Phil Smith, reporter with Alternet & Stop the Drug War recaps recent blunders of US Govt, Vivian McPeak on Seattle Hempfest & Paul Armentano of NORML re DEA ruling on cannabis
Michelle Aexander author of The New Jim Crow, Neill Franklind Exec Dir of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Natalie Schuurman of Green Party
Deborah Small re savage drug war in Brazil, Hannah Hetzer on Philippine massacre, Tony Papa re commutation of 214 prisoners by Obama & Gov Gary Johnson on ending the drug war
Prosecutor Jim Gierach (ret) speaks of ultra-violence of drug war in Chicago + Yvonne talks of journey from Ireland to Colorado to seek the medicine that is changing her child's life for the better
Neill Franklin Dir of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition re nexus of drug war & violence + Shane Shackleford helps medical marijuana patients in Texas and around the world
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2012 in review with Sanho Tree, Richard Lee, David Sloan, Judge Jim Gray, Steven DeAngelo & Charles Bowden
Cultural Baggage / December 30, 2012
Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.
“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.
DEAN BECKER: Hello my friends and welcome to this last show of 2012 or, for some of you, the first show of 2013. It was a very busy year, 2012, a lot of progress in ending, exposing at least this drug war.
Let’s begin with some thoughts about the passing of Whitney Houston. This is from the Cultural Baggage show of February 12th.
DEAN BECKER: “Tony Bennett took the stage at Clive Davis’s pre-Grammy bash to make a political statement. He offered more than just happy memories of the late Whitney Houston. Bennett used the opportunity to ask that the U.S. government reevaluate its stance on drugs using Amsterdam as an example of a successful policy.
‘First it was Michael Jackson, then Amy Winehouse, now the magnificent Whitney Houston.’
He began, ‘I’d like every person in this room to campaign to legalize drugs. No one’s hiding or sneaking around corners in Amsterdam. They go to a doctor to get it.’”
We’ll be back shortly with our guest, Mr. Sanho Tree.
TERRY NELSON: This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition reporting on developments in the war on drugs, arguably the greatest public policy failure of the past fifty years. It has caused so much harm to our citizens as well as death and destruction in Mexico, Central and S0uth America. This policy has attributed directly to the spread of AIDS, Hepatitus C and the overdose deaths of thousands of people.
On Dec. 5, 2011, Merida, Yucatan - The 13th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Tuxtla Mechanism for Dialogue and Coordination ended. The summit was attended by the Presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and the First Vice President of Costa Rica. Also present were the Foreign Ministers of Belize, Colombia, and El Salvador. The Chilean President was also present as a special guest.
These Latin American countries issued a joint statement on organized crime and drug trafficking Point 7’s translation is: “What would be desirable, would be a significant reduction in the demand for illegal drugs. Nevertheless, if that is not possible, as recent experience demonstrates, the authorities of the consuming countries ought then to explore the possible alternatives to eliminate the exorbitant profits of the criminals, including regulatory or market oriented options to this end. Thus, the transit of substances that continue provoking high levels of crime and violence in Latin American and Caribbean nations will be avoided.”
This is basically LEAPs position for legalization, regulation and control of these substances.
The United States’ drug tzar responded to the Global Commission’s call for legalization as being “misguided” and pretended that they were right and the rest of the world was wrong. They have yet to respond to this latest American call for legalization and the silence is telling.
Now you have the global commission as well as the eleven Central and South American delegations all calling for a change in drug policy. Could it be that the rest of the world is wrong and the United States is right. That is not too likely is it. It’s way past time to set at the global table and work out a workable solution to the world’s drug use issues.
The world recognizes that after four decades of this failed policy, one that was intended to insure a drug free world, has failed miserably. All drugs are more readily available, easier to get and far more potent than they were when this war was last declared in 1972.
Over 75 percent of our citizens say this drug war has failed, 67 percent of our chiefs of police say it has failed and now over fifty percent of our citizens think that cannabis should be legal. When will our government functionaries wake up and stop causing this immense harm.
It’s time for a policy of regulation and control and education versus arrest and incarcerate. This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, www.copssaylegalizedrugs.com signing off. Stay safe.
DEAN BECKER: We do have with us Mr. Sanho Tree. How are you, sir?
SANHO TREE: Very good, Dean.
DEAN BECKER: Sanho, I’m looking at, it’s actually a couple years old but, it’s Darwin’s birthday today, right?
SANHO TREE: Yes it is.
DEAN BECKER: You had this post up about what Darwin could tell us about the War on Drugs.
“Although it may seem counterintuitive, the law and order response by our politicians only intensifies the problem.”
Elaborate there if you would, sir.
SANHO TREE: It’s kind of like how public health professionals say you shouldn’t overuse antibiotics or those antibacterial soaps and detergents and stuff. What you end up doing is killing off the weak bacteria and allowing the super resistant strain to take over in that space and multiply. That’s roughly analogous to what we’ve been doing with the drug war for decades now.
Every time a politician clamors to increase law enforcement what we end doing is the kinds of people we typically capture are the kinds of people who are dumb enough to get caught. No offense to any of your listeners who have ever been busted for anything but the slang on the street is the dealer who uses loses. Right?
For instance, you get sloppy. You get careless. You get apprehended. Conversely, the people we miss when we keep escalating law enforcement are the people who are the most innovative, the most adaptable, the most cunning. They evolve faster.
So it’s like we’ve got this artificial selection process. We’ve been selectively breeding super-traffickers. More or less unintentionally but the dynamic is very predictable. Law enforcement tends to go for low-hanging fruit because they want to make their numbers and justify their budgets every year. These are not necessarily strategic busts but rather ones that make it look like they’re accomplishing something.
In the long run that is actually very counterproductive because you end up with very highly-evolved, very highly-sophisticated trafficking organizations.
DEAN BECKER: I would throw into that mix the thought that also the deadliest survive. Your thought.
SANHO TREE: Yes. Very often that’s the case. As we see in Mexico, though, some of the more …As we knock off the kingpins, for instance, the veteran leaders of these cartels or trafficking organizations, the ones that take over, their lieutenants, may not be as experienced or as wise so they often think with their testosterone. They have fights when they ought to be smoothing things over so they can make more money but their egos and their testosterone gets in the way. Their own violence sometimes becomes their own downfall.
It’s not in the interest of a drug trafficker to wage these incessant turf wars that they’ve been waging for so long now. It’s bad for business – not good for making money – which is the bottom line for drug trafficking.
DEAN BECKER: I think you got to hear that introduction where the guy I least thought would call for legalizing drugs stood up last night and said as much at a Clive Davis concert, Mr. Tony Bennett. What’s your thought to that?
SANHO TREE: I think it’s terrific. He’s going to reach a whole new generation and new demographic that wouldn’t necessarily hear this message otherwise. Also, again, it’s counterintuitive that because he’s of that generation he must be more conservative but he’s also been around the block for quite a few decades. He’s been told the drug war promises of victory around the corner for decades. In that sense there’s something new under the sun in his position to reach those conclusions.
It is wonderful that he’s come out and said this so publically at a moment when the country really needed to hear this.
DEAN BECKER: Certainly Tony Bennett coming out in favor of legalizing drugs was a plus for the year 2012 but there was a big downer. It happened in April. Here to talk about is the founder of Oaksterdam University, Richard Lee.
This from the April 8th Cultural Baggage show.
DEAN BECKER: You know words cannot describe the outrage I felt earlier this week when my friend, one of the people who I consider to be a patriot here in America, had his home invaded, had his business raided as well. He’s joining us now. Richard Lee, how are you, sir?
RICHARD LEE: I’ve had better weeks but we’re hanging in there.
DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir, I understand that. Now they raided the University, the museum, couple of your store fronts as well, correct?
RICHARD LEE: That’s correct.
DEAN BECKER: I wanted to ask you, Richard, I’ve read that they treated you with some degree of respect.
RICHARD LEE: Yes, they did, actually so…and the fact that they didn’t arrest me is a great thing.
DEAN BECKER: Now did they give you…describe the nature of the charges?
RICHARD LEE: No. I just got the warrant that says it is money crimes and cannabis.
DEAN BECKER: OK. I don’t think this is something that you would normally expect but, in a way, through your efforts it’s something that might have been in the back of your mind.
RICHARD LEE: Well, yeah. For many years we know that we’ve been on the frontline and that we’re in danger but we think that it’s important. We know we need to end this war as soon as possible. We need to stop the violence. We need to get the people out of prison who shouldn’t be there. Get cannabis to those that it can help medically. All the reasons we know that we got to stop this insanity.
So we’re doing everything we can and we know when you look at history that civil rights issues, social issues don’t come easy. Change doesn’t come easy. It takes sacrifice and people have to stand up and risk losing everything.
DEAN BECKER: Now a lot of folks may not know that you are a Houston “home boy”, if you will, but you moved out there, what, 15 years ago to start your efforts?
DEAN BECKER: What would you like to say to your friends and family…you’re doing alright?
RICHARD LEE: Yes. So far we’re hanging in there and appreciate all the support. My mom is there in Houston (mom and dad) and there are starting a new organization: Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, RAMP and joining Pat Robertson and other conservatives who are more and more realizing that cannabis prohibition is unjust and counterproductive.
DEAN BECKER: You’ve been doing this about 20 years or so and you’re going to step down from President of Oaksterdam and these other efforts in order to, perhaps, better educate people with personal visits, right?
RICHARD LEE: Yes. I’ve done my time on the frontlines. Have done my duty and so hopefully this will free me up to be able to help with the Colorado and Washington state legalization campaigns that will be happening this fall and working full-time on legalization.
DEAN BECKER: I’ve also read that there’s some consideration that you might write a book. You might participate in a TV series. Is that true?
RICHARD LEE: We’re looking to how we can get this story out for more people to see and hear about it. The amazing media response this week and show of support from all over the country…I started getting calls while the raid was still in progress from supporters all over the country. I think it shows that this is a story that a lot of people want to see and hear about.
DEAN BECKER: Again, we’re speaking with Mr. Richard Lee of the Oaksterdam University.
Richard, now the fact of the matter is you’ve had something over 15,000 graduates of OU. They’re going to become spokesmen as well but the sad thing is that Oakland is going to lose businesses. They are going to lose jobs, tax revenues and your vision which helped to clean up that downtown area. Your response, sir.
RICHARD LEE: Yes, that is a sad thing. So many people are going to lose their jobs and landlords are going to lose rent and the city of Oakland and the state of California are going to lose tax revenue but, hopefully, Oaksterdam will survive on just as it did after the Oakland Buyers’ Cooperative was closed in 1998.
DEAN BECKER: Again that was originally the entrepreneur, the visionary, the man who founded Oaksterdam University and who was busted in early April by agents of the DEA, FBI and the IRS.
(Game show music)
DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.
Responsible for countless overdose deaths, uncounted diseases, international graft, greed and corruption, stilled science and events, unchristian moral postulations of fiction as fact.
The answer: and this Drug is the United States’ immoral, improper, bigoted, unscientific and plain F-ing evil addiction to Drug War.
All approved by the FDA, absolved by that American Medical Association and persecuted by Congress and the cops and in abeyance to the needs of the bankers, the pharmaceutical houses and the international drug cartels.
$550 billion a year can be very addicting.
DEAN BECKER: The following segment is from the May 20th Cultural Baggage.
DAVID SLOANE: My name is David Sloane and I’m a criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, Texas. Practice area is primarily criminal defense in the Fort Worth Metroplex.
DEAN BECKER: Now Mr. Sloane, there was a recent decision affecting a medical marijuana patient here in Texas. Tell us how that unfolded and the results.
DAVID SLOANE: Well we’ve had a variety of instances here in Texas where people that use cannabis to treat medical conditions have found themselves arrested for possession of marijuana. In Texas we had a bill before the legislature a couple years ago. Well, we’ve had several bills.
One, of course, to pass medical marijuana and then also there was an attempt to just build in an affirmative defense for somebody who had a medical condition requiring marijuana and, of course, both of those bills died in committee. It hasn’t been too popular among the Texas legislature.
But in Texas law we do have a justification in the table of defenses that deals with necessity and that can apply to any crime that a person has been accused of. That basically says that if it’s necessary for you to break the law to prevent a greater harm (with a few exceptions) that’s OK.
A good example would be if you are stranded in ….well, I don’t think we have any deserts but let’s say you found yourself stranded in the desert and you happened upon a cabin and you need sustenance and you need water and you need this that and the other. You could feasibly force your way into that cabin just for the purpose of keeping yourself alive.
The law basically says that if you have to commit an offense because the desirability and the urgency of it is to prevent a greater harm than the law that was written (that you’re breaking) was designed to prevent then you can certainly present that issue to the jury and let them decide whether or not you had the justification of necessity.
I’ve employed that several times here in North Central Texas with people who had legitimate medical needs for the use of cannabis – people treating neuropathy, pain, sleep disorders, in this case Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, these type of things. I’ve had a fairly good degree of success getting the state not to even prosecute the case or, in this case, it had been filed and we got the state to fashion a remedy that I think works best for everybody with the law written as it is.
Juries are like politics – you don’t ever know what they’re going to do. But I also know that the prosecutor has that same doubt that I do going into a jury trial. I think that if you believe national polls and national statistics I think that the majority of Americans – certainly better than 51% - don’t really see the point in our criminal marijuana statutes and the tremendous expense and everything. I think that when they see a situation where the government is trying to intrude upon a patient/doctor relationship or something where somebody is trying to use a safe and natural product holistically to treat ailments which have been reported to treat much more effectively than a lot of the ineffective products put out by the pharmaceutical industry. I think that it’s a very stark and real possibility that the jury is going to acquit that person.
