08/09/09 - Froma Harrop

Century of Lies

Froma Harrop, columnist with Creator's Syndicate takes listener calls live

Audio file

Century of Lies, August 9, 2009

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


[screams of terror amongst rattling chains and then, the dreaded slice of the guillotine]
“It’s time… to Face… the Inquisition.”

Dean Becker: Alright, my friends, this is Dean Becker, you are listening to Century of Lies. It’s time to Face the Inquisition. We have with us Froma Harrop, the syndicated columnist from the Creator’s Group and we want to take your calls. We had a few people on line and I guess a couple got tired of waiting. We have lines open for you. Our number: 1 877 9 420 420 and locally you can call 713 526 5738. We do have Mark on line. Folks, give us a call!

Dean Becker: Hello, Mark. Do you have a question?

Caller: Yes, I was calling about my brother. I mean, I use it too, also. He got busted the other day, I believe it was Thursday. There was about eight police officers came and picked him up for growing seventy-five marijuana plants out behind his house.

Dean Becker: Oh. Yeah. Have they charged him with a felony, then?

Caller: Well, he is still in jail.

Dean Becker: Still in jail?

Caller: Yeah, he hasn’t gotten out. He wants to get bailed out but we don’t have the money to get him out. So he is just going to have to sit there.

Dean Becker: Now, seventy-five plants. This being August, they weren’t mature plants yet. How tall were they?

Caller: They were about six feet tall.

Dean Becker: Six feet tall? Well, they are going to say that was a hundred pounds by the time they are done with that. Froma, do you run into this type of situation in your reporting?

Froma Harrop: Well, yes, it’s really…

Caller: Hello?

Dean Becker: Mark, hold on…

Froma Harrop: Hello?

Dean Becker: Mark is gone, go ahead, Froma.

Froma Harrop: It’s astounding because you realize this fellow was growing some plants in his backyard. He’s arrested and in addition to what it is doing to his own life, can you imagine how much the taxpayers are spending to arrest this guy - to prosecute him, to put him in jail? It’s extraordinary.

Dean Becker: Right.

Froma Harrop: They are probably spending – they have probably spent fifty thousand dollars already on nothing.

Dean Becker: In like a six month investigation, how many hours of work, how many shifts of men to pull off something like that? And it goes on all across the country. I mean, you have seen it, Froma, you know, front page headlines: a copper, a DA standing there. They got a big pile of money on one table, a big pile of guns here, a big pile of drugs over there - eighteen month investigation. And, the truth be told, by the time that picture is printed, somebody else is already in business providing for that neighborhood, right?

Froma Harrop: Right, well I’ve – you know, I have spoken to leaders of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Jack Cole, who was an undercover narcotics agent for many years in New Jersey and he said that one morning he woke up and he realized that every time he arrested someone – every time he took a drug dealer off the street, at great expense to the taxpayers and personal risk to himself - that he was just making more business for the other drug dealers.

Dean Becker: Right.

Froma Harrop: He realized that a lot of the police realize that they are busting people in the streets of American cities over an ounce of cocaine while the Andes are producing a thousand tons of it a year.

Dean Becker: Right, and you know, Froma, I got a chance to go to Bolivia three years back and while I was down there, every person I met was chewing coca and I didn’t hear of anyone using cocaine. Perhaps they were making it, perhaps they were exporting it but it was just not a problem there in Bolivia.

Froma Harrop: And there are people in parts of the country, California - it’s how people are smoking pot openly. Politicians are. Nobody is even finding it remarkable yet it is still a crime to be caught with a pot plant in your backyard.

Dean Becker: Yeah, and in many cases, what those police or the law enforcement officials will try to do is to take his home or to somehow influence him to cooperate so they don’t take his home. I see so many parallels with the Inquisition, if you follow me.

Froma Harrop: Yes. Prohibition, inquisition.

Dean Becker: Indeed. OK, folks, we do have Andrew on line one. He’s calling from Austin. Andrew, hold one second, we want to encourage other folks to call in. You can dial toll-free across America 1 877 9 420 420 or you can call locally, 713 526 5738. Lot’s of phone lines open but Andrew. Your concerns?

