Clay Conrad a Houston attorney discusses drug policy at national, state and local levels, Jodie Emery of Cannabis Culture on Canadian cannabis policy + Phil Smith of Stop the Drug War & Alternet re US cannabis laws
Seattle Sheriff John Urquhart eviscerates drug war logic + Dr. Robert Melameade on forward/backward people
Ethan Nadelmann Exec Dir, Asha Bandele Sr Dir, Lynne Lyman CA State Dir, Tamar Todd Dir Legal Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance Conf on new cannabis laws
Congressman Earl Blumenauer joins Mason Tvert & Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project in media teleconference - whats next at federal and state levels
James Gierach, retired Chicago prosecutor, LEAP board member + Piper Kerman, author Orange is the New Black, Deborah Small, Johns Hopkins Public Health Fellow & Drug Policy Alliance’s Asha Bandele
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Houston DA Pat Lykos + Canadian Senator Larry Campbell at Baker Institute & Terry Nelson of LEAP + drug war warning about Tide detergent
Century of Lies / March 18, 2012
DEAN BECKER: The failure of Drug War is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more. Now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.
DEAN BECKER: Thank you for being with us on this edition of Century of Lies. Here in just a little bit we are going to hear from Senator Larry Campbell from Canada. He’s a former Police Chief, mayor and coroner there in Canada.
First I want to share a little bit of Harris County, Houston’s District Attorney thoughts. This is Pat Lykos. She’s District Attorney of Houston, America’s fourth largest city. She’s speaking at Rice University, James A. Baker, III Institute for Public Policy seminar on “Is the War On Drugs a Failure?”
PAT LYKOS: I made a decision, years ago, never to learn the metric system. I think it’s un-American. I don’t care how many kilometers an hour your car goes, alright?!
But the drug trade has compelled me to learn a little bit. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a gram. OK?
We were prosecuting people for state jail felonies for trace cases. Sometimes they had a little flake extruding from their nose… a little flake here…maybe a little residue in a crack pipe…so we began research and we discovered the minimum amount that can be tested twice (due process – state and defense, right?!) it’s 1/100ths of this.
We had thousands of those cases - clogging up our dockets - thousands of people in jail, overcrowding the jail.
Then we did further research. Bexar County, San Antonio – their minimum threshold is 1/100th of a gram. Travis County, Austin (I know they’re weird) but 1/100th of a gram. Tarrant County is double that – 2/100ths of a gram. So then we put together this policy.
We met with the command staff of the Houston police department. We met with the Sheriff’s office. We met with our Harris County Criminal Justice Counsel and laid It all out. There were no objections.
The only thing that HPD asked is that we do a study in six months to see the effect. I want you all to understand that when someone is arrested for a trace case that officer is out of service 2 to 3 hours. They neighborhood is unprotected for 2 to 3 hours - and with your overcrowded jails and your overcrowded docket.
So I told the law enforcement officers, “I want you to arrest the drug dealer and the person who supplied the drug dealer and the person who supplied that and the bonk cash couriers and so forth. I want you to work your way all the way up there and cut the head off the snake, OK?! Because these are transnational criminal organizations that are involved.
Now, I know ya’ll think I’m all warm and fuzzy. But I want you to stop and think about the effect, especially young people, to have a record for a state jail felony. They’ll be unemployable, unable to get certain licenses and so forth.
In addition to that, if you talk about first offense burglary of a motor vehicle is a misdemeanor and a trace is a state jail felony.
So officers are getting time and a half to fight the drug war - and this is their drug war arrest and time and a half to go to court. So the union bosses are not happy with me.
Now, I reject the premise that it’s a one hundred year war on drugs and that it’s a failure. I might remind you of history that the Brits when they had the one hundred war with France were victorious. Time and time again France finally prevailed and that’s because they developed a strategy.
We’re prosecuting the War on Drugs as we did the Viet Nam war. I would respectfully submit to you that we take a look at what this menace is, OK?!
So with respect to the societal cost – the disease factor and other health factors involved, productivity losses for people who are stoned, impaired drivers, other accidents, people unemployable, the changes in the brain that are irreversible (that you will never, ever be able to have pleasure because you’ve destroyed that portion of the brain).
