05/30/10 - Steven Downing

Steve Downing, former LAPD decries prohibition failure, Sandy Moriarty Oaksterdam chef recipe for cannabis tincture, Mary Jane Borden on human rights, Charles Bowden on Mexican fiasco & Aaron Houston new Exec for Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Guest: 
Steven Downing
Organization: 
LEAP
Download: Audio icon COL_053010.mp3
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Century of Lies May 30, 2010

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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Alright. Thank you for joining us on this edition of Century of Lies. Today we’re going to get our report from Mary Jane Borden of Common Sense for Drug Policy. We’ll hear from Sandy Moriarty, the instructor and chef for Oaksterdam University. We’ll hear from Mr. Aaron Houston, the newly appointed Director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and we’ll hear from Author Charles Bowden about his new book. But first up, from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Mr. Steven Downing.

Next up, we have Mr. Steven Downing. He’s a current member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. He has more than twenty years experience, working for the LAPD.

Mr. Steven Downing: Well, I’ve actually been retired from the LAPD for thirty years. I joined the LAPD in 1960. I went through the ranks. I retired as the Deputy Chief in 1980. I was in charge of the Bureau Special Investigations as it’s Chief and that included narcotic enforcement, city wide. As well as functional supervision over Divisional Narcotic Units. The LAPD organized major investigations in a centralized manner and Divisional Narcotic Units dispersed the centralized, with the eighteen divisions in the city.

I’m a writer and a producer, since that time. But I’ve remained in close touch with law enforcement and especially the issues that we’re talking about here, today.

Dean Becker: Steve, I look at it like this. You were there for about the first five or ten years of the “Drug War”. You were there to witness that change in mentality and operation, were you not?

Mr. Steven Downing: Yeah, that was at the time where after Nixon declared the war on drugs and the DEA became a big deal, a well funded organization. The local law enforcement got funding to help in this so-called War on Drugs.

There were large expansions of the enforcement process and there was a major organizational efforts, in terms of intelligence gathering and intelligence sharing, between the DEA and local law enforcement. We had major violator squads that basically worked all over the state and in many times, worked cases that were international in scope.

Dean Becker: Speaking of international, your well aware of the horrible situation going on in Mexico. I want to bring up something. In just the last couple of days, there’s been a major effort in Jamaica, to go after one singular “Drug Baron”. I understand there were twelve hundred police and army sent to capture this one man and in the mayhem that ensued there in Jamaica, more that forty innocence, if you will, have been killed in the battle. Your thought on that international aspect?

Mr. Steven Downing: Right there is a good reason to ask a lot of questions about, ‘How valid is this war on drugs?’ As you know this past year alone, I think the number is over seven thousand murders, along the Mexican border. The border towns.

We also know the cartels have infiltrated at least two hundred fifty American cities. So, there’s been an invasion from another country, by criminal organizations. It’s an invasion that’s deadly. You have to ask the question, “Is this War on Drugs… What’s our exit strategy?” It’s only getting worse. The more drugs that come out, the more repressive we get and we’re not accomplishing anything. Innocent people are being killed, as well as people that are drawn to these cartels.

When you read stories about, in one city in Mexico, over a hundred thousand young men, under eighteen years old, are attracted to working for the cartels as assassins, or mules, or whatever. What is that doing to the social structure? When you read that the cartel army is now larger than the Mexican army, doesn’t that tell you that Mexico is well underway to be a failed state?

So is the fact that these drugs are illegal, rather than regulated… Not a better answer, to what we’re doing. Of course there’s social ramifications to it. But they couldn’t be worse than they are now.

Dean Becker: Once again, we’re speaking with Mr. Steven Downing. He’s a former Law Enforcement official. Currently works as a writer and producer. Steve, I’m sure you have, over the years, watched the decline in respect for law enforcement that’s come about, as a spin-off from this policy. My short time in law enforcement and your twenty years, we served and tried to protect. But now-a-days, it seems there’s perhaps something else going on. Your thoughts on that loss of respect for law enforcement?

Mr. Steven downing: I’m not quite sure what you mean there. I think that there’s been a lot of social change. Where law enforcement is challenged more and more and more and people have a greater awareness of what their rights are. Which is sometimes the foundation for a lot of that challenge.

I think that law enforcement in terms of their community-based policing, they’ve had a lot of success. However, I think that the respect that you might be referring to, is generated from the idea of these gangs that have grown right along with the drug problem.

The gangs in the seventies, I was a Captain in South Central Los Angeles. We began to hear about, in the early seventies, the Crips and the Bloods. Very small in numbers. But the cocaine situation actually allowed these gangs to flourish and the gangs certainly have no respect.

In those days, we’re also dealing with another little piece of social engineering called the Probations Subsidy Program. Where the State was paying the County, to keep kids out of State Prison. These are juveniles and the result was, the Counties Probations Departments were diverting them to so-called Community Based Programs.

But there were no Community Based Programs. So the result was that kids came to learn that the system didn’t work. But they could gain the system and then they could work it hard. The result of that was, is more and more and more hardcore kids remained on the street. That contributed to the growth of the gangs and then at the same time, we had the immigration from the Civil War in Latin America, that built up rival gangs.

So between that issue of respect that you refer to and the fact that drug were illegal and provided profits to these gangs, now look what we have across the nation. All generated from Los Angeles.

Dean Becker: Steve, if I may kind of reiterate what I was meaning there. We had the Rampart Scandal there, in Los Angeles. We’ve got little Podunk towns all across America, doing fake forfeiture arrests and accumulating dollars by declaring money and cars to be proceeds of drugs. When there is no other evidence, other than the word of these ‘corrupt’ officers. Your thoughts there, sir?

Mr. Steven Downing: A lot of things like that became problematic and were harmful to the image of law enforcement. I know, especially the smaller jurisdictions, Chief’s of Police use to focus on those kinds of seizures, so that they could improve their budgets. So they can have more money for their department. A lot of times the focus really wasn’t enforcement related, so much as it was budget related and to gather dollars for their budget and create bigger bureaucracy.

Another part of that too, that I found shameful in working with the DEA back in those days, I don’t know if it’s the case these days. DEA Agents were given bonuses based on the kind of seizures and the kinds of arrests they made. It’s always been my belief that your job is your job. You enforce your job, whether you arrest somebody for a misdemeanor or a felony, you’re doing your job. When you attach bonuses to law enforcement, then you degrade the quality of law enforcement and you degrade the nature of the mission. All that that does, is contribute to corruption of professional law enforcement.

Dean Becker: We have heard that they get ten, fifteen, perhaps twenty percent of the drugs being smuggled North. But the other eighty percent make it through somehow and as we’ve learned over the years, there have been corrupt Border and Custom Agents who take the ten thousand dollars and then allow a certain truck to come through at a certain time of day. It’s never going to succeed in it’s stated objectives, is it?

Mr. Steven Downing: That’s the problem. That’s one of the major problems with the drug war, is that the corrupting influence of that money… that will never be stopped. It will never stopped. When you think about what comes into the country, those shipping containers for example. We have millions of shipping containers enter this country and you’re not going to stop the flow of drugs and you’re not going to stop the corruption.

The corruption is going to be at the law enforcement level. It’s going to be in the prosecutor level. It’s going to be in the judicial level and it’s going to always be in the political level. What we really have to do, is, we have to get our politicians to have the courage to talk about this drug war. How it’s failed and how we design an exit strategy for it.

Dean Becker: I think that is a supremely valid point. What is the exit strategy? I mean, if you reach back to the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914. In essence this thing’s been going on about a hundred years and they’ve never had an exit strategy and they’ve certainly not reached any of their stated goals, have they?

Mr. Steven Downing: No, they haven’t. The exit strategy, and I don’t want to over simplify it because there are social problems. But the exit strategy is to tax, to regulate and to control. Not to criminalize. Let’s get law enforcement out of the business of addicts and drug use. Let’s get law enforcement out of it. Let’s turn it over to the doctors, where it properly belongs and let’s put those resources to better use.

Now if this is taxed, regulated and controlled, like we did when we ended prohibition with alcohol. We certainly didn’t solve the social problem of alcohol and we never will solve certain social problems of alcohol. But we did solve a terrible problem of violence, the cost of law enforcement, murders, organized crime, corruption. All of those problems were solved when we ended prohibition.

I think that we can design an exit strategy. Take it drug by drug. Start with marijuana, that’s seventy-five percent of their income, right there. Give it a roll. See what happens. Marijuana’s not addicting. It’s not a gateway drug. Get an exit strategy that deals with this matter like that. You will dry up funds of today’s Al Capone’s, the Guzman Cartel and the Gulf Cartel and all of those cartels. You will dry up the funds of these armies that they have, like Lozada’s and you will be on the road to a good exit strategy out of this so-called War on Drugs.

Dean Becker: Alright. Once again, we’re speaking with Mr. Steve Downing. He’s twenty years experience in LAPD and he’s currently working as a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Steven, I don’t know how long you’ve been with LEAP, but I consider it to be an honor to be with this band-of-brothers. Your thoughts on LEAP?

Mr. Steven Downing: I think it’s a great organization. I haven’t been with them too long, just during the past six months. But I was attracted to them because of what their mission is and I completely agree with their goals. I’ve read them over. I’ve applied them to my practical experience and I think their goals are intelligent. I think their goals are very, very responsible and I think their goals, if these things could be implemented, would go a long ways toward helping us design an exit strategy to the War on Drugs and get something done for the country that’s very, very important.

Dean Becker: Alright, Steven Downing. Thank you so much for being with us here, on the Drug Truth Network. Again the website for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is, leap.cc.
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Hi! This is Sandy Moriarty from Oaksterdam University. I’m going to talk to you today a little bit and teach you a fun recipe with using tincture. So first of all we’ll talk about infusing the Cannabis and making the tincture. Where you want to start is with a five quart jar and you want to use about a quarter of an ounce, or half an ounce of bud depending on the potency. That would be your choice.

So once you get these ingredients, you want to get the Everclear or 151 Rum. Because they contain the most amount of lipids. The THC clings to the lipids in the process of infusion and so we want to get the alcohol that has the most amount of lipids. We look for lipids in every medium that we infuse Cannabis with.

So, what you want to do is take a mason jar, fill it full of 151 rum or the Everclear Vodka. Then you want to put your half an ounce of buds in there. Now what you’re going to do is stimulate the action of having the trichomes melt from the buds and cling to the lipids. You want to shake it rapidly. With this shaking action, what you’re doing is stimulating the buds to create the action of the trichomes melting off the buds, collecting onto the lipids.

So you shake this bottle and you put it in a dry, dark place for about four weeks and everyday going back to that jar and shaking it, to stimulate that action. At the end of four weeks, you will have the most beautiful emerald green mixture you’ve ever seen. This is an incredible potent medication and it must be treated with respect.

What we want to do then, is strain all the bud and the leaf material out of the alcohol, so that we have a pure infused alcohol. The reason why we want to strain this, is for storage. We’ll be able to store this, in this dry dark place for a good six months, or as long as alcohol can be stored, forever. But if you don’t remove the by-product that’s in there, the buds and the leaf, then eventually a bacteria will start growing. So it’s very important for storage, to strain the bud out of there so you have a pure mixture.

Then the fun starts! The greatest recipe that I have to go with this tincture, you’ve got to respect the potency and respect the strength of the alcohol. So what I did was I made a great, you’ve all heard of Rum Cake. Well, use the tincture and make a tincture cake. What you do is you can take a whole pound cake if you want and cut the bottom off, making the cake very porous to soak up the tincture.

Then on a plate, pour the tincture out in a thin layer and set the cake down on top of the tincture, so that the cake sucks up and infuses the tincture up into the cake. I’d do it about half way. Because if you do it all the way, you’re just going to have a big mouthful of mush. Tasty mush, but mush. Cupcakes work really, really well too, as far as an individual serving and it probably makes it an easier form to titrate.

Titrating, I want to remind you, is when you cut your edibles into small amounts, using about twenty minutes in-between taking a bite of each one of these pieces, until you’ve reached the comfortable stage that you’re looking for. This will help you avoid over-medicating. That’s one thing we really want to teach everyone is to titrate. So they avoid over medicating.

Now overmedicating can be an uncomfortable situation and you just have to basically hold on and ride it out. Because there really isn’t any medical emergency to deal with. So it’s good to know that ahead of time and be comfortable with medicating. It’s also good to know that you as a patient, you’re in control of the amount of potency and the amount of medicine that you’re consuming. That’s a real important sidebar to know.

But the Rum Cakes are really, really exciting and sometimes you can find the cupcake tins that are the tiny little cupcakes, those are perfect. Remember to cut the bottoms off so that you have a porous cake for the tincture to soak up into. You have created a delicious desert. So have fun. Enjoy your tincture cake. Until next time, happy cooking!

This is Sandy Moriarty from Oaksterdam University.
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Diggin’ in the Dirt

{fiddle playing in the background}

While I’m diggin’ in dirt, {don’t ya know}
Gonna plant some seeds {watch ‘em grow}
Gonna watch my marijuana grow like a … … … …
Gonna let my marijuana grow and be happy

{Some advice from Sean Reefer and the Resin Valley Boys. Spring is just around the corner.}
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Hello, drug policy aficionado’s. I’m Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts.

The question for this week asks, ‘What makes drug policy a Human Rights issue?’ Let’s first count the numbers. In it’s Prisoner’s 2008 Report, the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that the number of inmates in federal, state and local prison’s or jail’s, total two point three million in 2008.

Of the one point three million inmates, held solely under state jurisdiction, roughly twenty percent or two hundred, sixty-six thousand were incarcerated because of drug sentences. Of those prisoners, a remarkable two thirds or one hundred, seventy-three thousand, were black or Hispanic. Despite the punishment of prison, those processed through the Criminal Justice System in the United States, may also lose the fundamental rights supposedly accorded to all citizens, the Right to Vote.

A March 2010 Report from the Sentencing Project estimated that, “One in forty-one adults, have currently or permanently lost their voting rights as a result of a felony conviction.” The Sentencing Project predicts, “Given current rates of incarceration, three in ten of the next generation of black men can expect to be
disenfranchised at some point in their lifetime. In states that disenfranchise ex-offenders, as many as
40% of black men may permanently lose their right to vote.” (http://sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/fd_bs_fdlawsinusMarch2010.pdf)

The 2010 Report, ‘Death Penalty for Drug Offences‘ from the International Harm Reduction Association, examine another important Human Rights issue. The report placed the United States among the fifty-eight countries worldwide, that maintain laws prescribing the death penalty, for drug offences. The IHRA stated that in some countries, “Drug offenders make up a significant portion - if not the outright majority - of those… executed each year.”

The IHRA concluded, “The death penalty for drug offences is an issue of considerable human rights concern, one demanding the attention of abolitionists, harm reductionists and drug policy reformers alike.”
(http://www.ihra.net/Assets/2538/1/IHRA_DeathPenaltyReport2010.pdf)

These facts and others like them, come from the prisons and jails and the Civil Rights chapters of Drug War Facts at www.drugwarfacts.org. If you have a question for which you need facts, please email it to me at mjborden@drugwarfacts.org. I’ll try to answer your question in an upcoming show. So remember, when you need facts about drugs and drug policy, you can get the facts at Drug War Facts.
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The following is courtesy of C-SPAN. It’s part of an extract taking from an interview they did with Charles Bowden. Author of, ‘Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields‘.

Book TV host: Charles Bowden, where is Juarez, Mexico?

Mr. Charles Bowden: It’s directly across the Rio Grand from El Paso.

Book TV host: What’s it like?

Mr. Charles Bowden: Well historically, let’s say after NAFTA passed, it was a boomtown with four hundred foreign factories. Probably had a million and a half people. Today, it’s a city of death. In the last three years, there’ve been five thousand executions. Since January 1st of this year, there’ve been seven hundred seventy-five executions.

A hundred thousand jobs have left town, because of the recession. Twenty-five percent of the houses have been abandoned, because of fear. Forty percent of the businesses have closed, because of all the people fleeing and the danger, robbery, extortion, murder. I don’t know if cities truly die. But this city looks to be dying.

Book TV host: How did that happen?

Mr. Charles Bowden: It’s a combination of factors, you know. I’ll give the short course. The city always had violence. Always had poverty. But now, starting in December of 2006 the new President of Mexico, Philippe Calderon. To assure he was the strong man, unleashed the Mexican Army on the drug industry. That was a tripping point.

Murders suddenly started going up. In 2007, three hundred-seven murders. In 2008, sixteen hundred-sixty murders. In 2009, twenty-seven hundred, fifty-three murders. Coupled with that was something that was going to happen anyway. The Maquiladora’s are basically an American owned factories. Implanted under our free trade policy, that created a city of serious poverty, the wages are fifty to seventy-five a week. Has serious violence, because you had all these feral kids.

Now you have to understand in Juarez, there’s a high school for about ever five hundred thousand people. These high schools are not free. Fifty percent of the adolescent’s now in Juarez, neither are in school, nor do they have jobs. There’s five hundred to nine hundred street gangs. These are not affinity groups or car clubs. These are armed gangs with guns, of kids. One of these gangs has three thousand members.

So when Calderon unleashed this War on Drugs, which I don’t actually think is real. But when he unleashed it, the violence started erupting. Now it’s erupting over large areas of Mexico and you can’t get the genie back in the bottle.

(http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/293145-6&buy)
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Dean Becker: Over the years we’ve had many occasions to speak with Mr. Aaron Houston. He just recently he retained a new job with the Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
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Mr. Aaron Houston: …are here proudly representing the students, the worlds who are saying we need to change our countries direction on drug policy. We need to end this failed war on drugs and we need to not just do it in word, but we also need to do it in deed.
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You can hear the full interview with Aaron Houston of Sensible Students for Drug Policy, on Saturday’s 4:20 Report.
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(musical accompaniment)

Drug Truth Network programs are archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

bakerinstitute.org/dtn
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Well, that’s about it and again, there is no truth, justice, logic. No reason for this Drug War to exist. We’ve been duped. Please visit our website, endprohibition.org.

Prohibido istac evilesco.

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Dean Becker. Asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.

The Century of Lies.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston

Transcript provided by: C. Assenberg of www.marijuanafactorfiction.org