06/16/13 Shawn McCallister

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Report from DFWNORML Conf: Shawn McCalister head of DFWNORML, Keith Stoup legal counsel for NORML Natl, Terry Nelson of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition + Rob Kampia Dir of Marijuana Policy Project

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Transcript

Transcript

Century of Lies / June 16, 2013

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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.

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DEAN BECKER: Put your ears on. We got a great show lined up for you. We’re going to hear some reports out of Dallas/Ft. Worth NORML and that convention one week ago. We’ll hear from Keith Stroup, former head of NORML. We’ll hear from Mr. Rob Kampia, the current head of the Marijuana Policy Project and we’ll get our last report for a while from Terry Nelson of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

But, first up, we’re going to hear from Mr. Shawn McCalister, head of DFW NORML.

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DEAN BECKER: Now, Shawn, we’re here at this conference in Fort Worth – a lot of attendees, a lot of vendors and some great speakers. Tell us what’s going on.

SHAWN MCCALISTER: Right now Russ Belleville has just taken the stage. We’ve already had Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, speaking. Today and tomorrow is a historic event for the state of Texas.

We’ve got what I consider the most historic and ambitious drug policy event at least in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex history but I feel like we can safely say in the state of Texas history. We’ve brought in speakers from all around the country to speak on a variety of topics.

We have people like Judge Jim Gray who is going to be giving a talk later today and then immediately following him we’re going to have somebody talking about creating concentrates. We’re going to be flying people from California from a company called Tinctura and they are going to be talking about creating concentrates and also about growing high quality medicine.

So we’ve just got a real variety of talks and workshops not to mention vendors and parties and just all kinds of good stuff thrown in to make this more than just your average drug policy event. We really wanted to make it something fun and a networking event for all these Texas activists who are very serious about this topic.

DEAN BECKER: Shawn you are bringing in someone to talk about the extracts and in the last few years we’ve had Dab and Simpson Oil and all these high-grade extracts that really take away the need to smoke large quantities. What I’m trying to say is rather than a gram joint a person might use one-hundredth of a gram of some of this extract thereby lessening the need to smoke large amounts.

It is actually an improvement but here in Texas they think those extracts are worthy of more severe punishment. Your thought?

SHAWN MCCALISTER: It’s unfortunate that Texas is one of those states that differentiates the concentrated stuff from the flower. Really if you ask anybody who’s happy about it then a lot of ways it’s the same thing.

Yes, it’s different but it should be treated the same way, certainly. I do feel like Texas needs to wake up to the fact that these things no matter how concentrated they are they are not going to do more harm than what they’re already used to.

Whenever the media likes to blow out, “It’s more potent or these Dabs” and this or that then yes, of course, there are going to be people who are going to try to make this stronger. There’s always going to be that. That’s just the American way. We always try to improve upon on whatever we can.

DEAN BECKER: Well, we have a situation where Texas is denied the right to put a measure on the ballot – the citizens cannot do it themselves no matter how many signatures we might collect. Your thoughts?

SHAWN MCCALISTER: It’s funny that the right to referendum is something most Texans don’t even know they don’t have. That’s actually been part of our mission with NORML is to educate people on the fact that it is not as easy as us just starting a petition.

You wouldn’t believe how many emails I personally get of, “I’m down. I’ve just learned the truth about marijuana. I want to help legalize it. What petitions can I pick up to pass out?”

Really, when we educate these Texans that they don’t have the power that they think they – that’s going to be the crucial point that makes people say, “Alright, you know what?! Marijuana policy is a good enough policy for me to get politically involved.”

That’s what happened with me.

DEAN BECKER: I’ve spoken to a handful of Texas state officials and behind closed doors they will agree with me 95% of the way but when it comes to having the courage, the balls to bring this up in the legislature they are totally cowards.

SHAWN MCCALISTER: In my experience that is not surprising. We took the time to write this comprehensive Medical Marijuana Act of 2013 and we couldn’t even find somebody to sponsor it. It was this 38-page monster of a bill that Texas has never seen anything like this about marijuana. We always get the same pieces of crap legislation that keeps getting introduced just like this past session.

We couldn’t find a single person to sponsor that and that just made me realize that these guys – they are cowards. They are cowards and it’s going to take us saying, “You know what, coward?! Either you represent me or I’m going to represent me or I’m going to find somebody that will represent me.”

DEAN BECKER: Like Keith said, “We got to outlive the bastards.”

That’s really part of the answer, too – isn’t it?

SHAWN MCCALISTER: We’re working on that.

DEAN BECKER: I realize it’s early on here. You got to get back to the conference but please point folks to the website where they can learn more about Dallas/Ft. Worth NORML.

SHAWN MCCALISTER: It’s http://dfwnorml.org

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DEAN BECKER: We’re here in Fort Worth, Texas at the DFW NORML gathering and we have the former head of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws – a man who’s …well, he ain’t really retired at all – Mr. Keith Stroup. How are you doing, sir?

KEITH STROUP: It’s nice to see you and it’s especially great to be back in Texas. This is where we started 42, 43 years ago. The very first state we went in to was Texas. Back then because you were the worst state. You were locking the most people up for the longest period of time.

I’m happy to say some real fine changes since then. You have a long way to go on your law but there’s some real healthy marijuana smoking culture and it seems to me to be pretty well accepted down here.

DEAN BECKER: It is. It’s just the remnants of a long ago propaganda war. We still have too many of our politicians left.

KEITH STROUP: No doubt and you’ve got a lot of rural areas in this state. Traditionally, not just in Texas, the rural areas of most states have been slower to change on this. You’re going to have to be patient but I heard somebody this morning make the point – they were determined that Texas will not be last. I guarantee you won’t be near last. I think Texas will be in the middle group of states to finally legalize marijuana. You won’t be one of the first. We’ll have Massachusetts and Oregon and California and probably a couple other New England states by 2016. I don’t think Texas will legalize by them but I am hopeful that you will have stopped arresting smokers by 2016. I think that’s a realistic goal.

DEAN BECKER: There was a report issued just last week that talked about 3.7 blacks being arrested for every one white marijuana user which showed the racial disparity. One of the things I noticed it talked about was my city, my county (Houston, Harris County) being the second leading in that number of arrests.

KEITH STROUP: By the way there were some parts of this country where it was 8:1. 4:1 is outrageous, of course. The rates of marijuana smoking - for people who might not know – it’s consistent across Hispanics, blacks and white. It’s about 13%. In a few states in the west and east coast it might go up a couple points, maybe down a little bit in some other areas but essentially the same % of people smoke regardless of race but you have places where anywhere from 4 to 8 times as many blacks and Hispanics are being arrested on marijuana charges as whites?!

There is only one possible answer – it’s racism.

DEAN BECKER: And it started as racism.

KEITH STROUP: Of course, of course. In some ways it’s full circle. We are finally coming to grips of the fact that marijuana would have never become illegal if whites were smoking it.

If only white people would have been smoking marijuana in the 1930s it would never have become illegal but the only people smoking it at those points were Mexican migrant workers and black jazz musicians predominantly and neither one were held in very high regard. They didn’t have much political power at the time.

ACLU really deserves special credit. Harry Levine, who is a professor at the City University of New York, he has been working on some of these racial analysis. He started with New York City and then he did 10 other cities. ACLU has embraced that and taken it nationwide. It’s a marvelous report.

I think it will have incredibly positive benefits to help the movement among people who don’t have the slightest sympathy about smoking marijuana but who understand that we cannot have a criminal justice system that has one standard for minorities and one for whites.

DEAN BECKER: It’s proven itself. It’s not just…

KEITH STROUP: Oh, it’s not a fluke. It’s been a long time coming.

DEAN BECKER: I agree with you. We should applaud the ACLU for having brought this to our attention.

KEITH STROUP: You bet. Major editorials around the country during the past week on this subject. Insiders (those of us who work on the issue) have been aware of this for years. What’s important is the average American be aware of it and especially elected officials because, I’m serious here, sometimes those of us who smoke marijuana forget that we are in a minority – we are roughly 13% - so for us to have the ability to pass good marijuana laws we have to make arguments that appeal to the 87% of the country who do not smoke.

For example, if it were only smokers we’d probably all say let’s have a tomato model – you can have as much as you want, the government is not involved, you can sell it, give it away, whatever you want to do because, frankly, it’s an essentially harmless drug but it’s been 75 years and you will never get such a system.

In order to eliminate three-quarter of one million marijuana arrests a year you have to make appeals to the 87% who don’t smoke. They are now with us for the first time. During the last couple years we now have majority support but there are two things that still bother a lot of non-smokers.

They want to make sure that if they legalize marijuana they won’t have a huge new influx of drivers on the road. That’s a reasonable concern . By the way it’s not a real problem because we already drive – the 30 million of us that smoke drive already so it’s not like some new people on the road but nonetheless we have to be able to answer that question and one thing is we need to develop an effective test for impairment so we don’t have to rely on some silly 5 nanogram THC test that measures THC but it doesn’t measure impairment. It’s not like alcohol. So that’s important.

The other thing is that we need to demonstrate that there is no significant increase in adolescent use once a state legalizes. We have that chance now with Colorado and Washington. We know that it’s harder for kids to get marijuana when it’s legalized and regulated because you have an age control so I think the rates will actually go down but that is a legitimate concern.

So, again, I think sometimes that those of us who work on the issue forget that we talk to each other and we talk to other smokers and we think that these laws aren’t good enough that maybe we can get passed. We’re never going to have the perfect law but let me tell you Washington State, for example, they’ve been having 12,000 marijuana arrests per year – they just passed an initiative where that will probably go down to not more than a couple thousand arrests per year. That’s worth a hell of a lot even though they didn’t allow home cultivation.

I very much favor home cultivation and so does NORML and even though they included a 5 nanogram “per say” DUID provision. It’s not a perfect law but, for God sake, the importance of a few states breaking through, thumbing their nose at the federal government is so important that we can put up with imperfections. We’ll be back and fix those laws.

DEAN BECKER: I have talked in the past about the fact (and don’t take this wrong) but pot stinks. If it did not have that lingering aroma in the cars, on your clothes, on your breathe, police would have a very difficult time determining who smokes marijuana because other than that lingering smell there’s really no reason to search that car.

KEITH STROUP: That’s right. Right now the law in 48 states is if a police officer pulls you over for any legitimate traffic offense – it can be a light out on the license plate, they can claim you didn’t signal when you switched lanes (a lot of times they make that up) but either way – when it happens they pull you over, you roll down the window and they ask for your driver’s license and insurance. If they say they smell marijuana every state in the country (other than the two legal states now) say that gives them the right to search the passenger compartment without a search warrant. Your 4 th amendment rights are waived.

Now the importance of Washington and Colorado which people didn’t realize at first is that it is no longer contraband so it’s no longer probable cause to do anything. You can have up to an ounce of marijuana on your front seat in both of those states and if the cops pull you over and see it they can’t even search the God damn car. It is not contraband.

So, you see, in terms of getting our rights back it really is an important first step. It will no longer allow cops to make up, “I smell marijuana.” Because if you smell marijuana that doesn’t provide any probable cause that there is more than one ounce in the car so they have no probable cause to believe that you’ve committed a crime.

It is the beginning of the end of prohibition I assure you. The laws will get better but this is a beginning of the end.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, if you would like to learn more about the good work of the folks at NORML their website is http://norml.org

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DEAN BECKER: Well, it’s the first full day of the DFW NORML conference. I’m here with my good friend, my fellow member/speaker of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Mr. Terry Nelson. How are you doing, Terry?

TERRY NELSON: Good to be here, Dean. Nice to see you again.

DEAN BECKER: We stand in support of these “weed” organizations but we stand for everybody no matter what focus they have on this drug war as long as they’re trying to end it, right?

TERRY NELSON: We stand strictly from a prohibitionist’s side but we want to end prohibition as it is because of all of the harm it is causing to our young people and to our population at large.

DEAN BECKER: You’re from Dallas/Fort Worth area or somewhere near here, right?

TERRY NELSON: I live just south of here down by Lake Granbury.

DEAN BECKER: We here in Texas do not have the ability to put a referendum, a ballot measure to legalize or change these drug laws – we are dependent on our legislators, right?

TERRY NELSON: Of course, it is up to the legislator to introduce the legislation. We can then help them get it passed but they first have to have the political courage to introduce the legislation.

Several have but they have never been able to get them out of committee because of the intrenchance of the people who have been in power for a long time.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, and they can’t back down from their prior stance.

TERRY NELSON: They old people.

DEAN BECKER: [giggles] Earlier here at the conference we were talking about whether or not you should present your credentials to the attendees and I think for our viewers here and the listeners (this is going to be on radio, too) share your credentials. What makes you a good spokesman for LEAP?

TERRY NELSON: I have an extensive law enforcement career – it’s been 32 years in federal service. I’ve worked along the borders. I’ve worked in Central and South America. I’ve worked out of Mexico City.

I’ve received the Department of Justice Meritorious Award for Superior Performance and Police Officer of the Year in Southern Florida, special congressional recognition for my work, several other commendations including one for life saving which is not relevant to the LEAP movement.

I’m a moderately decorated federal law enforcement office and it kind of hard to say that I don’t know what I’m talking about since I’ve worked in all phases of it – at the interdiction routes in Columbia, I worked the grow operations in 5 countries in South America and every country in Central America except Nicaragua and Mexico so I have a good background in narcotics and how it works and the damage that it’s causing in other parts of the world other than the United States.

DEAN BECKER: Some of most recent service to the government was in Afghanistan helping them to set up their borders and better…

TERRY NELSON: Actually it was in Iraq. I was an advisor to the Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement for almost 3 years. I went over in ’07 and my final time was a return in ’10.

DEAN BECKER: This speaks to the fact that many people think that the situation is an American problem but this drug war is a global problem. Is it not?

TERRY NELSON: It’s definitely a global problem. I was in Vienna in March for the drug conference. The people there who are part of the drug consortium that are keeping it illegal are dependent upon their job, their livelihoods. They’ve got pretty cushy jobs. They really don’t want to end prohibition in the world because they’re going to lose their jobs if they do.

We had many side meetings with folks. We went in to sidebar discussions and our message is very well received and it looks like that in some time in 2014 to 16 there will be a possible change in the United Nations where it’s going to have to come up for a vote and discussion on the floor and it can’t be just killed in committee anymore.

DEAN BECKER: We have a similar situation …Well, we have a situation in Texas where I think Harold Dutton and a couple others have put forward very incremental fixes to allow people busted that use it medically to tell the judge. It seems like just a horrible, minor adjustment and even that was unable to make it through.

We have in states around the country where there are those standing in opposition to the medical laws, still trying to prevent people from making a profit, trying to do everything possible to quash the legal trade. What’s your thought there, Terry?

TERRY NELSON: There is some truth to that but, also, let’s give a little credit where credit is due. Texas has closed one major prison and is trying to close two more prisons in this state so that’s a positive sign. I think you should always accentuate the positive when you can.

This is 40 years of propaganda and the people in office have listened to it and they bought it and it’s hard for them to get their head around the fact that they might have been wrong all this time as it was difficult for me at the time to get my head around it.

I would never go for just decriminalization because you’re still leaving the cartels and the big money makers and the killers in the business. I want to end drug prohibition globally to where people will not be dying.

We don’t lose nearly as many people here in the United States as Mexico – 70,000 people in the last 5 years…throughout Central and South America tens of thousands of them dying. Even over in Europe and Africa there is killings every day to protect drug routes. It’s just something that I don’t see how the United Nations can continue to support because of the human rights issues involved and the fact that they are actually supporting policy that is helping to kill hundreds of thousands of people globally.

DEAN BECKER: Let’s talk about our organization – Law Enforcement Against Prohibition started out as 5 guys about 10, 11 years ago and it’s now grown. Do you know the numbers?

TERRY NELSON: It changes daily, of course. We have speakers in 70 countries and I think we have 130 or 140,000 members or supporters today. We have quite a few police officers – many of them are stealth members because they would be fired if they come out and say they actually support us but we have a little over 1,000 police officers that do support us openly and a like number or more that are stealth supporters of LEAP.

DEAN BECKER: Which brings to mind in a handful of cases working officers have spoken publically trying to say “I’m not saying this as a member of this force but as an individual who has learned through that experience” and a couple have been fired, a couple have been chastised and otherwise ran into problems for having spoke out.

TERRY NELSON: That’s true. The first name that comes to mind is Brian Gonzales. He was a border agent out in El Paso and he was fired for simply saying to another border control agent (they were parked in a car talking) that he thought it might be a good idea to legalize marijuana because it would reduce a lot of the crime. His bosses found out about it and he was fired. The ACLU has taken his case and it is on appeal now but it’s been almost 2 years and he still doesn’t have his job back and he may not get his job back.

We do have some sitting police officers that with the consent of their supervisors are allowed to talk about it off-duty and on their own time which is a first amendment right. One of our sitting board members, David Bratzer, is an active constable in Canada. He got in a little trouble but he got support and they now accept the fact that he does have a right to speak for himself.

He just recently received a very high honor in Canada so I think Canada may be changing her attitudes about how to deal with this. If you want to have a LEAP speaker come to your organization all you have to do is go to http://leap.cc or http://copssaylegalizedrugs.com

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DEAN BECKER: We’re here in Fort Worth at the DFW NORML gathering. I’m honored to have Mr. Rob Kampia the head of the Marijuana Policy Project. How are you doing, Rob?

