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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Brian C. Bennett, editor of online drug war history site + Terry Nelson of LEAP & Mary Jane Borden of Drug War Facts
Century of Lies / May 20, 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 joining us on this edition of Century of Lies. Let’s go ahead and bring in our guest, Mr. Brian C. Bennett. How are you, Brian?
BRIAN BENNETT: Doing alright, Dean, thanks for having me on.
DEAN BECKER: It’s good to have you on. It’s been too long. You’ve got you a day job these days and we just kind of got out of touch with each other but I want to let you know I still respect the work you’re doing, sir.
BRIAN BENNETT: Likewise. I really, truly believe that the only way we’re going to end all this nonsense is to get the truth out there relentlessly.
DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Let’s tell the folks about the work you do – your website and so forth.
BRIAN BENNETT: My website is http://www.briancbennett.com. I call it “truth: the Anti-drugwar” which is an intentional dig on the “Truth” advertising campaign that they came out with several years ago - the Partnership for a Drug Free America - I guess it was.
They are the ones that gave us the famed “This is your brain on drugs” kind of advertising – very simplistic and silly stuff that didn’t accomplish anything so I decided to ironically name my site “truth: the Anti-drugwar” to do two things with that. 1 would be that when people would go to search “Anti-Drug War” stuff on the internet my site is going to come up as number 1 and it does. This would really kind of like pull the focus away from those folks and let us have a chance to talk.
DEAN BECKER: Brian, I spoke with Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance recently - in fact, he’s on the Cultural Baggage show this week. We were talking about all the various aspects of drug reform, horrors of drug war, the recognition by the press/the media of all these parameters that we’ve been talking about for so long. It’s enormous these days, isn’t it?
BRIAN BENNETT: It is and it’s really encouraging, too, that we are getting people to start paying attention to some of these things especially the more horrendous things like the beatings, killing of dogs, killing of people even in drug raids. It’s absurd that we’re putting up with this stuff in America – the land where everybody is supposed to be equal and we’re supposed to be more worried about individual rights than anything else. Well, we’re not doing a good job and the drug war is the best example of what inequality really means in America.
DEAN BECKER: Yeah and we’re talking about the cops misbehaving – shooting the dog, shooting the kids once in a while. There is a very constant, very obvious death toll. In Mexico, Central and South America where tens of thousands of people are dying so that America can get high. Your response there, Brian?
BRIAN BENNETT: It’s an interesting problem because, in general, it’s not really about drugs – it’s about money. The surest way to stop those people from making ungodly amounts of profits selling to people who want to buy them is to provide them in a regulated market just like alcohol and tobacco. We should have learned this lesson a long, long time ago and I don’t know why Americans are so silly or not very bright, I would have to say, that we are willing to indulge in this kind of activity and horrendous death tolls and producer nations are one of the consequences of doing that.
DEAN BECKER: My PSAs are always talking about the fact that “What is it you expect if you continue down this road?!” It’s just a pipe dream of men who died long ago, isn’t it?
BRIAN BENNETT: It really is. It started back in the earliest part of the 20t h century. A lot of folks are aware that most of it, at that time, was directed by xenophobic and racial and ethnic types of stereotypes. The Chines had their opium so we had to outlaw that. The Mexicans had marijuana so we had to outlaw that. Black jazz musicians were using cocaine so we had to outlaw that. It’s absurd and the roots of it all are based on xenophobic and stereotypic anti-ethnic group types of sentiments.
DEAN BECKER: I can’t remember…I think it was South Dakota where in their legislature the day they passed their anti-marijuana law one of the legislatures got up and I think he read something out of a newspaper but it went something like this, “You give one of these Mexican beet workers a couple of tears off a marijuana cigarette the next thing you know he thinks he’s been elected president of Mexico and sets out to kill his enemies.” And they immediately slammed the gavel down and passed that bill. That’s where that crap came from isn’t it?
BRIAN BENNETT: Yes. It’s pathetic. It really ease and the fact that people are so willing to believe such nonsense is not a good thing. The worse is that it became a part of our cultural mythology basically. If you talk to the average person today they not only don’t understand the origin of drug war but they don’t really know anything about it in general.
They basically grew up hearing the same thing over and over again, “Drugs are bad. Drugs are bad. Drugs are bad. We got to stop the druggies. We got to stop the druggies. We got to stop the druggies.” It’s background noise for the average person and that’s what has made it so difficult to change everything. You got to get their attention first and then, once you do, you have to destroy a lifetime of mythology in order to get them to listen and start paying attention to what’s really going on.
