08/01/23 Kim Ogg

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Kim Ogg

Kim Ogg is the District Attorney of Harris County/Houston Texas.  Topics include Prosecutors for Prosecutors to assist Afghan prosecutors now facing retribution from the Taliban, Texas legislature, Tuttle family murders, cops fearful of interviews, my forthcoming book: Forever Salem, much more.

Audio file

Dean Becker: (00:00)
Hello, my friends. I am Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High, and welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage Round. We've got a, a super show lined up for you. We have the District attorney of Houston Harris County, Ms. Kim Ogg is with us today. But first I want to read my quote for the day, who knows why we were taught to fear the Witches and not those who burned them alive. Uh, it's kind of the heart of my book, which we'll talk a little bit more about here in a little while. But before we jump into drug war investigation, I want to thank, in fact congratulate you, Kim, and all the other US prosecutors now standing up for our allies, the Afghan prosecutors, prosecutors for prosecutors. Please tell us a little about that effort.

DA Kim Ogg: (00:49)
It's good to see you, and thank you for asking me about this important effort when the United States pulled out of Afghanistan, as we know, many of our allies who are Afghan themselves were left behind. There's problems getting visas, there's delays. And each day that these folks who we've left behind remain in Afghanistan, those who were known to be prosecutors are themselves being hunted, tortured, and murdered along with members of their family. So a group of prosecutors, local folks like me from around the country, have joined together to try and raise about $15 million to try and get these people out. They are United States trained. They embraced our concept of justice, and they pursued accountability against the Taliban. And now that we have departed Afghanistan, we prosecutors think that those people should be aided by the United States. And because there's difficulties in doing that through the government, we've decided to do it on our own with their aid. And we will also be trying to employ them when they return here or come here because they are trained as prosecutors. So that's the commitment of local elected das around the country. I'm one of them, and I'm honored to be involved in that kind of humanitarian effort.

Dean Becker: (02:14)
Oh, and I, I'm, as I said, I'm proud of you and, and all of these others for having that, uh, that awareness, that commitment, because those people stood with us. They committed towards our concept of justice. They stood against the Taliban and they deserved respect and, uh, you know, uh, support. They

DA Kim Ogg: (02:31)
Deserve to live. And many members of the Taliban who were convicted, jailed, and imprisoned because of their work were released. Those people are out for vengeance and blood. And, and unfortunately they're getting it. So we want to help our, uh, brother and sister prosecutors get out of Afghanistan.

Dean Becker: (02:51)
Um, there's another, I don't know, round of news that's breaking. The Texas legislature is wanting to change the property taxes, but it seems the governor wants to control the way you do your job. He seems to think that you're too lenient in some ways, that you need to be more draconian and and need his help. Well, your response to that thought,

DA Kim Ogg: (03:12)
Well, I think you're referencing what the governor is calling the Rogue Prosecutor Bill. And it's actually aimed at prosecutors who have written policies declining prosecution on things like shoplifting. John Cruzo in Dallas was one of the original prosecutors who signed off on that policy. Joe Gonzalez in San Antonio had some non-prosecution policies of his own. Our programs here in Houston were all done through and with consent of law enforcement. And that kind of collaboration, as you know, is not easy. No, it's not fun. But we've reached agreements on mental health and marijuana that fortunately fit into the exceptions against rogue prosecutors. 'cause the idea is they want us to follow Texas law. Well, I have a message for our governor. We take a duty, we take an oath that swears us to a duty to follow and uphold the law. But we also, by law and in the concept of balancing of powers, we have the discretion when we review the facts with the law applied.

DA Kim Ogg: (04:22)
And if we don't think it's appropriate to prosecute, then we lawfully have the discretion not to. This bill, I think, is aimed at written and verbal policies, but it will be politically weaponized by both sides against elected das. And it has very little to do with our daily work. It will be a distraction that I am warning the public about. But I will tell you, when I took my oath, uh, I understood that we are to prosecute cases, whether we like the laws that we utilize or not. Yeah. But that doesn't limit our discretion. And prosecutorial independence is something that is so important to freedom in this country that when you start trying to pinch at the edges of it, you really throw the whole system into a risky situation of falling apart.

Dean Becker: (05:16)
Well, thank you for that. And well then, if, if the governor wasn't specifically going after the, your use or the, the means of, uh, drug law enforcement, there are others, perhaps some of those that are challenging you for district attorney or considering it others that are quarreling with you, that you're too lenient. Am I right?

DA Kim Ogg: (05:35)
Well, some are saying I'm too lenient and some are saying I'm too harsh . And so I'll tell you what I'm doing. I'm applying the law to the facts. We have about 340 prosecutors. They have way too high caseload. It's very unfair. And they do their best daily to exercise good judgment. We do our best to recruit and retain them. But this is a tough time to govern. And so what I would tell the public is that we are following the laws, and we are taking cases that where the evidence supports prosecution. We unfortunately see a lot of violence in our community. I'm against that. We're holding violent offenders accountable. And part of the way we do that, Dean, is by being reasonable about our nonviolent law violators. And that's where drug laws come in. We're also taking a new look at fentanyl, and I want to talk about that. Sure.

Dean Becker: (06:26)
And I, I wanna first preface the, the discussion about fentanyl with the fact that fentanyl is a good medicine. It works for thousands of people across America when it's used appropriately per doctor's instructions.

DA Kim Ogg: (06:39)
Amen. But it's, it's a really great thing that doctors have, along with propofol and a array of drugs that when used properly, can be lifesaving. Unfortunately, when, uh, introduced into the black market through illegal drugs, that can be deadly.

Dean Becker: (06:55)
This, this is about the, the Tuttle, um, raid from however many years ago. Here we go. But

Joe Gamaldi: (07:02)
Now, but now I wanna speak on behalf of the 5,200 brave men and women of the Houston Police Department and the other 800,000 police officers that are working these streets every single day putting their lives on the line. We are sick and tired of having targets on our back. We are sick and tired of having dirt bags trying to take our lives when all we're trying to do is protect this community and protect our families. Enough is enough. And if you're the ones that are out there spreading the rhetoric that police officers are the enemy, well just know we've all got your number. Now. We're gonna be keeping track all y'all, and we're gonna make sure that we hold you accountable every time you stir the pot on our police officers. We've had enough folks. We're out there doing our jobs every day, putting our lives on the line for our families. Enough is enough.

Dean Becker: (07:47)
Alright, en enough is enough. That was recorded the evening after the murder of the Tuttle family by the Houston Police Department and Narcotics Group. And he was trying to defend what they did, the murder he was trying to go after people like me who want to challenge their methods and, and, uh, the way they do things. And, and I guess it's a warning from Joe. He was then head of the Houston Patrolman's Union. Um, they killed their dog too, on a ton of false information. They were lying to judges, stealing overtime, doing all kinds of things. And it turns out that he was defending murderers. Uh, I, I hope that the representatives, the mayor, the sheriff, the police chief will all hear our discussion today. And I want to send an invitation to Sheriff Gonzalez, to Chief Finn and Mayor Turner. They all ignored my invitations to visit this program.

Dean Becker: (08:42)
I wanna make a promise to them. If they will come on the show. I will not talk about the thousands of drug busts that were set up, just like the Tuttles with lies, deception, theft, and violence. I just wanna talk about the Tuttle Bust and every bust going forward. I, I wanna leave it there. Too often cops group think an idea gets thrown out in any other cops that gather round glom onto it and once proven wrong. Uh, they, once they're shown to be off track, they're quick to reach for any other reason to justify the stop. And that just gets kind of silly at times. I, I know you don't get involved with the misdemeanors and the, the cop squabbles and that kind of stuff, but you hear stories about it, do you not? Well,

DA Kim Ogg: (09:22)
Not only do we get involved, we have an entire civil rights prosecution division with six senior lawyers assigned two investigators and support staff. And our civil rights division is dedicated to prosecuting police officers and other public servants who violate our citizens or visitors civil rights. So the total case is being prosecuted as a felony murder against Gerald Goines. And the voice of Joe Aldi should be a warning to any leader who steps out early to take a position when the facts aren't actually known. And at that time, he was quote, a leader of the police union. Uh, I will tell you that, uh, he's from New York, doesn't know our community and clearly had no clue about the facts of this case. So I look forward to the day we finally get this case to trial. We are also prosecuting 10 other police officers who were also on squad 15 with Gerald Goines. And we are, for the most part, not able to talk about anything related to that case, uh, because the lawyers will say that we're trying to poison the jury pool. But what I would tell you is that those families await justice, the Nicholas and Tuttle families and our Civil Rights Division intends to hold those accountable who caused the murder.

Dean Becker: (10:56)
I, I am so pleased to hear that. And look, I, I admitted on air, uh, just about every week. I am addicted to First Amendment auditors. Uh, they're on YouTube. They, they, they get out there, they squabble with the cops. They, they show up with a camera and the cops, well, usually the, the, uh, the business owners or the post office owners, the, the police station, they go to all these kinds of places and they freak out. You can't be here with a camera. And I, I want to go over with you, uh, a couple things. Public pho, public photography is just plain legal anywhere, isn't it?

DA Kim Ogg: (11:34)
Yes. As long as it's done in on public property. And we don't have any rights as citizens to privacy when we're out in public, obviously lewd pictures, things that are inappropriate interfering with an arrest, I would encourage people that, yes, you should exercise your first Amendment rights, but let's be reasonable about it. If there's a public safety situation going on, consider that. Consider everybody's right to be safe, including the police officers. So police officers should not stop people from filming, especially when they're out in the public. They themselves wear body cameras for the purpose of making their actions with the public available and transparent. And I think that most good cops would tell you, Hey, we act the same whether we're on camera or off camera. And so we don't fear that, you know, not everybody subscribes to that. And it's not a Pollyanna view, it's an optimist view by a law enforcement leader. That's how we want our law enforcement to feel and to behave.

Dean Becker: (12:42)
Uh, the, the focus is not on Houston so much, though I have seen, ah, half dozen Houston, h p d officers mostly working for organizations, maybe guarding oil companies out on a highway somewhere that, you know, squabble on the side of the highway, that kind of thing, and, and don't understand or just do the wrong thing. But in general, it's, it's more, I don't know, Galveston and Baytown and the surrounding areas where I, I see a lot of just cops not knowing the constitution, not knowing their job, and just messing up, uh, on a regular basis. Uh, I, I know you don't get those cases, but what would you say to those other das that are allowing those situations to occur and to, you know, grow?

DA Kim Ogg: (13:26)
So the prosecutors that I know believe in civil rights, we believe in due process for people. And we encourage our police officers to be transparent. Again, they're wearing a body camera, so there's nothing really to be afraid of when somebody else is filming us. But there are inappropriate times and places when that occurs. So what I would say to my fellow prosecutors is, let's keep pushing transparency in policing and in prosecuting where we can. There's so much we can't say when it comes to evidence. Grand juries, uh, gag orders from judges. But there's a lot that we can tell our community and show them, because their trust is what gives us the authority to act on their behalf. And all elected das know this. And I would hope that those who work for us under understand that's our obligation to the public. That includes cops and prosecutors.

Dean Becker: (14:23)
Thank you. I, yeah, I think about it. Uh, and, and usually it's smaller departments, uh, I don't know, not not major cities, I guess where I, you run into this situation where maybe the lieutenant and then the sergeant doesn't know, and they train their, their, uh, employees to, uh, go, go about it the wrong way. And, and, you know, they wind up getting sued and it cost the city and, you know, the, the citizens money to pay for the insurance. And on down the line. It's, it's a major draw from the, uh, the economy, isn't it? Well,

DA Kim Ogg: (14:55)
We, in law enforcement would tell you, we need every dime. Uh, there is a spike in violent crime going on. There is a spike in certain kinds of drug deaths, and there's a spike always, it seems like, in Houston, related to the burglaries of automobiles and homes. And so these are the types of crimes that, along with rape and robbery, we're focused on to do that with so few prosecutors, in so many cases, we have to look and treat certain old problems in our social, uh, set up like drugs and their possession, like prostitution and, and the spinoff crimes of human trafficking. Mm-hmm. , there's just so many things we need to look at in an out of the box way. And that's what I've tried to do as a prosecutor. We have to make our resources go as far as we can for the violent, what can we do about the nonviolent? And so, as you know, I'm super proud of our marijuana diversion program. Oh yeah. It's not just for adults anymore. It's also for juveniles. And we have the best practice with our police of anywhere in the state when it comes to dealing with, when anybody who's caught with under four ounces of marijuana,

Dean Becker: (16:07)
I, I don't know if you heard or I've mentioned it today. I, I'm writing a new book. It's a tentative title forever, Salem, the American Inquisition. And in it, I say it's the persecution of witches. I e druggies is really what it's about by a certain group of inquisitors, I'll call 'em crusaders, who think it's their right, their obligation. They're, they, they have the ability to persecute other people. There. There's a lot of similarities to the way Hitler persecuted Jews. 'cause he just didn't like 'em. He didn't like their lifestyle. He, and we have this situation where drug warriors, people who want to stop drug users think they have the right, the obligation to, uh, stop. So far they've stopped 50 million citizens who simply wanted to live the American dream of life, liberty, and to pursue happiness. And I've been saying for years now, the drug war is evil, a crime against humanity. Any response to that

DA Kim Ogg: (17:05)
? Yes, I have a response to that. So our legislature at the state level, our congress at the federal level has a lot of work to do when it comes to a reasonable approach to drug usage, drug trafficking, and drug treatment. And none of these things come easily or cheaply. So when it comes to drug enforcement, what we've done is take a punish the user approach. I'm for something different. I'm for punishing the people who are trafficking illegal narcotics and making lots of money off the addiction and the expense sometimes of their lives of users. We're trying to retrain our population of prosecutors, and I hope law enforcement to look at drug users who die as a result of ingesting something they thought was substance A and it turned out to be fentanyl or some other poisonous substance. Yep. Not as people who invited the danger.

