10/13/13 Griffin Lutz

Griffin Lutz, former Travis Co Deputy now works at cannabis dispensary in Colo, report from Seattle cannabis market, Sunrise Fla cops sell cocaine for profit, cops says stop to stop and frisk, 7 yr old benefits from med marijuana, Robin Williams re marijuana

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Guest: 
Griffin Lutz
Organization: 
LEAP
Download: Audio icon COL101313.mp3
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Transcript

Century of Lies October 13, 2013

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DEAN BECKER: The failure of Drug War is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more. Now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.

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DEAN BECKER: Tell us a little bit about your law enforcement experience.

GRIFFIN LUTZ: My name is Griffin Lutz and I served the Travis County Sheriff’s office from May of 2005 to January of 2012. During that time I earned my Advanced Peace Officer’s Degree or License from the State of Texas. I was a field training officer and a certified instructor.

DEAN BECKER: You’ve moved on. You’ve moved to Colorado. Tell the folks what you are doing up there.

GRIFFIN LUTZ: About two years ago I made a decision that I didn’t really want to stay with law enforcement for the rest of life. I had kind of gotten a little burned out with it. My partner and friend, Sean, has family in Colorado and he came back from a visit and told me about the legal medical marijuana business going on up there and how it was starting to really take off. I started thinking to myself that that might be a good path for me to take too.

My attitude and motto as a deputy was always, “What’s the right thing to do” and this moving to Colorado and being part of the legal medical marijuana industry was kind of a manifestation of that. .I felt marijuana should be legal and someone in my position would be able to help further that goal.

DEAN BECKER: You’re not alone in that. There’s a group of current and former law enforcement officials called LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). They have over 100,000 members and supporters now. You’re not standing alone in this new position, right?

GRIFFIN LUTZ: Yes, that’s correct. I became familiar with LEAP over my last year as a deputy and started talking to Jack Cole and getting materials from LEAP. I agreed whole-heartedly with their philosophy. I find it ridiculous that we try to police what people put into their body which is impossible to do especially with something like marijuana. I wouldn’t say it’s harmless but it’s certainly less damaging than cigarettes and alcohol are. To me the idea that marijuana is illegal us just absurd.

DEAN BECKER: Indeed. Now let’s talk about those business operations up there in Colorado. You’ve now more or less got the blessing of Attorney General Holder to do it right. Is that correct?

GRIFFIN LUTZ: Correct. I have been working in the medical marijuana industry here in Colorado for the past 18 months or so. With the vote last November for Amendment 64 which legalizes marijuana for all adults will go into full effect in January. We deal extensively...I work for the largest medical marijuana company in Colorado. We deal on a daily basis with the state licensing entity which are state police.

They love working with us because we get everything done that they asked us to do in a timely manner. I’ve talked to some DEA agents in the Denver area about what they think of what’s going on and they have indicated to me that they absolutely love Colorado’s system.

Colorado tracks marijuana from “seed to sale” – from the time the seed or the clone is put into dirt until it is sold to a retail customer it’s all on camera, it’s all recorded and they just love our system because there is very little chance for diversion which is what they’re worried about. You know, marijuana leaving the state of Colorado and going somewhere else.

They very much like our tracking system and, in fact, they are trying to improve it with our ID tags starting in January. We’re still working out that system with the state but that’s what they want to get to. The DEA has been very impressed with that system and I think they are looking at for other states that go ahead and legalize marijuana.

The interactions I’ve had with local law enforcement, state law enforcement and even the DEA agents I’ve talked to are very happy with the way the system is set up and as long as everyone follows the rules everything should be fine.

There are certain people that break the rules and the state comes down hard on them as they should, as they would on any other industry that’s breaking industry rules. Overall I think even opponents of medical marijuana and Amendment 64 have been surprised at the amount of success and the amount of control that the state actually had over the actual inventory.

DEAN BECKER: I read a story printed yesterday or today. I think it was in the Denver Post talking about the city council wants to make the smell of cannabis illegal. If it drifts into your neighbor’s yard you could be held accountable, fined $999 and face up to a year in jail.

GRIFFIN LUTZ: Yeah, they’re looking at stuff like that. On small scales like that I could see how a neighbor might complain but in large industrial areas where the majority of the commercial growing operations are that shouldn’t be a problem. There’s all kinds of offensive odors – diesel fuel, machinery and stuff like that that’s spraying out exhaust down those areas that are to me a more hazard than just the simple smell of marijuana.

I could see that being a problem if your next door neighbor has an overwhelming odor in their yard but on the commercial side these are all industrial areas where that shouldn’t be an issue at all. That’s just the city trying to clamp down on things.

DEAN BECKER: Once again we’re speaking with Mr. Griffin Lutz, former Travis County sheriff’s deputy who now in Colorado wearing a couple different hats for some major growers and distributors up there.

Griffin let’s talk for a moment about common sense and whether or not marijuana is legal or illegal, medical is legal or illegal it’s going to be distributed one way or another. It’s better to take this more common sense approach. Am I right?

GRIFFIN LUTZ: Absolutely. I used to have conversations with parents in Travis County all the time about if you actually talk to let’s say high school student about is it easier for them to get marijuana or alcohol and if they’ll talk to you honestly they’ll tell you it’s much easier for them to get marijuana.

When the parents ask, “Why is that?” It’s easy – drug dealers don’t care how old you are. They don’t check IDs. The clerk at the 7-11at least makes an effort to make sure the person purchasing that product is of age and legally able to purchase that.

Granted it is...it’s not a great security measure but someone is at least checking to make sure whereas with the completely black market like it is in Texas now no one cares about the 14-year-old buying a bag of weed. He just wants the cash.

Opponents of marijuana always say, “We don’t want to expose our children to this.”

I hate to tell you this but your children are already exposed to that if not more and we need to be able to regulate, control and tax whatever we’re trying to control in order to keep it away from children.

Legalizing will actually make it more difficult for people who shouldn’t have that item, whatever it is, to get it rather than keeping it all on the black market. Drug dealers don’t care how old you are. They don’t want to check your ID. They just want cash.

The clerk is going to be concerned because he is going to be concerned about his job and the store being closed and that sort of thing and is going to make a reasonable effort to make sure that person is legally allowed to have that substance whatever it might be.

DEAN BECKER: I think you are absolutely right. The drug warriors, those in support of this eternal war, do bring that up as if, “Do you want to add another drug to the equation?” When, as you say, it’s already ...

GRIFFIN LUTZ: They act like it doesn’t exist right now in black market world and the fact of the matter is it exists everywhere. Any high school kid can get a hold of marijuana - period. I’m sure there’s people at their school who can get it for them.

If it was legal and regulated, controlled and taxed like alcohol there’s not a whole lot of kids that can just go into a store and buy beer. Some of them have fake IDs and stuff like that but the amount is so much less than it would be if alcohol were illegal.

DEAN BECKER: Griffin, we’re going to have to wrap it up here. Is there a website you might want to recommend or some closing thoughts you’d like to share with the audience?

GRIFFIN LUTZ: I would tell anyone who is interested in this matter to go to LEAP’s website because they have excellent information and statistics that would pretty much persuade anyone that this is the right way to go. The statistics and the numbers don’t lie and LEAP has very credible information on why legalization is the right path moving forward and would make things more controlled, more regulated and less dangerous for everyone involved.

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[music]

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. These men and women have served in the trenches of the drug war as prosecutors, judges, cops, guards and wardens. They have seen first had the utter futility of our policy and now work together to end drug prohibition. Please visit leap.cc

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ANCHOR WOMAN: A new medical marijuana farmers’ market opened in Seattle today with dozens of vendors. KIRO reporter, Linzi Sheldon, found out about the battle they are ready to fight to do business.

LINZI SHELDON: Opening day of the world famous cannabis market in Seattle was full of music and every kind of medical marijuana product you can imagine but the market was also the stage for a battle over marijuana rights.

JEREMY MILLER: It’s so important for everybody that actually values medical cannabis to defend medical cannabis rights.

LINZI SHELDON: The market’s director, Jeremy Miller, says he’s ready for a fight. State and local leaders are hashing out the details on recreational pot permits which include the number of stores allowed and added costs. Miller is afraid they’ll do the same to medical marijuana next.

[interviewing Jeremy Miller] You’re worried about things like taxes?

JEREMY MILLER: Yeah, it’s not just me – it’s patients.

LINZI SHELDON: Miller says to push for different laws for medical marijuana. He and others plan to put together video testimonials from patients and send that link to state law makers. They also plan to go to Olympia to lobby in January.

MAE TANG: When I start taking cannabis a magical thing happened. All my symptoms, my pain, everything went away.

LINZI SHELDON: Patients like Mae Tang who says marijuana helped her with a badly sprained ankle are hoping law makers listen up and let them light up under different rules.

Linzi Sheldon, KIRO 7 Eyewitness news.

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DAN ABRAMS: What if cops could legally make money from drug deals? What if they were the ones doing the selling? It’s actually happening in one Florida city where drug sting operations – often cooked up at family friendly restaurants – are raising millions in revenue and serious questions about crime fighting. Here’s ABC’s Matt Gutman.

MATT GUTMAN: You’re watching rare video of a kilo of coke being sold for about $23,000. Where are the cops? They’re in on it. The guy on the right of this video is a police detective playing the part of a cocaine dealer. The man on the left is the buyer and the two with their backs to the camera are the paid informants.

This is called a “reverse sting.” The cops aren’t buying the drugs. They’re selling them. It’s a controversial tactic in which cops lure in potential buyers who drive or fly in from all over the country with wads of cash and in most cases the cops keep the cash and the buyer’s cars and pump millions of dollars into local coffers. According to the buyer in this case, Gus Borjas, business ran like clockwork.

[interviewing Gus Borjas]

Did you ever suspect him of being undercover?

GUS BORJAS: No, I didn’t - not at all. I honestly thought he was a real dealer.

MATT GUTMAN: But this isn’t a seedy part of the sunshine state but retirement central – Sunrise, Florida – home to a giant shopping center, coral-colored homes and lots of drug busts.

Borjas is a nurse by profession, a father of two from Homestead, Florida who, on this day, carried a satchel stuffed with $23,000 in cash. He said he’d been convinced to go by a friend.

[interviewing Gus Borjas]

Did you think to yourself at any point, “How on earth did I get myself involved in a drug deal?!”

GUS BORJAS: Yeah, yes I did....afterwards. It wasn’t easy for the informant to convince me but he managed to do it.

MATT GUTMAN: It’s risky business and in sleepy Sunrise these stings have become big business. Borjas says he was there because a man owed him money for 5 years and told this was the only way he’d ever get paid back.

[interviewing Gus Borjas]

So you’re no “Walt White” from “Breaking Bad”?

GUS BORJAS: No.

MATT GUTMAN: He walked straight into a trap. The female paid informant agressivly draws the reluctant Borjas into the action.

GUS BORJAS: In order for them to keep the money they have to make it look like I’m buying the drugs. There she goes...

MATT GUTMAN: So now she’s digging into your bag...

GUS BORJAS: Yeah, you talk about ...yes...

MATT GUTMAN: ... taking the money out...

GUS BORJAS: Because she’s not taking “no” for an answer. They’re not taking “no” for an answer. They don’t care whether I’m a drug dealer or not. They just want the money.

MATT GUTMAN: Finally the woman physically puts the drugs into Borjas’s bag to establish possession. He’s seconds away from facing a possible mandatory 15 year minimum sentence for trafficking narcotics.

GUS BORJAS: As soon as the cops came in and they busted us that’s when I realized that they had set me up.

ALAN ROSS: If I’m the financial manager of the city of Sunrise every morning I would walk into the police department and applaud them.

MATT GUTMAN: The scale of it seems almost industrial according to Ross who defended Gus Borjas in court.

ALAN ROSS: This is a huge business. It’s a multi-million dollar business. It’s been going on for years. It has been a daily event in the city of Sunrise.

MATT GUTMAN: The lucrative sting operations first came to light at an investigative report in the Sun Sentinel newspaper.

MEGAN O’MATZ: The police are not actually finding these drug dealers on their own as you might think would be happening. They rely on paid and unpaid informants to tell them about people who might be looking for cocaine. It became obvious to us that the reason that they are doing this is because of money.

MATT GUTMAN: Big, big money. Over the past two years the department has netted over 5.8 million dollars. The money was used for new equipment and a lot of overtime for the cops involved - some even doubling their salary.

The laws even permit non-monetary assess to be seized from suspects.

MEGAN O’MATZ: They take their cars and jewelry and maybe even one fellow told us the police said, “Hey, I like the sunglasses you’re wearing.” and snatched them.

MATT GUTMAN: But it’s not only the police officers who are raking it in. An unknown woman, Sunrise records show, made a total of $800,000 over 5 years as an informant but the town’s mayor defended the practice and the cops denied it’s about money.

MICHAEL RYAN: We’re effective. We’re getting these people off the street and what you’re seeing...

MATT GUTMAN: It has nothing to do with the money?

MICHAEL RYAN: I’m saying it has everything to do with fighting crime and I will tell you this – it is a tool that fights crime. The suggestion that somehow getting the money out of drug deal is a bad thing is wrong.

We know that one way that you tackle a drug organization is to find out how they are supplying the money and how they are getting [inaudible] This is one way to do it.

MATT GUTMAN: Ultimately Borjas got his $23,000 back and the prosecutor gave him a plea deal on the solicitation to purchase cocaine charge because the informant may have gone too far.

ALAN ROSS: These people only get paid if the deal goes down. Gus isn’t the one who pulled off his backpack and opened it up – the informant did. She takes his backpack off. She unzips it. She’s reaching for the money. Gus isn’t the one who took the cocaine. She took a kilo of cocaine, stuffed it in his backpack – here’s he backpack, go get arrested.

MATT GUTMAN: [interviewing Gus Borjas] What did you feel like when you realized that they did this to a lot of people?

GUS BORJAS: You feel like it’s very unfair because why should you go to jail if you’re not a criminal? Why do they have to make up cases? Only criminals are supposed to go to jail.

MATT GUTMAN: Mayor Ryan says that with reporters breathing down their necks, revealing informants identities and undercover locations the reverse stings have stopped. He said the department will go back to doing what it always did – fighting crime in Sunrise.

For Nightline I’m Matt Gutman, Sunrise, Florida.

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DEAN BECKER: The following segment comes to us courtesy of http://whereiamgoing.org.

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DEL PELONCO: Believe it or not I’ve been stopped by police after I became a cop. I used to walk to Washington Heights with two other cops who were friends of mine and we got thrown against the wall just for walking down.

I’m not saying don’t stop the criminal I’m saying don’t stop the innocent people.

My name is Del Palonco. I’ve been a police officer since 2001. I came to New York when I was 10. I came from a third world country – the Dominican Republic. I grew up in Washington Heights. There was shootings almost every night. It was a daily thing.

The 34 precinct who have a cop come into my sixth grade class...the police would come in and I used to look up to her like, “Oh, my God, this is what I want to do.”

I told my father, “I think I want to be a cop.”

For me it was a dream.

In 2009 the commanding officers require us to have a “1, 20 and 5” quota system. “1, 20 and 5” means 1 arrest per month, 20 summons per month and 5 “stop, question and frisk”.

So, basically they wanted us to stop at least one person a day but what happen the day you don’t see the crime? What happen the day you don’t see the violations? People start getting creative.

We would stop a person on the street at the corner because the seargent say “Stop them.” Why, you don’t ask – you just stop them, you frisk them and, if possible, search them and this kid, sometimes, they just walking home from school, they just walking to the store, they are not doing absolutely anything. They are not doing absolutely anything.

It’s really humiliating feeling when they go through your pockets, when they stop you – you don’t have no freedom. If you stop and then tell the officer, “I don’t have to give you my ID. I don’t have to give you my name.” – which is within the law. The law allows you to do that – you’re going to get hurt. In the Bronx you are going to get hurt.

My turning point was with a bunch of kids on the corner stopped by the commanding officer. There was a 13-year-old Mexican in the group...

“Pelanco, cuff him.”

I said, “For what?”

“Cuff him. You don’t ask me questions. Cuff him and bring him back.”

His brother came to ask what was going on with his brother. He was walking home from school...”Officer did he do anything stupid?”

The commanding officer look at my partner and said, “Cuff him too and bring him in.”

“For what?”

“Oh, we will figure out later. Just bring him in.”

That was my turning point. I said, “Why should I do it to a kid who is just walking home from school that we know is not doing anything? This is not what I became a cop for. This is not what I wanted to do.”

I live for my kids. I think of them. I think of them one day being slapped by a cop like it happens so many times on the street. I’m thinking of them being handcuffed and screaming to the cop, “I haven’t done anything. I haven’t done anything. Why are you arresting me? I haven’t done anything.”

I don’t want them to go through that. If you get violated by a cop how are you going to trust a cop? How are you going to come up to him when you see something?

“If this is the same cop that threw me up against the wall and this is the same cop that went through my private parts looking for crack that I didn’t even have – why should I help him?”

He should be working with the community. It’s written like that. You should be getting community trust.

There’s a lot of things that could be safer. Stopping and harassing innocent people is not going to make the community safer.

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JASON DAVID: We’re parents not potheads.

REPORTER: Saving a 7-year-old by giving him pot...the only thing that’s made his medical condition improve. That’s the claim of one family. Luana Munoz reports piling on the pills wasn’t working so an area boy’s father has turned to marijuana.

LUANA MUNOZ: Imagine having a 7-year-old child that couldn’t do most of the things that 7-year-olds like to do. That’s what Jayden David’s life was like until his father found a medical marijuana that even the doctors say changed his life for the better.

For 7-year-old Jayden David who suffers from epilepsy making noises and even using his fingers to push a button is a miracle.

JASON DAVID: Jayden’s life is being tortured from pharmaceutical drugs and from seizures. Jayden was having seizures every day of his life since he was 4 and one-half.

LUANA MUNOZ: Seizures that lasted over an hour and one-half long all while taking 20 prescribed pills a day. But all of that changed when Jayden’s father, Jason, discovered CBD – a rare form of medical marijuana.

JASON DAVID: Jayden’s seizures are down approximately 80%. Jayden is functioning now. The doctors told me that Jayden would never walk or talk.

LUANA MUNOZ: But after 2 years of using the drug Jayden is doing that and much more and unlike the most marijuana CBD doesn’t have the same psychological effects or high.

JASON DAVID: I gave it to my son in a liquid form. It doesn’t get him high. It’s not psychoactive so it was the first day he went seizure free in his life.

LUANA MUNOZ: But CBD isn’t easy to come by. Only one Modesto dispensary carried it until authorities shut them down.

JASON DAVID: It’s a life and death situation for our children. We’re parents – not potheads. I consider myself as a caregiver. I shouldn’t be worried about being a criminal.

LUANA MUNOZ: Jayden has suffered severe withdrawals from being weaned off the pharmaceutical pills that his father has now reduced to just one.

JASON DAVID: Now Jayden is running, playing, swimming.

LUANA MUNOZ: Given Jayden’s progress Jason says he’ll fight for his son no matter the risk.

JASON DAVID: I understand that people do it for the wrong reasons but people do pharmaceuticals for the wrong reasons. People do a lot of things for the wrong reasons. We’re doing it for the right reason.

LUANA MUNOZ: Jason David and other supporters plan to be at Tuesday night’s city council meeting here in Modesto in hopes that the city will change their policies.

ANCHOR MAN: Plenty of people showed their support for Jayden today out at Modesto Eatery. Uno Chicago “paid it forward” with 20% of today’s proceeds going to the Jason and Jayden’s Journey Foundation all to help the young boy and others dealing with similar struggles.

RESTURAUNT WORKER: We’ve always been real involved with the community – anything we can do to give back. When something like this comes along we definitely make sure we are a part of it and make sure that he’s getting the help that he needs and make an awareness.

ANCHOR MAN: The group estimates that they have raised somewhere between one and two thousand dollars today.

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ROBIN WILLIAMS: It’s weird in California this summer all the state parks caught on fire which was sad because these parks are full of weed – it’s bad news.

It’s like....even the guys who are fighting the fires are like, “ha, ha, ha...Oh, my God, make another rainbow, Tommy. Oh, my God...”

Even Smokey the Bear is going, “Only you can....shit – I knew this...”

In California weed is kick-ass, fucking weed. This is weed that even Jamaicans go, “Oh, don’t smoke that weed, man.”

It’s Californian Catatonic. The type of weed you hit it and it’s like, “shit...I’m not doing something – what is it. Alright – breathe.”

You get so stoned you end up sitting on your couch for a week to the point where your cat’s going, “Get up you asshole! I’ve been eating my own shit for the last two days. I know mellow but this is fucking ridiculous!”

And if they legalize it they’re going to have to regulate it and they are going to have to put a warning on a box of joints. It’s going to have to say, “Surgeon General has determined this will make your music awesome...even Yawnee. If you thought you enjoyed cartoons before...”

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[music]

SINGER: I used to think that smoking weed was wrong...

People who had dreads did not belong.

But ever since I started smoking buds...

I can’t remember what the problem was.

If I can plant it... then I can grow it...and then I can sell it...

There’s nothing to it cuz smoking weed gets you high

And it’s never gonna make you die.

I puff a nugget every night and day...

I didn’t listen to the DEA.

And prohibition what’s it for?

Someone’s always gonna grow some more...

Cuz smokin weed gets you high. Smokin weed gets you high.

Smokin weed gets you high.

What would happen if it was allowed?

The prison population would go down.

The reason why you don’t want the war to stop

cuz that would mean you would lose your jobs.

If I can plant it... then I can grow it...and then I can sell it...

There’s nothing to it cuz smoking weed gets you high

And it’s never gonna make you die.

I puff a nugget every night and day...

It’s really good for the economy

And prohibition what’s it for?

Someone’s always gonna grow some more...

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DEAN BECKER: I guess we’re gonna wrap it up with this silly song. I want to remind you, once again, that the drug war has no basis in reality.

Prohibido istac evilesco!

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

The Century of Lies.

This show produced at the Pacifica Studios of KPFT, Houston.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org