01/02/15 Jack Cole

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Jack Cole, founding member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition re police militarization & the "blue line" + Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland & report on danger of synthetic "marijuana"

Audio file


JANUARY 2, 2015


DEAN BECKER: You are listening to Cultural Baggage on Pacifica Radio and the DrugTruth Network, and that was Michael Franti “Same As It Ever Was.” And this is Dean Becker, your host, here in just a moment we're going to bring in our guest. I thought that song appropriate as this new year begins, we've got to find a better way and here to talk about that better way is my good friend, a gentleman I first met back, uh, gosh, eleven years ago when I was the world's biggest pot reformer, and I ran into this guy and that day, I became a member of his group: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. I'll let him explain his career, and why he believes the way he does. I want to welcome my boss, the head of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Mr. Jack Cole. How are you, Jack?

JACK COLE: I'm fine, it's good to talk to you. This is my first talk in the new year!

DEAN BECKER: Yes sir. Yeah, and Jack, I don't know, you've done probably a hundred recruitments since then, but I remember very vividly that day up there in New Jersey, back I think 2002, 2003, and I was interviewing you and suddenly, I heard a ringing bell, I heard a clarion call, I heard a reason to change my focus in this drug war. Please, tell us about your experience and about law enforcement against prohibition.

JACK COLE: Sure, well, we created it, I was one of the founding members, there were five of us, former cops, who created it back in 2002 because we didn't like the role that we had in implementing what we today think is not only a failed war on drugs but is far worse, it's a constantly expanding, self-perpetuating policy disaster that every year is worse than it was the year before, there's no way to patch it up or repair it, we have to get rid of it.

So, we started this organization, LEAP, which stands for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and today, we're no longer five cops, we're now well over 150,000 police, judges, prosecutors, prison officials, and supporters in 120 countries and all of us are calling for the legalization and regulation of all drugs. Legalize them, keep them out of the hands of the criminals and end this terrible prohibition, gun violence.

Legalize it, regulate them, and end overdose deaths. Nobody has to die of an overdose of drugs, they don't die because they shoot more and more dope, they die because they simply don't know how much of that tiny package of powder they're buying is really the drug and how much the cutting agent, too much drug and you're dead. And of course in an illegal, unregulated market they will never know. Regulate it, and we can prevent half of all potential cases of AIDS and Hepatitis from ever occurring, because according to the Centers for Disease Control, in our country fifty percent of all new cases of AIDS and Hepatitis C can be traced directly back to intravenous drug uses sharing needles. If those drugs were legal, they wouldn't have to do that.

Legalize it, regulate it, and we can stop arresting 1.7 million people in this country alone, every single year, for nonviolent drug offenses. That's what we do, every year, and most of them are young, and of them are people of color, although people of color are no more likely to use drugs than white folks.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Jack, let me ask you something, are you by chance using a speakerphone?

JACK COLE: No I'm not, and when I called in, I told them this is not a great connection, but he didn't bother to call me back.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Well, I tell you what, Jack, once again, I seldom talk about my law enforcement experience, you know, it was just two years serving the US government as a security policeman, but tell them about your experience if you will, Jack.

JACK COLE: Sure. I served 26 years in the New Jersey State Police, I retired a detective lieutenant from that. For 14 of those years, I worked undercover in narcotics, working everything from, at the beginning of the war – that's when I started was 1970, which was the beginning of the drug war. And at the beginning, I was working on busting young kids on the street for smoking pot, but by five years into the war on drugs I was working billion dollar international heroin and cocaine rings that didn't even exist when we started the war on drugs, we pretty much created this monster out of whole cloth.

DEAN BECKER: Didn't we though. Now Jack, when we talked last week about this show, and what we wanted to talk about, there's two points that I do want to get into. Let me kind of – first is the militarization of the police forces, and then secondarily it's that thin blue line which seems to be either growing or dissolving, whatever detrimentally impacts society, I don't know which that would be. And I'm wondering if they're tied together, the militarization and this thin blue line, and let's talk about what that means to our society.

JACK COLE: Well, I think they are tied together, and I think what ties them together mainly is the war on drugs. The war on drugs has created this system where suddenly we had this idea that had never been around before called Zero Tolerance. That never existed before the war on drugs started, that sprung completely out of the war on drugs. And, uh, these attitudes that drug users are, are people that are just not worth worrying about or saving or doing anything with, they're people that we can just use as fodder for our industrial prison system, and once we put them in the prisons we can actually make money on them by allowing corporations to use them as labor and we can make new jobs by creating correctional service jobs for guards to watch them.

So, it's all about money, it's about money on every turn, and this idea of the militarization of the police departments. It started out because of the drug war, and it also had to do with the terrorist, uh, action that was occurring right after 2000, and at some point, of course, as we all know, it began to be absolutely linked together in what the federal government called the narcoterrorism. So once they linked together, they could give all this money to police departments so they can have tanks, and assault rifles, and machine guns, and all these things that I just don't think are absolutely necessary for police, our police were pretty well-armed just when I was in there.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. And Jack, I mean truly, it's like we are trying to parallel the streets of Fallujah, so to speak, that people will be fearful of our, our police masters, almost. And that's part of what's happening now, there is this resistance from the people, that the police have gone too far. In cities across America, people are protesting, people are talking about the overkill, and indeed some of it is kill, that is going on from the police force. Your response to that, Mr. Jack Cole.

JACK COLE: Well, I agree with what you're saying, Dean, and I think it's worse than most people realize it is. For instance, the FBI says that last year there were, I forget exactly, it's 470-some people that were killed by police officers, but they don't keep track of most of the people killed by police officers. As a matter of fact, their criteria they use for anybody killed by a police officer, for it to be registered with the FBI, it has to be a police officer killing a felon involved in a crime. So, so, a police officer killing someone who's involved in a misdemeanor, like say what happened with, in New York City, never gets registered. A police officer that goes berserk and shoots some woman in the head because he's upset about her driving while he's off-duty, those things are never registered.

There is a group now that started in 2013 that just lists people who are killed by police, and the way they do it is they scan the internet for those stories and they just list the stories. I just downloaded them, I've got, uh, let's see, what do they have. In 2014, there were 1,100 people killed by police.

DEAN BECKER: That's the number I have seen as well, sir. And, that brings to mind, the number of police deaths went up by 10 percent this year, was it 50 for the year 2014? It had been like 45. We hear the stories, I see it on the TV shows, I hear it from other law enforcement people, that the number one thing they talk about these days, in that morning briefing, is we're all coming home tonight to our families.

JACK COLE: Yeah, that really bothers me a bit, though. When I joined the state police, I was married, I had two kids, and certainly I wanted to come home at night, but I never, ever discussed it in those terms. My number one job wasn't coming home at night, my number one job was I had raised my right hand and sworn to do, and that was to protect and serve the population that I was assigned to. That was my number one job. You'd certainly try to get home at night, but you, if, my family always knew that if I somehow got killed in the line of duty by trying to protect other people, that's what I signed up for. That's what this was all about. And it bothers me, really really bothers me, that today, so many police are saying this other thing, that their number one job is just to get home.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, and they're dressed up like RoboCop. Gosh, when I was in service, I mean, they taught us a little judo, and gave us an AR-15 and or a pistol, and there was no pepper spray, no tasers, no, none of that, and we did all right, you know? Mostly dealing with drunks at the gate, but you know, that was still a challenge, and sometimes deadly. I got fired at a couple of times out on the flightline guarding the B-52s, so there's always danger inherent in the job, it's just part of it, isn't it, Jack?

JACK COLE: That's what you sign up for. If you don't feel like you can live with that, I don't think you should be signing up for that job.

DEAN BECKER: Exactly. Now, Jack, let's talk about, I don't even know how to say this, just progress. It seems that 2014 was a big year, 2013, the votes were big, legal marijuana in Colorado and Washington, last year we voted in a couple more, but, it's not just marijuana anymore. More and more politicians are beginning to speak up, beginning to recognize the frailty, the futility of this drug war, and right about a month ago I broadcast an interview with the police chief of Houston, I'm going to play that, it's about two minutes, when I come back I want to get your response, okeh Jack?

JACK COLE: Please, please do.

DEAN BECKER: The following segment courtesy KPRC-TV, NBC Houston.

BILL BALLEZA: But first at 10, Houston's chief of police making national headlines tonight, over what he has to say about the use of marijuana.

LAUREN FREEMAN: In a radio interview tonight, Houston police chief Charles McLelland says that he supports the decriminalization of weed.

KEITH GARVIN: Well Bill, Lauren, some were surprised to hear Chief McLelland's comments today, others though, they welcome them, saying that the time to legalize marijuana use in Texas is now. Some would say that the chief's comments would lead them to believe that he agrees.

CHARLES MCLELLAND, JR.: We cannot criminalize such a large population of society that engage in casual marijuana use.

KEITH GARVIN: Words clear and to the point from a candid interview Houston Police Chief Charles McLelland gave Friday on a Houston radio station. The topics were wide-ranging, but the chief was largely asked about marijuana use. McLelland made it clear he believes enforcing marijuana laws is wasting time, and other valuable resources.

CHARLES MCLELLAND, JR.: The taxpayers can't afford to build jails and prisons to lock up everyone that commits a crime. We must put more money into crime prevention, treatment, education, job training.

KEITH GARVIN: The chief also took aim at the decades-long war on drugs, saying mandatory sentencing policies have had a disproportionate impact on young minorities.

CHARLES MCLELLAND, JR.: A lot of young men who are minorities, in their early 20s, have a felony conviction on their resume and now they're unemployable. And, you know, we wonder why they don't have jobs.

JOHN SROUJR: I mean we can look in Colorado for that answer, you know, it's a billion dollar industry, multi-billion dollar industry, so financially we definitely could do a lot of things for society.

CHARLES MCLELLAND, JR.: I think we're going to be able to make some good recommendations to our state lawmakers and other elected officials on where we need to go in the state of Texas.

KEITH GARVIN: Chief McLelland also said that the federal government is the one that should take the lead in defining this issue. He also said that the country's attitude on this issue in his estimation has changed, and he believes that the government should follow suit.

DEAN BECKER: All right. You're listening to Cultural Baggage on the Drug Truth Network and Pacifica Radio, this is Dean Becker, we have on line with us Mr. Jack Cole, director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Jack, you had a chance to hear that, your response, please.

JACK COLE: I think he's right on. I agreed with everything he was saying. The federal government does need to take the reins on this thing because it's very hard to do it on an individual basis. And, when I say that the federal government needs to take the reins, what they need to do is just as they did when we got rid of alcohol prohibition in 1933, and when we did that, the federal government didn't say Alcohol is now legal in the United States, all they said was, We are no longer involved in enforcing these laws, it is now up to the states to set the laws that they want, if you want alcohol illegal, fine, if you want it legal, that's okeh too. If you want beer legal and whiskey illegal, that's okeh.

So, once they did that, once the federal government got out of the enforcement end, then we had, I don't know how many states did we have back then, 33, maybe 36 or so, and we had every one of those states that was experimenting with new ideas of how to best cope with our alcohol problem without prohibiting it. And eventually it became legal in every state. I think exactly the same thing would happen to these other drugs if the federal government would just get out of it and say Now it's up to the states to experiment the way they should.

DEAN BECKER: Okeh, Jack. Now, my interview was with the police chief of Houston, Charles McLelland, and the month before that I had a chance to speak with the mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, and she said pretty much the same thing, no not quite as boldly. But it's representative of more and more officials, politicians, representatives, beginning to ease into this conversation because they know that in the not-too-distant future we're going to look back at those people who believed in this as, well, less than human, kind of like the way we look at druggies or something, huh? What do you think, Jack?

JACK COLE: Well, I think you're right, and I think it's wonderful that it's moving along. I just hope that this doesn't only apply to marijuana because, you know, as you well know Dean, if the government were to legalize marijuana across the board, for recreation, for every purpose you wanted, it wouldn't reduce the number of people dying from an overdose by so much as one person, because no one dies from of overdose of marijuana and cannabis, it doesn't happen. It wouldn't reduce the spread of AIDS and Hepatitis C by one person, because that spread is done by intravenous drug users and you don't use that drug intravenously. It wouldn't even reduce the violence out here by much, because people wyho are using marijuana are not very violent.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Yeah. And if I might add, we would still continue to enrich these terrorists that grow the flowers we forbid, over there in Afghanistan, we'll still enrich these barbarous cartels in Mexico, and we won't stop the street corner vendors from selling these hard drugs to our kids, it's not –

JACK COLE: That's right, and the 30,000 street gangs in the United States. There's at least 3 million people across this country who all make their living by selling these hard drugs, too.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Well, Jack, another story that's been breaking over the last week was that situation where the two cops were assassinated, horrible situation, and you know, the mayor, DeBlasio, gave his speech, and I don't know, a thousand cops turned their backs to him. That just seemed so offensive to me. Your thoughts there, please, Jack.

JACK COLE: Well, it's offensive to me too. It's, I'm offended same as I would be if the president of the United States, any president of the United States, were giving a talk to the military and the military turned their backs on him. DeBlasio is the leader of that city, and therefore, you know, should have some respect just from the fact of what he's doing there, same as the president should have, regardless of whether you think they're right on or not, you know, you don't turn your backs on them.

This goes to a kind of arrogance that I see that again bothers me. That same kind of thing, of, my number one job is to get home. It's an arrogance that says, Police can do no wrong. Then they came out here, NYPD just came out with this thing where they're having a slow-down, see that? Oh well, that slow-down is really something, but they might have made a big mistake in doing that because, the arrests have dropped down to almost nothing, they've dropped down by almost 92 percent, 84 percent of parking tickets down, all kinds of things down, and you know, if they continue this for about a month, and no crime goes up, people are going to say, well, why were you doing this in the first place, you know? This doesn't make any sense, you don't need to be out arresting all these people.

And what the union heads are saying is, they're telling their police, only arrest when it's absolutely necessary. Well, I thought that's sort of what we should be doing in the first place.