They talk about legalization and it was mentioned earlier pharmaceutical diversion – we have something called the Houston Cocktail and that is Vicodin and Xanax and Soma – all legal drugs. And the diversion of those drugs is killing Americans, killing Texans. We’re poisoning the whole United States because we are a hub in the transshipment for that.
We have more deaths now from drug overdoses – both legal and illegal – than we have resulting from motor vehicle accidents.
One thing that bothers me is the billionaires who are pushing legalization of certain drugs are the same ones who are engaged in arbitrage and destroying the finances of several countries where they’re unable to do that now so they’re switching.
But if you want to legalize drugs – drug dealers are merchants of death. It is the demand-side. Social controls are the strongest controls. Law are the weakest sanctions, OK?
Example: when I was young, no woman wore white shoes before Easter or after Labor Day. And I think that’s probably still the rule. OK, there’s no law to that effect.
The way I was reared, and I hope Timothy Leary and others are burning in the hottest part of Hell, because what they did to this country to make illicit drugs – cocaine, crystal meth and everything – socially acceptable has been so destructive to our culture. Alright?!
So how do we impose… not impose…inculcate social controls? Not everybody can have a mother and daddy like I had, you know?! Can you imagine being arrested as a kid? I would have told them, “Give me a life sentence just don’t let my daddy get his hands on me, alright?!”
But more importantly my mother, “Don’t shame the family. Don’t poison your body.”
The destructive effects on society with what it is that we do. And you know we’ve got these analog drugs coming too. They’re coming in primarily from China and from India. We have begged the Center for Disease Control, the FDA all the alphabet soups – you know they ban toys from coming in and yet they’re letting these bath salts come in and they mimic cocaine and other drugs like that and people are dying over it.
I don’t want to prosecute some kid for possessing incense that really is an analog drug or the worker in the convenience store. It should never, ever have entered this country.
That’s what I mean about the strategy. Every one of these transnational criminal organizations has a business plan and what we need to do is to identify what their logistics are. We need to determine how they funnel their bulk cash and so forth.
They’re involved in human trafficking. They’re involved in extortion, in kidnappings and so forth. They’re not going to stop. Narco-terrorism is distabilizing many countries across the world so what we need to do is look at their business processes and their orientated methodology.
I am chair of HIDA which is our regional High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and we’re working with all of the federal, state and local agencies, getting all the intel together so there’s not silos. We’re going to go after the big guys, OK? We’re going to cut the head off the snake.
DEAN BECKER: Alright, in just a moment more from the Baker Institute with Canada Senator Larry Campbell.
DEAN BECKER: From the Houston Chronicle, “Often-stolen Tide detergent may be new drug currency”
Thieves are targeting bottles of Tide liquid laundry detergent like crazy and police nationwide are puzzled over why.
Theft of Tide detergent has become so rampant that authorities from New York to Oregon are keeping tabs on the soap spree, and some cities are setting up special task forces to stop it. And retailers like CVS are taking special security precautions to lock down the liquid.
… Tide has become a form of currency on the streets. The retail price is steadily high - roughly $10 to $20 a bottle - and it’s a staple in households across socioeconomic classes.
Tide can go for $5 to $10 a bottle on the black market, authorities say. Enterprising laundry soap peddlers even resell bottles to stores.
Police think it’s connected to the drug trade, The Daily reports, with people buying drugs with bottles of Tide.
DEAN BECKER: Here again is Bill Martin, Professor at Rice University, introducing Senator Larry Campbell.
BILL MARTIN: His character or the character modeled on him in Da Vinci’s Inquest sometimes makes disparaging comments about drug policy south of the border which is, of course, the United States.
Welcome Larry Campbell.
LARRY CAMPBELL: Thank you very much. I joined the Royal Team on the Police on a bet because another friend of mine had been a police officer and he suggested that I join the Hamilton Municipal Police Force which was seen as lower than the Ontario Provincial Police Force so I joined the Mounties and they took me.
I spent about three years in uniform. I wasn’t really good on traffic. I didn’t really like giving out tickets. They eventually transferred me to drug squad in Vancouver. I worked street crew which is street enforcement – basically chasing down heroin addicts, squeezing them and working your way up the ladder, passing them off to the next group of people.
I also did undercover – heroin mainly – and a lot of cell jobs. I started a drug squad in Langley which was a small town as you realize that Vancouver, in fact, is only about 750,000 people but Metro is close to 2 million so it sort of a broad area.
After 12 years of that - and I really enjoyed being a Mountie – I never thought of myself as a drug warrior and I have to tell you that now. I thought of myself as a police officer who was enforcing the law. That was all there was to it. I never got personal about it. I never got nudgy. That’s the way it went.
I also have to tell you that I’ve never laid a marijuana charge – EVER. It was just like too much work (pour it out, watch them cry) but, you know, I just didn’t get into that.
I got a call from the Chief Coroner one day when I was a Mountie and he’d been my inspector. He asked me if I would consider applying for the job of Vancouver Coroner. I should tell you Coroner in Canada is not a medical examiner. It’s somebody who can investigate. I sit as a Supreme Court Judge when I’m holding an inquest and somebody who can move towards finding out the truth.
I told him I was doing great in the Mounties. He told me I should quit, I’m going to jail because there is now a Charter of Rights in Canada and everything that I’m really good at is illegal – wire-tapping, serendipitous entries, pretending I’m somebody I’m not while I get a confession – you know, the usual stuff that really made life good.
So on a Friday I left the Mounted Police and I became a Coroner on a Monday. I stayed with the Coroner’s service for 20 years. I retired as a the Chief Coroner for the Province.
It was an interesting process that I went through because one day I was out enforcing the law and then one the next Monday it was my responsibility to figure out why people died. I didn’t really care about the law anymore. It wasn’t important to me. What was important to me was why did these people die and how can I possibly change the way that we’re doing things to ensure they don’t die.
And, of course, the majority of my cases involved motor vehicle accidents, deaths in hospitals…I have to tell you that in Vancouver we average 28 homicides a year – that’s it. Sometimes it goes up like we had a spike but it was almost all gang-related and I think it was like 38.
But as a matter of course over all those 20 years it was about 28. So, you know, it’s not very many for a city of that size.
Getting involved in how do you keep people alive I suddenly, you know, in the 80s, suddenly I started to see young men die. And the why showed nothing at the autopsy – a little bit of this, a little bit of that – but nothing…and, of course, this was the start of HIV.
Vancouver was especially hard hit because Vancouver is a community that embraces everybody. We don’t have homophobia. We sort of celebrate the fact that everybody is from …there is no such thing as Canadian. I mean we’re from …I’m from Scotland. My grandparents….you know, people are from China and we embrace that.
But this started a terrific movement in Vancouver. It started in the gay community because of the HIV. The HIV rapidly spread into the intravenous drug user and we started seeing just an incredible rise in deaths. As we went along we were able to recognize what was the cause of this and start treating it.
Having to get involved with the intravenous drug user sort of changed my life. I had done almost all of my drug work in the downtown Eastside. The downtown Eastside, for those of you who do watch Da Vinci’s Inquest, is where everything is set. It’s probably a
10-block area from Insite (which I’ll describe later.)
It’s about 10 blocks in any direction and within that area is about 5,000 intravenous drug users. This downtown Eastside has always been thus. It was skid road which when we drag logs in the early days of Vancouver they’d call it the skid road because they would skid the logs up the main drag and take them to the mill.
It was an incredible community and it is an incredible community. It’s the heart of Vancouver. It’s where the acceptance of people goes beyond your comprehension. It’s a place where you can go when you’re having trouble and people won’t make fun of you. It’s where most of our mentally ill went after we shut down the mental institutions. And so it’s quite an incredible place.
But, in the 90s we started to see an incredible increase in drug deaths. We peaked at a probably a couple of hundred in Vancouver. At one point I remember going to a scene and there were two people dead and they hadn’t even got the needle out of their arm.
I was talking to the police squad and none of us knew what was going on mainly because we didn’t do things like make a seizure and then test it because it had to go to court. We wouldn’t spend the money to go out and just make a seizure and say, “OK, what is this?”
When we finally got it analyzed it was right at about 99%. It was pure heroin. It was coming straight off the boat whereas when I was on the street a 15% cap would be a hot cap. I mean you’d die from that.
We saw all this going on and it centered in the downtown Eastside because that’s where the people who used heroin lived.
DEAN BECKER: You are listening to Century of Lies on the Drug Truth Network. We’re tuning in to a speech presented at the James A. Baker, III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston, Texas. The speaker, Canadian Senator Larry Campbell.
LARRY CAMPBELL: Mayor Philip Owen…One day - he’d been mayor for probably 2 terms at that point and was going into his third term – he was standing at the corner of Hastings and Main and he realized that the city of Vancouver – the police, the coroner – everybody had abandoned the downtown Eastside.
There was things going on there that you wouldn’t allow in any other neighborhood. It wasn’t that it was dangerous. People have this idea that it’s dangerous and people kill each other down there – it’s not so. It’s unsightly. It’s messy. The people who are walking around are sometimes homeless, most certainly in poverty and probably have some form of addiction problems.
So Phillip Owen said, “OK, I’m going to do something about this.” And so he got a person named Donald MacPherson who became our Drug Czar. Not like your Drug Czar. And they started holding meetings and they knew from the very start that these had to be wide open. That there was no barriers. Come one – Come all and they would go every night and they would go into all of the communities.
There would be drug users. There would be police officers. There would be right-wing. There would be left-wing. There would be everybody. It was the most entertaining event in town. I mean you couldn’t pay to go see a movie that was better than this because they would just be yelling and Phillip would be trying to slow them down.
In the end, Phillip and Donald and all these people got together and they established what is known as the Four Pillars. We’ve seen the Four Pillars here – we stole it from the Swiss. Canadians will steal it from you if it’s a good idea – I swear to God.
The Four Pillars are harm reduction, treatment, law enforcement and prevention.
Once we started into this process and once we started into understanding what was going on in the drug scene…the police were going out and saying, “Step on it. Don’t take your drugs pure.”
I mean this was the police saying, “Step on it.” This was sort of the start.
Now to go back a bit, the mayor before Phillip Owen became the Premier of our Province and he started that first needle exchange in Canada.
It baffles me. It just totally baffles me every time I see your government saying you can’t have needle exchanges because it will cause addiction. It’s like flies causing garbage.
LARRY CAMPBELL: You know?! It’s just so ridiculous. It’s like how do grown people…what…do they all get together…you know they’re the ones that are probably doing the brownies and seeing the shine. You know – they’d have to be.
So we already had in place our needle exchange and we then added condoms to that and then we added street nurses to that and so we were moving towards that and we got the harm reduction started.
A big part of that is sitting right here – my dad, Nathan – who whenever it looked like Vancouver was starting to cool off a bit would come in and poke the embers and the fires would start rising again and we’d go back at it.
Phillip Owen’s party decided that they didn’t like Four Pillars so they told the mayor – this is a three-term mayor – that if he wanted to run that he’d have to go through a nomination process. His feelings were very hurt because he’d been with this party for over 25 years. He decided that he wasn’t going to run.
I retired as Chief Coroner and I belong to a group called Opening Doors. It was just a bunch of people. We had drug addicts and nurses and doctors and citizens. We’d get together once a month and over coffee we’d talk about the Four Pillars and how it’s going to go.
So they said, “You gotta go talk Phillip and you gotta get him to run.”
So I went and talked to Phillip and said, “You know, you gotta run.” I said, “I’ll tell you what. I’ll run as a Counselor and we’ll run Independent.”
He said, “No” that he couldn’t do that. So I went back and reported to the group and they said…they looked at each other and said, “Well, then you’re going to have to run because you’re the only guy that doesn’t have a job here.”
I ran with a party who at first I didn’t realize they were communist. I swear to God.
When I went to the first fundraiser something should have twigged when I saw that they were selling old Lenin pins to raise money.
In any event, we ran 26 candidates for mayor, counsel, park board and school board. We elected 26 candidates. For the first time ever a right-wing party was not running the city of Vancouver and we were.
I got to tell you that it was very scary. It was very scary. I had never gone to mayor school and so I wasn’t sure what…but, the interesting thing was we ran on a platform that we would open the first supervised injection center site in North America. 26 of us got elected.
It wasn’t like I snuck up on them. It wasn’t like I didn’t run on this. It wasn’t like I said, “Oh, we’re not going to this” and then boom…every meeting I said, “This is what we are going to do and this is why we’ve got to do it.”
This did not go down well with the Drug Czar, Mr. Waters, and I remember I hadn’t even been sworn in yet, I was with Phillip and we were going into a Board of Trade meeting where Mr. Waters was going to speak and he sort of whispered to me, “You know if you open that supervised injection site you could have border problems.”
I said, “Yeah, and L.A. could be in the dark and thirsty.”
LARRY CAMPBELL: We just walked in and smiled at each other and sort of…you know….and that was the first time that I really realized that little ol’ me could be a threat to big ol’ you.
And, in fact, a friend of mine from the DEA (and I have a number of friends from the DEA because I work together with them)…I said, “You know, I’m really worried about getting into the states.”
And he said, “You’re not worried about getting into the states – you’re worries about getting out of the states. That’s the thing you should be worried about.”
For the Insite – for those who are not familiar with it – there’s some notions you gotta get rid of. It’s not a honeypot, OK?
I don’t score in New Westminister and get on the Sky Train and come into Vancouver so I can shoot up. That’s not how drugs work.
Here’s how drugs work. I score. I’m scared witless. I’m afraid of the police. I’m afraid of the dealer. Other junkies are trying to rip me off so the minute I get that I’m shooting it up. And if it’s a muddy puddle that I’m using – so be it.
And believe me I’ve seen lots of people fixing using that. It’s not that at all.
People don’t wake up one day…and somebody was…I think it was earlier today was talking about injection sites and it would make people become addicts. Oh, yeah, like you get up in the morning and say, “Wow. We got Insite now. I think I’ll be a junkie.”
It makes no sense. It makes no sense but these are the arguments that go on.
DEAN BECKER: Again, that was Larry Campbell, former law enforcement officer, former Chief Coroner of British Columbia and former mayor of Vancouver and currently a Senator up in Canada speaking at the James A. Baker, III Institute of Public Policy.
There’s much more from Larry Campbell and about a dozen others that are available at http://bakerinstitute.com.
This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, reporting.
The 2011 drug report to congress by the drug tzar says that;
It is difficult to assess the number of cannabis plants cultivated domestically; however, the Administration has seen evidence of increased domestic marijuana cultivation, including an increase in the number of plants eradicated and an expansion of large-scale cultivation in Eastern states, paired with high marijuana availability and stable marijuana prices nationally. In 2006, 5.2 million plants were eradicated in the United States. But according to the most recent data, in 2010, more than 10.3 million2 plants were eradicated in the United States. More than 90 percent of law enforcement respondents to the 2010 National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) National Drug Threat Survey indicate that marijuana availability is high in their geographic areas of responsibility, and despite the increased eradication and interdiction of marijuana, prices are stable nationwide.3
This is the way we fight a war on drugs. We have spent approximatly 1.3 trillion dollars in the past decade and the only result is that we have arrested millions of people and basically ruined their lives. The drugs are more readily available, of higher qualify and cheaper than they were decades ago.
The simple economics of it point to a total failure and should suggest to even the most ignorant public official that it is time to consider a different strategy. We could see an increase in 88 billion dollars through legalization and taxation. Perhaps a strategy of education and treatment instead of arrest and incarceration is a better approach.
When a country spends 60 billion dollars on education and over 70 billion on a failed drug policy then it is certainly time to quit spending on the failed policy and apply more resources to the success story of education. Through education alone we have reduced the number of people smoking cigarettes in half. A true success story as nicotine is the most addictive of all drugs.
While LEAP does not condone nor encourage the use of any drugs we do recognize that the drug sometimes cause less harm than the prohibition policy. We believe that our citizens are smart enough, if given credible information, to make informed decisions on whether to use these substances or not. The addiction rate on drugs is still 1.3 percent and has been so since the early 1900’s. So even though more people are using drugs the number abusing them remains constant.
We have to pressure our elected officials to rethink their “get tough on drugs” thinking and convince them to change to a different strategy. The one way we can do that is to provide them the political cover to change these bad drug laws.
This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, www.copssaylegalizedrugs.com signing off. Stay safe.
DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Terry, and thanks to the good folks at the Baker Institute. Their website, once again, http://bakerinstitute.com
As always I remind you there is no justice involved in this drug war. Please visit our website, http://endprohibition.org. Prohibido istac evilesco!
For the Drug Truth Network, this is Dean Becker asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.
The Century of Lies.
Drug Truth Network programs are archived at the James A. Baker III for the Policy Studies.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org
The James A Baker Institute
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Mon - Scholar, researcher, writer Chris Bennett: spirituality, mysticism, roles of cannabis, other entheogens