DA Kim Ogg: (18:07)
Yep. They took a risk, but did it really deserve the death penalty? So we're trying to get our folks to understand that addicts, while they're not necessarily victims to, uh, their drug addiction, or, or maybe they are, they are certainly victims when they die of being poisoned by someone who is making counterfeit drugs to ensure greater profitability in the black market. And so I wanna go after the people making money off our misery, the people who are dealing poison into our streets to an unsuspecting public. And I wanna take that kind of lack of blame approach and talk about human trafficking for a minute. For years, we put prostitutes in jail and we ignored the buyers. Then the legislature made the buying of sex a felony. Okay. We say we can prosecute that. And what we find is that most of our buyers are first time offenders with jobs and families who they support.

DA Kim Ogg: (19:08)
And so we end up diverting into programs to try and reeducate sex buyers about the harm they're doing. We try and work the women and men in prostitution, sex workers back into our society through treatment and support by NGOs, by nonprofits. But what do we do about the people making all the money? That's where I want to go with prosecution. The illegal traffickers who don't care, who dies, who gets hurt and could care less if that's your daughter or your son. Yeah. And so those profiteers of pain are the folks who our prosecutors are being trained to go after. And so we've created this division with a narcotics and homicide prosecutor to go after these fentanyl cases, more like homicides than, uh, than the way we used to treat them, which was the user was blamed and the dealer got off scot-free. That's wrong. We're changing it.

Dean Becker: (20:09)
You know, to me, I, I wanna sum up legalization. Legalization. Merck makes meth. Pfizer makes, um, cocaine. I don't know. Bayer makes the heroin. They sell it at the drugstore for a penny on the black market dollar to adults or none. And that's just the way I see it, that we have this idea that we need to control the habits of our fellow man and we don't what gave us that. Right. That's my concern. Well,

DA Kim Ogg: (20:32)
Maybe your book is, uh, since I obviously haven't read it because not out yet, but I will Yeah. Is about early morality policing. And what we've seen is that morality policing, whether it's prostitution, which is, is now called human trafficking, whether it's drug use, um, this type of focus on individual use or action is not effective unless you get to the source of the problem. So it's not manufacturing drugs legally, that's the problem. It's illegally manufacturing them. It's not selling them legally through your local C v s or Walgreens. It's selling 'em out on the street when the buyer has no idea what they're purchasing. So I think that instead of trying to control the moral climate of America, that what I've done is just focus on people's actions. But I want to focus on the right people, not the end game user, not the folks who really don't control anything. It's, there's people making lots and lots of money illegally, and that's who we're going after.

Dean Becker: (21:45)
Well, I, I, you know, it's hard to pin it down. There is no, you know, accountant tracking all of this, but they say it's 300, 400, $500 billion a year that's flowing into the pockets of terrorists and cartels and gangs and street corner sellers. It's a, it is a lot of money. Well,

DA Kim Ogg: (22:02)
I'm for regulation of, of, uh, narcotics. I think that, you know, in states where marijuana has been legalized and regulation is enforced evenly, and I hope it is, that perhaps there's less of an impact by the black market. I think we have something to study from those states. And I wish Texas would get on with it. We have plenty of violent crime and gun violence to prosecute without having to concern our police who are also too few out on the street with these kind of infractions. I, I want 'em to go after the real crooks.

Dean Becker: (22:40)
I, I'm gonna say something here because part of my book is going after that thin blue line, this destruction, or this desecration, I think is a better word of the US flag that, uh, a lot of police departments have, you know, adopted these days. The US flag code specifically states quote, the flag should never have placed upon it, nor any part of it, nor attached to it. Any mark insignia a letter word figure, or design. Now, I, I say the 200 wussy cops that gathered in Valdi to hear the screams of dying children are prime representatives of this thin blue line. And Kim, there's no need to respond to that. But I'm just saying the drug war has ruined the mindset of cops. It has made it where if they can plan ahead and kick in the door of people who don't know they're coming, they're perfectly willing to do it. But if there's somebody they know has a gun, 200 of them couldn't do the job. No need to respond. Yeah.

DA Kim Ogg: (23:36)
But I want to tell you, I still know a whole lot of law abiding good people who are cops. So when we paint with the broad brush, you get everybody. I understand, Dean. I just wanted to put my plug in there for the folks I do know who are trying every day to keep us safe.

Dean Becker: (23:52)
No. And, and um, again, that was just 200 wussy cops. I I know a lot of cops who are good people, intelligent, um, you know, positive folks. But I, I just, I know that this thin blue line is just a means to, uh, separate the cops from the people again, which the drug war has done that from the beginning. It's now why they wear these, these bulletproof vests and they're got magazines and loaded up with two guns and all of this stuff. They look like they're ready to go to Afghanistan. And I just feel like that's, that's overkill. It's, it's frightening the people. It's not the way to have a good relationship. Your your response to that thought,

DA Kim Ogg: (24:34)
Please. Well, the militarization of police and policing, especially post 9 1 1 is a fact.

Dean Becker: (24:43)
I got, I know you wanna leave here, uh, before the top of the hour. A couple of questions, just a yes or no, maybe. Do passengers need to show their id?

DA Kim Ogg: (24:52)
Uh, not unless an officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that the passenger could be involved in the crime, but this is what I'd tell you. Passengers, show them your id. Don't fight about it out on the street. Try and deescalate every situation, too many guns, too much fear. Let's deal with it in court. And if you were righteous and didn't have to show it and they made you show it, then that's something that can be addressed in court and through training and even administrative sanctions by their own police department if they were wrong,

Dean Becker: (25:26)
Do you have to take your hands outta your pocket? 'cause the cops scared?

DA Kim Ogg: (25:29)
Hell yes. Okay, now look, let me say something. The law of self-defense gives any citizen the right to respond with force commensurate to the force they reasonably fear. I want you to think about that. So many instances, one citizen reaches in his pocket, he's been arguing with somebody else. The other guy pulls out his weapon because he thinks he's about to be shot. Is it reasonable? You ask a grand jury these days? And of course, I can't ever disclose what grand juries say, but I would say that folks are much more lenient about the notion of self-defense when crime is high. So why should you take your hands outta your pockets? Is it because you have to, it's considered a reasonable command to protect the safety of the officer stopping you. So please cooperate.

Dean Becker: (26:20)
Okay. Do you have to sit on the curb if they tell you to ,

DA Kim Ogg: (26:24)
This is starting to sound like Simon says, well, it's, it says, I've got the same advice, cooperate out on the street. It may not seem reasonable, it may not be reasonable, but there is a time and place to dispute all of that. And what I'm promoting is peaceful and civil, uh, dis discussion and relief in court. That's what it's for. The streets. We, we just wanna keep everybody safe on the street.

Dean Becker: (26:49)
Well, I, I got too much Ray Hill in me to just bow down, but, okay. Uh, once again, friends, we've been speaking with Kim Ogg, she is the district attorney of Harris County, Houston, Texas, and Kim, as always, should you get a reasonable opponent who's worthy of it, I'd be willing to moderate a debate between you guys, should that occasion come up.

DA Kim Ogg: (27:09)
Well, I wanna thank you for letting me be on your show. I wanna say that I never want to, uh, make you stand down. Dean, we, we love your fiery independence and your drug war warrior mentality. And as your district attorney, I welcome your perspectives and your views. I think it makes life a lot more interesting if we can talk about things.

Dean Becker: (27:33)
Thank you, Kim Ogg. I sure appreciate it. Alright, friends, that, once again, that was Kim a our district attorney here in Houston, and, uh, she's the best. I've interviewed, well, every district attorney since, uh, what was his name? Chuck Rosenthal, who had to quit because of his own drug problem. Folks, remember that, uh, you know, it's, it's just a case of, uh, you know, uh, do as I say, not as I do. And, and that's what this whole drug war is about. And I, I, I just know that when the time comes, when we pull the plug on this drug war, well, you're all gonna say, oh, do what were we thinking? Because there is no legitimacy, no rationale, low lo, no logic, no reason for this drug war to exist other than the fact that a hundred years ago, a bunch of moralists and charlatans frightened the people into believing it to be necessary.

Dean Becker: (28:25)
We love you. I do this show because I love you. I, I, I want to save you and your children's lives. I want to make this a better county, state, nation world. And the fact of the matter is the drug war is never going to make it better. It's just going to continue to make it worse. Um, I, I guess it's about time to wrap it up. I'll do a couple of my closures. One is because of prohibition. You don't know what's in that bag, and I urge you to please be careful. And the second one more appropriate to, uh, uh, the moral high ground show is because nope, nope. Euphoria is a blessing, not a crime.

07/20/22 Kim Ogg

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Kim Ogg
District Attorney

Guest is Kim Ogg, the District Attorney of Houston Texas. Topics include abortion, guns, Uvalde, her no marijuana arrest program and much more.

