07/10/11 Leigh Maddox

Leigh Maddox, Asst States Atty & former Baltimore Police Captain + Mary Jane Borden re Swiss "Needle Park" rumors + DTN Editorial 1

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Guest: 
Leigh Maddox
Organization: 
LEAP
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Transcript
Cultural Baggage / July 10, 2011

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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.

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DEAN BECKER: This is Dean Becker. You are listening to Cultural Baggage on the Drug Truth Network. Before we begin today’s program I want to make a prediction. Republicans in congress will maintain their temper tantrum and hold their breath until the nation turns blue.

Alright, with that I want to go ahead and bring our guest. She’s a Special Assistant State’s Attorney up in Maryland. She’s a retired state Police Captain and she’s one of my band of brothers and sisters in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Let’s welcome Leigh Maddox.

LEIGH MADDOX: Hi Dean. How are you?

DEAN BECKER: I’m good. Sorry about the glitch there. Leigh, I wanted to start this off here, if you would, kind of recount your experience within law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

LEIGH MADDOX: Certainly. I joined the Maryland State Police back in 1989. I spent the better part of the next two decades working in various places throughout the state police in Maryland. Worked my way up to the rank of Captain and finally retired and now I’m at the University of Maryland, School of Law where I teach law students how to be better citizens at some level.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah and I’m hoping that you get to include within that a different perspective in regards to the drug war then, perhaps, they might see elsewhere. Are you able to do that?

LEIGH MADDOX: I think so. The students who want to be lawyers have an innate curiosity about what it’s like to be a police officer because the rule of law is so steeped in how we enforce it. And so me being retired and having done that kind of work is fascinating to them and it gives me a good window to really give them some insights that are a little more “not the main stream” or that they are going to get from your average joe.

DEAN BECKER: No. That’s so true. Now, Leigh, you haven’t sat at the desk continuously. You’ve been out there. You’ve been involved in some infiltrating like the Ku Klux Klan (?) and other organizations, right?

LEIGH MADDOX: That is true. For about one year I worked undercover in the Klan and brought an end to a very destructive group. It finally splintered at the end of our work and went on to do other things individually but, as a collective, weren’t as damaging to the community as they had been initially.

DEAN BECKER: Now I’m reading here that you were also Commander of the Baltimore Washington Metro Troop, Planning and Research Division, Training Division , and as the coordinator for the racial profiling Consent Decree related to the drug interdiction policies of the Maryland State Police. Now that’s a mouthful. Tell us what that meant.

LEIGH MADDOX: Well, those were a bunch of different assignments. Essentially the state police couldn’t quite figure out what to do with me so every 18 months to a year they would either promote me or transfer me. So I got a whole lot of experience during my tenure there. Some of which you just talked about. It was really interesting to be on 95 where we did a lot of interdiction work and, at the same time, to be involved with the policy and conversations with the ACLU.on how to figure out how to do better.

DEAN BECKER: Right. Leigh, in my introduction I made note of the fact that you are a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Tell us a bit about your involvement, how you joined, what brought you to join and what you do now on their behalf.

LEIGH MADDOX: Sure. So back in 2000, I believe, a very good friend of mine was murdered, Ed Toatley. He was an undercover NARC with the state police. He was murdered just outside of Maryland in Washington D.C. during a drug bust gone wrong or a drug exchange gone wrong. When that happened, when he died, my world kind of fell away and I had this place where I had to sit for a bit and try to figure out what was going on.

I was in my first year of law school so I was hearing a lot of how great our American government system was and then I was seeing the reality on the streets and how it impacted me personally. From there I kind of sat with it for a while and went on and did my work on Jasky highway, on I-95 and trying to support the brave troops that are out there every day doing interdiction work but at the same time trying to understand the community’s concerns for the policies and ultimately came to the conclusion that our drug laws are bad. And, not only that, but immoral and have got to be changed – the sooner the better – in my opinion.

DEAN BECKER: And I would certainly agree with that. Again, we’re speaking with Leigh Maddox, Special Assistant State’s Attorney and now retired state Police Captain out of the Maryland State Police. Now, Leigh, I want to ask kind of a touchy question here. I see the acceptance, the positioning of police lying to suspects. Trying to get them to, you know, “You go first and it will go easier on you.” And, in so far as the drug war – this nation is awash in a sea of snitches, isn’t it?

LEIGH MADDOX: Well, it’s always been OK for the bad guys to lie to the cops and the cops were taught, on the back end, that it’s OK for the cops to lie to the bad guys. Now, obviously, there’s a line there that crosses from black and white into grey that you don’t want to cross. You don’t want to do anything that’s not ethical but, you know, it’s kind of a give and take. The trouble we see today is because it’s gotten so dangerous you don’t have the cops initially going in and actually doing the drug deals. We rely on these people who we pay good money to, day in and day out, to go in and tell us who’s doing right and who’s doing wrong in the communities. And, based on their opinions (and we protect them because we don’t want them getting killed) based on their opinions we’re putting people in jail for a really, really long periods of time. As long as the cops are really clear about…and have a heightened sense of awareness about what it is they’re doing and as long as the snitches are acting with good intentions it works. But, if either one of those two people in the dance, if you will, are operating from a plateau that is not good intentions then it’s very, very problematic and destructive to society. I think that’s a lot of what we’re seeing now.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Over the last, well, years…but, we had focus a week or two ago on the ongoing number of SWAT raids. Some 39,000 per year if I remember right, probably more than that. These are usually waged or the raids are staged against people on a drug charge because the theory is they’ll flush the drugs before they can get in, right?

LEIGH MADDOX: Yeah. It used to be I didn’t have a problem with this. I thought that our slow militarization of our police forces was a good thing because it made me feel safer as a police officer. I used to predict, years ago, that we would have a National Police Force and I thought that was a good thing. I have now the hindsight of a lot of years in this business and I’m seeing that my idealistic frame was really out of whack. And, in fact, the local police departments are accepting a lot of money and a lot of training from federal agencies that has resulted in extreme militarization of our police agencies and a lot of that is centered around the drug trade.

I still have sympathies for the cops on the street because they feel a whole lot better when the SWAT team dudes decide to go ahead and do the raid because they’re not the ones that have to knock on the door. They’re not the ones that have to stand there and wonder if the pit bull is going to come through the door or if a shotgun blast is going to come through the door and take them out. Now they’re not going to have to be so worried if they are going home to their wife and kids at the end of the day because the SWAT team guys, the one’s with the charging rams and the bullet-proof vests and the helmets and the cameras and everything else they have, all the tools we’ve enabled them with and, quite frankly, a lot of the times they are very much needed. But, for your “average Joe” cultivating an ounce of hemp plants in his basement, yeah, it doesn’t seem like it’s a good marriage.

DEAN BECKER: No and in too many instances it’s the wrong address or the drugs are not there or, for whatever reason, the snitch or just the process fails to achieve its goal, right?

LEIGH MADDOX: Yeah because the probable cause of the warrant is still upon information from the confidential informant and the confidential informant cannot really predict market sales. They cannot really predict when they’re going to have that, you know, 18 blocks of heroin. They’re really not close enough. They are not high enough on the food chain to have that good intelligence. It is just a street guy trying to get off of a charge for the most part.

DEAN BECKER: Leigh, let me ask you this. Now, on your resume it says you a public affairs spokesperson. I want to kind of delve into this. Many times when there is a problem with a police shooting of an innocent, or potential innocent that nobody can say anything. Their lips are sealed. “There’s an ongoing investigation so we can’t say anything about it.” Weeks and months go by and by then the public attention has dissipated and oft times an answer is not really the thing we’re looking for. In other words, what I’m saying here, is there’s a deflection. “We’re looking into this. The gentleman’s been suspended.” There’s a partial penalty there to kind of fill in that space but what may have been more deadly or more illegal for law enforcement is often swept aside or it seems that way to the civilian. Your response.

LEIGH MADDOX: I’m not quite sure I understand the question. I mean I have a tremendous appreciation for due process and I think that “innocent until proven guilty” should apply not just to people who are charged with criminal infractions but it should also apply to police. We look at this whole craziness going on with maid in New York and the French man and you look at how all that has played out in the media and there’s a reason that here in Maryland we have the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights. They have certain protections because of what they do every day. We have to, in some way, honor, let the due process work out and it may take things out of the mainstream media a bit but, at the end of the day, I don’t know that that’s a necessarily bad thing. You and I might not agree on that.

DEAN BECKER: Well, fair enough. I just think there’s too many voids of information. I look at some of the handouts that people get from certain agencies and it’s nothing but a black page…it’s…uh…I’ll let it go for now.

OK now, we’re, once again, speaking with Leigh Maddox. She’s Special Assistant State’s Attorney and a retired State Police Captain from Maryland state police. Now, Leigh, I apologize for my semi-attack on law enforcement but I’ve seen over the years too many instances where bad behavior does not get noted, it doesn’t get the focus it deserves but I’ll leave it at that.

Leigh, you speak for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition on occasion?

LEIGH MADDOX: I do and it’s my great honor to be involved with that wonderful organization. We were in D.C. a lot in June and we were at the National Press Club and got to walk a report over to the office of the National Drug Czar which was received in an interesting manner. Yeah, it’s a great organization and the fact that we’ve stopped talking about the war on drugs and started talking more about ending prohibition is a really big paradigm shift and it’s exciting to watch it unfold.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah and I’ve been wanting to change some of the focus. I think enough people are aware of the failings of this drug war so we don’t have to hammer that home as often as previously but we do need to inform them on the possibilities of where it might go, how we might change things to our benefit, right?

LEIGH MADDOX: Yeah and that’s a very sticky, sticky question. I really hope that we figure out a way to make it simple. So, California’s been our test kitchen. We’ve seen what’s kind of happened over there during the past 15 years. And we’ve kind of seen how even the current proposition 19 and they’re revving up again the regulate marijuana initiative…You’re seeing the different things that are happening around there. You need to hire lawyers for the lawyers to figure out to inform the public about what the rules are. I find that very problematic. This needs to be simple. It needs to be simple enough that your “average Joe” who’s on the touch screen and going Yes or No understands what it is they are voting for. And I’m really concerned that as this movement rolls East (and it is slowly rolling East) that we’re not going to keep it simple enough for people to understand. That’s when the courts are going to be forced to intervene and then it’s just….for now I’m just continuing to engage in our conversation and I hope that we are going to be able to keep it as simple as possible.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, I think about to me what might it look like and, you know, marijuana the least dangerous therapeutic agents known to man like alcohol if we must…

LEIGH MADDOX: No, alcohol worse – way worse.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, no I mean regulate it like alcohol.

LEIGH MADDOX: I don’t know that it should be regulated like alcohol because alcohol is so … causes so much…I would like to see it like, “I’ve got my green tea, I’ve got my black tea, I’ve got my white tea and my marijuana.” I’m speaking for me. I’m not speaking for LEAP because we don’t really get into the nuts and bolts of regulation. I don’t see it as that harmful of a substance that we really need seriously…

DEAN BECKER: I’ve talked to many law enforcement…mostly retired law enforcement officers and the question I used to ask in the past, “Which would you rather do: go to bust a drunken fight or a pothead?” And, of course, the answer is always a pothead. He’s not going to throw up in your car. He’s not going to create a fight. It shows…you’re right, the alcohol is more dangerous.

LEIGH MADDOX: Right and we’ve never had the level of violence associated with marijuana that we see with alcohol. And, we’ve made a lot of mistakes with how we’ve regulated alcohol. I think that if you’re going to look at a model that’s currently working fairly well look at tobacco. We keep it away from kids. We’re limiting the time, place and manner, you know, restrictions. We’re taxing the hell out of it and we’re following that money with education so the usage rates have dropped off like 40% across all socioeconomic lines. That’s they great American success story right there – not alcohol.

