11/30/14 Roger Goodman

Washington state Rep Roger Goodman discusses failure of drug war, forthcoming WA bill to de-felonize drug crimes + Ethan Nadelmann & Former President of Mexico Zedillo on CNN + Ellen Bukstel song Who's The Pusher Now?

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Roger Goodman




NOVEMBER 30, 2014

REEFER MADNESS NARRATOR: Smoking the soul-destroying reefer, they find a moment's pleasure, but at a terrible price. Debauchery, violence, murder, suicide, and the ultimate end of the marijuana addict: hopeless insanity.

DEAN BECKER: You are listening to Cultural Baggage on the Drug Truth Network and Pacifica Radio, I'm your host, Dean Becker. It's time to end the insanity of reefer madness. Great show lined up for you, we'll be hearing from Mr. Roger Goodman, a state representative in Washington. We'll also be hearing from Mr. Ethan Nadelmann, and the former president of Mexico, Mr. Zedillo.

And, whether you're a first-time or long-term listener, I want to state we will be having rallies at court-houses around the nation on December 17th at noon in your time zone. There will be attorneys speaking, there will be reformers speaking, there will be citizens speaking, assessing and addrssing the insanity of this drug war. You can learn more about this effort at endprohibition.org, or out there on facebook at 100 years is enough. Here's a quick list of some of the major cities that will be participating in this December 17th rally: Portland, Oregon; San Antonio, Texas; Stillwater, Oklahoma; Austin, Texas; Oakland, California; Washington, DC; and Houston, Texas. Please, visit End Prohibition. Sign your city up. You don't need a thousand people, just you and an attorney and a couple of friends.

And now, our interview with Representative Roger Goodman.

You know, of late we've had a lot of luck, talking to the mayor of Houston, just last week I got a chance to talk to our police chief. It seems more and more elected officials at every level – city, state, and federal – are beginning to open up the discussion about drug war. And I've been privileged to know our next guest for, I don't know, 10, 12 years. He is now a representative for the state of Washington, and I like to think of him as a good friend. I want to welcome Mr. Roger Goodman. How you doing, Roger?

ROGER GOODMAN: Doing great, Dean, and yes, I consider you a good friend as well.

DEAN BECKER: Now, Roger, you heard what I said about more and more officials are beginning to step up to the mic, beginning to step up to the plate and take a swing about drug war, am I right?

ROGER GOODMAN: Yeah, you know, I think the dam finally broke a couple of years ago when Washington and Colorado voted to end marijuana prohibition. Finally it was sort of safe to talk about, you know, for those politicians who don't have courage it was finally safe to talk about it. And, you know, the cultural swing is happening, so it's okeh to talk about it now. Now you and I, we've been talking about it for years, so, we're the ones who made it happen. But now, everybody else is jumping on the bandwagon.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, I think that's right, Roger. Now, uh, you're there in Washington. You guys just had a, a law go into effect allowing for the medical use of marijuana – excuse me, allowing for the recreational use of marijuana. How's that unfolding?

ROGER GOODMAN: Well, you know, we've got bumps in the road. I want to compare Washington with Colorado. Colorado established, I think it was in 2009 or 2010, a uniform, statewide regulatory system for medical marijuana. So they already had all the requirements in place for getting a license, for background checks, for quality control, all the things you need for a legitimate marijuana market.

In Washington state, we had an initiative on the books for medical marijuana but we didn't have a state-wide regulatory system, and so it's kind of like the wild west out there, you've got dispensaries opening up, you know, it depends on what town you're in, there's no regulation, the police don't like it, and frankly I don't think it's appropriate.

And so on top of that, then, Washington's, the citizens voted for, you know, for general adult use. And so we have these two laws that are kind of, not in conflict with one another, but they're not, they're not complimentary enough. So we, we need to work in the legislature this year to come up with a way to align medical marijuana with recreational marijuana. So that's what we're going to be doing, coming up, starting in January.

DEAN BECKER: Now, Roger, that's a cumbersome task, it has been in many instances where it's been put in play, to just define all the parameters, who's in charge, what controls, etc. Am I correct?