Audio file

All right friends. Today we're with the district attorney of Harris county, Houston Mason's fourth largest city. Some say it's maybe the third. Now Chicago's losing ground to us, but we're with district's attorney Kim OG. Thank you for being with us.
It's great to see you again.
It's been three years. COVID put a big hole in our discussion. Did it not?
It did. It's been affected over half of the term that I've served to date it's about five and a half years, but kind of the pre COVID, the post COVID and the, you know active phase. It's really been hard for government to function. We have essential employees and they showed up during the entire thing. I'm happy to say. And we're fortunate to, to have had essential employees like that at the medical center and our hospitals and journalism. So thank you.
Well, you gotta do what needs done and you can't just let society fall into the abyss prohibition. We've got a new one, that's arrived abortions. They're trying to prohibit women from making their own decisions about their body. To me, this seems like another strong imposition into our basic human rights. What are your thoughts in that regard?
I agree with your impressions. I marched in Washington just a few months ago when it was not yet known if the Supreme court would really overturn row mm-hmm . We now know they have, and it's going to follow the states and to local legislators and statewide officials to determine what rights women in those states, including Texas have. And of course, I'm for full equal rights. And I see this decision as very harmful to Texas women, prosecutors police should never be involved in the personal health decisions of women or men.
Well, and that's been my assumption or take on the drug war that if, unless people are creating harms to someone or even to themselves, government has no business deciding what they put into their bodies as well, but that's down the road. I think once your attorney general or something, perhaps we can get into that more assault weapons. Now, a lot of people are wanting to ban assault weapons. I personally think maybe they should be kept in a locker. People could go go to the shooting range and, and use them at their leisure, but that not every 18 year old should be able to buy one that much. I, I feel certain about your thought there, please.
At a minimum, we need to prohibit their sale to and purchase by kids who are under 21. If they can't buy a beer or cigarette, they certainly shouldn't be able to buy an assault rifle. I believe that the ban on assault rifles deterred some who would mass murder and any type of deterrence where we've seen a proven impact I think is worth considering. So I hope our Congress will truly consider reinstating the ban on assault weapons.
It was doing at least some good to, to have that ban in place. It certainly
Was well after the attempted assassination of president Reagan and the near fatal shooting of James Brady. America's common sense prevailed. And we had a government that almost immediately passed a ban on assault rifles. And as we got our prisons revolving doors under control police and prosecutors better funded the advance of science, we saw an amazing decline in crime, especially violent crime. It interests me because I've lived through it during my career. I've witnessed it worked in it and now have the opportunity to shape the direction of public safety. And yet here we are in the midst of another public safety crisis in America, in our urban areas. And so it's a, it's a lot of opportunity for me to work on
Shootings on July 4th shootings in supermarkets and shootings in school. What happened in Aldi? The, the tapes just came out of those 19 cops standing around looking at their phones, joking and waiting while 19 children died. I don't know what to say about that. Other than for a drug bust, they plan in advance. They kick in the door at three in the morning. They know they have the advantage and they, they, they do their job. But here they were just, to me, seemed cowardly and powerless. Your, your thought
Protocol is one of the most important things for a agency, especially of essential first responders to have training is the only thing that's secondary to good protocol. Doesn't look like the protocol was followed here, and we are so impacted by the grief and the anger and the frustration of the surviving family members of all of those victims. In Houston. We are meeting later this month with all of the law enforcement chiefs, the sheriff school district police chiefs, to ensure that we at least understand one another's protocol and that we have an integrated plan for response that's preparedness until we get a grip on the flood of firearms, deadly we war weapons in, in this country and get some controls self-control on our population for using it through better mental healthcare. I think that it's incumbent on law enforcement leaders like myself to plan and prepare. That's what we're doing.
And I'm glad to hear that I, as a former cop, you know, in my youth, I was a cop I for the us government garden, nuclear weapons, mostly, but I swore to uphold the constitution and to protect and serve. And it just didn't seem like they were protecting or serving at all. Some positive notes. Your misdemeanor marijuana diversion program that you put that in play right after you took office, did you not?
I did. I promised Houstonians that we would change the way drug enforcement was handled, especially when it came to marijuana. And on the 47th day of my administration in 2017, with agreement of all of the law enforcement chiefs in Harris county, we stopped arresting for marijuana. The only arrest now that you see for possession of marijuana are people in possession of commercial amounts, people who are trafficking. And we know this is interwoven with human smuggling, which complicates the situation. So we really don't see anyone arrested under the misdemeanor marijuana diversion program for simple possession of marijuana, unless it's a commercial amount. I'm so proud of that. We've gotten very little recognition. I'm glad that you've stayed on top of it. We have the most progressive program on marijuana in the state, other cities Sporta first offender program, the most difficult and impressive part of our program is that it applies to everybody regardless of criminal background.
Normally criminal background is important when it comes to violence and being a predictor of future violence. But when it comes to possessing drugs, regardless of your background, when it's weed legal, in many states, medically legal in a majority of states, it had to be equally applied. This offer of non-res, all people have to do is take a class. Yeah. So it's a, it's a good program. I can't legalize marijuana. I can't even decriminalize it. But by working with the cops, we came to an agreement. We have more important things to do. We have to stop violent crime,
More important things to do. You bet. Yeah. Yeah. now
Common sense, Dean.
Something that is in short supply, it seems by the extremes on both political spectrums.
If only I hear you now we have now the, the feds legalized hemp and then Texas kind of legalized hemp. But now we've got gas stations and head shops selling all kinds of C and various types that THC. And to me, I mean, if it were regulated, but to me, this is just mom and pop putting forward a product and, and selling it Willy nilly. That's what it seems like to me. I don't think there's any standards in place for this. Not much in anyway.
No. I think that the T a THC level distinction that the Texas legislature put on marijuana and hemp, when it's the very same plant, I can tell you it complicated the heck out of the testing process, it drove our labs to their knees and to the benefit of Texans arrested in other counties for marijuana, it couldn't often be tested by the labs because our legislature didn't fund the testing. So it was kind of a hypocritical stance to take here. It didn't change anything because police had already agreed. We're not arresting folks from marijuana. Now, I will say, there's a caveat to it. Don't carry a weapon and marijuana in a car. Mm-Hmm because the only crime now related to carrying a weapon, unless you're a felon or in a prohibited place, is if you're committing another crime at the same time. And so possession of marijuana is still a crime. Although we don't enforce it here in a punitive way, we didn't change the status. We changed how we handled it and I'd submit that's really worked
Well. I, from what I understand, yeah, the feedback out of the neighborhoods as as much, I, I would agree with you now. What is that smell? Is that still a tactic cops? Are you, is that marijuana? Let me search your car. Yep. Is that still going on?
It is because the law hasn't changed with regard to marijuana and the odor of it being probable cause agree, disagree. That's what the courts have held. Now the importance of that to the average person watching this is that's going to give police the legal right to search your car, their judges in Harris county, who don't feel that way. I get it. But it's our understanding and position as an office. It's still probable cause. And so that's where we are. I'm letting people know because I don't want them to think that based on our program, they won't be arrested. They may not be arrested if it's just, they won't be arrested. If they're just in possession of marijuana, they likely will be arrested. If it's marijuana accompanied by a gun.
Now let's talk about guns for a moment. I'm I'm, you know, I own a few guns, but I don't carry 'em. I, I don't worry about 'em. But is it, is it now legal to carry a gun in my car or is I'm driving down the road? Do I need a permit? What's going on
Historically in Texas, you could always carry a long rifle, but now you can carry a handgun. You can carry you can carry an automatic weapon and not automatic. Sure. You can carry an assault, weapon, everything, but an automatic. But what I really want to change are some of the conversion items that have become products now, not of the black market, but they're right out there for sale. The switch that can turn a Glock semiautomatic into an automatic, the giant canisters that you can use to utilize 50 rounds and one setting, as opposed to 13, let's say in a regular semiautomatic. So those high capacity magazines, some of the types of ammo that's used, that's just designed to do as much damage to the human body as possible. There are real simple changes that are not gonna change hunting or our right to possess a firearm.
They are common sense limitations that responsible lawmakers must enact to help us in law enforcement fight violent crime. Our cops at times are outgunned. And I can tell you in this system, we're, outmanned HPD has 5,000 plus officers. So does the Sheriff's department. I have 350 lawyers Dean in Manhattan, Chicago, LA. They have two to three times that many prosecutors. And so this lack of accountability and the inability to try a lot of cases at once has created a backlog of violent criminal, some of whom, route on bail. And, and you get repeat violence. Mm-Hmm, , it's predictable. Mm-Hmm . So we've got really important problems to solve other than dealing with people in possession of marijuana.
I I've been talking to my lawyer lately about smoking some hemp out in front of the courthouse. What do you think would happen?
Well, I'm afraid you'd be arrested, but I'm not sure. I don't know that it would be for possession. It might be for disorderly conduct, that kind of thing. I, I don't think that, that people are in the legal system are quite ready for that, but you know, it's not ethical for me to give you advice. I'm the people's lawyer. I can't be one person's lawyer. I know. So listen to your lawyer.
Well, okay. I alright. I'm thinking about it. Okay.
You were thinking about it three years ago. Last time we talked,
I know
You tickled me deep because you're a committed, purposeful journalist and activist, and our democracy needs it. I, I like you and I like your work and I always appreciate being on your show.
Well, I have shared with Brian, I shared with you it's been six weeks ago. I contacted Raj at one of the editors at the Chronicle and said, you know, I think I deserve an op-ed. He says, Dean you're right. I've been listening to you for 20 years. And I'm still working on it. It's gonna be a masterpiece, but, but the point I guess, I'm getting at is that,
Well, please mention our program and the benefits before we had a misdemeanor marijuana program before I was da 10,000 people a year were getting arrested for marijuana. I've got the evidence, I presented it to the public. And in part, that's what they voted me in on. Yeah. I made good on the problems to stop that. Now we have other problems, but it's important to know that, you know, Houston public safety didn't see an impact when people stopped being arrested for marijuana. People have only seen an impact through changes in other policies that put more dangerous people on the street.
True enough. And ed, as I recall, the day of your announcement, it's a big conference with all the police you came down and you told me, I hope you remember this, that I was the pioneer who made this possible.
I think that's true. I think that people of you're just, just a slightly ahead, your generation than mine. And I think you plowed a lot of ground and we're appreciative the, the relevance is that government shouldn't be in everybody's life on every issue. That's why you'll see a consistent thread in my approach that I don't like folks who hurt other people going without accountability. It's dangerous. And it's unfair. The, the individual rights we have, have to be guarded. Mm-Hmm , it's in my mission statement, you know, we, we seek a just outcome for the victim, the accused and the community, and this stuff has to make sense to taxpayers agreed,
Oh, it has to. Or why are we doing this?
Exactly. So we have problems. We need every resource we can to fix 'em government needs to get on the stick and do what's important. And it's not it's not a mish mass of laws in the United States related to marijuana that are, are unequal and disparate. It really, really screws people up and they lose faith in government. So yeah. I support your, your position on
Marijuana. Well, thank you. Now, wait, you mentioned it earlier on minor amounts of drugs and past with past district attorneys microscopic amounts in the corner of a little baggy could get you arrested IED it. Yes. And, and now we have Suboxone and all these other medications, people are being treated to walk them away from their prior addictions to, to O other opiates and such. And, and you've been a strong supporter of those efforts. Have you
Not? Yeah. I'm not a huge supporter of our pharmaceutical industry's efforts to direct people to painkillers, because you can see that much of our nation became addicted to certain types of synthetic drugs. So I'm, I'm not a, a fan of that. I also think that the, the lack of regulation, as you've mentioned, when it came to that, we, we thought they were being regulated. We thought that if a doctor prescribed a pain killer, that it was okay, we could see the damage it did, and look at what fentanyl has done. And what I do wanna mention is that we do see an increased connection between the manufacturer and and transportation and, and sale of fentanyl along with human trafficking. So you're seeing people and that deadly drug transported by the same cartels and same organized crime groups in Houston's a major stopping point distribution center, air, traffic control for sending out to the rest of the country. We've gotta get on top of that. Fentanyl's killing the hell out of Houstonians, out of Texans and out of Americans.
Thank you for that now. I'm a, not a big fan of the DEA. I, I think you can appreciate that from my stance. And they have come out recently saying we're gonna curtail the death rate from fentanyl by 13% now was 107,000 dead this past year. That means they're, they're gonna be happy with 93,000 dead this year. That means in 11 years, there's another million dead Americans because they want to quote control these substances, which is the biggest oxymoron that's ever been on this planet. They have never controlled anything, not even for a child in, in junior high. And I, I guess, I don't know, that's mostly just a gripe, but they are the ones who refuse to debate me. They are the ones who refuse to answer my, my call for what is the benefit? What do we derive from this and that they, they have absolutely failed to do so, again, I'm preaching, I'm sorry.
The drunks, there's a lot of drunks out there doing stupid things. I happen to have a relative who is, excuse me, C O P D. I happen to have a relative who's kind of ox alternates between drinking and crack cocaine. That's, I've tried to preach to him. He lived with me three times, did fine, but he had to leave. He always had to leave and get back to his habits. And he's been busted three times for spitting on a cop because he's in an encounter with a cop he's so drunk and SL, and he's been arrested three times. And I, I think I, I don't know that law just needs to be reassessed.
See, I think that negative interaction between alcohol and synergistic effect, it has with drugs, both legal and illegal. Then when you add the law enforcement intersection, and you just get a perfect storm for problems, we really believe in treatment for drug addiction. I think it was best handled by the healthcare system, not by the criminal justice system. I'm working right now with the director of probation and with some other groups to talk about directing all of our drug cases, which need to be reduced in this county. So we can work on violent crime, but handling all of them through a treatment plan and as little court supervision as necessary once again, to direct more of our court's resources to violent criminals. That's what people care about. Dean. They wanna be safe in their grocery store and in their house. Yeah. Not whether you're smoking a joint or whether somebody's got LSD in their pocket. I I'm not for LSD or hard drugs. And I think the legalization would have to include a ton of regulation
But I will tell you that I don't see, that's not the issue. I see lots of kids taking lots of pills. That aren't what the pills says. It is. May say it's Adderall may say it's another type of drug and it's not, they almost all are meth and fentanyl and it takes one extra tiny amount to kill you. Yeah.
It's just tragic.
Just a bad mix. They, the one,
Yeah, stop buying off the street. People please don't buy off the street.
Now I, I come to, what's been bugging me for well, since it happened, the Harding street bust. Now I submit that there have been tens of thousands of very similar bus that went on into this city over the decades. I, I can certainly point to something that happened to me back in the late sixties and early seventies, where cops would kick you in the door at five in the morning, drunk as skunks with no warrant, just mad and looking for drugs. And I, I guess what I'm saying, it wasn't just that one division 13, whatever it was that it's been prevalent, it's been part of what narcotics officers do to increase their numbers, to get a, a pay raise to to, to move up through the, the rank so to speak. And I, I, I don't know. I, I, I wonder what is your response to that?
Well, I have a important response. Stay tuned, Harding street signifies an important, not just realization, but the opportunity to pull the curtain back on drug enforcement that is not done appropriately. And that again has to do with policies and training, but that's the civil side. I'm interested in two people in their dog who were killed and the squad 15 of HPD, most of whom members who were indicted have retired. Mm-Hmm I look forward to presenting the evidence in their organized crime cases where different government documents from offense reports to affidavits for search warrants contained false information based on their representation that they'd seen something that they couldn't have possibly seen because they weren't there. Yeah. And then dad insult to injury, got paid overtime for it, which starts to look like a pattern as you roll into Harding street and say, see all the earmarks of this crime criminal sort of not just episode, but group of episodes just shows a pattern in the drug enforcement practices of that squad.
I don't have the luxury of labeling entire groups is guilty for something. I can only go based on the evidence and make allegations against individuals. But I believe that the public's going to be shocked. I think we're gonna get justice. And I have confidence in my prosecutors. Those cases move forward in October. And I invite the public to watch those trials. I'm concerned about rulings by the court on evidence. I'm concerned about what the defense has labeled as a political prosecution. That's absurd, right? This is police corruption. It resulted in deaths of people based on completely phony warrant, signed by an actual judge who's lied to, and we see a pattern of that behavior and we see that our taxpayers paid for it. So I look forward to that case and it's gonna be an important case. I think, as we move forward, let me say one thing, Dean, almost all the cops I've ever known in my life.
Thousands of cops are honest cops, right? We don't prosecute them because they're doing their best. Yep. We're all human. They can make mistakes. Harding street was no mistake. It was an inevitable result of a pattern in practicing. So I I think that we'll see good changes in Harris county's law enforcement policies when it comes to drug prosecution and enforcement Dean, as a result of, of the deaths of Regina, Nicholas and, and Dennis Tule. And I say that because I don't want them to have died for nothing. I wish they weren't dead. Well, I plug in it's a tragedy, but we're gonna make we're, we're going to make sure that they get justice in every, in we're gonna give it our best shot. Let me say that.
Thank you for that. Yeah, I'm, I'm glad you're willing to speak. You know, it's been, as we were talking about just over three years, I chief Vedo wouldn't talk to me after the Harding street bust, he's gone now NORRA willing chief fin. He hasn't ever responded to me. Sheriff Gonzalez has been on my radio show in four years. And you know, for 15 years going back to Chuck Rosenthal, the DAS have all been on my show. Thanks to you and, and your predecessors. And I'm wondering, is it the patrolman's union? That's controlling these, these police leaders, are they now the fourth branch of government because they seem to have a lot of power. What is your thought
That I don't speak for, or about other public officials who are elected by the public? Now, chief Finn's appointed. Let me say this about him as a man. I've known him for 27 years professionally. We started in I was a just out of the DA's office, working for the mayor on gangs. Mm-Hmm trying to stop what was happening in Gulfton. Troy was a young officer, community service storefront officer. I trust him. I believe he's capable of the job. And I, I, I hope that you do get a chance to talk to him. He's got his hands full. But I don't think these folks while they answered other people, he certainly answers to the mayor. Troy stands on his own own feet.
Sure. No sheriff Garcia, Bradford, McLean. They all have been on my show. We're getting near the end here. I wanna say this, my neighborhood, it's a neighborhood now kind of lower middle or middle class. I don't know it, it was stocked with auditors and accountants from TECO and shell and all this that moved down here 50 years ago. And I, I, one of my neighbors just got busted. He had three kilos. They, I don't know of how much of which, but he had meth and heroin and cocaine. He had a couple of assault rifles. He had several warrants. He had stolen motorcycles. This happened about seven, eight weeks ago now. They, they were there all day. I don't know what they were doing. I didn't even want to get out there. I just figured I got long hair. They'll come bust me. Who knows? But the, the, the thought I, I, you know, carried from that was okay. They're cleaned out the neighborhood, but apparently they got out of jail, moved back in the house. And Monday of this week, they came and busted them again. And I'm wanting to know, is that happening all across town are, are all the white boys selling stuff out out of their front door, because that's what these idiots were doing. Your response, please,
You know, drug dealing like all entrepreneurship is just the black market instead of our world market. And the imagination is limitless. So of course they're in the suburbs. Of course, they're in our urban areas. Of course, they're in our rural areas. People will find a way to make this happen for profit. It's part of why your work I think is important. Regulation is I think an answer and I really hope legislators consider that angle as they go to work on our drug laws in the future. You know, I've supported this at the legislature, mm-hmm and I think it's important that leadership takes a stand. So I encourage other elected officials to talk to you. And with you, Dean, it's always good to talk to your audience. Let 'em know. In Houston, we have a very reasonable approach to marijuana. It applies to anybody regardless of their position in life, or even with criminal justice history, because we don't want disparate treatment of one race over another. And we've seen a lot of that in drug enforcement. I'm out to end it. We wanna stop the deadly flow of drugs and we definitely wanna stop the trafficking of human beings. And so I'm against organized crime. That's why I was the city's first anti gang director still against it. I think there's better ways of handling this area of criminal justice. Leave us to rape murder and robbery. The things we all agree are wrong. Yeah,
No I I'm with you there. The ones again, friends, we're speaking with Kim obviously's with the district's attorney of Houston Harris county. Nation's fourth largest city. Now I'm gonna close with this question. And I asked this of back then Chuck Rosenthal, I think it was about 2007, 2008. And I asked him this was right before he quit citing his own drug abuse, but I asked him, sir, have we made a difference in the drug war over the last five years? Your response please?
No, we've the drug war has made a, a bad difference. Unfortunately, I think it's had a negative effect on, especially our black and brown communities, feelings about law enforcement. They want protection from violence. They want to be safe in their houses. And I don't think they want their neighborhoods to be labeled as high crime because we continue to bust make drug bus in those areas. There's gotta be a better way, a more common sense way that gives everybody an opportunity economically without having turned to dealing drugs. So I think it's been a, a bad thing. I do support the DEA and other law enforcement, all law enforcement, because I'm the top law enforcement official. And I believe that working with them is the answer that they can be a great service and benefit. We've got a new DEA commander here that I'm working with. And so Dean, I want you to know we're doing our best to keep everybody safe. I don't think the focus is on the individual user here in Houston. That's the impression I get from other leaders about drug enforcement. That's good news. That's a good, common sense approach to dealing with what the rest of the taxpayers want us to do violent crime.
Okay. And the, the second question I asked him Chuck Rosenthal was, do you think we'll make a difference in the next five years?
And my answer again is no, that's why I want a different way and we're working on it.
Fair enough. Well, Kim, I thank you so much,
Dean. Always my pleasure.

02/19/20 Kim Ogg

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Kim Ogg

Kim Ogg DA of Harris County/Houston at Greater Houston Coalition for Justice speaks on Bail Bond Agreement & Consent Decree, + Michael Krawitz of Veterans for Medical Cannabis work with W.H.O. in Geneva + Susan Hays PC re medical cannabis for neurological disorders

Audio file



FEBRUARY 19, 2020

DEAN BECKER: I am Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High and this is Cultural Baggage. Let’s get busy. On February 6th, a Town Hall meeting was held for the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice to talk about Harris County’s historic bail bond agreement and consent decree. This is Kim Ogg, the District Attorney of Houston, Harris County.

KIM OGG: I am proud to be joined by our other speakers and Johnny Monte is a personal hero of mine. I thanked him the day that I was sworn in as D.A. I had worked with this organization for a long time prior to that and I really admire the work that every volunteer member and every participating organization who is a partner does with the coalition. Their entire mission is fairness and equality in practice and that is good because that is really the mission of the D.A.’s office to see that justice is done in every single case.

We are here to talk about bail. I supported bail reform and I continue to support bail reform at the misdemeanor level because it is unfair to keep low level, non-violent offenders in jail when they simply can’t afford to get out otherwise we would let them out. I also expressed concern about some of the ways that bail reform was being implemented and some took my concern as opposition. This is not true. The District Attorney’s concern for public safety is one that I won’t apologize for; it is a valid concern, and a concern reflected by the public and it is a concern that as we put historic bail reform in to practice must not be tossed aside because regular people, just like those in the jail who we want to treat fairly. Regular people who are outside of the jail also deserve a safe community so our system in Texas, interestingly, does not base keeping people in jail on bail on any one factor of which there are a multitude that judges look to and Judge Jordan will be far better at explaining the types of things the judges look at in determining bail but I can tell you that we began – and this was historic for the DA’s office – agreeing to personal recognizance bonds in most misdemeanors in March of 2017, long before the judge ruled. We did that because we thought it was fair and that the risk to the community was low. The exceptions that we carved out were DWI, domestic violence, burglary of a car because that is often organized crime, stalking, and crimes of violence. Even though they were misdemeanors we know there are serious misdemeanors and some of those misdemeanors can lead to more serious crimes such as DWI which can unfortunately lead to manslaughter.

We were doing it, we support the lawsuit, we supported the judges in their desire when republican judges were defeated in January and new democratic judges took their place in January 2019, I supported Rule 9.1, which was conceived by the county court judges as basically a way to start bail reform before the judge ruled and there were important exceptions in Rule 9.1 for DWI and domestic violence that required those offenders to go in front of a judge so that a judge could warn them what not to do and could also impose conditions of their bail that would protect the victims. What we are seeing is the implementation of a bail system and as Johnny and Acedro said, there is always going to be resistance and sometimes that resistance is healthy because in criminal justice we balance interest. We balance the interest of the individual to be free before conviction and we balance the need of the community to be safe from dangerous perpetrators, so it is always a balancing. You can count on the DA to advocate for safety and crime victims, we are victim-centric and luckily it is judges who make the decision about bail not prosecutors and not defense lawyers. We advocate our sides of the case and the defense lawyer will say that he has been a good guy, he’s got a lot of ties to the community and the prosecutor will say that it was a dangerous DWI, his blood level was very high and there was maybe a child in the car – something like that. So we are going to advocate our interest. We are going to advocate for public safety and the defense lawyers are going to advocate for individual freedom, and the judge is going to balance it out. So as we see bail reform be implemented we must be mindful of community safety and its importance to regular people and when decisions get made that expose the public to danger – like in the case of this individual who just struck a van and cost three people including an infant to burn to death. We must be mindful that innocent people deserve protection, too, and that conditions which were a part of Rule 9.1 – let’s say an intoxilizer in the car or something to keep somebody from driving that car if they are drunk. Those are not details, those are important protections for the community and we need bail reform to be implemented in a safe way so that judges can keep people who are too risky in jail and if they decide somebody is entitled to bail so that they can condition that bail with things that keep the public safe; those are our concerns. While prosecutors are not to be critical of judges, the public will judge our reform in part, based on how safe they really are and how safe they feel. I think it is very important to understand that the success and the sustainability of bail reform is in large part going to depend on how safe the public feels and how safe they really are. I want this audience to be clear that I am for equality and that every prosecutor and employee of our office believes in giving people a fair shake and we are looking out for your safety. Sometimes this can be considered opposition – it’s not. It’s really the healthy exercise of the interest in criminal justice, the prosecutor and the defense, both representing you and judges balancing it out. The devil will be in the details as to how it gets implemented; that is how we will be judged. We are hoping for a very safe implementation.

DEAN BECKER: We are now approaching out 8,000th radio segment please be sure to check it out at:

MALE VOICE: Mike Krawitz, Executive Director of Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access.

DEAN BECKER: We have a lot of people with a lot of different perspectives but I think the unifying factor is that they all see prohibition as a miserable failure. Would you agree with that thought?

MIKE KRAWITZ: You know the only answer that I seem to think of is that the world has changed so much in the last year or two. We are not talking hypotheticals anymore, we are talking brass tacks of a lot of reforms and a lot of different advances that we are just now learning how little we knew.

DEAN BECKER: We even have Kofi Anon, who has now passed on, but he was very bold in his pronouncements at the United Nations. We have newspapers around the country including Great Britain, Canada, Mexico, and Africa – people are beginning to speak more boldly of that desperate need for change, are they not?

MIKE KRAWITZ: Absolutely, but I think I would point to is more nuanced. How much news came out of a small local initiative on mushrooms in Colorado or the efforts of Veterans to use Ayahuasca and how popular and successful the video was of their journeys through the Americas in that pursuit. The efforts of local governments to create reasonable, rational regulation. It is not exciting stuff and it is not stuff that you really see splashed on the front page of the newspaper but that is what I was referring to a minute ago when I said we now know how little we knew. I have been constantly amazed at just how big a climb it is to get us out of this hole. We have had a hundred years of an absence of regulation and an absence of coherence or sanity in drug policy and you pointed that out really clearly. It is one thing to oppose something which is rather simple, it is a lot more difficult when you roll up your sleeves and you start building a new paradigm and that is where we are at right now.