DEAN BECKER: And let’s talk about dangerousness, lethal factor. And that is, you know, tobacco: 440,000 deaths every year just here in America, millions worldwide and, so far, nobody’s recorded that first death from marijuana. How irrational.

LEIGH MADDOX: Right. The only time people get sick or in the hospital from marijuana is when it’s sprayed with something which is why we need to regulate it on some level. I mean my marijuana is… I don’t smoke but if I was I want to make sure that it’s organic marijuana and I want to make sure that it’s not being sprayed with anything stupid that’s going to mess my brain up for the rest of my life. People should have that choice.

DEAN BECKER: That’s what …Let’s take that same irrational approach and look at drugs like MDMA, ecstasy, or even the biker meth that’s out there. It’s got household products and poisons and who knows what in there. Little wonder that it’s so damaging to one’s health.

LEIGH MADDOX: Right and part of the reason those drugs have evolved is because we have prohibited everything…all the precursors. Stop making everything illegal and it won’t be so ‘sexy’ to the kids and let’s just figure out more important problems. You know, like let’s focus on the rapists, let’s focus on the robberies, let’s focus on the car thieves, let’s focus on the things that actually impact people and their lives. If somebody decides to shoot whatever it is they decided to shoot, smoke, inhale…I don’t care what your mechanism is for deliver, unless they hurt somebody else, let’s just let them be. And, if we can educate them along the way – hallelujah – that’s a good thing.

DEAN BECKER: Recently a local NBC affiliate did a story about an ongoing series of busts of marijuana grow houses and they led it off with the fear mongering part, “Could it be that people next door to you and your children are growing marijuana?!” As if somehow the fumes would sneak into their house or it would attract their children to use it, I don’t know but it was designed to instill fear. That’s been the basis for this wave of hysteria is bad media. Your thought.

LEIGH MADDOX: Right and I don’t know if you saw the opinion that came out last week from the Attorney General‘s office that stokes the fuel on the fear a bit more for our growers saying, you know, “If you are a big business grower and regardless of what you say the law says we’re going to come down on you.” The Obama Administration, well, I think they’ve done a lot of good but they’ve also kind of flip-flopped on it a little bit and it’s concerning.

DEAN BECKER: One other thought in that regard, they also released in the last week an approval and an invite to a conference coming later this fall where they’re going to talk about….The U.S. government, NIDA, all these people are going to talk about controlling the synthetic and actual marijuana compounds for sprays and other means of ingestion. So, what they are saying is, “Marijuana will kill you but it’s components will cure you.” It’s silly, isn’t it?!

LEIGH MADDOX: That’s interesting. I had not heard about that. If you could send me a link on that I would love to read about it.

DEAN BECKER: I will do that. I’ve got it at home. Now, Leigh, we’ve got about one minute left. I want to turn it over to you. You’re currently working as a Visiting Assistant Professor and Supervising Attorney with the University of Maryland, School of Law, right?

LEIGH MADDOX: I am.

DEAN BECKER: Any websites you’d like to talk about or some closing thoughts.

LEIGH MADDOX: http://leap.cc is always a great site for news and breaking information. The federal government for the first time in history of the world has actually put some legislation in that would end federal marijuana prohibition which is very exciting. I would urge all your listeners to do what they can to support H.R.2306 as it currently stands. And, you know, keep watching things and help where you can because we really need the voice of the people to make sure that our regulations aren’t crazy and make things worse.

DEAN BECKER: Alright. Well, once again, friends we’ve been speaking with Special Assistant State’s Attorney and now retired state Police Captain Leigh Maddox. Leigh, thank you so much.

LEIGH MADDOX: Thank you Dean. I appreciate you having me on.

DEAN BECKER: Folks please visit the website of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition who will come talk to your group and that is at http://leap.cc.

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(Game show music)
DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.
Physical stimulation, appetite suppression, the prevention of altitude sickness through increased oxygen supply.
(gong)
Time’s up!

The answer: as is so obvious in the lives of millions of Bolivians: coca, Mother coca.

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(background music)

DEAN BECKER: What gives the drug war life? Is it the cartels? Maybe it’s the Baptist. The bankers. The gangs…or the cops. Who’s in charge of it? Which politicians? Peasant farmers? Big Pharma? Is it the street corner vendor? Is it you? Is it me? It is fear that gives the drug war life.

I am the Reverend Dean Becker of the Drug Truth Network. Standing in the river of reform. Baptising drug warriors to the unvarnished truth. DrugTruth.net.

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MARY JANE BORDEN: Hello drug policy aficionados, I’m Mary Jane Borden, editor of Drug War Facts. The question for this week asks, “Has Swiss drug policy been effective?”

In a recent Wall Street Journal OPED, Joseph Califano and former Drug Czar William Bennett decried Swiss drug policy saying,

“In the 1990s, Switzerland experimented with what became known as Needle Park, a section of Zurich where addicts could buy and inject heroin without police interference.  Policy makers saw it as a way to restrict a few hundred legal heroin users to a small area.  It soon morphed into a grotesque tourist attraction of 20,000 addicts that had to be closed before it infected the entire city.”

However, according to the Open Society Institute, in the 1970s,

“The response of the Swiss authorities to more widespread use of narcotics was to revise the federal law on illicit drugs to define more rigorous criminal sanctions.

Then, increasingly desperate to find a way to control crime in social and health harms associated with injection drug use, in 1987 authorities allowed people who used illicit drugs to gather in a defined space that came to be known as Needle Park.”

According to the Beckley Foundation,

“An official document dated September 7th, 1994, the Swiss government defined the four pillars as constituting the foundation of its national drug strategy. Pillars include; prevention, therapy, risk reduction and enforcement, to which innovative measures such as drug treatments using prescription heroin were added.”

The Open Society Institute concluded,

“The introduction of the four pillars strategy brought about a significant reduction of death directly attributed to drug use such as overdose and in deaths indirectly related such as HIV and Hepatitis. Between 1991 and 2004 the drug related death toll fell by more than 50%.”

These facts and others like them can be found in the Switzerland chapters of Drug War Facts at www.drugwarfacts.org. If you have question for which you need facts please email them 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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DEAN BECKER: About a week after the two former Drug Czars had their OPED printed in the Wall Street Journal they were kind enough to share a couple Letters to the Editor with a couple of them from my friends in the Drug Policy Forum of Texas. Following on the success of those letters, I wrote the Wall Street Journal in response to “The U.S. Needs a Drug Policy That Works Better.” And here’s my submission:

“In that drug war addicts like Mr. Califano and Mr. Bennett remain firmly in denial about their horrible addiction to drug war, it was wonderful to see the Wall Street Journal opening up this can of worms to go fishing for truth.

For nearly 10 years I have sought the voice of the various "drug czars" on my radio shows, to absolutely no avail.  Without any explanation as to why they cannot join us on the Drug Truth Network they choose silence and deflection over the chance to justify their habit.

The first and perhaps only question I have for those in support of Earth's first eternal war would be as follows:

"In that our policy of drug war ensures millions in profits each year for Al Queda's opium, tens of billions for barbarous cartels in Mexico, more than one hundred billion dollars for violent US gangs  and does nothing to prevent overdose deaths, children s easy access to drugs nor has it ever achieved any of it's stated goals, what is the benefit, what have we derived that more than offsets the horrible blow back from this policy?"

Now, ten years later it’s not just regulators like me, the world is waiting for an answer.”

Thus far, no call back from the Wall Street Journal.

And I urge you to write your letter to the Wall Street Journal, to your local paper to any and everywhere that this topic comes up. The letters they did print were very positive for ending the drug war. It’s our turn. It’s our ability. It’s our ambition. It’s a need that we have to fulfill. Please, do your part and help to bring this drug war to an end.

Be sure to join us on the Century of Lies show. Our guest will be Kathryn Ledebur, Director Andean Information. And, as always, I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.

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DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.