Caller: Yeah. My question, I guess is referring to Mark as well – to his brother. What would be the legal alternative to what would happen if someone were growing seventy-five large plants six feet tall in his backyard if there was no prohibition? Would he be able to sell to the state, to his friends? How would that be controlled? Your response?

Dean Becker: Okay. I have some thoughts but, Froma, you first. What do you think?

Froma Harrop: Well if it were legal, it would be like tobacco… You have tobacco growers and people would be growing it commercially and this person might be growing it for his own use, or whatever, but it would become a farm product. In fact, I believe that in about eight states now marijuana is the biggest cash crop.

Dean Becker: Well, I think nationwide, if you tallied it up, it is our biggest cash crop. This is, despite the fact that it is illegal. In many states and in California, in particular, yes, it is the biggest cash crop there is. Folks, we have got lines open. I’d love to hear from you. You can call toll free, 1 877 9 420 420. Locally 713 526 5738. Real quick I wanted to read… you had a column a while back in what - November 2006: “Milton Friedman’s Sensible Approach to Drug Policy.” I wanted to quote from it: In a famous 1989 open letter to Bill Bennett, drug czar under the first president Bush, Friedman wrote, quote, “Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore. Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords. Illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials. Illegality monopolizes the efforts of law enforcement forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft and assault.” We are just shooting ourselves in the foot every day, right Froma?

Froma Harrop: That is right and it is helpful to point out that Milton Friedman is a conservative economist and a number of conservatives have signed on to his view on the war on drugs. Famously, Bill Buckley of the National Review and I believe Ron Paul was for ending the ban on marijuana.

Dean Becker: Oh yeah. Ron Paul is for ending the drug war. I had him on the show a couple of years back. He was pretty remarkable. OK. Well, let’s go to Bill on line one. Bill, you’re on the air.

Caller: Okay, I was going to say you said it about tobacco. I don’t know if they changed the law or not but you won’t find anybody growing tobacco for their own personal use because you have to have a license from the government and if they catch you growing it without one of these licenses, it is just like growing pot. They catch you with seventy-five six foot tall tobacco plants - if you don’t have a permit – you go to jail.

Dean Becker: Wow. I did not know that.

Caller: Tobacco is like a controlled substance in the states where they grow it. You know, it’s like a monopoly kind of thing. If you have got a farm, you can’t just decide I am going to grow tobacco. You have got to – it’s got to be land that already – because they issued these permits years ago and if you buy land that doesn’t have a permit, it’s just like buying land that doesn’t have mineral rights or something. If you find oil under it, if you don’t have the mineral rights, basically you haven’t found anything.

Dean Becker: OK, OK, Bill…

Caller: And on the thing about who benefits from the drug war: pharmaceutical companies, synthetic fibers, the oil industry – all kinds of people - because it is a very useful plant and it would be very competitive if it were on the market. Thank you for letting me be on the show and I contributed for a while.

Dean Becker: Bill, it’s good to hear from you and thank you. Froma, he brought up a point, you know, that the government still controls tobacco in one fashion or another. They try to control alcohol. They try to control the pharmaceuticals but, they really, despite all their efforts, do not control these quote illegal drugs, do they?

Froma Harrop: No, they don’t but if they were legal, it would be a lot easier to control them…

Dean Becker: Exactly.

Froma Harrop: … because you would have corporations making it. You would have a lot of support for enforcing regulations.

Dean Becker: Alright. We are speaking with Froma Harrop, a syndicated columnist. We are taking your calls. We do have Mark on line two. Mark, your thoughts…

Caller: Hey. I am just curious. In Texas, where I live in Houston, do you have a list of congress people and senators and what not opposed to the legalization of marijuana even for medical use? You know what I am asking?

Dean Becker: Well, I would suggest you contact Houston NORML. That’s houstonnorml.org. They can provide you with that type of information.

Caller: NORML with no A?

Dean Becker: Right. N-O-R-M-L. Alright?

Caller: OK, thanks for putting up the good fight.