DEAN BECKER: It really boils down as of this point I have tried desperately for the last 20 years to get the drug czar, the attorneys general, somebody with clout whose perceptions and pronouncement helps make this drug war last and to try to get them to come on the show and clarify why it needs to last forever and they run like rabbits which shows that we are making progress.

MIKE KRAWITZ: Actually, I think the fact that they run is evidence of the problem that you are experiencing when you can’t get the laws to go away; those are symptoms of the same problem. The law enforcement and legislators that run away from the issue are actually part of the same problem. I think now we’ve got real work on the table around the world and around the United States. Everything I could point at is encapsulated in this vaping issue. If you look at it from a distance it is hard to say what you’ll see as there are several different issues that are at the tip of the icebergs that you would see from a distance or you are looking at the teen use of vaping products that are predominately legal nicotine carrying products that are flavored to attract kids and that is one big issue currently on the table. The reason this was put on the table is because of deaths due to predominately unregistered, illegal products that were sold on the black market. If you look for those headlines that gets overshadowed by THC and people talking about the THC in the vape pens and how that is a red herring, yet the THC wasn’t killing anybody and in fact wasn’t even connected to the deaths because it was predominately not the legal products in the legal states in the legal stores that were killing people. These are issues that you really have to dig in to in order to understand what the underlying issues are; in this case it is unregistered, illegal products that are part of the problem and very cheap products with lack of regulation and control as well as unscrupulous business people that are more interested in making a buck than creating a safe product. Neither one of those is actually in the mainstream. As I said, they are looking at kids taking vaping products because of the flavoring. I think that in a nutshell shows you how disjointed and distracted the public, the legislators, and the federal authorities are. What is the real problem? People are dying. There are a couple thousand people that were put in hospitals and there were 30 – 40 deaths. That is what the problem is that we should be working on with absolute urgency; not taking advantage of this opportunity to work on something that has been a pet project for a while, which is removing flavorings from the vape pens at the convenience store. See what I mean?

DEAN BECKER: Once again, we are with Michael Krawitz. Mike, what we are not talking about is your work. Your work has been very specific with a lot of focus on marijuana but a lot of focus on just revealing the truth. You have been working with the United Nations, you have been going to Europe to get in on the ground floor of the new understandings and to present information to those officials that would help them clear their conscience and build a better future. Let’s talk about that work. What have you been up to lately, Michael?

MIKE KRAWITZ: The last few years has taken me to Geneva, Switzerland to the World Health Organization (WHO) and we have been working with the WHO on an unprecedented review of cannabis. I say unprecedented because when cannabis was put in to the International Treaties, there was no scientific basis or review process. It was just put in there based on the word of the police and a handful of sensational cultural reports to be kind, and that is basically the historical record as we have it in the Treaty. Amazingly, that is what we found when we dug in and started working on it and we found ourselves in the position to help the WHO conduct a review process. We instigated it and pressured them to do it right and we did all that we could to provide the information that we have available to us and really in a very open hearted and open minded way we just need to step back and let them do their job. They have very professional, very real experts at the WHO that spent about 6 years working on this and they came out with an ambitious set of recommendations. They don’t legalize marijuana, but they do correct the record and they do straighten out some of the problems in the International Treaty. At a minimum, they will recognize cannabis as a medicine and it will create more access to a better variety of products for patients to be able to access out in the marketplace and perhaps even better insurance coverage; it is a very practical reality. However, this process that we have gotten in to can really be applied to a handful of plant based medicines with plants that were put in to the Treaty before they really understood the science and this applies to coca as well, if not others. I think that the model that cannabis has set in creating this process can be applied to other substances but even for cannabis alone this is quite dramatic and it is going to have a pretty big impact. Look at it like rescheduling at the United States level. It wouldn’t be de-scheduling like we want but it certainly would take some of the heat off of the conversation.

DEAN BECKER: Michael, I want to go back to the thought that you presented there that in the beginning it was just a wave of hysteria put forward by folks like Harry J. Ainslinger who was the first head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and his global ambition was to education the rest of the world to the horrors of marijuana and other drugs as it went along. I won’t say it was immediate or within a day or two, but this new perspective of prohibition was very rapid. I guess my question really revolves around the fact that now it is taking years upon years of concerted, verified data presentation to begin to sway things and to aim to take it back to what I consider to be normal perspective in letting adults do whatever they are going to do. What is your thought there, Mike? Why the hell is it taking so long?

MIKE KRAWITZ; I think it all revolves around trying to prove a negative. It is easy to prove something is dangerous when something is exhibiting dangerous attributes. How do you prove something isn’t dangerous? To say that something is dangerous with authority you have to exhaust so many more options and so many more different hypothetical situations. In the case of cannabis it has been almost an endless stream of situations that we have had to prove again and again that cannabis is not harmful and why? Because they started with a false premise. If you want to read the history of it, it is really great. One of the groups that we work with at the international level that has been really helpful is the Trans National Institute, they put out a report on the rise and fall of cannabis prohibition and in it they talk about a Dr. Wolfe at the predecessor of the WHO and it was a health committee of the League of Nations and Dr. Wolfe, as described in TNIs document was a protégé of Ainslinger. What they brought to the table was police in Egypt that were seeing products on the streets that had cannabis in them but they were like cannabis cough medicine with morphine and things like that and they were really problematic evidently on the streets there in Egypt. Together with that, they had a history of reports and legislation going back to about the 1890s including international agreements where they had bantered back and forth and argued about cannabis and it being associated with indigenous cultures really didn’t help either. The same thing with coca and poppy –


MIKE KRAWITZ: -- Yeah. It is like I am seeing them bake a cake while they throw in a pinch of racism, a pinch of hysteria, a few pinches of misinformation and what you end up with is a policy that says something with authority that everyone would assume would have some basis in truth. A lot of very powerful people are putting it forward and it is very difficult to unensconce a group of misinformation like that.

DEAN BECKER: On one of my recent shows I interviewed my doctor who is running for Texas senate and we talked about the early days and how back in 1937 the American Medical Association was a bit upset with the U.S. Senate because they were considering passing a Marijuana Tax Act, and they wrote them a letter and went before them and said they didn’t quite understand why you are wanting to do this. Eventually the Senate told them to just get out because they had work to do. They totally disregarded the protests of the American Medical Association when they wrote the laws.

MIKE KRAWITZ: You know I read that. There is a Dr. Woodward, I believe, who is a lobbyist for the American Medical Association and what he wrote was almost like telling the future because he talked about how cannabis wasn’t that widely popular in medicine and it had kind of fallen out of favor in medicine but he foresaw a day when it might become much more applicable. At the time that I was reading that was right around the days of Proposition 215, and you’ll remember that was the time when folks were trying to deal with really harsh treatments for HIV and AIDS and cannabis was one of the only things they found to help them with that. How could you foresee that a hundred years in advance? Well Dr. Woodward did almost foresee that.

DEAN BECKER: He is the one they told to just get out of the chambers they were going to vote on it.

MIKE KRAWITZ: That was him. He was a paid lobbyist so I don’t really give him the same credit that I would give somebody like Louie Armstrong who was doing cannabis work as a passion and wasn’t getting paid for it. Nonetheless, I believe it hurt his career and he barked up a very powerful and negative tree. As you know, these were the folks that had done alcohol prohibition –

DEAN BECKER: They needed a job.

MIKE KRAWITZ: -- Yes, they needed some job security.

DEAN BECKER: Well friends we have been speaking with Mr. Michael Krawitz, he works very diligently to educate folks on a national and international basis to the need for change to these drug laws. He works for Veterans for Medical Marijuana and he has some closing thoughts for you.

MIKE KRAWITZ: Let me just tell you the timeline for this vote with the World Health Organization recommendation should be in March of next year – there is so much pomp and circumstance – but there should be a simple majority vote at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna, Austria in March 2020, and if we succeed with all of these recommendations from the WHO, there should be a subtle change in world drug policy.

DEAN BECKER: Michael, your website, please?

MIKE KRAWITZ: You can find Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access on Facebook at:, if you want to read more about the stuff that we are doing at the World Health Organization, and all of the stuff at the U.N., there is a document that we created called the Crimson Digest which you can find on Google by typing in Crimson Digest Volume II, you will come up with a whole evaluation of the review process and it even talks about the International Narcotics Control Board, and their documentation as well.

It is time to play Name That Drug by Its Side Effects. In depressed patients, worsening depression including risk of suicide may occur. Alcohol may increase these risks. Side effects include: next day drowsiness. Ask your doctor about Belsomra.

DEAN BECKER: A couple of weeks back there was a symposium that went through four Texas towns with a six-part discussion entitled, “Medical Cannabis for Neurological Disorders”, and I got a chance to speak with Susan Hays of that group.

SUSAN HAYS: My name is Susan Hays, and I am an attorney and lobbyist based in Austin working on cannabis reform.

DEAN BECKER: We are here in Houston at a symposium where there are going to be six great speakers, yourself being amongst them and the idea being to motivate people to get onboard and help in the effort to legalize medical marijuana to begin with. Correct?

SUSAN HAYS: Exactly. We are here to educate people about the science in medicine behind medical cannabis and to educate them as to how restrictive Texas law currently is and give them some tips on how to advocate for a science medicine driven regulatory scheme going forward in Texas so that by the 2021 session we can pass what I would call a real medical cannabis law instead of the restrictive one we have now.

DEAN BECKER: Exactly, I think as of now we have laws that are really no better than being able to go to the gas station and buy some hemp products. Am I right?

SUSAN HAYS: They are precisely .2% THC better because our law only allows half a percent of THC in the product where hemp is defined as .3% THC. That is such a fine point and it is not really going to help that many more people than getting a hemp oil. There are also some other areas for improvement in the law. Right now our medical cannabis law doesn’t require third party, independent testing which is standard in other states. Ironically, going forward hemp will be more regulated than medical marijuana in Texas.

DEAN BECKER: The irony of it all. We have this situation now where many of the district attorneys and other authorities in the state of Texas are saying that they can’t tell the difference from the sight or the smell and we currently don’t have the test to make the determination between hemp and supposed recreational marijuana and that is creating a lot of hubris and turmoil and finger pointing.

SUSAN HAYS: Well I will say this, they have the equipment; they just don’t have enough because Texas has habitually underfunded its crime labs. So this testing issue isn’t just about marijuana, it’s about sex assault. We still have rape kits laying on shelves because the Houston crime labs and the other 11 crime labs around the state don’t have the equipment and the trained toxicologist to staff them. It is also a matter of what do taxpayers want to put their money in to and I think here in Harris County, taxpayers are not interested in spending $500 or more a pop on testing to put somebody in jail for low level marijuana possession when there are violent crimes that law enforcement should be focusing on.

DEAN BECKER: That and to be able to make the determination out there on the street where a cop encounters somebody in a car with a bag full of green vegetable matter. We can’t afford to equip all of those police cars with the equipment necessary to make the determination so there is no probable cause out there on the street.

SUSAN HAYS: Even if you could afford it, is that where you want to put your public resources for law enforcement or are there more severe crimes that should be enforced like car theft and assault. Houston is a big city and there is a lot of complicated crime here and that is where District Attorney Kim Ogg is choosing to put her resources and shifting away from putting people in jail for a plant.

DEAN BECKER: Well I am proud to say that Kim has thanked me on air for my impetus, drive, and goal of getting her, the sheriff, and the police chief to take another look and to swing the cat, so to speak. I am proud of the fact that we weren’t the first. Austin did it first and then they backtracked a bit –

SUSAN HAYS: A lot of push and shove happening around the state.

DEAN BECKER: But here in Harris County, Houston we have had approximately 15,000 or more people who haven’t gone to jail or had their car towed and ticketed, hired an attorney because of the Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program, and it is working out good for both sides; prosecutors and the people. What is your thought?

SUSAN HAYS: Absolutely. We need to understand that a lot of the so-called recreational marijuana users are really medical users. They are people who use it because it makes them feel better and it alleviates conditions that they may have and they don’t have safe access to tested product they are having to buy on the streets and we need to change that in Texas. If you have a medical need for it you should have ready access and ready access to high quality product where you know what it is and you know what its cannabinoid profile is as well as the terpene profile. Everybody’s body is different and it takes a little refining to know what strains, or a more scientific word is (KENOVAR) of cannabis works best for you.

DEAN BECKER: Real good. Susan, I thank you for your time and for coming to Houston to help educate us a bit more because that is really the answer, isn’t it?

SUSAN HAYS: It is. Education is absolutely the answer for the people, our representatives, and our leadership with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott. The more they know, the better they like it.

DEAN BECKER: They don’t want to know, but we will keep kicking them in the butt just the same. Is there a website you might want to recommend?

SUSAN HAYS: People should check out Texans for Safe Access. It is a fairly new organization and it is an affiliate of Americans for Safe Access. Their focus is on the patients and the people who need this medically. They are looking to grow up an army of patients around the state to help us rolling in to next session and to tell the stories of how cannabis is helping people get off pharmaceuticals with severe side effects and deal with their conditions so that they can lead productive lives.

DEAN BECKER: And again I remind you that because of prohibition, you don’t know what is in that bag. Please be careful.

10/23/19 Matt Simon

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Matt Simon
Kim Ogg
Marijuana Policy Project

Matt Simon the New England Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project & a couple moments with Kim Ogg the DA of Houston, Harris County Texas

Audio file



OCTOBER 23, 2019

DEAN BECKER: Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

MALE VOICE: It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally un-American.

CROWD CHANT: No more Drug War! No more Drug War! No more Drug War! No more Dug War!

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.

DEAN BECKER: Alright folks, this is Dean. I am glad you have your ears on listening to us here on Cultural Baggage.

Today we are going to have a longtime friend of mine. I don’t know exactly how long I’ve known this guy, I'm thinking at least 15 maybe closer to 20 years he now works with the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and we're gonna do a little dive into political perspectives, a little bit of talk about presidential candidates – or maybe just one. He is with us now, Mr. Matt Simon. How are you, Sir?

MATT SIMON: Hi Dean. I am doing great.

DEAN BECKER: Glad to have you with us. I feel it important that I talk about marijuana, tests, what’s happening in other countries, studies, and scientific pronouncements over the years but I seldom dive in to politics at all because it is just not an area that I have much expertise in. You have been digging in to at least one of our presidential candidates fairly in-depth have you not?

MATT SIMON: I would have to say you are smart man on that front, Dean. It is tough dealing with the politicians sometimes. Most of my work is in the State Policies Department at MPP where I work with legislature in New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and a few other states trying to get legislatures to do what other states have done by ballot initiative and that has been quite the challenge; but since I live in New Hampshire I have a front row seat every four years when presidential candidates come to my town and they are everywhere. I can’t avoid it so I have immersed myself in it. Back in 2007 when I first really engaged in the Primary, nobody wanted to talk about marijuana or drug issues at all and we have seen that change completely. This year it has come up quite a lot; it has come up in some of the debates. There has been a huge shift with all of the democratic candidates in support of marijuana legalization which was hard to imagine about a decade ago, with the exception of former Vice President Joe Biden, who I think you want to talk a little bit more about.

DEAN BECKER: I do. I and I think a lot of democrats have the simpatico – he was with Obama, he has got to be a good guy. I think in many ways he probably is and certainly from my perspective he is better than Trump but he was very much a ramrod if you will, back in the 80s and going in to the 90s in calling for the escalation and more punitive long-term sentences including arresting people and taking their things. Am I right?

MATT SIMON: I think you are absolutely right. I was watching CSPAN back in the 90s before I ever got involved in these issues. Back then Biden was Chair of the Judiciary Committee which was in the late 80s. His record definitely goes back to the 80s and 90s so if people aren’t aware of that, I would encourage them to become more aware of it. We have some good articles published (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to describe that history in the background. One of them that is really good is, it was published by German Lopez a couple of months ago on July 31, 2019. If your listeners want to search and find that they can. I have it in front of me and it has some things in it we can go in to.

DEAN BECKER: Sure. Let me interrupt for a moment. I just celebrated 18 years of doing the unvarnished truth about the drug war – 7,300 radio segments so far and at one point –


DEAN BECKER: -- We had well over 100 stations in the U.S. and Canada, but I think others have developed the courage and they do their own drug war news now but when we did it, we were the original – the only show on the planet that was daring to broche this subject. Over the years we have managed to find allies especially right here in my home city and county. I want to share this with the listeners and give you a chance to perhaps respond, Matt, but it will also give the listeners out there an awareness and recognition that we here at KPFT, the Cultural Baggage Show, the Century of Lies Show has managed to sway the opinions of the police chief, the sheriff, and especially the district attorney. Here is a segment I did with our current district attorney, Kim Ogg. We will be back in just a few minutes. Matt, thank you for hanging on.

MATT SIMON: Absolutely.

KIM OGG: You know we can’t legalize marijuana. The executive branch can use its discretion and the immense authority of the District Attorney in terms of accepting charges or not to change the way we handle marijuana offenders but it is up to our legislature to act responsibly and to really consider the damage being done through the imposition of permanent records against thousands and thousands of people statewide – 10,000 a year just in Harris County alone. We have to look to our legislature to help make it right, especially for those who medically need marijuana.

DEAN BECKER: Exactly. You know I spent some time a few weeks back in Austin and talked with several legislators, senators up there and behind closed doors they get it. It is them developing the courage to say in public or within hearing range what they can say privately behind closed doors. Courage is lacking but it seems to be growing. Does it not?

KIM OGG: Yes it is. You are exactly right, this is a matter of political will and I had hoped that leadership from the front during these critical times in our country on the issue of marijuana here in Harris County would inspire some of our legislators to make the move and at least vote in favor of medical marijuana legalization because I think our Veteran’s, people who have got children with serious epileptic disorders, and others who are suffering with chronic pain really need compassionate alternatives to pharmaceutical relief. I am just hoping that our legislature will look at the success that we are having in Houston diverting people; our crime is not up. So far we have had about ten percent of the people diverted go through our class and we have now started texting our class participants four times a day to remind them “Don’t go to jail, sign up for the class”. We are saving money, police officers time, and we are saving people’s professional lives in the sense that we have stopped limiting their opportunities through the execution of draconian sentencing for small amounts of marijuana. I am proud of what we are doing and I urge the legislature to move forward and if they don’t do it this session than I urge the community, who understands the benefits of medical marijuana to keep the pressure on and keep talking to their legislators and pushing them. Business organizations and associations are for this. There are think tanks on the right of the Republican Party who are for this right here in Texas and its one place where a liberal democratic and a libertarian republican alliance could move this thing through the legislature but they are going to have to have the political will to do it. If it doesn’t happen this session then I hope the community keeps the pressure on for two years from now.

DEAN BECKER: Friends, you have heard some very positive thoughts from District Attorney Kim Ogg of Harris County, Houston, Texas, and I want to thank you once again for your courage and your commitment to making these changes so necessary here in our county. Any closing thoughts, Kim?

KIM OGG: Just that I am so grateful to your audience. I appreciate their vote, their support, and their prayers. This is a big job and it is not one that any of us take lightly. We can see that the District Attorney, through our recent actions has the power to bring important change and reform to our justice system. I know I have that solemn duty. I took my obligation and commitment seriously and I just want your audience to know that I am not going to let you down.

DEAN BECKER: Kim, can I ask a favor?

KIM OGG: Of course!

DEAN BECKER: All right.

KIM OGG: Unless it is a get out of jail free card in which case you better call your defense lawyer, not your prosecutor.

DEAN BECKER: (LAUGHTER) I may have a situation in the next year or two to negotiate, but no. When you gave your speech there at the criminal courthouse about the Mandatory Marijuana Diversion Program (MMDP), I walked up to you and shook your hand. You tell me if I am right. You said, “Dean, you were the trailblazer! You made this day possible”. Is that right?

KIM OGG: I think you were a big part of it, Dean. You represent law enforcement and the community. You have been accused and been through our criminal justice system and I think that you have had the opportunity in your 68 years (now that I know how old you are) to see this issue from many different perspectives. I found that invaluable and your crusade to basically get law enforcement to focus on the issues and the things that we can do to reduce the crime rate and prevent crime. I think for a forerunner to my ability to bring this change to Houston’s drug policies and to our leadership’s perspective, yes, you were an inspiration to me and I want to thank you personally.

DEAN BECKER: Okay. That was the current District Attorney of Houston, Harris County Kim Ogg thanking me for helping me to change the perspective here in this county, this city, and in this state. What many folks don’t realize is that Kim has now decided she is no longer going to arrest people for any bags of marijuana or hemp since they don’t know the difference and that idea has spilled over in to the rest of Texas, and that idea has spilled over in to Oklahoma, Tennessee, and other states as well. Folks that was my impetus, my perspective, my challenge to the logic of doing this forever that helped change the attitude of Kim, of our sheriff, of our police chief, of the past three sheriff’s, police chief’s, and district attorneys.

Today we have a live guest on our show. Mr. Matt Simon out of New England, he works with the Marijuana Policy Project.

Matt, what did you think of that discussion with the D.A.?

MATT SIMON: It was absolutely wonderful, Dean. Thank you so much! I don’t get the opportunity to say that often but all of the work that you have done over such a long period of time lighting fires in people’s minds and helping them think through this issue. As somebody who grew up with the war on drugs in the eighties they cracked an egg in a skillet and told us that this was our brain and we just needed to be afraid.


MATT SIMON: That was drug policy. I am working online this morning and I see that Gallup has come out with a new poll and it says that two thirds of Americans are in favor of making marijuana usage legal. This is the second year in a row that the Gallup’s found 66%, two to one support nationally for legalizing cannabis and you have been a big part of that so thank you.

DEAN BECKER: I like to think that I have made a difference not just in Houston, Texas or even in America for that matter. I get feedback from some of my stations up in Canada as well. I used to be on Sirius Radio back in their first years but I think my skills weren’t up to their standards after a while, they found more professional shows. We even had a station in Australia but they were growing weed in the back part of the warehouse and they got busted and the station shut down. It just proves the point that when I first started this a little over 19 years ago stations were picking up the show and playing it on college stations and others around the country without even asking me because like I said earlier, this was the only program in the world that was challenging the logic of drug war. I used to open it with, “Broadcasting from the Gulag Filling Station of Planet Earth, this is Cultural Baggage. The unvarnished truth about the drug war”, because back then Houston was the Gulag Filling Station. Every morning we would have buses show up at the jails and they would load hundreds of people in to those buses and take them to Louisiana, and small Texas towns because our jails were so full. They were sleeping under the bunks on the beds in the hallways! We were so gung-ho for drug war but I helped to end that madness.

The thing about Joe Biden is that he hasn’t backed down. I suppose if he winds up with the nomination I would hold my nose and my ears and close my eyes and vote for him but I don’t want to because he still is a drug warrior at heart. He is the only one who doesn’t want to legalize. He thinks we still need to have the ability to arrest people in order to stop them from their immoral habits I suppose. Your response to that, Matt Simon?

MATT SIMON: I am just going to preface this real fast by saying that any opinions I express are my own and don’t necessarily reflect those of my employer. MPP is all for getting the facts out there on all of the candidates and having voters make up their own mind. That being said, I have talked to a lot of young people in particular who know Joe Biden from recent history and know him as the Vice President under a popular president who many would be willing to brush aside his past without a full examination. To those people I would suggest that yes, certainly the whole country was thinking drug war thoughts back in the 80s and early 90s and certainly most politicians were voting in support of the drug war back in the eighties and nineties but Biden in particular was at the front of that parade.

I am going to mention something from this Vox article which was published on July 31st. 1989 was really the height of the anti-drug politics. George H. W. Bush was President and he had come out with yet another plan to escalate the war on drugs after it had already been escalated several times in the eighties and Biden’s response on national television was “Quite frankly, the President’s plan is not tough enough, bold enough, or imaginative enough to meet the crisis at hand”. He called not just for harsher punishments for drug dealers but to, “Hold every drug user accountable”, and put aside the plan for not including enough police officers, not enough prosecutors, not enough judges, not enough prison cells and seemed to be directly calling for even more mass incarceration. In recent years, Biden has walked back from those positions to some extent. He supported reforms to some degree but he still does not support legalization of cannabis and I think there are far more questions than answers at this point with regard to how much of that from the eighties and nineties he is sorry for and how much he would do differently if he had it to do over.

DEAN BECKER: The British newspapers, the Australian newspapers, the Mexican newspapers, and many of the Canadian newspapers are starting to talk about the need to legalize drugs, not just marijuana. They are starting to talk about the possibility of thwarting the efforts of the cartels. Maybe they can stop the overdose deaths. Maybe they can save money and lives. It is starting to sound more and more like what I have been saying for these 18 years over the airwaves that the logic has always been there; but for people to open their eyes to see it, to observe and to speak about it. It is a wonderful thing.

A couple of the politicians were talking the other day about decriminalizing and going the Portugal way if you will and I am all for that, it is certainly better than what we have going on but it still leaves the cartels and the gangs in charge of production, purity, and so forth. There is room to move and it just seems like Biden could move if he wanted to. Your thought there, Matt Simon?

MATT SIMON: Well he could move, he may move, many believe he will move if he is elected and that is a decision for each voter to make. I am only looking at the facts and the words that have come out of his mouth and I am not entirely seeing it just yet. It is an open question, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: It certainly is and not one that I am willing to gamble on to be honest with you. I had Eric Sterling, a good friend of ours on my show about two months ago and we were talking about those days during the late eighties and early nineties when he was working for Peter Rodino in U.S. Congress helping to right the drug laws and how they got flanged together and it was not Eric’s idea – not his doing. He was more or less just working for them. We didn’t focus too much on Biden during that discussion but he was very instrumental; he was the ramrod on many of those efforts. Was he not?

MATT SIMON: He was very much front and center and one of the key supporters at every turn. It was 1986 – 1988 that the so-called Anti-drug Abuse Acts were passed in Congress and that is where we got that 100 to 1 ratio – the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine which to Biden’s credit he later supported reducing that disparity and now it is at 20 to 1 but that doesn’t seem to be justified by anything.


MATT SIMON: We are a long way from where we need to be and I will tell you what the big takeaway is for me on the positive end is that they may not have a clear idea of what policies should replace the war on drugs but we hear a lot of people in mainstream political discourse, including most of the democratic candidates for President that will now say that the drug war is a failure and will call for alternatives. Some of those alternatives may be better than others and I hope this gets more detailed scrutiny and discussion before people start voting in January, but is has been very encouraging. At the last debate, Andrew Yang said he supported broader decriminalization and Beto O’Rourke has said that as well which has created more of a discussion around those issues which I think is always positive.

DEAN BECKER: Friends once again that was Mr. Matt Simon. He works with the Marijuana Policy Project. His thoughts are not necessarily that of the Marijuana Policy Project itself.

We challenge the world to come on this show and tell me that I am full of it. Show me where I am wrong. Prove that I have missed the mark.

There is no one on this planet that wants to come on this show and challenge my logic or defend this drug war, not for one second. It cannot be done. It is evil, ignorant and extremely stupid. 500 billion dollars a year we give to terrorists if they are brave enough to grow flowers on a mountainside. We spend about ten billion in Mexico where the cartels smuggle cocaine and methamphetamine north where they mix it with all kinds of powders and potions and sell it to our kids at a 17,000% markup with 70,000 of our kids dying each year from drugs off of the black market. Drugs that they have no idea what are in them. What hacks me off more than anything is that every time I hear a Tom Petty song I think about what happened to him. Tom Petty got some bad Oxy. It was counterfeit, it contained Fentanyl and it killed him. The same holds true for Prince. Two miraculous, wonderful musicians who helped generate happiness around the world and they are dead because of the ignorance of prohibition. It just hacks me off, I don’t know how else to say it. We will be back in a moment with Matt Simon.

It’s time to play Name That Drug By its Side Effects. Low blood sugar, decreased appetite, hunger, drowsiness, weakness, dizziness, confusion, irritability, fast heartbeat, sweating, acidic stomach, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, renal failure, and death. Times Up! The answer: from AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Byetta for diabetes. The drug was originally discovered in the lizard. Hello, Derma Subspectrum.

All right folks, this is Cultural Baggage on KPFT, the Mothership with the Drug Truth Network. We are speaking to Mr. Matt Simon with the Marijuana Policy Project. Matt, what else is MPP up to these days? How are things going up there?

MATT SIMON: Things are going very well actually. We are very focused on state legislatures in my department. We are working on some perspective ballot initiatives as well. It has been very exciting in the northeast just in the last week the governors of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut all met at a summit with a bunch of legislative staffers and they discussed how to move forward regionally on cannabis legalization and on policies dealing with vaping which is the first time anything like that has ever happened that I am aware of. To have governors of states that are not ballot initiative states that see that legalization is not only coming, but is a good idea; they have all expressed support for it. They are meeting to discuss how to best move forward and how to best get their state legislatures to move forward and that has pretty much taken up all of my time. It is very encouraging while at the same time being wildly frustrating.

DEAN BECKER: It does get to be déjà vu all over again. A lot of that goes on. We have a conglomeration of governors that you are speaking of which is a good sign that people are starting to think on this at a higher level both nationally and regionally. I feel that I have been blessed over the years that I have had the opportunity to talk to well over 3,000 individuals that I interviewed over these shows from government scientists like Dr. Donald Tashkin, he works for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and I had a chance to have a good sit down interview with him a few years back and during that interview he reminded me of a study he had done to determine just how dangerous and deadly cannabis is. They wanted to see how badly it hurt your lungs and your life. They did an in-depth study looking at people who smoked marijuana, people who smoked tobacco and then they looked at people who smoke nothing at all. For some reason they made a determination that those who smoke marijuana were less likely to contract lung cancer than those who smoke nothing at all. This is the interview which is online and in the transcript as well. There are a lot of people who believe marijuana is a medical miracle and for some people it certainly has been. I have seen the stories, I have met the people. I know it is true and while I am not going to say it is a blanket universal salvation to the world; it does have the potential to save many people. Does it not?

MATT SIMON: There is no question about that anymore and anybody who is still in denial about that fact might be on a few state legislatures but it’s really well accepted in all 50 states and the fact that some states still don’t have safe legal access for patients just further underscores the need for continued effort on all fronts. Every time I think about hanging up the spurs and maybe I won’t lobby next year on cannabis, I think of all the states that still don’t have decent laws or that are stuck really in the 1980s. We have a lot of work left to do, Dean. We have come a long way but we have a long way left to go.

DEAN BECKER: We were speaking with Mr. Matt Simon, he is with the Marijuana Policy Project. You can find them on the web at:

I just have to ask, to advise, and to hope that you will look at these Presidential candidates. Joe Biden ensures that terrorists, cartels, and gangs make lots of money. He doesn’t give a rat’s ass how many of our kids die from these contaminated drugs.

DEAN BECKER: Once again I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. I urge you to please be careful!

To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the unvarnished truth.

Cultural Baggage is a production of the Pacifica Radio Network, archives are currently stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, and we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.

07/03/19 Kim Ogg

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Kim Ogg
Harris County District Attorney

Kim Ogg the District Attorney of Houston/Harris County Texas for the half hour. We discuss marijuana & hemp and conflicting laws, paraphernalia, Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program, cops ability to search based on hemp smell, number of prosecutors, bail bonds, the Harding Street bust the corruption there of, gangs, Portugal & decrim, Switzerland and Heroin, overdose deaths, safe consumption facilities , what glue holds the drug war together

Audio file


JULY 3, 2019


DEAN BECKER: Hi folks, this is Cultural Baggage. I am Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High. The next 28:45 is totally unedited. Put your ears on.

Okeh, I feel quite proud and privileged. I'm here in downtown Houston, I'm in the office of the district attorney of our nation's fourth largest city. I'm with the district attorney, Kim Ogg. Hello, Kim, how are you today?

KIM OGG: I'm great, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you for this interview. It's been a while, but I think we need to talk. Things are changing. People are beginning to realize that drug laws have failed, major newspapers, even our Houston Chronicle is nibbling at the edges, politicians around the country are beginning to speak a little more boldly, and I think today we might just make some history.

First, I want to talk about what you're maybe best known for, it's the Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program, and the statistics indicate that you have saved the futures of many youngsters, because that's mainly who gets caught out there on the roads with marijuana, and they won't have that black mark and they'll be able to have a decent life without, you know, being excluded from credit, housing, employment. Right?


DEAN BECKER: Right. Now, I noticed the numbers are good, but they're not quite what you had projected when we began, and I'm figuring that's some cops just don't want to quit what they had done before. Circumstances maybe of possession of paraphernalia compounds it, I don't know those sorts of things. What does create -- ?

KIM OGG: Well, we're -- we're really proud of our numbers. We hit ten thousand diversions in April, which was a milestone for Harris County, the most drug prosecuting county in Texas, historically.

Before my administration began, ten thousand people per year were being arrested and convicted of misdemeanor or felony possession of marijuana. It was a 28 million dollar waste for taxpayers and an enormous waste of human capital.

So the number is great. I think the reason we didn't see ten thousand per year diverted is because police have stopped stopping as many people. I think once we reached the agreement that we were going to divert and ask them to do it fair, at the point pre-arrest, that that probably influenced some police to stop stopping as many people in cars with the idea that they would then maybe have probable cause for a search, or at least reasonable suspicion.

So I think that we have affected things in a good way, and in somewhat an unexpected way, with fewer stops. I think there are some small jurisdictions who are utilizing class C citations. Our governor recommended it and wanted the law changed, but the lieutenant governor, it's my understanding, blocked all legislation to reform marijuana laws.


KIM OGG: Interestingly, there's a brand new law on the books that legalized hemp that we think makes an enormous difference in the prosecution of any marijuana cases, and that's something that's just breaking out of the news cycle now.


KIM OGG: And the law that changed basically requires prosecutors, if we are to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt that the police have filed, in a drug case involving marijuana, we now have to prove through lab tests that the substance seized is actually marijuana, not hemp, the only difference in the same plant being hemp has a concentration of THC less than point oh three, and marijuana has a concentration in the plant that it is of more than point oh three THC.

Now the lab testing wasn't forgotten by the legislature, in fact the Department of Public Safety had a 35 million dollar fiscal note attached to the legalization of hemp bill. But the legislature stripped it, leaving local DAs with no way, and local law enforcement, no way of obtaining marijuana quantification tests, which is what the new law requires, at a local level.

This virtually ends new case filings of marijuana. We're telling law enforcement that we'll work with them on felony cases if they can get it tested, then we'll file them. But as far as misdemeanor marijuana, our program still stands. We divert everyone, regardless of criminal history, and I think that program has proven to be better than anything the legislature's been willing to give us.

DEAN BECKER: All right, now, hemp, you know, there's just no way to detect the percentage when a policeman stops you.

KIM OGG: Correct.

DEAN BECKER: He cannot determine whether it's hemp or marijuana. There's just no way. And I'm wondering, we did a little exchange on this and I wonder if it doesn't just negate their ability to bust people for small baggies of some green plant matter. Your thought there, please.

KIM OGG: Our thought is that we in this district attorney's office will require lab testing for any marijuana case that's filed. If it's a felony amount, there may be a way to extend the wait period, we can write a "to be" warrant after there's lab testing, and in some instances if it's a huge load, then of course we could go ahead and take the charges, but that will have to be determined on a case by case basis, because the law enforcement agency's going to have to pony up the money --


KIM OGG: -- to test the drugs so we can prove in court that the substance is marijuana. As you know, our marijuana diversion program has eliminated most case filings of misdemeanor pot cases in Harris County.

We still file a couple thousand a year because we had allowed the school police to file drug free zone school cases. I think now that's changed, without a lab test we're not willing to accept those cases. So everyone will be diverted through the MMDP.

DEAN BECKER: Okeh. Now, can a cop, I don't care, somebody just smoked a hemp cigarette in their car, and a cop pulls them over, is he going to have the right to search that car? I smell marijuana, as always? I, that seems to me unconstitutional. Your thought.

KIM OGG: Well Dean, not only are you ahead of your time, but you're a man who, you know, is maybe in the wrong profession. Maybe you should have been a lawyer because I think that's the issue of the day: Does the smell or odor of marijuana emanating from a person or a car still remain reasonable suspicion for the policeman to search for that drug or anything else that he might find? I think that's going to be litigated in Texas courts across the state.

DEAN BECKER: Okeh, I'm going to change the subject some here. Some, I'm seeing facebook posts, some ads and such on, and talking about your request for more prosecutors is suspect, that you're wanting more convictions, seeking more time, but I wonder, is that not just sniping by some of your future opponents.

KIM OGG: That's just sniping by current opponents, and there's always haters out there who will find fault with everything we do. But in truth, we are the poorest funded among the largest agencies in the country.

We have the lowest level -- number of prosecutors and one of the higher numbers of cases. We believe that it takes people to help people, and that when lawyers are afforded the time they need to evaluate an individual, the evidence against them, and the effect that the case disposition will have on the community, that we'll have more diversions, not more prison sentences.

And when it comes to investigations of police shootings, environmental crimes, rape, robbery, murder, I think everyone in the community agrees, you need a sufficient number of lawyers to do our job, to prosecute those investigations fairly, and successfully, so that we can help keep our community safe because after all, that is what people expect of their district attorney.

DEAN BECKER: No slap dash district attorney, I like it.

