair. Get up and personally spread the word to your friends and your family. We will actually win this election if you take it personally. It’s going to happen.
DEAN BECKER: We hope to have you on air for an extended conversation. We’ll be talking a great deal about the drug war which impacts nearly every aspect of our society.
JAMES GRAY: Well, yes, of course. This is Judge Gray and I don’t speak for Governor Johnson but it’s amazing how close we are coming from different directions on this issue and so many more - on education, health care, the future of our country. It’s really exciting.
We can bring back prosperity. We can bring back equal opportunity and liberty to the United States of America. Our soul is under attack by our very own government. We can’t give up these liberties that have made us great in the first place. We will change that. We’re viable. We’re going to run to win. We’re going to win, I think, if people take this personally.
The website is http://garyjohnson2012.com
DEAN BECKER: Judge Gray will be our guest on the next Cultural Baggage program.
DEAN BECKER: The following comes to us courtesy of Fox Televison.
MALE .ANCHOR: One college student has filed an 11 million dollar lawsuit against police in central Utah.
FEMALE ANCHOR: He claims they forced a catheter in him when he refused to consent to a search for marijuana.
MALE REPORTER: Stephen Cook has filed this lawsuit against a Sanpete County Sheriff and Police in Ephraim. He claims he was only smoking cigarettes with his friends and the police were out of control when they searched him for drugs.
STEPHEN COOK: I don’t think it’s right what they did and I’m pretty sure they’ve done it to other people. You know, it made me feel like an animal.
MALE REPORTER: Stephen Cook says he was smoking cigarettes with his friends when police claimed to smell marijuana and searched the Snow College students. According to this lawsuit Cook claims police brought in a canine and still couldn’t find marijuana. An officer claimed to have found a glass pipe in the trunk but then asked Cook who was a passenger in the car to drive his friend’s car to the police station.
FEMALE: If somebody’s under the influence of marijuana the last thing you want to do is put them in a car and drive. That goes against every statute that the state has. So that’s where it gets a little frustrating. Then it just gets out of control from there.
MALE REPORTER: At the police station Cook claims he was put in a holding cell and officers demanded he take a drug test.
STEPHEN COOK: I asked for an attorney because I didn’t know if this was right what they were doing. And so once I did that they said, “We’re getting a search warrant and so we’re going to have your urine by the end of the night.”
MALE REPORTER: Police got a warrant and took him to the hospital where Cook claims they forced a catheter into him to get the urine sample.
STEPHEN COOK: The nurse told him to hold my shoulders so he held my shoulders and then the nurse undid my pants and wiped me down with iodine and put the tube in me. And then they took me to jail.
MALE REPORTER: Cook says he was arrested for marijuana possession and resisting arrest for refusing to give that urine sample.
FEMALE: This is being used as a punishment to try and get them to comply. Rather than employing a simple blood test they’re forcibly catheterizing people.
LINDSAY JARVIS: Absolutely we deny these allegations.
MALE REPORTER: The lawyer for the police and Sanpete County points out that Cook’s struck a plea deal with county prosecutors to the marijuana charge. It allows for the marijuana charge to be dismissed if he complies with probation.
LINDSAY JARVIS: Whatever happened to him in terms of the catheterization was done pursuant to a warrant – a bodily fluids warrant issued by a judge – so it was under the auspices of the court order.
STEPHEN COOK: I’d like them to be accountable for whatever they did.
FEMALE ANCHOR: So, Ben, have there been lawsuits to this one similar in the past?
MALE REPORTER: Yes, there was a similar lawsuit that was in neighboring Severe county. In that one a woman alleged that she underwent a forced catheterization. That lawsuit was dismissed in favor of the police. The judge in that case ruled that the woman could not prove that the police acted with malice and that their intent, overall, was to bring her to justice.
DOUG McVAY: Eliminating prison rape.
Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act in 2003, requiring the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics to carry out an annual comprehensive review and analysis of the incidence and effects of prison rape using surveys and other statistical studies of current and former inmates.
In May 2012, the Bureau released the results of its first-ever National Former Prisoner Survey in a report titled Sexual Victimization Reported by Former State Prisoners 2008. Completed interviews were collected between January and October 2008 from more than 18,000 former state prisoners who were under active parole supervision. The Bureau notes that, quote: “The NFPS is designed to encourage a fuller reporting of victimization, by surveying only former inmates, who are not subject to the immediate risk of retaliation from perpetrators or a code of silence while in prison. The NFPS may elicit reports of incidents that were unreported in the previous [National Inmate Survey]-1 and NIS-2 surveys of prisoners; however, some reports may be untrue. At the same time, some former inmates may remain silent about sexual victimization experienced while incarcerated, despite efforts to assure victims that their responses will be kept confidential.” End quote.
According to the report, quote: “9.6% of former state prisoners reported one or more incidents of sexual victimization during the most recent period of incarceration in jail, prison, or a postrelease community-treatment facility.” End quote. That represents an estimated 49,000 people out of the roughly 510,800 former state prison inmates under active supervision at mid-year 2008.
The report notes that, quote: “Among former state prisoners, 5.4% (or an estimated 27,300 prisoners nationwide at midyear 2008) reported an incident that involved another inmate, and 5.3% (27,100) reported an incident that involved facility staff. Some inmates (1.1%) reported sexual victimization by both another inmate and facility staff.” End quote.
The BJS also found, quote: “Male inmates with no prior incarceration experience had a higher rate of inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization (6.6%) compared to those with one or more prior incarcerations (3.7%).” End quote.
The full report is available from the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics website.
For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay with Common Sense for Drug Policy.
Working less hours - if we work at all.
The 1 percent has set us up for a fall.
Forced to live without medical care.
Drink bad water and breathe bad air.
They got all the money.
I don’t think it’s funny.
They got all the money.
They took all the all the opportunities.
DEAN BECKER: Alright, that was Guy Swartz and the New Jack Hippies, a local favorite in then mothership of the Drug Truth Network.
I want to thank J.R. Helton. Please check out his book, “Drugs”. There might be some info that you could learn from, share with your kids, your neighbors, somebody. It’s very entertaining as well.
As noted, in that piece, Judge James P. Gray will be our guest on this program next week. He’s the Vice Presidential candidate for the President in the U.S.
And, as always, I remind you, my friends, that because of prohibition – you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.
DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.
This show produced at the Pacifica Studios of KPFT Houston.
Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org
The James A Baker Institute
Sun - Greg Gladden stands in support of ACLU and NORML
Sat - Greg Gladden: drug war "a disaster"
Fri - Greg Gladden re Eric Holder & asset forfeiture
Thu - Greg Gladden, former Dir of ACLU of Texas re Eric Holder positive stance, use of informants
Wed = NBC Houston report on mothers appeal to Michelle Obama to help legalize cannabis for epileptic children
Tue - President Obama seeks a "smarter way" than drug war
Mon - CBS Dallas report on legal cannabis use in Texas