US Congressman Beto O'Rourke discusses need for veterans to gain access to medical cannabis + Ed Gonzalez, Democrat, retired police Sergeant running for Sheriff of Harris County/Houston
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
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Jack Cole of LEAP re top stories of 2013, Seattle Sheriff John Urquhart, Nora Valkow of NIDA, Louis CK has a panic attack
Century of Lies / December 22, 2013
[music: John Lennon, So this is Christmas]
So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
DEAN BECKER: Another year over and a new one just begun. I gotta ask – what have you done this year to help end the madness of drug war?
This is Century of Lies on the Drug Truth Network and Pacifica Radio.
Once again, I’m glad to be speaking with one of the founding members, the original executive director of my “band of brothers”, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. I want to welcome Mr. Jack Cole. How are you doing, Jack?
JACK COLE: I’m doing fine and hope you are well, too.
DEAN BECKER: So far so good I think. We’ve had a lot of astounding news in this year, 2013. I don’t necessarily want to do the “top 10” but I want to talk about what’s happened in Colorado and Washington and what happened last week in Uruguay.
I want to preface this with a quick little aside. The day after Uruguay voted for legalization I called up the Office of National Drug Control Policy and asked for somebody to give me their thoughts – what this means, what happened in Uruguay?
The gentleman who answered the phone had three words, “No thanks. Goodbye.” And he hung up the phone.
JACK COLE: [laughing] ONDCP doesn’t want to talk about any of this and why would they after all?
DEAN BECKER: Exactly. That side seems to be left with two main defenders, if you will, former Representative Kennedy and that guy Kevin Sabet and they’re pretty well toothless in their responses as well. Your thoughts, Jack?
JACK COLE: As far as I’m concerned they’ve always been toothless in their responses and, certainly, it’s been almost 2 years now since the final nail in the coffin for anybody complaining about the legalizing marijuana was when the University of Utah and the University of Colorado did those studies to find out if there was any correlation between passing medical marijuana bills in states in the U.S. and a change in the fatal motor vehicle accidents. They also wanted to find out if there was a correlation between passing medical marijuana laws in states and a change in the suicide rates. They discovered there is a correlation, a direct correlation.
In states where they passed medical marijuana the fatal motor vehicle accident rate dropped by 9% - not exactly what they expected. In states that have passed medical marijuana laws, legalizing medical marijuana the suicide rate overall has dropped by 5%. For young men between the ages of 20 and 29-years-old the suicide rate has dropped by 11%.
I think we really need to think about that with all our soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan and sadly they are killing themselves faster now according to some studies than they were dying in the war over there.
DEAN BECKER: There are so many ramifications, so many new batches of information in particularly in regards to medical cannabis, the ways it can benefit I cry sometimes with joy sometimes out of anger when I see these pictures of the little infant kids that are benefitting – those that have the Gervais, Epilepsy – and how they actually begin to have a life through the use of cannabis.
It is preposterous to continue down this road isn’t it?
JACK COLE: Absolutely, absolutely and it’s more than preposterous – it’s criminal. There are people who are losing their lives every day because they can’t get this medicine.
DEAN BECKER: This has been another banner year for our “band of brothers”, LEAP. We had our representatives going to the United Nations again and we’ve been speaking all across this country haven’t we?
JACK COLE: All across the country is absolutely right. As a matter of fact we went over 1,700 presentations for the year this year – 1,700. At the first of the year...in each month they are growing in numbers. For instance the last month I looked at specifically was August and in August alone we did 230 presentations in one month.
DEAN BECKER: More and more we’re being called upon by political bodies during hearings and other investigations of this drug war, correct?
JACK COLE: Absolutely. In October I did a 12 day tour in Kansas of all places...It happens to be my home where I grew up – Wichita, Kansas. I like to go back and visit my sister-in-law on occasion so they set up a tour for me. In 12 days I did 31 presentations in Wichita and Topeka which is the capital.
The last presentation that I did there was before a group called the Silver-haired Legislators. Have you ever heard of that?
DEAN BECKER: I have not.
JACK COLE: It turns out there is a lot of states that have this group. In Kansas the Silver-haired Legislators represent 450,000 voters. That’s a lot of voters in a state the size of Kansas.
At a certain time of the year when the state senate is not in session they actually go in and they occupy the seats of the state senate. The secretary of state for Kansas comes in and swears them in as legislators. For three days they review bills that just affect the “adult advanced folks” – the older people.
One of the bills they were to look at this year was medical marijuana. They can’t vote to pass or not to pass these things but what they do do is they vote on a resolution to either accept or reject the bill and then that resolution is given to the state senate who probably won’t got against the Silver-haired Legislators because we’re talking about 450,000 votes. This isn’t like having 450,000 college kids of whom maybe 30% vote – every one of these people are voters.
They were going to review this bill and nobody thought they would pass it. They got me a chance to talk to them in the senate chamber in Topeka the first day they met. I was supposed to talk to them for 10 minutes and the night before the president of the Silver-haired Legislators calls me up and says, “The governor was supposed to speak after you did and the governor has told us that he can’t arrive for another 30 minutes. Do you think you could fill 40 minutes?”
[laughing] I said, “Yeah, I think I could do that.”
I went in and I talked to them for 40 minutes. In 40 minutes I can do my own presentation which I did. I got a standing ovation. It was really funny because after I finished the governor, Brownback, comes in and he walks up to the podium and starts to give his talk. In the back of the room there had been 2 TV cameras from regular television stations that had set up and they had recorded my entire talk for 40 minutes.
When the governor came in one of them broke down and started going out the door. I thought they must have something more important than the governor to do. I’m sitting there listening to the governor and in a couple minutes and the reporter for this news thing comes sneaking in...I was sitting right next to where the governor is talking at the podium and I see this guy practically on his hands and knees in front of me and he’s beckoning me outside because he wants to do an interview.
I get up and quietly sneak out the door and we’re right outside in the hall right where the governor can see us and I’m doing this interview with this TV camera which I’m sure he thought should have been on him.
I gave the interview for about 12 minutes. I go back inside and I sit down right by the governor. Just as he’s finishing and he walks down from the podium and down this center aisle people are coming down the aisle toward him and he sticks his hand out to shake their hand and they walk right by him and came to congratulate me on my talk. I was thinking, “Wow, if I only had a video of this it would be wonderful.”
That afternoon they voted 65 to 35 to pass medical marijuana.
DEAN BECKER: This reception, the applause, the willingness, the desire to shake your hand is indicative of the change that is definitely happening right before our eyes. It’s been within the past two years that the National Convention of Mayors came out in favor of marijuana and so, too, did a national gathering of chiefs of police. If only they could put that into play in their home communities.
JACK COLE: Absolutely. As you and I both know we shouldn’t just be talking about marijuana. We should be talking about all drugs because it’s wonderful if we can legalize marijuana but if the government did legalize marijuana across the board for every adult to use - not just medical but even recreational – that would be a wonderful thing because it would cause...I think last year there were something over 700,000 people arrested for marijuana offenses. They wouldn’t have to be arrested.
On the other side if we did that – legalize marijuana across the board – it wouldn’t reduce the number of people dying from an overdose by so much as one person because, of course, nobody dies from overdose deaths, right, from using marijuana.
It wouldn’t reduce the number of people contracting AIDS and Hepatitis C by one person because 50% of all new cases of AIDS and Hepatitis are spread, according to the Center for Disease Control, by intravenous drug users sharing needles. You don’t do that with marijuana so it wouldn’t affect any of those terrible diseases either.
It wouldn’t even affect much of the violence that takes place in the country today because people using marijuana certainly don’t tend to be the most violent folks. That seems to be reserved for folks on alcohol.
DEAN BECKER: I was that the DPA conference in October and there I was glad and proud to hear Ethan Nadelmann there on stage talking to everybody and stressing much the same thoughts you were just relaying. Once marijuana is properly controlled we still have a larger battle to fight and that is to end the prohibition of all these other drugs.
JACK COLE: That’s right. That’s the first time he has ever publically said that. We started saying that in 2002. At that time Ethan used to come to us and say, “Guys, listen, it’s great that you are here but don’t use the “L” word. Don’t talk about legalization.”
We said, “Why?”
He said, “You’re going to scare away all these people that we’ve cultivating for years and years just trying to get them to decriminalize an ounce of marijuana.”
As you know, Dean, because you were one of our speakers, always have been, we would tell him, “When you talk about legalizing drugs maybe it will scare people away but when it’s cops, judges and prosecutors talking about legalizing drugs it doesn’t frighten people. It educates them. Once we’ve said this enough you’ll actually be able to come out and say it.”
And that’s exactly what happened 12 years later – he, and not just Ethan – there are politicians everywhere that are talking about legalizing all drugs. Some politicians are even running on that bill.
DEAN BECKER: Jack, we’re going to have to cut it off here. I want to wish you and yours and all the LEAP speakers out there a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and hopefully 2014 will be even better. Don’t you think?
JACK COLE: I would guarantee it. We are on a roll now.
DEAN BECKER: If you want to get a LEAP speaker to talk to your organization just go to http://leap.cc
DEAN BECKER: The following introduction is by Senator Patrick Leahy.
PATRICK LEAHY: Sheriff Urquhart is the elected sheriff of King County in Washington State. He is the sheriff of the state’s largest metropolitan county. I think he is particularly qualified to help us here.
Sheriff Urquhart has been in law enforcement for more than 35 years. He’s been a patrol officer, field training officer, master police officer, street level vice detective and Sheriff would you go ahead and give your statement?
JOHN URQUHART: Thank you Mr. Chairman. At the risk of stating the obvious I am a police officer. Thank you for having me here today. My name is John Urquhart. I am the sheriff of King County, Washington.
Seattle is located in King County and with almost 2 million residents we are the 14th largest county by population in the United States. I have over 1,000 employees in the sheriff’s office and a budget exceeding 160 million dollars.
As sheriff I am, therefor, the top law enforcement official in the largest jurisdiction in the country that has legalized marijuana. I’ve been a police officer for 37 years and I was elected at King County Sheriff last year. During my career I’ve investigated everything from shoplifts to homicides. But I’ve also spent 12 years as a narcotics detective. My experience shows the War on Drugs has been a failure. We have not significantly reduced demand over time, but we have incarcerated generations of individuals, the highest incarceration rate in the world. So the citizens of the state of Washington decided it was time to try something new. In November of 2012 they passed Initiative 502, which legalized recreational amounts of marijuana and at the same time created very strict rules and laws.
I was a strong supporter of Initiative 502 last year, and I remain a strong supporter today. There are several reasons for that support. Most of all, I support 502 because that’s what the people want. They voted for legalized marijuana. We—the government—have failed the people and now they want to try something else. Too often the attitude of the police is “We’re the cops and you’re not. Don’t tell us how to do our job.” That is the wrong attitude and I refuse to fall into that trap.
While the title of this hearing is conflict between state and federal marijuana laws. I don’t see a huge conflict.
The reality is we do have complimentary goals and values. We all agree we don’t want our children using marijuana. We all agree we don’t want impaired drivers. We all agree we don’t want to continue enriching criminals. Washington’s law honors these values by separating consumers from gangs, and diverting the proceeds from the sale of marijuana toward furthering the goals of public safety.
Is legalizing and regulating the possession and sale of marijuana a better alternative? I think it is, and I’m willing to be proven wrong. But the only way we’ll know is if we are allowed to try.
DOJ’s recent decision provides clarity on how we in Washington can continue to collaborate with the federal government to enforce our drug laws while at the same time respecting the will of the voters. It’s a great interim step, but more needs to be done. For example, we are still limited by not knowing the role of banking institutions as we go forward.
Under federal law, it is illegal for banks to open checking, savings, or credit card accounts for marijuana businesses. The result is that marijuana stores will be operated as cash-only businesses, creating two big problems for us: (1) Cash-only businesses are prime targets for armed robberies; and (2) cash-only businesses are very difficult to audit, leading to possible tax evasion, wage theft, and the diversion of resources we need to protect public safety.
I am simply asking that the Federal government allow banks to work with legitimate marijuana businesses who are licensed under state law.
In closing let me make one thing absolutely clear. What we have in Washington State is not the Wild Wild West. And as Sheriff, I am committed to continued collaboration with the DEA, FBI, and DOJ for robust enforcement of our respective drug laws. For example, I have detectives right now assigned to Federal task forces, including a DEA HIDTA Task Force. It’s been a great partnership for many years and that partnership will continue.
Furthermore the message to my deputies has been very clear: You will enforce our new marijuana laws. You will write someone a ticket for smoking in public. You will enforce age limits. You will put unlicensed stores out of business. In other words, the King County Sheriff’s Office will abide by the standards and laws voted on and adopted by the citizens of the state of Washington, and the guidance provided by the Department of Justice on August 29th.
Mr. Chairman, I say to you and the members of this committee, I do appreciate the deference the federal government has shown to my constituents, and I look forward to continuing that cooperation. Thank you.
DEAN BECKER: This is the granddaughter of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and also head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Nora Valkow.
NORA VALKOW: Kids are perceiving marijuana as much less harmful even when it is used regularly which we believe may account for the relatively high rates that we are observing not just of having used marijuana here and there but actually from regular marijuana use.
When you have 6.5% of kids that are in 12th grade taking marijuana regularly you actually start to get concerned because of ultimately we’ll look back at how their brain works. Studies have shown that regular use of marijuana is associated with a much higher rate of school dropout.
Now these are kids at school so we really do not know what percentage of kids may have dropped out from the regular use of marijuana implicating that perhaps this number of 6.5% is an underestimation.
If we compare the numbers that were in 2000, for example, of regular use vs. now in 2013 we have seen increases in those numbers. After 2000 the level of THC was at least half of what we observe now so that means that not just those where the less gets taken regularly but even those who were taking it regularly were taking a much less potent drug.
DOUG McVAY: Some good news for a change. Preliminary data for the new Monitoring The Future Survey was released this week. The MTF survey has been carried out for decades and looks at substance use and attitudes among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in the United States. This is the twenty fifth anniversary of the Office of National Drug Control Policy as well as being the first full year since cannabis was legalized in two states, so the results of this year's MTF are of particular interest.
First, regarding attitudes toward marijuana use, the lead author of the survey, Dr. Lloyd Johnston, is quoted in the MTF news release saying, quote: “"But more noteworthy is the fact that the proportion of adolescents seeing marijuana use as risky declined again sharply in all three grades. Perceived risknamely the risk to the user that teenagers associate with a drughas been a lead indicator of use, both for marijuana and other drugs, and it has continued its sharp decline in 2013 among teens. This could foretell further increases in use in the future.” End quote.
Now, consider the actual numbers for current daily marijuana use, quote: “Daily use of marijuana, which also has been rising in recent years for all three grades, remains essentially flat at relatively high levels between 2012 and 2013. The prior increases were substantial up by a quarter to one-half compared to the low points reached between 2006 and 2008 for the three grades. Today, one in every 15 high school seniors (6.5 percent) is a daily or near-daily marijuana user. The comparable percentages among 8th and 10th graders are 1.1 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively. ” End quote.
Changes in use rates – here's where it can get confusing for people. Prevalence of use is given in a percentage of the population. Increases by a quarter to one-half, 25 to 50 percent, certainly do sound substantial, yet the numbers were small to begin with: Prevalence of daily marijuana use among 12th graders was estimated at 5.0 percent in 2006, rising to 6.5 percent in 2013 – up by 1.5 percent yet relatively speaking, it's a whopping 30 percent increase.
For fun let's compare use rates in 2013 with rates in the mid-late 1990s. They report the prevalence of daily cannabis use among 12th graders is estimated to be 6.5% in 2013, which is up from 5.8% in 1997. The number went up, obviously, by 0.7%, which is 12% of 5.8% - a 12% increase but in absolute numbers, the difference really represents 0.7% of the total 12th grade population.
I chose 1997 because looking at that year helps highlight the really big news in this year's MTF. We've seen major reductions in daily use of both tobacco and alcohol by 12th graders in 2013 compared with 1997 (8.5% and 2.2% down from 24.6% and 3.9%, respectively). The drop in daily alcohol use is big: 43.6% in relative terms, important though really that represents only 1.7% of the total 12th grade population, going from 3.9 to 2.2%. Most impressive is the change in tobacco use rates: prevalence of daily cigarette use among 12th graders dropped by 65.45% in relative terms from 1997 to 2013. In absolute numbers that change represents 16.1% of the total 12th grade population, any by anyone's measure that's huge, we've gone from almost a fourth of all 12th graders being daily cigarette smokers to fewer than one in ten. And the daily cigarette numbers have been dropping more or less steadily since 1997 (aside from a couple of hiccups). All that success without criminal sanctions against users.
For the drug truth network this is Doug McVay with common sense for drug policy and drug war facts.
DEAN BECKER: I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Century of Lies. I’m gonna close this out with one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite artists via a tease at the beginning of this show.
The fact is war does need to be over. America has become the most war mongering, menacing, threatening nation on the planet and we need to do something about that. I’m hoping that in 2014 you’ll be on the front lines with us helping to get it done.
Prohibido istac evilesco!
So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight
And so this is Christmas
And what have we done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun
War is over over
If you want it
War is over
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