09/19/23 Beto O'Rourke

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Beto O'Rourke
Alison Myrden
Michelle Alexander
Powered X People

Beto O'Rourke the former Congressman from Texas joins us to discuss drug war failure, mayhem  and death at the border, abortion rights, LGBGTQ rights and the sham trial of Ken Paxton AG of Texas. 

Second file, contains interview with Canadian drug policy expert and cannabis and psilocybin patient extraordinaire ALISON MYRDEN as well as the thoughts of MICHELLE ALEXANDER author of The New Jim Crow.

Basically its the first half hour, then the second half hour of my current one hour production Moral High Ground.  Produced at noon on Tuesddays, mostly live, with call ins, topic always around the drug war but. the drug war is all around.  Please email me if you would like to carry this second half hour each week I already produce. If you prefer to just use the full one hour, Moral High Ground thats okay, I thought best to keep previous show formats rolling along.  

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07/26/21 Beto O'Rourke

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Beto O'Rourke
Call for Moral Revival

Former Congressman Beto O'Rourke is helping to leadThe Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival & the Texas Poor People's Campaign. He and Willie Nelson are inviting folks to a Georgetown-to-Austin Moral March for Democracy culminating in a Rally at the Texas State Capitol on Saturday, July 31. Calling for an end to the filibuster, in favor of the For the People Act, restoration of 1965 Voting Rights, $15 Hr and more. Also on this weeks show, Dr. Rick Doblin Exec Dir of Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies in Houston to participate in a Congressional Healthcare Summit hosted by US Congressman Dan Crenshaw.

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06/03/20 Beto O'Rourke

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Beto O'Rourke
Norm Stamper
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Beto O'Rourke joins us to discuss the murder of George Floyd, the protests, the bigotry of centuries and how it is escalated thru drug war tacts +++ Norm Stamper former Police Chief of Seattle gives his perspectives on the never ending series of cop on black murders.

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DEAN BECKER: This is Dean Becker. And this is Cultural Baggage. We've got a great show today in this time of pandemic and protest. Let's get going. Today's guest is a beloved Son of Texas who sought the Democratic nomination for president of these United States. I want to welcome us congressmen retired temporarily from El Paso, Texas Beto O'Rourke. Hello Beto

BETO O’ROURKE: Dean it's really good to be with you. Thanks for having me on again.

DEAN BECKER: I you know, I want to talk about this covid pandemic but but first up there's something that's really anxious that's rotten. It's evil and it keeps rearing its ugly head here in the United States racism and its main maintained I think through the bigoted way. The drug war has been waged your Tweet yesterday stated quote. You deserved your breath your dignity your life.

DEAN BECKER: Now I never saw a man hanging from a tree but thanks to video phones. I see black men gunned down quite often and now I witness a man smothered in slow motion for not showing enough respect to the man. If I dare call him that with his knee pressing down on his neck slowly crushing his life your response Beto.

BETO O’ROURKE: The next president of the United States needs to use the full force and authority and power of the federal governments to reform wholesale policing in the United States and part of that reform should include something that you have long been a champion for which is an end to the War on Drugs, which has become a war on people which is essentially been a war specifically on black and brown people.

In the United States of America these no-knock warrants these presumptions of guilt of black people that cause as you may have seen the video this morning Dean police in Midland, Texas to draw guns on a young black man whose only perceived crime was not coming to a full stop at an intersection it is it is criminalized functionally an entire part of America, and it is produced the largest prison population on the face of the planet one disproportionately comprised of African Americans and Latin X communities across the country and unless the next president does that the racism that you mentioned that has been a fundamental part of the American Experience for last 400 years will continue indefinitely and and I sure hope to see the presumptive Democratic Nominee, Joe Biden make that Central to his plans for his administration.

DEAN BECKER: Well, you know, I was a big fan of yours. I was pulling for you during the run-up to the selection. I guess you'd call it and then it was Bernie, but I'll tell you what, I'm sure going to vote for Joe because the alternative is horrible to think about now in the past month the global Commission on drug policy released a major report.

DEAN BECKER: The report itself is massive. The video is impressive and I think their stances the only thing that will work to legalize drugs and starve a terrorist to Cripple the cartels to eliminate the gangs and the street corner vendors to save lives Futures and to save Nations themselves, and I want to ask you this and I is present, you know, facetious but why do we insist that criminals worldwide making easy 500 billion dollars a year seems pretty ludicrous to me. Your thoughts there Beto?

BETO O’ROURKE: It really does and you know that they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I have to think that despite so many of the racist results so much of the counter intuitive or counter intended outcomes the intention in trying to stop the sale of illegal drugs was

You know was well-intentioned. However, you've got to look at the facts and the truth and be governed by the science. And when you see as you just pointed out that criminals are making a windfall and and they're using that not only to continue to procure and distribute illegal drugs, but they're using it to kidnap and to terrorize and to subvert Justice and a purchase wholesale the police force.

Is in communities like see that what is which is my sister city to the south in Chihuahua Mexico. The pernicious results have to call our attention shock our conscience and and force us to do something far different and far better than we have already. And so, you know again ending the war on drugs ending the incarceration of any Americans simply for the crime of possession.

Breaking up these criminal networks and addressing some of the core fundamental problems that we have in America that will not be met by over policing or incarceration or the lockdown that we see of communities of color in this country. That's that's really the path forward. So I'm glad that this evidence has come out. I hope that it finds a home in the consciousness of the American public and their representatives in Congress and again.

BETO: I have High hopes for the next president of the United States and that key will be governed by science and facts and truth and not the paranoia and hypocrisy of the drug war

DEAN BECKER: very well said sir Beto. Once again, I want to talk about the global Commission on drug policy and they summarize their report with five main points and I think their first choice is just so spot-on. I don't want to read from it here. The number one summary states must acknowledge the negative consequences of repressive law enforcement approaches to drug policies and recognize that prohibition forges and strengthens criminal organizations. They go on to say sharing such conclusions with the public must then feed National debates to support drug policy reform and I would add this thought that sharing such conclusions is exactly what I have been doing for the last 20 years this global commission is number one concern for good reason, right?

BETO O’ROURKE: Absolutely, you know when we were riding Susie bird and I were writing this book dealing death and drugs that looked at the War on Drugs specifically marijuana from the perspective of the U.S. Mexico border. We were trying to find some kind of analog or parallel in American history to describe the insanity that we are living through right now and the best was the Prohibition on alcohol again, very well-intentioned at least in in some corners.

BETO O’ROURKE: The effects that It produced The Cure in other words was much worse than the symptoms that it sought to treat you embolden gangsters and criminal networks. You subverted rule of law. You had police forces and even judges and members of Congress bought and paid for by these criminal syndicates and alcohol as you well know was in many ways just as available as it was before.

Only there was no control over its Purity or anything to prevent it from being marketed alongside poison that would and did kill people who consumed it. And so at some point the American public and their representatives in Congress and the president of the United states came to their senses and into the prohibition on alcohol and and acknowledge. Look. Hey, we're not going to say that alcohol is not without problems.

Hundreds of thousands of people die every year from drunk driving accidents from alcohol abuse from cirrhosis of the liver, etc. Etc. Etc. But trying to ban it outright only creates more criminals and does nothing to reduce the demand and consumption of alcohol. And I think we're coming to a collective understanding of some of those same Dynamics when it comes to the War on Drugs. Look we should acknowledge that there are dangers, very serious dangers with with some drugs but the way that we are treating them which is essentially an interdiction and incarceration problem instead of a public health opportunity as made what was already a challenge a much worse problem. So really grateful that you pointed this out and Dean, I got to I got to say this, you know, I told you this before you and others like you who have been at this for years and some cases decades were totally Living in the wilderness in obscurity fighting a very lonely battle for a very long time.

But if you had not done that, I don't know that others myself included would have woken up to the real challenge in crisis that we face and and I think you have helped to produce an understanding that this country desperately needed and as we know it is produced some good. We now have a majority of states in this country who have in some former other legalized marijuana you now have the top presidential contenders at least in the Democratic party openly talking about decriminalization, reducing the use of incarceration for any drug possession crime. So we're making progress. We're not there yet, but it is these kinds of dialogues the kinds of questions that you posed and the kind of leadership that you've shown that has has helped to get us this far.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you for that. Beto, and you bring up something there that I try like heck to get the US attorney general to get the the State Attorney General to get some Top Dog somebody who proclaims the drug war to be necessary who thinks it needs to last forever to come on this show and tell us why and they absolutely refused for the same 18 going on 20 years. They absolutely refuse to do so, because it cannot be done and This Global commission report features the roof Drive.

This former president of Switzerland another former High Commissioner on human rights former president of Colombia president and a prime minister of New Zealand. These people have stature standing. They should be respected and their words heeded posthaste. Your thoughts are.

BETO O’ROURKE: I agree with you. There's so much for us to learn and what may have been a lonely battle at the edges of this conversation 20 30 40 years ago has now become center stage with world leaders that you just reference stepping up and demanding that you know, their colleagues and peers around the globe pay attention to this issue and take action and also remind us that this is all connected, right?

What happens in one country is going to affect the dynamic in another country and that is nowhere more true than it is in the United States, which is four percent of the globe's population, but consumes 25% of the illegal drugs that are produced on this planet. So the United States really has a unique singular role to play in this policy and it's about time that we take that lead to

DEAN BECKER: thank you sir. Now again folks were speaking with Beto O’Roark former US Congressman gentleman who ran for the Democratic candidacy for US president. Beto as a politician. I know you can may have to tread lightly here, but I admit to being shocked Beyond Compare baffled by one Donald J Trump his words and actions seem designed to destroy laws morals patriotism truth reality our nation itself. He jumps a new shark everyday and isn't it?

And his dismissal of the Watchdogs of late concerns me a lot the inspectors generally in Moss. He's done this and now installed his lackeys and that situation along with the new interpretations of Attorney General bar. Often seem like a Mel Brooks movie your thoughts there sir.

BETO O’ROURKE: yeah, you know I hope that in future Generations people will find it funny the way maybe we find a Mel Brooks movie funny today because by the time those future Generations are reading our history. They will see that we were able to stop Donald Trump in to feed him in this November's election because the alternative is is really terrifying and well very sad chapter for those future generations to read if we were unable to stop the most Lawless president in the history of this country one who wantonly undermined the Constitution and defied the understanding that no one is above the law by himself being treated differently under the law in part. Thanks to his attorney general who has become essentially his personal is personal lawyer. You know that that outcome really is up to us and I'm doing everything within my power through an organization that I started called powered by people to make sure that we stop Donald Trump and trumpism in America because we know it's not limited to just one person or individual. It's really a much larger disease and sickness in this country.

And unless it is at unless it is stopped at all levels from the presidency to the Statehouse to the city council chambers, it will end this country as we know it and our hope of persisting as the you know, greatest democracy in the history of this world will come to an end and and that's on us at The Ballot Box and organizing before we get to The Ballot Box and organizing means getting folks registered to vote and there are more than a million known Democrats just in the state of Texas who have yet to register update their voter registration in this state. It means turning people out to vote once they are registered. So, you know, it's good to vote but it is even more important to get our friends and family members and colleagues and classmates and neighbors out to the polls as well.

And then in Texas Dean as you know, this you've got a republican leadership that is Fighting tooth and nail to keep people especially Democrats from going to The Ballot Box and whether its voter ID laws or whether it's denying the ability to vote by mail in the midst of the deadliest pandemic of the last century. They're going to do everything they can to thwart a true Democratic small D response to this threat and and our challenge is to transcend and overcome that and I'm confident that we'll be able to do that.

Now. I know our time is limited. May I get one last question? I want to focus on the pandemic and I'm getting cabin fever but at my age I'm going to sit tight for a while and I would hope that you and Amy and the kids are pretty much sitting tight as well. A hundred thousand Americans are dead. I do not think that many tens of those thousands had to Die the clues were there the warnings were there the guidebook was there and to close us out the covid virus runs wild and nursing homes, dormitories, cruise ships and prisons and jails and closing nursing homes is still difficult but manageable closing dormitories and cruise ships is logical but insofar as prisons and jails, it runs the gamut from nobody gets out unless they're rich folks like Trump's buddy manafort and and there are New Perspectives growing though from this pandemic. We're managing to provide forbidden drugs like Suboxone. Tobacco alcohol and marijuana to those in quarantine and to even stop arresting for low-level drug crimes in some areas, which begs the

questions. Why don't we change that perspective all the time your thought there Beto?

BETO O’ROURKE: Yeah, you know Dean some people have referred to this pandemic as the great revealer because it is laying there so many of the divisions that have defined American life for as long as there's been an America, you know to look at Chicago for example and know that African Americans represent roughly 30% of the population in that City but comprise seventy percent of the deaths from covid-19 to see similar numbers in the state of Louisiana is to show us that black Americans don't have access to health care in the way that white Americans do black Americans don't have access to the opportunities that so many white Americans have taken for granted and not only is it immoral and unjust it is literally Really deadly and causing the deaths of people who otherwise would be with us today. And when we see these reports that prisons and jails are Rife with covid cases and and deaths from covid because we pack more people in them than does any other country the highest levels of incarceration on planet Earth right here in the United States of of America.

It perhaps should show Is that what we are doing Beyond again being immoral and unjust is just downright deadly and and maybe we shouldn't be locking people up for possession of controlled substance. Maybe we shouldn't be throwing the book at them for the third strike and maybe we shouldn't have these mandatory minimums that Define life behind bars for so many of our fellow human beings. And so I hope Dean that after what has been revealed.

BETOIn this pandemic we change in a fundamental way as a society. We've talked about some of the changes in The Superficial ones like will we speak will we keep shaking hands and we'll We Gather in the way that we have in the past when we spend more time with their family and at home, I mean all those things are perhaps important on a different level but the fundamental important profound truths in the way that we treat one another and the way in which some based on the color of their skin are denied equal.

Access to opportunity and to health and advancement and to freedom and Justice. I mean, those are the things I really do think need to change if we are going to meet our potential in our promise to ourselves and to the rest of the world and who we say that we are and I'm going to fight like hell to make sure that we do. I know you are you always have been and I think if we hold out hope based on the action that we are taking. Then then we got something to fight for and I think we should we should definitely hold on to that.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Well as we're wrapping up here, I want to just say this when I speak at Rice University or other venues, I don't draw crowds like Alex Jones or have tens of millions of fans like Hannity. I don't sensationalize myself. I don't talk of gay frogs or Benghazi, Benghazi. My main fans are law enforcement doctors and ministers and a few good politicians like you my friend Beto O’Rourke. I consider myself lucky. Thank you Beto.

BETO O’ROURKE: Thank you so much. I consider myself lucky as well. Keep it up man. Adios


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DEAN BECKER: friends. There's a lot of I'll just be honest about it a lot of Mayhem going on around this country. There's a lot of people that are in the streets rising up to protest the death of a gentleman in Minneapolis. And then there are a lot of other folks that are criminals that are taking advantage of this situation and doing harm and here to talk about it as a gentleman a former Chief of Police of Seattle who has known in part for his During the their protest back in 1999. He's one of my Band of Brothers in law enforcement Action Partnership former police chief Norm Stamper. Hello Norm.

NORM STAMPER: Hello being good to be with you.

DEAN BECKER: Well Norm, I appreciate you taking the time for this. You know, some folks say that that I don't know that situation in Seattle was your fault and that it didn't have to go down that way but what's going on around the country doesn't have to go down this way either does it?

NORM: well, I guess my most muster up all the honesty I possibly can and tell you that I think it was predictable and inevitable so I would have to say that yeah what we are seeing had to go down because we haven't really done anything to formed the way police and Community interact at times of Crisis. It is still the police calling the shots. There is a fundamental lack of an authentic partnership between community and police and as long as you know, I'm put it this way as long as the molecules remain organized the way they are in other words, as long as the structure is paramilitary and bureaucratic and as long as the police are Basically conveying a message of where the cops and you're not and we will decide what we're going to do here. We will three years from now three months from now.

NORM STAMPER: I'll be back talking about the same issues. So if that sounds like I'm a little bit pessimistic maybe it's a function of this being Monday could be a function of the number of interviews that I've done over the years addressing the issue of the community police relationship. So I am what I'm sensing is that we're very very slow Learners as an institution. There are wonderful people in police departments across the country. There are very fine Mayors and other Executives appointed and elected all of whom who care, you know, all of them care deeply about Community Police relations and never ever want to see anything like we saw.

A week ago in Minneapolis where a police officer murdered an unarmed citizen. It's reached a point I think working for saying well, we need reform we need training. We need this we need that all of which I would not contest but we're not addressing the most basic need and that is radical restructuring of American law enforcement.

DEAN BECKER: And I would have to agree with you sir. I the I don't know and seeing that film where George Floyd was slowly killed it. It seemed to me the cop knew what he was doing. He did they were protesting to him, please you're killing this man and he just persisted. I don't know that we can you know claim or describe intent. I Don’t know how to say this exactly but it just seemed like it was a done on purpose. I don't know how else to put it and and that had think has resonated or that Vision has bounced around in people's minds all across this country. What we can be proud of I think is that there are police Chiefs. There are police officers around the country who are seeing this perhaps in a new light who are standing with and marching with those protesting these deaths that is a very good sign is it not?

NORM STAMPER: I could not agree more Dean. I think I frankly I'll have to admit to my own surprise and not shocked but definitely surprised that we've had so many police trees and so many police officers including those who represent unions Saying for the first time in my history involved in this institution that what happened in Minneapolis that we could go today was in fact murder and that police officer had no right to due to his fellow citizen what he did and so it's it's it is gratifying once again, I would I would caution that if we think good intentions are enough.

They're not we need to do the extremely difficult work of reconstituting this the system itself. And when you consider all the forces aligned against that it becomes very daunting, but I like you was very encouraged by the reaction of so many police officers across the country calling this to what it was cold-blooded murder.

DEAN BECKER: Well my friends once again, we've been speaking with former police chief of Seattle? Mr. Norm Stamper Norm we have as I mentioned earlier Band of Brothers in law enforcement Action Partnership. We try to educate and you know motivate folks around the country. It's time for a change it certainly is your closing thoughts, Norm.

NORM STAMPER: Well, I think if I don't want to turn all abstract or intellectual here, but what I would say is unless we attack the structure of policing the culture will not change what we know about structures and this case a paramilitary bureaucratic top-down command and control structure is hostile to the whole concept.

In the community police partnership and yet we continue to talk about improving community relations in improving the escalation training improving the technical skills of our officers. All of which once again is it makes perfect sense, but not unless we are willing to do the very hard work of restructuring the institution, will we see change of the type that will prevent these kinds of horrific actions in the future.

DEAN BECKER: I’m too old go to these protests. I just don't I don't want to die. But the fact of the matter is back in the day in the 60s and 70s. I was there for many anti-war protests and and that's what these new protests are really about. I once again remind you because of prohibition. You don't know what's in that bag. Please be Careful.

02/05/20 Beto O'Rourke

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Beto O'Rourke
Debby Goldsberry
Magnolia Wellness

Beto O'Rourke discusses Houston's Harding street bust/fiasco, Trump, guns, drug war, rights & more + Debby Goldsberry on growing cannabis industry

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FEBRUARY 5, 2020

DEAN BECKER: I am Dean Becker, your host. Our goal for this program is to expose the fraud, misdirection, and the liars who support the drug war which empowers our terrorist enemies, enriches barbarous cartels, and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent U.S. gangs who profit by selling contaminated drugs to our children. This is Cultural Baggage.

Hi folks, I am Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High. Thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. A bit later we will hear from Debbie Goldsberry who is looking for a job in the cannabis industry, but first up…

MALE VOICE: Hey, Dean. It’s Beto. How are you?

DEAN BECKER: Oh, I am good. It is good to hear your voice, Sir. How are you?

BETO O’ROURKE: Likewise. I am good.

DEAN BECKER: Well friends it has been about nine or ten months since I have had the chance to speak with my friend, Beto O’Rourke, he is a retired congressman but I think there is more to come from this gentleman. He recently ran for U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Ted Cruz, and of course you know he was one of the major candidates running for President of these United States. From El Paso, Texas, my friend, Beto O’Rourke. How are you, Sir?

BETO O’ROURKE: I am doing great. I am back in El Paso and I am talking to you again which is a good thing. I always appreciate you and the work that you have been doing, as well as your ability to bring more people in to a really important conversation for the country. Thank you for having me on your show.

DEAN BECKER: Well, thank you, Beto. I know you have been here in Texas in and around the Houston area quite a bit over the last several weeks knocking on doors and motivating Texans to get out and vote, correct?

BETO O’ROURKE: That’s right. There are a bunch of really important State House seats that are being contested right now and as you probably know, Democrats are only nine seats down from commanding a majority in the State House for the first time since 2001. What that means is that not only did we stop the bad stuff such as the racist gerrymandering that is in effect in Texas, or the permissive gun laws that have led to Texas being one of the deadliest states when it comes to gun violence. It means that we can make progress on the things that we are excited about including when it comes to our laws about drug policy and incarceration as well as use of force in our communities. These elections are critically important and we have been out knocking on doors with a group called Powered by People, and essentially we bring volunteers together from all over the state to knock on doors in important State House races, including those in the Metro Houston area, Metro Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and all over the state. That is what I am focused on right now and I am really enjoying the work.

DEAN BECKER: Beto, in regards to your thought about guns, as a security policeman back in the day I was a marksman, 500 out of 500 with an M16 and I am a gun owner, but I agree with you, Sir in that we have to do something. In the past couple of days there have been these masked citizens roaming the Virginia State House in full military regalia with M16s and multiple clips, and body armor. It is running off the rails! There is something that needs fixing. Is there not?

BETO O’ROURKE: There really is and when you combine that with this strain of white nationalism that has emerged during the Trump presidency. White nationalism has always been a part of America for as long as there has been an America, but this new strain that has people in these outfits that you just described, and many of whom do not have any military service yet are dressed as though they are in the military including with these face masks, body armor as you mentioned and weapons of war. These AR15s, AK47s are variants of what service members have carried in to battle going all the way back to Viet Nam. I think this is something that we have to squarely confront or just accept and be consumed by it. My hometown of El Paso saw someone who drove 600 miles from Allen, Texas with an AK47 and walked in to a Walmart in this community and opened fire on people and killing 22. He told police afterwards that he came to kill Mexicans and he posted a manifesto before the massacre saying that he was going to stop this invasion of Hispanics who are coming to this country. In many ways he was parroting the style and the content of President Trump’s speeches and Tweets. So we are up against armed racism in America and not just with shotguns and hand guns but armed with weapons of war. You are right, we have got to do something about it.

DEAN BECKER: The gentleman that you speak of there, he was able to legally carry his weapon across the parking lot and in to that Walmart because of these new allowances for open carry and so forth, but the moment that he pulled the trigger he became a criminal. We have got to find a better means to prevent that situation from just instantly turning from harmless to deadly.

BETO O’ROURKE: That is right. I think on the remedies for this you really have a lot of concurrence between Democrats and Republicans, gun owners and non-gun owners. Most people think you should have a universal background check and there should not be exemptions or loopholes. Most people believe there should be some kind of extreme risk protection order. In fact, the killer that we are talking about that massacred 22 people in El Paso, Texas’ mother called the police in Allen, Texas wondering why her son needed this weapon of war and the police told her there was nothing they could do about it. If she felt that he was going to be a danger to himself or someone else there should have been some mechanism she could have employed to stop him. These extreme risk protection orders would do that. I think there is now a majority in this country, and maybe a majority in Texas that agrees that weapons of war should not be sold to civilians. Those should be kept on the battlefield because they are intended solely to kill people in devastatingly high numbers as quickly as possible. We may not agree on every point, no two people ever will but I think there is consensus on the big steps that we can take so we have to stay focused on that and not throw up our hands or just assume that this is our fate. There is some control that we have over our future.

DEAN BECKER: Beto, this is a bit of conjecture, but it is based on a lifetime of experience and analysis. In the 60s when I was a kid in high school kids would drive their daddy’s truck to school and park it out in the school parking lot with a shotgun and a rifle in the rack. I guess what I am saying is that it is not just the guns. It is a perspective. I want to submit this and then I will get your response, Sir. The drug war has driven a lot of violence and has created a situation where more people are in danger because of drugs where cops are carrying more deadly guns, SWAT teams are raiding, etc., etc. We have escalated the perspectives, the violence, the possibilities and a lot of it hinges on our thought that the drug war is necessary. What is your thought there, Beto O’Rourke?

BETO O’ROURKE: I think you are right on the money. You have roughly 327 million people living in this country and you have 390 million guns – you don’t see that anywhere else in the world. What you also don’t see in almost any other country in the world is the kind of extreme prohibition policies that we have employed since the 1930s in this country when it comes to a war on drugs. It was a war that was certainly accelerated by President Nixon who gave it that name. It was made even worse under President Reagan, but it was also a war that was supported by democrats and republicans alike. As we know, in a black market where you have no recourse to the court system, or law enforcement to adjudicate a difference, you have to do that on your own if you are involved in the black market of selling drugs so very often that is resolved at the end of a gun and with violence. When you add to that these evermore heavily armed police officers and the kind of no-knock raids that we are seeing throughout the United States – you have been sharing with your listeners information about the Harding Street raid last year that ended in the death of a couple and their dog with very light if nonexistent evidence that there was any crime being committed within the house – you begin to understand why in addition to having more guns than any other country per capita, we also have more gun deaths than any other country in the world. So you are right. There are a number of factors but the dominant one is this war on drugs and the prohibitionary policies that we employ and the need for those who are involved in the black market to arm themselves and resolve differences through violence and the police were enforcing these drug laws to use extreme violence and extreme, almost military like tactics in order to enforce the law.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Beto. It just goes on and on. In today’s Houston Chronicle there is another story that Kim Ogg who is our district attorney here in Houston is reversing the conviction of another person who was sent to prison by the lies of this Officer Goins who headed up that Harding Street raid. The full disclosure has not been brought forward yet. The house was shot up – who shot who – they were shooting through the walls. There are a of details that are missing and I often like to point out that every day of the drug war is training day because there is always this thought that drug users are less than sterling citizens and there are a lot of short circuits taken in their treatment. Your thought there, please.

BETO O’ROURKE: I agree with you. We put police officers in a really terrible, and many cases untenable position. I respect them as they have a really tough job. They are the ones who step up in order to keep us safe and who are willing to put their lives on the line for us and now we have asked them to do the impossible and to stop the consumption of illegal drugs, including marijuana which as you know, Dean, is legal in more than half the states in the country and yet in our state of Texas, you are still asking police officers to arrest people, raid homes, and put their lives on the line or potentially take the lives of others in the name of an unwinnable war that is doing nothing to reduce the availability of marijuana or its consumption in this state or the rest of the county. It is doing nothing to divert the profits that are going to those who are selling marijuana. The intended goals of the war on drugs have been completely unmet and who is paying the price? Every day Americans, primarily black and brown Americans who are disproportionately stopped, disproportionately frisked, disproportionately arrested and incarcerated and the police and the entire mechanism of our criminal justice system that facilitates this is immoral on so many different levels and hurts so many different people in our communities and throughout our country.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you for that, Beto. I noticed during your run for the Presidency that every Democratic candidate has come forward calling for the end of marijuana prohibition. Some have talked about ending the drug war, though I haven’t heard many details on stopping the funding to terrorists growing the flowers, or the cartels bringing the powders, or the gangs selling the contaminated crap to our kids on the street corner but the idea is growing. The possibility that someone will take that big leap is hopefully around the corner. Your thought, Beto.

BETO O’ROURKE: Yes, I think so. I think it will really matter when you have somebody in a position of public trust and in power such as the next President of the United States who can through their Department of Justice begin to implement a far more humane policy when it comes to the use of drugs in this country and the way that the criminal justice system is used to address some of these challenges. There are so many families that I have met whose sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers have succumbed to illegal drug use and that could be prescription drug use that they have abused, it can be opioids whether prescribed or whether it’s bought on the street like heroin. It can be other drugs and one of the things that has really hit home for me is that all of those are opportunities for compassion, opportunities to expand the way that our public health system meets that challenge. Almost none of them qualify for time spent behind bars or involvement in the criminal justice system and yet that is precisely what we do to them right now which almost compounds their misery and their suffering. I am confident that when we have a President who employs a far more humane, rational, logical policy when it comes to this that we will to your point, Dean, be able to focus limited resources on those who are helping to create some of the chaos and havoc and the harm that we are seeing in our communities such as those who would traffic in fentanyl or in heroin, or frankly let’s call it out for what it is – those pharmaceutical corporations that have been able to market the opioids to prescribers and doctors with complete impunity though they have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of our fellow Americans. Let’s train our law enforcement focus on them and make sure that there is true accountability and that they serve some time. That is what’s necessary to stop this kind of behavior. So you are right, I think we have an opportunity to completely rethink and reorient our drug policy in this country and the outcome could be many more lives saved, many fewer billions of dollars spent, and better outcomes in general for all concerned. That is what I would like to see and that is what I am going to continue to advocate for.

DEAN BECKER: Friends, I remind you once again that we are speaking with Congressman Beto O’Rourke. Beto, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the hot topic, if you will. What is going on in the United States Senate and how they are addressing this impeachment effort and what it means now and for the future?

BETO O’ROURKE: Well I am really concerned, Dean, that this is a complete abdication of the Senate’s responsibilities to this country and to their sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution; the rule of law in the United States. What we are seeing happen in real time is the transition from a republic to a monarchy or a dictatorship where you no longer have coequal branches of government that are able to check untrammeled power and you have a concentration of that power in the hands of a chief executive who is completely shameless in using it to further his own advantage and the advantage of his political party so this bodes ill for the future of this country. I think our last best hope is really the 2020 elections and that’s elections all up and down the ballot from the Presidential election, of course but also the U.S. Senate elections given the fact that the Senate so horribly failed in the task before it and the State House elections, including the State House here in Texas. We have a lot of work to do, but his work has never been more important or more critical and I have never been more grateful to be engaged. That is the challenge we have. We just have to see if this country is up to that challenge.

DEAN BECKER: It’s an oligarchy, if I have pronounced that correctly. It is trying to parallel Russia and Putin’s plan, isn’t it? It is just crazy!

BETO O’ROURKE: It is the worst that we have seen our government in our lifetimes. You would have to go back to Andrew Johnson or some of the really horrible Presidents before the Civil War to see this level of malfeasance and betrayal of the ideas and the ideals of America as well as the rule of law in our Constitution. It is bad and I hope that we are up to it.

DEAN BECKER: Beto, I know that we have just a little bit more time and I have two more points I would like to make. First off, I was proud to see you running for Senate and I am sad that Cruz had his day and in so far as the Presidency, you made a big splash. I know your time in the sun is nowhere near over. What is in the future for Congressman Beto O’Rourke?

BETO O’ROURKE: I am going to continue to focus on this group that we just started this year called Powered by People and try to help thoughtful, progressive Texans win office, especially in these State House races where so much that we care about will be decided whether it is on gun violence, drug policy, access to healthcare, or any number of issues. Being able to win these races is critical to our ability to make progress in this state. That is where my focus will be. I love the fact that I get to spend more time in El Paso, Texas, which is where I was born and raised and where Amy and I are raising our kids now.

I want to work with you and others to continue to speak out on and hope to add to the conversation about issues like drug policy and our criminal justice system and speak up for those who typically have not had a voice in our democracy such as those who have been impacted disproportionately by these policies.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Beto. Is there a website, or a Facebook page you might want to point folks toward?

BETO O’ROURKE: Yes. The website is:, and if you want to learn more about what we are doing or sign up to join us, you can do so at that website.

DEAN BECKER: Beto, one last favor, if you can. We have been on air over 18 years now and I currently have a pledge drive going on. I think my show is important. What do you think? What would you like to tell my listeners, Sir?

BETO O’ROURKE: I will tell you this, Dean, and I have said this on your show before – you have been consistently and forcefully advocating for a far more humane policy when it comes to drugs and especially marijuana in the United States. When I first became aware of this issue and Ciudad Juarez became the deadliest city on the planet in part due to our prohibitionary policies here in the U.S. to the point that kids are willing to kill or be killed for the privilege of trafficking marijuana in to a state like ours and in a country like ours. When I began to really understand the consequence of the war on drugs and started to look for voices and leaders on this issue is when I first found you so I have certainly benefited from our conversations and from getting to listen to your show. I know that thousands of other people have as well – so I hope that people will continue to support your work and your ability to reach listeners all over the country.

DEAN BECKER: Once again, friends that is Beto O’Rourke who is an ally to each and every one of us. Beto, thank you for being with us. I hope to see you soon.

BETO O’ROURKE: Likewise. Good talking with you, Dean. Thanks for having me on.

DEAN BECKER: Take care of yourself and let’s talk again soon, okay?

BETO O’ROURKE: Let’s do it! All right, man. Adios.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you and adios.

It’s time to play Name That Drug by its Side Effects. Dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration, erotic lustfulness, loss of motor control, loss of clothing, loss of money, loss of virginity, delusions of grandeur, table dancing, headache, dehydration, dry mouth, and a desire to sing karaoke and play all night rounds of strip poker, truth or dare, and naked Twister. Also may cause you to think you can sing and may lead you to believe that ex-lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at four in the morning. It may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster, and better looking than most people and it may lead you to think people are laughing with you. May cause pregnancy and may also be a major factor in getting your ass kicked. So what are you waiting for? Stop hiding and start living with tequila.

DEAN BECKER: You know folks, typically I don’t help folks look for a job as there are plenty of avenues and means whereby they can do it for themselves, but there is a fairly new industry without a lot means of approach or outreach. An old friend who has worked in the cannabis industry for over 25 years now and has a huge history of involvement with setting up businesses and organizations seeking the truth for the cannabis plant. She has also written a great idiot’s guide book called Starting and Running a Marijuana Business and has been a frequent guest on Cultural Baggage radio programs and with that I want to bring in my guest, Debby Goldsberry. Hey, Debby. How are you?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Really good. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.

DEAN BECKER: If you would, give folks a quick summary of your history because it is a long history of involvement.

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: That is true. I got involved in the cannabis legalization effort back in 1986. I worked very hard and opened my first dispensary in 1999, so I have been doing dispensaries for 20 years now and working for cannabis law reform for 30.

DEAN BECKER: As I indicated, your book, Starting and Running a Marijuana Business is not exactly for idiots. There is some complexity to doing it, is there not?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: It is definitely hard and it is competitive. I think it is probably one of the most competitive, difficult, with the most complicated regulations industry to get in to right now. Although we are right at the beginning of a brand new era so this is the time to get in. We are going to build businesses that last a hundred years right now and create intergenerational wealth by getting people in to entrepreneurial positions where they can own their own businesses. That is what it is all about, helping people get a leg up so that we can get our businesses and include small mom and pop regular people who want to get in to the cannabis industry, which has unfortunately become dominated by large, multistate and multinational operators scooping up the permits so that people like me who have been involved for 30 years, 20 years, 10 years it is so hard to get one of these permits for a cannabis business.

DEAN BECKER: Especially in California, as I understand it. It is perhaps the highest fee amount there as compared to Oklahoma. Right?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: The thing that we got saddled with in our regulations is this super high tax rate so it is built in to the legislation. Several different levels of cultivators pay a huge tax, retailers pay a huge tax on top of sales tax, annual fees, and licensing costs so it is extremely burdensome.

DEAN BECKER: Of course the world’s largest multilevel marketing organization otherwise known as the black market just loves those taxes because it keeps them in business. If you could, please list a few job titles you might be looking for work under?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: The best way that I can help people in the cannabis industry get a leg up is on their application. I help companies with their pre-application where they are putting together a marijuana application at the state or at the city level and create an application that is going to win because as I said, it is so competitive. The interesting thing is that municipal and state governments have already baked the taxes in to the regulations. When they are passing the laws they already know how much money they want to make from the operators within their state so helping small businesses create business plans and businesses that can actually meet the expectations of municipal and state governments as it is not an easy task. I bring to the tables standard operating procedures, a history of retail experience, a history of successful applications, and I really help small businesses figure out how to maximize their application in order to compete with these big companies and really stand out when the regulators are looking at them.

DEAN BECKER: Real good. Again folks we are speaking with Debby Goldsberry, she cofounded the Berkeley Patient’s Group back in the late 90s and she currently is the owner of Magnolia Wellness in Oakland, California as well as one of the very first dab bars in existence and probably has her hands in a couple of other organizations as well. Any closing thoughts there, Debby?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Now is the time to get involved in the industry. People should look at local regulations, help create the local laws and regulations. This is dream building time so figure it out and create the cannabis business of your dreams.

DEAN BECKER: How would they get in touch with you, Debby?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: They can find me on any of the social media’s at Debby Goldsberry. I am on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and I am very active on all of the sites.

DEAN BECKER: We are wrapping it up. I want to thank Debby Goldsberry for her commitment to the marijuana industry. I wish her well. I want to thank Beto O’Rourke for getting back in touch with me. I was getting kind of aggravated with him and cussed him out a little bit in a text and he wrote back something to the effect of who knew that running for President would be such a bear!

Once again I want to remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what is in that bag. 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 permanently stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, and we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.

10/03/18 Beto Orourke

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Beto O'Rourke
Drug Policy Alliance

Eunessis Hernandez of Drug Policy Alliance, CA Gov Brown vetoes Safe Injection, Charles Hawthorne of Harm Reduction Coalition re forthcoming conference in New Orleans Oct 18, Texas Governor Debate on Cannabis, Abbott Vs. Valdez, US Congressman Beto O'Rourke in Wash DC and in Austin + Willie Nelson's new song Vote 'Em Out

Audio file


OCTOBER 3, 2018


DEAN BECKER: Hi folks, this is Dean Becker. Thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. We've got so much stuff, we've got to get started now.

In a tale of, in essence, two governors, there's a situation going on in California. One story we'll cover here in a little bit, but we have the good side of this first, to discuss with Eunisses Hernandez. She works with the Drug Policy Alliance, and I'll let her tell you about the positive thing the governor did just last night. Would you please explain to the audience what he did, Ms. Hernandez?

EUNISSES HERNANDEZ: Yes, of course. So, last night, the last day of the California legislature, in the last couple of hours, he signed Senate Bill 1393, by Senator Holly Mitchell, which restores judicial discretion to the application of a five-year sentence enhancement that can be applied for each serious felony someone has on their record at the time of their sentencing for a new serious felony.

DEAN BECKER: Now this is, I guess, an undoing, if you will, of some of the vindictiveness that was put forward back in the 1980s, would you agree with that thought?

EUNISSES HERNANDEZ: Yes. Back in the 1980s, when this enhancement was actually created, it was not mandatory. It wasn't until we started coming further into, you know, California's tough on crime era that the legislature actually amended the prop -- because it started out as a proposition. They amended the proposition, so that the enhancement became mandatory.

And so since then we've seen that there's been about a hundred thousand years of this enhancement applied to people's sentences within CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] custody right now.

DEAN BECKER: A hundred thousand years. Good lord. You know, there were similar enhancements, if you will, put forward by the federal government, by states around the country, mandatory minimums and so forth, to teach those druggies a lesson, I suppose. What do you think?

EUNISSES HERNANDEZ: Well, we know that it hasn't worked. We know that right now the drug availability within our communities is higher than it has been, you know, in previous years. We've seen that safety has also not been increased in our communities with these enhancements.

What we have seen is that millions of dollars annually have been used to incarcerate these folks with these enhancements instead of actually investing in, you know, a system of care that can support these folks get jobs, housing, and, you know, all the other things we need to be successful to reenter our communities.

DEAN BECKER: And, I think that is the point, that many of these folks, they spend years behind bars, they come out, and they have that black mark on their record. They sometimes can't get housing, can't get credit, can't get a job, and too many of them fall back into this mess again, wind up behind bars another time. Your thought there, Ms. Hernandez.

EUNISSES HERNANDEZ: Yes. So, what we've seen is actually last year we were able to pass a bill called Senate Bill 180, also by Senator Holly Mitchell, which completely repealed a three-year enhancement that a person got for each prior drug conviction that they had on their record.

And so under this, we saw folks with like twelve additional years, just because of this three-year drug enhancement. And what we saw is that the recidivism rate with those folks didn't change, like, the long sentences didn't make them not commit crime again, it only added to the barriers that they faced trying to reenter the community.

DEAN BECKER: And, that --


DEAN BECKER: Go ahead.

EUNISSES HERNANDEZ: Oh, sorry, just to add on, that in California, if you have a criminal conviction on your record, there are literally 4,800 policies that prevent you from getting some of those things you talked about, such as employment, educational opportunities, and even housing.

DEAN BECKER: Lord, I mean, you know, it's -- I hate to draw the parallels, but there's, it's almost like persecuting witchcraft or something, just trying to destroy the possibility of success. What do you think?

EUNISSES HERNANDEZ: Agreed. Destroying the possibility of success and also taking away the resources that could be actually invested in a model like that. We spend in California, at minimum, $70,000 a year to incarcerate someone for one year, and when we know and recognize that treatment and reentry programs cost a lot less money, but when we're incarcerating these folks, all the resources are put into that instead of reinvested in our communities where we know we can really support people.

DEAN BECKER: It just seems like such a squandering, such a waste, that $70,000 a year, imagine what they could do to help build a life, a viable life for people with that kind of money. Your closing thoughts there, Ms. Hernandez.

EUNISSES HERNANDEZ: Well, you know, these -- this is a modest step, really, in achieving real sentencing reform in California. California's sentencing structures and penal code system is a mess in regards to this, and so we hope that in the following years we move away from reforming these enhancements and actually towards more repealing them, because we know that long punitive sentences have been ineffective at increasing safety in our communities, and drug availability in our communities, and it's taking away from the resources that we can actually use to help people reenter and reduce recidivism.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Once again, we've been speaking with Eunisses Hernandez, she works with the Drug Policy Alliance. Their website, It's time for you to get involved, dear listener, it's time to end this madness.

Again I want to thank Eunisses for her thoughts, and here's the downside from California's Governor Jerry Brown. He vetoed Assembly Bill 186, which would have allowed San Francisco to open an overdose prevention service that would let drug users use controlled substances under the supervision of staff, trained to treat and even prevent drug overdose, and it would link people to drug treatment, housing, and other services.

The bill was authored by Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman, and it passed the California Assembly and Senate earlier this year. Quote, "I am shocked that the Governor turned his back on the science and the experts, and instead used outdated drug war ideology to justify his veto." End quote. So said Laura Thomas, the interim state director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Quote: "He cited long-disproven ideas about substance use in his veto message rationale. It's disturbing that Governor Brown apparently believes these myths about the need for coercive treatment, and even more disturbing that people will die because of his veto. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in California. How many people have to die before Governor Brown is willing to listen to the science and evidence and experience? How many families have to lose a loved one?" End quote.

The negative health and social consequences of drug use remain staggeringly high in California, despite strong investment in treatment and prevention. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in California, and nationwide, killing more people than motor vehicle accidents, and is the leading cause of death for people under 50 in the US.

Public drug injection is associated with higher rates of overdose, transmission of infectious diseases, including HIV and viral hepatitis, as well as a variety of nuisance and safety issues. The safe consumption site in Vancouver, Insite, reduced fatal drug overdoses in the area around it by one third. It also dramatically reduced public drug injection in the area, and syringe litter.

The bill was sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, California Association of Alcohol and Drug Program Executives, California Society of Addiction Medicine, Harm Reduction Coalition, Project Inform, and Tarzana Treatment Center.

Overdose prevention services, or supervised consumption services, are proven harm reduction services that are effective at linking people who use drugs to treatment and other services, reducing overdose deaths.

There is broad support in San Francisco for opening these programs. The mayor and board of supervisors, plus the elected law enforcement officers, the sheriff and the district attorney, supported AB186. Groups ranging from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and SF Travel to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Saint Anthony's Foundation, and Glide Foundation support opening such services.

Public support polled at 66 percent earlier this year. Mayor London Breed has said that she will move forward with opening these services.

The following discussion is with Mister Charles Hawthorne of the Harm Reduction Coalition. We start off talking about Donald Trump's recent visit to the United Nations to once again declare an eternal war on drugs.

And that is the fact that, I think there was 112 nations that were there at the UN, signed in support of Trump's new effort, and that's kind of been the leading force, if you will, the United States, has, pays most of the dues for the UN and demands respect, if you will, from these other countries, and many of these other countries sign on board.

But they don't really ratchet up their mechanism of drug war, they don't go about it as draconian as we do here in these United States. I think they just went along to get along. Your thought there, Charles.

CHARLES HAWTHORNE: I definitely agree with that. I think a lot of people -- I think there's a very special history in the United States around things like prisons and police forces that doesn't really exist in other countries, and makes it kind of different, where we have a long history of police forces and prisons being directly related to things like slavery, and a long history of that.

Now, I think other countries, they kind of see us going out and they see us -- they see like our leadership, like President Trump, going to the UN and demanding these types of things, it's easier to just say yeah, whatever, because you're not really going to come and shut down anything down in our country, rather than, like, push back on it.

But I think ultimately people also recognize that it's like, putting more people in jail isn't going to solve a problem, or spending more money on police officers isn't going to solve a problem, and so I think it's just one of those things where sometimes countries might feel like they have to sign on in order to just kind of continue things on.

DEAN BECKER: Okeh. I agree with you, sir. I mean, you know, we -- we're beginning to expose the fraud, misdirection, of all this, I think, it's sure taking its time, it's aggravating as hell, if you ask me, but we're getting there.

Again, we're speaking with Charles Hawthorne, he's with the Harm Reduction Coalition. Let's start talking about this conference, because I've been to, I think, five or six of these. I really enjoyed the people you meet, the attitudes, the perspectives, the energy, is just amazing, and I would encourage folks to sign up and attend. Please, tell them where it is, when it is, and how they can get involved.

CHARLES HAWTHORNE: Yes, so, we have our conference every other year, and our next one is going to be coming up next month -- this month in October. It's going to be from October 18 through October 21 in New Orleans, Louisiana, which is a super exciting location for it to be, there's some really cool harm reduction work happening in that area.

And, it is, it's an awesome conference. I attended my first one last year, actually as a student, where I was going around my college actually trying to get grant money to go out when it was in San Diego. And it was an honestly life changing experience. I mean, I guess, flash forward, two years later when I'm actually working at the Harm Reduction Coalition, this says a lot.

But it's probably one -- it's the coolest conference I have ever attended. It has, like, informational sessions for, like, every bit of the world that you never thought of exploring, and exploring the ways that it's impacting people. And it's also some of the most fun and genuine, awesome people you'll ever meet, and so that makes it really awesome as well.

DEAN BECKER: No, I agree, Charles, it's just energizing. If folks want to get involved, they're having the conference at the Marriott, if I recall, when I spoke to Monique a couple of weeks back she said something about it was closing fast, that the, you know, the rooms were disappearing.

CHARLES HAWTHORNE: It's right in the middle of the French Quarter, there's lots of hotels all over that you can access as well.

DEAN BECKER: Charles, one last thought here, I'm, you know, I'm a LEAP speaker. I believe that the drug war is a complete fraud, it never had any basis in reality. And, that, you know, we just -- we've screwed the pooch, I think is the term a lot of folks like to use, that we have just done this so wrong for so long, and we have so many politicians and even many in the media that have in essence made their bones by believing drug war to be so necessary, and it's so hard for them to back down now.

What's your thought in that regard? Do you think I'm hitting that nail on the head?

CHARLES HAWTHORNE: I think admitting that the drug war's a failure is also people admitting that they really don't see people who use drugs as people deserving of life. That's really a lot of it. This is the argument, is harm reduction isn't about -- isn't really about, like, any particular opinion besides the fact that people who use drugs are still human and still have their human rights, and still deserve, like, dignity and respect, and to have access to improving their health.

And so the war on drugs has kind of in direct opposition to that, because what it's about, it's about criminalization and locking people up, and moral failings, and all of those things instead.

And so I think people, it's like, when they feel like they have to back down, what they have to admit is, they were wrong. And they were not just wrong, like, on an opinion piece, but wrong morally, as well, and that's a little harder for people.

DEAN BECKER: Right. No, I like to use the term that they consider drug users to be unconditionally exterminable. Anyway, Charles, let's wrap this up for now. I do appreciate you taking time to talk with us. Once again, we're speaking about the Harm Reduction conference coming October 18 through 21 in New Orleans.

I hope to attend, I hope to see you while I'm there, Charles, and any closing thoughts you'd like to share with the audience?

CHARLES HAWTHORNE: I would just say, like, if you have neighbors that are homeless, neighbors who are navigating drug use, reaching out, saying you care, supporting them, doing what you can to help them live better, is always great.

People are still our neighbors, people are still our friends, people are still, even in navigating a lot of challenges in their life. Something that my executive director, Monique, always likes to say is the opposite of addiction is bonding, and I really believe that, and I think that a lot of times, what we -- what the war on drugs really needs to be on is a quest to bond and create communities, and create connection with people.

And sometimes that just starts with one person at a time.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Well, Charles, thank you sir, I appreciate your time.

CHARLES HAWTHORNE: All right, thank you so much. Have a great day.

DEAN BECKER: All right sir, bye bye. You can learn more by going to

It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Changes in sex drive, pounding heart beat, shortness of breath, chest pain, difficult speech, dizziness, seizures, believing things that aren't true, feeling suspicious of others, hallucinating, mania, and hostile behavior. Time's up! The answer, from Shire Richwood, Incorporate: Adderall.

The following is part of a recent debate between Texas Governor Greg Abbott and his challenger, Lupe Valdez, the Democrat.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We've got another question from Twitter tonight. This is from UFC Titan Fans, he wants to know, what's your stance on marijuana legalization?

Right now in Texas, only the sale of a specific cannabis oil for intractable epilepsy is legal. Sheriff Valdez, are you in favor of expanding the use of medical and recreational marijuana in Texas? You have sixty seconds.

SHERIFF LUPE VALDEZ: I'm in favor of expanding medical marijuana. Alcohol has no medical benefits, yet it's taxed and fined. We know that medical marijuana has some health benefits. Why can't we tax and fine those also? And as far as recreational marijuana, I think it's up to the people. The people need to decide whether that's going to be in Texas or not. I think every other state has let the people decide. We should do the same thing. Let the people decide whether we should accept other than medical marijuana.

MODERATOR: Governor Abbott, you have sixty seconds.

TX GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT: Parents with children who have epilepsy approached me a couple of sessions ago about the possibility of what's called CBD oil for their children. I was moved by what they had to say, I agreed with them, I'm the governor who signed into law the legalization of CBD oil.

More recently, I've had discussions with veterans as well as parents of autistic children and others who make a very strong, compelling case about legalization of medical marijuana. I have seen however in other states that authorized that, abuses take place that raise concerns. So I'm still not convinced yet.

However, one thing I don't want to see is jails stockpiled with people who have possession of a small amount of marijuana. What I would be open to talking to the legislature about would be reducing the penalty for possession of two ounces or less from a class B misdemeanor to a class C misdemeanor.

MODERATOR: Sheriff Valdez, you have thirty seconds for a rebuttal.

SHERIFF LUPE VALDEZ: We agree on something. I believe in decriminalizing marijuana, and I honestly believe that often we have more in common than we have differences. And, speaking of veterans, you know, I've heard plenty of doctors say they would much rather give the veterans, the mentally ill, and others, marijuana than give them opioids, which are now legal.

You can write a prescription for opioids, and therefore have more problems with the people you prescribe that to than the medical marijuana.

MODERATOR: Governor Abbott, thirty seconds for a rebuttal.

TX GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT: Again, we want to make sure that, if this is done, it's going to have controls on it so abuses don't place -- take place. We need to observe what's going on in other states. I do agree that we need to take all steps possible to make sure that we reduce opioid abuse.

MODERATOR: Thank you both for your answers.

DEAN BECKER: You know, it doesn't seem that long ago, and then it seems like forever, but four years ago, my son and I went to Washington, DC. We held a press conference in the Rayburn Building. We had several speakers in support of my book To End The War On Drugs: A Policy-Maker's Edition.

One politician did drop by, and speak his mind about my book, and about the drug war.

All right. While he's here, I think we should take advantage of the fact that we have a Congressman from the Texas Sixteenth District, Beto O'Rourke with us. Beto, would you come up and say a few words, please?


BETO O’ROURKE: Well, thanks. You know, what kind of politician would I be if I didn’t accept an opportunity to speak into a microphone?

So, but, I really can’t add and hopefully won’t take away anything from what Dean has done with this book. I’ve known Dean for, you know, at least since 2009, and I've got to tell you that I’m very grateful for him and others who've been working in the trenches on this issue, on an idea, whose time has finally come. And, you know, as the old saying goes, “There’s nothing more powerful than that.”

And, Dean has written something here that is critically important for me and my colleagues and just, and our staffers, to digest and understand, and when we do it’s really hard to escape the conclusion that the war on drugs has failed, there's something far more rational, humane, and arguably fiscally responsible should take its place.

And, you know, recent events, whether it’s closing in on half of our states have adopted or are considering adopting measures to allow the, either medicinal or recreational use of marijuana, or the New York Times' editorial board taking this unprecedented step in campaigning for a federal end to the prohibition policies when it comes to marijuana, or people like me who, prior to my exposure to this issue, because of the drug violence and prohibition-related violence in Ciudad Juarez, this was something that I didn’t really think about, care about, didn't think it affected me.

And it wasn’t until it, you know, came to my attention from the violence in Juarez, and then I got a chance to listen to people like Dean and others who pointed out that we imprison more of our own fellow citizens than any country on the face of this planet, that we spend billions and now well over a trillion dollars on this war on drugs, and that something like marijuana today is just as available, if not more so, to young kids, middle schoolers, elementary school kids, than it was before we spent the first dime, and we're nowhere closer to reducing its access, reducing its potency, keeping money out of the hands of criminals, thugs and cartels.

For every reason and anyway you can measure it, the right thing to do is now before us and that is to end the prohibition on marijuana and replace it with a much more logical, sensible, rational, humane plan to regulate and control its sale, keep it out of the hands of kids, help those who may need help if they have issues with addiction or its use, and make sure that we take the least bad option before us.

So, Dean, I just want to just thank you, and just commend the representatives of my colleagues to pick up a copy of this book, read it, make sure, if you can, to get your boss to read it. And then let’s do the right thing. I think the choice is very clear, it's before us right now.

And, it used to be we wondered if in our lifetimes we would see the right decision made. I think it's going to be within the next term or two in Congress that we will see historic change here, and it will be thanks to people like Dean and others who have been pursuing this issue in the trenches and on the front lines. Dean, thank you. I’ll turn it back over to you and just listen. Thanks.


DEAN BECKER: During this time of eternal war, I find it my somber duty to report the death toll from the drug formerly known as marijuana is zero.

Last weekend, in Austin, Willie Nelson held a fundraiser for US Congressman Beto O'Rourke, who's running for Ted Cruz's Senate seat. Beto has created a bit of a firestorm talking about those who kneel during football games being patriots. He's got a lot more to say about war.

BETO O'ROURKE: And what if, for those women and men serving tonight in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Syria, in Libya, in Yemen, in Somalia, in Niger, what if we made this commitment, that we will not start another war, nor will we renew the wars we are in, unless we can define victory, the strategy, and why it is we asked our fellow Americans to put their lives on the line and to take the lives of others?

And if we cannot answer those questions, then let's bring those women and men back home to these communities, and let's end these wars!

And for the wars that we are fighting within this country, a war on drugs, which has become a war on people, and some people more than other people, this country, the largest prison population per capita on the face of the planet, disproportionately comprised of people of color, only some are getting arrested, only some are doing time, only some are checking a box on an application form that makes it that less likely that they'll get that job, only some will not qualify for Pell Grants, for possession of a substance that is legal in most states in this country.

What if we decided that instead of waging war, we were going to treat addiction as a public health issue instead of a criminal justice issue?

That those pharmaceutical corporations that push opioids on the American public and said it would not be addictive, are held accountable and that we have justice for everyone, even the most powerful, even the wealthiest, even those corporations with their political action committees?

And what if we ended the prohibition on marijuana, and expunged the arrest record for everyone arrested for possession of something that's legal in most of the country today? Allow you to get on with your life, take that job, go to school, be everyone that you are supposed to be!

DEAN BECKER: For years, I've had zero luck getting Raphael Edwardo Cruz to come on my show. Ted, if you want to come on the show, please do, I would really appreciate it. Contact me:

After Beto got done speaking at last week's fundraiser, Willie Nelson did a great concert, and finished up with these thoughts, this song.

WILLIE NELSON: Here's a new song I want to spring on y'all tonight. Take it home with you, spread it around.

If you don't like who's in there, vote 'em out.
That's what election day is all about.
And the biggest gun we got
is called the ballot box.
If you don't like who's in there,
vote 'em out.

Vote 'em out,
(Vote 'em out),
Vote 'em out,
(Vote 'em out),
And when they're gone
We'll sing and dance and shout.

And to bring some new ones in,
And then we'll start the show again,
And if you don't like who's in there,
Vote 'em out.

DEAN BECKER: Well, that's all we can squeeze in, so once again I remind you, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. Please, be careful.

And if it's a bunch of clowns you voted in,
Election day is coming 'round again.
And if you don't like now,
You can change it anyhow,
And if you don't like who's in there,
Vote 'em out.

Vote 'em out,
(Vote 'em out),
Vote 'em out,
(Vote 'em out),
And when they're gone
We'll sing and dance and shout.

And then we'll start the show again,
And bring some new ones in,
And if you don't like who's in there,
Vote 'em out.

Vote 'em out,
(Vote 'em out),
Vote 'em out,
(Vote 'em out),
And when they're gone
We'll sing and dance and shout.

08/30/18 Beto O'Rourke

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Beto O'Rourke
Felice Freyer
US Representative

Congressman Beto O'Rourke, running for US Senate in Texas wants to end the drug war, Boston Globe reporter Felice Freyer re fentanyl crisis & Debby Goldsberry owner of Magnolia Wellness in Oakland on the advance of Big Marijuana

Audio file


AUGUST 30, 2018


DEAN BECKER: I am Dean Becker, your host. Our goal for this program is to expose the fraud, misdirection, and the liars whose support for drug war empowers our terrorist enemies, enriches barbarous cartels, and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent US gangs who profit by selling contaminated drugs to our children. This is Cultural Baggage.

Hi folks. I am the Reverend Dean Becker, and this is Cultural Baggage. Man, we've got a five star show for you today. We're going to hear first off from my good friend, Congressman Beto O'Rourke. We've got a segment with Felice Freyer, she's a reporter with the Boston Globe, and we've got a segment about Big Marijuana featuring Debby Goldsberry from Oakland, California. Here we go.

Hello, Beto?


DEAN BECKER: Oh, it's good to hear from you. It's been a while. How are you?

US REPRESENTATIVE BETO O'ROURKE: Things are good. We're in Hamilton, Texas, and just had a town hall in Cedar Park. So, just making our way across the state, [unintelligible] show up and see people, and, you know, try to listen to as many people as we can.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. No, I've been following --


DEAN BECKER: I'm well, I'm well. It's a little rainy here, I hope the recording isn't too overcome with the thunder, but, by the way, folks, we are speaking with US Congressman Beto O'Rourke, out of El Paso. He's running for the US Senate, for the seat now currently occupied by Ted Cruz. And Beto, by the way, I've been in touch with his office, I've tried to get him to come on air with me, thus far I get the emails. That's about all. I try to be fair in all of this.


DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. Now, recently, you've gotten a lot of national recognition on your thoughts about those folks that kneel at the NFL games, and the rationale, the reasons why they do that. It's gained you a lot of respect, has it not, sir?

US REPRESENTATIVE BETO O'ROURKE: Well, you know, I'm just doing my best to answer questions that are posed to me at these town halls that we're holding all over -- all over the state, and just, you know, on the issue of making sure that everyone's able to enjoy their full civil rights, and to be treated like women and men, and dignity and the respect that they're owed.

You know, the fact that folks are willing to call attention to these issues, and work on that, and nonviolently, peacefully, using that First Amendment right, trying to secure fuller rights and respect and dignity, and life, frankly, in some cases, for everyone, I think that's, you know -- that's something that is fundamental to the genius of this country, and, you know, if we're helpful to -- if we're helpful in any way in moving that conversation along, then -- then, that's wonderful, but, as always, just trying to answer the questions posed to us, and trying to facilitate a conversation on issues that are important to this country.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and I think that's the point, really, that a lot of folks are enamored with you because you -- you delve down into it. You're willing to speak the truth, you're willing to speak from your gut, and you're willing to say what's really on your mind, and I certainly appreciate that.

You know, it occurs to me that we hear the president, we hear others, and Ted Cruz, a lot of folks say they're protesting the flag, they're protesting our national anthem. Nobody's ever said that yet, from Kaepernick, however you say it, to everybody else who's ever done it, they tell the people what they're doing it for, and yet those on the other side tend to indicate, or try to indicate, that it's for something entirely different. It boggles my brain. Your thought there, sir.

US REPRESENTATIVE BETO O'ROURKE: Yeah. No, I think folks are trying to ensure that attention is paid to a serious issue in this country that, for whatever reason, has not been resolved politically, legislatively, through the successive administrations.

And the White House, and, as so often happens in this country's history, it's -- it's people who are able to force the conscience of the country, and get the attention to an issue that otherwise, you know, is not going to be improved on its own, and we're reminded of those who marched for civil rights, or those who peacefully protested at the, you know, at the lunch counter, when you didn't have laws that forced integration of places of public accommodation.

People forced that, not lawmakers, not, you know, positions -- not people who are already in positions of power or trust, but people forced that. And, you know, you and I have had conversations, going back to 2009, on the drug war, on marijuana laws, and, you know, those laws are not going to change of their own, and it's not just going to be people in the state legislatures or in Congress who just wake up one morning deciding they're going to do it.

It's people who force that. They form the political will that allows us to do the important things that otherwise this country would not do, and so, that's -- that's a tradition that we're talking about right now.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. Again folks, we're speaking with US Congressman Beto O'Rourke. Yeah, Beto, you -- you're not taking the PAC money. You're not taking the big corporate funders. You're not taking that money from the people who can influence your vote later on. This is a people's election, is it not?

US REPRESENTATIVE BETO O'ROURKE: That's right. This is all about people, the people of Texas, all 28 million of us, and you can't be too Republican, can't be too much of a Democrat, can't be too independent, or even too much of a non-voter, to be part of this. We want everyone, and we're doing this with the power of people.

No PACs, no political action committees, no corporations, no special interests. Just the people of Texas coming together, and we're doing that despite any differences we might have in party affiliation or geography or religion or race or whatever. That stuff just doesn't matter right now. What matters right now is this country, and getting it right for this country while we still can.

And I know that we still can, and I know that Texas can lead the way in ensuring that we do. And so, we're going to stay focused on that.

DEAN BECKER: Now, Beto, over the past few weeks, well, heck, really over the past few years, but it seems to be escalating, reaching a pinnacle, that newspapers and broadcasters are starting to open up the discussion about this drug war. They're starting to, you know, today I have a guest from the Boston Globe, a reporter, last week I had a guest who had an op-ed in another major paper.

What I'm leading to now, sir, is earlier this week, there was an opinion piece in the Chronicle, it was titled "Texas Should Lead The Way On True Criminal Justice Reform." And there's much in this I want to talk about, if you have the time, but, if you would give us a summary of your op-ed in the Houston Chronicle, please.

US REPRESENTATIVE BETO O'ROURKE: Yeah. We have, in this country right now, the largest prison population per capita in the world. And, as you know, Dean, so many of those serving time are there for nonviolent drug crimes. Many for possession, or sale of marijuana, something that's legal in the majority of the states in this country right now.

And yet, we're still putting people behind bars for a substance that, you know, doctors at the VA say that they want to be able to prescribe to some veterans instead of prescribing them opioids, to which those veterans could become addicted and succumb, and even die from an overdose.

People that I'm meeting in these town halls talk about conditions like glaucoma or fibromyalgia, or, you know, things that they're struggling with that would be made better if they could receive a prescription of medicinal cannabis.

And yet, and yet, to be able to, to use something like that in Texas makes you a criminal in the eyes of the law, and it's an incredibly expensive proposition. It costs 22 thousand dollars a year to keep someone locked up, and we're also locking up their earning potential, their ability to finish their education, their ability to raise their family, their ability to do whatever they're supposed to do in their lifetimes.

And so, you know, we can either continue to do that, and expect a different result than the one that we've already seen, or we can do the right thing and end this war on drugs, and end the prohibition on marijuana, and make sure that we live up to our true potential as a country and our highest ideals and values, and, you know, that's what I'm all about. That's -- that's what I hear the people of Texas are all about, when we go to these town halls and hear their testimonials, their stories, what they want to see us do.

And so, that op-ed was a reflection on the opportunity we have, and an acknowledgement that those who are doing time right now are disproportionately African-American. They're disproportionately people of color in this country, though all people of all races and ethnicities use drugs that are illegal today at the same rate. Only some will be doing time for that.

So, do we want to be a fair, do we want to be a just, do we want to be a moral country? Here's our chance to do the right thing, and if we want to be a good steward of that taxpayer's dollar, we can invest those tax dollars in education, in public health, or we can continue to invest in incarceration, putting people behind bars.

So for me, the choice is that clear, and I want to make sure that we make the right choices. And Dean, we're about to start this town hall in Hamilton, Texas, so I'll have to let you go, but I am grateful for the chance to be able to talk with you, and as always, you're asking the questions about the most important issues. I'm just very grateful to, almost ten years in, being able to continue the conversation with you.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Beto, I will let you go here shortly, I just want to thank you and your staff for being so kind with me, and I know this town hall you're going to, the people will listen up, and have great respect for your thoughts and your direction.

US REPRESENTATIVE BETO O'ROURKE: Well, thank you. Really grateful, and look forward to talking with you again in the future.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Thank you, Beto. Be safe, my friend.



It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects!

ALEX TREBEK: A 2009 study recommended treating heroin addicts with diacetyl morphine, the active ingredient in this?

DEAN BECKER: Time’s up! The answer from Jeopardy:


KAREN: What is heroin?


DEAN BECKER: You know, newspapers and broadcasters around the country are starting to take a much more focused look at the drugs fentanyl, carfentanyl, that are killing tens of thousands of Americans. There's a recent headline in the Boston Globe, it's titled "The Scourge Of Fentanyl Is More Clear In The Battle Against Opioid Use," and here to talk about it, to fill us in with some details, from the Globe staff, we have Felice J. Freyer. Hello, Felice.

FELICE FREYER: Hi. Thanks for having me.

DEAN BECKER: You have brought focus to bear on a very important subject. The, you know, they talk about the slow boil of the frog in the pot, you know. We have had this slow boil increasing here in America that's hard to ignore. It's killing our children, it's killing our friends and neighbors. Talk about this situation with the fentanyl, please.

FELICE FREYER: Yes. I work in Massachusetts, obviously, and in Massachusetts, state officials are tracking this very closely. The medical examiner puts out a great deal of effort in trying to determine what drugs are found in the bodies of people who die, and, you know, as well as various demographic characteristics of people who are affected by this epidemic, which has hit Massachusetts very hard, it's actually one of the hardest hit states.

So what is happening is that over the past year or so, they have been noticing that fentanyl is showing up in the bloodstreams, in the bodies, of people who die of overdoses at an increasing rate. So back in 2014, when they looked at all overdose deaths, only forty percent of those people had fentanyl in their systems, or rather of all the deaths that they were able to get a screen on.

And now, it's reached the point of 89 percent, so almost everybody who dies of an overdose in Massachusetts was exposed to fentanyl.

DEAN BECKER: It's -- and again, I end my program with this thought, that because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag, and I urge folks to please be careful, and that's never more true than it is now, because these cartels, the gangs, find that it's much easier to smuggle the more potent, the more powerful, fentanyl, than it is heroin itself.

And they bring it across the border, or bring it through the US mails, and mix it with some kind of other powder and suddenly they can sell it as heroin for a great profit. Am I right?

FELICE FREYER: That's right. It's -- it requires so little fentanyl to get a person or to get some kind of a response to it, but it is much easier to smuggle in, and what we're seeing now though, and this is the other thing that came to light with the most recent report from the state, is that fentanyl is basically getting into every illicit drug.

So, what's happening in Massachusetts is that cocaine users, including, there's a bunch of cocaine users who just use cocaine, and without knowing it, they're -- they're now taking fentanyl because it's mixed in with the cocaine. They have no idea, they have no tolerance for opioids, so they're at much higher risk of overdosing. So that's a very scary situation.

DEAN BECKER: Well, it is, and I, we hear the stories, here in Houston over the past month or so we had a couple of stories of cops encountering white powder, thinking that it might be fentanyl they might be overdosing, they give themselves narcan. In both instances I'm aware of, it was not true, it was not any kind of drug whatsoever.

But there is a great deal of fear, a great deal of potential complications from these powders, fentanyl, carfentanyl.

FELICE FREYER: Right. Yeah. I mean, they're very dangerous and you just don't know where they are, you know, what they're mixed in with. So, it was really a very striking comment from the state commissioner of public health, who basically said, if you are using illicit drugs, you may be taking fentanyl, so, that means everybody needs to be careful, everybody needs to have a naloxone rescue kit available in their homes, if you're out there taking any drug off the street.

DEAN BECKER: According to your article, overall, opioid related overdoses in Massachusetts has declined by a small amount, about four percent, from 2016 to 2017. But that is not really representative of what's going on around the country, seventy-two thousand deaths last year [sic: that's the CDC's projected total of all overdose deaths involving all controlled substances, including overdose deaths where no opioid was found], as I understand it, that's just too, too huge to ignore, isn't it?

FELICE FREYER: It is, it's really terrible, frightening thing. Yeah, there's only six states that have been the overdose death rates go down, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont, but it's not by a lot, yeah, we're talking four percent in Massachusetts, and who knows if that will continue as fentanyl gets into every kind of drug and every kind of drug user is at risk of this kind of overdose.

But yeah, if you look around the country, it's terrible. There are so many people dying from this, and one of the things that the Massachusetts data show is that the people who are dying are in the prime of life. So almost two thirds, at least here and I'll bet you it's the same everywhere, almost two thirds of people who died of overdoses were between the ages of 25 and 44.

So we're looking at a terrible cost to society. That's when people are normally, you know, most people are building their careers and becoming productive, and doing the things that make the world better, and it's hard to do if you're addicted to heroin [sic].

DEAN BECKER: Absolutely true. All right, well friends, we've been speaking with Felice J. Freyer, she's a staff reporter with the Boston Globe. I want to give you a chance to relay what else you may have found, and by that, I mean, the feelings, the stories, the gut wrenching reality of this.

FELICE FREYER: Yeah, it's hard to ignore. It's hard to pay attention to it, it's so painful. I mean, there are people, I've been, interviewed mothers who, you know, who found their child dead, sometimes even in their home. I've interviewed the mother who's, you know, was waiting for the son to return home and instead there's a policeman at her door.

And it cuts across all of society. Everybody, you know, people from the so-called good neighborhoods as well as in the inner cities, everywhere. There's hardly anybody who hasn't been affected in some way or knows someone who is.

It's really hard to listen to. But on the other -- I do want to say too, I've also interviewed a lot of people who are in recovery, and who have found the way back from this, and they really impressed me because it's like they're walked through fire and they come out sort of transformed. They're very impressive people, and there's a lot of them out there, so it isn't all bad, there is treatment, it works, and people who are able to access the treatment and keep trying, because it rarely works on the first try, but if you keep trying you can get better and you can have a good life.

And, I'm just so impressed and encouraged by the people I've met who have done that.

DEAN BECKER: Ignore the nightmare that surrounds you,
Just to try, try to reach the American dream.

Well it's been, gosh, I guess eight months or something since marijuana went more legal in the state of California. It's going --

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: That's a good way to say it, more legal, yes.

DEAN BECKER: And we have with us one of our past guests, one of our friends of the Drug Truth Network. She's the director, the owner, I guess, of the Magnolia Wellness Center, out there in Oakland, California, and I think now maybe associated with one in Berkeley as well, but we'll let her fill us in on that. I want to welcome Debby Goldsberry. Hello, Debby.

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Hi, thanks for having me back. Very excited.

DEAN BECKER: Well, yeah, Debby, and, am I right, you now have alignment with another shop in Berkeley as well?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Yeah, called High Fidelity, and it's right next to Amoeba Music on Telegraph Avenue. It's co-founded by the owner of Amoeba Music, which is the biggest independent record store on the planet.

You know, the idea is, what goes better together? Music and marijuana, there's almost nothing better. So combining the two ideas, they brought me on as the cannabis expert, I'm one of the owners of the dispensary, and we're just getting started. We're about three and a half months old right now and everything's going great.

DEAN BECKER: Okeh. Well, real good. And Debby, I wanted to, I don't know, I see a lot of angst and agitation, if you will, out on the web, I'm down here in Texas just wishing I could do something. But I see this stuff going on in California, I hear they've got surpluses in Oregon, the pot prices are falling through the floor.

I hear things about California, that there's too many regulations, and maybe the fear of Big Marijuana is coming in play. How's it going out there?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Right. It's a bit of a mess, let me tell you. Both things are right. Here's a problem we're having. The nation of Canada legalized marijuana, and Canadian firms that are listed on the stock market, you know the equivalent of the OTC down here, maybe the pink sheets, they're able to freely invest in cannabis businesses over the border here in California.

So the Canadian firms are really coming in. When you hear Big Marijuana, you start to hear about the money coming in from Canada. They've got millions and billions of dollars to invest in cannabis companies here in the US, because frankly the market in Canada is small. It's legal and it's small, and here we are in the biggest cannabis market probably on the planet in the United States, and definitely in the United States, in California, and the Canadians have come to town.

They're buying up companies, they're investing in companies, they're taking control, and sort of making conglomerates, holding companies that hold a number of different companies under their umbrella. And a lot of founders are, through this process, being sidelined or bought out or shut out, even.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, I, and if I may say, it's belief in marijuana, it's belief in these big companies in Canada, that allowed their stock prices to give them additional billions of belief by the banks to have that money to come to California. Is there truth in that?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: That's right, and what we're finding now is if you want to invest in cannabis businesses and you're in the United States, you have to invest in a Canadian cannabis company, who then turns around and brings the money back to the country, even, in the United States. So, yeah, it's a bit of a conundrum.

You know, it would be nice if we had federal legalization here. We could keep the ownership of cannabis businesses, you know, in the United States, but the fact is, is legalization in Canada has really created a scenario that we weren't expecting. We didn't expect this to happen.

DEAN BECKER: States like Texas, we've got tens of millions of people, we have an opportunity to support, you know, a thousand dispensaries, I would think, within the state.

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Yeah, it could be true. I mean, I think what will happen though is, if we manage to get legalization going in Texas, yeah, it will be the next American gold rush. The big businesses will, they'll do two things. They'll lobby municipal governments in order to create local regulations that favor them, big business. They'll be able to create state regulations that favor big business.

And the way that that happens is by implementing oppressive surveillance requirements that cost, you know, for example, forty thousand dollars for your camera equipment, or very high licensing fees, such that, in order to start your company you have to pay two hundred thousand dollars to the state government to get your permits to begin with.

What it does is it creates this scenario where to own a cannabis business you have to have enough money to not make any income for maybe two years, you know, they call it runway in the business. You need a runway of three to five years, just money in the bank that you can spend if you don't make any income in the meantime.

Small businesses just don't have two to three year's worth of runway, it's big business that does. So it's a competitive disadvantage for us to not have enough money to last through the creation of the regulations, to pay our lobbyists and our government relations people to do the local work that's required, and then to go out and compete for the few spaces that might be in the right green zones, and you know, to pay the regulatory costs to get in business and stay in business while you start to turn a profit.

DEAN BECKER: Oh my, oh my. You know, it was about thirty-five years ago, I was growing, heck, I used to grow behind 7-11s and all kinds of places within city limits.


DEAN BECKER: I had this dream, open up a little shop, Becker's Buds, you know, just a small shopping center, and I'd have --


DEAN BECKER: -- four or five flavors, if you will. I see that now, that that's, it's going to be thwarted, because I won't be big enough to swing that, to be able to just grow, you know, a couple of hundred plants, and provide for a select group of customers.

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: We have to work in places like California to make space for small businesses. We know there's space for big business. How do we make sure the cottage industry, mom and pop and small businesses, can survive?

Your first point, what it's doing is it's just driving our peers to continue to provide cannabis in the underground economy. You know, they still have to pay their bills. These people have been in the industry for twenty, twenty-five years, thirty years sometimes, it's multiple generations of a family growing or making a cannabis product, but they can't get in the regulated market.

They still have to bring their product to market. That's how they live. So, it really has created a thriving underground economy in cannabis that's just as strong as ever here in California, so bad regulations that leave out mom and pop, create an underground economy that thrives.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I'm kind of glad, no, I'm really glad to hear that, to be honest with you. Again folks, we're speaking with Debby Goldsberry, the owner of Magnolia Wellness Center, out there in Oakland. Debby, I'm looking online at your menu. You have some beautiful buds for sale, legally, it has me drooling, wishing I was in California.

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Nice. Yes, there are still, you know, there was a rumor that everyone's gone out of business. Look, let me tell you, almost everyone's gone out of business, but the companies that are still putting products on shelves are very -- they produce amazing products. They all have -- they have to go through this very extreme laboratory analysis, they're very clean, they're very pure, they have beautiful labels, they're packaged really nicely, and they're very good products.

So, in dispensaries, we saw access to the number of products drop, but we saw access to really good products that were very pure, that sell, that people want, that's fine. Shelves are still full in California, despite what's happening. A lot of people are out of the business right now, unfortunately.

DEAN BECKER: I hear you, Debby. I heard there was a situation, what was it, a couple of months back, where there was inventory that was not labeled properly and therefore had to be destroyed, and all kinds of, you know, garage sale prices going around. I don't know. It's straightened itself out now?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Well, we called it the weed apocalypse, because, they changed the packaging and labeling and testing regulations on July First, and anything that didn't meet the regulations had to be compost on July First. None of us wanted to compost a darned thing, so we made sure to put everything on sale, super blowout sale, to get the products out into the marketplace.

Plus, all of us had to buy new products on July First, so we needed to liquidate, for example, the entire stock of our shop had to be liquidated very fast, and then invested in compliant products.

DEAN BECKER: And we put yahoos in charge of all of us, well yippie. I don't know what else to say. I'll tell you what, Debby, it's been good talking with you. I wish you the best of luck. I hope to come see you guys when i'm out that way again, and --

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: That would be great.

DEAN BECKER: Your closing thoughts, a website, whatever you'd like to share with the listeners.

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Well, we're at or .org, you can find our website. Everybody can come by, we're an onsite consumption facility, you can actually consume cannabis in vaporized form at the facility. It's like a little cannabis cafe. Everyone is invited if you're over 21 or a medical patient 18 and over.

DEAN BECKER: And Debby, I want to let folks know that your site is one of just a few in the United States where they can smoke onsite, is that correct?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: That's right, there's only -- there's only eight, possibly nine in the whole United States. All of them are located in San Francisco, other than the one, Magnolia Wellness, we're in Oakland.

DEAN BECKER: For next week's show I hope to be bringing you information about a situation where if you come back from Colorado with one cannabis cola, it can cost you fifty thousand dollars to clear your name. And once again I remind you, because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag. Please, be careful.

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