04/16/24 Rusty White 1Hour

Moral High Ground
Rusty White
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Rusty White became a top K-9 narcotics dog trainer, Track and Attack K-9 trainer and handler, and served as the sniper for the Department of Corrections. White also worked for 7 years as a corrections officer in an maximum security prison in Arizona. White started to question the way the War on Drugs was being fought. He questioned the arrests of low-level dealers when all of the promises were about kingpins. He watched with confusion and dismay as child molesters and other violent criminals were released from prison to make room for an ever-growing population of non-violent drug offenders.

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04/16/24 Rusty White

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Rusty White
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Rusty White became a top K-9 narcotics dog trainer, Track and Attack K-9 trainer and handler, and served as the sniper for the Department of Corrections. White also worked for 7 years as a corrections officer in an maximum security prison in Arizona. White started to question the way the War on Drugs was being fought. He questioned the arrests of low-level dealers when all of the promises were about kingpins. He watched with confusion and dismay as child molesters and other violent criminals were released from prison to make room for an ever-growing population of non-violent drug offenders. He despised the lies told to kids about drugs and came steadily to the realization that no matter how many prisons were built, no matter how many drug dealers were killed, he was not making a difference. After years of research and review, White realized that the real problem was prohibition and left law enforcement.

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11/14/23 Neill Franklin

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Neill Franklin
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) is a 34-year law enforcement veteran of the Maryland State Police and Baltimore Police Department.After 23 years of dedicated service to the Maryland State Police, he was recruited in 2000 by the Commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department to reconstruct and command Baltimore’s Education and Training Section. During his time on the force, he held the position of commander for the Education and Training Division and the Bureau of Drug and Criminal Enforcement. He also instituted and oversaw the very first Domestic Violence Investigative Units for the Maryland State Police.

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10/31/23 Stephen Downing

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Stephen Downing
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Stephen Downing began his 20-year police career in a squad car and finished as a deputy chief of police. As Commander of the Bureau of Special Investigations at one point, the Administrative Narcotics Division was one of the divisions within his scope of authority. His vast experience in law enforcement has led him to the conclusion that the War on Drugs can never be worth the human and fiscal costs.

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10/10/23 Nick Morrow

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Nick Morrow
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Nick Morrow served as a deputy sheriff and detective for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, where he worked custody, patrol, narcotics, and training assignments. He was certified as a Drug Recognition Expert Instructor and provided training to hundreds of law enforcement officers. He now works with LEAP.

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08/08/23 Steve Downing

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Steve Downing
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Steve Downing retired as Deputy Police Chief of Los Angeles.  He is also a long time member of Law Enforcement Action Partnership.  Opening segment on "Food Not Bombs" a Houston effort to feed to homeless that is being fined $2000 per day for their efforts.

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07/04/23 Diane Goldstein

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Diane Goldstein
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Diane Goldstein is a retired police Lieutenant now serving as the Executive Director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, formerly known as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.   She runs a global effort to educate and embolden police, prosecutors, legislators, judges and the general public to the horrible truth, the abysmal failure of the war on drugs. 

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05/23/23 Steve Downing

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Steve Downing
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Stephen Downing  was Deputry Police Chief of Los Angeles.  He is also an American screenwriter, producer, activist, and investigative journalist who began his screenwriting career in the 1960s while still working as a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer.[1] Most of Downing's pre-1980 writing and producing credits appeared under pseudonyms to escape notice of the LAPD. Downing is active in the movement to end the international war on drugs and the militarization of police in America. In 2011, Downing became a board member of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, formerly known as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), after years representing the group as a speaker.[2] He left the board in 2019, but is still an advisory board member who gives speeches and writes op-ed pieces on behalf of the group.[3] He also volunteers his time as an investigative journalist, with a focus on police corruption and reform, for a local print newspaper in Long Beach, California.[4] As a television producer and screenwriter he is best known for the series Walking Tall, RoboCop: The Series, T. J. Hooker and MacGyver

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Cultural Baggage Radio Show
​Nick​ ​Morrow
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Det.​ ​Nick​ ​Morrow​ ​(Fmr.)  Los​ ​Angeles​ ​County​ ​Sheriff’s​ ​Department,​ ​California  Seal​ ​Beach,​ ​CA  

Nick Morrow served as a deputy sheriff and detective for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, where he worked custody, patrol, narcotics, and training assignments. He was certified as a Drug Recognition Expert Instructor and provided training to hundreds of law enforcement officers. He provided drug abuse education to police, public defenders, paramedics, teachers, parents, and students. 

Morrow is involved in drug policy and community based approaches to policing solutions at many levels. He assists municipalities in drafting effective and intelligent solutions to dealing with marijuana policy reforms and regulations. He is also involved in drug education, harm reduction, and overdose prevention in Southern California. 

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4:20 Drug War News
Nick​ ​Morrow
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Det.​ ​Nick​ ​Morrow​ ​(Fmr.)  Los​ ​Angeles​ ​County​ ​Sheriff’s​ ​Department,​ ​California  Seal​ ​Beach,​ ​CA  

Nick Morrow served as a deputy sheriff and detective for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, where he worked custody, patrol, narcotics, and training assignments. He was certified as a Drug Recognition Expert Instructor and provided training to hundreds of law enforcement officers. He provided drug abuse education to police, public defenders, paramedics, teachers, parents, and students. 

Morrow is involved in drug policy and community based approaches to policing solutions at many levels. He assists municipalities in drafting effective and intelligent solutions to dealing with marijuana policy reforms and regulations. He is also involved in drug education, harm reduction, and overdose prevention in Southern California. 


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04/25/23 Quovella Spruill

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Quovella Spruill
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Public Safety Director Quovella Spruill Franklin Township Police Department. She is an adjunct professor at Rutgers University where she teaches criminal justice courses including contemporary policing, ethical & philosophical issues, race & crime, organized crime, and violent Crimes. She holds a B.S. in engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and a M.A. in education, human resources, training, and development from Seton Hall University. She is a certified instructor in Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training and holds certifications with the New Jersey Police Training Commission and National Internal Affairs Institute. 

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02/21/23 Richard Van Wickler

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Richard Van Wickler
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Richard Van Wickler (Ret.) is author of Freedom's Guardians. RIck began his law enforcement career in 1987 and served as the Superintendent of the Cheshire County Department of Corrections in Keene, New Hampshire, from 1993 to 2019. Van Wickler is a former adjunct professor of American Corrections at Keene State College, where he taught for 14 years.  

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12/13/22 Rick Ross

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Rick Ross
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Dr. Richard Watkins, former Texas warden joins prominent Houston attorney Clay Conrad, the author of Jury Nullification to discuss jail overcrowding around the US. PLUS we have an interview with Freeway Rick Ross, the LA entrepreneur the CIA chose to sell a billion dollars worth of cocaine for them, to finance the Iran Contra affair.

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10/05/22 Neill Franklin

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Neill Franklin
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Major Neill Franklin has more than 30 years experience wearing the badge of law enforcement. Today Neill is the Executive Director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership which has thousands of experienced police, prosecutors and legislators calling for an end to drug prohibition. Neill is one of the stars of our September 11 Premiere of our video Production: SEEEKING THE MORAL HIGH GROUND (On Drugs). To learn more please visit

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09/07/22 Greg Denham

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Greg Denham
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Greg Denham is a retired senior sergeant of Victoria police and the Australian representative for the US-based agency Law Enforcement Action Partnership. Greg had a major article in the Guardian last week: "The rising appetite for powerful drugs like fentanyl is a direct result of Australia’s failing prohibition policies Tough questions must be asked about laws that perpetuate the myth that the war on drugs is winnable through prohibition Given our failure to learn the lessons of the past, the policy response to the fentanyl crisis is predictable. We will no doubt hear from politicians and law enforcement demanding more police, more invasive powers, tougher laws and longer jail sentences. The problem is, we’ve been taking this approach for more than 50 years and yet we know that drug seizures have little impact on drug availability. Despite what police and politicians tell us, drug prohibition, like alcohol prohibition, has failed." +++ DTN Editorial: Prohibition is Evil

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06/01/22 Stephen Downing

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Stephen Downing
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Uvalde Texas heavily armed law enforcement left 19 children and their teachers to be slaughtered by a lone gunman. Stephen Downing Deputy Police Chief of Los Angeles (Ret) joins us to discuss this horrendous failure.

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DEAN BECKER (00:00):
Hi folks. Welcome to this. I'm not gonna say special, but an extraordinary addition of cultural baggage. I thank you for being with us. Um, our guest today is Mr. Steven Downing. He had a 20 year police career. He started in a squad car, finished his deputy chief of police, uh, in the city of Los Angeles, where there's much more to talk about, but I first, I just wanna welcome my traveling buddy from the leap mobile, Mr. Steven Downing. Hello, Steve.
Thank you, Dean. Good to be with you.
DEAN BECKER (00:35):
Yes, sir. Now, Steve, I don't know if extraordinary is the word we had a situation happen just one week ago in the city of U Valdi Texas. Tell me of your impressions. Just your initial impressions, sir.
Well, uh, first of all, uh, unfortunately it wasn't extraordinary. It was becoming ordinary and um, your first reaction is, is another shot to the gut. It just hurts. And you can only picture the picture, the slaughter of those young children. And again, and again, and again, say why can't we as a country, eliminate this tribalism and solve this problem. You look at other countries, you look at New Zealand and Switzerland and the UK, uh, parts of the UK, Canada, New Zealand is a perfect example. They had that horrible mass shooting in the mosques and they solved the problem. There's not been a shooting since they solved the problem as a country coming together, horrified by what happens and this rhetoric about hardening the target, hardening the target. Listen, uh, we've had arm guards at these schools, uh, in the past and they were ineffective. I guess you could put up a hundred around each school and maybe one wouldn't get through, but it is time to talk about finding a middle ground in my opinion.
And maybe there are some parts of the target that need to be firmed up and hardened a bit, but also gun control needs to be a part of that picture. And the idea that this 19 year old 18 year old on his birthday could go by two war level weapons by magazines and ammunition enough that he can kill 19 young children in a matter of minutes, reload, reload, reload. And right next door, you have the NRA having a convention, talking about that silly juvenile expression. They invented so long ago that it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun. Well, that's a juvenile that's moronic, and it's an analogy that has no place in this discussion. We don't want bad guys with guns and the way to keep guns out of the hands of bad guys is to make sure they can't get 'em.
And there's lots of ways. We have more regulations to get a fishing license than we do an AR 15 and 500 rounds of ammo and five, uh, uh, uh, big mag, uh, magazines. So this country needs a discussion outside of the tribalism. And if we can't get both sides together, when you have the majority of the people in the United States want gun control, we know that when we can't get the people we elect together, then I think we maybe better think about electing people who are willing to get together and who were willing to find that middle ground, uh, and, and solve this problem. Like other countries have solved it.
DEAN BECKER (05:07):
Yes. Thank you, Steve. You know, um, the, um, the mass shooting that, that most people think was the first, it certainly wasn't, but was Colomb and, and one of our fellow leap speakers, he's now ill, but, um, uh, Mr. Ryan, um, was there, he was one of the first to arrive at, at the Colombian shooting and he was told to stand down and I know that plagued him for the rest of his life, Mr. Tony, Ryan. And we had a situation where dozens of cops were, I guess, told to stand down in alti in alti. Let's, let's talk about that situation, sir.
Well, that, um, it should not have happened. Uh, there's some breakdown in the training or breakdown in the ability to assess, uh, the difference between an active shooter and a barricaded suspect. And I have yet to see any reporting that suggests anything other than the fact that this is an active shooter situation inside of school and after Columbine, uh, which, which is what now 20 years ago, 22, I think. Yeah. Um, across the board, American law enforcement adopted, uh, what they call the Mactac. And it's a, it's a philosophy and a strategy and a tactic that is action, rapid deployment, multi assault counter-terrorism action capabilities. MacTech and that means that whoever's there you go, go, go. And your objective is to immediately stop the target. The rest of it is when you slow down, you can put up your perimeters and establish your cramp command posts.
But the first job of the first person that's there is to stop the shooter. Okay. That didn't happen. And it hasn't happened in a number of other situations. And the reason for that is, is because of the amount of damage that can be done by this active shooter, with a magazine, uh, that can, uh, pump lead a second apart. You know, uh, it's, it's, it's something that bottles the mind when you basically for 20 years trained to accomplish, um, to, to stop a situation like this. And yet you don't, but I've seen that a lot of times, um, often in riots situations in 1965, well, the watch riot, the lesson we learned is, is that you have to stop it and you can't continue to, uh, widen a perimeter, uh, thinking that it's gonna burn out. Uh, the fact is, is that almost Los Angeles almost burned down because, and the Watts riot, they kept widening the perimeter.
And so we built in new procedures and policies and command and control that says, don't do that anymore. We trained for it for years and years, since 1965. And then 92 came along after the Rodney king jury. And it repeated itself. Why did it repeat itself in this case because of politicians got involved and 20 years later, they're, they're coming up with the same weakness. And in situations that break down like that in situations like the school strength has to be the priority and immediate action has to be the priority and stopping the threat has to be the priority that didn't happen here.
DEAN BECKER (09:38):
No, sir, it did not. Now I wanna combine a couple of thoughts here is my understanding, and I'm no attorney, but following the, the situation at Colomb that the us Supreme court ruled that it is not law, enforcement's primary obligation to protect anybody who is not under their control, which to me seems so, uh, unAmerican, uh, to, for lack of a better term. And, and I guess what I'm trying to say here is that those kids in that school were under government control. Um, is there a penalty, is there anything that can be that, those, those law enforcement officers who stood down and let those children die? Is there any law that will prosecute them for their inaction?
Well, I think it's primarily, um, um, a civil case. Uh, I don't know if there's criminal negligence involved in this, uh, because of the, uh, because of the concept that you discussed, it was dis um, decided by the Supreme court. Uh, I forget the term that they used, but it's a, uh, some, uh, presumed immunity,
DEAN BECKER (11:01):
Qualified immunity. Yes, sir. Qualified immunity,
Qualified immunity. That's right. And, uh, but, um, B that it is, as it may, there is a responsibility. The schools had a responsibility, uh, to see that that hired guard was there and not driving around the school, had a responsibility to ensure that those doors were locked and, uh, things of that nature. Uh, but law enforcement also had a responsibility to respond in a different way. So I'm sure you're going to see a lot of losses, and I'm sure that you're gonna see, uh, municipalities and states pay a big price, uh, millions and millions and millions of taxpayer dollars for the negligence that took place here, but that doesn't solve the problem. We have municipalities paying out all the time for bad behavior for negligence, for incompetence all the time, but that's, that's, that's a burden on the taxpayer that continues, and we haven't solved the problem.
Uh, we haven't worked together to solve the problem. And so that discussion needs to, uh, recognize the costs of where we've been and what we've done, but also to recognize that it, there has been no solution and the hardening of the target, there has been no solution come from that. What we've done, um, over the years, let me give you one example. Um, the original SWAT team was invented in the Los Angeles police department. And the reason it was invented is because first responders went to a call in which they were outgunned and tactically outgunned. And so a bunch of people got together and said, we need to do something about this as a police department, we didn't have anybody else in society worrying about it. We didn't have a, a city council worrying about it. And so the police department solved the problem by coming up with the concept of a SWAT team.
And that has, that has become more and more sophisticated as the years have gone on. And as you know, a few years later, we had a thing called the north Hollywood shootout, where two guys highly trained, uh, ex-military wearing full body armor, having the biggest guns in the world. And the first responders got there. They were again, outgunned. And while they're waiting for squat to return, I mean, these guys have weapon weapons that are cutting their cars in half. So they broke into a nearby gun store and got rifles to at least hold 'em off long enough for SWAT to get there and, and counter them with, with, uh, heavier equipment. So as a result of that, they said, Hey, we need to put a rifle in every police car, a long rifle in every police car. So they went, bought a bunch of long rifles and across, across the country, that becomes, becomes a new thing.
And then, uh, uh, president Reagan, I believe it was that, uh, created the, uh, the bill that allowed military equipment, big tanks, and big guns and plane throwers and whatnot to be handed out across the country. And so they would go to major city police departments that had the capability to train their people 50% of their on duty time. But they'd also go to a little 15 man police department like this little town in Texas, this little town in Texas is a 15 man police department. And they have a nine man SWAT squad. I ask you, how do you do the job of policing in a city like that? When you have only 15 police officers and you have a SWAT squad, that's nine of them. The answer is, is that SWAT squad doesn't train. They got all the toys, they got all the big weapons, but they still have the policing job to do.
And so their training is gonna be minimal. I guarantee you, they're not training 50% of the time. So in a situation like this, you don't let little tiny police departments have squat squads. You have them become part of a regional organization. But my, the point of my whole discussion is, is that all of these years, all we've done is, is engage in an arms race. Pretty soon the gun manufacturers are letting other guns get on the street. So we gotta up the ante and harden the target, get more bigger guns and bigger sweat teams and bigger tanks and all of that. And we haven't solved the problem. We haven't solved the problem with school shootings, for sure. So we need to find that middle ground, we gotta stop the arms race with local law enforcement. We gotta do some control and regulation, reasonable controls and regulations to make sure these kinds of weapons don't get into the hands of these kinds of people.
DEAN BECKER (16:50):
Thank you. Uh, again, folks, we're speaking with Mr. Steven Downing, uh, uh, now retired, uh, deputy police chief of the city of Los Angeles. Uh, one of my fellow, uh, leap travelers in the leap mobile. Gosh, that's been too long ago now, Steve, I, um, you know, the, the, the first day the governor had his, his conference, uh, the, the, uh, department of public safety had their conference and the, the facts, the facts changed, the facts changed again, the facts are still changing to this day as to what actually happened. And I understand that police are allowed to lie. I mean, it, it tell me is that true. Police are allowed to lie in order to get a conviction or to cops blame their way out of things. Is that true, sir,
They're allowed to lie.
DEAN BECKER (17:46):
Um, as, as part of the,
I would say that any police officer that lies shouldn't have his job, because if you lie, that means you have no credibility. And the next time you go into court and raise your right hand, somebody's there to call you a liar and prove you're a liar. And so once you're proven to be a liar as a police officer, uh, you have no value, uh, to the organization or to the service of the people. So if you're proven as a liar, as a police officer, you should not have your job anymore, period.
DEAN BECKER (18:23):
Well, don't,
It's of explanation.
DEAN BECKER (18:26):
Don't narcotics officers lie every day, uh, when they're out there trying to recruit folks to sell to them, that sort of thing. Um, okay, Steve, now let's walk away from that. That's not the point for today. Um, you were talking about a good guys, the only solution for the bad guys and how untrue that is. And I think that comes from Ronald Reagan back when he was king of the Cowboys, it comes from John Wayne. It comes from this mindset that the good guy with a gun is going to stop everything. And, and I, I wanted to kind of talk about, I, I have never been in this situation, I can't say, but I know that I, I feel in my heart that if I knew little kids were six inches on the other side of this wall, getting murdered, I'd find a way. And they were 19 cops in that hallway hearing the rounds. No, I, uh, you know where I'm headed with this, please respond Steve.
Oh, uh, finally somebody who arrived, as I understand, it was, uh, a member of the, uh, border patrol SWAT team. They still had the incident commander who was inside, who had made that call, uh, uh, very much earlier and still making that call when he arrived. And my read on it is that he made an assessment. He asked his questions, and this is my supposition, but he asked his questions and he made a decision that this incident commander, uh, uh, couldn't find himself, uh, didn't understand, uh, what he was doing. And so he elected to disobey that order and take the action. He was trained to take, he took it and he killed him and it was over. But also, as I understand, during that same waiting period, there were other people who took things into their own hands. Uh, the guy from the barbershop who borrowed the bar barber's shotgun and went to the school and, uh, rescued quite a number of children, including his own.
So the incident commander failed a lot of people, and it took someone to overrule him, that person that overruled him, that took courage to do as well, because, uh, he could very well be facing some form of disciplinary action. I would think anybody that tried that would be crazy, but he overruled the, uh, an incident commander, uh, in charge. However, you, as a police officer have no obligation to follow an illegal order. And so in the case of this guy, I think that, uh, his decision will, uh, will stand and, uh, he'll be applauded for it. Um, if, if there's room for applause in this situation.
DEAN BECKER (21:48):
Yeah. You're talking about the gentleman who took him out.
I'm talking about the gentleman that overruled the incident commander, right? Yes, sir. The border patrol squad guy that got
DEAN BECKER (21:57):
There. Now, I, I, I, you know, it is just hard for me to, to grasp this one we've we've had, what was it? Uh, the Washington post reporting. There's been 12 mass shootings over this holiday weekend here in these United States, four or more people shot or killed in 12 different shootings here in the us. It's like, it's almost like it's contagious, right? Your thoughts, Steve.
Well, I'm sure that there's a building block that takes, uh, that takes place with, uh, copycat and people are, are, uh, stimulated, uh, people that, that have mental health problems are stimulated and, uh, get into the copycat mode. Um, but the bottom line, the common denominator in all of this is every one of these people had access to weapons of war that they shouldn't have had access to. They, they, we should have done something 20 years ago after Columbine to stop this, we should have done what New Zealand did after the Mo shootings. We should have done what was done in Switzerland. And, uh, but we can't do that because the tribalism is so has so divided this country. We can't get together on anything. We can't get together on something that, that is easy to agree on because if the other guy came up with it, I automatically have to oppose it because the other guys are Republican and I'm a Democrat are vice versa.
It's back and forth like that. They, there is no sense to the division except their quest for power. And we need to unload those people and find people that are reasonable that want to come together that want to find a middle ground on this thing. We call the second amendment. Hey, look, if you look back on the Capone days when they were writing through, um, uh, Chicago leaning out of their cars with what they called it, a Tommy gun, well, the Tommy gun was a weapon of war and they did something about it back then, what they did to, uh, uh, get around the second amendment. I believe they put a tax stamp, a federal tax stamp on every Tommy gun in existence. And if you wanted to have one, you had to pay 50 grand for it, or whatever, you know, 10,000, I don't know what the price was, but they made them prohibitive to own.
DEAN BECKER (24:56):
Yeah, well, I, I wanna come back to the, the SWAT team, you know, you were talking about how that town with 15 cops was really too small to, to have their own SWAT team. And, and I, I wanted to kind of think about it like, um, it's, it's just posturing. I, I think at that level, because they, they were unable to coordinate. They, they were unable to group together. They were unable to be at that school and in time to do anything. And, and I guess what I'm, I'm wanting to say is that it, it brings to mind for the most part, SWAT teams think ahead, they, they plan an endeavor, at least the, the, the narcotics, uh, bus, um, because they, they call 'em narcotics, uh, bus, but they're SWAT teams. They're, they're geared up to the max helmets and, um, flash bang, grenades, and, and all of this stuff. They're ready to go to war, but they wait till four in the morning and the people are asleep. And I guess what I'm trying to say, sir, is it takes a different set of courage to make one of those narcotics busts, as it is to go into a room where you might get shot in the face, your, your response to that, Steve.
Well, uh, number one, if you have a responsibly trained SWAT team and a responsible set of standards for the use of that SWAT team, the SWAT team doesn't roll, unless the first responder comes up against a situation that is beyond that first responder's capability in Los Angeles. For example, the SWAT team doesn't serve narcotic search warrants, unless unless there's advanced intelligence that the place they're gonna take down is highly barred and stopped with big guns that require the capabilities of SWAT to take 'em over in Los Angeles. You don't the SWAT team doesn't roll until the SWAT team. Commander is convinced that the situation requires them. Nobody in the field can order the SWAT team. It's a SWAT team commander that makes a decision. Yes, you need us. Yes, we're going. And then when they arrive, he is automatically the incident commander. He automatically makes the decisions. Now I'm talking about a big city SWAT team in Los Angeles. There's I believe 10 SWAT platoons, 50% of them are training while the other 50% work with the usual reserved forces in a non SWAT posture. But every SWAT officer spends 50% of his on duty time training.
DEAN BECKER (28:02):
Well, Steve, um,
DEAN BECKER (28:04):
All departments don't do that, but they have all this equipment and they want to use it. And that's where all these narcotic rage and these accidental killings are coming from. It's irresponsible deployment of SWAT squads, this little town in Texas that was responsible for the Rob elementary school. They have no business having a, uh, a SWAT squad, none.
DEAN BECKER (28:31):
Well, Steve, we, we do have to cut it off there. Uh, once again, we've been speaking with Mr. Steven Downing, um, 20 years, uh, law enforcement does, and, uh, he retired as a deputy police chief of the city of Los Angeles. Uh, Steve, thank you, sir.
You're welcome, Dean. Good seeing you again.
DEAN BECKER (28:48):
Thank you for listening to this edition of cultural baggage, please visit our website, drug And again, I remind you because of prohibition. You don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful.

05/18/22 James Gierach

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
James Gierach
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

James Gierach, a former Chicago prosecutor was for years the executive board vice chairman of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) an international organization of former law enforcement and criminal justice officials who speak out against the failures of existing drug policies throughout the world. LEAP is now: Law Enforcement Action Partnership. Gierach has for decades been attending annual meetings of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Geneva, New York and elsewhere.

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03/16/22 Diane Goldstein

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Diane Goldstein
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Law Enforcement Action Partnerships Executive Director Diane Goldstein joined the Redondo Beach Police Department in 1983. She rose from a Patrol Officer and School Resource Officer to Sergeant in the Special Investigations Unit, served as a Division Commander, and retired as a lieutenant in 2004. She was the first female lieutenant in the department.

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02/02/22 Stephen Downing

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Stephen Downing
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Stephen Downing began his 20-year police career in a squad car and finished as a deputy chief of police. His vast experience in law enforcement has led him to the conclusion that the War on Drugs can never be worth the human and fiscal costs.
Discussion revolves around corruption, influence of patrolmen unions and more. Steve was an original board member of LEAP. Downing is an expert on issues related to police militarization, civil asset forfeiture, and corruption and internal affairs. His
interviews and original writings have appeared in numerous local, state, and national outlets.

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DEAN BECKER: (00:00)
Hi friends. I am Dean Becker, the Reverend most high. Thank you for being with us on this edition of cultural baggage. Today, we have a gentleman I traveled, uh, cross country with on the caravan for peace, justice, and dignity. Uh, he was the, uh, deputy police chief of Los Angeles for many, uh, a great leap speaker, a a good friend. Uh, I wanna welcome Mr. Steven Downing.

I Dean, how you doing sir?

DEAN BECKER: (00:31)
Here? Oh, good to have you,

You know, uh, at, at the leap website, you see, uh, the meme, uh, that we create there, uh, the tree and the roots of the tree, um, are, is the drug war and all of the harms that are indicated in the branches of that tree grew out of the drug war. And so the drug war has contributed to many, many, many injustices in our country. And as you know, leap made a little bit of a change where we added to our objection to the drug war, uh, criminal justice reform, because we saw that, um, we couldn't get all the roots at one time, as we chip away at those roots, we also need to trim back the branches as best we can. So all of the harms that have grown from the, the drug war, uh, need attention at the same time we need to dig at those roots.

Um, my history, uh, is I was a drug warrior. I was there as a command officer when president Nixon declared the war on drugs. And of course we all came to see that it was a declaration of war on people and especially a war on black and brown people. And it took me a while to realize that I was part of something that was harmful rather than positive. Uh, I did my best. I helped organize the, uh, 18 divisional drug units in the Los Angeles police department. I helped organize what we call the major violator squad, which was, uh, a group of investigators that really went worldwide. We helped, uh, create the first task forces that, that, uh, put together local county state, and federal officers in drug task forces across the country. And I helped put together the first drug intelligence network so that we could reach our goal of reducing in a consumption drugs, reducing addiction, reducing the flow of drugs into the country and reducing the violence that was associated with the drugs.

Well, year after year, I saw that we weren't reaching those goals. Uh, the seizures got larger, the money got bigger, the weapons got bigger and I soon came to realize that it wasn't my fault. It wasn't my failure as a police executive, but rather it was the fault of our national policy and everything that grew from that. So all of the things that grew from that though, were enhancements. The crimes were increased prison sentences. And so along with the drug war, we built prison after prison, after prison CA uh, where I live, uh, about 3% of our budget when this started was went to prisons, the whole state budget, and that grew to 16%. So in California, we've kind of started some reform. Uh, we have some formers that have got into office like our local, um, district attorney who's, um, who is considered a progressive.

And he, uh, they just launched the second recall effort because we're pushing the buttons of the status quo. They don't want to see these changes. They want to continue to build prisons and they use fear as the basis, um, to pull that off. So this guy is not going to undergoing his second recall election, but it's interesting that, uh, he was elected. He was elected on a platform that he is putting to work and all the status quo folks are trying to get him out. Uh, and so every crime, every little sensation that comes along, they use that as leverage to stop these people when they're doing that across the country. So I wanna say that, right thinking people should be aware of these movements to stop reform. And like you, that's why we're doing this program. We're, we're trying to get that message out there and, and make people aware.

DEAN BECKER: (06:11)
Thank you for that, Steve. Now again, Steve, I, um, I, I'm not wanting to point fingers. You, you have done a Miya culpa, you have changed your way, so to speak. Peter turned to Paul, whatever you wanna say. Uh, but the, the point I wanna get to is that, um, the hysteria that developed during the late sixties, early seventies, uh, uh, Nixon and Holderman wanted to go after the blacks in the hippies. They wanted to stop the anti-war protests, all of that stuff. And that was part of the lead up. There was a ratcheting up of law enforcement activities, uh, and, and procedures, uh, during that timeframe hell all the way up through the mid eighties, really. But, but the fact I'm trying to get to here is that it was, and tell me if I'm wrong, but I think it was Los Angeles that came up with the first SWAT team. And now we have SWAT teams in every PO city across America doing horrible work, uh, quite often your response to that, Steve,

Uh, that is an interesting thing. Um, the first, the, the first SWAT team really had nothing to do with the war on drugs. Uh, the first SWAT team was, uh, created in the Los Angeles police department during my times. And it was a result of a, a robbery situation where arm robbers basically outgunned the police. And so, uh, one of the police officers with, uh, some military experience went to, uh, his deputy chief and said, uh, we really need, um, a capability that the first responder can't meet, uh, and we need to form that. And so, uh, Darrell gates at the time was a deputy chief and he took it to the chief of police, ed Davis and Davis approved, uh, beginning the training of, of, uh, the first SWAT teams. And they were the best officers for that kind of work were picked from the 18 divisions around the city. And then when, uh, the situation called a situation called for, uh, their need, they were brought, they were brought together, which took the response time was, uh, pretty slow. So eventually they centralized the SWAT in, uh, within what's called metropolitan division in the Los Angeles police department. That outfit is seven platoons within metropolitan division. They train 50% of their on duty time and their historical achievements. I'm talking about Los Angeles. Now I'll get to your point in a minute, their achievement, where they only roll out of the barn.

The first responder is faced with the situation that is beyond their capability, in terms of big guns, uh, uh, very, very dangerous situations, situations that need highly skilled tactics. The decision for SWAT to roll in Los Angeles is not made from the field it's made from the commander of SWAT. He will evaluate, he will decide whether they roll or not. He will decide whether the situation meets the criteria for rolling this kind of equipment and people to a scene. Okay. The result is historically the result is of all the hundreds and hundreds of callouts thatwas responded to in Los Angeles. Well, over 95% of those incidents have ended without a single injury, no injury. So that's the proof of the value of a response unit like that in a society that is swimming in weapons yep. Of streets that are cluttered with weapons. Okay. Now, to get to your point, SWAT is sexy.

They have all the uniforms and they have the equipment. They have the big guns, but in Los Angeles, they train 50% of the time. That's very expensive. Now comes along, Reagan, he hands out all the money for the drug war, more than Nixon ever thought of doing. And then they created that. I forget the name of the legislation where surplus military equipment can go to local police departments. And when they started that program, there were no conditions. You want one, uh, you, you got one. So now you have not a chief of police of a, of a department of 10,000 that can, that can really take and train people and allow them to train 50% of their on duty time. But you have small departments. We want one, we want team. So now they get their tank and they get their big guns and quiet communities, no real need for that stuff.

Really, they should be thinking of a regional application. And so, pretty soon, they're trying to find ways to use this equipment and, and these poorly trained people who train off duty sometimes because the, the department can't afford to take the detective off of the detective desk and, and giving five hours a week of training. It's, it's highly expensive, so they're not trained as well, but they need something to use this equipment on. So pretty soon they're rating, they're using SWAT to serve a marijuana warrant somewhere. And that's where all that's where all of the problems come from. It's untrained officers in smaller departments that are using squats, squat squads for situations that do not require them tactically. And so you put that for we're training with a, with an unjustified objective, and people are dying across this country, uh, because, um, because our application of policy is bad. And so SWAT teams need to be examined across the country. And if you want one, make sure you can afford it, make sure that you have the right criteria for rolling and make sure you're training 50% of the time. And then that'll be a true, true squad squad that is there to protect the community and not to, and not to be a, a killer machine that that just runs wild.

DEAN BECKER: (13:40)
Very good. Steve, thank you for that. That, that was, uh, very, uh, clarifying. I, I do appreciate it. Now. I wanna say something. You, you mentioned the smaller towns that they don't have 10,000, um, officers. They've got 10 and, and, but they want that SWAT team. And so many of them, maybe they don't even call it a SWAT team, but they have this more militaristic mentality these days where they kick in doors, where they, uh, like Brianna Taylor for a prime example, they're looking for her ex-boyfriend and they kick in the door. And then the confusion leads to the police, killing the woman in her bed. All right, folks, I me to break in to remind you, you are listening to cultural baggage on Pacifica and the drug truth network. Our guest is Stephen Downing, former deputy police, chief of Los Angeles, and one of the founding members of leap. It is the quite often the propaganda of, of the drug war that leads people to assume this necessity, that they're druggie and what do we gotta do? Whatever it takes your response, Steve Downing, well,

You, you said we used the word drug war. Let's look at the political level. Anytime you have a social problem, it seems that the politicians, their answer is always enforcement. Their answer is always to go to their law enforcement. Their answer is always to begin a war on this problem, and this is a civil society. We shouldn't be starting wars on our own people, regardless of who they are or what they're doing. We need to look at law enforcement as a professional organization that has professionals, public servants, doing the job of law enforcement and making sure that there's a division of function where don't do not ask a law enforcement officer to do a job that they're not trained to do. If you, you, if, if you have a social problem like mental illness, it shouldn't be the officers, police officers handling that. Now they might be along to help protect the social worker and dealing with it and bringing the situation down and deescalating, or, uh, spend some money and training officers, uh, get a little better educated officer on the job that, that knows about those kinds of things, but let's not always, uh, blame the police.

Let's blame the politicians for saying, for declaring the war and giving the job of fighting the war to the police when they should be giving the job to other people. In other words, homeless, the homeless problem. Why should the police be dealing with a homeless problem, whether it's involving, uh, drug addiction or mental illness or economic, uh, failure, why should the police be involved in that on any level, unless there's a disturbance that they need to, uh, use to keep the peace. So we need to start with our politicians rather than tearing about part our police organizations all the time. And if we did that, we might not, we might be able to change the culture of many of these police organizations that think of themselves as warriors, rather than thinking of themselves as public servants.

DEAN BECKER: (17:32)
Good points there, Steve, I, I, uh, agree with you a hundred percent. I, I gotta say this, that, um, you know, this thought of the militaristic, I mean, we have ongoing wars. I Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria on down the line, we have many soldiers back been trained in the military, uh, and a large number of them go into the police forces. And, and, and don't, don't take this wrong. See, I'm not picking on the police, but I'm just saying many of them, uh, some of them carry the, uh, PTSD from these other wars into our, our communities. You wanna talk about that a little bit?

Well, I think I, I think that that goes to your recruitment policy, your recruitment process, and it goes to your screening process, your site, psychological screening, um, and those kinds of things. But, but it also goes to, uh, the culture of the police organization. And what is not said often enough is, is that the police officer is not a warrior. A soldier has an enemy and he's taught the kill. The enemy. A police officer has no enemies. Even the worst bank. Robber is not an enemy. That bank robber is someone in the United States of America who is entitled to due process and the protections of the United States constitution. And who's entitled to, um, uh, to be treated as our laws intend them to be treated. So we should not mix up the military mission with the civil police mission. And if you have that as a policy in your organization, then you're gonna weed out the guy who wants to be the soldier. And you're going to allow the guy who wants to be a public servant, the guy or gal who wants to be a proper servant, you're gonna allow them to flourish in the organization, but you have to have the culture to allow that kind of growth. If you don't have that culture, then the soldier who is taught to kill, he's gonna be dominant.

DEAN BECKER: (20:18)
Now, Steve, I, I wanna, uh, shift just a little bit to, uh, um, Hmm. The clout of policemen. If you will, what you, the clout, the influence police have on politicians and others, you were talk touching on that a bit. That is the politicians who created the laws that the police have to follow. And I, I was, I was wanting to, uh, there is another influence that comes back towards those politicians and I'm all for unions, but patrolman's unions have a lot of, and I'm gonna say undue influence, and I don't know, uh, capability within many communities. You wanna talk about patrolman's unions.

Um, in my opinion, the police officers associations, the strength that they have and the influence they have over politicians is probably the major contributor to our inability, to reform policing in this country. Uh, because in the late seventies, they began to discover the power of their treasury in my town, long beach, California, the police, uh, department is about 900 strong. And the police department in this town, the police officer organization in my town are directly involved in the election of our mayor and 90% of the members of the council. And the result is the misbehavior and the corruption and the incompetence within the long beach police department is never spoken, allowed to the public. The mayor, we have scandal after scandal and the mayor never says a word and no member of our council ever says a word. Why not? Because their money is more important to their campaigns.

In the last few years, uh, in the last five years, the POA in long beach has poured, uh, 1.2 million into local campaigns. And this is a town of, uh, may, uh, 500001.1 million have gone into local campaigns. They've raised taxes on us twice. The mayor, uh, passed a major to raise taxes, which made, uh, our town, the highest retail, uh, uh, tax in the state and the POA, uh, put up $300,000 for his slick mailer campaign to get that done. And when it was done, the first cut went to a raise for police officers. They are not hiring, uh, uh, years ago, about six years ago because of the economic situation in our town. They reduced the size of the police department by 200 officers. But after we passed these tax majors and part of the campaign was to put that 200 back since that time, four years ago, uh, they have put 14 back and none on the street, only 14, but they have created new programs that pay overtime.

So we have police officers at the police officer level in this town with their overtime and their benefits and their very rich pension benefits, uh, making $300,000 a year, a police officer, a, a police officer with a high school education. And three months of academy training, six months of academy training is making $300,000 a year. All of that. Now you say, okay, they're working overtime. It's irresponsible to pay overtime for every program that you have, because what you do is you move things around and you never get any permanence to anything. Number one, number two, wear people out. If they can make the money, they're gonna stay there and make it regardless of the level of fatigue that they're experiencing. So what do you get from that? You get fatigue, you get inattention to duty, you get car accidents, you get breakdown of the family of, or the police officers.

You get suicides and you a lot of sick time that we pay for as well. So the money of the POA is a cancer on good professional law enforcement. I have nothing against unions either. I think in the private sector, let 'em have it because in the private sector, you move, negotiate with a guy who's dealing with a bottom line with the people they get elected and they don't have a bottom line. The politician has this unending treasury of public tax money. And that's why I believe that unions should not be allowed to make donations to anybody that will have a vote as to what their benefits will be in the future.