DEAN BECKER: So even in Texas things are beginning to change.
The following segment comes from the June 3rd Cultural Baggage show. It features the Vice Presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, Judge James P. Gray. He’s author of a book that compelled me to do what I’m doing now. The book, “Why Our Drug Laws Failed and What We Can Do About It.”
JAMES GRAY: This is the most exciting thing I think that’s happened to me since the birth of my children. Our country simply needs a different direction and Governor Gary Johnson is the most qualified to be President of the United States that I know of. I don’t mean to insult you Dean but I’ll stand on it anyway.
DEAN BECKER: [chuckles] what did I say?
JAMES GRAY: No, no, I’m just saying that Governor Johnson is even more qualified than Dean Becker which is saying a whole bunch.
DEAN BECKER: [chuckles] Oh..thanks…OK, you’re right, sir. I’ll agree with that. He’s had the time and grade. He’s had the experience. He’s done some great things for the state of New Mexico while he was governor.
One that came to mind while I was sitting here before the show is he came forward with that “Good Samaritan” bill. He signed that into law in Utah which is saving lives and now other states across the nation are starting to follow suit.
JAMES GRAY: Well, yeah, it’s New Mexico but the answer is yes. Governor Johnson is a Libertarian just like me. He is fiscally conservative and socially tolerant. He actually left the state of New Mexico after his 8 years in office with a surplus of a billion dollars. And, according to the ACLU, he has actually qualified more for what they call Liberty Torches than any of the other candidates.
Romney out of 25 scored 0. Obama out of 25 scored 16. Governor Johnson out of 25 scored 23. So he is just the right person at the right time with the right message with the right action for the right job. I’m proud to be his running mate.
DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. Let’s talk about it. I was looking at ya’ll’s web page today – a list of things that need to be dealt with. Let’s just start at the top: Immigration. America is a land of immigrants. Legal immigration should focus on making it easier and simpler for willing workers to come here with a temporary job. Fill that in for me, please.
JAMES GRAY: Well and that’s right. You know people do come here to work. Yes, eventually they will bring their families and some of them end up on welfare and the rest but they come here to work. And, Dean, we should make it easier for them to get work visas that way they could be legitimate, pay their taxes, get a social security card, get a driver’s license, come back and forth across the border without all the danger and all the coyotes and the rest.
And it’s not a path to citizenship but as long as they passed our inquiry that they have good moral turpitude and no criminal convictions, etc. they could come here and work. That’s the way to do this and then you punish employers that hire people without having that work visa. A one strike and you’re out. Of course, I don’t like those types of laws very often but here after this provision goes into effect if people disobey our immigration laws they never again get a chance to come back to live in the United States of America.
DEAN BECKER: Next from the July 22nd Cultural Baggage we have Steve DeAngelo, the Executive Director of the Harborside Health Center in Oakland.
DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. You are busy at this point, aren’t you?
STEVE DeANGELO: I am. We are getting ready for a big demonstration on Monday. President Obama is coming to town and hundreds if not thousands of medical cannabis patients are going to be in the streets to greet him and let him know that it’s time for him to keep his promise that he made to our community when he ran for president. It’s time for him to speak to the Attorney General and make sure that all of the U.S. Attorneys in the United States, including Melinda Haag, are acting in compliance with administration policy as articulated by the Attorney General in sworn testimony before the U.S. congress just a few weeks ago when he said that the department of justice would only be targeting organizations that were out of compliance with state law.
Everybody knows that Harborside is in complete and total compliance with California state law. So it’s really time for the President to keep his promise, to step up and make sure that the U.S. Attorneys are faithfully executing administration policy.
DEAN BECKER: Which brings to mind a couple questions. First off, I want to state that I have had the privilege of touring the Harborside Oaksterdam site. Was one of the first ones in there with a video camera with your good graces and the fact of the matter is I saw from intake to outgo how this is handled, the security involved , the procedures necessary to control all of this and your local governments have no qualms with what you guys are doing, do they?
STEVE DeANGELO: No, none whatsoever. In fact our city attorney, Barbara Parker, released a statement calling the actions on the part of the U.S. Attorney a tragedy. Also we’ve got statements of support from our Council Person-at-large, Rebecca Kaplin. We’ve got statements of support from our congresswoman, Barbara Lee. We’ve got statements of support from our State Taxation Commissioner, Betty Yee.