DEAN BECKER: Exactly. And it does, it brings focus to bear on, what have these millions, tens of millions of drug arrests really been for?

JACK COLE: Fifty million. Fifty million since we started the war on drugs, I just ran the stats just last week. By the end of this year, we surpassed fifty million nonviolent drug offenses since 1970.

DEAN BECKER: Wow. Well, Jack, we're going to have to bring you back real soon. I have this new time slot here in the mothership city of the Drug Truth Network, and I wanted them to hear from Mr. Jack Cole, my boss, or my past boss, however you want to say it.

JACK COLE: I would like them to hear from you too, by the way. I just read a write-up on your book, and that is one wonderful book, Dean, you published just recently.

DEAN BECKER: Oh, thanks.

JACK COLE: Everybody should be reading it.

DEAN BECKER: Jack, I wish I had a publicist or a publisher, but yeah. It's To End The War On Drugs, I recommend the policy-maker's edition. We gave a copy of that to every senator, every rep, the president, his cabinet, the Supreme Court justices, we hand delivered those, and we mailed fifty copies to every governor of these United States, encouraging them to have a debate, to explain to us the benefit of drug war. That seems pretty unlikely to ever happen, right, Jack?

JACK COLE: No, not to me, I think that it going to happen. And it might start happening next – this year.

DEAN BECKER: This year. Well, I hope so. I hope I'm on that stage, because it will be as short debate if I'm there, I promise you. Well Jack, I'm going to have to let you go. Thank you so much for being with us, helping kick off this new year. Folks, if you want to learn more about Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, I urge you to please do so, invite one of us to come speak to your organization, and that website is LEAP.CC. Thank you, Jack!

JACK COLE: You're welcome.

DEAN BECKER: It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects. Trouble breathing, severe headache, vertigo, cancer of the lung, skin, liver, kidney, and bladder, metallic taste in the mouth, dysphasia, profuse bloody diarrhea, cold clammy extremities, convulsions, shock, renal failure. Time's up. The answer: Arsenic! The use of arsenic in contemporary medicine has been severely curtailed, but it is still used in treatment of severe parasitic disease.

Because I'm such a good guy, here's a secondary warning: Don't fire up that joint for pain, no matter what god says on the first page of the bible.

The following segment courtesy KFDM-TV:

GREG KERR: There is an alarming and increasing trend tonight, and a dangerous drug on the streets of Beaumont: Synthetic marijuana. Beaumont police say there are, they are seeing more people overdosing on the drug, and they are getting more calls to assist EMS with combative patients. KFDM's Haley Bull is investigating, she joins us now in the studio to explain. Haley?

HALEY BULL: Greg, this morning police were called to help EMS with a combative patient and two other unconscious people, all suspected of overdosing on synthetic marijuana. This case highlighting the growing problem for officers. Police say they found a 47 year old man, a 22 year old man, and 51 year old woman in a house in the 2400 block of Linson. Officers say people inside the home told them the three people had smoked synthetic marijuana all night. Now on New Year's Day, police say the woman and 22 year old man are listed in stable condition, but the combative man is in serious condition and expected to be admitted to the ICU.

Police say the use of the drug is increasing, and they're seeing more violence associated with its sale and use. This morning's case is just a fraction of what they've seen. One police sergeant estimates this past week alone, EMS and police have responded to more than 25 cases like it.

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: We do an increase because I think people have the false assumption that because it's in such a nice package, that a) it's safer, which it's not, and b) it's legal, which it's not, so we do tend to see more people on synthetic marijuana, which is going to lead to overdoses. These drugs will have a negative effect on you, they will cause you to become violent, they will cause you to become paranoid, and possibly even cause you to die.

HALEY BULL: Tonight at 10, hear from an emergency room doctor about the increase in patients they're seeing, and what he says may be the cause behind it. Reporting in the studio, Haley Bull, KFDM 6 News.

GREG KERR: Thank you, Haley. Our story about –

DEAN BECKER: All right. All right. Yeah, folks, thank you for joining us on this first edition of Cultural Baggage here in the year 2015. The drug war's ending, slow, ugly, and bloody. We can really use your help. The knowledge you gain from listening to these programs and elsewhere should be put to use. There is nobody in government, no one, not from the president's office on down to your local sheriff, who will or is able to defend this in an open, public debate.

Why do we fund terrorists, cartels, and gangs? Why are the street corner vendors still out there in the black market, selling contaminated drugs to our kids, drugs made in primitive labs, cut with everything from baby powder to rat poison, why is in the world is that still going on? We've never stopped even one determined child from getting their hands on drugs. It is a pipe dream, a fairy tale.

Well folks, that's about it. As always, I remind you, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful.