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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John Baker, former Dep Sheriff and LEAP speaker + Robert Platshorn author of Tuna Diaries, Grover Norquist calls for legal weed
Cultural Baggage / August 25, 2013
DEAN BECKER: 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: OK my friends, thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. I am Dean Becker, your host. A bit later we’ll hear from Mr. Robert Platshorn, the gentleman who spent 30 years in prison for his youthful indiscretions with marijuana.
First up we have one of my fellow speakers from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Mr. John Baker. Let’s go ahead and bring him on. Hey John, are you there?
JOHN BAKER: I am here, Dean. How are you?
DEAN BECKER: I’m good. It’s good to hear your voice. John, the heck of it is the drug war is losing its stature at a rapid rate. Is it not?
JOHN BAKER: Its losing its stature with the public but in the government agencies, the bureaucracy has kind of a lock on it. Don’t you think?
DEAN BECKER: Well, they’re losing that grip I think. Recent pronouncements by Eric Holder would indicate as much. Don’t you think?
JOHN BAKER: I think they are starting to lean that way and as long as they continue to understand and hear the public and hear the people like yourself and myself who understand what a failure the drug war is and has been then I think you have a point, Dean.
DEAN BECKER: When you get other people gloaming on or leading, maybe, like Dr. Sanjay Gupta and others it begins to lose the stigma a bit more doesn’t it?
JOHN BAKER: I think so, too. Yes, I do. I think it’s becoming...even if it is little by little and it’s coming far later than many had hoped it would – it is coming. As you said when people with the visibility of Dr. Gupta come forward and say what he has said on CNN that’s fantastic.
DEAN BECKER: I look at it this way. You and I and all our other hundreds if not thousands of other LEAP speakers are also opening up that door. Are we not?
JOHN BAKER: Yes we are. I have found since becoming a LEAP speaker I’ve been getting calls from a variety of places and organizations to come forward and speak and at least to engage in some healthy debate. It’s been enjoyable and I can really see the impact.
DEAN BECKER: Once again, folks, we are speaking with Mr. John Baker, former Sheriff Deputy – is that right?
JOHN BAKER: That is correct – in California.
DEAN BECKER: Tell us a bit about your law enforcement experience.
JOHN BAKER: I spent over 20 years on the street. I served at the street level. I served as an investigator. I served undercover for over 2 and one-half years. I became a field supervisor. I was in the aero-bureau.
All during this time (I served active military prior to getting into law enforcement) and then stayed in reserve military all the way through Desert Storm. I have seen combat from Viet Nam through Desert Storm.
DEAN BECKER: This brings to mind that we have now SWAT teams in America, SWAT teams armed with probably the very same weapons you had when you were overseas fighting those actual wars. Your thoughts there, sir.
JOHN BAKER: The SWAT teams are far better armed than they were at one time and probably are carrying better weaponry than I carried in Viet Nam. As it progressed they are better prepared than they were at one time.
DEAN BECKER: I see stories, I’ve seen videos of SWAT teams fully decked out black from head to toe, 20 of them arriving in assault vehicles, kicking in the door of an illegal poker game. There’s something weird going on there, right John?
JOHN BAKER: Oh, yea. Nothing is perfect. I’ve done a lot of law enforcement speaking too. I’ve taught survival school. I’ve taught at academies. I’ve spoken to SWAT teams. I tend to raise their eyebrows a little bit because I tell them the truth.
The truth is they are a responding unit and the responding unit is always there “a day late and a dollar short” and has to rely on the information provided by ...well, it could be anybody – even somebody calling in on a hot poker game.
DEAN BECKER: I guess that’s...I don’t know...the fallacy or inequity of it all is that too often a report from a neighbor can be given too much credence and mayhem ensues, right?
JOHN BAKER: Yes, sir. I was on the Sheriff Department SWAT team. They called it SEB – Special Enforcement Bureau. We had a lot of pride in our training. We had a lot of pride in what we did and we tried to do it right and correctly and by the policy and by the book. Yes, we did save some lives but we also responded on some things that absolutely were tax dollar waste including the raiding of marijuana fields that to this day I find just a waste of time.
DEAN BECKER: We had a situation in a little town north of here, Conroe, they found 20 or 30,000 plants and they’re talking about how it’s making a major impact in the drug trade and on down the line when it’s just patting themselves on the back for absolutely no reason, isn’t it?
JOHN BAKER: You know they could have harvested 100,000 plants and it’s the flea on an elephant’s behind. It’s nothing, absolutely nothing.
DEAN BECKER: Yet they continue to get those burn grant dollars and all kinds of funding and so forth to buy those high powered weapons, the jeeps and tanks and all that stuff.
I don’t want to intrude here. I realize that currently you’re working in security, maybe anti-terror, but I think the mechanism of drug war was used and multiplies, extrapolated if you will, following 9/11 to kind of ratchet things up. Your thought there, John.
JOHN BAKER: I would agree. Yes, I deal in the security but as a matter of fact I worked very closely with medical marijuana grow facilities and dispensaries in the designing of their security to keep them safe from some of those street thugs that might try to come in and rob them.
I totally agree with you. I completely agree with you that every little thing that comes up somebody is going to point a finger at the great drug war and get another 10, 20, 30 million dollars to blow in the wind.
DEAN BECKER: John, there’s some news that’s been breaking over the past week...we’re talking about cannabis dispensaries. The fact of the matter is they’ve been denied tax deductions for regular business expense. They’ve been told that landlords can’t rent to them – all that kind of thing. Just this past week they were told they can no longer hire armored cars to pick up the money because they’re...well, should have thrown in there first they’re not allowed to open up bank accounts because government law.
So, here we are these dispensaries nothing but cash, no means to deposit that money and no means to move it around securely. It’s just asking for more madness isn’t it?
JOHN BAKER: Oh, sure. The drug cartels around the world love this. When a band of idiots comes forward and says, “You can’t do this and you can’t do that.” And treat these people who are business people on the most part like second class citizens and then the state of Colorado can collect 20, 30, 40 million dollars in tax dollars from the medical marijuana industry and then still abuse them is ...I don’t even know how to explain it, you know...corruption – how’s that for a word?
DEAN BECKER: Yeah, corruption, irrational, illogical – on down the line.
Once again, folks, we’re speaking with Mr. John Baker, a former Sheriff Deputy and now a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
John, we got about 5 minutes left here. I want to just turn it over to you. What would you like to relay to my audience? I’ve beat them up with my same ol’ canards every week. Give them some reasons to take another look at this fiasco.
JOHN BAKER: I’m going to talk to you from the heart – not a script. I served in law enforcement and military service for over 20 years in both. I’m referred to as a 20-20 guy.
I spent time in Afghanistan before it became popular. I brought this up in a speaking engagement not too long ago when I talked about the drug war. We have these people who throw stones at the medical marijuana facilities and the medical marijuana persons and don’t want people to use medical marijuana for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder because they want to come up with another definition of it.
My team...I was an officer in the Army. My team guarded – guarded – politicians, people from the state department, other high ranking type officials as they walked through the largest marijuana fields in the world which are in Afghanistan and then can turn around and take that same soldier who guarded them and put them in jail, put them in prison for years for possession of an ounce of marijuana that might have come from that very field they walked through with that happy smile.
To me – that’s corruption and that’s where the drug war is.
DEAN BECKER: And it’s showing its ugly face in most any direction you look. I think the situation that has re-motivated me is I heard a story a few weeks back about this girl named Charlotte up there in Denver who uses this Charlotte’s Web marijuana and it has cut back on her epileptic seizures from about 300 a month to maybe one or two. I think it’s sacrilegious, evil as hell for anybody to deny that possibility. It’s just preposterous that those people in power continue to say prohibition is necessary. Your thought there, John.
JOHN BAKER: I agree. I suffer, like many who have served in the military, from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have been medicated by the VA. I have been medicated by medical doctors and so on and I refuse to take it.
I have taken medical marijuana. I’ll be candid with you. For the first time in 20 years I was able to sleep. I was able to function without having that anxiety in the pit of my stomach.
I find it incredible, absolutely incredible that people can pass judgment on anyone who finds some solace in a relatively harmless herb and throw it as the “gateway drug” as I’ve heard it said so many times. The only “gateway” is the person themselves. It has nothing to do with the drug. If you’re weak enough to become addicted you willl.
DEAN BECKER: On kind of an aside here as I was driving in today I was thinking about the fact that they keep coming forward saying, “Those people who smoke marijuana are a danger on the roads.”
I think about it. I would imagine every day for the last 40 years I have had an illegal amount of THC in my system. 28 years ago I quit drinking. Since that point in time I’ve not had an accident, a ticket, no situations involving the law whatsoever. And I have, as I say, had that illegal amount of THC in my system every day. Your thought there, John.
JOHN BAKER: Every one of these folks that pontificates on the evils of marijuana probably goes home and slugs down a scotch every night, at least a bottle of wine at dinner and that’s OK – it’s socially acceptable because somehow marijuana has become the evil.
I would agree with you that people who are under the influence of anything should not be driving. I don’t advocate that the use of drugs gives someone a crutch to commit a crime but what a person does to help themselves medically or what a person does in their own home that doesn’t harm anyone else I find difficult for us to run out and enforce as a law in this country.
DEAN BECKER: Alright, John, we are running out of time. I want to remind folks, once again, we’ve been speaking with Mr. John Baker, a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
John or I or people all around this country with law enforcement experience are ready, willing and able to come speak to your organizations to share this truth with you. All we ask is you visit our website, http://www.leap.cc
There is a link there to pick a speaker and the Speakers’ Bureau will help you get it coordinated. We want to come talk to you. We want to end this madness.
John, 10 seconds to close out. What do you have to say, bud?
JOHN BAKER: Dean, you took the words out of my mouth. Go to the website. See what LEAP does. Get a better understanding. There is always 2 sides to every story.
If you need a speaker give us a call and we’ll be there in front of you.
DEAN BECKER: Thank you, John.
JOHN BAKER: Dean, thank you so much for having me.
(Game show music)
DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.
Loss of personal freedom, family and possessions. Ineligible for government funding, education, licensing, housing or employment. Loss of aggressive mind set in a dangerous world. This drug’s peaceful, easy feeling can be habit forming.
Time's up! The answer: Doobie, jimmy, joint, reefer, spliff, jibber, jay, biffa, jazz, blunt, steege, greener, cracker, hogger, bone, carrot, maryjane, marijuana, cannabis sativa.
Made by God. Prohibited by man.
DEAN BECKER: Long-time listeners will recognize the voice of our next guest. He was on air for a long segment earlier this year but he has a plan to awaken people, perhaps the people who need to hear it most – the seniors who would benefit from the use of medical cannabis. We have with us our guest, the author of “The Black Tuna Diaries”, a man who has served 30 years behind bars for his youthful indiscretions and who now runs the Silver Tour, Mr. Robert Platshorn.
How are you doing?
ROBERT PLATSHORN: All right, Dean. Thanks for having me on.
DEAN BECKER: Robert, there are so many roadblocks an stumbling points and situations that seem to be set in place to stifle the progress of those who want to change our drug laws, those who have seen the futility of our policy and you’re no exception to that are you?
ROBERT PLATSHORN: No. Since I came out of prison after serving 30 years I spent 4 years on the road traveling promoting my book. Then Magnolia Pictures had me out on the road to promote the movie, “Square Grouper” that tells my story and the story of the old smuggling days in south Florida.
I spent a lot of time at Hempfest and Hempstock and the cannabis cups talking about changing the law. About 2 years ago I realized that the one group that nobody was talking to was the strongest voting group in this country and that, of course, is seniors.
I looked at the exit polls in California for Prop. 19 and realized that it was the senior vote that defeated Prop 19 – legalization in California. It had nothing to do with the growers or the dispensaries. Most of those people don’t vote and there’s not enough of them to make a difference.
Seniors voted 65% against. That’s my generation. We really invented marijuana. We were Woodstock. We were the people who gave us a volunteer Army. We certainly never bought into the government stories about marijuana.
So I started something called the Silver Tour and went out and put on shows at big senior communities. I’d have a doctor explain the benefits of cannabis, patients who had actually been treated with cannabis, lawyers to explain the legal ins-and-outs of getting cannabis legalized in the various states. It seemed to make a big difference because seniors were very reticent to talk about marijuana.
After my show was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and on CNN and they even did a big segment on the Daily Show – Jon Stewart’s Daily Show – last December. It’s become an open subject. It’s written about now in the Art magazine and people like Sanjay Gupta are talking to seniors.
It’s come a long way. As we got more and more publicity I got more and more requests to put on shows all over the country and even in England and Australia, up in Canada.
Just about a year ago the man who had been my parole officer and had me released from regular parole...he was pretty decent guy. He knew I needed to travel to book signings and speaking engagements to make a living and he knew that I was working very hard to change the law which he was very much in favor of.
He got ill and a new parole officer popped up at my house a year ago and said that I have to serve special parole which I was sentenced to a year of special parole even though I had been released from regular parole. The first thing he said was, “Cancel all your travel.”
I said to him, “Mr. Kershey, without travel I can’t make a living. My living comes from book signings, speaking engagements, movie promotions and I get $700 per month Social Security that doesn’t pay the rent.”
Obviously he didn’t care. Then he said, “I will see that you can never travel to further legalization of cannabis in the United States.”
Then he slammed the door. In the past year I’ve made two trips. One to lobby in Tallahassee for the Cathy Jordan Medical Marijuana Bill. I originally got Senator Clemens to put the first bill ever seen in Florida into the legislature. This was the third time he brought it up. It had a lot of support and he asked me to come lobby the other senators and reps in Tallahassee. It was only because he personally wrote to the chairman of the parole commission asking that I be allowed to go and saying that he needed me there that the trip was even allowed.
Then, as you know, last May my Silver Tour sponsored a trip to Washington to lobby to end federal interference with the state marijuana laws. I raised enough money to bring in several busloads of people – mostly from the northeast corridor, from Philly, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware...people flew in on their own dime from Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan – even from Mexico.
I had 150 seniors and veterans there lobbying for a full day. We made an impression in the House of Representatives. The only reason I was able to go there was Neill Franklin from LEAP had his members contact the parole commission. These were all law enforcement people who asked that I be permitted to go.
Those are the only times I’ve left the neighborhood in the past year. Now I’m eligible for release from special parole. People from all over the country are writing letters to the chairman of the parole commission, Isaac Fulwood, Jr., and asking him to release me immediately from special parole.
DEAN BECKER: From what you are saying here there is a strong chance that you can get off this special parole but if more people from around the country were to write to this officer it would help expedite that matter. Is that correct?
ROBERT PLATSHORN: It would help bring the decision down in my favor. About 2 weeks ago a U.S. Congressman who is on the Judiciary Committee started an investigation of the parole commission to determine why they are spending money to supervise a 70-year-old man with a 35-year-old pot case and why they think that is a good use of funds.
The chairman of the parole commission can make the decision on his own if he so chooses and at the stroke of a pen I can spend my last couple years as a free man trying to earn a little money so that maybe someday I can even retire as a free man.
DEAN BECKER: If folks would like to write a letter in support of this change in your status please tell them the name and the address they should write to.
ROBERT PLATSHORN: It’s Isaac Fulwood, Jr., Chairman U.S. Parole Commission, 90 K Street NE., Washington, D.C. 20530
DEAN BECKER: Robert, please share your website with the listeners so they can learn more about your efforts.
ROBERT PLATSHORN: http://thesilvertour.org
You can see pictures from our visit to Washington. By the way, I gave a reception at the end of the day and we had Jared Polis from Colorado speak, Neill Franklin from LEAP was there but the most amazing guest of all was the least likely one – Grover Norquist got up and made a speech in favor of legalizing cannabis.
DEAN BECKER: The following segment was reported June 17th, 2013 in Washington, D.C. at the gathering of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy. The speaker, the moral leader of the Republican Party, Mr. Grover Norquist.
GROVER NORQUIST: What’s important about this issue in allowing states to make their policy on marijuana and having the feds respect it is it dovetails not only with the question of how many people need to be in prison and for how long and how many federal crimes do we need and what should be crimes but it dovetails with the whole question of states competing with each other to provide the best government at the lowest cost.
I think that if we have experimentation at the state level the feds ought to stay back and learn rather than interfere because they’ve decided that one size fits all.
Big country, lot of people in it. People can and do choose to live in one state rather than another and find out what works and what doesn’t and not have somebody in Washington say, “We’ve decided that we know. We decided about 70 years ago what works and what everybody is going to live with.”
To dream the American dream
To lie still and hope
With both of your eyes closed
To ignore the nightmare that surrounds you
Just to try, try to reach the American dream
DEAN BECKER: Alright, my friends, thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. We’ve got so much work to do but I think the process has begun.
I would appreciate it if you would do your part to end this madness, to contact your elected officials and otherwise do your part because it is going to take a lot of us – not all of us – but if your able you ought to get up and do your part. I would appreciate it.
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