KIM OGG: Well, not for violent crime. I mean, I don't think anybody would agree to that. But the critics don't seem to distinguish, they just paint with a broad brush. And I think it's become a referendum that paints the issues falsely. It encompasses some belief that more prosecutors are just bad, and I think that's the same kind of narrow minded thinking that we're trying to eliminate.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I think you're doing a great job thus far. Those same people, they say that you have yet to do away with so many bail bond requirements. Address that thought, please.

KIM OGG: Well, it's untrue. I was the first agency to file an amicus brief in support of misdemeanor bail reform. The problem is, we have violent felons being let out on low bonds or PR bonds, without any conditions to protect their victims or other potential victims in the community.

So when I supported bail bond reform, I did it or misdemeanor cases because I felt that they were low risk offenders in general. There are some exceptions, domestic violence abusers, drunk drivers, but most misdemeanor offenders should be allowed to continue working in the community while their case was pending.

But violent felon are another story, and so I would suggest that the folks who are criticizing me are disingenuous and perhaps they don't mind violent offenders on the street. If you live in a nice neighborhood, let's say River Oaks or West University or even Sunset Boulevard, you probably don't face the same problems that everyday Houstonians have when it comes to violent crime.

DEAN BECKER: No, so true. Now, we're going to really move in a different direction here. The bust that happened on Harding Street, where the residents were killed, their dog was shot, four officers wounded. They were kicking in the door in street clothes, they had an illegal -- a bad warrant from my perspective. They fabricated an informant, they likely fabricated the -- a previous buy.

They said there was black tar heroin, all they found was a third of an ounce of weed and a smidge of cocaine. And I say this is one of the most classic examples of the horrible logic of the drug war gone bad. Your response, please.

KIM OGG: Well, the drug war is illogical. I don't think you can declare war on a population that chooses to either not abide by prohibition or simply against prohibition. I don't think that's grounds for a war against our own people. That's an issue that should be determined legislatively.

But we've got to have legislators with the political will to change those laws. As long as they exist, you're going to have police who will enforce them and you're going to have prosecutors who will try those cases in court.

We are doing a lot to change that here in Harris County, but what you've touched on, the Harding Street raid, is the biggest civil rights case certainly in this part of the country. It's perhaps the biggest case I've seen in my thirty-two years, when it comes to the implications for the whole department, especially the narcotics division.

And so the use of confidential informants, the payments, the records, I think these are all things that we are very interested in combing through for evidence of patterns and practices that may need to be changed.

As far as this particular shooting and the officers involved, they're all part of an open investigation right now, and I think this is a tragic case. Our community is understandably upset. They want justice, and I want it for them. So, that's where we're going.

DEAN BECKER: All right. You know, this is arbitrary, facetious, I don't know the word, but I figure if the cops were to kick in any ten doors in our fair city, any neighborhood you want to go to, they're going to find marijuana in three of them. They're going to find some coke or heroin or pills, something illegal, in one out of those ten.

And I guess what I'm saying is, it's just -- drug users are pretty good people normally. They don't draw attention as, I don't know, as historically put it, the movies or on the TV shows. They're just not that desperate or deadly.

And I guess what I'm saying is, we need to think again, why we do this. I probably botched this question, but, if you kick in ten doors in Houston, you're going to find weed in three and probably pills in another. Your thought to that, please.

KIM OGG: Well, I think that whether your statistic is right, I have no idea, but I can tell you that people who utilize drugs and do not participate in any type of violence pose the lowest threat to our community in terms of public safety.

Many people are self medicating because they have underlying mental health, even physical health issues. You know, I think if you looked in a lot of old ladies' purses, you might find pills that weren't prescribed to them.


KIM OGG: So, it's the disparate enforcement that makes people so angry with the system. When we see more black and brown people, more men, more young people than old people being stopped, searched, arrested, it's not just disturbing, it is a threat to our whole democracy.

People must believe our system is fair if they're going to keep participating in it, and I think that's why it's so important that the top law enforcement officials, myself, Chief Art Acevedo, Ed Gonzalez, all agree that social problems and ills are not appropriate for us to try and handle.

Those are huge problems that must be dealt with through appropriate resources by our governing bodies and direct service to people, and that declaring war on people who use drugs has not just been a huge waste of money, but it's cut our nose off to spite our face as a society.


KIM OGG: You can't send millions of people to prison and not -- and refuse to see what has happened in our society as a result.


KIM OGG: A lot of lost opportunity and a lot of bitterness.

DEAN BECKER: Now, you just mentioned our police chief, Art Acevedo. He has stated that we have at least 300 gangs here, that they, and I say, well, it's obvious, it's been proven over the years, they entice our children to lives of crime. Join up with us or if addiction, try our product.

Through legalization, they would not have a profit motive and I think much of their violent behavior would disappear. Your thought there, please.

KIM OGG: The regulation of drug sales in states where marijuana is legal has not yet been correlated with a decline in violent crime, but I believe there's room in research to absolutely analyze whether legalization, with appropriate regulation, is in fact a way to lower the crime rate. I really can't answer that question without evidence.


KIM OGG: But, my gut tells me that, when you remove a huge profit making product from the black market, you put it in the regular market place, you regulate it, that while it won't eliminate gangs, because they're going to find something else illegal to do, you take a huge chunk out of their profit margin now.


KIM OGG: And it would disrupt their criminal and violent activities in a way that I think could only be helpful to our society.

DEAN BECKER: I think there is a means to kind of prove what I was alluding to. I went to Portugal last year, I got to sit down with the European Monitoring Centre, they had asked me to come speak to them. I got no respect in the USA but I was respected in Portugal.

I got to meet Doctor João Goulão, the in essence drug czar of Portugal, and they stressed to me that once they decrimed all drugs, five days -- you can have a five days' supply in your pocket and you won't be arrested -- that the violence has gone down, the overdoses have gone down, the acquisition of diseases has gone down. It has made a major impact.

And it kind of reminds me of the situation where every state, every jurisdiction, if they're considering marijuana, they want a new study, as if the first ten thousand were not enough. Respond to both of those, if you would, please.

KIM OGG: That we've had enough studies to choke a horse in this county and in this country.


KIM OGG: And while we continue to need data, and research, and institutes that are credible to deliver the message to the public, I think most of us in law enforcement can see the futility that this war on drugs has bred.

And when we look at other countries, the only thing I caution is that gun laws are quite different there, especially different than Texas, and that while firearms are readily accessible to people who are trafficking drugs or humans or stolen merchandise on the black market, that we're going to continue to see violence.

But when we can disrupt them, through taking away a major commodity, that seems like a promising strategy. And I look for our -- I look for our state and our local government to embrace some of those strategies. I think MMDP was a start.

DEAN BECKER: Thought it was a great start. One second here. Just that much, okeh. You know, after my time in Portugal I went to Switzerland, I got to meet the designer of their heroin injection program. Over the, I think it's 26 years they've injected pure heroin 27 million times with zero overdose deaths, and in 2017, here in the US, I think it was 45 of the 72,000 overdose deaths were opium -- opiate related [sic: according to the CDC there were 47,885 opiate-related deaths in 2017].

And, it -- in essence, the heroin injection facility is a safe injection facility. Here in Texas we're afraid of needle exchange, the legislature passed it then they said not in my county. What do you think of the potential for needle exchange and a safe consumption facility for our fair city where folk are dying of these contaminated products?

KIM OGG: Well, poison is undetectable to the average user, so pills that are being pressed in the black market contain fentanyl, profanyl [sic], all kinds of deadly substances that are toxic.

When we begin to look at drug addiction as a public health concern instead of a public safety concern, everything's possible. But I think it's a preliminary reversal of position for most people who are in government.

I would submit that law enforcement would and could be the first out of the chute to do that. But I think it's going to take the will of the people, and they'll show that will by who they vote for and then what those individuals who are elected into the legislative branch do with regard to drug laws. That's where it must change.

DEAN BECKER: You know, I handed you those two cards I hand out at the civil courthouse every Wednesday before my TV show, and a lot of these judges and jurists and defense and prosecutors, a lot of them stop and talk to me, and I tell them my -- my rationale, the drug war is a failure, we've got to end it.

And they say, well, you're absolutely right, but it's never going to end. And it brings to mind, I know that terrorists and gangs and cartels, they love the drug war. It is a bonanza to them. But why do legislators and other public officials in Texas remain so in love with this drug war?

KIM OGG: Well, I think we still have a very misogynistic society, and that it's a macho thing to think that we can just find a problem and kill it. Public health is not a war. You know, public health is science based. And I think the more that our society can stick to the evidence when we govern and make policies, the better we'll be.

And if we look at the evidence and the data that relates to addiction and the spin-off crimes, I think the answer's clear. Low level users, people who take illegal substances, are not all involved in crime, especially violent crime.

They may be the victim because they're operating in a black market, and I worry that people who are part of a vulnerable situation and you have to -- you have to see that people who utilize drugs illegally are part of that vulnerable population. They suffer at the hands of criminals just like they suffer in our criminal justice system.

DEAN BECKER: No recourse to the law, they have, though there's no way for them to report their -- the crime against the drug.

KIM OGG: Well, they do, they do, but it lends itself to credibility problems in the court system, where the -- where the baseline is that drugs are bad, ergo drug users are bad, and not credible. I don't think the evidence supports that at all, but I do think that that is a prevalent problem --


KIM OGG: -- in criminal justice, when people who are using drugs are killed by those drugs or when they're harmed or killed by people trying to rip them off in these black market situations.

So, I want to stop that, and I think one way is through this MMDP program. We also divert all of our crack and meth cases, as many people as we can, into court supervised programs where they come out without a conviction.

We hope that just gets them out of the black market situation. We think it makes them safer and healthier. And what they do after they're off that probation or court ordered supervision is often quite different, and better, than what they were doing when they got arrested.

DEAN BECKER: That's a wonderful thing. Just a couple of days ago, Cory Booker, you know, was chastising John -- excuse me, Joe Biden, for his being the ramrod if you will for our nation's more severe drug laws, asset forfeiture, you know, and Joe hasn't backed down.

But it reminded me of the reluctance, the recalcitrance, of these officials. I've been saying for years that those who made their bones in the drug war, and this kind of ties into what we were talking about before, are so reluctant to admit they were wrong for fear of losing stature and reelection, and it's tough for them to back down.

We addressed this, but you know some people who were zealots at one time, maybe that have changed their minds, and how do we smooth things over for them, allow them to step forward and admit they were wrong, or at least point us in the right direction now

KIM OGG: Well, to your point about politics, I don't make endorsements, even in the presidential primaries.


KIM OGG: But I will say that having been around in the '80s and '90s, I've lived here in Houston all my life with short exception, that we lived through some very violent times. We once had a murder rate that was over 700 per year. That's 700 people.

There was a lot of violence on our streets. And times were different.


KIM OGG: Responses were 1980s and '90s responses. It's easy to kick back in 2019 and say, oh, well they were wrong. I think it's more realistic to say, these were the answers that government came up with at the time. Some of those answers panned out, some didn't, but we want to do it differently in 2019.

So I don't think to be right now, others had to be wrong back then. I just think it's important to remain flexible, open minded about how we govern and are governed, and to continue participating in our system, because if you don't, you have no voice.

And I think that is a travesty.

DEAN BECKER: Okeh, I've got a couple of questions left for you. Would it make your job easier if we decide to once again judge people by their actions, like we used to do before this prohibition, rather than by their possession of a pill or a powder or the cigarettes they smoke?

KIM OGG: Of course.

DEAN BECKER: Wouldn't it be easier?

KIM OGG: Yes. I've often said that I think where our community and law enforcement became so divided other than along racial lines, which it certainly was, was when Nixon declared war on the American people and called it a drug war.

I think that communities of color were clearly overpoliced. We know that young people were targeted. And we know that this bred an enormous organized crime problem that we haven't suppressed yet.

And so, I think, you know, I think that the divide, other than the racial divide, which was there, really began back in '72. And that it's important with the -- living in a time of limited government resources, that we take our focus and we put it on the violent actions of people, and we judge those actions, and this notion that, you know, you're hurting yourself is somehow a problem that law enforcement should inject itself into just seems like a new way of thinking that I hope more people in leadership positions will aspire to.

DEAN BECKER: All right. And this one, I know the answer to, it's -- it's why I do what I do, is to challenge the logic of this drug war, and I want to ask this question of the drug czar himself, of the US attorney general, of Dan Patrick, of Governor Abbott, any of them: What is the benefit of drug war?

KIM OGG: Well, I look forward to their answers.

DEAN BECKER: Kim Ogg, thank you so much.

KIM OGG: My pleasure, Dean Becker.

DEAN BECKER: I appreciate it.

KIM OGG: Always good to see you and thanks for remaining the maverick on the cutting edge that you have always been.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you.

Again I remind you, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful.