04/11/10 - Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn

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Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn, Dir of Clergy Against Prohibition + DEA bust of 16 year old, Chris Hermes of Americans for Safe Access

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Transcript

Cultural Baggage April 11, 2010

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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Hello, my friends. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. It’s a privilege to be here talking with you. Today, we’re going to discuss the Drug War with Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn. He heads up a new organization, Clergy Against Prohibition. First I want to provide you with this short little message that kind of frames the discussion.
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(to the tune of: Bringing in the Sheaves)

Suffer and learn. Suffer and learn
The only way to be OK
Suffer and learn
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Alright and the fact is, that’s not what I’m about. I don’t think that’s what Rabbi Kahn is about. But it’s what the “moral majority” is all about, to make all of these drug users suffer, in the hope that they will learn. Rabbi Kahn, are you with us sir?

Rabbi Kahn: I’m with you. I’m not with you on that. But I’m with you tonight, Dean. Good to talk to you.

Dean Becker: {chuckling} Well, I try to make these things a little ‘over the edge’ and I admit, that was a tad over the edge. But it is partly true, in that Law Enforcement is deemed the more appropriate solution to ending our drug problems. Your response to that?

Rabbi Kahn: Well, it’s been deemed by some people. But it’s obvious to so many of us, that it’s the totally inappropriate solution to the drug problem in, that it doesn’t belong to law enforcement at all.

Dean Becker: I agree with you, sir. You were recently the head of the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative. But you have moved on now and you’ve started up a new organization. Why don’t you tell us about Clergy Against Prohibition?

Rabbi Kahn: Clergy Against Prohibition brings together members of the clergy from Christian, Jewish, Muslim. All religious backgrounds in the United States, united to defeat this terrible war on drugs. To call it immoral. To call it the sin that it is and to help end prohibition. To help guide religious Americans, people of faith, into seeing and understanding that this is a war on America and that it is immoral. That actually scripture, the Bible, the book that’s held dear by most Americans, calls this war immoral and proves that it’s the wrong policy.

Dean Becker: Yes, sir. I was going to ask you, what is the Bible verse that frames this drug war as being valid, as being moral? There just isn’t one, is there?

Rabbi Kahn: No, there’s noting in the Bible to… The Bible’s anti-war to begin with. So there’s nothing in the Bible that calls upon any people to make war upon it’s own citizens. So the whole concept that we’re not talking about a war on terrorism, a war on some foreign entity that’s making war on us. But we’re making war on American citizens. Incarcerating them, taking away their rights. So there’s nothing in the Bible to justify that.

But there’s so much in the Bible to talk about how we need to change, how things need to be different. You know the Prophet Micah lived a long, long time ago in ancient Israel. In the early eighth and late seventh century B.C., in a turbulent time. In trying to figure out how to understand how to find one’s way in the world. He asked, “What is it O man, that God expects of you?” and answered, “To do justly. To love mercy. To walk humbly with God.” {Micah 6:8}

I think when we take that threefold approach, we really see the war on drugs start to crumble. To do justly, there’s nothing having to do with justice, at least the biblical concept that we confide, in the war on drugs.

{Technical difficulties}

The Biblical concept of justice isn’t about retribution. It isn’t about punishing people, about throwing people in jail. The Book of Deuteronomy talks about appointing judges and police officers, to judge the people fairly. That we shouldn’t respect the rich over the poor, or take bribes, or justice we must always presume.

Well how can we call what we’re doing with the war on drugs, anything having to do with justice? It’s about crime and punishment. But that’s not justice. The war on drugs is about… Well, it’s about racism. It’s about punishing certain people. It’s about hurting families. We can’t call it justice. We can’t call it mercy, either. Mercy is treating each other with kindness, with compassion.

It’s interesting. I think that so many parts of society have identified addiction today, as a disease and yet the Criminal Justice System seems to insist that it’s a crime that needs to be punished. There aren’t any diseases today that we hunt down the victims and throw them in prison. I mean, there was a time when lepers were persecuted and people with contagious diseases both progressed as a society. Way beyond that, when it comes to any other kind of disease.

