12/13/09 - Leigh Maddox

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Leigh Maddox, former Maryland state police officer and now a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition + Tony Newman of Drug Policy Alliance with Top Ten drug reform stories of 2009

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Transcript

Cultural Baggage December 13, 2009

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”

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.

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Dean Becker: Hello my friends. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I am glad you could be with us. Today we’re going to reach out to one of my band of brothers and sisters in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

I want to have a quote from her bio on the LEAP website. Quote our failed drug policies are nothing more than a killing field. With that I want to welcome a retired captain from the Maryland state police Leigh Maddox. Are you with us Leigh?

Leigh Maddox: I am Dean. Thank you for the warm welcome.

Dean Becker: Well thank you so much. You know you’re bio says it all. Our involvement, our desire, our willingness to become members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is not so we can get high. It’s not so anyone can get high. It’s so that we can stop this horrible failure, this policy of drug prohibition, right?

Leigh Maddox: You have got it just right.

Dean Becker: Now Leigh tell us a bit about your background in law enforcement.

Leigh Maddox: I spent the last part of the past two decades with Maryland state police. I worked my way up the ranks, worked all throughout the state of Maryland. And eventually retired at the rank of captain in 2007. And now I am a practicing lawyer and an educator at the University of Maryland School of law.

Dean Becker: Well Leigh you know we have I am told something over fifteen thousand members and supporters of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Our message is starting to resonate. If you will tell us what brought you to our organization.

Leigh Maddox: Well when I was with the state police back in 2000 a very dear friend of mine was brutally gunned down in the streets of Washington DC. He was an undercover officer, a drug deal gone bad. And he didn’t survive our war.

And when that happened I told myself that we really needed to do something to work on changing the failed drug policies. And through that conclusion I came to be involved in LEAP here just recently within the past year and have found that their mission and vision is really a great intersection with what I like would like to see done as well.

Dean Becker: Yeah and it seems that more and more our expertise is being called upon. One of our good friends Mr. Neil Franklin has been quoted and had articles published in the Washington Post a couple of times. He and several others of our long term members have been used as counterpoints if you will on MSNBC and many of the cable channels. It’s no longer something to laugh about. People are beginning to recognize this need for change right?

Leigh Maddox: Absolutely. And I tell you as we have begun to work through this conversation I have to tell you when I was a barrack commander and later a troop commander overseeing the work of the brave men and women in the state police assigned to the I 95 corridor I had the privilege of watching their diligent efforts enforcing our drug laws.

And I hope and I am sure will agree that as we work through this conversation it’s so important that we remember to honor and support their efforts. Just like we honor and support those efforts of federal troops overseas. Law enforcement officers in this country have been attacked and assaulted and killed in efforts to defend this unpopular war on drugs. And we have got to continue to honor their sacrifices.

Dean Becker: When I first was well not first but when I was beginning to write letters to the editor this was back seven years ago I had sent out a dozen or so with no results. And I took this one situation here in Houston where on a given weekend two cops were shot in the head and two gun you know drug dealers for a a few pounds were also shot in the head by the police and it was dealing with fatherless children. And I wound up having a various extracts from that letter published in five newspapers right here in Texas because it’s a it’s and issue we have just got to address. How many people need to die in the name of drug war, right?

Leigh Maddox: Exactly.

Dean Becker: Leigh let me ask you this, you have since retired from the Maryland state police. What is the work you do now?

Leigh Maddox: I have this really awesome job. I work at the University of Maryland School of law in a community justice clinic and I get to work with practicing student attorneys delivering legal services to the most needy in Baltimore city. It’s incredible and I through that work I really have gotten to see first hand how just how much our failed drug policies have impacted communities particularly in Baltimore city.

Dean Becker: And let’s talk about the impact. I mean Baltimore is one of the if I am correct perhaps it still is one of the worst situations involving violence around the drug trade.

Leigh Maddox: Absolutely. I mean you can if you look at Rio de Janeiro which is just you know famous for being a very violent city if you if you extrapolate the numbers of the population numbers and compare Baltimore crime rates to theirs you are going to find when it comes to drug murders we are right on par and that is so scary.

Dean Becker: Yeah and the thing that most people seem to lose sight of is that this effort this undertaking to you know stop the flow of drugs to remove the cartels to eliminate the gangs to curtail overdose deaths to take away our children’s easy access it’s all been a failure. It’s off track and it in my estimation will never achieve its stated goals. It is through the end of prohibition, right that we will reach those goals.

Leigh Maddox: Yeah we have been doing the same thing over and over again for the past forty years and to keep to continue to do the same thing as Albert Einstein would say and expect the same result is just crazy.

Dean Becker: Well you know here in Houston we’ve had a an ongoing series of failures fiascos if you will dealing with our crime lab with the overcrowding at the jail, lack of medical attention on down the line, all of these failures which result from our focus in the wrong efforts. We are going after the users and the small time dealers and the real kingpins the fat cats are just laughing at this, aren’t they?

Leigh Maddox: Yeah it’s sad because our systems just don’t have the capacity. It’s not that the people working in our systems don’t want to do well. They just don’t have the capacity to keep up with trying to you know punish people for what they elect to put in their body.

Dean Becker: Right now Leigh you have worked with Neil Franklin in the past, did you?

Leigh Maddox: I have yes. We worked together in the planning and research division and actually helped to formulate policies within the Maryland state police.

Dean Becker: And is Maryland changing its focus, the way it goes about quote enforcing the drug war?

Leigh Maddox: If they have I haven’t seen any hard evidence of it as of yet. I am continuing to hope we will soon. It’s been a good year overall for the movement as you know.

Dean Becker: Yes. Well let me ask you this, when you have had the chance to speak to maybe your former associates in law enforcement is is the topic able to be addressed? Is it given any attention whatsoever out you know maybe outside the police station?

Leigh Maddox: It’s hard you know especially here in Maryland. Maryland state police specifically I mean we were attacked by the ACLU for our racial profiling policies and people became very entrenched in their position and that still stands today.

I mean I can sit here and tell you I do not in any way believe that any member of the Maryland state police intentionally ever racially profiled anyone. The numbers however are not good. And it’s hard it’s hard to find a place a safe place where people can you know talk about these things and not get defensive.

Dean Becker: Well and and I look at it like this that you know in a private conversation I mean I have talked to people here I am not going to name names but high elected officials and when your behind closed doors, when there’s no recording going on that the discussion can broaden. The discussion can talk about possibilities and needs for change. And yet when you know the major media puts that microphone or that camera in their face they go back to this staunch retro stance, right?

Leigh Maddox: I think that’s absolutely correct.

Dean Becker: Right, OK. Well we’re speaking with Leigh Maddox. She’s a retired captain from the Maryland state police and she’s also a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

We had Jack Cole on our director just last week talking about this and you know Jack’s been at this longer than either of us insofar as the LEAP stance if you will and he is starting to talk about the fact that you know it is beginning to change. You were talking about that it’s been a good year thus far and that you know the Obama administration has opened their ears and eyes and hearts I think to that need for change. It’s slow going though, isn’t it?

Leigh Maddox: It’s slow going but I think and this is sad to say but I think the violence is going to create a atmosphere that is so crisis packed that the policy makers are going to really very quickly come to the realization that we have got to change this now.

Dean Becker: Right. Yeah it’s the perfect storm the the increasing amounts of violence in Mexico, Afghanistan, down in central and south America and on our city streets revolving around this drug trade are beginning to open a lot of peoples eyes.

And think the fiscal fiasco, the fact that our states and the nation can no longer afford to be so extravagant in all the wishes and hopes that we’re willing to fund. You think that enters in the picture?

Leigh Maddox: Sure, absolutely. I was just this past Saturday I gave a lecture to some graduate students at the university of Maryland school of law excuse me social workers social worker’s school of law… school of social work let me get that right.

Anyway these young women men and women were just very interesting to talk to and then some of the stuff that we were sharing, that I was sharing with them and I asked them I said you know if you had to take a guess where do you think the kidnapping capitol of the world is? And they shout around a bunch of different cities you know the things that you could imagine and when I told them it was Phoenix, Arizona they were just flabbergasted.

Dean Becker: Right.

Leigh Maddox: And you know that all goes back to the Mexican drug cartels and the fact that they are now it’s estimated by the bureau of justice in two hundred and sixty cities here in the United States.

Dean Becker: And and for so many people their first thought is to build a bigger wall to you know put marines every square inch of the border and so forth. But as has been proven in the past when they moved from the Caribbean Florida route to ship these drugs, they’ll find a way because there’s tens of billions of dollars to be made. They are going to find a way, aren’t they?

Leigh Maddox: I think that’s correct until we take the profit out of their business. It’s going to continue to wreak havoc on our communities.

Dean Becker: You know Leigh we were talking about the media starting to get and someone didn’t give me their name, they sent me a copy of The Catholic Agitator: It’s Time to End the Drug War, declaring a cease fire in the drug war. O it was written by Carl Cabbot and it’s very sounds like it was written by one of us here at LEAP to be honest with you. Lot of people lot of reporters and columnists and even broadcasters are starting to embrace part of our ideas at least, right?

Leigh Maddox: It’s very encouraging to see the message getting in to the mainstream, absolutely.

Dean Becker: Alright Leigh let me ask you this when you go out to speak to these classes are they somewhat surprised? Are they you know does it surprise them that you take this stance insofar as the drug war?

Leigh Maddox: Oh initially. Of course I bleed blue but…

Dean Becker: Right.

Leigh Maddox: Police through and through. By the time I am done with them they can understand why I have come to the conclusions that I have come to.

Dean Becker: Right and that’s the point you know I mean we are both former law enforcement, we both are not ashamed or embarrassed but discouraged by the fact that through the decades of this drug war people have begun to lose more and more respect for law enforcement for those officers out there dedicating their lives and and that we want to restore respect for law enforcement by taking a different stance on this drug war, right?

Leigh Maddox: Yeah it’s really hard for me to see how much disrespect there is in the communities for law enforcement because of these failed drug policies. I mean we just really need to get back and focus on what’s important.

I mean you have got a lot of crime that’s not directly related to drugs that the community would really appreciate us being able to address effectively. We’re so overburdened with everything that you can’t and it makes for a bad relationship.

Dean Becker: Leigh let me ask you this we have through the years I think you’re like the sixtieth member speaker for law enforcement that’s been a guest on our show. Have you had a chance to speak or to encourage others to join our forces as supporters of our efforts? Have you had any luck in doing that?

Leigh Maddox: Well I am new to LEAP. I just went to the DPA conference in November so I am just kind of getting my feet underneath me and I am really hoping it’s going to be a good year this year coming up as far as recruitment.

Dean Becker: Well and I would think so it’s been increasing each and every year. I was at least in the first fifty, I may be in the first dozen I, no one was really keeping track at the time. But I met Jack at the DPA conference in New Jersey back about seven years ago and was quick to leap on board if you will.

OK well Leigh I tell you what we’re going to wrap it up here but I want to thank you for being our guest. I want to encourage you to do try to start those conversations with some of your former law enforcement officials. And just encourage them to you know pip squeak a little bit, make a little bit of noise about this if they get the chance.

Leigh Maddox: Absolutley. If we don’t push back nothing’s ever going to change. I really appreciate you having me on the show Dean.

Dean Becker: Well Leigh I wish you the best of luck. We’ll be talking to you in the new year I would imagine and check up and see how things are going. I wish you well with your work and your presentations.

Leigh Maddox: Alright, great. Thank you so much.

Dean Becker: Thank you. Alright we have been speaking with Leigh Maddox. She’s with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Their website leap.cc

We have got a few messages for you and then we’ll be back here in a minute.

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It’s time to play Name that Drug by Its Side Effects!

Ventricular fibrillation, vaso constriction, inhibition of the [ ], increased concentration of the [ ] of cardiac cell, a tropic effect that is caused by digitalis.

Time’s Up!

The answer: MEODMT, piedra, lovestone, Jamaican stone or Chinese rock, from buffo aloverius, skin of the toad. The doctors say the safest and surest way is not to eat it or lick it and sure as hell not to smoke it but simply to sniff it. Otherwise you could wind up dead.

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[song]

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Dean Becker: Alright I do wish you a happy holidays no matter what the occasion no matter what your religion. And I want to say this you know I don’t advocate the use of drugs but I think it’s worth worthy of to note that the past the past three presidents all had their time doing a little hydro Hanukah if you will and look where it got them. Well here’s another message for you.

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Tony Newman: Hello my name is Tony Newman. I am the director of media relations at the Drug Policy Alliance. I have worked at the Drug Policy Alliance for ten years and 2009 has been the most amazing year for drug policy reform I have ever seen. There’s been more movement in 2009 than the nine years before that. I am going to review the top ten big stories that made 2009 such an incredible year.

Number One: Back in February three former Latin American presidents former presidents of Colombia, Mexico and brazil all come out and say the drug war is a failure. We need to decriminalize marijuana and we need to break the taboo on and have an open debate about alternatives to prohibition.

Number Two: The bong hit hear around the world. Michael Phelps back in February coming off his record number of gold medals, he there was a photo of him smoking a bong that was shown in papers around the world. And it quickly dismissed the whole stereotype of a couch potato stoner.

Kellogg’s misread the public opinion and fired him. There was a whole campaign slamming Kellogg’s for doing this. Their stock and marketing favorability dropped rapidly.

Number Three: Obama justice department says no more raids on medical marijuana patients in states that have laws. Holder mentioned this back in March. In October it became official policy. Medical marijuana patients and their care givers around the country breathed a sigh of relief. Major victory in March.

We move to April.

Number Four: Drop the rock. New York’s Jack Coney and Rockefeller drug laws were finally reformed. after thirty-five years of fighting this governor Patterson signed in to law reform of the Rockefeller drug laws which gave which now gives treatment instead of incarceration for many low level offenders. It gives judges the discretion to make the decision on this. Major victory getting rid of the Rockefeller drug laws.

Number Five: And in May, Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar calls for debate on legalizing marijuana. California’s the center of the debate about tax and regulating marijuana. Governor Schwarzeneggar made international news when he said that we should be debating this. Right now there’s legislation introduced by Tom Amiano of San Francisco about taxing and regulating marijuana. And activists out of Oakland are going to be putting it on the 2010 ballot.

Story Number Six: The drug czar calls for an end to the drug war. Gary Fields of the Wall Street Journal did a major story where the drug czar Gil Kerlikowski said we need to stop calling this a war on drugs. It’s a war on people and families. We need to have move to a public health approach on this issue. That story made news around the world as well.

Number Seven: Both Mexico and Argentina move to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana and other drugs. Both first in Mexico all drugs heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, small amounts are now decriminalized. Argentina the next week in August also had a major Supreme Court ruling where so that people who got busted with low amounts of marijuana could not go to jail, it was inhumane. So major stuff happening out of Latin America.

Number Eight: The results are in. Portugal’s decriminalization law of 2001 is reducing transmission of diseases, cutting overdose deaths and incarceration while not increasing drug use. Again this happened in 2001; they decriminalized small amounts of drugs. They didn’t make a big deal out of it. They let the results come in and are now speaking for themselves. This has taken it away from theory, seeing what happens in the real world when we decriminalize drugs.

Story Number Nine: In September, coming out of the closet, stiletto stoners explain why they like marijuana. First on the Today Show they did a major piece about young women, professionals who enjoy smoking marijuana, who have a good careers, good social lives et cetera. People starting to come out of the closet. The Today Show piece was inspired by a Marie Claire magazine profile on the same topic.

Story Number Ten: The marijuana legalization debate hits the mainstream. We had on the cover of fortune magazine was Mary Louise Parker the star of Weeds with the lead story saying how marijuana became legal. Medical marijuana is giving activists a chance to show how a legitimized pot business can work. Is the end of prohibition among us?

In addition to the Fortune magazine piece there’s been major stories in the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, CNN, CBS, The Economist all saying is it time to tax and regulate marijuana, talking about polls the Gallup poll that shows that forty-four percent of Americans now favor taxing and regulating marijuana with the number more than fifty percent in western states.

Those were tens stories that were all talked about in a piece I wrote for Alternet last week. In the last week the piece is already dated. Now we see things happening out of Washington DC where they are looking at lifting the federal ban on syringes. This will be now allow states to spend their money on needle exchange programs. This is a battle we have been fighting for decades.

And there’s also talk this [ ] going through and voted on this weekend would allow Washington DC respect the will of the voters that in 1998 passed a medical marijuana law. So these top ten things continue to build even in the weeks since I wrote the piece. 2009 has been an amazing year. Please get involved. If the people lead, the leaders will follow. My name is Tony Newman, director of media relations at the Drug Policy Alliance. Thank you very much.

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[song]

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Lift up your glass and toast to everlasting wars
Bow down before the generals and the US drug czar
Don’t make a fight they know what’s right
Pay history no mind
O Tidings of bombs and kicked in doors.

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[the word fear sung as fa la la la la]
Never forget fear.
And hatred.
Or lies.
Or deception.
Merry Christmas.

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Dean Becker: Alright my friends I hope you enjoyed this edition of Cultural Baggage. I thank Leigh Maddox and the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Their website, leap.cc. Be sure to tune in to this week’s Century of Lies show which follows next on many of the Drug Truth Network stations. Our guest will be Paul Wright editor of Prison Legal News.

And as you know you guys know it’s really up to you. Me and Paul and Leigh we can do everything we can to expose the harms of this drug war and to try to encourage the law enforcement to do what’s right. But it’s really going to be up to you to be courageous enough, brave enough have the have the having met the challenge and doing your part to bring this drug war to an end. And as always, I remind you that because of prohibition, you don’t know what is in that bag. Please be careful.

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All of us at the Drug Truth Network wish you a merry Christmas and happy holidays all way round.

So tradition in my family is you know stockings first right. So we go by the fireplace and chock full of stuff, right? Candy canes sticking out, there’s like a Rubik’s cube in there, like on a key chain, you know I don’t know.

But I am digging in there and then at the very bottom. At the bottom of the foot there was a baggie, right. it was a plastic sandwich bag with reindeer on it you know. I got weed in my stocking man, I got weed in my stocking. I must have been good. Yeah, I was good last year.

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This Drug Truth Network program produced at Pacifica radio KPFT Houston.

Dean Becker Wants YOU to Call the Drug Czar