10/10/18 Jay Hall

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Jay Hall
Matt Elrod
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Jay Hall, Houston Police Lt. (retired after 24 years) author of OpEd in Houston Chronicle: Texas’ two U.S. senators are undermining the state’s role as a leader in revamping overly harsh sentencing laws and reducing mass incarceration. + Matt Elrod Canadian Drug Reformer re US propaganda role in perpetuating eternal war.

Audio file


OCTOBER 10, 2018


DEAN BECKER: What will it take to motivate?

No time for an intro, this is Cultural Baggage, I'm Dean Becker, your host. Let's get to it.

Well folks, after retiring as a lieutenant from the Houston Police Department with 24 years of service, Jay Hall acquired his PhD in organizational behavior, management, and leadership. He's now a speaker with my band of brothers, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, LEAP. We're a nonprofit group of police, judges, prosecutors, and other criminal justice professionals who use their expertise to advance drug policy and criminal justice solutions.

And with that, I want to welcome Mister Jay -- Doctor John Jay Hall, he's author of an op-ed that was in Sunday's Chronicle, it was titled Losing Leadership On Criminal Justice Reform. With that, I want to introduce Jay. How are you doing?

JAY HALL: Thank you, thank you. You are so kind and generous, Dean. How have you been doing?

DEAN BECKER: Oh, I'm good for a -- I just turned 70-year-old man, but I've, I'm --

JAY HALL: You get out of here.

DEAN BECKER: Still trying, but, this talks about waffling, I think might be a good word to use, in respect to attitudes and the goings on of certain perspectives. It -- mostly you're talking about two senators, Texas senators, Cruz and Cornyn, who, a couple of years ago, were for drug reform, they were talking about the need for change, and they seem to have backed up on that thought. Fill us in on what's in this op-ed, there, Jay.

JAY HALL: First of all, I'd like to commend both senators for the work that they have done, and also I would like to commend Senator John Whitmire, because, through his architecture, Texas has become a leader in criminal justice reform, as you know, during that period, 2007, he instituted some financial strategies which put management on the front end, management on the front end and also providing some services for ex-offenders to help them re-enter society.

And those things were very beneficial in addressing the mass incarceration issue. My concern has always been, and I look at it from several perspectives, one as a black man, also, and we know there's a disproportionate number of blacks within the criminal justice system.

We also, when we look at it from the standpoint of the disproportionate number of blacks for minor drug offenses, nonviolent, and also, you know, from an academic standpoint, I look at basically the complexity of the problem. I look at the contextual framework, so basically when you brought up the issue of waffling, I looked at the laws and I looked at some of the positions taken prior to the op-ed, of course.

And I would have to say that Senator Cornyn has done a remarkable job at championing criminal justice reform. On the other hand, his colleague has seemed to have waffled, and when I look at the context of behavior, it appears that, you know, doing -- let me give you a little background, a little history.

Senator Cornyn, he chaired, he sponsored the federal prison reform act. That was in 2013.


JAY HALL: In 2015, he supported the sentencing reform and corrections act, during Obama's administration. During the same year, 2015, Senator Cruz, there was a smarter sentencing act, and Senator Cruz was in favor of that for some of the provisions that dealt black males and nonviolent drug infractions, he was in favor of that.

The waffling came about in 2015 also, when the sentencing reform bill was being approved, he decided that he was not in favor of that. And this was at the same time, contextually, that I believe that he want -- he was a nominee for president.

So, basically, his position changed based on, which I believe, in my opinion, was because he wanted to run for the highest office. Now, here's the concern. Criminal justice reform has, both parties have always made decisions on what policies they would follow based on whether or not they would be viewed as tough on crime or soft on crime.


JAY HALL: And so, Senator Cruz appears to vote against sentencing reform policies, because he wanted to run for president. Now, we go a little bit further down the road, and we look at 2018. During 2018, this was the period of time that we were trying to get the First Step program.


JAY HALL: Where we were making, reforming and making some positive changes for prison reform. So in 2018, whereas Senator Cornyn was in favor of that bill, Senator Cruz still was opposed to it. Senator Cornyn was being praised by activists, and the work that he was doing to merge and compromise both bills.

So, what I was doing is, I had to, when we do any type of analysis, we need two people. So this is how Senator Cornyn became part of the op-ed, I had to look at two people.


JAY HALL: When, for the most part, and that said, Senator Cornyn has done a stellar job. But, I had to look at what he was doing in terms of criminal justice reform with both the sentencing reform act and also the ex-offenders reform act, the prisoners reform act.

So -- go ahead, I'm sorry.

DEAN BECKER: No, let me interrupt you here just a second, Jay. I want to underscore a couple of things. One is your thoughts about the Texas senator, not the US senator, John Whitmire. I think I was at the conference, I think I saw his moment of change, it was about 2007, there was a conference here in town, and there were these folks on stage giving their presentations, sharing their thoughts, and opening their hearts.

And I saw Senator Whitmire cry. I saw him go onstage, I saw him embrace the speakers, I saw his mind change, if you will. And, that's what we have to do going forward, to change the mindset of all these senators, of all these representatives, because what you and I do with LEAP is to show, is to expose the fraud and misdirection of this. How it so severely impacts racially, but it focuses on people of color, it focuses on poor people, and it has wrought hell on those communities over the decades. Has it not, Jay?

JAY HALL: Yes, it has, and this is -- this is why I, as I say, I keep beating the drum, because we have to take a look at not only what we are trying to do, but we also have to look at what I refer to for maintenance of the systemic conditions that create these -- that drive these forces of deviant behavior.


JAY HALL: And so, I don't believe that if we provide people with a fair shot, that they just want to find themselves in prison. I think if we take a look at it, and the work that I'm doing on other projects, one of the things that I want to bring out is that we have, because of the systemic conditions, they have done studies at the -- to look at the various elevated cortisone levels of children in poverty stricken neighborhoods, and situations of domestic violence.


JAY HALL: And --

DEAN BECKER: Even with that cop car driving by, or what happened down the street yesterday, it's still -- it makes an impact, it's lasting, is it not?

JAY HALL: It's -- exactly. It becomes hard wired in these young people's minds, that this is all that I have to look forward to, and it has -- it changes the architecture of the brain based on the depression that it creates.

And so we are seeing that young people, two, three, four years old, are not, do not have the same cognitive development that they should have if they were not in those type of environments.


JAY HALL: So this thing has very far reaching implications, and we may look at one aspect of it, and so I'm saying there's a much bigger picture, and for law enforcement, we have numerous programs, numerous programs, but most of those programs are on the back end. Now that doesn't mean that we're not doing and making progress, but we can do more.

And so I'm trying to look at it from the standpoint, we need an early intervention so that we can give these young kids a better future than what we -- what they are inheriting right now.

DEAN BECKER: Oh my lord, yes. Yes, yes. I, look, Jay, I tell you what, man, we're not going to be able to get to your other document. I want to invite you to come back and see us real soon. I want to talk --


DEAN BECKER: I want to talk about your new document, exploring new frontiers in policing: systemic conditions, neuroscience, and officer involved shooting.

Folks, this is Lieutenant Doctor John Jay Hall, 24 years experience, got a PhD in organizational behavior. He's a man we should listen to, and, you know, Jay, I'm proud of the fact that over the decades now, I've been on air, I've been able to make friends with the past three police chiefs, the past four sheriffs, the past four district attorneys, and I've helped, oh, move their mindset a bit, an inch at a time.

But, we are much better off in this city than we were fifteen, twenty years ago. Am I right?

JAY HALL: Yes sir, two hundred percent. Two hundred percent, and we're going to keep on moving forward. We want to be the model for the whole country and we can do it because we have the right people in the right places.

DEAN BECKER: To learn more about Law Enforcement Action Partnership, please visit LEAP.cc.

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All right, now to switch gears, basically, we're going to go up to Canada and see what's going on up that way, and maybe get their perspective on what's going on down here. Let's speak with my good friend, the cannabis and computer guru, Mister Matt Elrod.

Matt, you know, a couple of things that have really disturbed me lately, is, a couple of weeks back, Donald Trump went to the UN, and I don't know, kind of declared himself king of the drug war again, declared the need for a war on drugs, and then, just yesterday or the day before, he went before a gathering of police chiefs and once again declared a war on drugs.

He asked for people to start doing stop and frisk. He asked for people to really ratchet up this drug war, claimed it to be so necessary. What's your response to those couple of thoughts there, Matt?

MATT ELROD: Yeah, disappointingly, our Prime Minister Trudeau and the Canadian government signed on to a unilateral declaration from the Trump administration that they wanted to wrap up the drug war.

And, there's been speculation as to why they did that, given that Canada is leading the way in harm reduction, and this Canadian administration is leading the way in harm reduction and of course cannabis legalization on the seventeenth of this month.

There's been speculation that they did that because they were smack dab in the middle of renegotiating NAFTA and they didn't want to rock the boat.


MATT ELROD: You know, or spend political capital on resisting it. One op-ed I read in defense of this capitulation on our part was that, well, they were really just signing onto the status quo, and who among us would object to trying to stem the tide of illicit drugs?

Of course, my response to that is that supply side interdiction has always been counterproductive, but, you know, it -- we are a very, very small country. You are our very greatest trading partner, and we do have to kind of pussyfoot around, and I think that's sort of what happened there.

As to Trump's motivation, I mean, he -- he is, as you point out, all about polarizing the populace, and tribalism, and, you know, right down to his idea of building a wall to keep drugs out of the United States, you know, my response to that is, well why not create a drug-free prison first as a proof of concept?

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Yeah. He's apparently never heard of ladders or catapults, or, you know --

MATT ELROD: Tunnels.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, tunnels.


DEAN BECKER: Any of those things. Slingshots. But, but --

MATT ELROD: Well, yeah, and the fact is, you know, in Canada, and you guys are following us in this regard, our opiate supply, illicit opiate supply, has been almost entirely supplanted by fentanyl, and most of that is arriving by mail. It's not coming through the borders, so, and, you know, in Canada, anyway, the postal service can only search packages that are over a certain size, and so it's trivial to send fentanyl and carfentanyl and other highly potent synthetic opioids through the mail undetected.

It's a fool's errand.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, a couple of weeks back, I did some studying and made the determination, you take one gram of carfentanyl, the elephant tranquilizer, folks have seen sugar packets, you know, and that's a gram. That's a gram, and you can take that one gram of carfentanyl and if you mix it properly, which is really the problem with the stuff, but if you mix it properly it turns out to be the equivalent of five kilograms of heroin.

And, this is what's killing people. I close the show with the thought, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. And, that's been true, but it's becoming a more deadly problem, a situation, is it not?

MATT ELROD: It is. It's an ironclad rule, you know, of prohibition, that under prohibition, drugs tend to become more potent, and further ingestion methods tend to become more deadly.

So, you know, we go from smoking opium to injecting fentanyl, and we go from beer and wine to spirits and moonshine, you know, under alcohol prohibition, and even cannabis, you know, they talk about the weed of Woodstock, that was relatively weak and that's true, that on average it was, even though there were more potent forms, but the dabs of today, and the oils and the extracts, these are all an inevitable consequence of prohibition, and if you, you know, attempt to stop the supply, then it inevitably gets smaller and more potent and more deadly.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. And less likely to be found and to stop the supply side in the first place. A fool's errand, as you said. Well, as you mentioned, here in just, what, about a week? You guys are going legal, or somewhere near legal, are you not?

MATT ELROD: Yeah, a week from this Wednesday, on the Seventeenth, cannabis will be legal in Canada. There are a lot of critics of it, some are calling it prohibition two point oh. The Emerys for example, Marc and Jody, point out that there are countless new laws and regulations associated with legalization, where prohibition only required I think about eight laws.

So, legalization as it turns out requires a lot more, you know, stipulation about what one can and cannot do. But, I think at the end of the day, it's a good tentative first step by a G-7 nation. We will be allowed to possess up to thirty grams in public, more than that in the privacy of our homes. Most jurisdictions will allow consumers to grow up to four plants at home.

It's, as you might imagine, a bit of a mess in terms our readiness. British Columbia, I'm told, will only have one operating retail outlet on the Seventeenth.

DEAN BECKER: Wow. British Columbia? Wow.

MATT ELROD: Yeah. And further, it's in the Okanagan, it's not even in Vancouver or Victoria. I don't think that will stop cannabis consumers from celebrating on that day with a joint, but --

DEAN BECKER: No. And, there, look, the black market is not going to go away. As long as there's a profit to be made, it will exist. Am I right?

MATT ELROD: Well, you know, it's often -- it's a straw man argument that prohibitionists will make, that oh, you know, legalization has not eliminated or completely rid us of the black market.

And, I don't think any realistic drug law reformer argues that it will. You know, we do have a black market in alcohol, we do have a black market for tobacco, which tends to grow and shrink relative to the taxes, the sin taxes we apply to tobacco.

All of that said, you know, what we're seeing in the states is that in those states that have legalized, the black market has been displaced between fifty and 85 percent, depending on which study you look at, and further in the United States, because you haven't legalized nationally, the legal states are exporting to the prohibitionist states, because they're still providing price supports, to cannabis.

In Canada, it kind of remains to be seen just how much of the black market will be displaced, but I expect it will probably be more than fifty percent. Polls show that most cannabis consumers would rather buy their cannabis from a brightly lit, regulated retail outlet than in an alley. Right? Or even from their buddy down the street.

So, you know, the legal market has the advantage of an economy of scale that the black market does not have. So, yeah, you know, obviously we're not going to entirely eliminate the black market, but I think we can expect it to be significantly displaced.

And I think any displacement is an improvement.

DEAN BECKER: Well now, I dabble in the stock market, and usually lose. There was a situation a few weeks back, one of your major cannabis companies there in Canada went on the US stock market, Tilray was the company. They, I think they initially offered their stock at twenty dollars per, or somewhere near that, I don't know if I caught it at the exact beginning.

But over that following week to ten days, it escalated to, I think it hit a peak of three hundred, before it tapered back down, and last I saw it was somewhere around a hundred and twenty, thirty. But, you know, there's opportunity available for those who are savvy. I'm not recommending this, because I wound up losing a little bit, because I'm stupid at the stock market.

But, it's an indication that this is international, in essence, the impact of these legal producers, and it's going to have an impact worldwide for, well, for the rest of our lives. Your thought there, Matt Elrod.

MATT ELROD: Well, no doubt. The -- yes, I mean, US investors are looking at the Canadian licensed producers, federal legalization in Canada has created a lot of economic momentum.

You know, we've had -- Lucy has snatched away the football so many times that I was kind of holding my breath, as it were, to see if legalization would really come to pass, you know. There was a time, for example, in the 1970s, when cannabis law reformers were very optimistic, with states decriminalizing and so forth.

And then the pendulum swung back, with the anti-cannabis hysterical parent groups and so forth. So I was cautiously optimistic about legalization, but at this point, there is so much economic momentum, there is so much money invested, and in Canada, the provinces and the municipalities, and everybody concerned, has invested a lot of time and effort into this, and I can't see us turning back at this point. I think there's just too much momentum.

And that momentum is just going to build and grow, and eventually, the economic forces, you know, pushing for cannabis law reform, are going to be, I think, irresistible in your country as well.

DEAN BECKER: No, I agree with you. The one other thought I wanted to talk about, you mentioned the countless number of new laws now that it's legalized, and I'm -- tell me if I'm wrong, that the police forces are getting additional funds, additional forces, and special investigators, to look for the black market, as if they weren't doing that in the first place. Is that right?

MATT ELROD: That's true, and all along, the police, researchers, educators, municipalities, everybody and their cousin has said, okeh, we'll go along with your legalization, but what's in it for us? We need some money here.

So the Liberal government has been liberally handing out money to all of these special interests to get them on board with legalization, and of course the police are no exception. They surely realize that a big chunk of their budget has been dedicated to cannabis prohibition, and, so I think this is sort of a compensation to them for that.

They claim that they're going to need a lot more money to cope with the carnage on the highways and, you know, inspecting and policing where people may partake and where they may not, and so on and so forth.

Though still, I think, at the end of the day, the total amount of money that we've spent on cannabis prohibition will still far exceed what the police are being given in these sort of compensatory packages.


MATT ELROD: And also I think they will soon realize that they really didn't need any extra funds to enforce new cannabis regulations.

DEAN BECKER: Next to that thought they present is this one as well, is that, well, you don't want these drugs legal so your kids can get ahold of them, when the truth is, high schools here in the US is the number one place to find drugs.

MATT ELROD: People have often said, you know, as an adult, if you're looking to score dope, find a teenager, you know? For christ's sake.

DEAN BECKER: All right, buddy.

MATT ELROD: All right.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Matt.

MATT ELROD: Take care.

DEAN BECKER: All right, bud.

Well, that's about it for today. I wanted to let you know there's more with Matt Elrod that will be appearing on the next batch of 420 reports, but the following is a Drug Truth Network editorial.

Conscientious Objectors to Drug War. I submit my objection to the injustice of our nation's drug policy, especially the incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders. I state that my belief and actions henceforth in regards to the control of supposedly controlled substances will align with common sense, modern science, truth, and reality itself.

Via modern science and reporting it is now easy to discern that the war on drugs is a failure of immense proportion, a century of horrible lies and misfiring propaganda, and that the majority of the harms ascribed to drug war are actually caused and exacerbated by the mechanism of the drug war itself.

In recognizing the truth of this matter, I seek to be recognized as embracing rationality and common sense. I therefore state that my conscience compels me to commit to ending the war on drugs.

As a conscientious objector to drug war, I am logically compelled to reach out to others, to humanity, to join in this conscientious objection to this irrational war on plants and plant products via an embrace of one or more of the following reasons to end this eternal assault on human dignity and life.

The preceding was sent to fifty of my best friends, the most recognized drug reformers in the US and Europe. Starting next week on the website Objectors.Info, you will be able to read the full Conscientious Objectors to Drug War Manifesto, featuring those reasons, from those same leading drug reformers.

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

Drug Truth Network archives are stored at the James A. Baker III Institute, more than seven thousand radio programs are at DrugTruth.net, and we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.