Imagine rounding up people with diabetes and throwing them in prison. But when it comes to addiction, we somehow seem to think that it’s perfectly appropriate to use the Criminal Justice System. I don’t understand how any religious person can think that this has anything to do with justice or mercy.

Then when it comes to walking humbly with God, those for prohibition have a really big problem. Because when it comes to Cannabis, it’s a plant and in the first chapter of the Bible, plants are created by God and God calls them ’good’ and God gives them to humanity.

Dean Becker: Yes.

Rabbi Kahn: Timothy was sent by St. Paul to Ephesus, where there was a small Jewish and Christian community in the first century. (He) told him to help build this community and gave him instructions about what was important. In I Timothy 4:4, is really important. Paul said to Timothy, “Everything created by God is good. It should not be rejected, if it’s received in thanksgiving.”

I think that’s something that’s hard for anybody to get over. ‘That everything created by God is good.’ Now we might not always use what God creates, in the right way and the best way. For goodness. For thanksgiving. For good. But then we need to help ourselves learn how to use God’s gifts properly, sometimes.

But to ban them? To ban anything God created? To imprison people who possess it? There’s nothing Biblical about that. The people in the Bible who imprison people, are the Egyptians. They imprisoned Joseph. The Romans, they imprisoned Paul. They imprisoned Jesus. Imprisonment. It’s not a biblical concept. The punishment fitting the crime, is the biblical concept.

Dean Becker: Yes, sir. As I understand it II Samuel, I believe it was, had a bit of scripture dealing with the fact that God created the leviathans of the deep and the herbs of the field and all they myriad wonders of this Earth, and that Gods creation was to be respected. Correct, sir?

Rabbi Kahn: Absolutely, absolutely.

Dean Becker: As a Rabbi, you served in the Temple some twenty-seven years? Is that correct, sir?

Rabbi Kahn: That’s correct. I was a congregational Rabbi for twenty-seven years and served four congregations.

Dean Becker: As I understand it sir, growing numbers of clergy are beginning to understand this. You were part of a video that was produced by Mike Gray. The Hollywood screenwriter, producer guy and it wasn’t just the Jewish faith. It was Episcopalians and other faiths that have begun to see the need. To point out this failure. Correct?

Rabbi Kahn: Absolutely. A lot of American denominations have gone on record as opposed to the war on drugs, in some form or another. But as a congregational Rabbi for nearly three decades, I saw what most Pastors; what most Priests see all the time. That’s the devastation that the war on drugs has taken on the American family.

How so many people are suffering. How so many family have been literally destroyed. More so by the war on drugs, than any problem that anybody really has with drugs themselves. I’ve seen so many people come back and get into a good recovery program from addiction. But I’ve never really seen anybody recover from incarceration.

The way that we treat people, in this war on drugs, is something that clergy see all the time. We’ve also seen so many people who suffer. Not in the way that religion should encourage people to suffer, that you were talking about in the beginning of the program. But who really suffer and haven’t had access to Cannabis that can really help them in their suffering. That really brings them relief from so many afflictions.

Thank goodness that there are states now, that have legalized Medical Marijuana and people are getting safe access. But still, the overwhelming majority of Americans who need access to Cannabis as medicine still, have to sometimes almost take their lives in their hands in order to get it.

Dean Becker: I want to alert folks that I have recorded several interviews with people in many states across the country, who are working towards Medical Marijuana. We even have one from Texas. We got a doctor, a state representative, up in Idaho. Kris Hermes of Americans for Safe Access talking about, forcing the Drug Czar to pass the amendment to allow for Medical Marijuana. In many ways people across this country are at least beginning to address that. They have developed the courage to confront this conundrum. Right, sir?

Rabbi Kahn: Absolutely. It’s exciting to see people with the courage to fight it now and to see all the great successes. Unfortunately the diseases that Medical Marijuana really address are equal opportunity diseases. Rich people get them. Poor people get them. People of all races and ethnic backgrounds and so we’re all getting to see people get real relief from Cannabis. When they’re able to get access to it. So it’s not just one segment of America. That’s what clergy see. Clergy serve a broad section of Americans and it’s not just one community that has been so terribly affected by the war on drugs. It’s all of us.

Dean Becker: I want to go back to a thought you were presenting earlier. The folks talking about marijuana. The prohibitionists say that, ’It’s a threat.’ ‘It’s addicting.‘ ‘It leads to other drugs’ and so forth… and they fail to read the recent medical publications. The studies that have been conducted. All the information that’s flowing that indicates that what they’re saying, is a lie. How do you suggest people approach this situation? How do they “educate their legislators” and those public officials?

Rabbi Kahn: I think it is a huge issue of education right across the board. It’s interesting because we see studies that show that most places… two out of three, three out of four, five out of six people think that for instance, with Medical Marijuana, that patients should have safe access. On the other hand, we’ve all been under an assault of one kind or another. From a war on drugs that has fed us so much propaganda, that it’s hard sometimes for people to really break out of the box and see clearly what’s going on.

Even if everything that we know are ‘lies’ were true, we could still say that the war on drugs is a total failure. Because it hasn’t accomplished anything that they set out to accomplish. All it’s done, is make everything worse and of course we know that the things they say aren’t true. That’s why education is so important.

What we at Clergy Against Prohibition are trying to do, is to speak to members of the clergy and get them to get out and speak. To speak to their congregations. To speak to Clergy Associations. To speak to service groups. So that people all over the country to see that Clergy understand what the issues are and realize that prohibition is a disaster and there’s a far better way for us to approach America’s drug problems.

When we look at other drugs in America, we see that obviously the prohibition of alcohol was a total disaster. We had to amend the Constitution to do it to begin with. I don’t know why it’s so easy to prohibit other drugs when the Constitution had to be amended to do it and we had to amend the Constitution to take it out. We know that prohibiting tobacco doesn’t work.

It’s interesting. Because I think that tobacco is one of our great success stories. Because we brought it out to the open. We educate people. One of the differences between what we learn about the bad things about tobacco and what we learn about the bad things about other drugs is that, what they tell us about tobacco is true. We know people who smoke too many cigarettes and have suffered the consequences and yet, the things that they generally tell us for instance about Cannabis, are not true.

So it’s a matter of getting the message out and that’s why we see as so important. Because there’s nothing in the Bible to suggest that the war on drugs is a good thing and yet people are surprised when Clergy say, “The war on drugs needs to end.” For some reason people think we’d be on the other side of the issue. That we want people to suffer. But that’s not true.

The Clergy of America are about compassion, about mercy. About real justice and about walking humbly with God. That also means admitting what God created is for good and we need to find the best ways to make use of God’s creation.

Dean Becker: Alright, my friends. Once again, we’re speaking with Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn. He heads up Clergy Against Prohibition. Earlier Rabbi, you were talking about the Drug Czar and the many public officials are now saying, ’Treatment is the answer.’ ‘We don’t need to do so much jailing.’ But the fact is, they’re still arresting 1.85 million people a year and then sending them to treatment.

Here in Houston they have fired I think two hundred and fifty teachers, just here recently. Across the nation, ten of thousands of teachers are getting laid off. Libraries are closing. So many cutbacks to social services, if you will. They’re even depleting the dollars for Children’s Protective Service, here and they continue arresting people at the same rate. Because they’ve just done it for years. I like to use the phrase, ’The drug war’s been handed down like the Arc of the Covenant’. But the truth be told, there’s nothing in that box. Your thoughts, sir?

Rabbi Kahn: Well I think there was something in the box with the Arc and the Covenant. But I think you’re right. I think that we’ve been fed a bunch of lies for over seventy years and the lies get compounded and compounded. So that we get to the point where we’re thinking government officials are so bamboozled by the whole myth of the war on drugs, that it’s almost as if they just watched Refer Madness and bought into it.

When the President of the United States is told that the number one question on the internet has to do with the legalization of marijuana, he laughs and goes to question number two. That’s not the way that this should be working.

This is a very, very serious issue and the issue is not so much addiction, it’s incarceration. It’s the fact that we, who want to rightly think of ourselves as the most compassionate; most merciful; best nation in the world, incarcerates more people per capita, than any other nation. Have a huge prison system, that once people enter, even though usually they get a chance to get out, their lives have been destroyed. The lives of their families have been destroyed.

It’s a terrible, terrible system that we’re feeding and it has to change. That’s why I think that clergy are excited about taking a leading role in making this change. Because that’s one of the important things that we’ve always done in America. Point out social injustice and work toward change.

Dean Becker: Exactly right, my friend. We’re speaking with Rabbi Jeffrey Kohn. Rabbi, we’ve got just about a minute or two left here and I want to turn it over to you, to perhaps recruit other clergy out there.
To interest them in joining in this solution to a very huge problem.

Rabbi Kahn: Absolutely. Thank you. Clergy Against Prohibition is building a speakers bureau. We want to get Clergy, who agree with us, out speaking in their communities and in neighboring communities all over the country. If you are interested or you speak to your Pastor between now and the next time you go to church or in church next Sunday and he or she is interested in hearing more about it, please have them email me at rabbikahn@gmail.com.

Dean Becker: Alright. Rabbi, thank you so much. We will stay in touch with you. Because you’re probably aware, I am a former cop. A spokesman for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and we would like to maybe combine forces once in a while. To speak to, if we can, for larger audiences. To show the two sides of that equation. Good Idea?

Rabbi Kahn: Absolutely and if you go to LEAP’s website, we’re there with Cops and Clergy Against Prohibition. {leap.cc}

Dean Becker: Alright. Rabbi Kahn, I want to thank you for being with us and you keep up the good work, my friend. We will be in touch.

Rabbi Kahn: Thank you. Thanks so much, Dean. Thanks so much, to your audience.

Dean Becker: You bet.
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It’s time to play: "Name That Drug - By It’s Side Effects!"

Dry mouth, constipation, rash, increased heart rate, blurred vision, glaucoma, urinary retention, chest pain, vomiting, arthritis, myalgia, epistaxis, pharyngitis, rhinitis, sinusitis and respiratory infections.

(((gong)))

Time’s up! The answer from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals:

Spiriva. To breathe easier.
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{gunshot}

That is the sound of the American society, economy, the people, shooting themselves in the foot.

{gunshot}

Continuously. {gunshot}

Twenty-four hours per day. {gunshot}

Seven days per week. {gunshot}

For eternity. {gunshot}

In order to wage the war on drugs. {gunshot} Ahhhhh.

Please visit drugtruth.net
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Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access. The countries largest Medical Marijuana Advocacy Organization.

Dean Becker: Kris, I’m on a lot of email lists and I see just continual news about progress, portended progress and various states across this country in regards to Medical Marijuana and all of these are at the state level. But we have a Federal problem we need to deal with and you’ve been looking at the situation with Senator Leahy. Tell folks how they can get involved in bringing focus to bare on that issue.

Mr. Kris Hermes: Senator Leahy is the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Oversees the nomination of such officials as, DEA administrative. The person who President Obama has not nominated for that position is Michele Leonhart. Who has been the Acting DEA administrator ever since the last days of the Bush Administration. Before that, she was the deputy administrator under Karen Tandy. Who for many years served as the head of the DEA, under Bush.

Both of them were responsible for literally hundreds of raids on California dispensaries, during the time that Bush was in office. So Michele Leonhart doesn’t engender a lot of trust with the Medical Marijuana movement, at this point and we are hoping to encourage or urge Senator Leahy to ask pointed questions of Leonhart. To let her know that she’s being watched. That the hundreds of thousands of patients and advocates across the country, are paying attention to her actions.

She has the unique opportunity to make a decision on a rescheduling petition that’s before her. Before the DEA, right now. It’s been since 2002 since the petition was filed. So it’s been eight years and it’s past time for a decision to be made on this issue. Now if the DEA administrator reschedules marijuana, the Federal Government is acknowledging that marijuana is not the dangerous drug subject to abuse, that they currently considerate to be and it allows doctors to prescribe the medication. Instead of having it be classified so that doctors can’t use it.

You can’t research easily with it. There are many roadblocks to understanding fully, this medicine. So we would also urge Leonhart to address the rescheduling issue and grant the petition. Grant the rescheduling permission to move marijuana from Schedule I to either a lower Schedule or completely off of the Controlled Substances Act schedule list.

Individual patients and advocates and activists can get involved. They can go to our website and send off an email message to Senator Leahy. Expressing your thoughts on the matter and urge him to ask questions during conformation hearings, which will be coming up in May.

Dean Becker: Americans for Safe Access is involved originally in California. But you guys are providing support services, if you will, for the various Medical Marijuana initiatives across the country. Correct?

Mr. Kris Hermes: We support the effort to pass more laws, in the states that are considering their own Medical Marijuana laws. However we see a need by the Federal Government, to establish a comprehensive policy that can ensure protection for patients. No matter what state they live in. It also matters that the Federal Government recognizes the medical efficacy of marijuana and stop anti-scientific position, that marijuana has no medical value.

Dean Becker: OK. Kris, if folks want to learn more, please point them to your website.

Mr. Kris Hermes: www.americansforsafeaccess.org
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The following comes to us from a Press Conference in Washington D.C. Where a DEA agent is announcing the ’bust’ of his own son. For marijuana.
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I’m proud today to announce the success of a DEA drug operation, which has resulted in the seizure of over one eighth of an ounce of marijuana and three pieces of drug paraphernalia. DEA agents seized the drugs from the bedroom of one Matt Lovejoy. A sixteen year old resident of Arlington, Virginia, at 11:44 AM this morning. In a joint operation with state and local law enforcement and Matt’s mom. The drugs confiscated in today’s operation, which have an estimated street value of over forty-five dollars, are now safely off the streets and out of Matt’s hands.

The suspect first appeared on the DEA’s radar last week. After staying over at his friend Leon’s house all night, without once calling home to say where he was. Based on that evidence, this morning a team of twelve DEA agents broke down the door to Matt’s bedroom with a battering ram and stormed the premises.

A search of the scene by three K-9 units resulted in the success discovery of the drugs, which were concealed in a wooden container that the suspects mother bought for him at Carlsbad Caverns last summer. In addition, agents found a number of other contraband items. Including nunchucks, his mothers Victoria Secret catalog and a ticket stub to a concert that Matt had been expressly forbidden to attend. We also recovered thirteen pills from the site that we initially believed to be tablets of ecstasy, but which turned out to be little candies. We apologize for overreacting about that. That was our fault. We didn’t need to mess up Matt’s poster.

When the lead officer confronted Matt, he was uncooperative, denying any drug use. The officer told him not to dig himself into a deeper hole. The suspect than cursed the agent, calling him a liar, asshole and no where near as cool as Ben’s dad. We have since offered Matt a plea bargain, if he will give up his supplier. Which the DEA suspects to be his cousin, Franklin.

Matt is waiting to hear on a three year sentence in a juvenile detention center, which hopefully will teach him a lesson. Although, I don’t know. It seems pretty much impossible to get through to him these days. I will now open the floor to any questions there may be.
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Yes, I must admit that story comes to us…

Alright. That story came to us courtesy of, *The Onion. Wasn’t really true. But, yeah it is. Kind of true. It happens everyday. All across America in some similar fashion.

You guys are the answer. You know that. I remind you once again, that because of prohibition, you don’t know what’s in that bag. So please, be careful.

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 on an abyss.

*The Onion - an American news satire organization

Submitted by: C. Assenberg of www.marijuanafactorfiction.org