Dean Becker: You bet, Mark. We appreciate your call. Let’s see, who is next on line? Let’s go to Beth on line three. Hello, Beth, you are on the air.

Caller: Hi there. Thank you for taking my call and for having this show. You are making my day!

Dean Becker: Well, thank you for listening.

Caller: What will happen to the drug testing – let’s say marijuana is legalized – what’s going to happen to the drug testing as far as getting jobs and with regards to how long it stays in your system? And, are we still going to be faced with not being able to get a job because we now partake in a legal substance that they don’t particularly want us to partake in?

Dean Becker: Now, Froma, your thoughts on that?

Froma Harrop: Well, that is an interesting question. My guess is that for most employers is that it would end - the drug testing would end because I think they test – not because they are concerned about what marijuana does to you but the fact that it’s illegal. If it were legal I don’t think they would be doing that testing.

Caller: Now, the insurance companies are they going to have a hold on still… I am just concerned. I see my young son who I know is smoking and it’s such a big issue and the company that I work for… Just because it becomes legal they are not going to turn their heads, I just don’t see that happening.

Dean Becker: I would like to throw in my two cents. I see it like this – that many of these bigger corporations are in bed with the government and they have agreements whereby if they are going to work for the government, they are going to test for drugs. And I think that that aspect, that forced supplication, if you will, to the government mandate would go away.

Will there still be instances where certain employers won’t want to hire drug users? You bet, and I think it’s their right but I think they will also be certain employers who wouldn’t mind at all if you smoked pot because they are looking for creative people. Let’s go to – who do we got here? Dewey, line four…

Caller: Yeah, Dean. Long time no see.

Dean Becker: Hey Dewey, what have you got on your mind?

Caller: I have got a book you might be interested in – well a portion of it – it’s top 25 senseless stories of 2007-2008 and one of the top senseless stories was marijuana arrests set new record.

Dean Becker: Oh yeah, every year it’s a new record. It just keeps adding up. I think I have heard something like twenty million people are arrested for marijuana at this point.

Caller: If you want to come out and look at the book I am about three miles from the station… you can circle back if you want when you get off.

Dean Becker: Appreciate your call. We are speaking with Froma Harrop, a syndicated columnist with the Creator’s Group. We appreciate your calls. Let’s go to Monique, line one.

Caller: Hi, I have a question for the columnist. I hear all this talk about legalizing but I don’t hear anyone offering a solution for protecting the public. What are you going to do about the people who decide to drive under the influence of marijuana, just like they do liquor and they kill other people?

Dean Becker: OK. Let’s go to Froma, your thoughts on that?

Froma Harrop: That is a very good question and I think, again, you can have laws about being intoxicated in any way when you drive. I mean, just as we have laws limiting the blood alcohol content permitted when you drive, you could have laws covering drug use to the extent of that impairs one’s ability to drive.

Dean Becker: Yeah, and I look at it this way: The caller has some concerns and there is something – and if we are just talking marijuana, I want to just say this: marijuana is not a killer. Marijuana does not distort your vision, does not make you stumble, fall, slur or otherwise lose your place. It might give you a little memory lapse. It might distract you a little bit. But it is not the great inhibitor that alcohol is.

Now, if you are talking about heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine… those can be very distracting drugs and it depends on how much you have taken for how many days you have been taking it. But, alcohol is what you need to fear, my friend. You are right to fear that and these other drugs can be debilitating, they can lead to horrors but they are not a pimple on the ass of what alcohol is. We are speaking to Froma Harrop. We have – who has been on the line the longest here? Let’s go to Tony, line two – your thoughts?

Caller: Hey, just one quick comment. I have been listening to your program for a while. A caller called back a couple calls ago and was asking about the differences basically in the drug testing. In the industry that I am in, we have actually talked about that and I think, in my opinion, probably what would happen is – I don’t think drug testing would go away. I mean, even if you are talking about the legalization of marijuana, there’s still lot’s of drugs out there that inhibit your judgment or inhibit your physical capabilities.

I don’t think that drug testing should go away if it is a job where other people lives are at stake. Even if you are a truck driver, or heavy equipment operator. Well, anything where you have the potential – if something inhibits your mental functions in any way where there is a potential that you could hurt somebody else.

The second thing is I think it – you know, talking about one of the first callers, the guy who called in and said that his brother was busted growing seventy-five plants of marijuana in his backyard… I think you are doing a disservice not to at least comment on how truly idiotic that is because it is against the law, like it or not, that is fine – and Ms. Harrop, no disrespect to you, but I think that one of the things that would maybe mature this program a little bit is if you did at least, in my opinion – like I said, I have been listening off and on for several years and you have some very, very valid points and I agree with the base idea that the criminalization of marijuana in particular is pretty idiotic.

But, the law is the law and if you start talking about the cost of something… OK, well, yes. It is expensive to enforce the law but it’s not a business, OK? It’s public service just like the health care debate. If we understand that it is expensive to take care of people who can’t afford to take care of themselves then that is one of our preconceptions. We also understand that it is expensive to have a military, OK. Nobody like to buy tanks or nuclear weapons or machine guns but there is a need for that and the argument is whether or not, how many do we need or what kind do we get or whatever.

Dean Becker: Tony, are you saying then that you think that the drug war is doing some good?

Caller: Well, that is a very, very open-ended question.

Dean Becker: No, where is it doing good? Can you name the number one success of the drug war?

Caller: I don’t agree that the drug war is doing good. I think that it is very poorly prosecuted. I don’t’ disagree with the legalization of marijuana but what I do disagree with is the comment made that while it is very expensive, or whatever – if you extend that logic and say well, ok it’s expensive to have, like I said, healthcare or it’s expensive to have the military.

In that particular case, I don’t think that the drug war is… at least the criminalization of marijuana, in particular is pretty asinine. I don’t think anybody can argue that marijuana is any more dangerous, in fact I think like you said earlier… If I had to choose between making pot illegal or making alcohol illegal, I would say, alcohol is by far more dangerous – chemically, obviously because of all the social problems that arise from alcohol. But you could also argue but well, alcohol is dangerous because it is so well – so commonly used because there is not – at least not in certain places – or at least it’s socially acceptable to be a drunk. It’s not as socially mostly not socially acceptable to be a pothead, OK?

Dean Becker: OK

Caller: Social boundaries that we have set as a predominantly white Anglo Saxon Protestant society back in the 1600s or whatever. But, my point is I like your show a lot, I think it’s great. You guys make some valid points but I think to not comment and say, look… growing seventy-five pot plants of weed in your backyard – that’s not probably the smartest thing you could do and what it does is it allows you to step up to the legitimization of the program a little bit. Have a real serious conversation. And you may do that – I have heard you say before that you are not advocating breaking the law. What you are advocating is changing the law…

Dean Becker: Exactly. Tony, I appreciate your call. We have got a couple of others here I want to get to. But, you brought up some valid points. Would you like to address some of them, Froma?

Froma Harrop: Yeah, I think Tony’s point is well taken - that we don’t get rid of laws because they are expensive to enforce. But, he also made the point that this law makes no sense and to get rid of the law because it makes no sense. I think the fact that it is expensive to enforce and on top of making no sense, adds to the argument for getting rid it.

Dean Becker: OK. James, you have been holding the longest. Line one. What’s on your mind?

Caller: OK, guys. I just wanted to say that there is a way to go about getting change in this country and you guys are the grassroots movement and a lot of fiscal conservatives are on board with this because they see how much money is wasted and how little results we actually get from the last thirty or forty years of this drug war. There is something out there called the Sunshine Act and what it is, it wants to force doctors to release quarterly public reports and display how much money, how many kickbacks and whatnot they are receiving from the drug industry and politicians are not going to get on board with this unless their campaigns – their largest campaign contributors are on board with this.

When you have politicians that are funded by drug companies – drug companies don’t want to see legalization and they don’t want to see decriminalization because they want to keep pushing Adderol, they want to keep pushing Ambien and Xanax and hydrocodone and all the other opiates. They are making tons of money and they like the status quo…

Dean Becker: And I like you, James. No, you made some strong points, my friend. Froma Harrop, let’s get your response to that.

Froma Harrop: Yes, well he is right. If marijuana were legalized, there would be a lot of corporate interest involved in keeping it legal too. I understand that some of those tobacco companies, years ago, had sort of made contingency plans on what they would do if pot became legal and they would want it on their shelves along with their other products.

Dean Becker: Exactly. OK, I tell you what, friends, I have really appreciated the flurry of calls. We are going to take one more. We have Joseph online three. Hello, Joseph, your thoughts.

Caller: Hey, how are you doing? I appreciate the work you are doing…

Dean Becker: Thank you.

Caller: I have not been listening to you as long as I should have been but I enjoy everything you are doing but the reason I called is like they have created a market by prohibiting it and that is what people are not understanding. Because of the vast amount of profits that is gained by making it illegal is just the monster they have created. So, they will never be able to hold back the tide of the ocean with a sieve – I mean, that’s just ever going to put an end to it because the profit is there because of making it illegal. Now, that is as simple as I can state it.

What is wrong – I don’t want to call it brain damage, but the mass hypnosis that this country is under and has been under for generations – you know, I E being told what to think and not to go against authority or have a dissenting voice, to be in lock goose step to obey our elected representatives who have transformed themselves into our leaders. But, anyway, I am rambling. I am enjoying the show, keep up the good work. Thank you.

Dean Becker: Well, Joseph, thank you very much. Froma, we have got just about a minute left here and I wanted to just turn it over to you to share your thoughts with the audience.

Froma Harrop: Well, actually, I would like to expand on something Joseph just said and that is I got on to this issue years ago when I had been victim of a mugging on a New York City subway. I could see that the mugger, from his eyes – he needed his drug fix. It was – this was a business transaction. He needed a drug fix and I was carrying a musical instrument which happened to be a beaten up old flute but he didn’t know that and it was easily – it was thing that was easy to hock and so he terrified me.

He pointed a knife at me and demanded that I hand over the flute and I did hand over the flute. He ran off with it and he probably got forty bucks for it. I called the police and I got a case number twenty digits long and I know that I did see that they posted police at that particular staircase where I was mugged for some weeks afterwards. So, I got involved with what should have been a business transaction that if whatever this addict needed could be obtained legally, he could have gotten it for the price of celery. He didn’t have to bring me into his life in that way.

At that point, I said, what is going on? Why don’t they just give it to him, whatever he wants, and I think that is what Milton Friedman and other conservatives have been saying – that the prohibition has made it expensive. Making it expensive has brought in criminal elements. It has put a lot of innocent citizens into the crossfire of the drug war – people who have nothing to do with these drugs who are probably not taking them and don’t want to be there.

Dean Becker: No, and it is just as I said earlier, the tentacles just stretch into every aspect of our society. Froma Harrop. I thank you so much. I’ll be looking forward to your next column. I really appreciate you being with us here on the Drug Truth Network.

Froma Harrop: OK, well, Dean, it has been a pleasure.

Dean Becker: Thank you very much.

Froma Harrop: Thank you, bye.

Dean Becker: Bye.


For the salvation of the nation: this is the unvarnished truth on the Drug Truth Network with Reverend Dean Becker.


[cuts to song]
Opening up a can of worms and going fishing for the truth.
This is the Drug Truth Network. drugtruth.net.



A hundred years… a hundred years… a hundred years… a hundred years…
You can hear the drug war blow a hundred years…


Dean Becker: Alright my friends thank you for being with us on Century of Lies and on the Drug Truth Network hour. Once again, I want to thank Froma Harrop, the syndicated columnist from the Creator’s Group. You know, in closing, I want to state with one hundred percent conviction: there is no truth, justice, logic, scientific fact, medical data or any justification for this drug war to exist. We have been duped. The drug lords control both sides of this equation. Please, do your part to end the madness of drug war. Visit our website endprohibition.org.


For the Drug Truth Network, this is Dean Becker, asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition. The Century of Lies.

This show produced at the Pacifica Studios of KPFT.