ROB KAMPIA: Good. Thanks for having me.

DEAN BECKER: Progress in regards to the understanding about marijuana/cannabis is really expanding on a daily basis isn’t it?

ROB KAMPIA: The American people are understanding more and more that marijuana is safer than alcohol, for example, and no one’s ever overdosed on it.

DEAN BECKER: Right. The politicians, even in Texas, are starting to dabble a bit in changing these laws. They didn’t make any progress this legislative session but the idea is starting to take hold.

ROB KAMPIA: Well, there actually was a little bit of progress because there was the pseudo-decriminalization bill that was heard in the house criminal justice committee. It was amended, unfortunately, to make it worse but it did pass out of the committee with a 6 to 3 vote which is very difficult to do in any Texas legislative committee.

Unfortunately because the legislature is adjourned for the year it means starting over again which will be January of 2015.

DEAN BECKER: Let’s hope by then the flow of information becomes sufficient to awaken these Texas politicians.

ROB KAMPIA: Yeah, it’s going to have to come from the ground up. We’re considering hiring a lobbying firm in Austin – masterminding the lobbying campaign in the 2015 session but that won’t be any good if there aren’t people around the state agitating the legislators in their home district.

One of the key things that I’ve been talking to people about at this conference is to see if there really is energy for people to talk to their legislators – not just in 2015 but between now and then so that they’ve heard from their own constituents enough that by the time it is time to call the bill up for a vote it won’t be a surprise for them.

Ballots have shown that the support for medical marijuana is always in the 70s. Also there is a higher support for legalization and decriminalization in Texas than what I think a lot of people would guess.

We’ve had 4 huge victories recently with the biggest one being legalizing marijuana in Colorado in November. That’s the first time that anyone has done that in the history of the world. That was a huge one.

We just had 3 victories in 3 state legislatures. One was passing a medical marijuana bill in Illinois, another was passing a medical marijuana bill in New Hampshire and the third was decriminalizing marijuana possession in Vermont. The government of Vermont just signed our bill just as this conference was starting.

DEAN BECKER: I’ve been wondering if he would.

ROB KAMPIA: That was a nice little shot in the arm.

DEAN BECKER: Was that just yesterday that Maine considered legalization outright? Didn’t make it but it was voted on.

ROB KAMPIA: The Maine House of Representatives fell 3 votes short of legalizing marijuana so the vote was something like 71 to 67. That was with us not even having a lobbying firm there. We had a legislator who is deeply committed to the cause and serving as the lobbyist and my organization has one full-time employee who has been roaming the halls in Augusta.

Without spending any money on TV ads or radio ads or lobbying firms or pressure tactics the thing almost passed. That gives us a feeling that if we can almost get it through the legislature with almost no money then we can probably actually pass a ballot initiative in Maine.

The Marijuana Policy Project is going to be lobbying for legalization in a few state legislatures. That would be Rhode Island, Vermont, Hawaii, Maryland and New Hampshire. That’s the lobbying.

In terms of ballot initiatives where you usually get more attention and more excitement certainly Maine is going to be a ballot initiative for legalization, certainly Oregon, California for 2016, Alaska in 2014 and then we’re also putting our toes in the water in Nevada and Arizona.

If there’s extra money then Montana but Montana is sort of the last state on the docket for legalization.

DEAN BECKER: And Montana had such a cluster…thing with the way they treated the medical marijuana laws…the people who got indicted and convicted was outrageous I thought.

ROB KAMPIA: Yeah, Montana, unfortunately, was a dream in that the law worked really well there for years and then all it took was a couple bad eggs to ruin it for everyone and then the legislature got involved.

The Montana legislature did not get involved in 2005, 7 or 9. It wasn’t until 2011 that the legislature finally clamped down on the law and that was because people were misbehaving.

Texas is not going to be Montana. If Texas does it we’re going to do it right here.

DEAN BECKER: Once again we’ve been speaking with Mr. Rob Kampia, the president, the founder of the Marijuana Policy Project. They’re out there on the web at http://mpp.org

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DEAN BECKER: I want to thank Shawn McCalister, Keith Stroup, Terry Nelson and Rob Kampia and remind you, once again, that the drug was is a scam.

Prohibido istac evilesco!

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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