06/26/15 Jack Cole

Jack Cole Board Chair of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition re 600 churches in support of LEAP + Richard Lee, founder of Oaksterdam Univ. educates Houston republicans on legalization efforts

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Friday, June 26, 2015
Jack Cole
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)



JUNE 26, 2015


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

DR. G. ALAN ROBISON: It is not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally un-American.

CROWD: No more! Drug war! No More! Drug War! No More! Drug War!

DEAN BECKER: My name is Dean Becker. I don't condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison, and judicial nightmare that feeds on eternal drug war.

Thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. Here in a little bit we're going to bring in discussion from Richard Lee, the founder of Oaksterdam University, but first:

Folks, I often think back to a moment that happened about twelve years ago, I was up in New Jersey, attending the Drug Policy Alliance gathering, and I was interviewing this gentleman, former cop, he was part of a new group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. He was their first director, and as I'm interviewing him, I asked, well, this sounds like maybe I could join, I wore the badge, I strapped on that gun, swore to uphold the Constitution, and right there in the middle of the interview this gentleman approved me for being a speaker for that new group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. And I'm so glad we have with us today my friend, my adviser, the chairman of the board of LEAP, Mr. Jack Cole. How are you, sir?

JACK COLE: I'm really good, Dean, it's very good to talk to you again.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Jack, you know, back then it seemed like we were flailing a bit, there wasn't a whole lot of traction being made, but things are changing now, politicians, the media, are all getting on board for this need for change, and it seems now the churches are starting to step up to the plate as well. Tell us what happened recently with the Methodist Church.

JACK COLE: We've been working now since 2002, so it's been going on 13 years now that we've been doing this and as you well know, LEAP is simply a speakers bureau. We will go anywhere and speak to any group that will invite us, and we do it for free, we do it because we think it should be done, none of our speakers make any money doing it. So we have given over 15,000 presentations, just last year we gave about 2,200 presentations -- in one year. Talking about ending the war on drugs, treating drug abuse as a health problem instead of a crime problem, which basically means legalizing and regulating all drugs, ending drug prohibition just like we did under -- when we had alcohol prohibition.

The reason we as law enforcement want to do that of course is because we understand that, we ended that terrible law, alcohol prohibition, Al Capone, all of these were run right out of business, they were off our streets, they were no longer killing each other to control that very lucrative market or killing our children caught in cross-fires, shootings, they weren't even killing us cops charged with fighting that useless war. So we know that if we legalize these drugs, we can absolutely end this terrible gun violence of prohibition. And we could also end overdose deaths, because nobody dies from an overdose because they shoot more and more dope, they die because they don't know how much drug is actually in that little package of powder and how much is cutting agent, too much drug and you're dead. We can end overdose deaths.

So we've been putting that message out for 13 years, and more and more people are agreeing with us now. When we started we had five cops, today we have well over 150,000 police, judges, prosecutors, prison officials, and supporters now, in 120 countries. We have just been, last year we were accepted by the United Nations as a NonGovernmental Organization with consulting status to their ECOSOC, which gives us access to the international Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and we're working to change these laws around the world.

So that brings us to the answer of your question about the religious folks, and how they're coming around now. One of our volunteers, a man named Andrew Bairnsfather, goes to church in a United Methodist Church in Winchester, Massachusetts, and he worked -- several years has been working on his minister and the people at his church to try to get them to understand how everything will be much better if we end this drug prohibition. And finally, he convinced his minister, a man named Reverend Eric Dupee. So, Eric submitted a resolution this year to their annual business meeting of the New England Assembly of United Methodist Churches, it's an organization that involves over 600 churches in six states in New England, and the resolution says that if it's accepted, they not only are endorsing an end to the war on drugs, treat drug abuse as a health problem, but they are endorsing supporting LEAP and our mission statement.

And last Saturday, I went and I spoke there before that assembly, up in Manchester, New Hampshire, and at end of my very short speech, it was only about 5, 6 minutes, they called the question and of the 600 plus members who were there, only three people voted against it, so it just passed almost unanimously. And it is an amazing, and it's the first time we've had an entire religious body like this, with so many churches, who have said yes it's time to end this terrible stuff. So you know, Dean, the first thing, first one is always the hardest. Now we expect we're going to have a lot easier time, going to the other religions and asking them to do the same thing. The bishop who was, presided over this has already asked us to go to the international conference of United Methodist Churches and try to get the resolution passed there.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I can only say, my hat is off to you, sir, and I want to, I don't know, I feel some pride in that several years back, Andrew Bairnsfather, Drew, contacted me and I put him in touch with LEAP, so I feel I'm instrumental in helping this get started.

JACK COLE: Well, you certainly are. I didn't even know that, Dean, that's wonderful! And you, as you know, Andrew runs this website, Christians Against Prohibition, which he terms the ThinkingCAP, it's the way you find it, the ThinkingCAP in capital letters, for Christians Against Prohibition.

DEAN BECKER: And, you know, this is, as I was saying earlier, it's reflective of the fact that the media, who was very instrumental in ratcheting up this drug war, has now backed down, has now begun to embrace many of the component parts of what we're putting forward, same with politicians, they're starting to walk away from this like it's a crime scene, are they not?

JACK COLE: Absolutely, you're correct, and let's not forget either, what it also points out is what one individual can do when they really want to put forward a concerted effort. Now, you put us in contact with Drew, and Drew worked very hard for a couple years just on his own church, and look what has happened. It's, it shows what one individual can do to change the world.

DEAN BECKER: And, again, Jack, I think about, you know, you and I have occasionally had the encounter with a prohibitionist in a small debate, minor situation perhaps on a TV chat show, but they run from discussion, they hide from this debate, because there really is no justification left, or never was, but nothing left for them to defend themselves by, am I right?

JACK COLE: That's absolutely so. We find it's almost impossible for us at LEAP to get anybody who will debate us anymore. When we started, a lot of people wanted to debate us, and, a lot of other law enforcement groups who didn't agree with us wanted to debate us, but now, it's almost impossible to find anybody because they know two things: first off, they know that by their joining in a debate instead of just giving a lecture, we will draw more people to that particular thing. And number two, they know they're going to get trounced because they haven't won a debate with us ever. Ever.

DEAN BECKER: No. The only time I had a semi-debate was a college presentation, they invited this gentleman who was with the DEA, headed up a high intensity drug trafficking area in the Houston area here, and when it was over, I said, okeh, you want to come on my radio show and do this again? He said, no way in hell, and walked out the door.

JACK COLE: I'd say there's a lot of them, and I've debated exactly the same folks, as a matter of fact I debated the guy who was in charge of the entire high intensity drug program for DEA throughout the country, and I debated him twice down in Baltimore, Maryland. The first time, and in Baltimore, at this particular place, after it's done, they asked for a show of hands of who agrees with which side, and after the first time, he was pretty well trounced, 75 percent of them agreed with me, and only about 15 percent agreed with him, the rest didn't vote. So, he said, well I didn't realize how complicated this was going to be, and that you were going to have powerpoint and all this, so he came back the next year and we did it again, that year he lost by 85 to 5. So, he decided he didn't want to come back.

The worst I've ever done when they've actually called for a show of hands for a vote was 70 percent agreement with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. And it's not because I'm a good debater, it's just because all the facts are on our side.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, you know, we've had a few politicians really step forward and one in Texas that I'm really proud of is US Representative Beto O'Rourke, who wrote a book describing how we should end the war on drugs, and got elected, and beat his Republican opponent handily. It's the truth, and it will win votes, it's amazing, isn't it?

JACK COLE: Yes, and he stepped all over them, he's a wonderful example and a wonderful politician, in that he's willing to end this thing. But this is starting to happen all around the country. Many politicians are running, with part of their platform saying we need to reform the US drug laws and that they need to end mandatory minimum sentencing for drug violations, they need to start treating drug violations, you know, drug abuse as a health problem, and they're winning, as you said, they are winning elections doing this, so things are changing. They're changing so fast I can hardly keep up with them, actually.

DEAN BECKER: Exactly. And like doing the drug war news, these days, it's what to leave out because I'm swamped with drug war news. And, you know, the thing, Jack, this all brings forward to the listeners is, this is a situation that is ripe for picking. If you can educate yourself a little bit, you can help make the difference. You can contact the media, and the elected officials, and the police chief, and tell them, this is not working, we've got to end this drug war. Am I right?

JACK COLE: You are absolutely right, and as the old saying goes, all politics are local, so you can start right in your home, you can start right with your religious body if you're a religious person, you can start with your own police chief, as you just said, Dean. And what we've found works really well, if somebody who lives in a particular location wants to speak to their police chief, if they will invite a LEAP speaker to come in and just to accompany then, you know, because they have the right to go in as somebody in their jurisdiction of that law enforcement agency, they have a right to go in and speak to the chief, and then they just invite one of us and we go along and we have all the facts at our -- on hand so that we can answer any questions the chief might have. And it's paid off several times already, with this.

DEAN BECKER: You know, Jack, I am a minister with the Universalist Church, and I've been blessed to be invited to preach from the pulpit in 8 churches in and around the Houston area, always well accepted and of course, my topic, my sermon, revolves around the thought that prohibition is evil, and I'm usually invited after church to sit down at a luncheon with the members of the congregation and share my thoughts with their children, because it is, it is impossible to refute the thoughts that this drug war is an abject failure.

JACK COLE: Well, yes, and when you talk about the children, you know, our, here fighting the war on drugs, let me really give your listeners a little idea of what has happened in this fight. I started working undercover in narcotics in 1970, New Jersey State Police, I did that for 14 years. I saw this grow because 1970 was the beginning of the drug war, and here's how bad it has become. When I started in 1970, all the police in the United States, we measured our large, very largest single seizures of drugs in pounds. Today, we measure our largest single seizures in tons. Fifteen tons of methamphetamine, one seizure. Twenty tons of cocaine, one seizure. Twenty three tons of heroin, one seizure, and believe it or not, 242 tons of marijuana, one seizure.

So that is how we are being inundated with drugs today. The purity level of those hard drugs is far greater than it was when I started buying, when I started buying what was called heroin on the streets of New Jersey, and was analyzed by our state labs, and it was coming back at the same rate, it was coming back across the United States, and that was only one and a half percent. Only one and a half percent of that powder I was buying was actually heroin. Today, according to DEA, 60 percent of that powder is heroin. So that's a problem 40 times greater than it was when we started the war on drugs.

DEAN BECKER: And Jack --

JACK COLE: According to DEA, also, when they were created in 1973, one of their first jobs was to go back to 1970, the beginning of the war, and determine how many drug users we had in this country at the beginning of the war on drugs, because they were going to use that as a baseline, to show us what a great job they were doing in reducing that. So they told us that at the beginning of the war on drugs they estimated we had about 4 million people in this country above the age of 12 who had ever used an illegal drug. Well, Dean, that was 2 percent of that possible population in 1970. Today, DEA is telling us we have 121 million people above the age of 12 who've used an illegal drug, and that's 46 percent of this possible population. 46! So we went from 2 percent users to 46 percent users, under a war on drugs.

And now to get back to what you mentioned, about our children, our children for the last 30 years have told us it's easier to buy illegal drugs than it is to buy beer and cigarettes. And of course, all your listeners know the reason for that. If they go in to buy those legal drugs, beer and cigarettes, somebody's going to say, hey, are you old enough to buy this dope? Let me see an ID. So, if we legalize these other drugs, we will make it harder for our children, not easier, harder for our children to access these drugs.

DEAN BECKER: Friends, we've been speaking with the chairman of the board of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, my good friend, the guy who allowed me to join forces with these great criminal justice officials, and become a speaker for LEAP. Our website: LEAP.cc. And Jack, closing thoughts? People ought to talk to their pastor, ought to see if their church does not agree with these Methodists. Your closing thoughts, sir.

JACK COLE: Yeah. We go out and we speak to everybody. We speak to very, very conservative folks, like Rotaries, Kiwanis Clubs, Lions Clubs. These are business people and they're very conservative, and because of who we are, because we're cops, judges, prosecutors, 80 percent of those people agree with us after we speak to them. But you know, of the 20 percent that don't agree, many, many of them come up to me afterwards and say, look, Jack, I'll give it to you. If we were to legalize drugs, probably we could reduce death, disease, crime, and addiction, but you know something Jack? It's just immoral to allow people to use drugs.

And when they say that, there's nothing else I can say to convince them. So we have, but there are people who can convince them, so we've started a new project called Cops and Clergy, where after we go in to speak, we have people like Reverend Eric Dupee come in and speak to them and say, you know, like a month later, and say, I heard so many of you agree with LEAP but for those of you that didn't agree and think this is morally wrong, let me tell you what is really morally wrong, and that is continuing a law that causes people's deaths needlessly, that causes people to be put in prison because they want to put something in their body that you don't want to put in your body. That is morally wrong, and that will change things, so you're absolutely right. They should talk to their religious leaders.

RONALD REAGAN: Leading medical researchers are coming to the conclusion that marijuana, pot, grass, whatever you want to call it, is probably the most dangerous drug in the United States and we haven't begun to find out all of the ill effects, but they are permanent ill effects.

FEMALE VOICE-OVER: Thanks to Pretendatrin, I can do all the things I used to be able to do, but now with the added confidence that I'm doing them while medicated. Pretendatrin: because everybody deserves to be on something.

DEAN BECKER: Yesterday, at the invitation of Republicans AGainst Marijuana Prohibition and Liberty On The Rocks, Richard Lee, the founder of Oaksterdam University, the man who spent a million and a half of his own dollars trying to legalize weed in California, came to Houston to talk about what we need to do to legalize marijuana in the state of Texas.

RICHARD LEE: You can run for office, of course, and you can work in the government, be a bureaucrat, you can be a lawyer working the system, but there's two kind of more radical ways and that is civil disobedience, to straight out disobey the law and hope for the best, and another way that's kind of controversial and it's not really promoted by anybody in government at the moment, and that is to serve on a jury, and to use your power as a trial juror to decide that a law is unjust or being unjustly applied and refuse to convict somebody.

Just to go over this quickly, and we have some flyers up here on what I call jury immunity, because to me it's all based on the fact that for over 300 years now, juries cannot be punished for their verdicts, that they have the, whether or not you believe they should do it, is another question, but they do have the power to acquit somebody if they believe that it would, if it would be unjust to convict them. So, but there's basically, the Supreme Court decides what's constitutional and how trials are run, and the Supreme Court has decided that jurors should not be able to use their sense of justice, that it doesn't matter how unjust they think the law is, that they should convict if the facts say that somebody did it.

And there's two basic ways that the Supreme Court has set up the system for trials to try to stop citizens from, who serve on juries, from using their sense of justice. The first one is through severe jury selection and screening, or what I call jury stacking. And basically, to take the case of a medical marijuana case, for example, the court will ask all prospective jurors, all of the jury pool, if they know anybody who takes medical marijuana, if they have any friends or family who take medical marijuana, if they believe that medical marijuana should be legal, and they screen the jury, and they don't care if it takes a hundred or 200 or 300 person jury pool to find 12 that are all for taking, keeping cannabis illegal and have no problem convicting somebody of it.

The second way that the courts use to keep jurors from acquitting people who are, for instance, taking medical marijuana or distributing it to other patients, and that is through the use of the jury instruction. And the judge will give the following instruction: you must follow the law as I give it to you. And that sounds pretty ominous, right? When you hear the word must, you think, well, then I'm going to be punished if I don't, right? You wouldn't say must, but if you actually look up the legal definition, or I mean the different uses of the word must, it has different meanings. It can mean the legal meaning of must, like you must have a driver's license to drive, you know, otherwise you can be punished. But it can also mean more of a should, as in, you must see this new movie if you like science fiction, or you must read this book.

And that, in that sense, really, what you're saying is you really should do that. And that is kind of the trick that the judges play. They say must, but really what they mean is should, because ever since the William Penn trial back in 1670, jurors have not been punished for their verdicts. And so, the reason I talk about all this is to look to the future of Texas, and let's say, let's go to June 2017, and a number of other states have legalized cannabis by then. We're expecting in 2016 that California, Arizona, Nevada, maybe New Mexico, maybe Missouri, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, it's going to be on a lot of ballots, and it's probably going to pass in quite a few of them. And not to mention medical marijuana in Florida, and other states, and so you're going to have this whole culture and, around legalization that is going to be way ahead of Texas law.

And it's hard to see Texas legalizing in 2017, I mean even if by some miracle we got the legislature to pass a, even a medical marijuana much less a full legalization bill, with our current governor, it would be pretty difficult to get him to sign it, I think we'd have to, you'd have to have the votes for an override because when he signed the CBD bill, which is a very much a very weak medical marijuana bill a couple weeks ago, he said that he was totally against legalization, medical or otherwise.

And so, what I see in the future is a Texas that is way behind the rest of the country, but if you look at the history of what's happened in other states, the people haven't waited for the laws to change. What happened in California was, while we did have Prop 215 pass in 1996, it only allowed individuals to grow for themselves cannabis, they had to magically make the seeds or plants just appear from thin air under the law because there was no distribution system, no way to actually get it to start out with, but once a patient got it, then they could legally have it.

DEAN BECKER: Well, that's it. I want to thank Jack Cole of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, my good friend Richard Lee, and as always I remind you, because of prohibition, you don't know what's 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. Drug Truth Network archives are stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies.

Tap dancin' on the edge of an abyss...