So we’ve seen a huge outpouring of support. Also just a couple weeks ago Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the House, issued a statement calling on the federal government to cease this campaign against medical cannabis patients. So we have a huge amount of political support at the local, state and national levels.
DEAN BECKER: Steve, there’s much I want to talk with you about but there’s something I want to share with the listeners. A week or so ago you guys had a press conference and there was a father of a young patient who benefits from Harborside and I want to share that with the audience. I’ve edited it down to about 3:20 here but I want the audience to hear why you do what you do.
FATHER: This is coming from a father who loves his son. I don’t know how else to tell you this but this is what saved my son’s life. My son had a seizure every single day for the last four and one-half years of his life.
The first he had medical cannabis was the first time he went without a seizure in his life. Can you imagine your kids having seizures every single day, being in pain 12 to 14 hours a day, crying, screaming?
My son’s tried 12 different medications from around the world – 2 that weren’t FDA approved and they didn’t work. They just caused him more problems. My son’s taken 25,000 pills and he’s 5-years-old. That’s ridiculous.
Seeing my son suffer like this and not to get to enjoy life. I’ve been to birthday parties and seen my son not have fun while other kids are having fun – I’m running to ambulance or calling 911, seeing my son suffer.
Well things have changed since I started using medical cannabis. I got him from 22 pills a day to 4 right now. He’s functioning better. I have documentation. I have video evidence of him changing as a human being. His eye contact is getting better. I get emails from his teachers telling me how good he’s doing and that they’re seeing a difference comprehending.
I wish my son could say I love you. That’s my true goal. But right now I’m happy with him when he looks in my eyes and I tell him, “Give me a kiss.” He can give me a kiss now. Can you imagine your kid not giving you a kiss?!
I’ve been blessed. God has shown me the way. This is a plant. It even says in the bible and I am a Christian Genesis 1:29 and 1:30, “Use my plant, use my seed.” And it’s been working fantastically for my son. It has changed his life.
From being in an ambulance 45 times he hasn’t been in an ambulance since I started CBD. Last April and May I was losing it myself. I didn’t know how I could see my son suffer like that every day. Thank God for bringing cannabis to save my son.
Please…When this happened …Have some compassion. Don’t let me lose my son, Please. Obama, Mitt Romney…wherever you guys are out there we need your help. I love my son.
DEAN BECKER: Steve, this father just spoke some very magnificent truths, did he not?
STEVE DeANGELO: He sure did. When I hear about how much better Jayden is doing since we hooked him up with some CBD-rich tincture I feel like if there’s not any other one thing that we’ve done in the whole six years that Harborside’s been open other than to help give this little boy and his family higher quality of life than everything, everything will have been worth it no matter what happens to us in this confrontation with the federal government.
DEAN BECKER: We have a few seconds to hear some words from Charles Bowden, the author of “Murder City” who investigates the Mexican drug war on a daily basis.
From the August 12th Cultural Baggage.
CHARLES BOWDEN: All we’ve done is arm the Mexican government with better weapons so they can go out and murder its own citizens.
I’ll make this simple. I wouldn’t want any of these listeners to become confused by my muddled thinking.
Mexico is a totally corrupt oligarchy. It is supported by another oligarchy – the United States. They are both working together to slaughter the poor. The people that have the gumption to get out, to come through the wire, then we hunt them down here like animals because they want to survive.
DEAN BECKER: I would urge you to check out the August 12th Cultural Baggage show. It features Charles Bowden and Molly Molloy who speak about the horrors we inflict on the peoples of Mexico through our fictitious drug war. Fictitious in that it empowers these barbarous Latin cartels to the tune of about 50 billion dollars a year and it gives reason for more than 30,000 violent gangs to be prowling our neighborhoods and to be aligned with the Mexican cartels in more than 1,000 U.S. cities.
As always I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.
DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.
Drug Truth Network archives are stored at the James A. Baker, III Institute for Policy Studies.
Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org
The James A Baker Institute
Sun - Portland homes for sale, with cannabis plants included
Sat - Dr. Sanjay Gupta decries Govt propaganda on cannabis
Fri - Paul Armentano of NORML re DEA ruling on cannabis 2/2
Thu - Paul Armentano of NORML re DEA ruling on cannabis
Wed - Phil Smith, reporter with Alternet & Stop the Drug War recaps recent blunders of US Govt 2/2
Tue - Phil Smith, reporter with Alternet & Stop the Drug War recaps recent blunders of US Govt
Mon - Vivian McPeak, Exec Dir of Seattle Hempfest