DEAN BECKER: Isn’t that the truth?! You know the plethora ( I think that’s a bunch ) but anyway the load of stories that’s going around about the drug war…one that caught my attention this week. I think was quite powerful – meaningful, in fact. That is a Supreme Court Justice – working, sitting on the bench – a Supreme Court Justice in the state of New York had a major OPED in the New York Times calling for legal, medical marijuana. Why? Because he has cancer and he knows it works. Brian Bennett, what do you think?
BRIAN BENNETT: Yeah. That’s one of the things that’s going to help us. Clearly one of the major organizations that’s out there to help us are people that were in law enforcement and sitting judges, people who worked for the DEA, people in the military who were involved in counter drug interdiction banded together back around 2002 (I think it was) and created an organization called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. These are the guys who were out there waging the war.
Now in the judge’s case it’s a little bit different because it impacted him personally. There’s no better way to get people interested in championing a cause then for it to impact them directly personally. In his case that’s what happened. He got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and he’s not smoking pot to cure his pancreatic cancer. He’s going through some rather aggressive medical treatment so that the results of those medical treatments are so horrible that the only palliative relief he gets is by smoking marijuana.
It makes it possible for him to continue his treatment. It makes it possible to get past the nausea, the pain, the lack of hunger, etc. So he’s got a little bit of a different take on it than the folks in LEAP. Most of the LEAP folks are basically going to parallel to the Viet Nam Veterans against the war- people who were there. And they, finally, had enough gumption to stand up and say, “Look, this is insane. We’ve been doing this for 100 years. We’re not getting anywhere. We’re never going to get anywhere. We’ve got to stop doing this. Listen to us.”
So the notion that we are making progress – slowly but surely – and getting more and more people aware. But I think it’s…the job is so hard not only because of the earlier mythology that I referenced but also because just trying to get people’s attention and trying to get them to understand that this is a serious thing that we can take care of in the near-term and really have a big impact.
But when they’re thinking about things like, “Well this would be great if we could do this but I don’t even have a job.” They’re worried about trying to live their own lives, trying to deal with the pressures and problems that we all encounter and the drug war thing doesn’t impact them directly. It has become background noise so it’s not even on the radar for most people. Really that’s our job – to get it on everybody’s radar.
DEAN BECKER: I talk about the fact that there is no one in government, at least no powerful elected officials, willing to come on this radio program to clarify the need for eternal drug war because there is really no justification.
BRIAN BENNETT: Yeah, they’re afraid that you’re going rip them a new one and you would.
DEAN BECKER: In about 30 seconds – is all they got.
BRIAN BENNETT: That long?! [chuckles]
DEAN BECKER: I’d like to share this thought because, as you say, we’re trying to educate and motivate other people. After more than 10 years of doing these Drug Truth Network shows and writing columns and being involved in the New York Times drug policy forum and others, I have boiled it down to 51 words and I just want to share it again and that is:
“In lieu of the horrible consequences of the drug war which include empowering our terrorist enemies, enriching the barbarous Latin cartels, giving reason for more than 30,000 violent gangs to prowl our neighborhoods selling contaminated drugs to our children – what is the benefit? What have we derived from this policy that offsets that horrible blow back?”
That’s the 50 words that I want to present to the President or to Gil Kerlikowski, the Drug Czar.
BRIAN BENNETT: Absolutely and I ho[e you can. And don’t be too disappointed that they’re just going to come back with something really silly like, “Well, drugs are bad, emkay?”
DEAN BECKER: “America’s a moral nation.” Or something like that.
BRIAN BENNETT: Yeah, that’s one of the things they do, too. As you start digging into the history of the drug war you’re going to find, as I have…I’ve actually did a lot effort to try and research back into some of the major newspapers in America dating back into the 1850s to try and find everything I could possibly find related to the drug war, drug use, drug users, etc. in America across that time span.
First off, you cannot tell me a story from today’s headlines that I can’t find you multiple copies of dating back forever. It’s all the same thing.
DEAN BECKER: Yeah, you brought up something which I have on my list to talk about. While you’re touching on that thought that this is self-replicating. We’re learning nothing from history.
2 days ago a major story in the Houston Chronicle by Dudley Altus - 3 Mexican generals have been caught “in bed” with the cartels. In the comment section people were saying, “Oh, how could this happen?” This has happened so many times. About every decade this happens that we catch these scoundrels doing what they’re doing. Brian Bennett, your response.
BRIAN BENNETT: Yeah, we do. We keep catching them and opening up job opportunities for the next guy waiting in line. It’s absurd. It’s documentable that you can go back in time and see the exact same thing. You just change the dates on the calendar and you’ve got the story.
Tons of information about corruption in Mexico. It’s not a new story and it’s all basically tied in with the drug war because that’s the easy way for them to make money. So, you know, why are we continuing to do the same thing over and over again with the expectation that somehow, magically, we’re going to have some whosane moment and declare victory?
DEAN BECKER: I know Albert Einstein would kick our ass. The thing of it is…you’re talking about – yeah, who will be the next farmer to step down off the tractor and play “Who wants to be a billionaire” because it’s going to happen. Somebody wants that billion. You’re damn right.
Alright, Brian, I wanted to get back into our conversation here if I might. The fact of the matter is stories that are breaking, I just mentioned the 3 Mexican generals, but another one that struck me this week that deserves some discussion is a federal judge overturned one of these new federal detention plans, if you will, that they can no longer arrest U.S. citizens for supposed involvement with a terrorist group but I understand now that congress is passing another law replacing what the judge overturned. What’s your response there?
BRIAN BENNETT: That cat and mouse game has been going on for quite some time and the really dangerous thing about it is that once they start viewing drug users as terrorists then there’s really no limit to what they will do to people they find who happen to use drugs that they don’t approve of. So we have to get this under control. We have to get these folks to stop using purity as their preferred methodology to deal with an insurmountable problem.
Basically they’re giving up so they keep trying harder. We can’t win this game all we can do is try to convince everybody else in the country to get them to stop playing this game. The guys in congress don’t really care. They’re there to act tough, to get reelected and really not acting in the best interest of America anymore.
They latched on to this terrorist bugaboo but it’s absurd – just as absurd as the drug war. If we look at with the rational eye of what can these people possibly do the last thing we need to be worried about is terrorist coming in and taking over America or attacking us on a regular basis. It’s absurd.
DEAN BECKER: I remember not too long after 9/11, I think when Tom Ridge was appointed as head of the …
BRIAN BENNETT: Homeland Security
DEAN BECKER: Yeah…Homeland, that just reminds me of the mother land…the father land…
BRIAN BENNETT: Yes …
DEAN BECKER: But, anyway, the fact of the matter is they had a campaign trying to talk about that very subject – comparing drug users to terrorists, comparing, you know, to try to make that connection.
BRIAN BENNETT: Yeah, and they’re not giving up. Really they’re not giving up. They twist everything to try and make people feel that that’s really what’s going on. The stuff that’s going on in Mexico, “Oh, that’s terrorism and it’s fueled by American drug users so let’s go get the drug users.” It’s absurd. It’s dangerous.
DEAN BECKER: Not to mention the fast and furious plan where the government is actually involved in sneaking the drugs into Mexico. They have been laundering the money for these drug cartels so they can get a chance to find out how they launder money. It’s preposterous.
BRIAN BENNETT: Yeah, and it’s like, you know, the same thing over and over again. Remember Iran-Contra? Same idea. Just a repeating cycle and these people have got to be stopped. The real terrorists in America, unfortunately, are the people who are willing to stand up – the elected officials who are taking away rights from people.
This is a civil rights issue. And that’s an important thing, I think, that the leadership in the drug policy reform movement are failing at. They really need to get out there and start talking to the gays/lesbians, people of color, every group in America that’s being treated as ‘less than equal.” Why are we treating people as “less than equal”?
Here’s the reality of marijuana use in America. It’s my favorite thing because it’s the most widespread one and the area where we have the most people who could potentially make a difference. If you want to you can scramble your brain silly with a liquid intoxicant called alcohol and while you’re drinking and getting yourself silly you can also smoke as much tobacco or, frankly, any other plant on the planet. You can smoke things. You can drink things all in a goal to make yourself happy. But if you combine those acts with the marijuana plant somehow you’re a criminal. Huh?!
DEAN BECKER: Yeah.
BRIAN BENNETT: Worse. How in the world does anybody in the world have the right to declare a plant illegal? How does that work? How does anybody have the right to punish somebody for doing something to themselves?
So here’s the scenario we have in America. There’s a group of people who think they have the right to light plants on fire and inhale the smoke it gives off to amuse themselves. Then another big group of people who thinks it’s OK to punish and kill those people. That’s what’s wrong. This is a civil rights issue.
When you start getting bogged down into the numbers and it’s easy to do because there are so many of them out there, people lose the focus. It’s very difficult to keep up with all the different numbers but it’s really easy to keep up the with the central pendant that, “Holy crap. You’re declaring that you have the right to punish somebody, to wreck them financially, to take all their school loans away from them, take their homes away from them, take their families away from them all in the interest to stop them from playing with themself.”
DEAN BECKER: I’m with you. Folks, we’re talking to Mr. Brian C. Bennett. Brian, it really is that simple that you can smoke all the tobacco you want but you can’t smoke weed. You can drink all the alcohol you want but you can’t get high off the weed. It’s so hypocritical that it’s bizarre.
BRIAN BENNETT: Yes, it’s indefensible.
DEAN BECKER: Alright, Brian, we got a couple minutes left here and I kind of want to turn it over to you. What do you…my perception of progress, of what’s happening in America in so far as recognition of the problem of drug war and doing something about it is yeah, there’s some progress but I think, like most rallies, when there’s a lot of people gathered it tends to gather a lot more people and we ain’t quite reached the mass, critical point yet, have we?
BRIAN BENNETT: No, not even close. It’s really a failure of leadership, to me. The people who are involved in the drug policy really …in declaring themselves the leaders, in the first place, OK, they decided they want the mantel of leadership. OK, you want the mantel of leadership – where is your plan? How are you going to make all of this happen? How are you going to convince the American people that we need to stop doing this? And there is none.
Well, OK, it’s really safe to ignore people if they don’t have a plan. You can say, “This drug war is bad.” But what are you do instead. If you can’t answer that question then you lose people. And that’s their job. If you want to be the leader, good. Go do that. \
The stuff that’s going on in terms of making little slow but steady bits and pieces of progress is also an illusion. This is, in my mind, especially since I’ve dealt with reviewing all the historical records, we’re watching a repeat of the 1970s. In the 1970s medical marijuana was a big thing by…I can’t remember the exact date…by 1977 or 8 there were 24 states that had medical marijuana on the books. They weren’t as good as the ones that are there now in some cases but they were there and there were almost half of America with medical marijuana laws. We had sitting politicians, judges, law enforcement people – the whole gamut of people, including the President of the United States – coming out and saying, “Hey, we have got to stop this War on Drugs nonsense. We have got to stop punishing people for using marijuana.”
Well, and then suddenly, it all fell apart. Why? How did that happen? I see that it’s going to happen again unless the people who are involved with drug policy reform come up with some more powerful ways of getting peoples’ attention and getting them to join the cause.
DEAN BECKER: Yep. OK, I’m with you 100%. If I was the leader I’d instruct everybody to go to every press conference and ask my 50 word question.
BRIAN BENNETT: Yeah, absolutely. That and if you can’t do that then send your money to LEAP – Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. To me they’re the best game in town. They’re the ones who are actually saying, “Look, here’s what we got to do instead.” And they’re saying, “Look, we have to legalize all of these drugs and make them available to people who want to use them in a regulated market.”
They’re saying that out loud. And they’re doing it to the people who you would never expect to listen to that kind of message – Rotary clubs, Lions, Eagles – a gamut of people – even internationally. They are getting standing ovations for saying these things.
So folks, if you’re out there listening, send your money to KPFT or send it to LEAP.
DEAN BECKER: Alright, Brian, I want to thank you for being with us and for your decades of work in trying to educate and embolden folks. We will be in touch. One more time, share your website with the listeners.
BRIAN BENNETT: Sure, it’s http://www.briancbennett.com or, if you want, just go to Google and type in any combination of the three words Anti-Drug War. I can almost guarantee you that I’ll be hitting number 1.
DEAN BECKER: Alright, well, and I’m glad to know that as well. Brian, thank you so much.
BRIAN BENNETT: Dean, thank you very much. It’s always a pleasure to get on the show and you’re right we need to do a better job at keeping in contact.
DEAN BECKER: OK, will do.
TERRY NELSON: This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Recently in the first Federal vote on medical cannabis in the House of Representatives since 2007, the House voted 262-162 against the Rohbrabacher-Hinchey-McClintock-Farr amendment. This amendment would have banned the use of Federal funds to prevent States from implementing their own state laws that authorize use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical cannabis in the 16 states, soon to be 17 when Connecticutt bill is signed by the Governor, and the District of Columbia where medical marijuana is legal. And 27 of the yes votes came from the Republican side of the House.
With 17, or 1/3 of our states and DC having laws making medical cannabis legal in the state we are moving in the right direction. As well more and more people are offering testimonals where cannabis has alleviated the sufferings of patients and some testify that cannabis has put their cancers into remission.
A Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice recently revealed Thursday he illegally smokes pot to battle the side-effects from treatment of his pancreatic cancer - He get’s his cannabis the same way most folks do…he get it’s illegally from friends that have connections. But he does not buy it at the local drug store or legal cannabis store
Some good news is that the New York state Assembly’s health committee approved a medical cannabis bill for a full vote. The Assembly appears poised to pass the legislation.
For our government officials, elected to represent the people, to continue to not listen to these states is bordering on negligance or malfeasance of duty. If they feel that they do not have to answer to the will of the people then perhaps the next election cycle will be a good time to remind them.
Clearly there is sufficient evidence to open the scientific review of cannabis.
One can only ask “why will the DEA not allow Universities and research facilities to acquire cannabis for further studies. Is our government afraid of what the studies will reveal? Have they been so bought and paid for by the lobbyists of the powerful drug companies that they must do their bidding instead of the people that elected them?
Whatever your political affiliations please do your homework and vote this coming fall. If the candidate is not doing what you believe he or she should do then please vote them out of office and let’s get a government of the people, by the people and for the people in place.
We at LEAP know that it is long past the time where we legalize, regulate and control these substances. If a substance has minimal known harm then there is absolutely no reason to leave it in the black market and encourage more violence to control that lucrative street corner.
Let implement a policy of education coupled with treatment centers to deal with our drug issues instead of trying to arrest and incarcerate our way out. This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, www.copssaylegalizedrugs.com signing off. Stay safe.
DEAN BECKER: The wars of eternity must be kept alive at any cost.
The war on terror is the war on drugs with afterburners.
Untrustworthy snitches lead to chemical weapons and eternal wars causing endless and needless hardship, disease and death.
The government attack on the evil, mostly people of color, purported to possess these weapons of mass destruction which threaten our very society, freedoms, supposedly fought for are eroded, denied and held in obedience until that magical day when all druggies, terrorist and evil ones are dead and nobody will ever again use drugs or make a chemical compound not approved by the president.
Then we will, once again, ring the bell of liberty for all.
MARY JANE BORDEN: Hello drug policy aficionados! I'm Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts.
What is transnational organized crime?
According the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, ""organized crime" is any serious offence committed by a group of three or more people with the aim of making money."
Transnational extends organized crime across the globe.
The Office of the President of the United States defined transnational organized crime as, "self-perpetuating associations of individuals who operate transnationally for the purpose of obtaining power, influence, monetary and/or commercial gains, wholly or in part by illegal means, while protecting their activities through a pattern of corruption and/or violence, or while protecting their illegal activities through a transnational organizational structure."
There is some inconsistency as to which markets comprise this illicit trade.
Citing the U.S. government's International Crime Threat Assessment, which was completed in 2000 under the direction of National Security Council, the Congressional Research Service listed "the largest international crime threats, in terms of their potential impact, [to] include smuggling of nuclear materials and technology; drug trafficking; trafficking in persons; intellectual property crimes; and money laundering.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) counted these threats in its 2010 "Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment": trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants, cocaine, heroin, firearms, environmental resources, counterfeit products, maritime piracy and cybercrimes.
Global Financial Integrity reviewed "the scale, flow, profit distribution, and impact of 12 different types of illicit trade: drugs, humans, wildlife, counterfeit goods and currency, human organs, small arms, diamonds and colored gemstones, oil, timber, fish, art and cultural property, and gold." Included in this review were the "drug" markets for cannabis, cocaine, opiates and amphetamine stimulants.
Taken together, "drugs" represent about one half of the illicit market value controlled by transnational organized crime.
These Facts and others like them can be found in the Crime and the United States Chapters of Drug War Facts at www.drugwarfacts.org.
If you have a question for which you need facts, please e-mail it to me at mjborden at drugwarfacts.org. I'll try to answer your question in an upcoming show.
So remember when you need facts about drugs and drug policy, you can get the facts at Drug War Facts.
(to the tune of: 500 Miles Away from Home)
A hundred years, A hundred years
A hundred years, A hundred years
You can hear the drug war blow, A hundred years.
DEAN BECKER: Alright, as always, I remind you there is no legitimacy to this drug war. Please visit our website http://endprohibition.org. Do it for the children. 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.
This show produced at the Pacifica Studios of KPFT, Houston.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org
The James A Baker Institute
Sun - Phil Smith of Stop the Drug War & Alternet re US cannabis laws
Sat - Phil Smith re Trump nomination of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III
Fri - Phil Smith of Stop the Drug War & Alternet re Trump drug warrior nominees
Thu - Clay Conrad a Houston attorney re failure of bail bond system 2/2
Wed - Clay Conrad a Houston attorney re failure of bail bond system
Tue - Clay Conrad a Houston attorney discusses drug policy at national, state and local levels
Mon - Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau weasels on cannabis, Jodie Emery of Cannabis Culture calls him a liar