12/29/17 Jeff Blackurn

Jeff Blackburn Tulia defense atty, recaps of 2017 and beyond with DA Ogg, Sheriff Gonzalez, Police Chiefs McClelland and Acevedo and DEA leader Stan Furce. + Commander Cody & Neil Young

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Friday, December 29, 2017
Jeff Blackurn



DECEMBER 29, 2017


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

DR. G. ALAN ROBISON: It's 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. I am Dean Becker, your host. I played our original intro for the Cultural Baggage show. This week, we're going to hear an interview I did recently with Jeff Blackburn, the Tulia defense attorney. We're also going to take a look back at the past year, and the past progress of the Drug Truth Network. And, since it's a New Year's show, we're going to play a little bit of music as well. Let's get started.

It was back on September 29 of the year 2000, I was in Austin. I was attending a march. It was a lot of folks who had been, had their lives disrupted in a little Texas town called Tulia, and it was there to educate and perhaps embolden our legislators to do something about this, to keep it from recurring, because it was a real travesty, a perfect example of the drug war run amok.

And one of those who was instrumental in that march, and especially instrumental in proving the inequities that was going on in that city of Tulia was attorney Jeff Blackburn, and he's with me now. Jeff, how are you, sir?

JEFF BLACKBURN: I'm doing great, as always, I'm really, really honored that you've put me on the show, and I'm flattered that you looked me up.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Jeff, the heck of it is, it was that day, September 29, I was walking next to I think about a ten year old little black boy, and we were between us carrying a sign in protest to what was going on here in the state of Texas. And it was in that march, it was looking at the face of that child, with so much determination and commitment on his face, that gave me the courage, the motivation, to do what I've been doing the last 17 years.

And I want to thank you, first off, for being a part of that, of my awakening, of being part of the, oh, I don't know, the backing. I felt the courage to continue, because people of good caliber were thinking along the same lines, and I want to thank you for that, sir.

JEFF BLACKBURN: Well, I didn't know that, and you're welcome, but I've got to tell you, that's, Dean, what a great example of what it will take ultimately to reverse prohibition, put an end to the war on drugs. It's not about legislation, it's not really about, I mean, it looks like it's about legislation, but what it's really about is the transformation of people's thinking, some of which get transformed into not just thinking differently about the war on drugs but doing something about the war on drugs.

It's that political transformational community based process, with guys like you, and me, and the rest of people that see, you know, that become involved and they see the power that the people really have. And I, you know, I think that's continuing, I mean, look, look how far in some ways we've come, and I'm no apologist for the system, but, but it's through the relentless efforts of people like you, and others, but especially, you've done a huge amount to raise people's consciousness, and, you know, like, tireless work to do that. And it's beginning to -- I think it's beginning to show.

And I think there are a lot more Dean Beckers just waiting for the call out there, and they'll, they'll get called, and they'll show up.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I, from your mouth to god's ear, I certainly hope so. But, we are making progress, it seems there, there really is no one left in government at the federal, state, or local level willing to defend this policy of drug prohibition. It just can't be done, can it.

JEFF BLACKBURN: Well, I don't know if I agree with you on that, because you have to remember, too, that the policy of prohibition was never good policy to begin with. It was a money maker. It still is. Tulia was all about making money, for the local messed up community that was desperate to get it. They were a collapsed rural economy, they wanted, you know, to them a million dollars in grant money looked like ten billion. You know?


JEFF BLACKBURN: So, as long as criminal justice is perceived as a profit center, which it still is, there will always be bad policy. It's never about, oh is this a good idea or not. To us, to regular people out here, it's about, is this a good idea or a bad idea? Well, we know it's a bad idea, and the evidence is there, and there's, you can't argue with it.

But, law enforcement is a machine that just keeps going. And of course, every now and then, they'll find these real primitive throwbacks, like Jeff Sessions, who are so -- who, I mean, he probably really believes the nonsense that he says, you know, that marijuana causes, you know, probably, mixed marriages or something, I don't know. You know?

DEAN BECKER: He said marijuana -- good people don't smoke marijuana, is what he said.


DEAN BECKER: And, it's just so preposterous. Now, I want to kind of update folks on what Tulia was about. It, I mentioned the drug war run amok. That's what happened there, right?

JEFF BLACKBURN: Yeah, basically. There was a system in Texas at that time, that fortunately, using Tulia, we were able to abolish, and also suing a bunch of counties, called the regional task force system.

And the fundamental flaw to this thing was that, and it -- what we had throughout Texas, because you have to remember, I mean, folks in Houston don't get it sometimes, and even I don't, way up here in the middle of nowhere. Hell, we've got 254 counties, okeh?


JEFF BLACKBURN: All of which are operating their own little crumby criminal justice system that's crumby in its own way, each one of them, okeh. But in these little counties especially, where what you've really got are frankly not very smart people in charge, I mean, you know, smart people don't move to a place like Swisher County, Texas, you know, population four thousand something, they don't.


JEFF BLACKBURN: And incidentally, I've done more of these cases, or cases like Tulia, in other parts of the state, and they're, you know, almost always the same, these rural areas, there's a lot of racism, they want to get rid of black people, or brown people, and what better way to do it than to nail them for drugs?

Well, back then, because we had this regional task force, there was an added incentive. So it's like, okeh, not only can you just go get rid of black people, but we're going to pay you by the head. Okeh? We're going to -- we're going to pay you grants based on the number of people that you arrest. Okeh?

Well, that's just too great an incentive, and when you've got an already broken criminal justice system, with poor lawyers, I mean, yeah. Low grade idiot lawyers.


JEFF BLACKBURN: One or two, you know, doing court appointments. You've already got a system that's rigged to put people in the penitentiary. That's just too tempting, I mean, they couldn't resist. So, in all these little counties throughout the state, there were about eight or nine of these regional task forces. Money driven enforcement became the norm, and they started mass arrests.

In Tulia, they made -- they found a guy who, as Nate Blakeslee, the guy that wrote the book about Tulia, it's a great book, incidentally, people ought to read it, just called Tulia, Nate said, you know, it's been said that Tom Coleman, that was the agent that arrested all these guys, had a checkered past, and that's not really true. There weren't any checkers, it was all just bad. Okeh? And I agree with him, he was a bad cop.


JEFF BLACKBURN: And, I mean, he had a prior, you know, he had like a prior history of getting fired from department to department, stealing money, I mean, he was a horrible guy, who they hired to do this job. Well, you know, he saw this as a great tool for career advancement. It was. He got a big award, he was like narc of the year as a result of it. They have that award, still.

And, you know, so the bottom line was, everybody made money. The cop got his promotion. This was going on all over the state. And, you know, the only problem was that to get those kind of numbers you had to make cases up. So, these people were innocent. They were not delivering powder cocaine to anybody. They weren't delivering crack, either. They were crack users, many of them, not all of them.

And, you know, they, he said that they delivered cocaine to them. We took on this, it's not, it wasn't a case, it was more like a war, with 46 different defendants, most of whom had been convicted. There were two that hadn't, that they just hadn't caught yet. So I took on those two cases. In one of them, a girl named Tanya White, we conclusively proved through a bank record, because she was in Oklahoma City cashing a check on the day that Coleman said she was delivering cocaine to him. We sort of exposed him as a liar, and then the whole house of cards started coming down, once we did that.

I have heard since then, from many people, not just about Tulia but about all the innocence cases that I've done. I founded the Innocence Project of Texas, we've gotten a lot of people out, a guy named Tim Cole we got exonerated, especially. So the worst thing that you hear is, well, that proves the system works No, it doesn't prove the system -- it proves the system doesn't work at all.


JEFF BLACKBURN: Because, the only way that you can make the system work is through immense effort, usually volunteer. I mean, everybody was unpaid, I didn't do that for pay in Tulia. So, you've got to find -- you know, and you don't find that very often, a lawyer that's -- it took me five years to get those cases done. You're not going to find that.


JEFF BLACKBURN: You're not going to find people that can sustain a fight like that, you know. It takes five minutes to get somebody convicted in a Texas courtroom, it takes five years to get them out, maybe, if you're lucky.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I want to come back to that guy, Tom Coleman, he was a despicable individual, as you said.


DEAN BECKER: And one of the things that also, if I remember right, was that they determined that the cocaine in each of these arrests, was identical, that it had been taken from the same bag over a long period of time, which is basically coming from a bag I guess that Tom Coleman kept to --


DEAN BECKER: -- to make those busts.

JEFF BLACKBURN: Well, he had stepped on it so many times. We did chemically prove, that was pretty entertaining, too, I, as I -- we chemically prove that it was all the same dope, it all came from the same source, but we also proved that the samples he was turning in, claiming that somebody had delivered him his cocaine, was, like, diluted to maybe like four thousand to one. I mean, there was like a speck of cocaine.


JEFF BLACKBURN: Which, of course, because we have this bad law in Texas, among many others, that's fine, because we, even a speck of cocaine is enough to make -- you get charged for possessing the whole amount. I mean, if you have a speck of blow in a four pound bag of baby powder, you're guilty of four pounds of cocaine. Okeh?



DEAN BECKER: No, I -- it reminds me of a story, the first time I interviewed Jack Cole, the director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, he told me a story of when Nixon first instigated this, and they went from a seven man staff to seventy, they were compelled to get busts some way or another, and one of the things they did, they might bust somebody with a small bag of cocaine, and they would pour it into a bag of flour or sugar and shake it up, and suddenly they had a major case. It's --

JEFF BLACKBURN: Sure. Exactly. Now you've got a five pound case. My god, bring in the reporters, you know.


JEFF BLACKBURN: But, but the key take-away with this stuff, from Tulia, I mean, look, Tom Coleman, evil guy, but total product of the policing for money system. Okeh?


JEFF BLACKBURN: There are always going to be, you know, there are a lot of bad cops out there anyway, and there have been many other scandals, you know, the Dallas sheet rock scandal, now largely forgotten. But the bottom line is, as long as you tie actual grants of money, promotions, fame within the world of cops, to number-based arrests, you're going to have these guys, you're going to have crooked cops profiting from it.

And, you know, it extends on other things. We, about, I don't know, five or six years ago, I busted a crooked cop who was going around the state claiming that he had these magic dogs, and he could do scent line-ups, okeh, which are even more ridiculous than they sound. But, you know, the same kind of thing, he would be paid by these counties, they put him up, they treated him great, he was traveling all over the place. You know, hell, he worked it, and he was just, it was a complete lie, this gimmick that he had.

But, so, it was the same thing. He was like the Tom Coleman of junk science.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. I, your mention earlier of fake drugs reminded me, I think it was just last year here in the city of Houston, cops busted a guy who had a sock full of powder in his floorboard in his backseat, and they busted him for, I think it was methamphetamine. Turned out it was kitty litter designed to absorb odors from the car. And --


DEAN BECKER: I don't even know how to go past that, but to say, if you can't tell kitty litter from cocaine, you shouldn't be wearing a badge.

JEFF BLACKBURN: You've got to wonder about the field testing going on. Of course, you know, but there are all kinds of levels of corruption that are mostly caused, you know, like these various scandals, I mean, in Harris County, you've got to be more than familiar with the lab that can't get a sample right, I mean, you know, ever.


JEFF BLACKBURN: And I worked on that for a long time, and it's like one crisis after another. But the reason for that crisis is not because it's just an occasional evil person. It gets us back to this, oh, does the system work or not? No. It's because the system promotes these people, it likes them because they get results.

And we've got a bunch of people jammed up into the system, and they want to get results, they want to put them in prison, and they want to put them in prison so that they can justify themselves, make more money, build a bigger system. It's the same stuff. So, when we talk about progress, there has been some.


JEFF BLACKBURN: We got some decent laws passed out of Tulia. We've gotten some decent laws passed out of the innocence movement. But, but, does it mean the system works? No. Have we really fundamentally improved it? Absolutely not. Are there more people being framed for drugs? As we speak, right now, I can tell you somewhere in this state, somebody is being completely framed on a drug charge.

And, is anything going to happen over it? Probably not. They're probably going to go to prison.

DEAN BECKER: It's, oh, it's a real conundrum, this drug war, but --

JEFF BLACKBURN: But it's not. It's not, Dean. I'm going to tell you this, it's not a conundrum, and you know it's really weird, about criminal justice, and especially about the drug war. Okeh? You know, we do have things that are conundrums, that are predicaments. Climate change is a predicament. All right?


JEFF BLACKBURN: I mean, it's not like we can go, and, you can't go solve this, okeh? You can adapt, right? Criminal justice is a bundle of problems that have fixes. We're just not willing to do it. And that's where the work that you do, and that other people do out there comes in, because there is a solution, and you can politically fix this. Period. You know?


JEFF BLACKBURN: It's not really a big -- it's not a predicament. It's a problem.

DEAN BECKER: Well, as a, you know, what now, I'm thinking 17, 18, 20 year drug reformer, you know, I often think of that story, what was it, Sisyphus rolling the boulder up the hill?


DEAN BECKER: And, and, you know, there's a -- it's not just me, there are now tens of thousands, maybe a hundred thousand people, working towards drug reform. But it's still like trying to roll the earth up a hill. I mean, it's --


DEAN BECKER: It's a challenge, still, to this day. Jeff, I want to close this out by allowing you to talk about the Innocence Project and the work you guys are doing.

JEFF BLACKBURN: Well, you know, I've got to tell you, I left the Innocence Project about a year and a half ago. I'm trying to focus on more local things, you know, I kind of decided to play small ball. And I've been trying to focus on reducing, you know, getting cite and release for marijuana cases, because there is a law that says they can do that, and that means, you know, you don't have to put people in jail.

Fixing the broken criminal justice system in Texas is a growth industry. Okeh?

DEAN BECKER: That's for sure.

JEFF BLACKBURN: There's plenty to do, there's a lot to do.


JEFF BLACKBURN: Okeh? We tried to do a lot for about, after Tulia, I founded the Innocence Project of Texas. We did a lot of cases, you know, we got a statue to one of our cases in, that got built at Texas Tech. That's cool. And, it, we changed some stuff, there's now, you know, a commission on innocence and all that, and there's a -- we have a better law about eyewitness IDs.

But cops are going to be cops. Okeh?


JEFF BLACKBURN: And, they're going to be under the same old pressures to make cases, and clear them out. So, you can fix little parts here and there, but the minute that somebody wants to declare victory, you know they're lying. Okeh? When somebody says we have fixed the problems in the criminal justice system, they're lying, because their problems go much deeper.

This was a system designed, designed, to deport black people. Okeh? That's -- the system in Texas, all throughout the south, is like that. And until we have a fundamental reset of what we're trying to do with the criminal justice system, we're going to see it. But what do people do? Well, you stay political, you stay active, you keep working at it. Marijuana prohibition, most people agree, is a dumb idea now. Okeh? Most people agree with that.


JEFF BLACKBURN: Everywhere. So, we take that victory, but even -- even, no matter how hard it is, we've got to keep working for that. Of course, I'm still working for that, on a state-wide level as well as locally. But, politics is local, that's where it starts. If they're arresting people, work out a campaign to stop that. Show how expensive it is, you know, for marijuana.


JEFF BLACKBURN: That kind of thing. There's a lot of opportunities for activism. And the good thing is, this is the last thing I want to tell people. Hell, it's fun, it's a good life. Okeh? It's better than just sitting around doing nothing.

DEAN BECKER: You're damn right there. I, look, I was a, you know, I did all kinds of things, roofer, machinist, inspector, auditor, accountant, but this is the best job I ever had, because --

JEFF BLACKBURN: Well, exactly.

DEAN BECKER: I am hoping to change the world, to leave it better for my kids and grandkids, because this drug war has never done anything positive. And I feel if I can help move that, I will have left a legacy. Something to be proud of, for my --

JEFF BLACKBURN: Well, Dean, at the risk of sounding like I'm kissing your ass, because that's really not my intention, you've already done that. Okeh? You're leaving the world a better place, and all the people out there that are listening, that are active in this movement, that are working, and all the people that are thinking about whether they should be active, I'm telling you, we're going to leave it a little bit better place, and what more can you do? That's it. And you've done it, my friend.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and so have you, my friend. I appreciate it. Well, once again, we've been speaking with Mister Jeff Blackburn, an attorney.

It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Yellow eyes, vomiting, black tarry stools, cloudy urine, fever with chills, sores, ulcers, or white spots on lips and mouth, unusual bleeding. Time's up! The answer, another FDA-approved product: acetaminophen.

The following is a Drug Truth Network editorial.

We have no respect for those who believe in the drug war, those that think this second of America's feel-good prohibitions is a good policy worth pursuing for eternity, worth destroying the futures of millions of kids each year because we are afraid that these drugs might destroy their future.

The overdose deaths are now, as they always have been, mostly caused by rebellion, and confusion, and by not knowing what's in the bag. If these kids get busted, then follows a never-ending battle over morals, that start with parents, bosses, wives, husbands, kids, the church, the cops, the DA, the judges, the probation officer, the parole officer, the treatment provider, fees, fines, ankle bracelets, and on and on it goes.

So, these authorities, after judging you to be a gross and obvious sinner, may take your children, your cash, car, house, and all your worldly goods through asset forfeiture, and then once out from behind bars, it's go get yourself housing, education, credit, and a job, and pay us for protecting you from yourself.

Failing that obligation, the fines increase as does the oversight, as the young person with this eternal black mark on their life and livelihood fails and flails until the only -- the only -- job he can find is with the world's largest multi-level marketing organization, the black market in drugs.

With the tiny amounts needed of fentanyl and carfentanyl, hundreds of times more powerful than pure heroin and thus now so easily smuggled to the US, and so now they distribute fake pills, fake powders, and the truly dangerous and deadly, horrifically named, synthetic marijuana, and we have but to ask ourselves, what is the benefit of empowering terrorists, cartels, and thousands and thousands of violent US gangs to the tune of $394 billion a year, just so half of that amount can go to corrupt border guards, customs agents, Ford Motor Company employees, judges, DAs, cops, the list is endless.

The cops and the judges and all these folks know this prohibition is a cluster flock, but it pays the bills, funds the pensions, and is the way they've been doing it for nigh unto a hundred years.

There is no benefit to drug war, none, 'tis but a pipe dream of men who died long ago. The modern day adherents of this policy know full well the truth of this matter, just as we do. They are complicit, fully aware, they are 180 degrees off track and yet they persist in embracing this abomination, this lie, for cash, for votes, and thus stand forever in support of the guns and tactics that threaten every American. Guns carelessly wielded by cops.

Because of drug prohibition, we are all potential victims. We're all now considered to be criminal suspects, maybe carrying drugs, subject to a flailing and ugly pussified law enforcement mentality. We are all obviously and forever in great peril, thanks to the drug war.

All right, here's that mix I promised you, a look back at the past year as well as a look at the long term progress of the Drug Truth Network. Going to start things off when I first started getting traction, it was 2006, when Houston Community College sponsored a debate. It featured Stan Furce, head of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area in Houston, the DEA, as well as yours truly. This is Michael Ronan.

MICHAEL RONAN: Okeh, Mister Dean Becker.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Michael, for sponsoring this panel. I think it's a rare opportunity to open up this Pandora's Box and have a look.

Are we winning the war on drugs? Let's define who "we" are. We're winning the war if we means the most vocal proponents, like cops, district attorneys, defense attorneys, bail bondsmen, legislators, bankers, pharmaceutical houses, alcohol and tobacco vendors, prison builders, prison guards, treatment centers, urine testers, and perhaps a million other Americans whose company growth depends on eternal drug war.

Ms. Baker, Mister Furce, I think we share many common goals. We all want to stop funding Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban with moneys derived from turning opium poppies into weapons with which to kill our soldiers. We all want to stop the drug trade that sends billions of dollars to dangerous cartels in Central and South America every year.

We all want to eliminate the reason for which most of these violent street gangs exist, the means by which they buy their high powered weaponry to shoot up our city streets. We all want to curtail the street corner vendors that sell deadly concoctions to our children. We all want to eliminate drug overdose deaths. We want to cut back on the number of deadly diseases like AIDS and hep C.

Yet after 92 years of failure, when the US leads the world in our incarceration rate, when drugs are cheaper, purer, and more freely available to our children than ever before, when binge drinking and prescription pill abuse is rampant, many times in order to foil urine tests, when preventable death, disease, crime, and addiction are rampant, and used as justification for more of the same hopeless policy, we have but to examine the evidence to ascertain we are 180 degrees off track.

Those in positions of power, who embrace the policy of eternal drug prohibition, are the best friends the drug lords in Colombia could ever hope for. Their work enriches Al Qaeda, and ensures continual funding for the violent gangs that prowl our streets. Drug war is a killer. It is a destroyer of nations and basic human rights. Drug abuse is not a criminal matter, it is a medical problem.

We lost the drug war on the day it began. Let us stop the lies, let us embrace the facts, let us do it for the children.

MICHAEL RONAN: Thank you, Dean. Mister Furce.

STAN FURCE: Are you going to give up and legalize drugs? There is no war on drugs, there never has been a war on drugs. We agree on a lot of the same things. The, and the only message I'd like to give this audience is, if you approach it with pragmatism, and reality, okeh, that's all I'm asking you to do, look at, look at my opponent's viewpoints, look at our viewpoints, and before you read or digest anything and say this is the truth, research it in its entirety.

The war on drugs, Senator Joe Biden gives a great analogy on the war on drugs. There is no war, there never has been a war on drugs. If there was a war on drugs, we would have won years ago, and if we applied all our resources, but we never have and we never will be. Joe Biden says the war on drugs is kind of like his lawn. The lawn is going to continue to grow, and unless you mow it consistently it's going to become a jungle.

What we do in narcotic enforcement on supply reduction is we try to keep the supply down by mowing that lawn. I don't know if you've ever been into New York City, for example, if you've been in New York City you can imagine the amount of garbage that, that they generate every day. And nobody ever pays attention to the garbage man until he goes on strike. You ever been in New York City in the summertime during a garbage strike? You really, really like garbage men.

There's another anecdote about, on the legalization thing, and that, it uses what I used to teach about the use of drugs. Transform yourself back into time as a troglodyte walking through the jungles with your knuckles dragging, and for the first time you encounter a chicken.

Now, you've encountered many other animals, but here is your first chicken, and all of a sudden something drops out of its butt. Now, you know what drops out of most animals butts, now what would make you go over and eat that thing? In this case it's an egg. What I'm saying by that analogy is, people will try to do anything. Who is the first person that tried a marijuana leaf and smoked it? Who was the first person that took zinnia seeds and tried to get high from it? Who was the first?

If we legal -- what do we legalize? Do we legalize everything? And if we do legalize things, do we put any kind of parameters on it? Will we give it to anybody? Can a three year old go in and buy marijuana?

DEAN BECKER: All right, so, I presented, I thought, a very logical, powerful, slam dunk pile of information, and he comes back with, it's like mowing the lawn. This is the head of the DEA effort here in Houston, he may have retired by now, but, it's like taking out the garbage. It's like, if you don't mow the lawn, you know, it's just going to get worse. Troglodyte, chicken butt. He cannot address the concerns I gave. Can a three year old buy marijuana? I mean, hell no, everybody knows that, but that's the type of BS that they put forward to frighten and, you know, just distract.

It's crazy. Now, things did get better. Now, let's see, this is from, actually, we had a lot of good interviews over the years, don't get me wrong, I've interviewed Milton Friedman three times, president of Mexico Vicente Fox, Grover Norquist, two US senators, nine US reps, four Texas senators, four Texas reps, I've interviewed scientists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than a hundred authors, doctors, nurses, cops, wardens, prosecutors, patients, providers, and reformers.

You know, we have delved deeply. We have exposed this fraud and misdirection over the years, but it was December 2014 when we made a major step and, just listen up. The following discussion is with Charles A. McClelland, Junior, who was police chief in December of 2014.

CHARLES MCLELLAND: You know, obviously I'm not a medical doctor, but there is growing research to show that it may have, uh, legitimate purposes to decrease people's seizures, epilepsy, we've always heard about people with glaucoma, those type things, and if it does, the FDA needs to move. You know? And people can go to Wal-Mart, and CVS, and, you know, Walgreen's, and fill their prescription.

DEAN BECKER: And allow you and your officers to focus on something ÔÇô

CHARLES MCLELLAND: Focus on something else.

DEAN BECKER: You know, chief, we have a few minutes left here and I, I wanted to just say this: I want to thank you once again because, I have tried for years to get people at the federal level, even at the state level, you know, representatives and senators, to come on my show, to explain to us why we need to go down this same path, and it's been pretty much a failure.

I mean, I'll be honest with you, I have tried to get the last five drug czars to come on, head of the ONDCP, and they absolutely refuse to do so. Even the new guy Michael Botticelli, he's a former alcoholic, like me. I think he understands a lot of the concerns, but he's constrained, and he ÔÇô his office refuses to come on this show. I wonder why they cannot defend the policy, why they ignore me or, you know, deny me the right for that interview.

CHARLES MCLELLAND: Most of us understand, we do believe, those of us that are law enforcement executives, that the war on drugs, the 1980 drug policies, was a miserable failure, there's no doubt about that. Now on the other hand, I know that everyone in our community here in Houston is not going to agree with Chief McLelland, but that doesn't mean that we have to be disagreeable.

I think that one thing that everyone will agree with me on is we want to do whatever we can in the most efficient and effective way to keep our communities safe as possible. And we do have to think differently about crime, crime prevention, drug rehabilitation, substance abuse, mental illness, there's a whole host of things that we need to treat differently than we did ten years ago, twenty years ago, fifteen years ago, I think we can all agree on that.

DEAN BECKER: Again, that was former Houston Police Chief Charles McLelland, Junior, calling the drug war a miserable failure. That was on a, I don't know what day of the week we were on back then, but I think it was a Friday. That night, NBC carried audio from that interview, chief declares the drug war a miserable failure. They were agreeing, glad to hear it. The Sunday after that, Fox News carries segments from that, they did an 18 minute segment on a, you know, morning talk show. Chief's right, we've got to do something.

And then, the following Thursday, the Houston Chronicle, major editorial, wise counsel, Congress should listen to what Houston Police Chief Charles McLelland has to say, in an interview with Houston-based radio show Cultural Baggage, McLelland candidly discussed the undeniable facts about our nation's criminalization and prohibition, calling the drug war a miserable failure.

And I guess what I'm saying here, friends, is that it's okeh to talk to your elected officials. It's okeh to talk to the police chief, the sheriff, et cetera, because they get it. They're just constrained by this hundred year hysteria, this quasi-religion called drug prohibition.

The following is part of a discussion with Ed Gonzalez, the sheriff of Harris County, Houston, Texas.

And I want to just preface this, your response, with this thought. The drug war, $370 billion a year and it's been reported that about half of that goes towards corruption. Now, I'm not pointing at the sheriff's department, I'm not pointing at any one person, but I'm just saying, that's a lot of money to corrupt the situation, is it not?

ED GONZALEZ: Oh, absolutely. There's a lot of wasteful spending, and definitely a lot of impacts, not only to society, but also to budgets, and so, that's why I definitely feel that reform is needed.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. And that's the point. It's been reported that at least a trillion US taxpayer dollars have been invested into the drug war over the years, some say it's as much as three trillion. But the fact of the matter is, the results have not been the bonanza that we were anticipating. Am I right?

ED GONZALEZ: Absolutely, yeah, we spend approximately $80 billion a year in this country incarcerating folks for one thing or another, and that does not even include the full cost of the criminal justice system, that's basically just incarceration. It doesn't have anything to do with the judicial side, the police officers, and we still have crime. We still have drug use occurring, and so again, we need to definitely rethink what's happened, especially over the last 40 years.

.... because if you were to see the origin of a lot of those arrests, you would see how it disproportionately impacts for example minority communities. And so, no one's really making those arguments, and so there's a key policy need, you know, for change there, because it's really impacting a lot of, again, communities of color.

And also, making sure that being inside the county jail should not be a death sentence. You know, they have a right to due process, we have individuals simply awaiting bail, and half the time they're in on a simple misdemeanor while they await trail or couldn't make bond. We need to do better that that, it's the 21st century, we should have the right safeguards in place.

We see the situation with the rape victim that was recently incarcerated, and some of the abuse that occurred over those twenty plus days. You know, you would think that with all that's happened, that we would have the right checks and balances, and that something would sound an alarm to bring intervention quicker to eliminate some of those things, but yet we still see incidents like that occurring.

DEAN BECKER: You know, we are, for Texas, rather blessed, you know? We do have some pretty good officials in the sheriff, police chair -- police chief's chair, and district attorney, and many of the staff of the district attorney.

But we still have Texas legislators that -- you know, I went to Austin a couple of times, you know, this past bill, you know, whatever you want to call it, talked to representatives and senators, and by god, behind closed doors, they, they're with me, they get it. They do not have the courage to speak publicly, openly, in session, I don't know, to change this. Because they're afraid of you. They're afraid of what you might say, think, or do, if they were to change these stupid drug laws.

And so what I'm suggesting, what I'm hoping to do is motivate you to get on the phone, to write a letter, an email, to visit these Texas officials, to let them know it's okeh. We're sick and tired of this drug war, too, we want you to do something about it. We've got to stop locking up so many people for so little of a crime.

But, I'm wanting to show you that these officials, at least locally, they're with me. And I think you're with me, and it's time we all get together and do something about this stupid drug war. Let's go ahead and play track five.

The following interview is with the police chief of Houston, Texas, Art Acevedo.

You know, chief, I'm aware of some efforts right here in Texas to obtain CBD oil, for little kids suffering with epilepsy, that Doctor Sanjay Gupta kind of proved the point for us a couple of years back. I'm aware of some elderly folks needing it for arthritis and other maladies, you know, slipped discs and all kinds of things.

And, I would imagine that nearly every family in Texas, across America, has a child or an elder or a friend who is benefiting from this, and I guess what I'm leading to, sir, is, you know, it's becoming close to home. This need to examine, at least CBD and the marijuana extracts. Your thought there, sir.

ART ACEVEDO: I think that in the next few years you're going to see a real vigorous review of the medical benefits of marijuana as a treatment for nausea and all the other ailments that there has been some evidence that it provides relief to, and I think that you'll have a really spirited but well-informed discussion, and at some point, I could really -- I could really foresee in the future marijuana and some other oils being legalized for medicinal purposes. It will probably be the first step in Texas.


ART ACEVEDO: That would be my prediction.

DEAN BECKER: Just, was it last week or the week before, they had a major conference at the Texas Medical Center, featuring scientists from Israel, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's, talking about the need to explore this, to perhaps have Texas Medical Center become the world's largest, you know, expert, as far as cannabis.

ART ACEVEDO: And you know, and the thing is that we, I'm a law enforcement officer. My job is to, you know, enforce the law. I will always, you know, I didn't go to school to be a scientist or a doctor.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir.

ART ACEVEDO: We're going to rely on them to give us their best assessment of the facts, as it relates to the benefits and some detriments, you know, there's detrimental side effects s well. So, once they weigh in, then I think that the legislature will have to make a decision based on, what they should follow, the scientific evidence and not, you know, it's my, I believed that it's a bad drug my entire life, you know, let's face it, alcohol's probably more -- does more damage than any drug. More people die probably from cirrhosis of the liver, and drinking and driving, and things of that nature, than people get impacted by marijuana.

DEAN BECKER: Again, that was our police chief, Art Acevedo, and he understands this. He's willing to speak openly about this need for change. And I guess what I'm suggesting is that you get on that same wagon with us, that you dare to speak up a little bit at work, maybe, and you'll probably get a lot of positive response.

I mean, maybe you do it in the coffee room as a way to try it out. But, do it at church. There's churches -- there's six hundred and, well, last I knew, 680 churches that are working together to end the war on drugs. It's not a taboo subject anymore. Do we want to keep locking up generations of our children for being stupid? For going through that rebellious stage from about 18 to 25, where they think it's okeh to do this, I don't know, a little line of coke, or some other type drug, because, well, hell, everybody's doing it. They've been doing it for generations.

How long can people continue to believe it's possible to stop the flow of drugs? $370 billion a year? Now come on, you're not going to stop that unless you legalize it, and it drops to about $3.7, because those drugs are way overpriced, way inflated. As I indicated earlier, I seldom get a chance to talk to top dog officials, but there is one that I got to speak with, and I think you'll appreciate this conversation.

The following is part of a discussion with US Congressman from El Paso, Beto O'Rourke, who's now running for Ted Cruz's Senate seat. He's author of Dealing, Death, and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the US and Mexico: An Argument to End the Prohibition of Marijuana. Beto O'Rourke.

REPRESENTATIVE BETO O'ROURKE: and Dean, I tell everyone about you, the issue that you really led on, far longer than I've even been aware of it, is the need to ensure that this government treats everyone with respect, that we're not prosecuting a war on drugs that we'll never win, that's wasted a trillion dollars and so many lives, imprisons more people in this country than any other country on on the face of the planet, where more than half of the states in this country, through popular decisions, have already ended their war on people through marijuana, through legislatures, through statewide referendums, to medicinalize, decriminalize, or outright end the prohibition.

We can wait for Texas to do it, or we can elect a Senator from Texas who will do it, and I think that's exactly what we're about to do right now, and that will allow us to keep marijuana out of schools, where it's one of the most rapidly expanding markets today, away from kids whose minds are still developing, the profits away from criminals and cartels, and allow us to focus on real national important public health problems like the opioid crisis and epidemic, and abuse, and death, hundreds of thousands of Americans who've lost their lives in this, who need our help right now, they don't need us fighting a failed war on drugs.

So my gratitude to you, you've been an inspiration to me, you were there for me when I first got involved in this issue, and I'm grateful, I'm so glad to be in Houston with you right now, man, it makes my day.

DEAN BECKER: Well, thank you, Beto. One last thought, you know, it does need to be changed at the federal level, I'm with you 199 percent there, but we did make a change here, starting the First of March, we stopped arresting kids doing stupid things, being out on the streets with marijuana.

BETO O'ROURKE: That's right.

DEAN BECKER: And, our district attorney I think has certainly gained my respect. What's your thought in that regard?

BETO O'ROURKE: Yeah, I'm so proud of, and impressed by Houston. Again, not waiting for outside money to figure it out, not waiting for the state-wide leadership to tell them what to do, taking matters into their own hands, knocking on doors, organizing, putting up great candidates, supporting them. That's the model for the rest of the state. And so the leadership here, while it's important for Houston and we're glad for Houston, it's going to be critical for the state of Texas. So we're, believe me, we're going to follow your lead.

DEAN BECKER: You know, I -- remember we had Stan Furce, he was talking about mowing the lawn, taking out the garbage, troglodytes and chicken butts. Well, that's part of the hysteria, the reefer madness, and I'm going to help him mow that lawn.

ANNOUNCER: These high school boys and girls are having a hop at the local soda fountain. Innocently they dance. Innocent of the new and deadly menace lurking behind closed doors. Marijuana: the burning weed with its roots in hell.

In this film, you will see the ease with which this vicious plant can be grown in your neighbor's yard, rolled into harmless looking cigarettes, hidden in an innocent shoe, or watchcase.

FEMALE VOICE: If you want a good smoke, try one of these

ANNOUNCER: You will meet Bill, who once took pride in his strong will, as he takes the first step toward enslavement.

FEMALE VOICE: Of course, if you're afraid ....

SECOND FEMALE VOICE: Come on, Bill. Come on. Oh, come on. Come on.


ANNOUNCER: 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. See this important film now, before it is too late.

I was sitting in my basement I just rolled myself a taste
Of something green and gold and glorious to get me through the day.
Then my friend yelled through the transom, "Grab your coat and get your hat son,
There's a nut down on the corner, givin' dollar bills away."

But I laid around a bit
Then I had another hit
Then I rolled myself a bomber
Then I thought about my mama
Then I fooled around, played around
Jacked around a while and then ...

I got stoned and I missed it
I got stoned and I missed it
I got stoned and it rolled right by, right on by,
I got stoned and I missed it
I got stoned and I missed it
I got stoned oh me oh my.

DEAN BECKER: I'll tell you this: I've been smoking weed for, let me think about this a second -- fifty-two years. Nearly every day of my life. I've admitted that freely on the air for 16 years, I've admitted it to the DA, the sheriff, and everybody else, but the fact of the matter is, I succeeded in life. I had healthy kids, I got healthy grandkids, once I quit drinking alcohol I stopped getting arrested. I've been busted thirteen times, my friends, I'm lucky I'm white, I'm lucky I had a little bit of money, but 11 of them were for being drunk with a little bit of drugs in my pocket.

I never got busted for being drunk, they always booked me for the seeds in the floorboard, the roach in the ashtray, the stupid things that drunk people do that, you know, I teach my kids, never carry more than you can eat in five seconds or less. That's the number one rule of surviving in this drug war.

This is when I spoke with our new district attorney, Kim Ogg, about her new misdemeanor marijuana diversion program.

Now, Kim, this is requiring the cooperation, the implementation of not just the sheriff and the police chief, but constables and others. Is that proving to be a bit of an impediment kind of moving it from one side to the other?

KIM OGG: No, it's not, Dean, in fact, I think the most newsworthy information about our marijuana diversion program is the complete and total support of the Houston area law enforcement community. I talked with police chiefs and constables and leaders in law enforcement of more than ninety different agencies over the course of the two months or so that we were working on the program full time, putting it together, it was the first and top priority of my administration, and we were welcomed with open arms.

Law enforcement knows that during these times of limited resources, better than anyone, that their priorities need to be on crimes against people and property, not busting people for tiny amounts of marijuana. And so, we made changes, they had suggestions, they had concerns about different proposed aspects of the program. And I think that the collaboration was invaluable. And when we announced in mid-February that the program was going to move forward March First, you were there, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, ma'am.

KIM OGG: We had dozens of law enforcement officers and representatives there to support the program. They're ready to divert, they know that it's a waste of their time in terms of making any real dent in public safety. No evidence shows that aggressive prosecution of possession of marijuana, simple possession, has ever made us safer. And we're all ready to clear the table and work on robbery and murder and the real cases that our public and our constituents want us working on.

So it was exciting, and their support was welcome, and that to me is what gave it a national newsworthiness.

DEAN BECKER: Oh, exactly right, and it certainly made a big national splash. Yeah, I was there, as you say, you had the police chief, the sheriff, the constables, you had about a dozen ministers behind you. .... When you gave your speech there at the criminal courthouse, you know, about the MMDP, I walked up to you, shook your hand, and you tell me if I'm right, you said Dean, you were the trailblazer, you made this day possible. Is that right?

KIM OGG: I think you were a big part of it, Dean, you represent law enforcement, you represent the community, you've been accused and been through our criminal justice system, and I think that you've had the opportunity in your 68 years, now that I know how old you are, to see this issue from many different perspectives. I found that invaluable.

And your crusade to basically get law enforcement's focus on the issues and the things we can do to reduce the crime rate and prevent crime, I think for a forerunner to my ability to bring this change to Houston's drug policies, and to our leadership's perspective, and so yes, you were an inspiration to me, and I want to thank you personally.

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

Stand up for what you believe,
Resist the 'powers that be',
Preserve the land and save the seas
For the children of destiny,
The children of you and me.

Should 'goodness' ever lose and 'evil' steal the day,
Should 'happy' sing the blues and 'peaceful' fade away,
What would you do?
What would you say?
How would you act on that new day?

Stand up for what you believe,
Resist the 'powers that be',
Preserve the ways of democracy
So the children can be free,
The children of destiny.

When money matters most and war is good for gain,
The capital is yours, the people feel the pain.
They feel the pain, they walk the streets
While the bombs fall in the rain.
The children hide, somewhere inside,
While the bombs fall in the rain.