ROGER GOODMAN: Well, I can tell you about the – and you know what? I don't like to use the term “recreational” marijuana, and I want your listeners to start thinking about this. Do we go out for a recreational beer? Or do you light up a recreational cigarette? I mean, I don't like, it sort of diminishes it, you know? And so I like to talk about general use, or general adult use, or whatever, because recreational, is just kind of a, I don't know, I discourage that term.

But anyway. We are developing for general adult use in Washington now strict regulations, you have to get a license and you have to get local approval, and there's age limits and amount limits, you know, all that sort of thing. And it's really working out pretty well. The first harvest happened this fall, the products are in the stores now.

However, the problem is that the dispensaries, the medical market, they're undercutting the price, and so it's actually not the customers are not going into the stores as much because it's way too expensive, and there's a glut. There's a glut of medical marijuana, and the medical folks are also making their own oils, very very high potency oils, unregulated, some people are kind of blowing themselves up, you know? So, we really need to, to have more regulations in place, and frankly, the bottom line for me is patients. People who are sick and need it, or, you know, to feel good and to stay alive, they need to be taken care of, and so I hope that we can provide for them and at the same time have a strict regulatory system, we can't have it kind of wild like it is now. So we've got a lot of work to do coming up.

DEAN BECKER: Roger, you mentioned the people blown themselves up with hash oil, and, you know, the black market undercutting the legal market. And, these are all remnants or, a part of what prohibition does. It creates a less safe and more, well, dangerous marketplace for everybody, does it not?

ROGER GOODMAN: Yes. So in Washington state, we are now very slowly unfolding this regulatory system, and displacing the black market but very slowly. So the amount that's being grown under the new regulations, the amount that's being sold, is about 15 percent of the demand, you know, satisfying only 15, maybe 20 percent of the demand. So most of the marijuana sold and used in Washington state is still black market. And that's okeh, because I think we want to go slowly, we want to displace the black market slowly, and firmly establish the regulated market. So it's going okeh.

The other thing by the way, we have it age 21, so if you're under 21 it's still illegal. At least 25 percent of marijuana in Washington state, and I think nationwide, is consumed by people 21 and under. So we're going to have, you know, an illegal market or an unregulated market, I guess, for young people, but I don't think it's going to be the same full flourish, you know, violent black market that we've had all around. So I hope that we can account for the use of young people without sustaining a dangerous black market.

DEAN BECKER: Now Roger, when we first met, I think you were head of the, oh what was it, criminal lawyers association?

ROGER GOODMAN: Yeah, the bar association in Seattle, the King County Bar Association. We published a big report 10 years ago now, and, sort of a road map for the end of the war on drugs and it is so gratifying to see that what we wrote, and, you know, published and spread the word around the country, is now starting to happen.

DEAN BECKER: And in that regard, you were elected, well, you just got re-elected, I think, to your position there in Washington, correct?

ROGER GOODMAN: Yeah, I'm the chair of the House Public Safety Committee in the state legislature, and I was elected – I can't believe I just got elected to my fifth term, so I will have been in the legislature for 10 years. I'm actually, I will have been a legislature for longer than I was a drug reformer. So, I can't believe that it's been that long. But I have to tell you, when I first got elected, boy did they hit me hard. Oh, he, Roger Goodman wants to legalize drugs, and all this, they didn't think I could get elected. And when the public found out about my work trying to end the drug war, my vote count went up, my popularity increased. So that tells you that the public has been on our side all along.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. It is, even in Houston, the DA candidates were, you know, battling about the drug war and so forth, and the one who was kind of the most progressive did lose, but it was 53 to 47. And I think that's indicative of that change of mindset within the public. Right?

ROGER GOODMAN: Yes. Well, when you think about it, I compare the drug war or, you know, or drug prohibition, to same-sex marriage, and what's happened sort of culturally in this country. If you take a look at same-gender relationships, there still is a ceiling of acceptability, you know people, a lot of people still don't like same-gender relationships, just makes them feel very uncomfortable. But when it comes to marijuana, it's a plant, I mean the thing grows out of the ground, and the people are, they understand how ridiculous it's been for us to prohibit this. So there really is no ceiling of acceptability, it's, like I said, the dam has broke, and we're on our way to a much more rational system now.

DEAN BECKER: Now, this past election, Oregon, Alaska, Washington DC, and even Guam, voted for legalizing medical or, what was the term? Not recreational, you said.

ROGER GOODMAN: Oh, general use, I say general adult use or general use. Adult use, I don't know. I just don't like to use the word recreational.

DEAN BECKER: I hear you, I kind of agree with you. But the fact of the matter is, is that people are starting to realize we've been doing this wrong. And in California they had what they called Prop 47, which in essence de-felonized certain drug possession type charges. And you're considering, you're going to put forward a bill to do the same?

ROGER GOODMAN: Yes. We're going to have two bills related to the end of the drug war in my committee this session. The first one will be to get marijuana convictions off your record. It's a legal product now in Washington state, there's no reason why you should have a criminal record for what happened in the past, so we're going to try to do that. That bill made it, didn't make it quite out of the house last time, we're going to push that.

The other bill, yes, is de-felonization, to have drug crimes be misdemeanors instead of felonies, which is less, you know, less prejudicial to your future. And, we'll see how far that gets, you know, we've got a divided legislature, we've got a lot, it's hard to get things done, so, but yeah, I'm going to hear that bill in my committee as well.

DEAN BECKER: All right friends, once again we're speaking with Mr. Roger Goodman, he's a representative for the state of Washington. Now Roger, we have friends that, I don't know, over the last decade or so have made a lot of progress, some have made millions by being at the forefront of the new, burgeoning marijuana industry. And I want to ask you sir, I mean, from my perspective, when it can be grown in every neighborhood, the price is going to drop like a rock, is it not?

ROGER GOODMAN: Well it is, and we're sort of looking at the, whatever, the market analysis here. First of all, marijuana's not going to be grown in every neighborhood, we, we're going to make sure that it's zoned properly, we're not going to be growing it in houses. There will be some allowance for people to grow their own, but small amounts. But yeah, in the regulated market, in the beginning, the prices will be high, but as the market expands, the prices will fall. It still will be a profitable industry, and so, you know, folks who get into the business will be able to make a profit, but the profits in the beginning, like the first two three years, are going to be obscene.

I mean, some of the, some of the folks, like in Washington state right now, if you invest about, oh I don't know, $300,000 in a growing operation, within the first year you're going to bring in about 1, 1.2 million in profits. So that's, what, about a 4 to 1 return? There's nothing else like that in the world right now, and so it's going to be like that for about maybe 3, 4, 5 years, and then the price will definitely plummet and will become more of a regular product, but it still will be a profitable industry.

The one concern I have, you know, white guys are getting into the business and making a lot of money, and black guys are still going to jail, and I don't like that. I think the opportunity for the market should be made available to everyone, I don't know how we can do that, but we still have the drug war with us, you know, and particularly like where you are in Texas, it's more alive than it is where we are in Washington state. But I want there to be some equal opportunity in this market, and I'm not seeing that right now.

DEAN BECKER: Without getting into too much detail, there certainly is still a lot of obvious, glaring prejudice in this country, is there not?

ROGER GOODMAN: Yes. Oh yeah. I mean, I can tell you in Seattle, if you are African-American, you are 25 times – 25 times more likely to be arrested than a white person for a drug-related offense. So we've got a long way to go to address that inequity.

DEAN BECKER: Indeed we do. Now Roger, what am I leaving out, what would you like to bring forward?

ROGER GOODMAN: Well, I guess, you know, people are – it's very interesting. Each state is moving to end marijuana prohibition in their own way. And so for instance in Colorado, Colorado's a very libertarian state, and so they said hey, if we can drink beer and alcohol, why can't we smoke pot? And the voters agreed. Well in Washington state, that message would not work. In Washington state we said, we need to protect the children. And so we're constructing a strict regulatory system to protect children, and that's what the voters wanted.

In Rhode Island, for instance, the Rhode Island legislature is likely to be the first state legislature to legalize marijuana rather than through a ballot initiative, next year. And I'm working with the Rhode Island legislators, they're friends of mine. Their angle is hey, let's make some money. You know, this stuff doesn't kill anybody, so why don't we legalize it and make money, then we can use that money to cure other health problems, and people are supporting that. So it's very interesting to see how marijuana's being legalized across the country for different reasons, appealing to voters for, you know, different themes.

But in the end, I really do think it's the money. I think that those states, those places where, which will never really be comfortable with marijuana are going to go ahead and legalize because they're going to see the profits and the revenue into the state, and so it's going to happen pretty quickly I think. Ten years from now we'll look back, and we'll be like, you're kidding me! We used to lock people up for this? So it's going to be an interesting historical artifact.

DEAN BECKER: All right, I think I'm going to leave it right there, Roger.

ROGER GOODMAN: Okeh. Well, I do want to say one more thing. I want your listeners to know, Dean, that you are a very special person in the history of this, ending the drug war. The book that you published, the work that you've done over the years to get the message out, and to have conversations like this, has been so important, and so I want your listeners to know that Dean Becker is a very special person in this historical movement to end the war on drugs.

DEAN BECKER: You know, typically I leave out kudos like that from my interviews, but, coming from Roger and with his knowledge of this drug war, I take it as quite a compliment. The book has not been a best-seller, I don't have a publicist or a publisher, but if you have a mind to, you can see what it's all about, on Amazon and Kindle: To End The War On Drugs, Policy-Makers Edition.

It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects. Lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, headache, malaise, fatal disturbance in brain function, imbalanced electrolytes, over-dilution of sodium in the blood plasma, osmotic shift in pressure ruptures, cerebral edema, seizures, coma and death. Time’s up!

The answer and before I give you the answer, let me tell you a little bit more about this product, it’s found in baby food. It’s a major component of the explosives used by the terrorists and it’s freely available in the hallways and used in the classroom of every school in our nation. Prolonged exposure causes severe tissue damage, inhalation of even a slight amount can be deadly. Dihydrogen-monoxide is a killer. Otherwise know as water.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: From evil bong to all you holiday stoners out there:

I'll be high for Christmas,
You can smoke with me.
Please have coals, and Oreos,
And fresh nugs on the tree.

DEAN BECKER: I want to point out that for 15 years, I've tried to get the ongoing series of directors of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the drug czars, to come on this show to defend this policy. But I've got to say once again that I have contacted Michael Botticelli, the new drug czar, and his office cannot find time, any day of the week over the next year, to carve out 15 minutes to defend this policy of drug war. This one's for you, Michael. This one is for you, Michael.

He’s the Drug Czar,
Wages an eternal war
On free will.

He knows all,
The Drug Czar knows all.
He’s in charge of the truth
So he tells nothing but lies.
He professes such great sorrow
For the thousands of his minions who die.

He’s the Drug Czar,
Waging his eternal war
On our free will.

Michael, if ever you want to come on the show, it's as easy as emailing Dean@DrugTruth.net. That's the address where you can reach me about joining in the 100 years rally against this eternal war on our free will.

This is the abolitionist's moment. Today, I want to read a quote from retired judge Dennis Chaleen about sending the addicted to prison:

We want them to have self-worth, so we destroy their self-worth.
We want them to be responsible, so we take away all responsibility.
We want them to be positive and constructive, so we degrade them and make them useless.
We want them to be trustworthy, so we put them where there is no trust.
We want them to be non-violent. so we put them where there is violence all around them.
We want them to be kind and loving people, so we subject them to hatred and cruelty.
We want them to quit being the tough guy, so we put them where the tough guy is respected.
We want them to stop hanging around losers, so we put all the losers in the state under one roof.
We want them to quit exploiting us, so we put them where they exploit each other.
We want them to take control of their lives own problems and quit being a parasite on society, so we make them totally dependent on us.

If you get the feeling that I'm kind of light-hearted today, it's because I know in my heart the drug war is over, but it's waiting on you to declare it over. It's waiting on you to speak up, stand up, to be brave enough to say what you know to be true to the people who need to hear it, your elected officials who know this same truth just as well as you do but are too cowardly to do anythign bout it. Please, do your part, end this madness.

Here to close us out is a slice from a segment, CNN Fareed Zakaria interviews Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Drug Policy Alliance, and the former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo.

ERNESTO ZEDILLO: Over the last month or so, my country has gone through a very traumatic and painful situation, because some students were killed by organized crime, but local policemen cooperated with organized crime to commit this horrendous crime. Everybody's talking about this and that is very right, people are protesting because this is an outrageous circumstance, but I think very few people in my country and in other countries are really saying that underlying that crime is the power of organized crime, supported by the drug traffic, because those guys would not have the power and the capacity to commit these horrendous crimes if they didn't have the money that obtain through this illicit trade.

FAREED ZAKARIA: One of the arguments against legalizing marijuana that I hear a lot from people who are involved in looking after drug, drug addiction and dealing with it and treating it is, it is a gateway. That, if you allow marijuana, it is going to make people more likely to take much, much more dangerous drugs.

ETHAN NADELMANN: Right. And it turns out that the evidence shows that it's not the use of marijuana that leads to other drugs, the vast majority of people who use marijuana never go on to become even regular marijuana consumers, much less use or get in trouble with cocaine or heroin or drugs like that. In fact, the principle connection is the prohibition of marijuana. Right?

So if you look for example in Netherlands, where marijuana has been semi-legal for 30 years, the percentage of young people who use marijuana, it's not just lower than the US, but the percent of young people who then go on to use other drugs is lower than in the US and other countries, because they've essentially separated the marijuana market from the other drug markets. So in point of fact, legally regulating marijuana would reduce whatever gateway effect or stepping stone there is.

FAREED ZAKARIA: Are you optimistic that you are making headway?

ERNESTO ZEDILLO: No, I'm not very optimistic, Fareed, because, I mean, on the one hand I recognize that things have started to change on the ground in the last few years, but when I see the dimension of the problem, I think that the steps that have been taken are still very modest.

DEAN BECKER: Some very profound words, there, President Zedillo. The first chapter of my book is Incrementalism Is A Killer. To keep things light-hearted, we're going to close out with a song this week, but some closing thoughts for the mothership Pacifica station. We are moving from our Sunday time slot to Fridays at 4:30 between the KPFT news and Democracy Now! A much better place. Again that's Fridays at 4:30. That starts December 5th, but we'll be doing one more show on Sundays on December 7th.

With more than 20 million arrests for the possession of an herb, a weed, we in America have had enough. That part's ending. But unless we end prohibition, the terrorists, the cartels, and the gangs will still reap hundreds of billions of dollars a year to corrupt border guards, law enforcement, FBI, DEA, you name it. They have the money to get 'er done and they always will until we end this madness. I remind you again that because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag, please be careful. We close with “Who's the Pusher Now” by Ellen Bukstell.

ELLEN BUKSTELL: War on drugs... a political joke... lockin’ us up for smoking dope.
No reason for doing time... with a punishment ...when there ain't no crime.

No cartels are runnin' beer... prohibition made it clear
When you turn a market black... it’s hard to turn it back
When government gets behind the gun... IRS is never done
Our taxes pay the FDA... so the DEA can put us away.

And the government drug money machine... runs like its on Dexadrine.
Politicians legislate... so they can mass incarcerate.
Look at the human cost... personal rights gettin' tossed.
Let the government take a bow... Who’s the pusher now?

DR. JOEL HOCHMAN: This is Dr. Hochman. Do not pretend that your child will never be involved in drugs. Assume that drugs are everywhere and will always be available. Supply-side strategies have never succeeded and will never succeed. Make sure that your kids are factually educated about every drug.