DEAN BECKER: (26:25)
Well, Steve, we're gonna have to wrap it up here and I just wanna let throw this out here. I don't know how much discussion can form around it, but at, uh, here in, uh, Houston, I don't know, it's been two and a half years ago. I think there was what they call the Harding street bust, where, uh, the cops, uh, showed up with, well, a warrant that they faked or they convinced the judge they needed. I don't know, but whole series of wrong, um, procedures were done. The cops shot each other through the walls of the building. They killed the occupants of the building. Uh, they said there was heroin. There was no heroin. There was a little bit of weed, whatever. It was a whole series of cluster things. If you follow me. And, and, and the point I wanna get to is that that night, the head of the patrolman's union came on all the networks and says, you better believe what we did here was worthy and considered and, and treat us right. And it turns out that they were corrupt. They were murderers. They've been convicted and on down the line. But my point I'm getting to here, Steve is that since that point in time, up to that point in time, I've been interviewing the district attorney, the police chief, the sheriff, everybody was willing to talk. But since that point in time, I think the leverage that the patrolman's union over the police chief, the sheriff and the da is preventing them from talking about this fiasco. Uh, your closing thoughts, Mr. Steve Downing,

Uh, all of that will stop. The minute you pass a law that says the police officers associations cannot support the campaigns of politicians who can benefit them directly. They're there they're employees let 'em work, let, let them bargain at the bargaining table for their wages and working conditions. And that's where it stops.

DEAN BECKER: (28:25)
Good advice. There is, uh, one again, friends we've been speaking with Mr. Steven Downing. He was, uh, uh, once the, uh, deputy police chief of Los Angeles man, uh, great experience and, and, uh, chief, thank you for being with us.

You're welcome. Nice talking to you.

DEAN BECKER: (28:41)
All right. As we're wrapping up here, I recommend you go to the website of law enforcement action leap out there on the, lot of, uh, knowledgeable folks there. And again, I remind you because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag, please be careful.

09/20/21 Charles A. McClelland Jr

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Charles A. McClelland Jr
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Drug War is Racist, Stupid & Evil: Charles A. McClelland Jr. former Chief of Police of Houston calls for legal cannabis and Superior Court Judge James P. Gray calls for the end of drug prohibition.

Audio file

DEAN BECKER: (00:04)
Broadcasting on the drug truth and network. This is cultural baggage.

Speaker 2: (00:09)

DEAN BECKER: (00:22)
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 to prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on eternal drug war.

DEAN BECKER: (00:38)
Hi folks. I am Dean Becker. The Reverend most high of this is cultural baggage. We have two guests for you today. First up, we'll hear from Charles McClellan, the former police chief of Houston, Texas. And then we'll hear from my mentor former superior court, judge James P grey, put your ears on. Here we go. You know what? I was looking at the transcript and it was, uh, December of 2014 when, uh, the, then police chief of Houston, the nation's fourth-largest city, Charles H McClellan Jr. Came down to the studio here at KPMT, and we had a great interview and I think we created a, or we cleared a roadblock maybe, uh, on discussion about the, the horrors of the drug war. And with that, I want to welcome him back, chief Charles McClellan, how you doing, sir?

I'm doing great. Dean. How about yourself? Thanks for having

DEAN BECKER: (01:33)
Me. Oh, thank you. And yeah, I'm doing great. I guess for 72, um, I look at it this way, chief, that when you came in that studio, uh, we had a great discussion. We were open and honest with one another. We, uh, compared a few notes and, and, uh, I had near the end of that discussion. I was looking at the transcript. Uh, you said something to the effect that the drug war has been a miserable failure. And that night on a, the NBC news, they carried a segment of my radio show. The only time they've ever done that to recount our discussion that following Saturday or Sunday, there was a talk show on Fox and about 15 or 20 minutes of that was devoted to our discussion. And over the years, following our discussion, the Chronicle quoted that discussion at least six times. And it has made possible for the following police chiefs and district attorneys and sheriffs to speak more openly and honestly about this drug war. And I want to just thank you, first of all, for helping broken that, that ice for us all. Thank you, sir.

Well, uh, it's a pleasure Dean, and I didn't see any of that news coverage. So I don't know whether people agreed with me disagreed with me. Uh, but clearly I will speak openly. And honestly, honestly, with you again here today.

DEAN BECKER: (03:04)
Well, and, and I, I, that's what I've, I've very much value about you, chief McClellan, uh, and to update you, uh, that night on the NBC news, they talk positively about it. There wasn't a big discussion two or three minutes, the 15 minutes on Fox was all in support. Yes, it makes sense. We've, we're, we're messing up, we've got to change direction. So even on Fox, they were in support of what you had said that time. Now, um, you were, uh, our police chief from 2010 to 2016 and the other day you and I got to talking a bit about, uh, well, what you've been doing since and well, give us a summary. What does the retired police chief do?

Well, you, you know, uh, I have time to do things that I had to put aside and didn't pay enough attention to while I was working. Uh, I enjoy playing with my grandkids. I enjoy sleeping late, working in my yard, traveling, uh, prior to COVID of course, uh, but just enjoying life, all the things that I had to miss out or cut short while I was, uh, devoting so much time to trying to keep our city safe. So I pretty much do whatever I want.

DEAN BECKER: (04:26)
Uh, well, that's the way it ought to be in retirement. I, I hear you now, chief, you mentioned you had gone to a few states where they have legalized marijuana and, um, I don't know, it done a little investigation there. Tell us what you found, what'd you please, uh, uh, three states you went to,

Yeah, let me just say this thing. And, and I want describe, uh, our challenges with drug as a war anymore. It's not a war Wiseman loss. It's not a war and police professionals around the country will acknowledge that. W w we're not in a war, uh, anymore. Yes. We still will still have challenges, uh, with, uh, you know, drugs, especially opioids Spinall. Uh, but those challenges are not just coming from the corner street, the coming from the corner drugstore and your corner doctor's office too. So let me just say this. Yes. Uh, since I've been retired, I had several friends who were, uh, you know, law enforcement executives in cities, in states where, uh, marijuana, uh, has been legal by their states. So I checked in with a few just to see how has this affected crime, how it's affected their job and their challenges.

And it really has had really no, uh, discernible impact on crime per se, generate more revenue. But the three states that, that I have visited, uh, since I've been retired, I didn't visit those states for this. Uh, but certainly I have been in the state of California, Nevada, and Colorado. And I was interested in, uh, the places that dispense, uh, legal marijuana, how these places operated, who are the clientele? How do they operate? So I had a friend take me down to a strip center and, uh, I won't name the city or state, but we, we, we stood outside and, uh, I looked at the place and before he pointed it out to me, I couldn't pick it out. It looks like any other store in the strip center. I did, I was unable to pick it out without him telling me, uh, which business it was.

Then we stood there for about 20, 30 minutes talking about how, uh, the operation works. And I noticed the clientele that was going in and out. And one thing that I found that was remarkable now, all of this information is an adult. I don't know if it was just that day. I was there or is this the normal clientele, but most of the clientele we're going in, we're middle-aged to older people, more women than men, but people look like they were maybe, uh, early, late thirties, early forties to 60, 70 years old, who that thought was strange. And, uh, obviously I didn't have the nerve to go up and speak to these people after they left, but I sure would, uh, I would have loved to interview them to just to see what their thoughts were on legalized marijuana, how long they been using it, what they thought of, obviously they agreed with it cause they were buying the product.

DEAN BECKER: (08:22)
And chief, I see stories coming out of Colorado where they indicate that they can't prove that the use by youth, by children has gone down, but they can certainly see that it has not gone up since it was legalized for the adults. And that, that was always one of the major concerns. All we can't do it, but what about the children? But the truth be told the drug wars and never stopped any child from getting it. If they wanted to. I don't think they, they might have to fight a little harder finagle a little more, but uh, well,

My position on that now, Dean is, um, what about the children when it comes to alcohol and cigarettes?

DEAN BECKER: (09:05)
Yes, sir. Well,

Those are two legal products, deadly. They're not legal for a kid or anyone under a certain age, but they can certainly set out in the parking lot and someone can go in and get it for them. And many times kids get the alcohol from their parents' liquor cabinet and could get behind the wheel well hurt or kill themselves or others.

DEAN BECKER: (09:32)
I have to underscore what you're saying there. If you'll allow the fact of the matter is cigarettes in particular, cigarettes are deadly 450,000 Americans dying every year. And yet that's legal as apple pie. Uh, it's killing me. I've got COPD, I've got maybe a few years left. I hardly have any air at all. And the Marlboro man and all of those people are at John Wayne, smoking them cigarettes. Everybody's saying cigarettes are cool. And all of that, I don't know. I'm just out of, I'm just mad about my situation.

I'll say this thing, it's certainly one's a personal choice, but in the case of cigarettes, it tells you on the package. If you use it, it's probably gonna be detrimental to your health. It says that yes, sir, uh, uh, right there on the container that you purchase the cigarettes. So I look at this thing about marijuana. We have criminalized enough people in this country and enough young people and ruin their lives, ruined their careers, uh, put them in jail, um, made it harder for them to get a job behind marijuana. Now I'm not, I'm not advocating it. Marijuana may be healthy for you to use, but I am advocating that because there are so many states now that has legalized it. And it hasn't saw, uh, the world hadn't turned upside down. It is time now for the federal government to rethink this. And it should probably be up to individual states to whether their populace wants to legalize it or individual cities, but it should no longer be illegal from a federal standpoint. And that's what stopping some states, I believe.

DEAN BECKER: (11:34)
Thank you for that. Um, and she's friends, we're speaking with Charles, Hey, McClellan Jr. The former police chief of Houston, Texas now, uh, last week, uh, chief, I was interviewing Neil woods and he heads up a group called law enforcement action partnership in the UK. And he was talking about over there, uh, that those, that still dabble in arresting people for marijuana are looked on disfavorably. They're wasting time. They could be standing in support of those doing actual police work rather than chasing down some high school area and spending hours hauling him to jail. Your response to that thought you

Well, I agree with that. I mean, I don't, law enforcement resources are precious and we need to make sure that those resources are directed at protecting our community the most vulnerable, uh, toward our most violent criminals that threatened our society. Those are the resources that, that we need to make sure that are going to the right place. Uh, I, I certainly believe that also, if you think about it, if marijuana was legal across the country in all 50 states, that will take some incentive away from the drug Lords that across the border and trying to get drugs into the country. Uh, I, I certainly believe that. And it would be I think, a cleaner, um, or safer industry because it's government regulated. Uh, you could use the, uh, the banking system create jobs. Uh, all of these things that I do think would have a positive benefit. Now having said that I'm not a medical doctor, I'm not saying that smoking marijuana, you might get lung cancer down the road. I don't know. I don't, I don't know the long-term effects, but, uh, just like, I don't know the long-term effects. If you drink a fifth of scotch every day or smoke a pack of cigarettes every day, I think it would probably be harmful.

DEAN BECKER: (13:43)
Yeah. But you know, a quick aside, um, boy, it's been 15 years ago, I had the chance to interview a, um, a gentleman who worked for the national Institute on drug abuse. Um, I'm skipping his name. Can't think of it at the moment. I interrupt here to insert the fact that the night a scientist I was talking about was Dr. Donald kashkin. He was our guest on April 9th, 2008. It's out there on the web at drug 1 8, 4, 2 full transcript is attached. We had a great discussion. He spent years investigating, uh, the comparison between smoking marijuana and smoking cigarettes. And he said that try as hard as he could. He couldn't find any instance where, uh, uh, cannabis led to lung cancer, uh, that they, they tried real hard to prove it for the government and just couldn't do it.

Well, I would probably agree with that. And, uh, you know, like I said, I know that some of the arguments that, that people that are opposed to legalizing marijuana is what about the long-term effects? What about the long-term health effects of alcohol and cigarettes? I, I don't, I don't think that they put on a bottle of alcohol or a package of cigarettes that, Hey, this is going to enhance your health. And I don't know of any alcohol or any cigarette brand that they do prescribe for epilepsy, glaucoma, those type things like marijuana is in some situations or THC. Let me just say THC.

DEAN BECKER: (15:22)
Yeah. And then you and I had a bit of a discussion the other day too, about him and what's the benefit or the ratio or the parameters of it all. And it's, to me, hemp is a good product and it'll be good for weaving baskets and eliminating plastic bags, hanging in our trees, all of that kind of good stuff, because the hemp will deteriorate, uh, it's plastic wheel, but, but we need to make it where cannabis is accepted for medical medical use, as you were indicating. And here in Texas, we, we allow for 1% THC in our hemp, which is not going to get anybody high. Um, it's just another rope, a dope from my perspective, I'm not asking you to respond to that and you don't want to get political, but it's just rope a dope is what they're doing. They're just waiting and waiting because so many people are profiting from the current set of laws. Um, chief Charles McClellan Jr. Served. Uh, I promised you a short interview, wa any closing thoughts, a website, uh, you might want to share?

Well, I just say that you, you know, from, from law enforcement professionals and our political leaders, it is, it is very, very much past time for the federal government to take the lead and take marijuana off, schedule one, uh, drugs, the most, one of the most, you know, schedule one is some of the most dangerous drugs in our society. Heroin, cocaine, marijuana should not be classified as that. And just a couple of weeks ago, prior to the Olympics in Japan, in the qualifying meats, there was American sprinter, female African-American sprinter who admitted to using marijuana that she tested positive for. And, you know, it stopped her from going to the Olympics. She had a 30 day suspension now because she won that race and outran everybody. I am not convinced. And I haven't heard anyone say that marijuana is a performance enhancing drug. If she would have drunk a fifth of scotch and won that race, she would have been allowed to complete compete. It makes no sense to me.

DEAN BECKER: (17:49)
It does not. I agree. Well, Charles ain't Mclowen sir, uh, you know, w we, we're going to have to maintain this contact every once in a while, cause you speak a lot of great truth. And I thank you, sir.

Well, thank you very much, Dean. And since I'm out of law enforcement, you know, people listening to the, you know, this interview may think I've lost my mind. I don't know.

DEAN BECKER: (18:12)
Uh, no, they don't. The majority of people are right there with you, sir, if only we could get these Texas legislators to, to join, I want to pull their heads out of some area in their, in. And

Yeah, we do have to get smarter about our, our, uh, drug challenges. And when it comes to drug challenges, just like, uh, when we need to direct our resources to violent criminals and violent crime, we need to direct our drug resources toward opioids fentinol and, uh, how people are being over prescribed these drugs and how our young teenagers are abusing these drugs. That's what we need to be doing.

DEAN BECKER: (19:04)
Well, friends, we just heard from one of the people who I don't know, helped me to feel I was steering in the right direction with the former police chief of Houston, Charles McClellan, but another gentleman I met back about 2002, I think it was here in Houston. He came here to speak, I think at the behest of the drug policy forum of Texas, he was a author of a brand new book then, uh, um, why are, what was it, um, why are drug laws they owned and what we can do about it, a judicial indictment of the war on drugs. And I knew then I was on the right track and for 20 years I've been at it. And, uh, thanks to good folks like chief McClellan and judge James P grey. How are you, sir?

Dr. Dane. I'm just fine. Thank you. It's nice to see you again.

DEAN BECKER: (19:51)
Oh, you too, sir. Uh, you know, we're, we're kind of limited today. I got two of you and a half hour show. So I want to just say this. I recently got an email from you. You're a two paragraphs, which you do. I think basically once a week and this week, I'm going to summarize it with your question and what is the major source of funding for terrorists and other thugs around the world? You went on to explain in great detail, but tell us about that situation. Superior court, judge,

Dean, you know, the more you look into it, there's lots of bad things happening in the world. And Afghanistan is a perfect example. They get most of their foreign currency, most of their money, most of their, their whole, uh, uh, existence from selling poppy seeds and the poppy seeds are used of course, to make heroin. They're the world's largest supplier of, we have the anomaly that when our were still in Afghanistan, we had a drug Lord there that was helping us so much with the war effort that the DEA was told not to not to go in and eradicate his poppy seeds. And we literally had our armed forces there protecting his poppy seeds from other neighbors, because you know, it's so far out of control, it's ingrained. We will never be able to get rid of these drugs. The only thing you can do is regulate it and control it.

So you know where it is, you have quality control, you tax it, and you have, you bring in some, some conformity in this whole thing, you look at Mexico and all of these violence, all of the corruption, all of the headings have nothing to do with drugs whatsoever. They don't, it's all drug money that causes those things. And mostly it's our drug money. So we should to be aware of these things. And, and if we were to somehow stop drug prohibition, like with the 21st amendment, we finally stopped alcohol prohibition. I guarantee you the entire civilized world would heave a sigh of relief and join us promptly because it just isn't working. Now.

DEAN BECKER: (21:54)
It's not a contained in your two paragraph for this week. You also mentioned something that's, uh, rarely noticed here in these United States. And that is North Korea makes tons of, uh, methamphetamine distributes that around the world. And they might have been able to afford their nuclear weapons program through the sales of methamphetamine.

Well, that's, that's my inference. You know, there was a while that we've actually intercepted shiploads of methamphetamines on north Korean flagships. And we know that they're doing that. Fidel Castro used to make lots of foreign currency. I mentioned Eric Honaker, an east Germany. A lot of these Renegade countries make a whole lot of money. That way I was going through Panama. We actually went to war with Panama. And so it just went through Nicaragua. Instead, I was in the peace Corps in Costa Rica. Dan, you may not know this from 1966 to 68. And it was a wonderful country. I took my wife and son back there, maybe seven or eight years ago. And I'm sorry, I went San Jose Costa Rica is now a pit and it was a beautiful city when I was there. But drug money has come into there and it's just eroded the country.

It's just a terrible thing. Down in Mexico. We have places literally where the drug gangs or drug Lords have more money and more arms than the local government does. They're totally in control. It's drug money that does it. I'll throw one more thing at you. When I was on the bench, still the municipal court on two different occasions, totally separate from each other. I was sentencing young men for being under the influence of methamphetamines and in our, in our state and pretty much everywhere else before someone can plead guilty, they have to give you a factual basis. Namely put it in your own words, why you're guilty of this offense. And each one individually told me, your honor, my drug of choice was marijuana and I'd buy my marijuana from the same source. One fine day. Unbeknownst to me sold me marijuana. That was laced with methamphetamines.

I put it in my bong. I smoked it and I got high and I got addicted to the methamphetamines. And I still remember, look, we all know smoking cigarettes is hazardous to your health, but at least if you go to your local mini Mart and buy a pack of Marlboros, you're going to know it's not laced with methamphetamines, the drug prohibition problem. So all of this fentanyl problem and fentanyl is a truly serious killer. I understand you can kill about 30 people with the amount of spent now that you would find in one of these restaurant packets of sugar, you know, it's really, really strong stuff, but nobody would put that into their bodies intentionally, but the drug providers it's less expensive. They put it in there themselves. You don't know it, you use it and you get hurt or you get killed. It's all a drug prohibition problem. So let me give you a recommendation. Let me recommend that you use as a title for the show. Drug prohibition is racist, stupid evil. It came directly from me.

DEAN BECKER: (24:45)
I'll tell you what a judge, you know, I feel, uh, I see, I sense, great strides being made towards ending this madness. But then I hear other, I see other signs, newspaper accounts and others that say, no, it's going to last forever because the, there are people that cling to this power, to this source, to this money. Uh, it's, it's a real conundrum. Isn't it

Follow the money Dean. Uh, there's a great deal of money in drug prohibition. Uh, the police force has get more. They think of it this way as well. And maybe you could have asked your police chief from Houston, but police are really addicted to their statistics. The number of crimes solved percentage solved is really important for police officers. And when you have a drug case, you don't have a case at all until you realize it's there, you open it and close it at the same time. So your statistics go up and if you were to do away with those, the statistics for solving the, you know, the armed robberies and burglaries and homicides and everything would go down, that's just another kind of sophisticated reason why please still like to use the war on drugs because they can show they're more effective. Well,

DEAN BECKER: (26:02)
And luckily the chief and I did discuss that a bit. The fact that many of those still making marijuana arrests are looked down upon by the other officers for wasting their time when they could be helping in more important endeavors. Um, uh, once again, friends we've been speaking with judge James P grey, uh, one of my mentors, man, I greatly respect over the years. Um, you got another book on the way. Any closing thoughts, judge?

Well, I do, but it's actually a fiction book with regard to school choice and are the numbers of schools failing our children all around the country. But it's, it's on its way. For the last time I had actually was all rise to libertarian way with judge Jim gray, have a chapter with regard to drug prohibition on that, uh, it's available in Amazon, all rise and at the playoff on what the bale of say when, when a judge comes in, but the theme is if we employ libertarian values and approaches, we will all rise together. And I stand by that.

DEAN BECKER: (26:57)
I know, you know, this hell, I know the judge knows this, but the poppy seeds he was talking about, he meant to say opium, I've got confused on talk, shows myself before last I heard opium is selling for 6 cents per gram and Afghanistan. I'm going to include a copy of the judges. Two paragraphs at the end of this week's transcript, uh, for this program. But the following was written before I talked to the judge, this is a drug truth network editorial for more than 100 years, the American people have been bamboozled lied to treat it as Hicks, rubes, and ultimately as victims of a war that insured more than a million Americans died because they knew not the strength of the medicines. They were forced to buy in the black market. Additionally, more than 50 million Americans have been thrown in cages because they were found to be using medicines.

DEAN BECKER: (28:00)
They were forced to buy from this same $500 billion per year black market. This is insanity. This is evil. This is racist, an abomination before God. And yet America continues to lead an eternal charge to create these same fallacious and evil laws and results in every country around the world. Stupid is as stupid. Does a thank you for being with us, please visit our website, drug And again, I remind you that because of prohibition, your children don't know what's in that bag. I urge all of you to be careful drug truth. Network transcripts are stored at the James A. Baker the III, the Institute more than 7,000 radio programs And we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.

JUDGE GRAYS “2 Paragraphs” for this week:

Question: What is the major source of funding for terrorists and other thugs all around the world?  Answer: The sale of illicit drugs.  Just start out by considering Afghanistan, which is and has been the world leader in exporting the opium poppy that is used to make heroin.  When the DEA began to be successful in eradicating the crop during our war effort there, the US Department of State ordered them to cease their operations because they were beginning seriously to disrupt the Afghan economy.  And now after the fall of that government, even though it directly contradicts their stated religious beliefs, heroin is fueling the Taliban.  BTW, how about some irony?  Scott Horton in his book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan (The Libertarian Institute, 2017) documented a situation in which the US Department of State had ordered the DEA not to bother a particular drug lord who was raising the opium poppy because he was so helpful to us with our war effort – to the extent that for a time we actually had our fighting troops protecting the opium poppies in his fields from theft by neighboring drug lords!
                And the same thing has happened for years with other rogue countries.  For example, North Korea has probably made enough money in exporting illicit methamphetamines around the world to fund its nuclear arsenal.  In addition, the Fidel Castro government in Cuba and the Erich Honecker government in the former East Germany routinely sold illicit drugs to bring in lots of hard currency into their countries.  Furthermore, in many places in Mexico the drug lords now actually have more money and weapons than the local governments, so they control what goes on there.  And all of this disruption and hardship, as well as the corruption, violence and even beheadings, have nothing at all to do with drugs – they are all caused by drug money!  And much of the money comes from us!  But, since we virtually lead the world in pursuing this failed policy of Drug Prohibition, if we were to change away from this approach to one of strictly regulating and controlling these substances, we would take away tens of billions of dollars from a lot of terrorists and other thugs.  And most of the civilized world would probably heave a big sigh of relief as they joined us!  Something for us to think about?

09/12/21 Neil Woods

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Neil Woods Dir LEAP EU
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Former undercover police officer Neil Woods, who risked his life infiltrating some of the UK's most vicious gangs, pieces together the complex and terrifying reality of the drug war in Britain. Neil and DTN host Dean Becker discuss the failures and futility of the drug war.

Audio file

08/30/21 Dr. Joao Goulao Drug Czar of Portugal

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Joao Goulao Drug Czar of Portugal
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Moral High Ground Reclamation: Congressman Beto O'Rourke (Ret), Neil Woods Dir LEAP UK, Roger Goodman Wash State Rep, Katherine Neil Harris of Baker Inst., Dr. Christoph Buerki designer Swiss Heroin program, Maj. Neill Franklin Dir LEAP USA, Dr. Joao Goulao Drug Czar of Portugal & Dr. Kahlid Tinasti Global Commission on Drugs.

Audio file

BETO O'ROURKE: (54:05) The war on drugs largely has been waged against black Americans and communities of color, and it has produced the largest prison population on the face of the planet. One disproportionately comprised of black and Brown people. And now at a time that marijuana is legal in one form or another, and more than half the States of the union. Um, it is very hard for the formerly incarcerated. Those have been prosecuted in the war on drugs to be able to earn a living, uh, on the, the very issue for which they were punished. Uh, meanwhile, as has been the case, uh, for time and immemorial, the last 400 years in this country, um, white men primarily, um, have an easier job of finding the investment capital, um, the legal pathway, uh, and the means to profit off now the legal sale of cannabis in this country. And so I think Kamala understands that in addition to ending the war on drugs, you also have to look at restorative justice for those who've been unfairly prosecuted in that war on drugs.

And part of that means access to the opportunities now in legal marketplace for, for cannabis. Isn't it just for those who bore the brunt of this to have an opportunity to actually make a living going forward, if that's what they should choose to pursue. So we've talked about the, the, the history of the prohibition of cannabis, which really begins in El Paso, Texas, where I'm talking to you from right now more than a hundred years ago, and cannabis was associated with Mexican nationals, Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants, and in an effort to keep them down, um, legally, politically, economically, um, the, the outlaw of cannabis and the ability to prosecute, um, these new immigrants in some cases, um, became part of the policy here in the city of El Paso.

It was picked up throughout the mountain West. It then extended to trying to further control black Americans and communities like new Orleans, New York, city and marijuana became very much associated with communities of color through the eyes of the law. And so you get to modern policing, which some have compared to the new Jim Crow and its connection to the war on drugs and keeping communities of color down by law. And you begin to understand, just begin to understand, um, how law enforcement has been used as a tool of institutional racism and oppression and suppression of opportunity in black communities and in communities of color. And so to your point on, on George Floyd, um, you know, that white officer kneeling on George Floyd's throat and he was watching us, he knew he was being filmed by that cell phone camera, and he's looking right into it, um, without, uh, any care whatsoever, because he knows he can do this. He he's saying to us in his gaze, he says, I can do this because I'm white and this man is black.

There's nothing more for you to know. Uh, and I think that is, that is, um, that, that is the issue with which we are contending right now and, and, you know, white gratitude to everyone who has taken to the streets and marched in the tradition of John Lewis, uh, and Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King jr. And so many of our civil rights heroes who understood that in addition to the ballot box and voting and registering and the traditional channels of power, um, that there's something more that needs to be done on critical issues and a critical moments like these and it necessitates us taking to the streets.

So we've got to look at other countries' experiences if you're urging us to do whether it's the Netherlands or Portugal, or really any other place on the planet or other States that are pioneering innovative public health responses to drug use and drug abuse and drug overdose deaths.

So, um, Dean you're you're, you're, you're really, again, um, pushing us to think beyond what's comfortable or convenient and to do instead, what is right for this country. And I hope that's what we're able to do. There's no benefit to, to the drug war. I mean, it, it, it benefits of bloated police budgets, it benefits the police industrial complex, the, you know, the, the consultants who teach you how to do a no knock warrant, break down a door and, you know, dress and in tactical military gear to, um, take on, you know, we think about Brianna Taylor who was killed, uh, through one of these no knock warrants. and to date Dean, uh, no one's been arrested. Um, no one's been prosecuted. No one's been convicted. Uh, no one's even been charged for her death and she did literally nothing wrong. Um, and, and is, is one of most recent, but only the most recent examples of the mortal consequences of this war on drugs. So it's not good for human life. It's not good for our democracy. Uh, it's not good for our fellow Americans. Um, and, and so you look, you, you follow the money and find out who is profiting from this. And I think you find your answers.

NEIL WOODS: ((59:55) This is one of the biggest industries in the world and it's, and it's completely unregulated. It's half a trillion worldwide in the UK. It's 10 billion pounds a year. Um, but that does this. It's not just a huge value in the market, which causes the corruption. There's another aspect, which again, we observe every level and you're right to say that it's the same internationally, but the mechanism that causes corruption, that I'm about to describe to you works every single level, it works at sort of regional in a nation. It works at national level and international level. You see where we do take out the competition and we catch a gang, a cartel, et cetera. It does mean that another gang has an increase in the market share. Now I think it's economics. 101 that an unregulated market in any unregulated market monopolies appear, you know, it's a basic economic truth, but with the illicit drugs market, the mechanism of monopolies forming is actually accelerated by the actions of police.

So where you have, why you create a gap in the market and you get rid of a gang, it's actually usually the most successful gang. It's the gang that's already dominant, which takes advantage of that and expands into that space. This is why they used to be 20 cartels in Mexico. Now there are only three, but you see those three cartels now have a much bigger share of the market, which means they are individually richer, which means they can use much more of their disposable income to corrupt the system. So the mechanism of policing is actually what leads to increased corruption. Now, what gang with enough money would not corrupt the system to protect themselves. It's the obvious, strategic thing to do.

So it is accepted by police leaders, not just in the UK, because I have spoken with police leaders all over the place including the USA. It is accepted that this corruption is endemic and impossible to defend against because what successful organized crime group would not employ people to join the police. Why would they not? And I don't want my , our criminal justice system corrupted by gangsters, but the only way we can ever stop this is by taking the markets off them, taking the power away from them, by regulating the markets. And, you know, we, it might be a stretch of the imagination for most people in a stable democracy like the UK or the USA or, or Norway. It might be a stretch of people's imagination to see themselves it's going in the same direction as Mexico, you know, and, you know, because Mexico is so extreme or Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, West Africa is now a narco state, or were all the other democracy democracies that are being eroded by, by drugs money.

But, you know, we're only going in that direction. We are all going in that direction. We're at the thin end of the same wedge. And don't underestimate the extent of the corruption in your police and criminal justice system, because the longer and harder we fight this war, more likely that corruption is going to increase. the issue of racial justice is inseparable from drug policy because drug drug policy is what, um, maintains the structural, um, racism within, within, within our society. But you have to bear in mind that the USA has a, slightly different view of this. I mean, I, I, in for drug Wars, I researched the way that, um, USA drug policy, uh, destroyed the UK drug policy because you know, this international drug policy, it's a USA invention. It's essentially, you know, it's a, state's moral imperialism because in the UK, we didn't really have a problem with drugs until we were forced through diplomatic international pressure to, to follow the USA way, doing things cocaine wasn't seen as anything other than a tonic for housewives, until until black people were seen to be using it, or it was a way of persecuting black people.

It was, it was an extension of the Jim Crow law. That's what the ban on cocaine. I mean, we call it cannabis in Europe and in America you call it marijuana because it was a way of encouraging it to be seen as a Mexican problem or way of persecuting Mexicans during the great depression, when Mexicans were seen to be stealing white jobs. It was a way of persecuting. It's always been about racism.

The UK is a fun, fascinating example of world drug policy shifts, because it's, it says police voices, which are leading the debate, the police are way ahead of politicians. And in fact, um, where some police leaders have been bringing in heroin assisted treatment, actually paying for free prescriptions of heroin for problematic users, the home office, the government has said, well, we expect our police to uphold the law. Um, but the police are going ahead and doing their own reforms.

It's just pragmatic policing. It's following evidence for what is helpful to somebody's health and society. And, you know, there is good evidence, these diversion schemes from where they happen in other parts of the country, they have actually reduced crime. So you've got to go with the evidence and I applaud the police, some of my colleagues in the UK for bravely bringing in these policies in spite of politics and not because of it. And of course I applaud the Canadian Chiefs, but you know, we've got police voices speaking out on reforms, across Europe as part of LEAP Europe, Law Enforcement Action Partnership.

An evidence based drug policy is not too much too much to ask and where, where we go for evidence rather than moral posturing, that's where we tend to get movement forwards because the evidence is so overwhelming that reforms work, whichever incremental reforms we're talking about, whether it's harm reduction, um, specifically opioid substitution, treatment H.A.T.s, you know, heroin, prescribing decriminalization, and most importantly regulation. You know, there is evidence that, that, that these, these changes in policies work, but, but there's, there's a, there's an unholy Alliance between politicians and media journalism and what each has being supporting the other in this sort of weaponizing of the issue for a very long time.

But I think what politicians need to realize is the public are now seeing through this, despite this weight of propaganda, that's come from politicians and journalists alike, that, that there is a truth here coming through that they need to get behind or be judged very harshly by history because it's not going to be too much in the near future. When we look back on this period of time and think how, how could we as a society have allowed that policy to continue? You know, they need to feel the weight of the judgment of history because now is the turning point. So which, which of them will get behind these reforms, which of them, will take that moral high ground that the lives of problematic drug users are as valuable as everybody else's now who will take that moral ground that no citizen gets left behind.

But I would love in the United States is for Americans to look beyond the, beyond their borders, because there is innovation and drug policy going on that the USA uniquely is not really taking any notice of, for example. So, you know, I am astounded sometimes by how resistant Americans can be to just basic harm reduction principles, which save lives around the world. It's, it's bizarre, you know, trust me. The USA is really weird with this, like really weird, even things like providing clean injecting equipment, you know, just, just basic stuff, that kind of stuff that stops the spread of blood borne viruses and keeps people alive. You know, why, why would you not support it?

ROGER GOODMAN: (1:08:21) I can't imagine anything less moral, less ethical than a system, A structure that has perpetuated the relegation of unpopular and vulnerable groups in our society to second class citizenship, whether it was the Chinese in the late 18 hundreds or the Mexicans and the, what we call Negroes in the early 20th century and poor whites or what we might call white trash in the late 20 20th century. Um, this, uh, there's nothing moral about it. That's been profiteering off of suffering. It's been, uh, environmental damage in developing countries, a destabilization of governments, compromising of medical care, clogging of the courts, uh, violating civil rights. Uh, I just can't imagine anything right about this policy, given the record, the history, the evidence of how devastating it has been in every aspect of our public and private lives.

DEAN BECKER (Audio) : Do you currently think there is anything that is moral about this drug war?

KATHERINE NEILL HARRIS: (1:09:55) No, there's not. Um, I think at this point, you know, it was, it's been racially motivated from the beginning, and I think that now we're in a situation where, you know, there's the, the racial component of it is still there. And then there's also the fact that, you know, a lot of people that are, you know, in elected office, I mean, for one thing, there's just sort of, they are not interested in hearing information that doesn't comport with their worldview or their understanding. And I also think that for a lot of them, it's politically expedient to sort of continue this, the idea of fear and connecting drug use and crime to those fears is an old, old tactic. And we still see it continuing today. And you see some of it in president Trump's rhetoric about cartel, violent cartels from Mexico and drug trafficking.

And so, you know, I think for some people that are in elected office, you know, it doesn't really matter if you show them evidence that, you know, needle exchange programs, you know, cut down on the spread of HIV, or if you showed them that drug arrests, you know, disproportionately affect black communities. That's not that those aren't really things that they care about. They care about getting reelected. And so, you know, they don't, they still don't want to look soft on crime or soft on drugs. And again, it's, it's politically advantageous for them to kind of have the, to be able to play on the fear of some of their constituents. And I just, I think that's just an unfortunate reality of the situation.

DR. CHRISTOPH BUERKI: (1:11:20) I appeal to you. You don't need to find a big, nobody Has the big solution to the problem of drug addiction. I mean, it's horrible if somebody, you know, well, um, is addicted to a drug, there is no cheap solutions, but there is as a society ways we can try, we need to try it. Maybe, maybe you won't succeed. Um, I don't know, what's the tailor tailored solution or way to go for you and your culture. Try it. We did try it. Switzerland is a conservative country, um, however, quite rich country. Uh, and we tried something and it worked, it wasn't a solution for every public health public order addiction problem in, in, in our country. But it was a very important, uh, step and the same could go for you for your country. Try it in a small project prove that it's feasible, that it's, uh, efficient to do that it works. And then, then, then learn from it and develop it.

NEILL FRANKLIN: (1:12:30) So hopefully we're getting to a place where people are starting to realize just what you said, that that's not just unique to Houston. It's not just unique to Baltimore. It's not just unique to Chicago. You can go to any major city and not just major cities. You can go to rural counties in the South to the same thing where they're stealing money from people through, uh, asset forfeiture, uh, programs, you know, sitting on highways or Sheriff's departments sitting on highways, stopping cars with out of state tags and taking any cash that they may have by trickery literally by trickery. You know, so it's not unique to our big cities. It's our small towns and it's our, it's our rural counties as well. And, you know, I hate it when I hear my peers say, well, it's just a few bad apples Dean. It's not just a few bad apples.

Don't broad brush the entire policing world because of these few bad apples. I'm going to tell you something, it's not a few bad apples. The barrel, the actual Apple barrel is rotten. So when these young kids come through these police academies with the mindset that they're going to do good by people that they want to really help people after a year or two in that uniform on the street, they're just like the rest of the apples that are in that barrel because the barrel is rotten. Anytime you have these police departments and these so-called good officers sit by and watch this corruption and watch the crime is being committed by those wearing a uniforms and sit by idly as with George Floyd, you know, where the other three officers know that mr. Floyd was in distress with Chauvin's knee on his neck. When you have that, when you fail to intervene or fail to hold your peers accountable for the dirt that they do, you're rotten. Also,

DR. JOAO GOULAO: (1:15:05) Let me tell a very important argument from the right wing, from the conservatives. United nations treaties, the United nations will punish you. Will blind you. In fact, we had that discussion in 2000 at the parliament, it was approved. It passed the bill passed and came into force in the 1st of July of 2001. And what I can tell you nowadays, 20 years after is that there is a complete consensus, complete political consensus nowadays, even those parties who voted against the bill at that time are now in favor of our policies, because we have the evidence of the results. Nowadays, you are facing an epidemic on opiates, mostly on fentanyl and similar things that is, uh, also crosscutting your society. And this crisis, I believe can be, uh, an opportunity. It's almost, uh, now we talk about, uh, uh, the, the challenges and the opportunities that the pandemic, uh, prizes is posing to all the world.

Uh, but also this one is, is also is a challenge, but also an opportunity to launch the discussion in the, in the society, in the community, and to have movement of people moving into that direction.

I believe in the principle of legalizing of everything, the state involved in the production and the distribution, putting rules, uh, but for all substances, why why to have a special framework from cannabis? It is far from being a light, right? As people tend to present it, right? Yeah. It's strains that you can find in the market are really dangerous in terms of mental health. So if the principle is to avoid contamination, to avoid the black market, to avoid criminality related to drugs, we must think about legalizing all the substances and creating rules. So it's a new paradigm. Instead of the previous units paradigm, we will have the regulatory paradigm and I believe it can be a good solution.

What I can, I can reply to this is in between. And meanwhile, give the step of decriminalizing improvement. They criminalize drug use and possession for personal use, right? Despite all those discussions, all the discussion that is going, uh, worldwide, uh, about legalization, about regulation of the market, meanwhile, decriminalize, and you have clear improvements immediately. There's no, no reason the drug war was launched as you said with a big influence of the United States and United Nations.

DEAN BECKER: And based in racial bigotry to start with.

DR. JOAO GOULAO: But yes, it's a, it's a tool for domination for racial domination plus domination. It's, uh, uh, and that's, that is what is behind that. So I believe that your society is going through a period where, uh, uh, open discussion about those issues can lead to some progress in, in your model and I hope that you can contribute for that. I'm sure you can.

DR. KHALID TINASTI: (1:19:30) I mean, it is very difficult to object to the way you have looked into the issues and saying, what are the impacts of the way we look into or the way we try to control drugs, the way we control to make them disappear from society? I mean, we all agree of course, that there is a demand and there is a demand for psychosis, psychoactive substances, all over the world, the legal ones and the illegal ones. I mean, the whole system of saying what is legal and illegal is based on the potential of addictiveness of a, of a substance. Why do we leave alcohol and tobacco outside of that and not have the same levels of control? So it is for sure to say that people look for psychoactive substances and there is a demand. So the supply will always follow because it's also a sustained demand. And the fact of trying to hide that reality and trying to break that reality and, and trying to live in a parallel world does create many, many issues. First of all, I mean, everyone, even the United nations recognized that recognizes this since 2008. And as you said, it, one of the, what we call the unintended consequences of the regime of control, which are, I mean, they've been recognized since 2008 and they still consider it unintended. So those were the first of them is, is the black market itself and the illegal market. And the fact that the policy choice was to leave it in the hands of criminals and not have authorities or regulators taken that market and regulated it's regulated, it's access limited it, depending on the substance, et cetera, et cetera. So all the impacts you speak about what is going on in Latin America, what is going on in terms of funding of different groups, of different criminal groups. Those also sometimes engaged in Terror, although the evidence there is less clear, it's also more about opportunistic relationships in certain areas of the world, et cetera.

So that is a clear vision of the real impacts actually in the big, big impacts of what is going on in the world. So thank you. And you touched up on something that is so important, which is about the quality of what people buy or even knowing what they buy, right. If they're buying the right substance or not, but that is for us, this is the difficulty with this ideological difficulty against a harm reduction, because I mean, drug testing, et cetera, do exist. And those need to be allowed to be implemented at all levels, that city level at state level, at the federal level. Now there is also the issues of, um, I mean, a city like Amsterdam, or even here in Geneva, for example, where people who inject drugs and are dependent on drugs that go to services like safe injection facilities that go into, you know, different services, those people, they, if there is a problem, they can be caught very quickly and they could report what substance, what they bought it.

And so the analysis goes very quickly and the services of the city, even in Amsterdam, they even put like, uh, ads in the street saying something is going on in the black market, do not buy this substance. And even here in Switzerland, for example, in Geneva and the communities, because they see what is going on in the safe injection room when they see people arriving, because, but this is because people are not afraid to come forward because the cops are not going to be called because they're considered patients because they're given the services of harm reduction services, which allow people then to be sent to the doctors. If they have problems to see also the fact that, or to go into treatment, you know, people send them, so they do testing also for infectious diseases, et cetera, to send them afterwards to the hospital, to have a regular treatment regimen.

I mean, not for drugs, but if there's any other issue or if they want to enter into a cycle of treatment, because here we also have, the fact of everything is offered to people have to choose. They could choose a substitution treatment as maintenance for forever. If they can not get out of it, they could use it for a certain period. They can go to rehabilitation and abstinence. I mean, it really is about a therapeutic contract between the doctor and the patient. So it is not about imposing to people what they have to do, it's to help them choose how they get out of their difficult situation. And here again, we're talking only about people would have a dependence that go to the services, et cetera. We're not talking about the vast majority, which is recreational, which has no issues. And we don't see, I mean, even the implementation of drug laws is so arbitrary people that can afford to do it behind high walls that no one sees they do.

And they don't, they're not impacted to get arrested, et cetera. They get people to deliver to their homes, et cetera, whatever they need. So it is also that nature of arbitrary that makes it very difficult. And it goes also again to all the populations, but I mean, people are starting to get a grasp of deaths and we are getting out of marijuana because, um, I don't know if this is positive or negative, but I saw the, um, uh, author of the Wire, you know, the TV show. And he was speaking about Colorado in their experiment of the marijuana legalization. He was saying that he was worried because in an interview and he was saying, he was worried to some extent, because we are getting out to people that have the political voice, the college white college students, we're getting them out of this, of the prohibition, if we legalize cannabis because of marijuana, because that's their substance and what is going to be the issue with other people that use other drugs and do not have that same voice that do not have that same social status and class.

And that do not have that same presence in the public debate. So it is so drugs are used a lot as a pawn for a lot of things as well, but those are also issues that are related to the socioeconomic, to the ethnic et cetera issues. And that is not only in the United States, that is the case in the United Kingdom. That is the case in France. That is the case in the Russian Federation, where more people that are arrested do not have Slavic names. They have other names. This is the case and everywhere, you know, I mean, you can look at it in every perspective and countries of the South countries of the North, the rich countries, et cetera, when you have something that is, that has been so stigmatized and built being built. That's why I said the convention speak about addiction as evil. The impacts of the prohibition on the war, on drugs and being very repressive can not be concealed.

I mean, as we said, there is more violence today than anything. The market is bigger than anything. There is more production. I mean, even when we know that even when there is a disruption, I mean the records of production of opium, we're having cannabis that can not be disrupted because it's, it's basically produced in every country. I mean, even, I mean, 150 countries report production, but I mean, it's everywhere. And now we have new psychoactive substances. I mean, you are going through the fentanyl and the synthetics crisis. I mean, in other countries, there is over those as related to synthetic cannabinoids because people, I mean, you know, people will be creative and will make things. So, I mean, again, just the walk, maybe the half mile there. And just to say, it is much more easy and convenient to say, we're going to fight crime and we're going to go after these people.

And we aren't going to drive the demand by being so harsh, et cetera. I mean, it is very much more difficult to speak about sophisticated nuanced approaches that are based on science that need to be evaluated little by little, especially when you have such a, um, how has a, um, difficult political, um, separation and difficult, you know, getting people together. But we have to get people together, back again around the table. And to some extent really say that this is a such a difficult issue. It's not white or black. It's not this or that. It, I mean, it has to be worked a lot and everyone will have to put in a bit of their own until we get down. We evaluate and we find the best models. We are totally in agreement. I mean, people use drugs for a variety of reasons. You know, I mean around the world and in the United States, I mean, it could be for seeking pleasure.

It could be because of self-medication because the physical pain because of emotional pain, I mean, it's the diversity of, for experimentation for, I mean, the diversity of reasons, everything is changing. There is no more consensus on prohibition around the world. We have a world today where in Colorado people can buy it legally. And we have in the same time, people that are being killed extra judicially in different countries in South and Southeast Asia, because of exactly the same thing that is legal in the United States. We have countries with criminal light with very heavy criminalization and with mandatory death penalty for very low thresholds of possession. And we have on the other hand countries that have de facto decriminalization, et cetera. So we are in a situation that is so problematic and gives actually, because there is no more consensus and there is no more, uh, similar approaches. And that always is cracks in the system for criminal organizations to go through those cracks. So the global consensus that we have built around prohibition no longer is tenable because it did not bring any results and brought a lot of harm.

08/16/21 Expert Panel

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Perry Kendall
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

DTN Editorial + Kevin Zeese of, Ethan Nadelmann founder DPA, Eric Sterling Founder Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, Sanho Tree of Institute for Policy Studies, Dr. Christoph Buerki Designer of Swiss Heroin Injection Program & Dr. Perry Kendall Dir. B.C. Centre for Substance Abuse & NYT Best Selling Author Maia Szalavitz.

Audio file

07/12/21 Richard Van Wickler

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Richard Van Wickler
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Former Executive Director and now a board member of LEAP, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Richard Van Wickler (Ret.) began his law enforcement career in 1987 and served as the Superintendent of the Cheshire County Department of Corrections in Keene, New Hampshire, from 1993 to 2019. Van Wickler is a former adjunct professor of American Corrections at Keene State College, where he taught for 14 years.

Audio file

02/24/21 Neil Woods

Century of Lies
Neil Woods
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

The Association of British Muslims recently held a discussion on drugs policy. On this edition of Century we hear from two of the featured speakers: Neil Woods, formerly an undercover police officer in the UK who is now a leading reform activist and member of the organization Law Enforcement Action Partnership, and Khalid Massud, formerly a police inspector general in Pakistan. Plus, UN Secretary General António Guterres on human rights.

Audio file

01/20/21 Dr. Carl Hart

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Carl Hart
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Carl Hart is a professor of neuroscience and psychology at Columbia University. Dr. Hart joins us for the half hour to discuss his newest book: Drug Use for Grown Ups - Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear. Hart is known for his research in drug abuse and drug addiction. Hart was the first tenured African American professor of sciences at Columbia University.

Audio file

DEAN BECKER (00:04):
[Inaudible] broadcasting on the drug truth and network. This is cultural baggage. [inaudible]. 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 to prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on eternal drug war. Hi friends. I am Dean Becker, the Reverend most high. I want to welcome you to this edition of cultural baggage. I think a very special edition. Wait until you hear the guests, the content thereof and the the knowledge that's being shared, not the hail,

DEAN BECKER (00:55):
Just get right to it with us. First interviewed him back in 2013 about his first book, high price. But today we have with us from Columbia university there in New York city, professor Dr. Carl Hart. How you doing Carl?

DR. CARL HART (01:13):
Good to see you, Dean man.

DEAN BECKER (01:14):
Well, good to see you. It's I don't know, these last seven years since we interviewed there on that front porch, I think it was somewhere in Brooklyn. If I recall.

DR. CARL HART (01:25):
Memory is really good. You're right.

DEAN BECKER (01:27):
A lot of, a lot of changes happened, but a lot of changes still lacking as well. Am I right?

DR. CARL HART (01:36):
Yeah, there is. You're absolutely. You hit that on the head. At that time, I believe when we talked I don't even know if yeah, marijuana had been legalized in Colorado and Washington, but it hadn't taken effect in either state yet. I don't think,

DEAN BECKER (01:53):
I think you're right, Carl. Now this new book of yours I've got the copyright here. I want to hold it up for the viewers. It is drug use for grownups chasing Liberty in the land of fear. And there's a lot of truth in those, a few words there as well, fear runs the drug war. Does it not

DR. CARL HART (02:15):
That's right for your a, is a big component of the drug war, but a hatred of specific groups is another component of it. And probably the biggest proponent component of it is economic the money.

DEAN BECKER (02:31):
Yeah. Oh yeah. Well, well, and, and that has gone on over the decades, the, the century of this drug war, it goes from drug to drug from worry to worried from fear to fear, but it's always a, a means to control and subjugate certain people in it.

DR. CARL HART (02:52):
Yeah, that's a, that's one goal of the drug war. But you know, today there's the LAR a large, there's a large component that deals with the money and that we can't forget about that, particularly as we are experiencing this global pandemic, a lot of people lost their jobs which is horrible. And one way that we have kind of provided relief for people is to offer them positions in the war on drugs. And so it helps them to support their families. And so we can't forget about that component because it's important that people get jobs and are employed and that, you know, they, they feel like they are human. That's really important, but the problem with employing them in the war on drugs is that people are paid as a result of other people's suffering or their pay is dependent upon other people's suffering, which is that's the problem it's wrong.

DEAN BECKER (04:05):
Sure. No, I agree. There are millions of marijuana smokers out there. Many of them working for legalizing weed, their favorite drug, but they're the very same people who know much of what you and I know, and that is that this drug war is wrong in every aspect and in regards to every drug. And I, my hope, my wish hell my goal and ambition is to motivate those marijuana smokers to be a little more bold, to speak a little more openly and honestly about their drug use because many of them have done those same drugs you and I have done. Right?

DR. CARL HART (04:39):
Yeah, no, that's a great point. The thing that I hope the book does is it forces people to look or ask the question, particularly people that you're talking about, like the marijuana users they know that they've been lied to about marijuana for so long and they know it and that's why they are active in terms of marijuana or they are activists to change marijuana laws. If you've been lied to, if you've been lied to about marijuana, I hope they ask. Then is it possible that you've been lied to about cocaine, about heroin, about these other things? And I submit to you if they really think about it, honestly and openly, they will answer that question. Not what a yes, but a hell. Yes. Because the pattern of Villa vilified marijuana is the same as that as vilifying cocaine, the same as that as vilifying heroin or some other drugs, the same is true with amphetamine.

DR. CARL HART (05:54):
So it was it's not necessarily a bad thing, particularly if you have to get things done. When you think about going to concerts and all the rest of these things, where a band comes into town and they are on a tour and you paid your money for this night and they played last night, the night before that, and you actually want them on amphetamine. So they could be up to perform for you to the standard that you think that they should be at. And they typically, they probably are on some stimulant and this is a sort of common sort of thing. It's not really an issue. But of course there are people who can get in trouble with unfettered means a Winnie other drug. And that's, that's where in the book, I try to explain that the majority of people don't get in trouble with these drugs only a small minority does and this minority has received all of the attention and that's the problem.

DR. CARL HART (06:57):
Because then we think that, Oh, this drug's effect is only this. And it causes these problems. And that's where our challenges conversation about drugs has focused primarily. And I'm asking people to have a more grownup conversation, you know, it's like you how do you live in a world where these things exist and you just coexist and you make sure it's as as safe as possible. Just like we do with driving automobiles, that's a really potentially dangerous activity every year, 40,000 Americans lose their life in car accidents every year. Well, we're not talking about banning cars because of that. Whereas with drugs, we get crazy about that. In large part, because there is money in banning drugs for a select group of people in our society. And then it also allows them to subjugate certain groups of people in our society. And so that's, I think that's the real sort of function of the war on drugs. It's not to control, like it's not to say like to ban or reiterate society of drugs because that's never going to happen. It's really to subjugate a certain group of people and to make sure another select group of people have a steady income flow.

DEAN BECKER (08:23):
Sure. It occurs to me that within your book, you talk more about that, that it is quite often they say it's Oxycontin, but it was alcohol and Oxycontin, or it was another pill and Oxycontin, or it was a combination of a lethal combination of drugs that, that leads to these deaths. Right?

DR. CARL HART (08:43):
That's right. The majority of these debts, when you look at what's in the deceases body, what you find is that multiple drugs were in the system. And what we know is when you combine something like opioids and another sedative, particularly certain set of the dips like alcohol, the older bins of dad's opinions, like pro methazine, you really increase the likelihood of respiratory, depression and death. And so given that that's the case, it would really be helpful if our public service announcements stop focusing on a particular drug and actually focus on specific drug combination. So like when people say don't use heroin and cocaine, or just any drug company, that's not the smartest educational approach because people who use opioids know that when they use a stimulant long with the opioid, it probably decreases the likelihood of respiratory depression. And it's a nice combination for some. And so you want to focus on what are the more problematic sort of combinations and not just on combinations in general,

DEAN BECKER (09:56):
Carl w we have the situation where, and, and you, you touched upon it in your book about, I don't know, the ancillary, the, the I don't know, the urine testers, the treatment providers, the, the folks that in many cases, prey upon this situation.

DR. CARL HART (10:13):
Yeah. You know, we know that law enforcement benefits, we know that everyone knows that we've seen all of the books. Everybody writes about that. That's not as interesting. We know that a lot of money goes to law enforcement, but what we talk about less is how science has benefit from the war on drugs, how people who run urine testing, sort of businesses benefit how politicians benefit, how parents benefit, how all these sort of constituents are invested in the war on drugs. And so when we start to look at their sort of role, it becomes a lot more interesting and also a lot more diabolical in my mind, it's that the war on drugs is dependent upon people going to jail, being locked up. And the people who were primarily being locked up, our black and Brown bodies, and the people who are primarily being hired are white folks in this war on drugs.

DR. CARL HART (11:17):
And so you can see how this causes increases the tension between groups all of these sorts of problems and politicians exploit this. And that's what, so the war on drugs is ideal. It's a politician wet dream because you can see results within a two to four year term. We know that most people are dying because of drug specific drug combinations. And we know that people, most people are died because of a large number of people died because of drug you want to solve the contaminated drug problem. Oh, you have to do is implemate implement drug testing services, where people can submit small samples of their drug and get a chemical readout of it. And also an explanation of what these compounds are. That's contained in their substance. Now they can be informed of whether to take the drug or not. And that would deal with that would substantially reduce any of this sort of overdose concern that people have. So we know that we've always known that, but the war on drugs is just too important for jobs and the economy. That's why we do the war on drugs.

DEAN BECKER (12:39):
Tell us about your experience over there in Switzerland, working with the injection facilities who came in, what was it like, how it wasn't a typical day?

DR. CARL HART (12:48):
Yeah. Back in 2015, I took a sabbatical leave and I went to Switzerland. I won a fellowship from the Swiss foundation called the brochure foundation. And it allowed me to work in a heroine clinic for some time. Ha this heroin clinic is a clinic in which people who are, who meet criteria for heroin use disorder, or are addicted to heroin received heroin as part of their treatment twice a day, every day people would come in and receive intravenous injections primarily. And what I learned from that experiences is that everything that I thought about heroin was wrong. I thought that people who were addicted to heroin would be irresponsible. These people were some of the most responsible people I had met. They were required to come to the clinic, to the clinic every morning at seven o'clock in the seven o'clock hour.

DR. CARL HART (13:55):
And also every evening in the five o'clock hour, these folks were on time. They were on time, like a Swiss watch. They were precise. They were happy. Many of the folks were employed and it helped that all of them had a social worker, a psychiatrist, a psychologist an internist a nurse. They had this treatment team that looked back at him for any other conditions they would have, whether it's psychiatric, whether it's physical. And so I learned that, Oh, you know, heroin addiction can be treated successfully such that the folks who were afflicted with it could become, again, productive members of the society could be happy. As long you provide it, the appropriate treatment, and this was the appropriate treatment for a number of these salts

DEAN BECKER (14:58):
Break, right back with Dr. Carl Hart, author of drug use for grown-up
Speaker 4 (15:04):
It's time to play name that drop by its side effects. A 2009 study recommended treating heroin addicts with diacetyl morphine, the active ingredient in this time's up the answer on the reason, the addition of jeopardy, Aaron, what is heroin? Yeah.

DEAN BECKER (15:23):
Now I was lucky enough that a couple of years back I went to burn. I got to meet with Dr. Kristoff Burkey, who was one of the pioneers of their Swiss injection and process. And got to tour one of the facilities and, and saw a much the same as you're talking about. I didn't get to see any injections. They didn't allow me into that area, but, but it, it showed that, you know, and Oh, Dr. Burkey told me, I think they just passed 20 million injections and they have had zero. As you say, in your book, overdose deaths, it shows the fallacy, the, the horrid lies that we tell in this country. Right?

DR. CARL HART (16:04):
Yeah. That's a great point because like the average dose that the participants were in, or these patients were on when I was there was about a gram a day. So that's a thousand milligrams of heroin a day, which is for a naive person, heroin, naive person, that's enough heroin to knock you out, really knock you out. And so it really goes to show how heroin's effects are predictable. So as you have developed tolerance, a thousand milligrams a day is not a big deal. And many of these people for example, were also drinking alcohol when they do heroin at some point, like in the evenings or what have you and they were fine. But it, it speaks to this issue of when you have a known dose and you have pharmaceutical grade heroin, it helps to decrease the sort of unpredictability and danger of, of, of, of, of this substance as well as other substances.

DR. CARL HART (17:14):
And, and, and this country, we have it we've ignored that 20 plus year of experience that the Swiss have with heroin maintenance clinics. Other countries have also done this. Now the Netherlands, even the UK are doing this, it's doing this Denmark. Now a number of other countries are also that also have these heroin maintenance clinics and they are happy with it because what they've seen was that this group of heroin patients heroin addicted patients who didn't respond to other treatments, respond to this treatment and they they see decreases in blood borne illnesses decreases in any criminal analogy, criminal analogy, criminal, Allity sorry. And so it's an effective useful treatment.

DEAN BECKER (18:13):
All right, folks, once again, we're speaking with Dr. Carl Hart, author of drug use for grownups chasing Liberty in the land of fear. Carl we're about out of time here, and it's time to get to the, I don't know, there may be the touchiest subject in your book, your use of heroin. Let's talk about that.

DR. CARL HART (18:34):
Why is that touch? Why is that touchy

DEAN BECKER (18:36):
The two most folks. Okay. I I've done it in the past. It just wasn't for me, but I'm just saying to the average listener or whatever,

DR. CARL HART (18:46):
Why I don't understand why that's touching a heroin.

DEAN BECKER (18:50):
Okay. I don't know if it goes against all of the movies and TV and other BS that's been fed to us over the decades. I'll put it that way.

DR. CARL HART (18:59):
Sure. it's important for listeners to understand that heroin is a psychoactive chemical compound, just like alcoholics in many respects. Alcohol can be more dangerous than heroin. For example, somebody who is a chronic alcohol user alcohol every day for several months, years, or what have you. And then they abruptly discontinue their alcohol use. They run the risk of having a seizure and die during alcohol withdrawal. Whereas with heroin withdrawal, the opioid withdrawal, the risk of dying is so low that it's it's, it's, it's it's it's not really a possibility is so low. So in that respect alcohol, that's a lot more dangerous than heroin. And yeah, heroin my heroin, I taught this book. I come out of the closet about my old drug use and heroin is just one of the many substances that I use and I report using but I also report that I make sure that my substances are tested and so I know what they contain that if it's, if I think I have heroin, I actually have heroin.

DR. CARL HART (20:20):
Because that's because I have access in places outside of the United States where you can have this testing. So yeah, it's it's one of these, my drug use is one of these things that has actually improved my quality of life. And I've never have been, never met criteria for any drug, whether it's heroin or whether something else. My drug use does not disrupt any of my important functioning like work family obligations or other obligations. And you know it's a, it's a beneficial thing just like caffeine used in the morning for some people it's beneficial, just like alcohol use at some functions is useful for some people because it's a social lubricant, the same is true with heroin. And then as I write in the book, which is important, I wish people read it. They can see how they've been lied to about heroin and other drugs. And that's why if they have that view that heroin is so horrible they do so because they've been manipulated by the press by artists like filmmakers songwriters, a number of people have played into this nonsense. And this is not to encourage people to do heroin. That's not, it, this is doing encourage people to actually grapple with the information, think and make your own decisions. That's what responsible adults do.

DEAN BECKER (22:05):
Sure. No what's not given the respect. It deserves one of the founders of Johns Hopkins way back, when was Dr. William Halston. And he was said to be a lifelong morphine user. And I often wonder, would you want him to do his morphine before or after he starts cutting you open? And I would think I'd want him to get his dose beforehand, just so he wouldn't, I don't know your thought there.

DR. CARL HART (22:35):
Just think about people who do alcohol. I mean, they don't typically do alcohol before doing their important work or, you know, they may do it after to relax and chill. The same is true with morphine. The same is with heroin. The same is true with any of these drugs and a house that also was an avid cocaine user. And he was one of these people who was investigating the local anesthetic effects of cocaine. So yeah a number of people throughout American history were also morphine users. And we think about McCarthy, the sort of communist guy, the big morphine guy J Edgar Hoover, a number of people use the morphine and, and, and in the United States. And they used it for its pleasurable effect. We think about the guy who wrote our declaration of independence, probably our most important document Thomas Jefferson, a big opioid user enjoyed opioids. So particularly as he got older, because he was in pain from illnesses and opioids allowed him to like ride his horse around his, a large amount of land. So he could see the beauty of what he had got from taking advantage of people like my ancestors enslaved from him.

DEAN BECKER (24:09):
Yeah, no, that's a very good point there, Carl. Well, coming back to, I don't know what has been compelling me for about the last year is claiming the moral high ground, which is exactly what you're doing, that, that we own. It, there's no one ever going to refute the idea that let's destroy. The cartels let's stop. Most of the overdose deaths, let's just find a better way. And it just seems like it'd be a winner for any politician to just say, Hey, this drug war ain't working, what's it going to take to break the back of their logic? How what's it really going to entail?

DR. CARL HART (24:45):
Well, the drug war is working. That's what we have to say. It's working for the politicians. Otherwise the politician wouldn't continue this. So it's working very well for the politician. It works very well for parents. It works very well for police. It works very well for physicians. It works very well for scientists. It's working for a number of folks, a select group of people. But for the vast majority of Americans, if they really look at it, they see that we're getting screwed, but in short rule runs, certain people are benefiting. That's why, and there are powerful people in their intent. They have an intense lobby. So we have to first recognize that that is working. And then we have to recognize that it is inconsistent with the founding promise of the country. And the founding promise of the country is that each of us are in Dow with these at least three rights life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

DR. CARL HART (25:52):
So opera in America that has become this sort of empty shingle with sticks statement, but it's not, it's profound because the founding fathers, the, the fact that they were all flawed, like we all are putting that aside for a second. The founding fathers, they had, they, this was, they had such a profound sort of this sort of thinking was profound and noble. And it gave us this foundation that said that each of us can live our life as we soft fit, as long as we did prevent other people from doing the same. Yeah, that's profound, but Americans act like it's just jingle stick statement, some patriotic nonsense, but it's not. I mean, there's a reason that they made us remember the speech from Patrick hen Henry, when he said, give me Liberty or give me death. That is like, I want to live my life.

DR. CARL HART (26:59):
Like I see fit. I'm not bothering anyone. So why should not? Why shouldn't you tell me how I should live or what I can put in my body when I'm not bothering anyone? And I am an adult it's profound. And so the war on drugs, it's inconsistent with that founding principle, those novel ideas, ideals it's inconsistent. And so with the book, I'm trying to, I'm trying to show people that the promise life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness is inconsistent with the practice of locking people up for doing that. That is just that doesn't jive. And so the book is really interrogating. That's the fundamental question or issue that the book is interrogating. It's like, how did we get here? And why do we accept this? When we have been guaranteed these rights? I mean, the declaration of independence says like in the third sentence, governments should be created to secure those rights. And when governments fail to do that, we dissolve governments. It's remarkable to me that more people up are up in arms because of the time

DEAN BECKER (28:19):
It was up. We got to wrap it up. Please get a copy of Carl Hart's new book drug use for grown-ups. And once again, I remind you that because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful to the drunk truth network listeners around the world. This is Dean Becker for cultural baggage and the unvarnished truth. Cultural baggage is a production of the Pacifica radio network. Archives are permanently stored at the James aid Baker, the bird Institute for public policy. And we are all still tapped on the edge abyss.

12/30/20 Jack Cole

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Jack Cole
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Jack Cole joins us for this half hour listen back to an interview from Nov 2003. Jack was the founding member, first director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, now known as Law Enforcement Action Partnership.

Audio file

11/04/20 Dr. Khalid Tinasti

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Khalid Tinasti
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Dr. Khalid Tinasti, Exec Dir of Global Commission on Drugs participates in video production of Seeking The Moral High Ground. +++ LEAP/GLEPHA Webinar: The Police Experience with Overdose Prevention Sites withModerator: Chief Tom Synan, Newtown Police Department, Ohio, Inspector Bill Spearn, Vancouver Police Department, Canada, Staff Sergeant Conor King, Victoria Police Department, Canada

Audio file

Dean Becker (00:29)
Wwell it gives me a great deal of satisfaction and pride actually, to be speaking with mr. [inaudible] tenacity. I believe I got that name right. He's the executive secretary with the global commission on drugs. And I want to welcome him to the show. Hello, Kaleel.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti (01:06)
Thank you, Dean. I'm very happy to be here with you.

Dean Becker (01:08)
Well, I, um, I've been following you guys, uh, for, well, I guess the 10 years or so that the global commission has been, uh, uh, in place. And if you will tell us a bit about the global commission on drug policy, what is it about?

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (01:23)
Thank you very much, Dean. Actually, you're very right. The global commission has come out with its first report and has come out to the world in June, 2011 with its report called the war on drugs. And also the documentary movie that was going with a break into taboo. But if we really look into the origins of the global commission, they go back to 2000 to the end of 2007, when president Fernando Henrica DOSO of Brazil with presidents, former presidents is a DEO from Mexico and says that guy Vidya from Columbia came together to create the Latin American commission on drugs and democracy because of the risks that the response given to drugs has been putting on the institutions on democratization and empower in criminal organizations and in violence in cities and Latin and central America. And so these, these former presidents came together with a group of other intellectuals and offer former office holders and writers from Latin America to look into what are the issues and what recommendations they can come up with.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (02:23)
And that's when they looked out into Europe. And so that Europe, by implementing harm reduction responses, decriminalization models for personal use and possession have been more successful in, in managing basically the presence and the consumption of drugs among society, although it was banned to some basically. And so this is how the global commission came together. And it was the meeting between the Latin Americans who have really were behind, you know, given that leadership to this discussion and the Europeans who came in as well and joined them as well. Other people with also mr. Kofi Annan from Africa, et cetera, the global commission has came up with this first analysis report in 2011 of course was not the first to say we have a problem with drugs. And that problem is also related to the policies to the control policies we put in place, but it was the first time that such high level people that were themselves for many in office back at the United nations general assembly special session in 1998, who had said that by 2008 will have the world free of drugs.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (03:25)
So many of them were signatories and were in that meeting as representative of their countries as heads of States. And they have come up together for some of them who had been very good policies. And for some others who had really believed in prohibition to be able to help people came together to say, we have something that is wrong with the way we do it, because we, first of all, not achieving any of the results, consumption, trafficking, violence, um, production, you know, um, lack of rule of law corruption, uh, all sorts of, you know, infectious diseases, et cetera, are going up and really high up while we spend more and more on enforcement, et cetera. So there is a problem with maybe the use of drugs and that is something to be discussed in another area, but there is also a huge, huge consequences that add up in the way we do control policies.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (04:15)
And so just very to finish up on the global commission because we're very fortunate. It has been renewed for the last nine years. We had many, many new people joining from former president Ramos Horta from two more or less day. We had mr. Bereday from the, uh, uh, atomic agency that, uh, the former director that has joined us from Egypt. We had mrs. Helen Clark from New Zealand. So it really took this big global, um, trend. And so it is people coming up from every part of the world and come into the same conclusion that the war on drugs and the way we try to control drugs through the refreshing alone and a law enforcement focus is adding up a lot of harms. So this is in a nutshell, I mean, I can go way beyond on this and what we do. It's that true?

Dean Becker (04:59)
No, that touched a lot of the bases. I probably would have inquired about a good summation if you will. And I thank you for that now. I don't know if you had a chance to look at my website, the conscientious objector page. Did you have a chance to look at it? Well, your response to what I put forward there, just in general.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (05:20)
Yeah. I mean, well, in general, I mean, you have, I mean, when, when it is something, I mean, it is very difficult to object to the way you have looked into the issues and saying, what are the impacts of the way we look into or the way we try to control drugs or the way we control to make them disappear from society? I mean, we all agree of course, that there is a demand and there's a demand for psychosis, psychoactive substances through all over the world, the legal ones and the illegal ones. I mean, the whole system of saying what is legal and illegal is based on the potential of addictiveness of a, of a substance. Why do we live alcohol and tobacco outside of that and not have the same levels of control? So it is for sure to say that people look for psychoactive substances and there is a demand.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (06:02)
So the supply will always follow because it's also a sustained demand. And the fact of trying to, to hide that reality and trying to break that reality and, and trying to live in a parallel world does create many, many issues. First of all, I mean, everyone, even the United nations recognized that recognizes this since 2008. And as you said, it, one of the, what we call the unintended consequences of the regime of control, which are, I mean, they've been recognized since 2008 and they still considered unintended. So the first of them is, is the black market itself and the illegal market. And the fact that the policy choice was to leave it in the hands of criminals and not have authorities or regulators taken that market and regulated it's regulated, it's access, limiting it depending on the substance, et cetera, et cetera. So all the impact to speak about what is going on in Latin America, what is going on in terms of funding of different groups, of different criminal groups. Those also sometimes engaged in Tara, although the evidence there is less clear, it's also more about opportunistic relationships in certain areas of the world, et cetera. So that is a clear vision of the real impacts actually in the big, big impacts of what is going on in the world. So thank you. Thank you

Dean Becker (07:17)
Before that. Uh, and yeah, I, I've devoted 20 years of my life of 60 hours a week. Really. I I've, uh, I've uh, uh, we reached the age of 50 and decided I wanted to leave something more positive behind for future generations. And if I can help move this equation, this situation to one of less harm to do one of two quit empowering the cartels, at least, uh, I think the terrorists, they grow marijuana and opium over there in Afghanistan, Lebanon, and I'm sure ISIS and the Taliban get a cut now. And then if, if not, uh, uh, billions outright. But, um, we have in these United States, we have led the way we were the ones who insisted the United nations take up this banner to March with this war on drugs. And for years we, um, four and eight, we had a requirement that they had to join forces with the drug war. It was the United nations, excuse me, it was the U S that that forced this drug war at least to such a degree on the rest of the world. And it is my hope that the United States can begin to undo that process to demand less of other nations and, and to, uh, create a situation where logic and common sense can get back into this rather than paranoia and delusion your response to your colleagues.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (08:40)
Yeah, I mean, it is for certain, I mean, the United States has been the biggest, I mean, we can not limit the contribution. I mean, the, the contribution of the United States to, to the multilateral system and to the world and into spreading democracy, et cetera, is a huge one, but it goes in the war on drugs in the bad side. But I mean, it is a, it is everything. So maybe just to be less hard from the perspective of an international person and not to be less harsh, but just to neons the bit, I mean, the international drug system was built really. I mean, it is the conventions of drug policy are the very, almost the only ones that speak about an evil and evil of addiction. And so it was really built up in the sixties around when, when, when social hygiene, ism is a movement among doctors and politicians, teaching people how to, how to do not to catch infectious diseases, not to get to BRCA locis, to be cleaner, et cetera, not to get, you know, the basic, uh, infectious disease.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (09:38)
So it was still the belief that you could through policies really change human behavior. And the problem with that system is that it continued like this, but it worked in a world that is very different. It never take into account the end of the eighties. It never take into account. The fact that border control has changed with world globalization and that we no longer speak about, you know, the same controls of the borders that are closed, et cetera, with the quantities of the goods of the people that are going around. I mean, we see it today with the Kobe, then the spread and the very rapid spread because people are moving, et cetera, et cetera. And when you lock down is different. So there is no more way to control as we used to do before, or what was intended in the sixties. There's also the fact that the HIV response for instance, has changed how we do public health approaches.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (10:22)
You can no longer impose on a person. I mean, if we think about people that are dependent on any or another substance, you can no longer really impose on them a treatment or for them to adhere to a treatment, they have to choose it. And that was the case that was HIV brought about condoms are choice, and the patient becomes a partner and not someone you would tell to what to do. And it can actually, we continue it in the system because it fed so many different things and we've never had to change it now today. I mean, so I see that system as having been, you know, staying the same may be in the sixties. It was well-intended and it was to respond to a situation that was like that, but there is no renewable, there's no modernization of the tools when normally public policy has to evolve, of course, with scientific progress on human progress to adapt to the needs today.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (11:11)
So it is the, in that sense where the reforms are very much needed because we know much better how to control them to eliminate doesn't expand or to regulate them to eliminate. And obviously what makes it very hard in which we're trying not to speak about it, to stay in a rational discussion is that the casualties are people and their lives and currently, so, but we try to remain also as pragmatic in the discussion as possible. Now, when you say about the United States that to change and to change at the global level, that would be fantastic because the problem that is now existing at the multilateral level is that the five countries with a permanent seat in the security council do agree altogether on the prohibition as the way to go. And no one of them is carrying the ideas of the reform or the discussion of the reform that changes a lot because those countries not only have a financial power and do have, you know, a, a very strong political power within the system, but it is also countries that do have real diplomatic network around the world that can work on their priorities.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (12:12)
And that can work on this change little by little. I mean, this is something that will never happen overnight. We do have 50 years of something where everybody agreed where it was given to people as granted that this is evil, that people who use drugs are bad people, et cetera, et cetera, that elimination is the only way to say no to drugs, et cetera. So to undo all of that, to have a, it's almost a cultural shift that is needed to some extent, so it will take the time. And hopefully of course, when the reforms at the national level in the United States will evolve, we see it in different States trying so many different things to address the situations of the opiod crisis, but also the cannabis prohibition. And also sometimes, I mean, other substances being looked at, et cetera, when that will have also given the evidence on its function and et cetera, that performs we'll have to move up the ladder and hopefully until the international level. Yes. Thank you.

Dean Becker (13:07)
No, I, a couple of years back, I was able to go to Europe. I, uh, uh, and, and Lisbon Portugal, I was able to sit down with a doctor [inaudible] the, uh, the drugs are. And, uh, he and I had a great discussion. We just had another one last week as well for this production of, uh, seeking the moral high ground. And he has done something that is being emulated that is being copied around the world. That is the decriminalization of drugs, that there are no longer arrest for minor amounts of drugs that maybe you go for treatment. Maybe you go for a good talking to, uh, but, but nobody is arrested. And, and Canada is the police chiefs of Canada are wanting to copy that. Now the, uh, the head of the Canadian police chiefs came out and called for decriminalization of all drugs, uh, to follow suit to what Portugal has done.

Dean Becker (13:59)
And, uh, another topic that, uh, I, I went to Switzerland, I there met, uh, dr. Kristoff Berkey. He was one of the pioneers who designed their, uh, heroin injection program. They're now approaching 20 million injections of pure heroin. And, uh, they have had zero overdose deaths, which, which I think undoes the logic that we were talking about, what was created 50 years ago, drug users are bad and deserving of punishment. And I guess what I'm saying here is that changes a foot changes is being recognized as being of benefit, uh, and, and to do away with these old hysteria situations. I don't know if there's a question there other than it's a sign of progress is not.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (14:52)
It is, it is. I mean, just think about it. This is, I mean, if you look at the policy area, even the discussion discussions that are becoming now very much mainstream, I mean, I would just give two examples. The first one is that, I mean, really it is about one of the areas of policy areas where the wrongs are being repaired very quickly. I mean, it's very difficult. It's very hard, but if we look at it, I mean, really with disabilities, to some extent it is the issue that has moved so much in the last 10, 15 years. It did being on the number of debates on the fact that we can speak about it. I mean, who could have seen, uh, marijuana legalized in so many who has space for recreational use, et cetera, and growing, and in a country like Canada at the federal level, et cetera.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (15:31)
So that is one that has really, really very much evolved now. Um, I mean, the decriminalization is a way to move because there is absolutely no. Um, how do I say? Yeah, I mean, sorry, let me come back to the second example, because that was what was in my mind, I said two, I mean, the second one, if you compare now the coverage of the opioid crisis in the United States and the coverage of the crack crisis in the 1980s, I mean, the coverage is very different, even in the language and trying to look into what are the issues, et cetera. So it has indeed evolved. People will start understanding that addiction. I mean, we say dependence because we use the terminology of who, but addiction is the word in the United States that is still used, but here in Europe, we don't. So for us, addiction slash dependence is a chronic disease.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (16:22)
That includes, that includes a relapse. So to some extent, that's why the global commission on drug policy does not agree with the drug courts that sends people into rehabilitation treatment, because that does not take into account that people do relapse and they would go to prison. Otherwise, if they do relapse instead. And also the fact that, of course, no judge should be taken a decision of a doctor to some extent. So I wanted, yeah, I mean, to say these two example, they do really evolve. And in Switzerland, the program of diamorphine that you were speaking about is a program that is extremely controlled. It is a health approach. It is, but the idea there was to say, we have, I mean, the, the, the very pragmatic discussion was, first of all, let's put in place all the services and to save people and let's evaluate them and see if they work or not.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (17:11)
And of course, as you've said, there is a very strict monitoring and evaluation. That program is very difficult even to access because people have to have really a need of diamorphine and not be able to have the fin or methadone or other substitution treatments, then that's how they get there. But of course, now we have evaluation. You've spoken about Portugal, but there are so many different countries that have different models of, of decriminalization. Those commissions of this wage in the, in Portugal are a very, very interesting model because people still have to face somehow, you know, to talk to someone, to talk to many people and say, you know, and so they are conscious that this is not something that is easy. For example, in the Czech Republic is different. It's only a misdemeanor and you just get a fine, so there are many different models, but of course they have been proven. And I mean, there's evidence and there's evaluation.

Dean Becker (17:58)
Now. Um, the other news coming out of Canada, uh, a dr. Perry, Kendall, uh, he has 20 years experience as the British Columbia commissioner on substance abuse, something some titled to that effect, and he's now retiring, but he wants to start up a company to acquire heroin cheaply and to provide it cheaply to the users in Canada, uh, to kind of parallel, I guess what they've done in Switzerland. It's another sign of intelligence from my perspective, because in the U S I don't know, I think it was just over 70,000 people died last year from drug overdoses, because I closed my radio show with this side because of prohibition. You don't know what's in that bag, please be careful. And there's just so much truth. And I think heart in that phrase, your response here, Kaleo.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (18:51)
Yeah. I mean, for us, I mean, those are two really. I mean, just to be again, Dean, I think that you are, of course this is, I mean, I haven't heard specifically about this idea of opening. I mean, they do have a heroin program that is not really a diamorphine programs. One Canada is not working very well, but nevertheless, I mean, those are two issues. So as far as the global commission is really concerned, I mean, diamorphine, if we take the example in Switzerland, it is a very medical program. I mean, this is with very much rules, regulations. People have to try at least twice and other substitution treatment. And it's really for people that are heavily dependent on the substance. So just for the people listening to know that this is something that is very medical and it is a medical procedure. So people go to a day clinic, you know, to get the diamorphine et cetera, which was fantastic because you're in COVID since people who inject drugs were considered as people that are vulnerable to COBIT infection.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (19:35)
I mean, there were some very exceptions to deliver to their homes. The diamorphine, it was a great innovation to keep people alive here during the COVID lockdowns. Um, now on when we say, and, and you touched up on something that is so important, which is about the quality of what people buy or even knowing what they buy, if they are buying the right substance or not. But that is for us, this is the difficulty with this ideological difficulty against a harm reduction, because I mean, drug testing, et cetera, do exist. And those need to be allowed to be implemented at all levels at city level, at state level, at the federal level. Now there is also the issues of, um, I mean, a city like Amsterdam, or even here in Geneva, for example, where people who inject drugs and are dependent on drugs that go to services like safe injection facilities that go into, you know, different services, those people, they, if there is a problem, they can be caught very quickly and they could report what substance, what they bought it.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (20:31)
And so the analysis goes very quickly and the services of the city, even in Amsterdam, they even put like ads in the street saying something is going on in the black market, do not buy this substance. And even here in Switzerland, for example, in Geneva and the communities, because they see what is going on at the safe injection room when they see people arriving. Because, but this is because people are not afraid to come forward because the cops are not going to be called because they're considered patients because they're given the services of harm reduction services, which allow people then to be sent to the doctors. If they have problems to see also the factors or to go into treatment, you know, people send them, so they do testing also for infectious diseases, et cetera, to send them afterwards to the hospital, to have it a regular treatment regimen.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (21:13)
I mean, not for drugs, but if there's any other issue or if they want to enter into a cycle of treatment, because here we also have, the fact of everything is offered to people have to choose. They could choose the substitution treatment as maintenance for forever. If they can not get out of it, they could use it for a certain period. They can go to rehabilitation and abstinence. I mean, it really is about a therapeutic contract between the doctor and the patient. So it is not about imposing to people what they have to do, it's to help them choose how they get out of their difficult situation. And here again, we're talking only about people with heavy dependence that go to the services, et cetera. We're not talking about the vast majority, which is a recreational, which has no issues. And we don't see. So yeah, I mean, this is the fact of, that's why decriminalization is very interesting so that people can come forward so that the authorities have the information of what is going on in the market.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (21:55)
And for example, some cities can just be in the United States saying like, we have, we have so many fentanyl on the streets, be careful of not buying this, et cetera, et cetera. And those are messages of prevention of course, and keeping people alive. Yeah. But that, that's very hard to do in a repressive environment where people are afraid of law enforcement everywhere in the world, you know, and I will, I think it's more, more powerful. The, the stigma here in the United States that, uh, I mean, you probably heard the phrase, you, if you're getting busted for drugs, you can no longer get a job, credited housing, an education. Uh, there are so many roadblocks put in your way. So many court fees and fines and other obstacles to creating a new life, a new process. And I guess what I'm saying here is that what you guys are doing in Europe and elsewhere, it shows intelligence.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (22:51)
It shows that this is still a human being. It's still a life worthy of respect. And second chances, third chances, more chances. And, and here in the U S as well, once you get that stigma of a druggie, your life is facing a lot of obstacles. Well, I, there's also, I mean, that is, I totally agree with you. And there is no way, no way, no way to minimize the impacts of stigma and discrimination on people's lives. And most certainly on people that are in the most difficult situation to start with. Right. But I mean, and that stigma is more related. It's not only about drugs. I mean, let's be honest. It's about a lot of things. Drugs are cross-cutting issue. They touch upon so many wrong things in our societies. It also falls. I mean, even the implementation of drug laws is so arbitrary people that can afford to do it behind high walls that no one sees they do.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (23:43)
And they don't, they're not impacted to get arrested, et cetera. They get people to deliver to their homes, et cetera, whatever they need. So it is also that nature of arbitrary that makes it very difficult. And it goes also again to all the populations, but I mean, people are starting to get aggressive with death and we are getting out of marijuana because, um, I don't know if this is positive or negative, but I saw the, um, uh, author of the wire, you know, the TV show. And he was speaking about Colorado in their experiment of the marijuana legalization. He was saying that he was worried because in an interview and he was saying, he was worried to some extent, because we are getting out the people that have the political voice, the college white college students, we're getting them out of this, of the prohibition, if we legalize cannabis, because in my want, because that's their substance and what is going to be the issue with other people that use other drugs and do not have that same voice that do not have that same social status and class, and that do not have that same presence in the public debate.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (24:35)
So it is so drugs are used a lot as a bond for a lot of things as well, but those are also issues that are related to the socioeconomic, to the ethnic et cetera issues. And that is not only in the United States, that is the case in the United Kingdom. That is the case in France. That is the case in the Russian Federation, where more people that are arrested do not have Slavic names. They have other names. This is the case everywhere. You know, I mean, you can look at it in every perspective and countries of the South countries of the North, the rich countries, et cetera, when you have something that is, that has been so stigmatized and built being built. That's why I said the convention speak about addiction as evil. So this is the state of spirit that we have since the very beginning into this discussion at the time, also to remember that, of course, as I said, maybe the intentions were good, maybe not, but to some extent at the time Europe was in reconstruction, um, the many countries in the South we're getting there, we're getting there decolonized.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (25:29)
This is where to thinking about the sixties. I mean, most of Africa has been getting its independence in 1960, et cetera. And of course the United States was becoming the cultural hedge amount around the world, et cetera. And so that was what, the kind of spirit that went everywhere that went everywhere, which is really funny because at the same time, alcohol and tobacco were glorified and were sold and pushed through marketing, et cetera. So, and this is the spirit that was still fine today, almost everywhere. It is the case in the United States versus very sad because the United States, of course, I mean, people have more access to education, to information more easily, et cetera. And they should get a little bit more informed on the issues to understand also, I mean, I mean, problematic drug use is not far away from anyone's life. Anyone can fall into different circumstances, you know?

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (26:15)
And so people have to look at it into a perspective from a societal societal perspective. What kind of societies do we want is these injustices that are not very far from anyone and the opiod crisis shows it. I mean, people from all social classes die, people suffer from everywhere, et cetera. So it is about getting informed about what kind of societies will want together. This is why the global commission has always called since the very beginning for, um, net for local national stay, you know, consultations people around the table, talking get in parents of children, getting the police, getting school teachers, getting people who use drugs, get in, uh, health workers, social workers, uh, prosecutors, everyone around the table so that everyone can hear the concerns of everyone. I mean, this is a one society. People have to sit together and find the issue. And this is what happened in Switzerland actually to prepare the national policy of the four pillars, which is a prevention treatment harm reduction repression.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (27:11)
So this is how drug policy is handled here is the four pillars. And so that was based on many, many, many federal kind of tonal because it's also here, a federal country, fentanyl and local, uh, consultations and discussions where people would come in and say their issues about Lake, you know, the neighborhoods with, with the syringes in the street, uh, people being afraid because the syringes are near the parks where the children play the perspective of the police, the perspective of the prosecutors. And, you know, so everyone has to come together to find a consensus, to some extent and advance the issues little by little. But I mean, again, just to say, it's been 50 years of, you know, making the same nod and it's so big now that it has to be done a little by little by little by little, because whenever you try to do something so quick, the unintended consequences become very big because drug policy is so cross cut into so many other issues to health, to housing, to employment, you know, it is with a person. So it touches upon everything.

Dean Becker (28:11)
What you bring forward there. I want to kind of delve into, and that is the cantons I guess, are the sub governmental agencies and whatever, but we haven't United States. We have the 50 States, we've got cities counties. And then, then we have, uh, governors versus state congresses, et cetera, people battling on this issue. But what, what, uh, where the changes are being made are on the local level cities deciding they're not going to enforce a law as vigorously or in the same way as they did before my city of Houston being a prime example, um, you can have up to four ounces of marijuana now and not be arrested. You get a ticket and you got to take a class and that's in essence, contrary to state law, or I dunno, skirts the state law in some fashion. And I guess what I want to bring forward is that at the national level, the federal level, we have just a handful of people.

Dean Becker (29:15)
The, the U S attorney general, the head of the DEA, the head of the office of national drug control policy, a few others who have this quote authority whose pronouncements ensure that these drug laws continue forever because they, they quote have the moral authority. They know what in the heck they're doing. And I would love the opportunity to have five minutes to show. They don't have a clue what they're doing because they, they, they don't care how many people die. How, how many kids have access, how many gangs and terrorists are funded. They just do not care about that. They have a mandate that's as you say, that started out 50 years ago as being, you know, sanctified and pure, but it has been shown to be nothing but madness from my perspective, you know, your responsibility.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (30:05)
Well, I mean, the impacts are the impacts of the prohibition on the war, on drugs and being very repressive can not be concealed. I mean, as we said, there is more violence today than anything. The market is bigger than anything. There is more production. I mean, even when we know that even when there is a disruption, I mean, the records of production of opium, we're having cannabis that can not be disrupted because it's, it's basically produced in every country. I mean, even, I mean, 150 countries report production, but I mean, it's everywhere. And now we have new psychoactive substances. I mean, you are going through the fentanyl and the synthetics crisis. I mean, in other countries, there is overdoses related to synthetic cannabinoids because people, I mean, you know, people will be creative and will make things. So, I mean, again, just the walk, maybe the half mile there.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (30:49)
And just to say, it is much more easy and convenient to say, we're going to fight crime and we're going to go after these people. And we, aren't going to dry up the demand by being so harsh, et cetera. I mean, it is very much more difficult to speak about sophisticated neons approaches that are based on science that need to be evaluated little by little, especially when you have such a, um, how has a, um, difficult political, um, separation and difficult, you know, getting people together. But we have to get people together, back again around the table. And to some extent really say that this is a such a difficult issue. It's not white or black. It's not this or that. It, I mean, it has to be worked a lot and everyone will have to put in a bit of their own until we get there.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (31:37)
And we evaluate, and we find the best models, the reality, as well as that California can not have the same policies to some extent. I mean, even, you know, if we were in a perfect regulated markets where people have their rights protected by the law and their choices also respected by the law, et cetera, the models will be different because the substances that are used here are not the same use there because you know, the environments are not the same, et cetera. If you're in a small state, if you're in a bigger state, et cetera. So to some extent to say that, I mean, for me, it will be very, always very difficult to speak about, um, policy makers, not wanting the best for their country and for their people. Now there is a need, of course. I mean, change comes really through. I mean, it's always been coming through mostly, also through the ground, through the experiences and the experiments and what is going on.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (32:21)
I mean, you have a discussion in the United States that is huge about criminal justice reform currently and who goes to prisons, et cetera. I mean, that is also one of the biggest, biggest before the crisis, the overdoses crisis that have started of course, since a few years now, um, that is also a huge crisis that has been aggravated in the eighties and then the nineties with different policies, et cetera. So it is also about finding the entry doors. But again, there is just to finish up on this, even the United States and the United nations, when we go back again to this unintended consequences story that they came up with in 19, in 2008, because that was the a hundred years of drug control going from the 1909 Shanghai commission on opium. So they came up with this report. We can about unintended consequences as well of the current regime.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (33:08)
And one of them is what they call policy displacement. And the fact that now in every country in the world, budgetary displacements goes into more money, goes into law enforcement and does not go to hell, does not go to education, et cetera, other things that we need to lower the issues related to drugs. So, and it's always very hard in every, every country to take the money out of the pocket of law enforcement, we injustice or police, they always win the budgetary battle. And the health minister is always the one that loses that usually. And this is the case almost everywhere, because this is unfortunately the world we live in and it's going more and more security oriented to some extent, I mean, yeah, just to say it, to finalize on that. Yeah. All these issues are there, but they need to reach the public. And I think that what you're doing with your show as well is giving up the evidence and the information to people on the ground to understand much more how complex the issues are, but that there are solutions as well. That need to be pragmatic and realistic.

Dean Becker (34:07)
Thank you for that. Uh, uh, I, um, uh, you were talking about the, the police forces and, um, I don't know what I think it was about 1990, um, was the invasion of Panama, uh, that, uh, Noriega was the biggest drug dealer in the world. And the United States went down there and, and in the 24 hours, I guess, kicked his butt. And finally he came out of hiding and surrendered. Uh, but that's, that's kinda the extreme example, but here in the United States, every police force now has a SWAT team, has a modus operandi kick in the door, uh, shoot the dog, threatened the children, et cetera. And I guess to me, the morals of that process, that, that, that function are, are, are wrong. They're evil because we're always going to have drug users. There. There is no denying that we have always, since the beginning of time, people have used drugs, psychedelic drug bushes, who cares.

Dean Becker (35:09)
They have always tried to change their, uh, they drink reindeer P up in, in the, uh, um, uh, Alaska. And I guess what I'm saying is it's time to pull the plug on this it's time to find that solution we have every year, the U S invest 50 to $60 billion trying to stop the flow of drugs. But what most people do not recognize is that every year that terrorists the cartels, the gangs, the street corner vendors make 400 to $600 billion a year. They use that money to finance human trafficking and other criminal operations. And in essence, we're shooting ourselves in the foot with a machine gun 24 seven, your response Kaleo,

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (35:53)
No, I mean, it is. In fact, as I said, the fact of having chosen prohibition as a model was giving up control to some extent. I mean, we had the global commission have our 2014 report called take control and with the pathways to take the control. And we had that discussion of saying the title was retake control, but some, one of our commissioners stood up and said, no one has ever had the control. And it was in the hands of criminals since day one. I mean, we took it out of the hands of the traditional ceremonial use, which was more, um, which was less potent to some extent in India or in Nepal, et cetera, in different countries where there, I mean, and now we're having something that is very much more pot and powerful, et cetera. So, I mean, prohibition has also changed that the nature of the illegal market, because I mean, when you want to be, when you're, when you're, when you're a criminal, you also want to have stronger substances so that you can go and cut them much easier and have smaller quantities to pass, et cetera, et cetera.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (36:46)
So you go into more pot and issues, and that's why fentanyl is so successful as well, because it can hide it easily and you can sell it. You can add it with smaller quantities and you can sell it for the same price as heroin, et cetera. So of course, I know this is just like the perverse effects that come with it. And you find yourself with like, what, what was in the sixties is very different from what is in 2020. So it is a different world. I mean, the issue, it is very difficult not to say yes, of course this is the biggest market for the organized crime. I mean, uh, needing a kidney that's once in a lifetime, you know, for like, uh, for, for, for trafficking of Oregon's needing a weapon that is few times once, et cetera, et cetera, for traffic arms, but drugs, the demand is there.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (37:28)
And the demand can not be concealed. That is not a reality. I mean, that's why we look for societies that are without problematic use, where people use responsibly, where they don't cause problems to themselves or to others. So, and that is the majority of the users. Anyways, we're talking here about, uh, about 88 to 89% of people who use drugs around the world that are touched by the system, because also we know people who use drugs only they're arrested or go to the ER room or et cetera, et cetera, all the people that consume and not, not touched by the system, we don't know about them. So we have limited data. I mean, and it's very difficult to conceal that. Now also the fact how we respond to organized crime, organized crime works. It does not work in silos. They look for profits and for revenue, and so they can move very easily and they can have, they have very flexible structures.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (38:16)
We do have huge machines and state response. And in the authorities response, and you have the anti-corruption unit there, the antidromic unit there, you have, you know, each one is separated. Each one has its procedures, et cetera. And so there are so many cracks in the system to go through it, even under prohibition. So, I mean, there are ways to do better. Our last report of the global commission that was lounged in early may, 2020 does address this issue is I don't know how to address the under a prohibition model, how to do better, basically to raise the money, to infiltrate the organizations, how to have a better response is working, coming together, but also under regulated market. Because when you regulate the market, there are also opportunities of infiltration, et cetera. And if you leave people that were there, those that were controlled by organized crime, as the small hands, the dealers in the street that don't even make according to evidence, do not make the minimum wages, uh, or you know, the women in central America that are the couriers, and they don't even know the quantities they're carrying, or what did they, I mean, usually they don't even know what kind of penalties they would face by arriving into the other country and across and et cetera.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (39:26)
And of course, people who use and consume that is those are people that, I mean, should not be left behind. They need to be taken into account in the new market and also be taken with the market out of the hands of criminals, because those are people that are given also as soldiers to that market, because they have no other economic alternative to some extent. So we also include the nonviolent people there, but I mean, finally to say on the methods of intervention, I mean, the United States is a signatory of the universal declaration of human rights. And I mean, the way of intervening, it remains a very sovereign issue. So it's very difficult for an international person to speak about police intervention and law enforcement intervention into a, you know, a while and anti-drug campaigns. But of course, I mean, there are some minimums about people's dignity. I mean, people are innocent until proven guilty, even when there is an intervention of beliefs, et cetera, it is a judge that does, uh, give a judgment and not law enforcement. And I mean, people's rights. People do not lose their rights and their fundamental rights because they, they use a banned substance.

Speaker 3: (40:38)
I, um, I want to go back to, I have a shirt. I like to wear it from time to time. It says, nice people use drugs. And I know that one and many people, I, I can't give you a, uh, even a good approximation, but I would think it's in the high 90% of all drug use, maybe 90.9 is people enjoying themselves, uh, seeking a bit of euphoria. It is the, the result, many times of people not knowing what in the heck they're purchasing, how much to use that creates the problems of, uh, overdose and death. And, and it's, uh, it is, it is the policy that in the United States, we call these drugs controlled substances. And there's never been a bigger oxymoron on the planet. These drugs have no control

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (41:34)
Whatsoever. And I guess what I'm saying here is that the hype, the hysteria, the quote need for this drug war is so overblown from my perspective perspective, excuse me, it is totally unnecessary. It has no reason to exist. It is a quasi religion. That's 50 or a hundred years old. And, and I want your response. No, I mean, I mean, we are totally in agreement. I mean, people use drugs for a variety of reasons, you know, I mean, around the world and in the United States, I mean, it could be for seeking pleasure. It could be because of self-medication because of physical pain because of emotional pain. I mean, it's the diversity of, for experimentation for, I mean, the diversity of reasons. I mean, the very famous sentence that says that even a kid, if when you go, when you see kids, I mean, they go around the carousel in turn, turn, turn, turn, turn around until their head spins.

Dr. Khalid Tena: (42:28)
So people want to have their brain, you know, um, alter to some extent that is a human behavior. It is also an animal behavior in many animals that use many substances that they find through other plans. And so the fact of not accepting that is the big problem. And the other fact of having chosen a model of control that is based on saying addiction is evil. We need to stop it, but then promoting tobacco, alcohol coffee and all those other issues that are very commercially important. And at the same time, allowing, I mean, destroying the whole mild, um, traditional production and allowing pharmaceutical companies to go into, you know, synthesizing or producing whatever they want as substances and selling them in the market. You know, so at this, that, that, that difficulty between what people want to do and what is being pushed commercially, that also makes it very difficult, you know, to accept the system, plus all the impacts you've been speaking about that are huge.

Dr. Khali: (43:29)
And indeed it is, it is the policies that are also in part responsible for people's deaths. I mean, people it's to some extent do by the substances and that's their choice. And as a society, we have to reach that point where we accept that not everyone is going to be uniform. That is the reality. I mean, the United States is the country of the people coming from everywhere and living together and making the greatest country on earth. So it is the true, it is the country like that. And it will continue for a very long time. Its economy depends on that. Its culture depends on that, et cetera. It's the country where you are American before. Anything else when you are a lot of different things. So we have also to accept the fact that people will do use different substances. I mean, this is where we also need to go into these discussions as well.

Dr. Khali: (44:15)
I mean, we say that we need to bring in the cultural voices. We need to bring it to different voices, the religious voices, et cetera, but to open the base, to open discussions, this is a societal issue. This is about people, their own choices and making sure that they do not fall into these situation as you have this crime so well that people go and just buy something, but they have to do it so quickly. And they don't know what they're buying, et cetera, et cetera, because they're afraid of being caught because the dealer also is afraid of being caught, et cetera, and that they buy whatever they can and they go, and then they just don't even know how to use it really, to some extent or have someone to show them and they don't have access to clean material. And so they end up using the same material and getting infected with HIV and hepatitis, et cetera, and becoming and destroying their own lives, but also making all the society lose all its investments.

Dr. Khali: (45:02)
I mean, those are our, like every one of us in a society we're supposed to give back, we're supposed to work and everyone would love to do that and have the opportunity to work and be give back and be integrated in society, et cetera, et cetera. So we deny people also their place in society by rejecting them in that extent or not allowing them to have the services and also people that end up overdosing and not having help and not having the capacity to call for help. I mean, that is our terrible, terrible moment that no one, no one should be going through. I mean, it's this, we have to get out of this craziness. That repression is a deterrence. Now we know it's not, it's been almost 60 years that everything has been used prison eradication of crops, uh, long sentences. And as you've written about it as well, um, minimum, you know, mandatory minimums, et cetera, et cetera, at all levels.

Dr. Khali: (45:55)
I mean, state and County jails full of people consuming drugs alone, and that should never, ever, ever be that getting their lives destroyed with criminal records and not being able to reintegrate a society or their communities in the right way. Communities that have been impacted very, very heavily of course, by the war on drugs. Because when we speak about the one drug and we're addressing is in few areas as in the areas that are already poor and, and, you know, in difficult situations, it's not in the beautiful areas and with wealthy people. So all of these impacts yes. Have to be addressed of course, but the only way to get there it's really to start change somewhere and to open a discussion that gets bigger and bigger in society. And I think that that's something that happened for marijuana when people started to understand that no people are not going to be stabbing you in the street because marijuana is legal. Not no, the sun is still comes up that the United States will remain the United States. And that is something that just was done in a situation that was illegal and now it's just become illegal. So I mean the same demand is there, the same people are there. It didn't change much.

Dean Becker (46:58)
You mentioned the open discussion and over the years, the decades that I've been doing this, uh, I have contacted, you know, the offices of the drug enforcement administration, the Olin DCP, um, even though the president, a couple of times seeking a debate, seeking a discussion, similar to what we're doing now. And I have been absolutely shut down every time now. They don't even respond to my emails. They don't return my phone calls. And I guess what I'm saying here is that I claim

Speaker 3: (47:30)
The moral high ground. I think I own every square inch of it. And I would love to have that debate and they hide from me. Um, your response to that, sir.

Dr. Khali: (47:40)
Well, I mean, that is for, to some extent also, I mean, we, as a global commission have, um, less success in being in the U S discussion or in the Washington DC discussion and more particularly for the last few years. So, but the global commission for instance, was put in place to be a bridge between people on the ground and people in place. So this is something that we do country visits, for instance, where our commissioners visit a country, where there is a discussion and a debate about a reform. And they would meet with the civil society voice as they will try to organize public events, uh, to be visible. But they would also meet up with the highest level of authorities to take into, you know, to take those voices and bring them there and open up the debate. So they act as the door openers, to some extent our commissioners bring, bringing the evidence they're experienced, they're more authority, et cetera, because they have been in office.

Dr. Khali: (48:29)
They have been through that to some extent. So this is why our, uh, this is how we function at a global level of course, with our own capacity and what we can do. And we have to cover up so many discussions. I mean, from Tunisia to Malaysia, to, you know, South Africa, uh, Colombia, et cetera, et cetera, um, many, many different issues. Now, a country like the United States is much more permeable to international global level discussions. And that's where we also have some, our little sister as the regional commissions as the one in West Africa or the one that we spoke about in Latin America and other ones come in where they have a regional discussion that they try to open up a regional debate on a regional discussion. But with political champions that are from the region that do not necessarily have to have the same positions as us, but of course our basis is the human rights and the fundamental rights of people that we go from that point and where these political champions then educate themselves.

Dr. Khali: (49:25)
I mean, we had the experience in West Africa where we had the former president of Nigeria, the mr. Obasanjo who himself has educated himself about the issue of drug policy has seen evidence to him when he started the West Africa commission, working with our commissioners and mr. And the late mr. Kofi Annan, he was for him really to address the, the, the, the increase in traffic. And because it became the new routes since it's so difficult to go through the Caribbean and the central America now. So the new, yeah. And so, and so, but he ended up seeing that consumption was going up, that the health related issues were coming in, that the over-incarceration is coming in, the human rights violations are coming in. And so he became one of the most wonderful voices for change in the region, going around and seeing people in office and trying, you know, and get bringing the evidence and bring in the discussion and also bring it in recommendations that are adapted to the region that are not necessarily the same as the global commission that says we need to regulate every drug with different models, because the state to take control and has to take responsibility.

Dr. Khali: (50:30)
This is not okay to leave it in the hands of criminals on the regional levels. It's more adaptable to the realities and it educates the people from the region, and it is a debate between the people in the region. So these are the kinds of mechanisms we're trying to put in place, of course, but as you would know, I mean, just to respond very quickly. Again, it is always about the political capital and how much you can build up in this. It's been only really 10 years. And I mean, I think that the marijuana experience is very different with what has been started with someone like Ethan Nadelmann since the nineties, and trying to get into the medical marijuana, et cetera, and proving its efficacy and, and better regulation than, than in the black market. But it's also, you know, something that is evolving very quickly and it's building up. I mean, you see now that so many States do vote for that for the legalization. And I think that the debate that what you've been doing for the last 20 years will pay off because it's also the whole public opinion that is also shifting and looking into the evidence and listen in a bit more. But of course this takes time, especially in a world now where people get so much information every minute with different channels, proven and unproven, true and fake, et cetera, et cetera, but we will eventually get there.

Speaker 3: (51:42)
I think you're right now, um, in a way, this is a facetious question, but what is the benefit of drug war?

Dr. Khali: (51:52)
Well, I mean, no, the benefit is big. I mean, if you look at it to some extent there a wall of money, I mean the prohibition money is no, but I mean

Speaker 3: (52:00)
Our neighborhoods, what is the benefit?

Dr. Khali: (52:03)
Well, I mean, just to say, I mean to say this is not ironic, but in reality, I mean the prohibition of money money is, I mean, and the criminal money is there is huge laundering and ends up being for the most luxurious, the biggest, um, you know, goods in, in, in the real economy. So there is a lot of interests there. There's the laundering of the money coming from there, there is all the yards, et cetera, et cetera, that could be bought with that. So there is an interest for some legal economy and there's a lot of interest for the criminal economy, but there is no good for no one. It does not protect our kids from drugs in no way. Our kids are very exposed to drugs. I mean, in what city in the world, you can not find heroin or cocaine or cannabis in five minutes. You can find it everywhere that easily. I mean, it's, I mean, what I said, maybe it was called, but it was really to say it's true. There are some people that benefit from it, but it's again, yeah. Not those that need to be protected,

Speaker 3: (53:07)
But yeah. Nothing for me or you or our kids or our neighborhood, uh, no particular. Um, and, and it, it, and then the other question, I, you know, again, somewhat facetious, it ties in with our seeking the moral high ground. What is moral about this?

Dr. Khali: (53:26)
Well, I mean, it's very hard for someone like technical, like me to speak about morality, to be honest. I mean, we have a, it's just that. Um, I mean, I think that morality was the problem to some extent at the start, because it was, this is the right thing as if there was something right, and something wrong as if people's choices and behaviors and circumstances were already sets. It is not the case. Public policy is not about morality. Public policy is not about telling people what to do. Public policy is about building the regulations and building up the parameters in which all the people can live freely, happily and insecurity and where no one would hurt no one else. So, I mean, for me, the frame has to remain what it should be, the morality. I mean, we're not talking about people killing other people.

Dr. Khali: (54:18)
I mean, if there is some, I mean, we're talking about people, there are nonviolent, we're not speaking here about the big criminals that are carrying guns and, you know, trafficking in submarines, et cetera. We're talking about people that are nonviolent that do not have the same, uh, that are not responsible of crimes. We make those crimes, those small misdemeanors to some extent. So, yeah, I mean, it's, I think that the, the idea, the morality really has to be to some extent, I mean, what is the morality in smoking cigarettes or drinking wine, I mean, or being, or having alcohol dependence or whatever's, which is the case for so many, so many people, and which has glorified with like every housewife and TV getting a glass of wine or first thing when they get home. So, I mean, I would, for me, it really public policy has not to interfere in people's choices, but make sure that those traces don't hurt their neighbors, that they allow them also to seek options when they need to and put it in the place frame where everyone can live together, respect and everyone else and not hurting each other.

Dr. Khali: (55:31)
To some extent

Speaker 3: (55:33)
I'm with you there 100% right there. Um, now I know you mentioned that it's kind of hard to talk about national policies, but one of the goals of this program seeking the moral high ground is to, to rattle the cage, to hopefully get the attention of the major media, to have this 90 minute special challenge Donald Trump and Joe Biden to address this issue. And if you could speak to them, what would you say to them?

Dr. Khali: (56:07)
Well, that's a huge honor. I must say because I mean, I love the United States. I know the country quite well. I have been in different places from California to Florida, to New York, Pennsylvania, et cetera, et cetera. So I love the U S I'm a big fan. And I visit the U S all the time. Now, unfortunately, the situation is different, but I, and hope it's okay in Houston where you are with the COVID infections, et cetera. No, but I mean, this is a huge honor, but of course, to say that this is not a conservative issue, it's not a liberal issue. This is an issue about human beings and about their lives. It is an issue that could be solved. We have the tools. So basically what is missing is the political will, there are many ways to mitigate the issues, even if it's to go incrementally and step by step into better policies into starting by introducing the decriminalization into starting by accepting the harm reduction services.

Dr. Khali: (56:55)
And you can call them whatever you want, but at least implementing safe consumption areas that are supervised, where people can seek help, et cetera, but in drug testing and festivals. So that college gets stopped over those in because they're buying a pill and they don't know what it is, et cetera, et cetera. So putting those services in place, but also putting in place a different era of programs of treatment, because methadone is a treatment. It is an essential medicines list of who. So there are solutions we have to get out of the spirits of people. I mean, there is supply reduction efforts will have to remain. I mean, it is unfortunate as, as it is, repression has to remain. The cartels are way too big, way too important way too violent. So that element against this elements of supply have to remain there, but the most pragmatic and clever way to do it is to go incrementally and immediately take out people who use drugs out of this equation of this repressive equation, because that brings nothing about problems.

Dr. Khali: (57:57)
It brings nothing beneficial. I mean, it's crazy to arrest a kid because he's smoking marijuana or whatever's any other substance. I mean, what does it bring? Right. And moving on on finding ways, like, for example, with marijuana and the California law, or the Massachusetts law, allowing for people that were in the illegal market with criminal records to join the new market, and even some cities given them priorities to join the new legal market, those are also ways that need to be discussed. I mean, this is a fantastic policy ID. I mean, the implementation is different, but it's to make sure that the people that were there and that illegal Academy come to the legal economy first. I mean, first of all, they have the expertise and they're the ones who suffered the most, the consequences of the war on drugs. So we have also to go to undermine organized crime, to take these people out of it.

Dr. Khali: (58:43)
So they get these people out of the discussion. And finally, I mean, if these national discussions can take place so that the United States can also speak to the international level and say that any law, not only international law instruments, but any law can be amended, it can be rediscussed, it can be modernized. We can not have tools that are so old that no longer respond to the situation we can not have. I mean, just to think about how ridiculous, and when you have the scheduling system, it takes over a year or two years to schedule one substance between the pre review of the critical review. But first you have to have enough, you have to have enough scientific literature to be pre reviewed and then critically reviewed because they don't look at the substance like that. Then you give like the experts given advice, that's a schedule or not.

Dr. Khali: (59:25)
Then that goes into the end and it's voted on by members, States, et cetera. We have a new psychoactive substance that arrives at the market per week. I mean, the system does not work at all. So I mean, the United States has pushed a lot for, at the international level for the schedule of fentanyl derivatives, which is a good thing. But nevertheless, because I mean, it's still ensures the access for the medical needs, but on the other hand, I mean, so many new substances arriving, you can change just one Lake chemical ingredients, and then you have another substance that is not recognized that the police can arrest you for really, because it's not in a schedule. They can not tell you what to do. You know, they don't even have that power. So to say that the whole system has been so badly built, it needs to be undone again.

Dr. Khali: (01:00:06)
I mean, if I would say anything to the two candidates for the next election is to really just give it, put in, listen to the people on the ground, because they know what they're talking about. Listen to the social workers and to the health workers, listen to the people, working in the harm reduction services, listen to people who inject drugs, because they know what the experiences they go through. What redefine, what is people who use drugs? Because I mean, this is very large. This can include people that use legal drugs. This has to include people that we don't know if they're using or not, et cetera, where the is hidden. And that's the biggest part I would, I would argue. I mean, it's about really starting to look into how, by lowering also all these issues, we can have people being less scared so we can have better data collection so we can understand what is going on.

Dr. Khali: (01:00:51)

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (01:00:51)
I mean, no one has seen the opioid crisis come because of prohibition, because there was no possibility to look into the illegal market and know what is happening and its complexity and know what is going on. You could not have mathematical models to look into how this crisis was going to hit or why it was going to hit the market, et cetera. So it is all interlinked. That is all very difficult. So what I would say is that the United States is capable of the best and show that throughout so many different [inaudible] when it wants to go incrementally and seriously on something. And this is where it has to start little by little, I mean, thinking about a big change as well would bring in a lot of issues that would be difficult and what could discredit the needed reforms.

Dean Becker (01:01:34)
Alright. The first one is, again, we've been speaking with mr. [inaudible]. Um, I noticed the most recent report. I think it was issued in may by the global commission on drug policy. Oh, was focused on the traffickers, wanting to deal with them, to forte their efforts in some fashion. And I know that, and I mentioned earlier, it's 400 to $600 billion a year, this industry, and it's used to corrupt judges and border guards and cops and you name it, uh, I've heard is half that amount is used to do the corruption to keep it all flowing. And I dare say that the traffickers are not going to quit. They will never quit. As long as that profit margin is, it's going to take Merck and Pfizer making cocaine and heroin and selling it dirt cheap at the drug store to force these traffickers, to give up their jihad, your response to their colleagues.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (01:02:31)
Well, I mean, yes, of course. I don't think that, I mean, of course, organized crime, as we said, we'll always go after money. I mean, the first thing that they did during the COVID was to shift into face masks and into hydraulic gels that they started selling the, on the black market. And I mean, we had, I don't know about the United States, but in many different parts of the world, they were like, you know, even stolen, like the States ordered ones that would arrive. And we had the military Hammond to guide the masks because there was, you know, because they would be attacked and the, and the trunks would get stolen and then get sold on the black market. So the organized crime is going nowhere and that's, that's how they survive. Of course. And they have that big machine that they have to go running and they have to get the money flowing in.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (01:03:12)
So you are very right on that. That is going nowhere, of course, that there is a need to take the market out of their hands. When Switzerland has implemented that four pillar strategy prevention, treatment, harm reduction, repression that, I mean, there was some evidence that in the city of Lake Zurich, the market of heroin in the streets that shrink by 75%, that is huge. I mean, there's still the black market, but I mean, that is a huge success. You shrink the market so much organized crime will go into something else. I mean, like in Mexico, when they started the Calderon administration started the war on drugs in 2006, they never expected what was facing them, but it's also the fact that the market moved into like kidnapping into other sorts of, you know, um, activities, criminal activities, et cetera. So I totally agree, but this is why we say exactly that, yes, we need the models and we need the models and the flexibility, because also we need the flexibility in the evaluation, because if you have a very, very, very restrictive model where you lower very much the part and of the substance, et cetera, you know, to protect people, there are some people that would still go to the black market for potency.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (01:04:18)
They would still some that would go for price, et cetera. So it's all about regulations. That's why I say it has to go really, really step by step and always taking into account that, that they will never let it go. And if legalization and regulation is the big enemy of organized crime. Yes.

Dean Becker (01:04:33)
Well, a prime example of what I'm trying to put forward here is in Columbia, you can buy a kilo of 92% pure cocaine for about a thousand, maybe $2,000, and you can take it to the United States and you can cut the purity down to maybe 25% and sell it for a hundred dollars a gram. Whereas if it were made by Merck and Pfizer and available at the Walgreens store at $5 a gram, that's a, that's a great profit for Merck or Pfizer. And yet, um, th that would, uh, take away the ability of these cartels to sell cocaine here in these United States, the year response they were up.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (01:05:13)
Well, I mean, the price inflation is a huge, I mean, there's all sorts studies. What you're saying is very true. I mean, you start at a price that goes up 16000% when you arrived at the final destination, but that's also related to the risks you take. I mean, because in every step, because the price goes also a little bit, you know, it's not the same from Columbia to go to, to Guatemala, to, you know, to Mandurah as the Mexico to this. And now the price keeps on going because everyone takes their risk until the rise of the market. Now, I mean, it is in fact, I mean, that is the position of the global commission. Yes. That it needs to be controlled by the state. Now, the model, especially for CA I mean, for cannabis for marijuana is easy because we have the model of cigarettes, but also the controls like in New York city or Los A So to some extent, yes, we have to start with those experimentations. And sometimes even pilots. I mean, why would the United States have to do cocaine regulation all over the country? Why doesn't they do it in a small, I mean, we're speaking here in a very conceptual way because we're very far away from this discussion, but does that make sense? Yes. This is why not even pilots because pilots allow you really to be in a smaller quantity, in a smaller number of people with the, you know, with a, with a smaller group where you can evaluate quite easily. It's not true.

Speaker 3: (01:07:14)
The potential for major fall out. I'm gonna fall back on it. Oh, well, I want to thank you for your time today. Um, we have gone through my list of questions considerably. Well, are there any closing thoughts?

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (01:07:32)
No, I would like to say that, um, it is quite incredible. The work you are doing and everyone around the United States. I mean, of course, I mean, we live here in Geneva and I am right in front of the office of the high commissioner for human rights. And, um, of course, when we think about the end of the second world war and how international law was beautiful and where we had so much advanced thanks to the United States as well, of course, uh, for having, you know, democracy spreading around the world for having human rights and basic rights for everyone insured and, and pushed there. This is the one area where international law and its articles is the problem. This never happens anywhere. And this is where all the countries compliant. They're not comply into all the other issues. So this is something to really remember.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (01:08:22)
And, but the hope there is that there is no more consensus. Everything is changing. There is no more consensus on prohibition around the world. We have a world today where in Colorado people can buy it legally. And we have in the same time, people that are being killed extra judicially in different countries in South and Southeast Asia, because of exactly the same thing that is legal in the United States. We have countries with criminal light with a very heavy criminalization and with mandatory that penalty for very low thresholds of possession. And we have on the other hand countries that have defacto decriminalization, et cetera. So we are in a situation that is so problematic and gives actually, because there is no more consensus and there is no more, uh, similar approaches. And that always is cracks in the system for criminal organizations to go through those cracks.

Dr. Khalid Tenasti: (01:09:19)
So the global consensus that we have built around prohibition no longer is sustainable because it did not bring any results in a lot of harms, but now we don't want to recognize that. And so everyone is doing whatever they can on the ground to respond to their situations. And you have showed that very well with cities because cities are moving because that's something that touches them directly. They, that is something, I mean, cities and mayors are the closest to their constituency, regardless of all the people that are elected. So that office does respond. And this is what we do in other countries. Everyone responds with whatever they can. And we find ourselves with such a canvas because there is no more leadership either. And that's where we need to come back. And we need to come back into realism evidence and into people based. And people centered policies, drug policy needs to be about people about their vulnerabilities, about their situations, not about the substances. The substances are always going to be there and we need to shift that focus. So thank you, Dean. Well, thank you.

09/16/20 Neil Woods

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Neil Woods
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Neil Woods a long time undercover policeman in the UK is now the Exec Dir of Law Enforcement Action Partnership for all of Europe

Audio file

Dean Becker: (00:12)
Kind of kickstart this, uh, the friends we're speaking with, uh, officer Neil woods, he's now head of law enforcement action partnership based in the UK. And I want you to, if you will, Neil, tell us a little bit about your experience as a law enforcement officer.

Neil Woods: (00:29)
Well, I served for 23 years, uh, over the, over 13 of those years, I worked undercover, so I infiltrated, um, street dealing gangs, um, and just sort of try to, uh, see how far into the gang I could get. So I would spend six or seven months at a time gathering evidence of conspiracy buying drugs, um, to, to bring down gangs down in any particular city. So I traveled around the UK to do that as far North as leads as far South as Brighton and lots of, uh, lots of places in between.

Dean Becker: (01:06)
Well, tell us a little bit about what did that accomplish. Were you able to stop the gang's existence? Were you able to stop the flow of drugs? What impediments did you put in place there?

Neil Woods: (01:20)
Well, you know, when I started that kind of work, I was 23 and I was very pleased with myself. Really, the fact, you know, I was, I was a young man and it was turning out that, um, I was finding out that I was the kind of person that could be in risky situations and managed to function. Well, you know, I got very into the development of the tactics. I got very, um, and, you know, for anyone who's ever worked in, in the sphere of covert drugs, policing, you know, there's a real centering of expertise and excellence in policing. And there's really hardworking, dedicated cops who work in that kind of, that kind of realm. And I was, I was, I loved it. And you know, the first few years I, I saw what appeared to be successes, you know, but then the six month operation, I'd be catching 50 off gangsters and putting all sorts of people in prison will be seizing, all sorts of huge amounts of crack and heroin.

Neil Woods: (02:22)
And you know, it, it felt good for a while, but you know, eventually depending how to drop for me or not, I'll describe for you a particular operation, which make things very, very clear to me what success is and isn't, um, I, I infiltrated this gang. It's very, very infamous gang in the UK, uh, famous for certain murders machine gunning of two women and in Birmingham, or very, very notorious going to just call the burger bar boys. And they'd taken over the supply of, um, heroin and crack in a town of Northampton. So that's where infiltrated them. And it took seven months, a huge amounts of work. One time I was stripped at gunpoint. Um, I thought I was going to die on a couple of occasions on that operation. At the end of it, I call it the six main gangsters, both of our boys, they off 10 years in president of peace, good evidence, but 90 other people.

Neil Woods: (03:20)
So there were 96 people caught from that seven month operation. And, you know, I knew after seven months that I had got nobody else in that town to gather evidence against I had caught everybody because there were no new phone numbers to get. There were no new people to meet. I've met everybody. I got the entire town tied up completely. I knew where the drugs were, where the money was going. I bought no. There was evidence against all these huge amounts of people. I know anybody that there was, it was a huge operation. There was police from five different counties involved in all of the rates and, um, a week or so after the dust died down, the intelligence officer spoke to me on the phone and he says, yeah, we managed to interrupt the heroin and crack cocaine supply in Northampton for a full two hours, seven months of work, 96 people arrest at almost getting myself killed to interrupt the drug flow for two hours.

Neil Woods: (04:20)
Now, I don't know for certain that it was the burger bar, boys famous rivals the Johnson crew who stepped in to take over the supply. But, but you can picture the scene. Can't you, the rival gangsters. They hear the news and they say, Hey boys, look what the cops have done for us. And this is fantastic. Pull the call him. We're going to make a killing with this new market. That's opened up wonderful. And, uh, and, and, you know, depending has to drop eventually. That's, that's all we're doing. You know, we might be filling the prisons up and it might look impressive to, to people who haven't really dug a bit deeper, you know, but you're just taking out the competition for the rivals. That's all we're doing now. So it's few tile. Yeah. It's few tile, but futility would be bad enough, but it's far worse than few tile because, you know, wherever the police have success like this, and I use the word success very loosely.

Neil Woods: (05:25)
Now, wherever police have success like this, it creates something called the freelancer effect. And that means, and police have this in their intelligence. They're aware of this everywhere in the world, because I've spoken to cops from all over the world. Then, um, Australia, Denmark, USA, doesn't matter. I've spoken to them all over and all cops see this in their intelligence that wherever the police have a success with drug dealing, they create this and people step in to compete over that market share, which in most cases causes an increase in violence. That's the freelance rip back. So it's not just a few tile. Now this is, this is causing the violence is actually fueling the violence. And I've seen this time and time again it now, unfortunately it took me a long time for the penny to drop. Do you have that expression over there? The Patty to drop for them?

Dean Becker: (06:23)
I've, I've spoken to enough Bridgestone to know what it means, but yes, it's not that common here. Let me interrupt you just for a second to say this, that well, folks, this gentlemen has risked his life. I mean, as he indicated, strip naked gunpoint, uh, et cetera, uh, to, to force the effort of these gangs, these cartels, these traffickers, and, and, and as you indicated, Neil, um, when you bust one gang it's music to the ears of the other gang, because it's a great opportunity and the same holds true on the international scale. I heard the Chapo Guzman knives, a hundred feet under Rocky mountain somewhere, but he bribed officials and maneuvered the situation so that his drugs made it across the border. And the other traffickers were caught up by the police. Corruption is everywhere in this drug. Where is it not new?

Neil Woods: (07:18)
Yeah, absolutely. Of course it is because it's one of the biggest industries in the world and it's, and it's completely unregulated. It's half a trillion worldwide in the UK. It's 10 billion pounds a year. Um, but there's, there's, it's not just a huge value in the market, which causes the corruption. There's another aspect, which again, we observe every level and you're right to say that it's the same internationally, but the mechanism that causes corruption, that I'm about to describe to you works at every single level. It works at sort of regional in a nation. It works at national level and international level. You see where we do take out the competition and we catch a gang, a cartel, et cetera. It does mean that another gang has an increase in the market share. Now I think it's economics. What I want that an unregulated market in any unregulated market monopolies appear, you know, it's a basic economic truth, but with the illicit drugs market, the mechanism of monopolies forming is actually accelerated by the actions of police.

Neil Woods: (08:23)
So where you have, why you create a gap in the market and you get rid of a gang, it's actually usually the most successful gang. It's the gang that's already dominant, which takes advantage of that and expands into that space. This is why they used to be 20 cartels in Mexico. Now there are only three, but you see those three cartels now have a much bigger share of the market, which means they are individually richer, which means they can use much more of their disposable income to corrupt system. So the mechanism of policing is actually what leads to increase corruption. Now, what gang with enough money would not corrupt the system to protect themselves. It's the opposite strategic thing to do. Now? I, I, I came across corruption many times, um, working undercover. And in fact, they were theoretical safeguards put in place to protect me from police corruption.

Neil Woods: (09:24)
So for example, the team that would be the backup team around me. They weren't allowed to know my real name or where I came from. And they were told at the start of the job, they would be disciplined if they even asked me. So I was using the same pseudonym to the gangsters as I was to the cops. That's because corruption is so rife. That's what there was built in to protect, to protect me. Theoretically. Now I was four and a half months into an operation investigating the best wood cartels and infamous gangsters in Nottingham while I was investigating diamonds and a few of, but I only got into the periphery of the best one cartel, but it turned out they got much closer to my inner circle because four and a half months in, I got a replacement car into, into my backup. And, um, I was introduced to him, shook his hand.

Neil Woods: (10:14)
The house just went up in the back of my neck. Everything about this guy screamed wrong. You know, when you've been working the cover for quite a few months, your sense is a fairly fine tune to the point of almost paranoia. And this guy just wasn't right. So I got him excluded from the operation. I didn't think too much more of it, but when Colin guns gangster was brought down about 12 months later, it turned out that this car that I had taken exception to was an employee of the gangster. He'd been paid to join the place. So he wasn't corrupted once and he was paid to join the place. He was paid 2000 pounds a month on top of his police wages, plus bonuses for good information. Now, you know, I was aware of corruption. I come up against it, but this was still just jaw-dropping.

Neil Woods: (11:05)
It was, it was, it was shocking. But in meetings with senior police after that, and a sort of debrief, you know, I was told by senior cops, well, of course this happens. We know this happens with this much money involved, how can it not happen? So it is accepted by police leaders, not just the UK, cause I've spoken with police leaders all over the place, including the USA. It is accepted that this corruption is endemic and impossible to defend against because what successful organized crime group would not employ people to join the police. Why would they not? And I don't want my CR our criminal justice system corrupted by gangsters, but the only way we can ever stop this is by taking the market off them, taking the power away from them, by regulating the markets. And, you know, we, it might be a stretch of the imagination for most people in a stable democracy like the UK or the USA or, or Norway.

Neil Woods: (12:08)
It might be a stretch of people's imagination to see themselves as going in the same direction as Mexico, you know, and, you know, because Mexico is so extreme or Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and West Africa is now a narco state or where all the other democracy democracies that are being eroded by, by drugs money. But, you know, we're only going in that direction. We are all going in that direction. We're at the thin end of the same wedge. And don't underestimate the extent of the corruption in your police and criminal justice system, because the longer and harder we fight this war, more likely that corruption is going to increase.

Dean Becker: (12:44)
Yeah, no, very, very astute observations. And Neil, thank you for that. Oh, by the way, friends, Neil is a author of a great book, a good cop bad war, which kind of explains his history. I think dealing with those gangs, he also wrote a book, uh, with a mr. Rafi, Ellie, I believe it is drug Wars, the, uh, uh, inside story of Britain's drug trade, uh, which, uh, further examines this situation. Now, Neil, I wanna kind of switch gears here, if you will. Um, you know, we have in the U S um, a recognition and I, and I think it exists to some degree in the UK as well, but a recognition of the inherent, the built in racism that, uh, drives many of the forces of this drug war. Uh, it rears its ugly head seems like every day here in the U S uh, uh, many times we, we see these mostly young black men being gunned down, not necessarily for possessing drugs, but because we have this system that makes everyone a suspect that everyone might have drugs, that they might be dangerous because of drugs. Would you respond to that thought, please, sir?

Neil Woods: (13:59)
Yeah, certainly. I mean, look, the, the issue of racial justice is inseparable from drug policy because drug drug policy is what maintains the structural racism within, within, within our societies. But it, you have to bear in mind that the USA has a slightly different view of this. I mean, I, I, in for drug Wars, I researched the way that, um, USA drug policy, uh, destroyed the UK drug policy because you know, this international drug policy, it's a USA invention. It's essentially, you know, it's a, state's moral imperialism because in the UK, we didn't really have a problem with drugs until we were forced through diplomatic international pressure to, to follow the USA way of doing things. And the reason that that is there's only one nation on earth came out of the second world war richer than before, because they that's the USA because they'd loaned everybody the money to fight the war.

Neil Woods: (14:59)
So everyone owed the money to the USA, and that's why, um, USA drug policy now dominates the globe. So up until the end of the 1970s, if someone had a problem with heroin in the UK, they were prescribed by the doctor. And as a result of that, we didn't have a heroin problem. It was only 1046 people using heroin at the end of the 1960s. As soon as that market was given to the illicit market to the, to the criminals, they went up to 300,000. So that's the USA policy, but to bring you back to your point, USA drug policy is entirely founded on racism. It was all about control of minorities. So opium wasn't seen as a problem until Chinese immigrants who were still there after building railways were seen to be a problem

Dean Becker: (15:49)
Jobs. It was a way of persecuting that minority

Neil Woods: (15:52)
Cocaine wasn't seen as anything other than a tonic for houseboat Housewives until until black people were seen to be using it, or it was a way of persecuting black people. It was, it was an extension of the Jim Crow laws. That's, that's what the ban on cocaine was. I mean, we call it cannabis in Europe and in America you call it marijuana because it was a way of encouraging it to be seen as a Mexican problem or way of persecuting Mexicans during the great depression, when Mexicans were seen to be stealing white jobs, it was a way of persecuting. It's always been about racism, even, even alcohol prohibition was about persecuting. The other, you know, the main sponsors of alcohol prohibition was the Klu Klux Klan because they hated Catholics. And Catholic immigrants were seem to be the people who drank more alcohol and Protestants, but it was true actually at that time, Catholics did, you know, the Irish and the Italians did drink more alcohol than the traditional puritanical Protestants. But so that was, it was more about hating Catholics than anything else. It's always been a tool of oppression for minorities, for those other people. But unfortunately, you know, the internal domestic racism of the United States has been very aggressively exported around the world. And that's why the rest of the world has this policy. And, you know, speaking as a Brit from a country that spent hundreds of years building an empire, you would have thought that we would be more aware that we are now part of a moral imperialism from the United States. Yeah,

Dean Becker: (17:37)
No, very true. And of course you're, you're aware of that as kind of the focus of this program is to examine this moral posturing, this a moral high ground. If you will, now there is change the foot. There is a hope, uh, around, um, and, um, uh, Canada, the police officers association has come out calling for decrim to follow in the footsteps of what Portugal has done. Um, dr. Kendall up there is wanting to purchase heroin cheaply and make it available to their, uh, their heroin users, uh, at a reasonable price to curtail the overdose deaths and the spread of disease and infections, et cetera. And in the UK, as I understand it, the police, um, hierarchy is re-examining their position, maybe leaning towards decriminalizing drugs, maybe changing their positions as well. Am I correct there, sir?

Neil Woods: (18:34)
Yeah. I mean, the UK is a fun, fascinating example of world drug policy shifts because it's, it says police voices, which are leading the debate, the police are way ahead of politicians. And in fact, um, where some police leaders have been bringing in heroin assisted treatment, actually paying for free prescriptions of heroin for problematic users, the home office, the government has said, well, we expect our police to uphold the law. Um, but the police are going ahead and doing their own reforms. We have, um, in the terms Valley, which covers Oxford, there's a police force that I've brought in a diversion scheme for drug possession, which is pre arrest so that people don't even have an era, a record of arrest on that on a record, you know, that they are, they are that if the drugs are found, the drugs are merely taken off them and they are given an appointment to see a drug worker just to check them up and see if they are okay.

Neil Woods: (19:34)
And if they need out and that's it, that's the sum total of the police involvement, no criminal record, no arrest, no trauma created to the, to someone who may or may not need help for that drug use. And you know, that to me, that's even better than Portugal. That's, that's, that's an even more efficient form of decriminalization, the Portugal about this display of poach clubs, these dissuasion committees, where people have to speak to a panel about that drug use. But I think it's more efficient just to, to get someone, to see a drug worker, you know, just get someone to see an expert and see if the, if they do need help. Um, you know, it's just pragmatic policing. It's, it's following evidence for what is helpful to somebody's health and society. And, you know, there is good evidence, these diversion schemes from where they happen in other parts of the country, they have actually reduced crime. So you've got to go with the evidence and I applaud the police, some of my colleagues in the UK for bravely bringing in these policies in spite of politics and not because of it. And of course I applaud the Canadian chiefs, but you know, we've got police voices speaking out on reforms across Europe as part of, um, leap your law enforcement action partnership.

Dean Becker: (20:52)
No, uh, Neil, I want to kind of shift gears again here to B the efforts of leap, you know, in the UK and in Europe, in, in the U S and it is to educate the populace, to help them develop the courage, to speak up to their, their elected officials. I think that is the, the stairway we're trying to create. And we also are trying to influence those politicians ourselves when given that chance, when able to speak directly to, uh, the, the leaders of this drug war, so to speak. And even here in the, in the U S uh, the other day, Joe Biden was quoted as saying, no one should go to jail anymore for drugs, they should be forced to go to treatment. Now, I don't like the idea of being forced to go to treatment, but it is a change, at least in the perspective at the top hierarchy of the U S your, your thought there, Neil.

Neil Woods: (21:51)
Yeah. It's, it's, it's proof actually. It's very encouraging to someone like me and other people, you know, in leap that we can win over anybody, almost anybody, if you, if you, if you show them that support is going in that direction, that the public has behind them. And that they've got the voices of law enforcement figures from leap behind them. And Joe, Biden's the perfect example of that because wow, hasn't he come a long way. Wow. Um, yeah. And, and it is very encouraging and the idea of forced treatment is obscene. Of course, however, it's still far is his position is still far, far back. So, but yeah, I mean, leap is, is key in this debate. We, you know, people out there should not underestimate our importance because we really are having significant influence, really significant influence around the world. In the UK. For example, we spoke arts, um, the labor party conference last year, we spoke at the conservative party conference last year.

Neil Woods: (22:56)
We spoke at the Scottish national party conference last year. Uh, we also have allies in, in, in Clyde Comrie and the liberal party. So, you know, we are, we are having real influence in politics. And of course, the reason for that is we're having influence with the public because, you know, with any social justice issue, um, it's the social movement, which causes the change in politics. It's, it's very rarely political leadership from above it's, it's the shift in public mood, you know, whether you're talking about, um, homosexual rights or, or, or whatever, the social justice issue with tears, it's the social movement, which does it. And, you know, and the social movements is gathering pace rapidly. So, so, you know, anyone out there who's not aware of the work that leaked does, please leap because we are the key players who can help the suit social movement grow because, you know, with our U S people, our USP people tend to listen to us, but also at the same time, we give great cover for politicians.

Neil Woods: (24:04)
Politicians are willing to be braver in what they say, because they've got a police, police, voices supporting them in it. You know, we really do have an important parts play and certainly leap in the USA at the moment. Well, they are growing so rapidly. Um, they working so hard, they're having so many new people join them. You know, there's a, there's a real tipping point happening because of what Lipa doing in the USA. And, um, so please support them, anyone out there support them, however you can, and let's keep that momentum going. It's incredible what they're doing, he really is.

Dean Becker: (24:42)
No, this is kind of, I'm stretching things a bit, perhaps, but, uh, you know, I know when you talk to leaders in the UK or around Europe, um, you, you try to, um, educate them, um, and motivate them to move in that right direction. And, and part of my goal here with this, uh, seeking the moral high ground is to, uh, to motivate the U S politicians in particular, Donald Trump, or Joe Biden, to speak more openly about this. And, and I'll give you my 32nd spiel, and that is we're empowering terrorists, cartels, and gangs. We're ensuring more overdose deaths, children's easy access. And what is the benefit? What offsets the horror we inflict on the whole world, uh, through this belief. And if we could just pose that question, that, uh, scenario to these two gentlemen, Trump and Biden, I think they would be forced to answer more openly, more honestly with, would you agree with that thought, what should, what should these, how can we force these gentlemen to face down this toothless lie?

Neil Woods: (25:50)
Well, yeah, I mean, first, first of all, what I would say is that an evidence based drug policy is not too much too much to ask. And where, where do we go for evidence rather than moral posturing? That's where we tend to get movement forwards because the evidence is so overwhelming that reforms work, whichever incremental reforms we're talking about, whether it's a harm reduction, um, specifically opioid substitution, treatment hearts, you know, heroin, prescribing decriminalization, and most importantly regulation, you know, there is evidence that, that, that these, these changes in policies work, but, but there's, there's a, there's an unholy Alliance between politicians and media journalism and what each has been supporting the other in this sort of weaponizing of the issue for a very long time. But I think what politicians need to realize is the public are now seeing through this, despite this weight of propaganda, that's come from politicians and journalists alike.

Neil Woods: (26:51)
You know, that that, that there is a truth here coming through that they need to get behind or be judged very harshly by history because it's not going to be too much in the near future. While we look back on this period of time and think how, how could we as a society have allowed that policy to continue? You know, they need to feel the weight of the judgment of history because now is the turning point. So which, which of them will get behind these reforms, but shift them will take that moral high ground that th that the lives of problematic drug users are as valuable as everybody else's

TRAILER: Seeking the Moral High Ground 90 Minute special

TRAILER: Seeking the Moral High Ground 90 Minute special hosted by Dean Becker, featuring 21 world class drug policy experts. Included on this trailer are snippets with Dr. Joao Goulao the Drug Czar of Portugal, Major Neill Franklin Executive Director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership & Roger Goodman a Washington State Representative. Watch FULL SCREEN (2.50)

07/21/20 Neill Franklin 4

Major Neill Franklin has more than 30 years experience wearing the badge of law enforcement. Today Neill is the Executive Director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership which has thousands of experienced police, prosecutors and legislators calling for an end to drug prohibition. To learn more please visit Extract of 28:00 Interview To be featured in Seeking the Moral High Ground which premieres on 9-11.

07/20/20 Neill Franklin

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Neill Franklin
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Major Neill Franklin has more than 30 years experience wearing the badge of law enforcement. Today Neill is the Executive Director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership which has thousands of experienced police, prosecutors and legislators calling for an end to drug prohibition. Neill is one of the stars of our forthcoming, September 11 Premiere of our video Production: SEEEKING THE MORAL HIGH GROUND (On Drugs). To learn more please visit

Audio file

DEAN BECKER (00:00):I am Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High and this is Cultural Baggage.
So in our ongoing series of Becker's buds in our lead up to seeking the moral high ground, it is my great privilege to bring you one of my best friends. Man. I traveled halfway across the country with, uh, in the leap, mobile back for the caravan for peace and justice of the executive director of law enforcement action partnership. My bud Neil Franklin. Hello Neill.

Mr. Dean Becker? How are you doing good to see you?

DEAN BECKER (00:38):
I'm good, Neil. Now I, uh, I don't want to discount the fact that you were a, uh, a major, uh, working for a law enforcement there in, in the, uh, Baltimore area. And you're still training officers. Are you not?

Yeah. I'm still training officers. As a matter of fact, just last week, I was up in Philadelphia for a three day leadership training in the Philadelphia Sheriff's office and all of their command staff.

DEAN BECKER (01:06):
No, this, this speaks to your, your experience, but your expertise, your knowledge, your awareness, your ability to, uh, police safely, uh, and, uh, to train others to do so, correct?

Yeah, absolutely. Even though I I'm still training officers now, when I was in law enforcement with the Maryland state police in Baltimore city, I was head of both of their training divisions at one time. Right

DEAN BECKER (01:34):
Now, Neil, we have in this country, it depends on when you want to look at it. So you want to talk about Nixon declaring drug war. You want to go back to the Boggs act, or you want to go back to 1914, the Harrison narcotics act. But, um, you can go back to 1898 or something to some opium, exclusion act. We have had a hundred years of drug war in this country.

Oh yeah, we have, that's what you want to call it. But as we both know, Dean, you can't have a war against an inanimate objects such as drugs at a war against our people.

DEAN BECKER (02:12):
Right. And, and what has become, um, better exposed? I won't say exposed because it's been known by folks like you and me for a long time, but the racism built in inherent part of this drug war is rearing its ugly head, uh, uh, more so than ever before. Correct?

That's absolutely correct. Um, all, all of the periods in time, I mentioned mainly, uh, you know, mr. Anslinger got into it back in the 1930s as who we consider our nation's first drugs are. Right. Um, he really made it an issue of race. Um, for, I guess you could say multiple cultures. Yes. We had the, our opium policies before that with the Chinese, but that was about the Chinese and doing what we could as a country here too. Uh, I gotta say prevent these from taking jobs and becoming a, uh, I guess an economic force, if you might say, in the us economy. So it was about the Chinese, but when Harry Anslinger got into it, he made it about the, you know, of course we was already about to Chinese, but he made it about the Mexicans. He made it about blacks, people of color. And, uh, we've been rolling ever since with this, uh, with these drug prohibition policies and so-called war on drugs, war on people.

DEAN BECKER (03:39):
And, you know, it was with the, the flat out murder of, uh, um, George Floyd, um, and so many others that they're still coming out and, and, uh, uh, the videos are showing up every week, still the, uh, police abusing people at the very least if not murdering them. Uh, and it's, uh, too often if black people being singled out and if I dare say taught a lesson, Oh, which seems to be, what many of these law enforcement officers seem to be trying to do is to teach a lesson and your thought there, new Franklin.

Yeah. It's, I'm sad to say, but, um, as a society in general, we we've developed our perceptions of people and our stereotypes of people and, you know, in, in the policing culture. Um, now I'll be honest with you. Yeah. We, we have a, we have a big racial problem within policing, but anything goes beyond that, into this place of class, right? So it doesn't matter what color you are. If you're not at a certain class level, you've got problems with the police. If you're a poor white, you have a problem with the police. Generally speaking, if you're homeless, you have a problem with the police. And the police have gotten to this place of dehumanizing people, right. Especially when it comes to class and when it comes to color and they've gotten to this place where they see people, uh, on a lower economic scale and people of color, they see them as objects.

They, they don't refer to them as people, they refer to them as subjects. You know, they, they refer to them in some name, some of the names I won't even mention on your show, derogatory names that we give people. And that kind of gives them the, I gotta say it kind of protects them emotionally from when they decide, uh, to do harm to people. Um, when they don't see as a person, when they don't see him as human and they see him as an object, then it kind of freezes their mind to treat that individual as they see fit. And as you said, Dean, teach them a lesson, right. And when we have training, um, there's been some really radical training within the policing community over the past few decades. Um, that gets police in to this place of thinking that they are these super men and super woman type saviors, right.

Um, and, uh, training that invokes the use of violence against people. Um, you know, it didn't, it is very biased in nature. And, uh, that's why many police departments have restricted this type of training by their members. Uh, recently every begun, the strict restrict this type of training for their members. Um, but we have to get to a place in ending the war on drugs, ending drug prohibition is one of the pieces of public policy that we have to move on to begin to change how police view people. And a lot of the derogatory terms that we use in policing, uh, deal with the drug using community. Um, I mean, you name it, you know, the junkie to scumbag the, uh, tweaker. I mean, you know, you, it's just a whole list of names, derogatory names. And, um, it's, it's the one I've been rattling here for a second, but I gotta mention, I gotta say this. There was a video I watched today that the got me thinking about something, it was a video of someone complaining about someone else in the neighborhood. And when they ran out of things to say about this person, because everything else they were saying, just wasn't sticking, it just didn't make sense. They resorted to, Oh, you're just a bunch of drug dealers.

DEAN BECKER (08:06):

That term, you know, drug dealer that we use, when we want to send a message, a derogatory message about somebody, you know, and put that person in this place of being suspect, you label them as a drug dealer. And typically when you use that term, most people think of young black male, when you hear that term drug dealer because of the media and because of society and what we've done regarding the war on drugs. But when you really think about it, most of the drug dealers in this country are white males. Yeah, yeah. Or Mexican for that matter. I'm talking about the ones wearing suits and ties.

DEAN BECKER (08:51):
Yeah. There you go. And you, you brought up a very valid there. Neil, I want to say this, that, uh, and I'm trying to remember, was it a Haldeman or was it Ehrlichman talking to Nixon about what we have to do is go after the blacks and the hippies of the black for heroin, the hippies for weed. And we'll be able to keep them from voting in the, in jail and, and not out on the streets demonstrating and so forth. And I can say this, you said it's not always the blacks that are suspect. And back in those days, I had long hair, which meant I could drive down the street.

One of the hippies that Nixon was after,

DEAN BECKER (09:26):
And I could be pulled over in a heartbeat for no reason whatsoever, other than the length of my hair. And that's pretty much gone away, but not quite, but, um, it's just another example of how we demonize people for their appearance. Right.

Absolutely. So, and it's a good point that you made a back during the beginning of Nixon's war on drugs and the two groups of people, the blacks and the Vietnam war protesters, you know, with marijuana and then the blacks with, with heroin and maybe cocaine and you're right. You just wanted to vilify both groups of people on nightly TV night after night, and then they could do anything they wanted, you know, using law enforcement, they could do anything. They wanted to infiltrate their groups and to basically vilify them and persecute them, lock them up and put them away.

DEAN BECKER (10:17):
No. When I tell folks that you are based in Baltimore, you worked in Baltimore for most of your career. And a lot of folks ask me, well, does he know about the wire? Was it the wire real that doesn't need a valid, a set of facts they put forward to how real was Dwyer Neil?

Well, a lot of people don't think it was real, but David Simon, who is the writer of the wire, along with another guy by the name of ed burns, ed burns was a retired homicide detective in the Baltimore police department just had decades of just great information, true information, historical what David Simon did. He took about 40 years or more of Baltimore history, history, maybe closer to 50 years of Baltimore history. And he compressed it into five seasons, five annual seasons of politics, of policing, of education, of those main topics, subject matter that he used in his series. And he just took periods of time and he jumbled them around and he would put maybe one that was 20 years ago in front of one that was five years ago. And, um, the characters that were being portrayed in the wire, they were real folks, people. I knew many of them people I knew or still know, um, and the way things occur.

There's, there's not one thing in that series that I can to your listeners that, Oh, that was completely false. That was fake. As a matter of fact, for those who have watched a wire bunny Colvin, who was the Western Western district police, uh, uh, yeah, the district police commander, um, who did the drug free zone, if you might say that was actually done in the Eastern district by a, uh, district commander by the name of, uh, um, Pete France and Pete France is actually one of our speakers now for leap. Yes. So, you know, whether you're looking at car Ketty, who was a depiction of Martin O'Malley Oh my God. Spot on, spot on the other politicians depicted in the series, uh, people selling drugs in the series, the police officers in the series, man, I tell you, I can point to every moment in time, I can point to every character and tell you a story about them. That's relevant to the series of wire. So yeah, pretty much

DEAN BECKER (12:58):
That's, that's good to know. I look at it this way that the lessons being brought forward, the lessons being taught, if you will, within the wire and that are taught, um, you know, through various television shows these days, there is a lot of truth that does sneak through and, and what it shows. Is it, again, it goes back to what we were talking about in the beginning that you give these names, these designation scumbag in the, you know, tweaker and whatever to demonize these people, to make it, if I dare say easier to kick in the door, easier to threaten the household, easier to kill somebody. If they scare you, let alone have a gun or any other, uh, implement of destruction.

DEAN BECKER (13:53):
I don't know how to say this. And I don't mean to disparage law enforcement because I think it's brave men and women who commit their lives and, and, and, um, on a daily basis, what too many have become cowards and, and, and, and, um, easily drawn to, well, easily draw their weapon, easily use their weapon more so than perhaps training would allow your thought there. And, you know,

Oh, absolutely. And I think what's central to a lot of what you're speaking to is the failed war on drugs it's put is in it's very adversarial place. You know, the police and citizens in the community, you know, and again, all you have to do is look at the HBO series of wire. If your viewers have not seen it, I, it's probably on, I think it's something you can find it on HBO or Netflix or one of those streaming services. Um, you need to look at it. One of the things that

Two things, I just want to point out, number one is the policing culture that's depicted in the wire is so true. And it's so real. And it's now played out in real life in Baltimore city with the arrest of so many police officers who were a member of his gun trace task force, who were robbing people on the street corners, robbing drug, dealers, planning, guns, planning, drugs, committing home invasions. These are the police wearing a badge and carrying a gun. Um, so actually play it out on our streets. And the other thing I wanted to point out was the violence, the street violence that was depicted in the wire, all because of drug prohibition policies, the street corners depicted in a wire and used for the actual filming in a wire where the actual violent corners were drugs were being sold, where we actually had shootings in real life.

This wasn't a Hollywood set. It was filmed right in the streets of Baltimore. Doesn't look like this is Baltimore behind me, but that's not the drop. The backdrop depicted in the HBO series of wire, talking about our impoverished neighborhoods with the, the abandoned homes blocks of completely abandoned homes. And of course the violence and went with that. The police corruption that went with that, the political corruption that went with that. And, and as in the wire, all of that leads to deplorable school systems and everything else that fails within the city like Baltimore. Now I was when we traveled with the caravan for peace and we made a stop in Baltimore, and I got to spend an evening there in those neighborhoods, you're talking about the abandoned buildings in the rundown neighborhoods. And I, um, I don't know what to say other than the despair that comes from living or adapting to that situation, uh, is part of the, the moral conundrum that once you get that drug bust, you can't get a job. You can't get credit, you can get housing, you can get an education. What are you supposed to do? And, um, so many people are in essence, stuck, uh, with participating in the world's largest multilevel marketing organization, the black market and drugs. And, and we, we, we have no means for them to remove those restrictions are that burden of, um, guilt, if you will, of having been a druggie it's, it's it, it never leaves you your thought Neil Franklin.

No. Well, yeah. What you, what you were referring to and what you saw in Baltimore when you were here was really the results of a war zone. Um, the carnage of people being incarcerated, many of which returned back home, couldn't get jobs. Couldn't return to some of their family units because their families, unfortunately, many of them would have to move into public housing because, you know, when you break up a family and you send and you incarcerate folks, the income, the economic state of that family has been destroyed. So now what's left. They end up in public housing. And then when the man is released from being incarcerated, he can't go to public housing because he's restricted from going to the very place where his family is, then he can't get a job. So if he can't get a job, he can establish himself to get, to find a place to live, to bring his family.

There is this conundrum. We have all of these vacant homes. When people return home from being incarcerated, they can occupy these homes, homeless people can out occupy the home. So, you know, what I said is that your, you saw a war zone, literally a war zone, but here's what really pisses me off. We instigate become part of these Wars, all across, all around the globe, all around the world. And when we devastate a country, as we've done to many, what, what do we do? We, we go back into that country with billions of dollars and rebuild it. We rebuild it, brick and mortar. We rebuild it financially, re rebuild it,

DEAN BECKER (19:50):
Their educational systems

And so on and so on. But we've yet to see that happen in our communities here in the United States, from one city to the next, where we've literally ripped these cities apart with the war on drugs.
DEAN BECKER (20:09):

Well, Neil, you, you bring up the cities around the globe and I want to bring this up. You reminded me that my city of Houston had the Harding street bus. I hope you've heard of it. Where the cops came, kicked in the door and street clothes, um, did not have a valid warrant, were lying to the judges, were lying to everybody. They say they had an informant. They had no informant. They say they made a drug bust. I mean, I drove by, there was no drug by, and, um, I think six of the officers involved in that, uh, uh, division 15 drug squad are under indictment too for murder. Um, and, and I guess what I'm trying to say here is that that's, they're not alone, that that's not a deviation, a huge deviation from the norm. This is bound to be a representative, uh, perhaps in the extreme, but representative of all of those drug divisions, uh, not just in Houston, but around the country, because of that same perspective, you brought forward that if you can demonize the people you're after it, it allows you to your conscience to basically get away with most, anything.

It does not just, and not just your conscious, the, the community at large will allow you to treat people that you demonize that way. Right? And, uh, so hopefully we're getting to a place where people are starting to realize just what you said, that that's not just unique to Houston. It's not just unique to Baltimore. It's not just unique to Chicago. You can go to any major city and not just major cities. You can go to rural counties in the South, the same thing where they're stealing money from people through, uh, asset forfeiture, uh, programs, you know, sitting on highways or Sheriff's department, sitting on highways, stopping cars without a state tags and taking any cash that they may have by trickery, literally by trickery. You know, so it's not unique to our big cities. It's our small towns and it's our, it's our rural counties as well.

And, you know, I hate it when I hear my peers say, well, it's just a few bad apples Dean, just a few bad apples. Don't broad brush the entire policing world because of these few bad apples. I'm going to tell you something, it's not a few bad apples. The borough, the actual Apple barrel is rotten. So when he's young kids come through these police academies with the mindset that they're going to do good by people that they want to really help people after a year or two in that uniform on the street, they're just like the rest of the apples that are in that barrel because the barrel is rotten. Anytime you have these police departments and these so called good officers, sit by and watch description and watch the crime is being committed by those wearing a uniforms and sit by idly as with George Florey, you know, where the other three officers knew that mr. Floyd was in distress with showman's knee on his neck. When you have that, when you fail to intervene or fail to hold your peers accountable for the dirt that they do, you're rotten also.

DEAN BECKER (23:57):
And that was a situation where officer Chauvin was that his name was training these rookies and how to go about police business. Uh, it's horrifying to think about that. If there had not been that camera there, what would have ensued next?

Well, the whole narrative would have been completely different because the police reports would not, would not have reflected what actually occurred. Right. They would not have been held accountable as we're seeing now.

DEAN BECKER (24:31):
Now, one other thought, uh, I mentioned the Harding street bus, and I'm proud of my district attorney Kim AWD for standing forth and saying, she's going to dig down to the root of this, not just within that division 15, but within the whole narcotics, um, divisions. I don't know, I guess, or 15 or more, I don't know, but, uh, and the whole of the police department, because it was not as we were talking about not just, uh, a unique situation, it was a ongoing problematic. And I guess where I want to go next is that the, the patrol men's union was very upset with her thinking she was demonizing them and setting them up, which perhaps she is, I don't know, but it brings to mind that even for a district attorney to stand up to this malfeasance is dangerous, your thought to her please.

Absolutely. And as we deal with this issue of police reform now, um, the police unions have so much power. Yes. And it's because we've given them so much power. Um, but I'll tell you some, I think it's more of a perceived power of influence. Our elected officials tend to be rather timid or frightened of these police unions, thinking that they have so much influence to change, uh, the mindset of the average voter. Right? So it seems like all of these representatives, political representatives want to support the unions because they're looking at votes. That's what they see all the time votes. How do I get more votes? So, so do you want to cater to, you know, they want to court these unions and these unions throughout a lot of money, they put a lot of money into the pockets of our elected officials, and that's something

That we're working to change. Um, we believe it's a conflict of interest. We believe it's very problematic in our political world. Um, we're also working to change, uh, the laws that have been put in place to protect these police officers and, and their unions, uh, qualified immunity needs to change. We need to be able to Sue a police officer just like we can Sue a doctor. Right. And so this needs to change. So we're working on the influence that the unions currently have. And, um, we believe that we're going to have some success there. Um, and once we do that, I think we'll begin to see the changes that need to take place because another real problem is as we've been working on police reform, literally for decades in this country, right, it's been the police unions that tend to come out just about every time, pushing back against reasonable police reform, uh, efforts. And, you know, so our politicians are running scared, but as you said, Kim, OB, uh, God bless her. I, you know, um, she's going to do just fine. And hopefully, you know, as Kim Argh and others begin to challenge these unions and elected officials begin to see it well, they don't have the power that we think they have. Sure. There may be, they'll develop some backbone and stand up against these unions.

DEAN BECKER (28:23):
Again I remind you because of prohibition, you don't know whats in that bag, please be careful.

06/10/20 Neill Franklin

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Neill Franklin
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Major Neill Franklin discusses Law Enforcement Action Partnerships new National Policing Recommendations + Debby Goldsberry re gang rip offs of cannabis dispensaries & DTN Editorial

Audio file

Cultural Baggage




DEAN BECKER: Hi folks. I am Dean Becker. This is cultural baggage on Pacifica Radio and the Drug Truth Network a bit later. We'll hear from Debby Goldsberry owner of Magnolia Wellness cannabis dispensary, which was robbed during the police riots. But first it seems the nation is waking up to a need for change to our law enforcement mentality and implementation of these deaths of these black people in the the last few weeks and months have brought great Focus to bear on that need for Change and here to talk to us about some of the possibilities is the executive director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership of former major Neill Franklin.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Hello Neil Hey Brother Dean, Thanks for having me on the show today

DEAN BECKER: Neil we had you on just a couple of weeks back, but I don't feel like overdoing it. I noticed that for the last couple of nights in a row. You've been on CNN tonight with Don Lemon talking about this very subject. It's it's coming in focus is it not?

NEILL FRANKLIN: it really is we have an opportunity here not just bring it into Focus but to keep it in focus at a we end up with some real solutions on the other side of this thing this Dean like I said last night on Don Lennon’s show you know, we're actually getting ready. We're really getting a good look underneath of the mask of policing in America and we're getting this look of the violence the state sanctioned violence at the hands of our police.

We're getting a look at that because of the invention of video when I say, yeah, I know videos been around a while what I mean is that everyone has it within the palm of their hands now of Days, and you know here we are experiencing protest because of the racial inequity in this country at the hands of the police, you know, and of course it all came to a head with the death of and let me just say the murder of mr. George Floyd and Minneapolis, but it's not just about the death of mr. Floyd. It's Tamir rice in Ohio. It's Sandra Bland. It's it's Freddie Gray in Baltimore and you know the list Is very very very long, but it's about all of that and even even since that and we're now having these protests and police know that they are under a very watchful eye doing these peaceful protests.

We're still seeing the violence at the hands of the police and ask what the show was about last night on CNN.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, and and with a focal point or one of the points being the was it said The five year old gentleman who tried to talk to the police during a protest and they shoved him backwards and caused him to fall and bust his head open. Right?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Absolutely. So the two officers responsible for and let me say before this. First of all, they tried to send a story back to headquarters that demand just tripped and fell and that was quickly corrected because of the video. Yeah, you know II let's talk just quickly about, about the use of force continuum in policing, you know escalation when you can use excessive force, you know, when it when it is proper when it is legal. And in this case where you just had a 75 year old gentleman engaged in conversation, even if he even if it was somewhat argumentative to push him was not within the policy of a use of force continuum.

The Next Step would have been it just grabbed him by the arm gently turn them around and to Usher him in a Correction, you wanted him to go but a shove like that, which we're seeing not just in Buffalo. We're seeing it in New York City. We're seeing in other cities across the country where these officers are literally pushing people very hard so that in my mind and I think in the minds of many of it constitutes an assault when you have someone who's not aggressive who may not be following your command to move in the direction you want them to go but a show of that Force causing someone to fall to the ground.

And and hit their head in a manner which we saw that is an assault. So in addition to those two officers being fired or not fired they haven't been fired yet, but suspended without pay they need to be charged criminally and then you can fire them.

DEAN BECKER: Well and Neil and this brings to mind then that in protest, I guess you would call it 57 other members of that police task force associated with those two members that were Laid off. So to speak have now said we're quitting the task force. We no longer want to be part of this your response to that. Please Neilll

NEILL FRANKLIN: and so I'm glad you brought that point up here a couple key points here. Number one. They're trying to say that it is under the pressure of the Union this came from the the voice of the mayor in Buffalo that the union had pressured into to do that, huh? Where's your courage? Where's your courage? Who are you committed to are you committed to the union or you committed to the people of Buffalo, you know, and if you're in so to me this demonstrates to me that you are not committed to the people Buffalo as such as such just don't quit the task force turn-in your badge turn in your badge because what you are saying to us what you are saying to all the people who watch that horrific video- what you're saying is that you agree with how those officers handled that 75 year old man and the chief of Chattanooga Tennessee. He said to his people when George Floyd was murdered.

NEILL FRANKLIN: He said to his police officers if you have a problem, if you have a few if Or well they said if you don't see a problem with what happened to George Floyd, then you need to turn in your badge. It's the same situation here those 57 need to resign and from the force immediately turned in your badges because they are not committed to the people Buffalo well

DEAN BECKER: and it brings to mind one other thought and I believe I perceive this and that is that they felt that they were just doing their job that they were just following the orders those two that pushed a man down that they were just following the orders that were given to them when this process began and that to me they just Echoes what he always heard the Nazis say that we were Just following orders your response Neill?

NEILL FRANKLIN: So one of the one of the first things that we teach any new police officer any Academy, if you are ever given an order number one if its policy or number two, it violates law and of course if it violates law, it violates policy, if you're ever given an order to do either of those then you have the absolute right and authority to disobey that order and then bring it to the attention of someone in a higher authority.

So we are trained not to follow orders that are against policy that are inappropriate that are immoral that are illegal. So that does not wash and I guarantee you no one gave the order to shove that man in the manner in which they did. The order was probably okay. Let's move these people along which I still have issues with. But anyway, that's what the order was now the

Manner in which you move people along has to be in line with your policy. And again that policy would be the use of force continuum and they did not follow that

DEAN BECKER: Neil last night on Don Lemon show. I noticed you made mention of several High Echelon police Chiefs and others who have stood forth who are speaking of that need for change and I was proud to hear you mention my police chief here in Houston Art Asovedos, there are there are those who were still quibbling and quarreling and him about that Harding Street bust but he certainly standing boldly in regards to this. Racial Injustice. Is he not?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Yeah. Well, here's the thing whether we're talking about a police chief whether we're talking about a prosecutor whether we're talking about a Company CEO. No one in a place of leadership is going to be 100% whenever you know, you got to look at the totality of somebody's work and effort and Yeah, that was that was definitely a black eye a problem area for him. But you look at his his work in in totality and he's good dude.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah well and it's hard to I don't know that the drug war is a quasi religion. It's out there. It's it's pretending that it has moral Authority. But the truth of it is it's it's starting to lose its luster is it not?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Yeah it is and that's you know, I know we've got enough momentum going now in the war on drugs with the marijuana ending the prohibition of marijuana with all the harm reduction efforts were making and now with this overall look that we're going to have within our policing profession, I think and we're bringing the War on Drugs along with all of that.

It's not you know, some people unfortunately like Jim Garrett things we've abandoned, you know our fight against ending drug prohibition, but we haven't we just strategically we're doing it in a different way. I mean, if we if we move to bust up the entire Criminal Justice System, you know, what the War on Drugs is coming right along with it.

DEAN BECKER: Alright friends. Once again, we're speaking with major Neill Franklin Now retired. He's now executive director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, it's a group of I don't know how many thousand I maybe you'll feel this in here in a minute, but it's a group of current and former law enforcement officials prosecutor some legislators people who have had an active participation in our nation's law enforcement activities. I guess if you will and Neill how we had just last week of former police chief of Seattle Norm Stamper was our guest to talk about many of these same issues.

But we have I don't know the expertise the experience the knowledge is gained from all of these years centuries combined if you will of those that end leap and there is a new recommendation now put forward by leap to transform policing. Let's talk about that. Please Neill.

NEILL FRANKLIN: yeah, so we know we need a completely new policing model in this country. The current one doesn't work for a number of reasons won't get into that but

talking about Solutions and moving forward and what we have proposed, you know, it addresses a couple of things number one. What can we do immediately to start making change meaningful change, you know, one of those recommendations is to ensure that every Police Department across this country has a policy of a duty to intervene. So where we can hold police officers responsible when they fail to intervene when they fail to prevent a police officer from doing something that is excessive go Something that's against the law or against policy. They will have a duty to intervene. That's something that can be done. But with the stroke of a pen by every police chief and Sheriff across the country the other without getting into too much detail because they're quite a few of what we're proposing the categories of basically things that deal with accountability and transparency and and again gives the public the ability to look deep within our Police Department's look deep into the Personnel files and when I say personnel file,

I was I'm talking about citizens complaints and you know police officers. I'm talking about citizens complaints. I'm talking about excessive force. I'm talking about corruption. I'm talking about lying on official reports. I'm not talking about looking into their personal information but citizens have the right to know what kind of baggage police officers has and those things that I mentioned who are working in their neighborhoods. I mean, that's just common sense since being since we These recommendations out on our website and so folks go to law enforcement action dot-org and you'll see it. It's the first scrolling item on our website click on that and look at these since we put those recommendations out. Our membership is growing like crazy.

We're having a greatest increase in law enforcement membership now over the past week than we've seen in any week prior and we're certain as more law enforcement folks learn about what we're recommending as solutions that number will continue to grow of the real of the experts who are the ambassadors for the organization who go out and speak and work on policy changes and get into the nooks and crannies crannies of change we have about 300 of those folks right now, and we're very very if I might say, picky and who we allow to be

ambassadors for the organization but we have we have tens of thousands of members people who signed on in support who are from the law enforcement community and that's police judges prosecutors Corrections parole and probation and more.

DEAN BECKER: there are signatories to the release of this latest recommendations, and and I'm proud to say that I am a signatory as well you guys point out that I was a security officer in the US Air Force and and this when I saw that I had been listed it reminded me just in the past day or two, we recognize the 52nd anniversary of the murder of Robert F Kennedy and it reminded me that the night that he was killed. I was guarding a B-52 full of hydrogen bombs and it just seemed to be another slap in the face of dignity and respect and honor and possibility. Your thoughts there Neill?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Yeah. Well Brother Dean I'm old, but apparently I'm not as old as you I do remember that but I was I was I think about 6 years old. Yeah that time and I just remember it is remember my mother sobbing, you know, uncontrollably when she got the news

DEAN BECKER: Well it but it just brings to mind that we have these people with good ideas and bringing potential foward and and all too often. They're cut down lives are taken from us through the unnecessarily right?

absolutely people who are great men and women going things for the benefit of humanity. And unfortunately, we have the few out there that just do not want to see Humanity for everyone. They don't they don't want to see you know, In this is there their own individual, you know, the baggage that they carry that in many cases actually is handed down through the family their views on certain people certain cultures certain races and you know, it's this is not going to be easy. We've always had this issue of class between race and culture ever since man has been on this rock.

I would like to think that we've made great Improvement, you know over the thousands of years we've been here, but obviously we still have a long way to go a lot of work to do and it just doesn't take one group of folks. It doesn't take one culture One race one religion. It's going to take all of us to make this happen, but hopefully, you know now in this country, we're going to because of what's happening. Now, we can't let up on the pressure. We can't let up on the protest and understand protesters the one thing rioters or something completely different.

NEILL FRANKLIN: We are protesters. We are exercising the First Amendment of the Constitution and it's a reason it's the first because it's the most important for us to be able to voice our opinions to speak our opinions.

And when we feel the need to and we cant have police in this country compromising people exercising their First Amendment, right?

DEAN BECKER: Well, there it is in a nutshell and and that's what Trump seems to want to do

NEILL FRANKLIN: is what he's done.

DEAN BECKER: I was I seldom watch news these days. I just it sickens me. I avoid it but this past Monday for some reason I turned on the TV and I was watching.

And CNN and all the people gathered in Lafayette Park and I was really proud and the way they were behaving and acting and then here comes the military police and then Secret Service and I don't know the park rangers of Glory to everybody showed up in their riot gear and they were talking about Trump's going to come out and he'll probably say something to mollify things and and whatever but he may just try to push things as well. It's hard to know.

Oh and sure as hell they they had a police Riot. They push those people out of the park. They gassed him and clubbed him and shove them and every which way and many people talk about that might be the beginning of the end of America your thought their Neill Franklin.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Well, I don't know about the end of America not yet, but obviously greatly troubled however when you which I just now Reflect on something you said it was in fact a police Riot the police in DC during that time at the request of the Department of Justice who works for the president acting under the guidance of the president. They were the rioters the police law enforcement. The government was the rioter and we're seeing this in other parts of the country to you know, and I think it has a lot to do with the example that the president set in

DC with that photo op, you know now we're starting to see similar similarities with other police departments and other cities across the country as they interact with peaceful protesters.

They the police the government are the rioters.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah to all too often. I don't know. I tried to remain hopeful. I tried to remain positive and and to Present the truth and the courage to share that knowledge folks like you Neil. I don't know what to say other than we own the moral High Ground. We just need to find a better means to make use of that position. Don't we?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Yeah. Yeah we do. And again, the only way we're going to be able to do that is not as individuals.

We're going to have to do a collectively. It's going to take some organizing which we're starting to see and it's going to take a consistent long-term effort. So I hope people are ready for a very very long ride a ride that has to be done in unison and in collaboration with a lot of people in a lot of groups of people, so that's what it's going to take. So folks were asking a lot but if when we are Successful. We will also be rewarded with a lot.

DEAN BECKER: All right friends. Once again been speaking with major Neill Franklin Now retired executive director of the law enforcement Action Partnership. Please go to their website law enforcement Action Partnership dot org, and select their tab there to share the advancing Justice and Public Safety Solutions Neill Franklin. Thank you, sir.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Thank you. Thank you Dean. My pleasure.

DEAN BECKER:It's time to play name that drug by its side effects decreased sex drive, excessive milk, whether nursing or not loss of Menses, hallucination aggression depression hepatic impairment renal impairment chronic obstructive pulmonary disease sleep apnea rebound, insomnia withdrawal new feelings of depression time's up from Takeda Pharmaceuticals. They say it doesn't have the side effects of Lunesta the answer Rosem- for a good night. Sleep.

DEAN BECKER: Well folks I was just when I was out in Oakland to visit the Magnolia dispensary cannabis dispensary was not unable to purchase at that time, but I did get a chance to see the facility how marvelous it was how well-stocked it was and how I don't know just open and real it was for the patients and the people that need cannabis and here to talk about what happened to Magnolia during this time of pandemic and in this time of protesting if you will is the owner of Magnolia Wellness, Debbie Goldsberry, hello Debbie.

DEBBIE: Hi Dean. Hello pretty rough over here. Not just in Oakland. I guess all over the place.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, but let's talk about while the police were distracted while they were focused elsewhere. What happened?

DEBBIE GOLDSBERRY: Well, here's what happened Oakland fell into a civil unrest starting Friday about a week ago that night we weren't aware but five dispensaries out of the ten were attacked by armed robbers. So it was the work of organized crime people who probably had been waiting for a moment just like this. So we didn't know what happened. I'm assuming our peers were pretty overwhelmed dealing with their own situation and didn't put out sort of a warning to the others the remaining five and and Nor did the police department or the city Administration that manages the Cannabis department. So when the robbers came to our place that night we were caught blindsided. So so not only were we first we were not warned when the police had 24 hours to give us a heads-up and the regulations do allow us to board up the shop and move the Cannabis to a safe spot. We would have done that. But when the armed robbers did come the police were overwhelmed and unable to respond. So when when Robberies took place at four of the remaining dispensaries on Saturday night. There was no police response in time to stop any of the robberies and all of the dispensaries were just sacked.

Unfortunately over the next 24 hours the city fell into unfortunate state of looting and anger and cannabis businesses all across the town were looted and robbed. And again, the police did not respond to help at all.

DEBBIE GOLDSBERRY: so it was only once the city put in a You know, they put in a curfew on Sunday night that our Monday night that unrest started to calm down and we were even able we weren't even able to get into the building to boarded up until then.

DEAN BECKER: No as I understand it the meaning they didn't just take the Cannabis. They pretty much wrecked the place as well. Is that correct?

DEBBIE GOLDSBERRY: Yeah. They took the Cannabis the equipment the security systems, but we have some very beautiful Museum displays that are left and all of the creative art form Local Oakland artistic Community was left on the walls of the real Target was the Cannabis and you know, unfortunately in Oakland we have a very limited limiting permit system. So very expensive to get a cannabis business. It's very hard to get open and people who have been buying and selling cannabis and growing and Manufacturing cannabis for probably their entire careers have been locked out of the Cannabis industry. So we felt a sense of anger about the limitations of the Cannabis program, about how It's so impossible for people to get involved especially people of color. In fact, most of the permits are given two white men from outside Industries.

Sad to say and citizens left outer. I would say righteously angry about it. We're hoping that it changes a few things. Let's open up the can of cannabis industry. So people who want permits can get license and that cannabis doesn't become a beacon for institutional racism and white supremacy. If the police are going to take a huge part of our tax revenue that comes from Cannabis. Why are they doing Nothing to support us? We don't think that the Cannabis Revenue should go to the police anymore.

How about we put it into Oakland's black communities give the money to people of color and we create Equitable systems all across Auckland instead of giving it to the police department. So pretty upset up here in Oakland and we're not going to stop till we make systemic changes.

DEAN BECKER: All right then and there Debbie, I would think that last paragraph is kind of a summation of what you will be presenting to the Auckland city council here soon, right?

DEBBIE GOLDSBERRY: That's right. We're speaking tomorrow morning Tuesday morning at open Council during public comments. And then we have a hearing before the Oakland cannabis Commission on Thursday. We're really going to take testimony and find out what happened including the police failings.

DEAN BECKER: All right, Debby Goldsberry. Thank you so much. And I as I said, And I I really respect what you guys have done there at Magnolia and I guess for the whole cannabis industry

to Aims for first class and you you are certain you certainly have done that. I really appreciate it.

DEBBIE GOLDSBERRY: Thanks for the kind words. And thanks for the chance to tell our story.

DEAN BECKER: We're going to close out Today's Show with a drug truth Network editorial the demonstrations the police riots the whole friggin shooting match that oozes from our criminal justice system and now even Worldwide is based racially motivated via new Jim Crow or else poor versus Rich dominated perspectives as in the Philippines. The drug war. The belief in drug prohibition is a quasi religion with a handful of preachers some few actual Believers and yet even fewer willing to challenge the logic in public for fear of being called in essence a heretic someone to fear who might even be desirous of children dying in gutters.

The corruption is in fact sky-high. The logic of ending The Madness of drug war is preferred constantly and yet the trillions of dollars involved with the basic 50/50 split between the criminals and enforcement will perhaps last forever unless some magical day the people dare to stand together and speak the obvious prohibition is stupid and evil, where is the benefit? How is it moral? Till then?

Cops will armor themselves and stand proclaiming they are a bulwark all part of their SWAT Brotherhood to pretend forever to protect whites from the black neighborhoods. They Proclaim are so full of drugs the fear the death and the danger is all our creation crafted carefully proudly. What have we wrought, the first Eternal War wrapping it up here, please visit our website

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

06/03/20 Beto O'Rourke

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Beto O'Rourke
Norm Stamper
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Beto O'Rourke joins us to discuss the murder of George Floyd, the protests, the bigotry of centuries and how it is escalated thru drug war tacts +++ Norm Stamper former Police Chief of Seattle gives his perspectives on the never ending series of cop on black murders.

Audio file





DEAN BECKER: This is Dean Becker. And this is Cultural Baggage. We've got a great show today in this time of pandemic and protest. Let's get going. Today's guest is a beloved Son of Texas who sought the Democratic nomination for president of these United States. I want to welcome us congressmen retired temporarily from El Paso, Texas Beto O'Rourke. Hello Beto

BETO O’ROURKE: Dean it's really good to be with you. Thanks for having me on again.

DEAN BECKER: I you know, I want to talk about this covid pandemic but but first up there's something that's really anxious that's rotten. It's evil and it keeps rearing its ugly head here in the United States racism and its main maintained I think through the bigoted way. The drug war has been waged your Tweet yesterday stated quote. You deserved your breath your dignity your life.

DEAN BECKER: Now I never saw a man hanging from a tree but thanks to video phones. I see black men gunned down quite often and now I witness a man smothered in slow motion for not showing enough respect to the man. If I dare call him that with his knee pressing down on his neck slowly crushing his life your response Beto.

BETO O’ROURKE: The next president of the United States needs to use the full force and authority and power of the federal governments to reform wholesale policing in the United States and part of that reform should include something that you have long been a champion for which is an end to the War on Drugs, which has become a war on people which is essentially been a war specifically on black and brown people.

In the United States of America these no-knock warrants these presumptions of guilt of black people that cause as you may have seen the video this morning Dean police in Midland, Texas to draw guns on a young black man whose only perceived crime was not coming to a full stop at an intersection it is it is criminalized functionally an entire part of America, and it is produced the largest prison population on the face of the planet one disproportionately comprised of African Americans and Latin X communities across the country and unless the next president does that the racism that you mentioned that has been a fundamental part of the American Experience for last 400 years will continue indefinitely and and I sure hope to see the presumptive Democratic Nominee, Joe Biden make that Central to his plans for his administration.

DEAN BECKER: Well, you know, I was a big fan of yours. I was pulling for you during the run-up to the selection. I guess you'd call it and then it was Bernie, but I'll tell you what, I'm sure going to vote for Joe because the alternative is horrible to think about now in the past month the global Commission on drug policy released a major report.

DEAN BECKER: The report itself is massive. The video is impressive and I think their stances the only thing that will work to legalize drugs and starve a terrorist to Cripple the cartels to eliminate the gangs and the street corner vendors to save lives Futures and to save Nations themselves, and I want to ask you this and I is present, you know, facetious but why do we insist that criminals worldwide making easy 500 billion dollars a year seems pretty ludicrous to me. Your thoughts there Beto?

BETO O’ROURKE: It really does and you know that they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I have to think that despite so many of the racist results so much of the counter intuitive or counter intended outcomes the intention in trying to stop the sale of illegal drugs was

You know was well-intentioned. However, you've got to look at the facts and the truth and be governed by the science. And when you see as you just pointed out that criminals are making a windfall and and they're using that not only to continue to procure and distribute illegal drugs, but they're using it to kidnap and to terrorize and to subvert Justice and a purchase wholesale the police force.

Is in communities like see that what is which is my sister city to the south in Chihuahua Mexico. The pernicious results have to call our attention shock our conscience and and force us to do something far different and far better than we have already. And so, you know again ending the war on drugs ending the incarceration of any Americans simply for the crime of possession.

Breaking up these criminal networks and addressing some of the core fundamental problems that we have in America that will not be met by over policing or incarceration or the lockdown that we see of communities of color in this country. That's that's really the path forward. So I'm glad that this evidence has come out. I hope that it finds a home in the consciousness of the American public and their representatives in Congress and again.

BETO: I have High hopes for the next president of the United States and that key will be governed by science and facts and truth and not the paranoia and hypocrisy of the drug war

DEAN BECKER: very well said sir Beto. Once again, I want to talk about the global Commission on drug policy and they summarize their report with five main points and I think their first choice is just so spot-on. I don't want to read from it here. The number one summary states must acknowledge the negative consequences of repressive law enforcement approaches to drug policies and recognize that prohibition forges and strengthens criminal organizations. They go on to say sharing such conclusions with the public must then feed National debates to support drug policy reform and I would add this thought that sharing such conclusions is exactly what I have been doing for the last 20 years this global commission is number one concern for good reason, right?

BETO O’ROURKE: Absolutely, you know when we were riding Susie bird and I were writing this book dealing death and drugs that looked at the War on Drugs specifically marijuana from the perspective of the U.S. Mexico border. We were trying to find some kind of analog or parallel in American history to describe the insanity that we are living through right now and the best was the Prohibition on alcohol again, very well-intentioned at least in in some corners.

BETO O’ROURKE: The effects that It produced The Cure in other words was much worse than the symptoms that it sought to treat you embolden gangsters and criminal networks. You subverted rule of law. You had police forces and even judges and members of Congress bought and paid for by these criminal syndicates and alcohol as you well know was in many ways just as available as it was before.

Only there was no control over its Purity or anything to prevent it from being marketed alongside poison that would and did kill people who consumed it. And so at some point the American public and their representatives in Congress and the president of the United states came to their senses and into the prohibition on alcohol and and acknowledge. Look. Hey, we're not going to say that alcohol is not without problems.

Hundreds of thousands of people die every year from drunk driving accidents from alcohol abuse from cirrhosis of the liver, etc. Etc. Etc. But trying to ban it outright only creates more criminals and does nothing to reduce the demand and consumption of alcohol. And I think we're coming to a collective understanding of some of those same Dynamics when it comes to the War on Drugs. Look we should acknowledge that there are dangers, very serious dangers with with some drugs but the way that we are treating them which is essentially an interdiction and incarceration problem instead of a public health opportunity as made what was already a challenge a much worse problem. So really grateful that you pointed this out and Dean, I got to I got to say this, you know, I told you this before you and others like you who have been at this for years and some cases decades were totally Living in the wilderness in obscurity fighting a very lonely battle for a very long time.

But if you had not done that, I don't know that others myself included would have woken up to the real challenge in crisis that we face and and I think you have helped to produce an understanding that this country desperately needed and as we know it is produced some good. We now have a majority of states in this country who have in some former other legalized marijuana you now have the top presidential contenders at least in the Democratic party openly talking about decriminalization, reducing the use of incarceration for any drug possession crime. So we're making progress. We're not there yet, but it is these kinds of dialogues the kinds of questions that you posed and the kind of leadership that you've shown that has has helped to get us this far.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you for that. Beto, and you bring up something there that I try like heck to get the US attorney general to get the the State Attorney General to get some Top Dog somebody who proclaims the drug war to be necessary who thinks it needs to last forever to come on this show and tell us why and they absolutely refused for the same 18 going on 20 years. They absolutely refuse to do so, because it cannot be done and This Global commission report features the roof Drive.

This former president of Switzerland another former High Commissioner on human rights former president of Colombia president and a prime minister of New Zealand. These people have stature standing. They should be respected and their words heeded posthaste. Your thoughts are.

BETO O’ROURKE: I agree with you. There's so much for us to learn and what may have been a lonely battle at the edges of this conversation 20 30 40 years ago has now become center stage with world leaders that you just reference stepping up and demanding that you know, their colleagues and peers around the globe pay attention to this issue and take action and also remind us that this is all connected, right?

What happens in one country is going to affect the dynamic in another country and that is nowhere more true than it is in the United States, which is four percent of the globe's population, but consumes 25% of the illegal drugs that are produced on this planet. So the United States really has a unique singular role to play in this policy and it's about time that we take that lead to

DEAN BECKER: thank you sir. Now again folks were speaking with Beto O’Roark former US Congressman gentleman who ran for the Democratic candidacy for US president. Beto as a politician. I know you can may have to tread lightly here, but I admit to being shocked Beyond Compare baffled by one Donald J Trump his words and actions seem designed to destroy laws morals patriotism truth reality our nation itself. He jumps a new shark everyday and isn't it?

And his dismissal of the Watchdogs of late concerns me a lot the inspectors generally in Moss. He's done this and now installed his lackeys and that situation along with the new interpretations of Attorney General bar. Often seem like a Mel Brooks movie your thoughts there sir.

BETO O’ROURKE: yeah, you know I hope that in future Generations people will find it funny the way maybe we find a Mel Brooks movie funny today because by the time those future Generations are reading our history. They will see that we were able to stop Donald Trump in to feed him in this November's election because the alternative is is really terrifying and well very sad chapter for those future generations to read if we were unable to stop the most Lawless president in the history of this country one who wantonly undermined the Constitution and defied the understanding that no one is above the law by himself being treated differently under the law in part. Thanks to his attorney general who has become essentially his personal is personal lawyer. You know that that outcome really is up to us and I'm doing everything within my power through an organization that I started called powered by people to make sure that we stop Donald Trump and trumpism in America because we know it's not limited to just one person or individual. It's really a much larger disease and sickness in this country.

And unless it is at unless it is stopped at all levels from the presidency to the Statehouse to the city council chambers, it will end this country as we know it and our hope of persisting as the you know, greatest democracy in the history of this world will come to an end and and that's on us at The Ballot Box and organizing before we get to The Ballot Box and organizing means getting folks registered to vote and there are more than a million known Democrats just in the state of Texas who have yet to register update their voter registration in this state. It means turning people out to vote once they are registered. So, you know, it's good to vote but it is even more important to get our friends and family members and colleagues and classmates and neighbors out to the polls as well.

And then in Texas Dean as you know, this you've got a republican leadership that is Fighting tooth and nail to keep people especially Democrats from going to The Ballot Box and whether its voter ID laws or whether it's denying the ability to vote by mail in the midst of the deadliest pandemic of the last century. They're going to do everything they can to thwart a true Democratic small D response to this threat and and our challenge is to transcend and overcome that and I'm confident that we'll be able to do that.

Now. I know our time is limited. May I get one last question? I want to focus on the pandemic and I'm getting cabin fever but at my age I'm going to sit tight for a while and I would hope that you and Amy and the kids are pretty much sitting tight as well. A hundred thousand Americans are dead. I do not think that many tens of those thousands had to Die the clues were there the warnings were there the guidebook was there and to close us out the covid virus runs wild and nursing homes, dormitories, cruise ships and prisons and jails and closing nursing homes is still difficult but manageable closing dormitories and cruise ships is logical but insofar as prisons and jails, it runs the gamut from nobody gets out unless they're rich folks like Trump's buddy manafort and and there are New Perspectives growing though from this pandemic. We're managing to provide forbidden drugs like Suboxone. Tobacco alcohol and marijuana to those in quarantine and to even stop arresting for low-level drug crimes in some areas, which begs the

questions. Why don't we change that perspective all the time your thought there Beto?

BETO O’ROURKE: Yeah, you know Dean some people have referred to this pandemic as the great revealer because it is laying there so many of the divisions that have defined American life for as long as there's been an America, you know to look at Chicago for example and know that African Americans represent roughly 30% of the population in that City but comprise seventy percent of the deaths from covid-19 to see similar numbers in the state of Louisiana is to show us that black Americans don't have access to health care in the way that white Americans do black Americans don't have access to the opportunities that so many white Americans have taken for granted and not only is it immoral and unjust it is literally Really deadly and causing the deaths of people who otherwise would be with us today. And when we see these reports that prisons and jails are Rife with covid cases and and deaths from covid because we pack more people in them than does any other country the highest levels of incarceration on planet Earth right here in the United States of of America.

It perhaps should show Is that what we are doing Beyond again being immoral and unjust is just downright deadly and and maybe we shouldn't be locking people up for possession of controlled substance. Maybe we shouldn't be throwing the book at them for the third strike and maybe we shouldn't have these mandatory minimums that Define life behind bars for so many of our fellow human beings. And so I hope Dean that after what has been revealed.

BETOIn this pandemic we change in a fundamental way as a society. We've talked about some of the changes in The Superficial ones like will we speak will we keep shaking hands and we'll We Gather in the way that we have in the past when we spend more time with their family and at home, I mean all those things are perhaps important on a different level but the fundamental important profound truths in the way that we treat one another and the way in which some based on the color of their skin are denied equal.

Access to opportunity and to health and advancement and to freedom and Justice. I mean, those are the things I really do think need to change if we are going to meet our potential in our promise to ourselves and to the rest of the world and who we say that we are and I'm going to fight like hell to make sure that we do. I know you are you always have been and I think if we hold out hope based on the action that we are taking. Then then we got something to fight for and I think we should we should definitely hold on to that.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Well as we're wrapping up here, I want to just say this when I speak at Rice University or other venues, I don't draw crowds like Alex Jones or have tens of millions of fans like Hannity. I don't sensationalize myself. I don't talk of gay frogs or Benghazi, Benghazi. My main fans are law enforcement doctors and ministers and a few good politicians like you my friend Beto O’Rourke. I consider myself lucky. Thank you Beto.

BETO O’ROURKE: Thank you so much. I consider myself lucky as well. Keep it up man. Adios


t's time to play name that drop by its side effect problems. Breathing large breasts bearded women two-year-olds entering puberty decreased sperm count increased risk for prostate cancer swelling of the ankles leading to a heart attack and is up the answer from AbbVie Incorporated Androgell for low testosterone

DEAN BECKER: friends. There's a lot of I'll just be honest about it a lot of Mayhem going on around this country. There's a lot of people that are in the streets rising up to protest the death of a gentleman in Minneapolis. And then there are a lot of other folks that are criminals that are taking advantage of this situation and doing harm and here to talk about it as a gentleman a former Chief of Police of Seattle who has known in part for his During the their protest back in 1999. He's one of my Band of Brothers in law enforcement Action Partnership former police chief Norm Stamper. Hello Norm.

NORM STAMPER: Hello being good to be with you.

DEAN BECKER: Well Norm, I appreciate you taking the time for this. You know, some folks say that that I don't know that situation in Seattle was your fault and that it didn't have to go down that way but what's going on around the country doesn't have to go down this way either does it?

NORM: well, I guess my most muster up all the honesty I possibly can and tell you that I think it was predictable and inevitable so I would have to say that yeah what we are seeing had to go down because we haven't really done anything to formed the way police and Community interact at times of Crisis. It is still the police calling the shots. There is a fundamental lack of an authentic partnership between community and police and as long as you know, I'm put it this way as long as the molecules remain organized the way they are in other words, as long as the structure is paramilitary and bureaucratic and as long as the police are Basically conveying a message of where the cops and you're not and we will decide what we're going to do here. We will three years from now three months from now.

NORM STAMPER: I'll be back talking about the same issues. So if that sounds like I'm a little bit pessimistic maybe it's a function of this being Monday could be a function of the number of interviews that I've done over the years addressing the issue of the community police relationship. So I am what I'm sensing is that we're very very slow Learners as an institution. There are wonderful people in police departments across the country. There are very fine Mayors and other Executives appointed and elected all of whom who care, you know, all of them care deeply about Community Police relations and never ever want to see anything like we saw.

A week ago in Minneapolis where a police officer murdered an unarmed citizen. It's reached a point I think working for saying well, we need reform we need training. We need this we need that all of which I would not contest but we're not addressing the most basic need and that is radical restructuring of American law enforcement.

DEAN BECKER: And I would have to agree with you sir. I the I don't know and seeing that film where George Floyd was slowly killed it. It seemed to me the cop knew what he was doing. He did they were protesting to him, please you're killing this man and he just persisted. I don't know that we can you know claim or describe intent. I Don’t know how to say this exactly but it just seemed like it was a done on purpose. I don't know how else to put it and and that had think has resonated or that Vision has bounced around in people's minds all across this country. What we can be proud of I think is that there are police Chiefs. There are police officers around the country who are seeing this perhaps in a new light who are standing with and marching with those protesting these deaths that is a very good sign is it not?

NORM STAMPER: I could not agree more Dean. I think I frankly I'll have to admit to my own surprise and not shocked but definitely surprised that we've had so many police trees and so many police officers including those who represent unions Saying for the first time in my history involved in this institution that what happened in Minneapolis that we could go today was in fact murder and that police officer had no right to due to his fellow citizen what he did and so it's it's it is gratifying once again, I would I would caution that if we think good intentions are enough.

They're not we need to do the extremely difficult work of reconstituting this the system itself. And when you consider all the forces aligned against that it becomes very daunting, but I like you was very encouraged by the reaction of so many police officers across the country calling this to what it was cold-blooded murder.

DEAN BECKER: Well my friends once again, we've been speaking with former police chief of Seattle? Mr. Norm Stamper Norm we have as I mentioned earlier Band of Brothers in law enforcement Action Partnership. We try to educate and you know motivate folks around the country. It's time for a change it certainly is your closing thoughts, Norm.

NORM STAMPER: Well, I think if I don't want to turn all abstract or intellectual here, but what I would say is unless we attack the structure of policing the culture will not change what we know about structures and this case a paramilitary bureaucratic top-down command and control structure is hostile to the whole concept.

In the community police partnership and yet we continue to talk about improving community relations in improving the escalation training improving the technical skills of our officers. All of which once again is it makes perfect sense, but not unless we are willing to do the very hard work of restructuring the institution, will we see change of the type that will prevent these kinds of horrific actions in the future.

DEAN BECKER: I’m too old go to these protests. I just don't I don't want to die. But the fact of the matter is back in the day in the 60s and 70s. I was there for many anti-war protests and and that's what these new protests are really about. I once again remind you because of prohibition. You don't know what's in that bag. Please be Careful.

05/20/20 Neill Franklin

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Neill Franklin
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) is a 34-year veteran of both the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department who oversaw 17 separate drug task forces. He has served as an official representative of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (formerly Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) since 2007 + Dana Larsen is one of Canada’s most well-known and respected advocates for cannabis reform and an end to the global war on drugs.

Audio file



HOST DEAN BECKER: I am the Reverend Dean Becker Keeper of the moral High Ground in the drug war for the world. And this is Cultural Baggage. Hi folks. This is Dean Becker and boy, do we have a very positive show for you something to kick in the butt and get you going in the second half of our program will hear from Dana Larson the Canadian author and activist extraordinaire. Today, We're going to be speaking with one of my best allies in this drug reform effort. He's the executive director of law enforcement Action Partnership formerly known as law enforcement against prohibition. He's the executive director Neill Franklin is with us. How you doing Neil?

NEILL FRANKLIN: I'm good Dean. How are you today?

DEAN BECKER: I'm well as a lot of folks. Maybe don't know who you are latam a little bit about your work history and law enforcement. Will you please sure?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Sure. So I've got 34 years policing from the state of Maryland my first 23 years of with the Maryland State Police, from which I retired officially and most of my career with them was either working in Narcotics- And that's everything from working undercover all the way to commanding nine drug task force has it one time for half of the state worked a lot in criminal investigation after I retired from the State Police I was recruited by Baltimore City to head up their training and education section. 

NEILL FRANKLIN: Which I did for four years and then I have six years after that with Maryland Transit is the head of the detective Bureau and chief of Patrol. So you weren't a novice. You didn't double for a year or two. This was a lifelong commitment. Was it not it certainly was and even though I'm retired Dean.

NEILL FRANKLIN:Still working very hard in this area of Criminal Justice to the law enforcement Action Partnership where I've been for ten years as the executive director still working very hard. They're trying to write this broken criminal justice system that we have and a big part of that is the failed War on Drugs. 

DEAN BECKER: Well, that's exactly right. Well, thank you for that again. As I said, he is a learned individual we would do well to pay attention to his words. Now this one you may not have caught too much of just yesterday. The US House passed a banking bill and it's part of the latest covid-19 build which you know, hopefully go through the Senate and get signed by Trump, but who knows but what they want to do is to allow cannabis organizations dispensaries and maybe even The Growers to use Banks and credit card companies to an Essence stop much of the crime that has been associated with these dispensaries.

DEAN BECKER: There's been many cases of extortion robberies. Kidnapping etcetera because these people deal only in cash, but if they were allowed to use Banks, it would change that equation. Would it not 

NEILL FRANKLIN: absolutely Dean and actually I'm very familiar with this diesel legislation to save Banking Act leap and I we I was the only law enforcement entity to testify before Congress few months back regarding this piece of legislation, and why would be so important to pass it; you mentioned the Public Safety aspect of you know, right now these dispensaries that have been operating legally in these many states across the country. Many of them, unfortunately are working only with cash. Now, we know what happens when business owners have to operate in cash. They become targets for criminal Enterprises opportunist to to not just break into their facilities but to commit robberies
NEILL FRANKLIN: There's also another aspect that many people don't think about and that is the many employees that work for these businesses what I mean by that when you working totally with cash you pay your employees in cash and it's not very difficult to figure out when payday is, right. So you've created a scenario where opportunist criminals can just be Laying in wait for people to get paid in cash and then just Rob them either on the way home. Once they get home follow them whatever the case may be. So it's very important that we are able to allow for these businesses to use electronic banking systems credit cards debit cards and so on. It’s safer for everyone all around doing it.

DEAN BECKER: well in exactly it is now around the u.s. There are several jails, a few prisons, that are letting out prisoners now because of this covid-19 problem this this virus and this follows closely on the heels of many of them, even before this virus of letting folks out that were unable to post bail. I guess this this just shows A New Perspective perhaps a new Awakening your thought there Neill Franklin

NEILL FRANKLIN: Yeah. It certainly does it's going to give us an opportunity to make some changes that we knew needed. He made you know, when we compare ourselves to other countries around the globe we known for a long time. We over incarcerated our citizens here in the United States. We incarcerate more people than any other country not just by rate but by actual numbers and you know, this will now give us an opportunity to write some of those wrongs part of that is you mentioned is our cash bail system. We incarcerate most of our people in our local jails and in our state institutions, so now, local jails and out of detention centers when someone is arrested and we've gotten to this place where we're now requiring cash Bonds on just about everybody who's arrested. Now. This is very detrimental. We start to remember that we're guilty until proven guilty, right? 

NEILL FRANKLIN: So especially for these very low level offenses people should not have to place. It should not be subjected to cash bail if they're not a danger to society if they're not a danger to their neighbors, they should be allowed to go home. And then when it's time for them to show up to explain themselves in court they have that opportunity to do so, but unfortunately this cash bail system has been come in and of itself a huge business with a heavy lobbying arm that you know where our policymakers have kept this, you know system in effect, but now we're advocating to end that we're having some good success across the country because when people cannot Go home, their family suffer economically, they suffer and they go deeper and deeper into Financial Despair and ruin and obviously that can keep someone in a place of criminality. It can actually move someone into a place of criminality if they were never there before but you know, we've got to do something to improve the lives and conditions of their entire families. Not just them. 

DEAN BECKER: Hi folks. Just a quick reminder. You are listening to cultural baggage on Pacifica Radio and the drug truth Network. Our Guest is Neil Franklin executive director of leap. This this covid-19 even was it Paul Manford. One of Trump's henchman is has been released to home detention or something because of this this virus and yet those I have a relative who is in a Lansing Prison in Kansas.

DEAN BECKER: He's got a couple more years left on his sentence and hit you know, he was dabbling in methamphetamine provided by the Mexican cartels, but he's not getting let out and I get constant alerts from them that the prison he's in in Kansas is predominantly the one where the staff is being infected and they as they call them residents or the prisoners are being infected dozens of times worse than any of the other prisons in Kansas. It is a hello for this covid virus your thought about that additional punishment where wages here sir,

NEILL FRANKLIN: I don't have a problem. First of all with Paul Manafort being released as long as others have the same opportunity. Okay, because you know, these institutions have become Petri dishes for this virus. It's not just putting these folks who are incarcerated in Jeopardy, but it's putting the communities in Jeopardy as correctional officers go into these institutions every day to work as contractors go into these facilities every day to work, you know, once this this virus starts to grow within this this confined space where people are interacting closely on a daily basis where they can't find separation, especially in these dormitory-style facilities. Then it's only a matter of time before the virus is now moves out of the facilities into the local neighborhoods where the people work where people live who work at these facilities.

NEILL FRANKLIN: So you're putting everyone at Jeopardy, you know, when you have an opportunity to send someone home who's a short time or anyway, Send them home. As you said this this is literally like a double sentence for some folks, especially the elderly and those who are very ill within our institutions. We know what the death rate is for people over 60 years of age. It's very very high. And if you're dealing with some sort of a medical condition it doubles if not triplets your chance if you're affected in fear infected with this virus of dying as a result. It gives us an opportunity to correct a lot of the wrongs within our criminal justice system and the over incarceration of people primarily on the back of the War on Drugs, you know in this country. 
Real quick Dean over the past couple of months. We've been making tens of thousands of fewer arrests for low-level offenses across this country. Now public safety is not suffering because of that. So we're sending fewer people to jail. Well, and we're maintaining a certain level of Public Safety. So that demonstrates that we don't have to incarcerate our people to keep our neighborhoods and communities safe. I'm just hoping on the other side of this we can continue that Trend by changing policies, changing laws and just changing the way we go about our justice system rethinking some things like we were talking about with cash bail and others and because the ones who really suffer in this or the poor folks.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Our are black and brown people as we have seen historically affluent folks do not suffer. They had the money to pay to get themselves out of jail. They had the money to survive if they are arrested and charged with the crime but poor folks charged with the same offenses end up in a much dire situation.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, there are certain cities, you know, always Seattle Oakland and San Francisco that are lessening their focus, that are curtailing the number of arrests as you were indicating for minor charges be they drug related or otherwise not wanting to fill their jails with so many folks and we have situations where some countries like Portugal and now Canada and I think tied in with his covid-19 situation, they're setting up vending machines now and selling drugs to hard drug users. They're giving drugs like heroin and others to those who need it to keep them from mingling and even here in the United States. There are now providing alcohol and tobacco to some of these addicts to keep them constrained curtailed your thought their Neill Franklin. 

NEILL :So you're right. So we're we are actually seeing some changes in one of the most powerful law enforcement positions in our country. Is that of the prosecute? All right. I got to give props to the Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby. I call her a prosecutor I call her the people's attorney. And this is why Marilyn Mosby has said that she's not going to she's no longer going to charge people who've been arrested with obviously possession offenses for marijuana, no matter how much the wait she's not going to charge people for possession of marijuana. She's also looking at other offenses these minor offenses, which is no longer than be charging people with these offences. She's also a proponent of safer drug consumption spaces like like we see in Canada like we've seen in Vancouver with on-site- in other parts of Canada and other countries in your this she is definitely the people's attorney really focusing upon Justice for people and their other attorneys District Attorney's across the country who are taking the same platform in this is what we've needed for so long you mentioned some in the state of Illinois in a state of Massachusetts were seeing it. 
So we're seeing it happening now all across the country and now we just hope that we can make some similar changes and get some similar movement with our police reform Focus across the country. 

DEAN BECKER: All right, the once again folks we've been speaking with mr. Neill Franklin the executive director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, my band of brothers and sisters Neil I got one last question for you here. It's a little lengthy. So bear with me it was about a hundred years ago a gentleman named Harry J Anslinger who became our nation's first quote drugs are and he set out to start an internal drug war. He succeeded quite well here in the United States and in fact around the world now, he did this by using racial screens. I got a couple of them here reefer makes Darkies think they're as good as white men.

He also said marijuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye to step on a white man's shadow and to look at a white woman twice and bear with me. I'm he what he did follows on the US has centuries-long perspectives that started with slavery, went through Jim Crow laws and is now carried forward by this belief in the drug war which punishes blacks and Hispanics by about 4 To One or certainly much more in some areas and it is this continuation that exists that thrives of via this drug war that gave rationale and perspective and it was also boosted by Trump's perspective as well. But gave these two races. Yeah, who's the nerve the temerity to Gun Down Ahmed earlier this year. You're closing thoughts there. Mr. Neal Franklin.

NEILL FRANKLIN: So what we're talking about historically is white supremacy weather in the United States all around the globe and there's always a tool to maintain that use to maintain white supremacy. You mentioned now just talk about a couple of you mentioned racism obviously, very significant. You mentioned racism as relates to slavery. So slavery was one of those initial tools here in the United States to oppress black folks.

NEILL FRANKLIN: There's always something in place to oppress anyone who's other than white. So you mentioned Harry Anslinger and the War on Drugs how he used the prohibition of drugs to do the same thing to oppress people of color. You mentioned some of his quotes which were communicated all across this country and what I refer to as yesterday's internet and that was the newspaper where he had partnered with Randolph Hearst who was a major newspaper conglomerate back then so he was able to communicate these messages at will all across the country many people don't know that one of his very first Target regarding the war on drugs and the use of heroin by people of color was Billie Holiday and who was very famous up and down the East Coast mainly here in Baltimore as a jazz singer. It wasn't ever about drug abuse and curtailing drug abuse.
 It was about controlling people mainly people of color and it has been used to do that all the way up to modern day here in the United States now now that's changing. But then again, it's another way to control people of color by placing fear and a white populace so that you can continue to use laws and other things to oppress people of color. Oh you really have to pay attention to this. Because when we do end the war on drugs that will be something else that comes down the pipe.

DEAN BECKER: once again friends. That was Major Neill Franklin my friend, Ally, head of a Law Enforcement Action Partnership. They're out there on the web at L. EA Please check it out. It's time to play name that drop by its side effects Welling of the tongue decreased bone marrow fever chills infection nervous system degeneration confusion loss of consciousness fatigue memory loss muscle weakness numbness, tingling, seizure,speech, disturbance cancer and death time's up the answer Le vamos all a dog dewormer that has become America's number one cutting agent for cocaine.

DEAN BECKER: Well folks today, we're going to talk to a gentleman up in Canada going to talk about situation up there that in many ways is better and so far as dealing with drug overdose situations. Mr. Dana Larson is with us. Hello Dana.

DANA LARSON: Hey, hello, thanks for having me what

DEAN BECKER: Dana tell us a little bit about your background your involvement in drug policy.

DANA LARSON: Well, I've been doing this kind of stuff for about 30 years now and I opened a place called The Vancouver Seed Bank. I opened Vancouver's third medical cannabis dispensary been influential and in getting others opened, I've written a couple of books about cannabis history in Canada and a few other things, but I also do work on the harm reduction side and really consider cannabis a set of one part of a bigger puzzle of ending the whole war on drug users and one program I launched a year ago, which is going really well is called get your drugs tested and we've actually become I think the world's biggest repository of drug street drug analysis. Anybody in Canada can come by our place in person or send us a sample in the mail just a tiny little sample of any kind of street drug or pharmaceutical or or pretty much anything like that and we can analyze it with our spectrometer and we'll give them the results for free right away just takes a few minutes and it helps people to know what they're taking not just for  trying to find fentanyl. Oh, that's a big part of it as well. But also just knowing what you're taking and what you're putting into your body.

DEAN BECKER: Well, thank you for that. And that's a huge part of harm reduction. A lot of folks try to do that around Raves and other events here in the US and ran around the world. Actually now, we have this covid-19. We have a new situation that's slapping everybody upside the head and in several states in the US and especially in San Francisco. They are now sending homeless folks, locking them in well, putting them in hotels and providing them with Alcohol, Tobacco, and medical marijuana. So they're not out roaming the streets and looking for their next score. That's a good positive. Is it not?

DANA LARSON: I think those are good policies and you know, there's a lot of bad things coming out of this virus obviously, but I think there's some good things coming out as well maybe in terms of prioritizing and recognizing, you know, what's important and what isn't and and I see some cases where people who are in jail for nonviolent crimes or for minor drug offenses and probably shouldn't be there are being released and I think that that's a positive step and I think also set of ideas of socialized Healthcare and guaranteed minimum income and those kind of things suddenly start to look a lot more realistic and then Canada. There's also you know, we in British Columbia my Province for last 20 years or so. We've had every Public Health official calling for a safe drug Supply to stop arresting drug users and deal with this differently and it's all been pretty much ignored and now suddenly they it's becoming a lot more reasonable of an idea and being more accepted. We've actually got this vending machine going in Vancouver. It only serves a couple of dozen people but it's a specialized highly secure vending machine that you could put your palm on it to identify yourself and drug users are able to get access to prescriptions and their opiates through this machine and this kind of stuff I think needs to be expanded and made more available.

DANA LARSON: And we've also done similar things here to with opening up hotels and getting homeless people off the street and into a better situation and so those are all positive steps and you know, everyone's being affected by this but like a lot of these kind of social issues. It's people who are already facing other issues to tend to face the brunt of it right poor people homeless people people who use illegal drugs are the ones who really get the worst of this and need to be taken care of. 

DEAN BECKER: Well. Do you mentioned that Canada has had a more open mind to making these changes to providing support to those in need and you've been blessed in that you've had I know of a couple of senators I think one has passed now that stood boldly for that change for that recognition for that need for Change and you've had the ability there to have a more open discussion to put forward these ideas without it being just immediately slammed back down. Whereas in the U.S. We have a hell of a time to even to begin those discussions your response their Dana Larson.

DANA LARSON: Well, I think that's true. Although I think Canada also varies from place. The place just like the U.S. Does you know, I mean you're in Texas and that's going to have a different attitude towards some of these things and you know, Oregon and Washington might and here in British Columbia. I mean, it's not perfect by any means but I think there's a broader recognition that Canada should be legal of the War on Drugs is a failure and drug use or human beings and say supplies needed but you know on our neighbouring province of Alberta, I'd say they're their attitude their and their politicians anyways are much more hostile they want to shut down the few supervised injection sites. They have they kind of mock harm reduction and these ideas and and so there, you know, there's still a lot of debate going on in Canada at a lot of challenges and but you know having that because of our smaller country with a smaller population. I think it lets us get things done a little more easily and and certainly, you know, we have complaints about how cannabis has been legalized in Canada and what the details are, but at the same time, I think that many American states that happy to see Up their cannabis laws with Canada's given the opportunity but you know, this war on drug users is still supported by a lot of people despite a hundred years of failure and overdoses and deaths and criminalization all just getting worse decade after decade there still seems to be a lot of people who just want to continue this failed War instead of following, you know, what every study and every health professional really says that the criminalizing drug users creating a safe drug Supply is what's needed and will help us with homelessness with overdoses reducing addiction, ironically, you know a safer more accessible drug Supply actually reduces addiction and reduces drug use. So there's a lot of these things that people need to recognize but we are making progress of Canada. That's for sure

DEAN BECKER: now coming back to your that your thought learned that there are these vending machines that provide opiates for you said a few dozen people and it brings to mind that I think in Canada, and I know it’s happening the U.S. That doctors are now doctors are now allowing or writing prescriptions or making available take-home drugs. Whereas many times people had to you know, come into the facility to get their drugs, but they're due to this covid-19. They're allowing people to take home these more addictive opiate drugs treating them more as adults your thoughts there Dana. 

DANA LARSON: Well, that's absolutely correct. And you know, like all these programs I think it needs to be expanded further, but but absolutely people who are taking methadone.
They have to go down to the pharmacy every single day. They have to drink it in front of the person who have to then open their mouths and make sure that I'm holding it anywhere and really treating people like children which doesn't help the situation at all. Those are very expensive very time consuming for somebody to have to go down to the system where multiple times a day and stand in line and get their dose. So this take-home thing is really I think a good idea it's going to help people to be safe from covid but also just gives you more time and freedom in your life as well and not have to be treated like a child.
So these are positive steps, you know to me. I always say the compared compared to the way things really should be where we've certainly got a long way to go. But you know, it compared with the way they are many other places and the way maybe they have been in the past. I think we're making a lot of progress and these are all definitely step. steps forward to treating drug users like human beings.

DEAN BECKER: exactly right. Well Dana, I want to thank you for your time. I want to give you a few seconds here to close this out some points. I might have missed or website. You might want to share. 

DANA LARSON: Well, I mean my stuff's more relevant for Canadians, but certainly if you go to get your drugs, we actually have an amazing Archive of over 4,000 street drug tests that we've done and if you can search it all by substance or by City And you know for Canadians who might live in a different city, they've got a pill or a substance in and they can go to our website to see if it's been tested by somebody else and get some information. You know. I also opened Canada's first above-ground medicinal mushroom dispensary we focus on micro doses right now, but and I was just about to launch a storefront at the provide those as well as a program people can come and to our space and take mushrooms and a larger doses in a therapeutic setting that's been put on hold now because of the virus, but hopefully in a couple of months we'll be able to open that up as well and have Canada's people are doing this already but no one's doing it, you know publicly with their name on it and in a big way, so I'm really pushing forward on all these areas, you know cannabis is the world's greatest plant, but it's really time to end the war on all these plants and drugs and substances and the people who use them.

DEAN BECKER: I'm going to close it out with a song that's sweeping the nation. It's called dump that Trump by Rick Estrin and the nightcaps. I remind you because the prohibition You don't know what's in that bad. Be careful. Here's a pretty good slide.

Got to Dump that Trump, You got to Dump that Trump
Dump that Trump, You have got to Dump that Trump.
Ah, Dump that Trump, You have got to Dump that Trump.
Look at that creeper, he aint qualified
You know that, you know that.
You got treason, fraud and larceny, 
Man how much more you got to see?
I’m talking blue or red, right or left,
Open your eyes we got to save ourselves!
Ohh you got to dump that Trump,
Dump that Trump- Dump that Trump!
Dump that Trump, Dump that Trump! Dump that Trump.
Think he cares about you, youre a first class chump,
You got to dump that Trump, Dump that Trump
Dump that Trump, Dump that Trump! Dump that Trump.
Man, Lose that loser, he aint qualified. 
Dump that Trump, Dump that Trump! Dump that Trump.
Dump that Trump, Dump that Trump! Dump that Trump.

04/22/20 Richard Van Wickler

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Richard Van Wickler
Houston Harm Reduction Alliance
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Richard Van Wickler Cheshire County jail Superintendent & David Duffield of Houston Harm Reduction Alliance + Remembering Dr. Albert Hoffman LSD explorer

Audio file

April 22, 2020

Cultural Baggage

Richard Van Wickler


HOST DEAN BECKER:I am Dean Becker your host our goal for this program is to expose the fraud misdirection and the Liars who support the Drug War, empower our terrorist enemies and riches, barbarous cartels and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent U.S. gangs who profit by selling contaminated drugs to our children. This is cultural Baggage.

Hi folks, this is the Reverend Dean Becker. Thank you for joining us on this edition of cultural baggage a little bit later. We'll hear from mr. David Duffield with a Houston harm reduction Alliance, but first up I folks our next guest is Richard Van Wickler. He began his law enforcement career back in 1987. He's been the superintendent of the Cheshire County Department of Corrections there in Keene, New Hampshire since June of 1993, Rick as like to call him his friends is also an adjunct faculty instructor of American Corrections for Keene State College. And with that I want to welcome Richard Van Wickler. How you doing Rick?

RICK VAN WICKLER: Good morning Dean. We're doing okay, but you know this played in April we shouldn't have snow and we woke up the snow today's that's disappointing.

DEAN BECKER: All right, I hear you. Now the heck of it is we by that I mean our membership and law enforcement against prohibition. We're well aware of the Essential nature of our work they're talking about doctors and nurses and even garbage men etcetera being essential workers in this time of the covid-19 pandemic, but you can't get by without those corrections officers tending that the cells can you.

RICK VAN WICKLER: nor Can I tell you how incredibly wonderful they've been at our facility, you know when you and I speak I can only talk about our jail and our local Criminal Justice System unless we talk about a broader thing, but when you talk about covid-19 and our community the ability that these people have to go to work every day knowing the importance of what they do, especially the importance of trying to prevent this disease from getting inside the walls of the Department of Corrections is not lost on them and they work very hard on it. I couldn't be more proud of them. They've really stepped up

DEAN BECKER: well and and even here in Houston, you know, we have a massive. Civ jail, I think eight or nine thousand people in it at the county level and as I understand it, I think there are some 65 staff, you know counselors and psychiatrists Etc who now have this covid-19 and about about 50 something of the prisoners as well. It's a scary situation.

RICK VAN WICKLER: yeah. I mean, this is something we've never seen in our lifetime Dean and Hope we don't see it again. You know, everybody's focus is to try to get through it. And of course, you know, there's some unease about continuing with the strict Protocols of distancing and and you know, our way of life has been turned upside down for everybody and hopefully we can weather it without being careless, you know, and getting complacent.

DEAN BECKER:Well, one of the perspectives I've developed working with leap and it's good members is there's a phrase that you hear quite often that you mean to say. We need to lock up all these people because we're mad at them rather than because they're a threat to us and and that perception that understanding is starting to bleed out in general that why indeed are we locking up all these minor drug users? Why are we filling, go ahead sir?

RICK VAN WICKLER: Well, I was just going to say that's exactly right. I mean it was probably 20 years ago when I was appointed to a governor subcommittee in New Hampshire to address the overcrowding situation that we had in New Hampshire. And one of the questions I proposed way back in 20 years ago is we really need to look at who is in jail And why are they there because in my experience I had days where I was processing contractors who were pulled over for a motor vehicle violation and then consequently arrested for having marijuana in plain view and on the very same day booking somebody for a triple homicide and it was such a dichotomy for me. I didn't understand it. And that's when I said 20 years ago. Are you putting people in, to enforce your morals because you're mad at them or are they really a threat to the public and that's what we need to examine. That was 20 years ago.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and it does thank God is being brought more in Focus. We have this round and round and not just in Texas, but I think around the country. People talking about the need for bail for all these minor minor charges for people being locked up losing their car their job their apartment, you know Etc because they can't make these with minor jail amounts and it's also bringing the with just a throw-in. It's also bringing to bear that most families around the country do not have a reserve stock pile of cash are not flush despite all these quote tax breaks that we've been given and I guess where I'm going with this is that you know, we have to realize that we can't afford to be so Draconian anymore way what your thoughts are Richard?

RICK VAN WICKLER: Well, I think that's absolutely right. I said about this pandemic early on that. It's a reboot or a reset not only for our for our economy, but for our way of life and how we view things are quality of life these things hopefully will not retrograde back to the way we used to do things. This covid pandemic is the first instance where it was back in early March when I appeal to our County prosecutor and my medical department and I asked the medical Department look at the entire population and tell me who's at significant risk. I want to know who's over 60 years old, who has asthma, who has diabetes, who has COPD, who may be pregnant, you know, do they have a heart condition? And the medical Department gave me a list of these folks and I went to the county attorney said how many of these people can we reconsider to get out of the Department of Corrections and we were we were successful to be able to do that what I mean by retrograde is if we can do that today, why can't we do that always if somebody is not a threat to the community, why do they need to be in jail, you know, this has been LEAPs position since the beginning of time. It's been my position for and I really hope that we don't retrograde back this would significantly reduce our jail populations. It would also reduce the need for jail construction or other country. It would also reduce the need for having to hire so many Correctional folks and and let's do something else that's more productive and better for humankind rather than locking them up.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I had the privilege has now been two years ago. I went to Portugal.l I got a chance to meet their drugs Czar, dr. Zhao G’Lao, out toward some of their hospitals I had some great sit-down interviews and dinner and a couple of meals with him and I learned that you know in the more than 20 years that they've been doing this, you know there they've learned that you don't have to put people in a cage to help redirect them. They send people to a dissuasion committee and eventually maybe it works, but they never have to throw them in a cage to make that change and some folks are just determined- they're going to do drugs and they eventually leave those folks alone because because you just you just can't keep barking up that same tree forever, right?

RICK VAN WICKLER: That's true, you know, and in a case of Portugal where you know, there are program of decriminalization has worked well economically for them and in a Humane sense, you know, but the bottom line is it's still illegal. I mean if they still catch you with it and you know, there's an opportunity to do something about it. They'll fine you or something like this, you know, we need to get to a point where if this is the kind of behavior that citizens want to do. They want to Recreation their mind in a particular way and they're not harmful to other people. We need to find a way to manage that we need to come to the point in time where we realize we cannot control this conduct. So let's manage this conduct and you know would Portugal has simply said is you know, we're not going to pursue you the way that the rest of the world is pursuing you and the way that we use to pursue you are not going to do that anymore. But technically it's still not okay. It's still not okay to do and so, you know, if I had a magic wand for Portugal and the rest of the world, it would be let's not just decriminalize. Let's legalize.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, let adults make their own decisions and and let them you know chips fall where they may because it's a personal decision. I think about this that you know, another aspect I harp on all the time is that because of this prohibition. These drugs are made by semi trained chemist and jungle labs or Afghan caves there then smuggled across the countries across countries and then these days nearly always cut with fentanyl- elephant tranquilizer. If I remember right that is killing 60, 70 thousand people a year. I just hear in these United States it, It's more wrongheaded than well, it's just wrongheaded, isn't it?

RICK VAN WICKLER: Well, and we push them that way the way that our culture is designed the way that our pharmacies are designed our physicians, you know, the federal government has leaned on positions that says you can only prescribed pain medication for so long. What does the federal government have to do between a doctor and a patient and that's the first thing because when the federal government mandates that a doctor end their pain treatment at a particular time and they have to do it or they're going to face legal ramifications the person who still experiencing pain has to go where? To the illegal market, we've created that and as you say that illegal Market doesn't do it in a clean fashion at all. Let's take a look at our County for example, which is very small compared to you all in Texas. Our County only has 73,000 constituents in it. My jail can hold 230 inmates were we've been successful at decreasing our population to about 80 on average. But let's look at the statistic, which is horrible. I'm sure that your audience and you know, what a recidivist; is a recidivist is somebody who's caught in the criminal justice Merry-Go-Round and they're in jail. They're out of jail and they're in jail and they're out of jail our correctional officers and myself. We develop a relationship with these folks that is not adversarial. We're there to help and do the best that we can so you can't help but somehow become connected on a human level with these people and what's happened to us in this small community that in the course of 24 months, 58 recidivists who we've known have died- been released from jail the threshold their tolerance threshold has changed and they go back and they score that bag and they're not suicidal and they do what they think Is going to be safe opportunity to recreate their mind in the way that they want to do it or relieve their pain and they die, 58 in 24 months, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: That's just outrageous

RICK VAN WICKLER: and and and every single one of those deaths impacted us the correctional officers walk around and you know, kind of mopey like they just lost a cousin and it's not that we're you know, exceptionally close to these people, but they're human beings and when they've come in and out of our facility a few times we get to know them they get to know us we even get to know their families. We know their parents. We know their siblings because they come to visit bring them things and they're gone and and that's it's just outrageous that that many people could die and it's created from a system really that we Foster as a society in terms of you know, limiting the number of medications that Physicians can provide for treatment and what I talked to addicts, like I do all the time in our facility, you know it always Begins by treating either physical pain or emotional pain. My female unit. All the females are there for heroin use heroin addiction and 80% of them have experienced sexual assault or domestic violence and oftentimes the the first person that turned them on to a drug was probably an abusive lover or perhaps it was a friend or a sibling who was trying to medicate the emotional pain that they were in and when you sit them down and say do you want to be an addict oftentimes most of them will say I really don't and I've talked to people who got out and we're sober and wanted to make a good go of it. But because of the way our system is they couldn't get a job the way our system is they couldn't get an apartment the way our system is they couldn't get away to Transportation. They can't get anything. They don't have credit. Nobody will hire them because they have a record and so even though they're a good person deep down even though they're trying really hard at a second opportunity. Like they can't do it. So why do they go back to heroin? Because they're trying to escape a hell that we've created for them. And that's the sobering reality of the situation and until we all acknowledge that we're part of a problem. We can't solve it. And as long as we continue to think we can control it. We're going to get more of it. We have to. We have to understand it and we have to manage it.

DEAN BECKER: Wow, some wise words from my friend the now former executive director of My Band of Brothers Law Enforcement Action Partnership formerly known as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Mr. Richard Van Wyck. uh, Richard. I know you're retiring next month after 20, how many years as a supervisor of that Corrections Facility.

RICK VAN WICKLER: while I have been a superintendent for 26 years. I've been in Corrections for 32. It's a very surreal feeling for me to think that I will be leaving this business and leaving the great employees that I've been able to recruit and retain but it's time. You know, it's 32 years is a long time and 26 is the superintendent. I never really sleep. Well because in the back of my head, I'm always expecting that 2 a.m. Phone call or a particular crisis writing new policies writing new procedures directives and then of course, you know that's Personnel issues when you have so many employees you've got Personnel issues that you have to do is so rest is something that has eluded me for a very long time and I'm looking forward to catching up on some of that but I am retiring at a time when I feel good that I'm leaving our institution which I consider to be a role model for what American correction should I'm leaving in a very good capable hands and I'm confident that it will go forward and continue with the philosophy that we've been able to establish and Foster.

DEAN BECKER: Well, very good Richard. I wish you great fishing or hunting or whatever your retirement may bring for you and my hat is off to you for your essential work. Thank you, sir.

RICK VAN WICKLER: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it's always good to talk to you Dean.


HOST DEAN BECKER: It's time to play name that Drug by its side effect;

clammy Skin, pinpoint pupils, shallow or absent breathing, dizziness, sedation, loss of consciousness, nausea, vomiting, weak or absent pulse, heart failure, death, thousands in debt, time's up; designed to sedate out old elephants. This drug is 100 times more deadly than fentanyl 10,000 times deadlier than morphine a portion smaller than a grain of salt can be fatal the drug lords dream fulfilled car fentanyl.

Okay, folks once again, we're going to talk about Harm reduction specifically this time in the Houston area, but I think much of what we talk about will apply around the country. We're going to be speaking with one of their main actors if you will. Mr. David Duffield who is with us now.

DEAN BECKER: Hello David

DAVID DUFFIELD: Hey Dean, how you doing?

DEAN BECKER: I'm good. David, Let's talk about well what's going on with this covid-19 what's going on with drugs? And and I don't know the Subculture, so to speak what are some of the important factors that need to be discussed.

DAVID DUFFIELD: So one of the biggest takeaways is they projected like 60,000 people would die from the covid yet 70,000 people die from overdose every year and yet it's you know, we want to be conative that one of the things we're looking at is that lately, I mean just as a side note lately fentanyl, which is highly causes overdose greatly, especially when It's produced locally that, being added to other drugs that normally it's not there and there's an increase in overdoses. So we've had time to during this shutdown time to kind of take a look at some of the research and we're seeing major increases in overdoses from fentanyl being added to methamphetamines, which usually pretty overdose free and cocaine which is usually pretty overdosed free the is a sharp incline in that so it's kind of like if people are using you want to warn them which is what we do with our outreach is warn people what we see when we meet them on the street right now. We can't meet him on the street so much. So we're going to use your platform as a way to and I thank you for letting us talk about these things

DEAN BECKER: and they look that's the whole point that the government distributes Mis-information as far as I'm concerned and we have a situation during this covid as I understand the The borders are not so busy. The traffic is not so active as it has been in the past and that it's getting more difficult for some of these cartels to sneak their drugs in and which brings to mind the fact you're talking about the Fenton all being mixed in with the cocaine and the the meth and I guess that's that's to give it more of a boost or to stretch the product or however, you might want to put it but it's just So following the iron law of prohibition, the more constraints you put on a drugs the more dangerous they're going to become, right?

DAVID DUFFIELD: right. Well and then also it they'll locally Source it. So the fentanyl right now is being in Houston is being pressed and they even do it in storage units with these they get pill pressors. But the problem about that is that they have got the Sciences they're doing uneven pressing. And so the the fentanyl levels are very high so you can be very high or very low. They're doing it because they want to pump up the fact that their cocaine and methamphetamine is not as good as it used to be. So they're looking for other ways to make it more enticing but what that does is it crosses the boundaries were them people who normally wouldn't be doing opioids heroin or fentanyl are starting to desire it more because it's a highly addictive thing. Right? So it's just another version of our internal cartel that's been going on for a long time, especially in Texas with the methamphetamines that have been you know, so badly produced here lately. So so that's one of the things that we're doing, you know our outreach for because of the covid our outreach to the streets has been reduced dramatically. We've had to come off the streets because out there right now in the places that we use to do our street Outreach. We stand out like a sore thumb because people are not supposed to be collect, you know Gathering or out right.


DAVID DUFFIELD: So, we don't we don't want to jeopardize our standing in these places some of the places with that we do our kind of your commercial Ventures, so we try to stay under the under the radar and we feel like we'll be really exposed, now. We don't want that especially with the police we work well with the police in these areas, but we don't want to jeopardize that so we pulled off the streets.

DEAN BECKER: well and look in that to be truthful. It complicates the lives of those folks out there that are using still it jeopardizes their safety in that they don't have the The needle exchange and or the advice and and just the support that you guys bring on a weekly basis. Right?

DAVID DUFFIELD: Right, and and of course using doesn't stop because of something like this it actually probably increases people are even more susceptible to loneliness and isolation that will lead to some use, you know, unless they're doing Recreation of course, which we all support. So I mean, so we've been looking at using this time as an Outreach is Harm reduction. We're trying to figure out how we can best pick up the slack. And so we're looking at trying to get more HIV- get more hepatitis A and B, which is really rampant in Houston, A by the way, it's easily transmitted and it's the same thing going to clean your hands just like covid clean your hands. There's other guidelines that I can go over with you that we're kind of following when it comes to outreach but

DEAN BECKER: really, please David share those so this is this is a message for the folks out there that are still using

DAVID DUFFIELD: Oh, yeah, so the best thing is minimize you need to share supplies. If you're sharing bombs or pipes are joints or nasal straws. You have to be careful. You have to try to try to not share and do that. You have to practice harm reduction with your supplies wipe down the mouthpieces with alcohol swab before sharing. Are you separate mouthpieces, but using smoking and snorting injection equipment into bio buckets or people who use like plastic ties. Or something like that throw that stuff in there. We'll pick it up from you. Just give us a call. You can call our website or our Facebook page and we'll come pick up the stuff. We got rid of a hundred thousand used syringes this month alone, which is that we have picked up over six months in Houston. So we're real proud of that. They're...

DEAN BECKER: David- David share that phone number and share that website right now.

DAVID DUFFIELD: Okay. So the website is and the same thing for our Facebook page is Houston Harm Reduction Alliance and our phone number at our offices. You can leave a message for us is 832-623-7074, let us know we'll come pick up your stuff man. And we've got we're doing deliveries, so Dean, we're doing deliveries. We-if anybody calls or something, we'll do deliveries. We protect our outreach worker Casey he's doing them. He's been on it like crazy doing a good job. We maintain a lot of our stuff is do delivery and drop-offs type stuff and we maintain that and then we have our own ways to protect ourselves as we collect used syringes, but we're giving out clean syringes Narcan or naloxone fentanyl strips and stuff. We've been sharing our fentanyl strips with the University of Texas that the heroes program that does a lot of good work about because they know that a lot of people have become an back to suboxone and during this, this time that they'll be back on the street. So we're trying to make sure they check their dope for fentanyl. We're trying to get the fitness trip to the dealers as best we can but we're still picking up. So if you want us to come and drop some syringes off, all you have to do is give us a call and we'll we'll come to you we just can't meet you on the street right now.

DEAN BECKER: Well David as well as we're wrapping up here in the email you sent me. There's a point we haven't addressed as yet and like many places you guys are still looking for masks, to hand out for, hand sanitizer Etc. Let's talk about that.

DAVID DUFFIELD: So our last order that we got in everything's been back backordered. So we don't have hand side at Heiser we've got soap where we changed our Outreach where we're adding more sanitation, type stuff have pipe covers things like that, but we cannot find masks. So if anybody is willing to donate Masks, we can give to our participants to our clients. We've got some for outreach workers, but we really want to try to remote this out there and I'm telling you people they're using just don't have the wear-with all or the inclination to take care of these things sometimes so we want to help them remind them to do that. So if you have masks, hand-wipes, sanitizer that you're willing to to give to us, we'll be glad to take it in and we'll spread it out. We'll get it out to all the people that are using it we're connected to and we'll do the same and time comes we get ours and we'll hand those out to somebody else, we will pass it forward. So we're waiting for ours to come in. Thanks Dean for reminding me now

DEAN BECKER: and David, we got to wrap it up. But one more time that main website where they can learn more is


DEAN BECKER: and again folks we've been speaking with mr. David Duffield, a very essential worker. Thank you David.

DAVID DUFFIELD: Thank you Dean.


DEAN BECKER: We're going to close out on a lighter note of five years previously. He had discovered this commodity. But as of this April, it was 77 years years ago that Albert Hoffman did the first dose of LSD. The following is taken from “Hoffman's potion” produced by the Canadian film board:

----Clip Hoffman’s Potion ----

In the 1940s. Dr. Albert Hoffman discovered a substance that had a profound influence on the way science viewed the human mind.

D'Lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD

ALBERT HOFFMAN: I think there's a possibility to, to have psychedelic experience is inborn. These psychedelics very similar compounds are in our brain and all the compounds which you find in the plant kingdom. All these psychedelics also closely related chemically to these brain factors, which we already have we speak about the paradise of childhood when I have vision and beautiful experience as a child, no worry, is because we have these compounds already in our brain. There smoking and Beautiful May morning suddenly. I stopped and I had the feeling everything had changed the mood was beautiful, Beautiful green and at the feeling that I saw the world as it really is and that's the feeling that I would be included by it at the land feeling of happiness. I had never had before. If you have open eyes, you may see the world in a different way as if I mean in the, you see it as it really is; Wonderful.

----End Clip----

DEAN BECKER: Thank you. Dr. Hoffman just enough time for a presidential pronouncement.

DONALD TRUMP: I love the poorly educated

DEAN BECKER: again. I remind you because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful drug truth Network transcripts are stored at the James A Baker the third Institute, more than 7,000 radio programs are at and we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.

04/08/20 Carl Hart

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Carl Hart
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Dr. Carl Hart author of High Price - A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self Discover That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs & Socieity + Terry Nelson of LEAP & DTN Editorial

Audio file


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

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “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.


DEAN BECKER: My name is Dean Becker. You are listening to the Cultural Baggage on the Drug Truth Network and Pacifica Radio. I thank you for joining us. We do have online our guests for this evening. He is a scientist. He has written a great new book called, “High Price - A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs & Society.”

I had the honor of doing an interview with him about a month ago up in Brooklyn. I want to welcome Dr. Carl Hart.

CARL HART: Thank you for having me.

DEAN BECKER: I want to first commend you, praise you for this book. It tells a great story of a life here in America and the life of the drug war. Kudos, my friend.

CARL HART: Thank you.

DEAN BECKER: The beginning of the book kind of tells the story of a young man growing up in many ways…in fact growing away from his environment, his family and friends because of the life changes you made. Is that a fair thought?

CARL HART: Yes that certainly is. It’s a coming of age story and being a black person coming of age in the state sometimes means being caught between two worlds. I hope I did a good job of explaining that.

DEAN BECKER: You did. In some ways my transition from youth to adult was almost the antithesis of yours. I went from a middle class background kind of reaching towards working class status if you follow me. But this was the 60s – a time of rebellion so to speak, right?

CARL HART: Yes, that’s right.

DEAN BECKER: Your’s was a couple decades later I guess…your transition, your advance into the Air Force, your embrace of education, right?

CARL HART: That’s right.

DEAN BECKER: Let’s talk about the progress, the education that you have received.

CARL HART: As you noted in the book I talk about having a scanty education or poor education in high school – barely literate, quite frankly. The only reason I stayed in school was to remain on the basketball team and really didn’t see the value of an education.

Then I went into the Air Force and learned some things that I didn’t know – some things that I didn’t even know that I didn’t know. Then I found out the importance of an education, the value, the power of education. I committed myself to education just like I had previously to athletics.

In doing so it meant that some of the people, some of the things I was once in to I was no longer in to and sometimes people may feel slighted when, in fact, it’s not really about them it’s about me. Those were difficult waters to navigate.

DEAN BECKER: I’m sure. We all run into those kind of familial situations. Now the focus of the book deals with the drug war interweaving itself into life here in America, right?

CARL HART: Yes. It is a difficult book for some people to wrap their heads around because it’s a memoir but it’s also a big ideas book. It’s also a science book. It’s also a policy book – policy being drug policy.

All of those things are who I am and they make up me. I thought that the only way for me to tell my story was to talk about science, growing up in the ‘hood, to talk about my disgust with the current drug policy particular as one tries to wrap their head around the science and how inconsistent what we are currently doing with drug policy is with the science.

DEAN BECKER: You’ve done the investigation on people using methamphetamine and I want to speak on that because I had about a 2 and one-half year dalliance with methamphetamine myself. It started with the Air Force by the way who handed it out like candy in the beginning and it became “methamphetamine or life” and I chose life because too many people get caught up in chasing down those drugs and finding the drugs and spending their lives chasing drugs. I think that’s the biggest failing, if you will, of methamphetamine users.

CARL HART: One of the things I try to do in the book is point out that most of the people who use methamphetamine don’t have that type of relationship with the drug. There are, of course, people who do have that relationship but the problem for me is most of attention is focused on people who have trouble with the drug – people who have a pathological relationship with the drug when, in fact, the majority of the people don’t.

The folks who have a problem with the drug we certainly want to pay attention to that, certainly want to make sure that we help them to the best of our ability but we certainly shouldn’t be making policy based on a select group who have a problem with the drug when the majority of the people don’t.

Now that is not to say that methamphetamine does not have the potential for harmful effects to those individuals who use it but if we think about another drug that we are all familiar with – let’s say alcohol. There is 10 to 15% of the people who use alcohol who have a pathological relationship with that drug but you don’t see the society making laws based on that 10 to 15%. We tried to do that in 1919 with prohibition and until 1933 but the other 90 / 85% was like, “Hey, I don’t have a problem with this drug. I know how to use it and I’m fine. I know how to enhance the positive effects and minimize the negative effects. Why should I be punished because of that?”

In the book I’m trying to get the public to realize that’s what we have done with cocaine. That’s what we have done with methamphetamine. That’s what we have done with heroin.

It doesn’t mean that we can all of the sudden change the way we are regulating those drugs today. It means we need to change the way that we are educating about these drugs and then think about changing the way we regulate these drugs.

I put forth that we should decriminalize all these drugs first and then have the sort of corresponding increase in education and then if people want to think about legalizing all of these drugs that’s fine. But first we have to be re-educated because currently we’re talking to the country about drugs like the whole entire country are adolescents. I’m trying to have an adult discussion about drugs.

DEAN BECKER: Once again we are speaking with Dr. Carl Hart. He’s author of, “High Price - A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs & Society.”

That word there “know” – so many people think they know this truth and they stand adamantly opposed to any changes but there is much they “know” that just ain’t true right, Carl?

CARL HART: That’s absolutely right. We just have been miseducated, misinformed about what drugs do. I guess some of the most detrimental education surrounding drugs has been doled out by law enforcement and people turn to law enforcement, for example, for educating people about drugs. That’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.

What we have to do is make sure anybody (whether it’s law enforcement, or somebody like me, a scientist) we have to make sure that whatever they are talking about as it relates to drugs has foundations in real evidence. Ask people the question, “What’s the evidence to support your position?”

If people say, “Well, my Uncle Jack told me…” That’s not evidence – that’s anecdote. Anecdote, often times, are not even representative of the real situation. So anecdote might be fine to illustrate a point but please make sure that it is grounded in evidence. What’s the evidence to support that anecdote.

DEAN BECKER: It occurs to me as we’re talking about anecdotal evidence and the fact of the matter is is that not just too often but all the time the takes the words of cops and people in the criminal justice system and uses their words as evidence to continue this policy even though these people have absolutely no medical background.

CARL HART: In chapter 17 of the book I really deal with that issue because it has disturbed me as well precisely how you pointed out. Law enforcement officials don’t have any training in pharmacology. They don’t have any training in the behavioral sciences.

They are trained very well to deal with people who are criminals. Now when you’re dealing with people who are criminals…people can act bizarre in the presence of law enforcement simply because they are afraid because they’ve done something wrong and you can get a lot of bizarre behaviors.

Oftentimes that bizarre behavior is attributed to a drug when, in fact, there’s no drug on board – or there is a drug on board like alcohol. It may be that the person has some sort of psychiatric issue but drugs are typically scapegoated in those situations long before we even know if drugs are involved or if drugs aren’t involved we still say that drugs were involved.

That has gone a long way for perpetuating myths about drugs.

DEAN BECKER: There is a very current situation that kind of touches on what you are talking about. Alcohol being a contributor with other drugs – it complicates it. A recent story…a crane operator in New York (I think it was) is accused of manslaughter because he was high on marijuana and codeine.

Now the codeine was mentioned in the earlier stories but it’s being focused on marijuana now. I guess the point I’m trying to make here, sir, is whether it’s marijuana, codeine or whatever it’s blaming the drugs rather than waiting for an investigation.

CARL HART: You just described it beautifully. I don’t know the contributions of codeine. I don’t know the contribution of marijuana. I don’t know the contributions of this person’s psychiatric history. It would be nice if we could tease apart those things and figure it out before we disseminate information that’s not complete but certainly we do that too often in this society.

That’s one of the things in the book. I’m trying to ask people to be more careful, more critical because it’s not something that’s neutral when we perpetuate these myths about drugs. If it was neutral then it wouldn’t be a big deal but the perpetuation of these myths about drugs have extremely negative effects on our citizens – particularly our poor, minority citizens because it creates an environment in which the society goes after certain types of drugs (marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine) all of these drugs with such zeal. They go after these drugs at any cost to those in the communities and those communities pay the price.

They pay the price with increased arrest, increased prison sentences and also increased death. If we think about Trevon Martin, if we think about a number of folks …what the person who killed Trevon Martin thought was that he was on some drug. That’s the excuse that they’ve given. This excuse has been given often times when drugs weren’t even involved.

As long as society or people in authority are allowed to believe that drugs somehow create these monstrous effects we are going to get this excessive force from law enforcement and security officers and that’s why I am so concerned about the myths that we have perpetuated about drugs.

DEAN BECKER: Once again we are speaking with Dr. Carl Hart. He’s author of, “High Price - A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs & Society.”

I wanted to come back to the mention of alcohol. I mentioned that it complicates, expounds the problem with the use of other drugs. Let’s talk about that for a moment.

CARL HART: One of the things I try to be careful about doing in the book is I don’t want to vilify one drug for another. Alcohol, for example, we know that there are lots of crime and those sorts of things that may be associated with alcohol and things that concern us as a society.

I don’t want people to get the idea that I think alcohol use should be restricted. I think that the vast majority of people who use alcohol do so safely without problems and responsibly so I don’t want to restrict alcohol but I do want people to understand that no matter what the activity is in society – whether it is drinking alcohol, using cocaine or driving your automobile – whatever it is there is the potential for danger so we cannot be so naïve to think that we’re going to prevent every accident, every sort of tragedy. That’s naïve.

Any public policy that is based on that is not realistic and it will be wasteful. Yeah, there are problems related to alcohol but those problems are actually minimal or minor or relatively low compared to the vast numbers of people who use that drug.

The same can be said for cocaine. The same can be said for other drugs if we enhance our education surrounding their use. We know a great deal about methamphetamine’s effects that we could tell people who are using these drugs to keep them safe. We know a great deal about heroin’s effect which could keep people more safe but often times the public health message is something is that, “Heroin caused this overdose and killed this person.”

You know, while heroin overdoses are possible they are highly unlikely and they are rare. 75 or more percent of the people who die from a heroin-related death die because of the use of heroin in combination with another sedative like alcohol.

So the public health message should be screamed out, “Do not use another sedative when you’re using heroin.” If we do that we can prevent a number of deaths but we don’t do that in this society.

Instead we just blame heroin so people who are using heroin don’t know this information. Just tell them, “Please don’t use another sedative.” And keep people safe.

DEAN BECKER: You talk about in the book that there is this idea that drug users have this uncontrollable craving but you’ve conducted studies which show that to be less than true.

CARL HART: There’s this believe, for example, when you take a drug like crack cocaine there was myth perpetuated in the mid-80s that one hit from crack cocaine and you’re addicted for life and you’re only driven by going to get that drug. You have these cognitive impairments – a wide range of sort of negative behavioral effects that we have been led to believe and it’s simply not supported by research.

Data from research does not support those notions. Data from my studies as well as other people’s studies show that people who use crack cocaine are not cognitively impaired. They respond just like you and I would to various options.

OK, if you have a choice between a nice dose of cocaine and nothing – what would you do? Well, you’ll probably take the crack cocaine but if you give them a choice between a hit of crack cocaine and let’s just say 5, 10, 20 dollars or something like that they will choose money. That’s how most of us would respond.

Or if you give them a choice to pay a bill that will help your children out they’ll choose the option that helps their children out and not this sort of myth that we’ve all been taught about. It just simply not supported by evidence from research.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, it’s not a zombie-like “more drugs” – it’s not that way at all.

Once again, speaking with Dr. Carl Hart, author of “High Price.”

I think it was last week…two weeks ago that the New York Times kind of did a mia culpa (that didn’t say as much) but they were talking about the crack baby scare and how untrue that was and, once again, we have to be careful about what we know to be true, right?

CARL HART: The New York Times, like you said, did run that piece about a week and one-half ago but they had run a similar piece maybe a year and one-half/two years ago about the sort of crack baby epidemic that wasn’t.

They have been on it sort of in the past several years. That was all part of the whole crack hysteria – part of these myths that led to those awful laws surrounding crack cocaine versus powder cocaine as you know.

In 1986 we passed these laws that punished crack cocaine one hundred times more harshly than powder cocaine. In the book I clearly show why that was unfair because the two drugs are essentially the same drug. They produce the same effect but the media hysteria surrounding crack cocaine in the mid-80s made the public believe that crack was a completely different drug.

The difference, of course, is that crack is smoked whereas powder cocaine is snorted and injected. When you look at the effects no matter what route the drug is taken the effects are virtually the same particularly when you compare intravenous cocaine administration and smoked cocaine administration. They produce the same effects and I clearly show this in the book.

In August 2010 President Obama signed legislation to decrease the disparity between crack and powder cocaine from 100 – 1 to 18 - 1. That certainly was a step in the right direction but I have been arguing that it needs to be 1-1 because it makes no sense when the two drugs are the same.

It would be like punishing people who smoke marijuana more harshly than those who take marijuana via a brownie. It’s just not fair.

DEAN BECKER: No it’s not, Carl. I tell you what we have a couple minutes left here and I wanted to address the appeal that I think is in this book – the appeal to the American people, the people of the world – to just take another look at this drug problem, right?

CARL HART: Yeah, I hope, as you opened this interview, you pointed out that there was a number of things in the book. One of the things that I hope people see and I want people to see that I’m a regular person. People who grew up like me really have been punished and they really have been shut out of mainstream society. I want people to see that we have wasted large human resources by our drug policy.

If we think about what happened to my friends and the people that grew up with me (this is one of the reasons I told their stories) that could have been me. That could have been …that would have been a loss to our society.

I have made scientific contributions. I have made a number of contributions not to mention that I pay my taxes, trying to do my part to contribute to society. The folks who look like me, who grew up like me, many of the guys my age – they are not. They haven’t made those contributions because they got saddled with a criminal record related to a drug charge, related to drug possession charges and those sorts of things.

The society loses. The society loses their taxes. The society loses their other contribution and so I hope that reasonable people, reasonable Americans will see that this is so un-American and so unfair and realize that we have to do something differently.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, we certainly do. Once again we’re speaking with Dr. Carl Hart. He’s written a great book, “High Price - A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs & Society.”

We’ve got about a minute or so left here. Don’t take this wrong but you’re not my typical pot head interview. You’re a professor at Columbia University. You’ve been awarded a multi-million dollar grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Very good credentials…30 seconds – close it out for us, Carl.

CARL HART: One of the things is that it has taken me a long time to write this book and it had to be the right time and this is the right time. I have been doing this for over 20 years. As you pointed out I have INH grants and I’m on INH review committees. I had to make sure that my credentials were tight.

If my credentials were not tight no one would listen to me particularly when I am challenging so fiercely what is currently being done with drugs. I hope people will read my scientific papers, look at my credentials and see that this is a sincere plea to the American public.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Carl. We’ll be in touch. I’m sure we’ll do another interview before the year is over. Once again I applaud you for your book.

Folks, pick up a copy. Learn a little bit. It’ll perhaps motivate you to help bring an end to this madness. It’s “High Price - A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs & Society.”

Carl Hart, thank you so much.

CARL HART: Thank you and I look forward to seeing you again.

[game show music]

It’s time to play Name That Drug by Its Side Effects!

Headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, irregular pulse, skin discoloration, weakness, amnesia, agitation, loose stools, coughing, taste perversion, tremors, arrhythmia, cardiac failure and death…

{{{ gong }}}

Time’s up!

Then answer: from Pfizer Laboratories, Caduet, for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.


TERRY NELSON: This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Mike Riggs of Reason reports that The Justice Department's asset forfeiture fund under President Obama is the largest it's ever been, having grown from $500 million in 2003, to $1.8 billion in 2011, according to a new report from the GAO.

In addition to the fund's size, payments from the fund to local law enforcement agencies totaled $445 million in 2011, another all-time high. These payouts are part of the DOJ's "equitable sharing agreement," which incentivizes local cops to conduct federal raids. They then get a portion of the assets seized during the raid (more money if they contribute more resources). That money is then used to finance SWAT and paramilitary training, as well as the acquisition of military grade weapons and equipment.

Originally the primary reason police seized assets was to break up the illegal drug supply lines. Today, however, that original reason has been replaced by self-serving budgetary considerations. Citizens should legitimately ask why their local police force conducts drug raids. Is it to rid the town of drugs — or are the raids an easy source of extra income that harms innocent people along the way?

The Institute for Justice paper Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture chronicles how state and federal laws leave innocent property owners vulnerable to forfeiture abuse and encourage law enforcement to take property to boost their budgets. The report finds that by giving law enforcement a direct financial stake in forfeiture efforts, most state and federal laws encourage policing for profit, not justice.

Policing for Profit also grades the states on how well they protect property owners—only three states receive a B or better. And in most states, public accountability is limited as there is little oversight or reporting about how police and prosecutors use civil forfeiture or spend the proceeds. Federal laws encourage even more civil forfeiture abuse through a loophole called “equitable sharing” that allows law enforcement to circumvent even the limited protections of state laws. With equitable sharing, law enforcement agencies can and do profit from forfeitures they wouldn’t be able to under state law.

It is time for federal and state legislators to shut down the conflict of interest loophole that allows police departments to profit from their official duties at the expense of the very citizens they are hired to protect. As current and former officers we know that legalization will drastically reduce the crime and violence surrounding drug smuggling.

Let's spend the money on education and treatment instead of incarceration. We all want a better future for ourselves and our children.

It’s time to end civil forfeiture. People shouldn’t lose their property without being convicted of a crime, and law enforcement shouldn’t be able to profit from other people’s property.

Speaking for LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition),, this is Terry Nelson, signing off. Stay safe.


DEAN BECKER: Alright, my friends, I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Cultural Baggage.

I think it important to note as we close out todays show that never in the history of the world has there been one man with so much knowledge about everything under the sun. The only such man ever in the history of mankind to reach this level of knowledge is the one and only Donald J. Trump, master of everything that ever was or ever will be.

Donald Trump: I am the chosen one.

Thanks again to Dr. Carl Hart and his great book, “High Price” and, as always I remind you, once again, that because of prohibition you don’t know what is in that bag. Please be careful.


DEAN BECKER: 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 dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.

01/15/20 Diane Goldstein

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Diane Goldstein
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Diane Goldstein chair of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Frederick Cortes Diaz of Intercambios, Shaleen Title Mass. Cannabis Control Commissioner & Basillio H. Sepe journalist with The Nights Watch in the Philippines

Audio file



JANUARY 15, 2020

DEAN BECKER: This is Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High and you are listening to Cultural Baggage on Pacifica Radio and the Drug Truth Network.

All right friends, we are here in St. Louis at the Drug Policy Alliance Reform ’19 Conference. I am thrilled to be speaking with the chairperson of the board of my favorite organization, Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP). She has devoted long term service to her community as a law enforcement officer. I will let her tell you more about it and with that I want to welcome Diane Goldstein. Diane, how are you doing?

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Dean it is always a pleasure being here with you both at the conference and throughout the years with your work with Drug Truth Network.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Diane. Give the folks a little background on your law enforcement experience.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Sure. I spent almost 22 years working for Redondo Beach Police Department in California. I started as a patrol officer and retired as a lieutenant division commander. During that time I worked a variety of assignments including a surveillance narcotics unit for a couple of years as a sergeant.

DEAN BECKER: You were also there during the years when the transition from America’s original (moralized and feared) drug war turned in to something quite different. Am I right?

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Yes. My career started in 1983, and I retired in 2004. I really saw the ramp up of our tough on crime drug war policies and how they impacted people including my own families. What brought me to activism is that I had a brother who died from a drug overdose and I saw how criminalizing him for having a public health issue and a mental health problem didn’t do anyone any good including the criminal justice system because what he had was a health issue, not a criminal issue.

DEAN BECKER: Thank Gosh that is being recognized more and more by the media, politicians, preachers, etc. People are beginning to see that more obviously I think. Hopefully it is changing America’s perspective and means of “control” of these drugs. Your thought, please?

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: I think we continue to move many steps forward and then we take steps back. Drug policy and prohibition is such a significant problem because we continue to try to drive down supply versus really doing harm reduction and working on the demand issues where we have smart policies like drug treatment on demand, a safe drug supply, and that we actually have the ability to send people to get the help that they need and it is not coercive. As we move forward one of the big things that you will see in the United States is the drive and the move toward Portugal-style decriminalization which is really a diversion program. Portugal is a country that has sponsored a diversion program outside of the criminal justice system that is working very well. What I love about the Drug Policy Alliance conferences is that they honor people including researchers, grass roots activists, and law enforcement for the work that they do. Last night they honored a Vancouver Police Inspector who notably works hand in hand with InSite and who understands harm reduction and who most recently called for the safe supply of drugs so that people wouldn’t die from fentanyl. You see that and it makes you really think about how far we have come but we continue to move that line through legislation by changing policing and changing the criminal justice system because ultimately with the work that LEAP does is we are trying to reduce the harms of the criminal justice system on people in our communities.

DEAN BECKER: The other day I got a chance to visit with Richard Van Wickler who was one of the past chairpersons for LEAP. He was talking about how since the name has changed from Law Enforcement against Prohibition to Law Enforcement Action Partnership we have been able to attract more and perhaps a different group of supporters and speakers for our organization. What he found very important is that we have more and more cops and others who are still on the job and calling for the end of this prohibition. Right?

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Correct. They are doing it by not necessarily talking about legalizing all drugs but they are doing it in ways that because they are active duty and because they are actually working in the criminal justice system that supports the conversation and they recognize the damage that the drug war has had. One of the things that we have seen in recent years especially with the legalization of cannabis across the United States both medically or adult consumption is that a lot of the work that we did there has come to fruition because what we are recognizing is that crime has not gone up, the kids are not smoking more marijuana because of this, and there is a lot of push for more empirical research on the efficacy of cannabis. Additionally, you are seeing less importation of marijuana in particular from outside of the country in to the country. There have also been less seizures –

DEAN BECKER: A safer supply, certain.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Yes. Absolutely a safer supply. The vape cartridge issue is all based on the illicit market and because of that we have identified the bad actors who are putting bad products in to the system and we are using appropriate resources to make certain that they don’t endanger the community. You are not seeing illicit vape or licit vape cartridges having the same problems as the illicit vape cartridges are.

DEAN BECKER: This comes back to prohibition itself. When you prohibit something you are leaving control of quality, quantity, and distribution to the criminals who really have a lot less care of the health of the people that they are providing these commodities to.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: You are absolutely correct. I think it is also important to note that part of the issue with drug prohibition is simply a reflection of the public health policy and that ultimately is a chronic Substance Use Disorder issue but because we can’t adequately address them through a public health system since they are not adequately funded is we rely on drug prohibition in some aspects to try to make people safe and it doesn’t; it only makes it worse.

DEAN BECKER: That is at the heart of it, isn’t it? That we have had this dream for approximately 100 years that we were going to make it safe for our kids and the drug supplies would be safe. It was to destroy the snake oil salesman back in the early days, but we have created cobra snake oil salesmen in our current situation with the cartels supplying us wholly contaminated crap. What are your closing thoughts there, Diane Goldstein?

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: I would absolutely agree with you, Dean. I think that what is important, especially in this realm of significant cannabis policy that we are making is that we make certain that we are not just addressing the harms of drug prohibition with cannabis legalization but through social justice and equity programs as well as ensuring that we are supporting small businesses, mom and pop crop farmers, and that we are working toward expunging people’s records automatically. What I think is also critically important is that we can’t just do this with cannabis. We continue to fear that people who use marijuana or people who are in the marijuana industry are kicking other drug users to the curb. There is this marijuana exceptionalism or elitism. We have to stop that because we are not going to end the damages of the criminal justice system and drug prohibition in our society until we deal with every single drug in the same manner. Maybe we are not going to have a commodification model for heroin and there won’t be heroin on the corner but we are going to have heroin assisted treatment programs using diamorphine. We are going to base policy and have the relationship that drug users have. In Vancouver you have safe consumption sites and you have diamorphine. The cops don’t even deal with people who possess drugs. I was talking to an inspector and he said that in the last couple of years they are down to 1-5% of all drug arrests are possession. Their goal is to eliminate drug possession arrests.

DEAN BECKER: Somewhat like Portugal is doing.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: That is exactly right. I don’t know if American’s are really to adopt full legalization of all drugs but I think from an incremental standpoint we have got to minimally adopt the Portuguese model that uses dissuasion courts, public health models, and does not criminalize drug users in any way, shape, or form.

DEAN BECKER: There you have it. Diane Goldstein, Chairman of the Board for Law Enforcement Action Partnership. You can find them on the web at:

All right folks, we are still out here in St. Louis at the Drug Policy Alliance Reform ’19 Conference and I walked by the Frederick Cortes Diaz of Intercambios Puerto Rico table and I got the chance to speak with Frederick Cortes Diaz who is one of their spokesman. How are you doing, Frederick?

FREDERICK CORTES DIAZ: I am doing good. How about you?

DEAN BECKER: I am well, Sir. We know what brings you here which is outreach, learning and more but at the heart of it there is a problem there in Puerto Rico that you are trying to solve, right?

FREDERICK CORTES DIAZ: Yes. There are different problems at the political level, which is why we are trying to organize around here. We are a colony of the United States so the drug policies in Puerto Rico are heavily influenced and dominated by federal regulations so it presents a special challenge in our case because culturally Puerto Rico is a different place from mainland United States. Politically we have to operate in the same framework so we come out here to learn what other people are doing to push through the changes that need to be done for the better of our communities.

DEAN BECKER: Here in the U.S. we have had a massive increase in the number of overdose deaths, particularly in regards to the contamination of so-called opiates with a horse tranquilizer and it is called fentanyl which is killing tens of thousands of people each year because they don’t know what they are taking. Is that the same situation you are having there in Puerto Rico?

FREDERICK CORTES DIAZ: We are having it, too. We used to do drug testing out in the field just as an educational service to our participants so they can know what they are consuming and 98% of the samples we collected had fentanyl in it. Anything from cocaine, heroin, even marijuana is getting laced with fentanyl because usually they are working on the same table and there is no quality control so it gets contaminated with anything that is there.

DEAN BECKER: They use the table to mix the fentanyl in to the white powder and then they clean it but there is still some white powder which gets in the cocaine batch and then the marijuana batch.

FREDERICK CORTES DIAZ: Yes. We are even getting reports of people saying that the drug is already coming cut with fentanyl before it reaches Puerto Rico and that is pretty common in the market place right now. This is the latest iteration of this war on drugs and one of its latest, most visible consequences. Before that it was Psilocin, horse anesthesia. There was in the drug supply in Puerto Rico and that caused a lot of problems with skin dying off where people were shooting up. This is just another consequence of what prohibition means on a human scale. We think of prohibition in abstract terms of law and order and how to order society but the reality is that what we have been doing for the last 30 years is not working. It is working as it was assigned to benefit some particular actors in the political game but for our communities it is a disgrace. We see the consequences. We see the reports of people dying. We also see the reports of people getting saved by using naloxone that we have provided to them through our services. I think we are at an important point in this social movement in the United States and internationally to push through a new vision on how we should handle drugs as an issue and a topic in our society.

DEAN BECKER: Through the use of naloxone and other remedies for overdose there are cities in the U.S. where that is embraced and taken to heart and yet there are other cities where the cops say that they don’t want that in their backyard and they don’t allow it to happen. In essence they are saying that they don’t give a darn if these people die. What is the response to law enforcement on your island?

FREDERICK CORTES DIAZ: We were operating in a grey area where we were not supposed to be handing out naloxone without a prescription to people but we got ahold of it and we knew we had to put it in people’s hands for it to be effective. It didn’t make any sense for us to expect people to come to our office looking for it when they didn’t even know it existed. So we started handing it out and nobody really intervened with us but we knew that we had to push through for a policy change so that this could go beyond our small actions at the local level and that this needed to be part of a national discussion. As a result of that we got a standing order from the Department of Health in Puerto Rico saying that it would allow open dispensation of naloxone to anybody.

DEAN BECKER: Once again friends, we have been speaking with Mr. Frederick Cortes Diaz, he is with Intercambios Puerto Rico. I am looking at your website here which is Thank you so much Frederick. Do you have any closing thoughts you would like to share with the listeners?

FREDERICK CORTES DIAZ: I think it is important that we start looking at the possibility of real change when we put in the work to organize and build coalitions and to listen to the people to collectively construct solutions to the problems we are facing as a society.

It’s time for Name that Drug by Its Side Effects. Thirst, obesity, high fever, rigid muscles, shaking, convulsions, sweating, increased heart rate and blood pressure, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, uncontrollable movement, Tardive Dyskinesia, stroke, diabetes, coma, and death. Times Up! Then answer: from Bristol Meyers – Squibb; aripiprazole or Abilify for psychosis and schizophrenia. It’s probably for use after you smoke some of that high grade marijuana the government keeps talking about.

DEAN BECKER: Please introduce yourself and tell us the nature of the work that you do.

FEMALE VOICE: My name is Shaleen Title. I am one of five commissioners of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, which is the agency implementing legalization and medical marijuana in Massachusetts.

DEAN BECKER: Thankfully perceptions, attitudes, and laws are changing influx reaching towards actual positive means of control these days. Am I right?

SHALEEN TITLE: Yes, there is absolutely a change in perception.

DEAN BECKER: Tell us how it is unfolding there in Massachusetts. What is going on?

SHALEEN TITLE: We have done a lot of things for the first time and we were lucky enough to have the benefit of Colorado, Washington, and Oregon going before us and we could see the data coming out of those states as well as getting advise from regulators and I think we were able to improve upon those systems in many ways. I would say that our policies are evidence based and science based. We have a focus on equity and reparative justice for those communities that were disproportionately harmed.

DEAN BECKER: I am so happy to hear that because I have this great fear about big marijuana taking over things denying individuals the right to grow. Please tell us more about this equity you are speaking of.

SHALEEN TITLE: The concept of social equity is basically the concept of fairness when you consider that legalization is not starting from scratch. We are using our ability to regulate as a way to create fairness for those communities. I am really glad that you mentioned big corporations and reckless behavior because I think that the public health knowledge that we have trying to avoid the lessons we have learned from big tobacco are very much in line with the social equity goals of fairness. In both cases we want to encourage smaller businesses that are more focused on giving back to their communities and ensure that those that have already been involved in the industry have a pathway to becoming a legally regulated company.

DEAN BECKER: In some states it has been that those that had the experience as growers or providers and knew what they were doing got caught – they got busted – and they in many cases are denied the opportunity to be a part of the industry which they helped to create. What is your thought there, Shaleen?

SHALEEN TITLE: That is absolutely right. That is one of the things I was mentioning when I said we learned from earlier states. Colorado and perhaps others had banned people with conviction from participating in the industry and there is probably some regret there from a lot of the leaders who had to do that for political reasons. We did the opposite. Not only do we not ban people with marijuana convictions, but we actually give them benefits in terms of the Social Equity Program.

DEAN BECKER: Please describe some of those benefits. Is it a leg up in obtaining licenses, etc.?

SHALEEN TITLE: I think there should be reinvestment in general in to those communities. Our agency handles business licensing so our benefits revolve around job training for those who are interested in entry or re-entry level jobs as well as entrepreneurship training, fee waivers, technical assistance, help navigating the application and the barriers, and most recently when we were not seeing the data and results we wanted to see for our new licenses regarding delivery in particular they will be exclusively for these applicants that we want to encourage for the first two years to make sure that there is room for them in the market.

DEAN BECKER: We are here at the Drug Policy Alliance Reform ’19 Conference. It is heartwarming to me to see panels on decriminalization, legalization as well as newspapers, broadcasters, authors, politicians and so many more are starting to speak more openly in that regard. Is that happening in your state of Massachusetts?

SHALEEN TITLE: Yes. I think “serious” people are starting to see the benefits of decriminalization particularly as we look at the Portugal model and see the data coming out. We don’t see the results we want to see when we criminalize people so we need to talk more about public health focused interventions, whatever they may be. I think the benefit of talking about decriminalization is that we are not necessarily ready to talk about the commercialization of other drugs but we are definitely ready to talk about shifting away from criminalization.

DEAN BECKER: Yes. Punishment has been going on for 100 years and it doesn’t seem to have done much good, does it?

SHALEEN TITLE: It has never worked and it is never going to work. It is time for us to accept that.

DEAN BECKER: Friends, we have been speaking with Shaleen Title, she is the Cannabis Control Commissioner up in Massachusetts. Shaleen, thank you. Is there a website you want to share or some closing thoughts?

SHALEEN TITLE: Thank you for having me. You can follow the Commission at, and you can follow me on Twitter: @ShaleenTitle.

MALE VOICE: My name is Basillio Sepe. I am a freelance photo journalist based in Manila, Philippines and I was invited to attend the Drug Policy Alliance Reform ’19 Conference to receive an award for the Night Crawlers who I represent. The Night Crawlers is a group of photo journalists and journalists who have worked and continue working on the drug war in the Philippines.

DEAN BECKER: I have been following the story in the Philippines. President Duterte claims some imperative necessity to go after people who use drugs and to remove them from your society. The police are encouraged to take out poor people and people who may be suspected of drug use. There is very little outrage or condemnation and it continues with impunity. Right?

BASILLIO SEPE: The killings in the Philippines have become the new norm. When there is a crime scene it is not new to them anymore. As you said, people are saying it is not just a drug war anymore; it’s a war against the poor. Most of the people who are being affected are from the poor communities. Most of the crime scenes are in the poor areas.

DEAN BECKER: You and your fellow photo journalists and journalists hear of these stories and you get on your motorcycle or however you can get there and you take those pictures and share them with the world. Right?

BASILLIO SEPE: We started in 2016, during the height of the drug war. In my case, in 2016 I was still a student in college when I started doing coverage of the drug war. For me it was a bit of a challenge because I had to balance my time for school, for documenting, and other personal matters. Everyone has their own challenge. Some of us are freelance, some of us are with agencies. We all go to the crime scenes as a group from the police station. As the drug war continues, the police have become stricter in terms of putting up the yellow lines keeping us further from the crime scene. Sometimes we go to the morgue and from the morgue we can reach the crime scene faster than the police investigators because the police always contact the morgue first so they are one of the first responders.

DEAN BECKER: I am aware that the drug problem in your country, there is a drug problem in every country on this planet to be truthful. What would you like to say to my radio audience?

BASILLIO SEPE: We are just doing our job, which is to tell the truth and not just to Philippino’s, to you guys. The harsh truth and the harsh reality of what is going on in my country and this is the least that we could do to also help the families and people who have been affected by the drug war. This is our way of telling them that we are also here to help them by spreading the word about what is really going on and that there is something wrong with this campaign.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you for that, Basillio. Is there a website where folks can learn more?

BASILLIO SEPE: We have a Facebook group called The Nights Watch where you can look at the profiles of all of the journalists and photo journalists. You can also visit my personal website where I put all of my work at

DEAN BECKER: I want to congratulate you for receiving that honor. As a journalist, I know how important your work is and I want to thank you.

BASILLIO SEPE: Thank you very much. Thank you to all who invited us here to receive the award.

DEAN BECKER: We have more than 7,000 radio segments available at Again, I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what is in that bag. Please be careful.

Again, I remind you because of prohibition you don’t know what is 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. Cultural Baggage is a production of the Pacifica Radio Network, archives are permanently stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, and we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.

01/08/20 Neill Franklin

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Neill Franklin
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Neill Franklin Dir of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Lynn Paltrow Dir of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Christina Dent Dir of End It For Good in Miss + Joe Marcinkowski of Houston Peace and Justice Center

Audio file


JANUARY 8, 2020

DEAN BECKER: Drugs and terror, world wars forever; what is the benefit? This is Cultural Baggage, the unvarnished truth. I am Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High. Happy New Year and here we go.
All right. Last day of the Reform ’19 Conference in St. Louis and we are with a man I have been trying to wrangle an interview with since Day 1 and I finally get the opportunity. He is the Executive Director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) and he has been at this for ten years or more now in that capacity. I am with Mr. Neill Franklin. How are you, Sir?

NEILL FRANKLIN: I am well, Dean. Thanks for talking with me this morning.

DEAN BECKER: I should say Major because I think that is of importance as you retired as a Major with the Maryland State Police.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Yes. I retired as a Major from the Maryland State Police before going to Baltimore City and I was there as a Major and then promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in charge of training.

DEAN BECKER: How many total years of experience do you have wearing the badge?

NEILL FRANKLIN: 34 years, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: That should speak to you listeners out there whether you are a civilian, cop, or a former cop, etc. It is time to reexamine this policy called drug war; this drug prohibition; this mindset that it is necessary to eternally control the habits of our fellow man. I think that is being well-examined as well as reevaluated to be determined as a faulty position by lots of good folks. Am I right, Neill?

NEILL FRANKLIN: You are absolutely right, Dean. I just want to say that I was a hardcore drug warrior. I didn’t do 34 years in policing in administrative positions, most of that was in criminal and narcotics investigations so I was out there in the middle of it all. I just want to say something with respect to your mentioning that we are here in St. Louis at the DPA conference. I think back to my first two DPA conferences many years ago and I want to give a shout out to Jack Cole and Peter Christ who are the co-founders of our organization, LEAP. We were once Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and we are now Law Enforcement Action Partnership. Back then at my first conference hardly anyone even wanted to use the word “legalization” and there obviously were no –

DEAN BECKER: “L” word.

NEILL FRANKLIN: --“L” word. There were no workshops, no panels, or anything talking about legalization. They weren’t even using the word but have you seen the agenda at this conference the past few days. They are talking about legalization – and not just marijuana. There is a session today talking about the legalization of all drugs and how do we get there, what does the roadmap look like? What does post-prohibition look like, etc. That is why I wanted to give a shout out to Jack Cole, and Peter Christ for starting this wonderful organization. Look where we are now!

DEAN BECKER: You made me think back to my first Drug Policy Alliance conference was in New Jersey 2002 or 2003 approximately. That is where I first interviewed Jack Cole and he was telling me about the outlandish illegal shenanigans that the police were doing to assure they had “major criminals” under control. In the middle of that interview I told Jack of my experience as a security policeman and I asked him if that would qualify me and from that moment in the middle of that interview I became a LEAP speaker. I am proud to say that lo these many years I am even more proud of that association and of my friendship with you, Neill.

DEAN BECKER: Over the decade that you have been involved you have seen that difference. You were mentioning they are talking about the legalization, taxation, regulation, control, and all of the things that used to be skimmed over. LEAP brings a new position as well. We have so many new speakers and tools to work with, right?

NEILL FRANKLIN: We do. When we broadened our platform three or four years ago so that we could talk more about the many harms of the war on drugs that change in our platform allowed us to really reach some of our other law enforcement folks including prosecutors and cops to meet them where they are on this issue. By meeting them where they are on this issue whether it’s with harm reduction, sentencing reform, bill reform or some of these other things we are working on now it allows us to begin that very important conversation with them about the overall drug prohibition picture. It really affords us the opportunity to bring them along and educate them more on the devastating failures, and the trauma that is being inflicted on people from these prohibition drug policies and it is making a big difference. We have brought on a number of sheriffs, as well as prosecutors, Dean. We are really just getting ramped up and started. We have some judges, a couple of sheriffs, and some prosecutors from Alabama! I also have to complement our staff. We have a great group of folks out there doing the hard work as staffers for the organization and making a huge difference in us being able to do this work.

DEAN BECKER: To stay timely and stay in contact while touching all of the necessary bases, right?


DEAN BECKER: Neill, I want to come back to the Caravan for Peace. I am thinking that has been 5-6 years ago. How many years ago was that?

NEILL FRANKLIN: That was 2013.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, and we made a many thousand mile circuitous journey across America hitting most of the major cities and while there was no immediate ripple effect discerned, I think we created some under the wave ripples that have resonated around the country and the world.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Yes. I talk about that journey all of the time. I was talking about it just this morning with one of our speakers letting him know what we were doing back a few years ago. As a matter of fact, we were talking about Selma, Alabama.


NEILL FRANKLIN: I was talking to him and I showed him a picture of us marching across the Pettus Memorial Bridge during the Caravan for Peace. I explained to him what the journey was all about, where it began, and where we ended up in D.C. with an entire month dedicated to this journey across this country where we (LEAP) escorted two busloads of Mexican families.

DEAN BECKER: Many of them were survivors, or family—

NEILL FRANKLIN: Family survivors of loved ones who have been killed by cartel members and just caught up in that vicious violence in Mexico. There were even some people from some other countries in Central America on our journey. We escorted them across the country stopping in many different states. We came up through California and we ended up in Chicago, we ended up down in the south through Alabama as well as Jackson, Mississippi, we ended up in Atlanta, we went up to New York and Baltimore as many other cities before we hit Washington, D.C. It was very wonderful and impactful. People are still talking about it today and Dean, I am really sorry that we did not get that LEAP vehicle in your hands. I always think about the way we dressed up my wife’s SUV to look like an LAPD black and white police vehicle. We should have held on to that, man.

DEAN BECKER: I’d still be driving it, I promise you that. Well folks the heck of it is that he and I can laugh a little bit these days because progress is at hand and growing as we speak. It really boils down to the politicians with most of them knowing the truth but they can’t say it out loud yet. They made their bones and are trying to find a way to maneuver and you dear listeners out there, you know the truth. You are afraid to speak up at church, at work, at school, across the backyard fence. You don’t want to be stigmatized but I guarantee you that nine out of ten people are going to shake your hand and agree that it is time that we talk about this. Am I right, Neill?

NEILL FRANKLIN: It is, Dean. I am glad you said that because that is one of our roles; creating a safe space for folks to talk about it.
Three decades of policing like many of our speakers have spent more than half our lives in law enforcement at some level fighting these policies of prohibition, fighting the war on drugs, and the war on people. If we can make that change and if we can educate ourselves to understand that these policies were wrongheaded then obviously you, the listener can also but we create that safe space. If cops can come out and say it then so can you. We create that safe space for our policy makers, our elected officials, our police officers, our sheriffs, our prosecutor’s, our judges, and more so that is the importance of hooking up with us through our website or however you can and having that conversation with us and we will tell you how we can support you as you push the envelope in your community.

As Dean said, have that conversation across the backyard fence, at the kitchen table because relatives can be the most difficult ones to talk to, with your policy maker at the state/local/federal levels. We can accompany you and give you the information that you need to have a very good, fruitful conversation.

DEAN BECKER: Once again, we have been speaking with Major Neill Franklin, my friend and the Executive Director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership. Neill, we know the one website is, we have another one these days, right?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Yes. The other one is spelled out:
It’s time to play Name That Drug by Its Side Effects. Constipation, dizziness, dry mouth, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, nervousness, sexual side effects, sleepiness, sweating, weakness, agitation, irritability, hostility, impulsiveness, restlessness, high blood pressure, depression, and suicide. Times Up! The answer, from Wyatt Pharmaceuticals for depression, Effexor XR.

DEAN BECKER: I am proud to once again have the opportunity to speak with one of my stalwarts and one of the most knowledgeable people in this drug reform arena. She is the Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women and with that I want to welcome Lynn Paltrow back to the show.

LYNN PALTROW: Hi, thanks for having me.

DEAN BECKER: Lynn, this has been a pretty good conference don’t you think?

LYNN PALTROW: It’s really been excellent. It has been informative and well organized and it is one of the places I go and can count on people being extraordinarily warm and supportive of each other and me, it is a really special place.

DEAN BECKER: Advocates for Pregnant Women is a wide ranging arena because there is a lot of abuse heaped against pregnant women and they are sometimes blamed by our society, am I right?

LYNN PALTROW: Correct. One of the things we have recognized for all of your listeners out there is do you know somebody who is pregnant? Nobody would be here without somebody having gotten pregnant and given birth. Yet when we make policy we often forget or exclude the people who get pregnant. We don’t necessarily think about happens with regard to housing. If you are pregnant you start out as one person and you end up as two. Do you get kicked out when you have the baby? Is your safe injection facility ready to address women who are pregnant? At the same time we see that pregnant women are excluded still from traditional drug treatment programs and judges are still telling women in child welfare proceedings and others that they shouldn’t be obtaining the recommended treatment for opioid addiction which are methadone and buprenorphine. They are also then targeted for punishment with forced arrest, detention and forced treatments. One of the things that National Advocates for Pregnant Women does is provide legal advocacy for people who are being punished because of pregnancy. A majority of our cases involves pregnancy and drug use and our position is that no one should fear arrest, detention, or forced treatment because they are pregnant and because they use drugs or for any outcome of pregnancy whether it is birth, stillbirth, or abortion.

DEAN BECKER: Coming back to my original thought which you have extrapolated pretty well if, if a woman is pregnant and uses drugs they try to compound her problems by blaming here even more so than a guy or a women who is not pregnant that somehow they are more guilty and sinful. Am I right?

LYNN PALTROW: Everything about pregnancy is treated as sinful and then you add on the stigma and history of discrimination and punitive policies around drugs and it is really a horror show for some. Nobody gets pregnant and then develops a drug dependency problem. Some pregnant people find it very helpful to use marijuana to control morning sickness, and people get very anxious about pregnant people because they feel that they can at least guarantee health if we make them do the right thing but the fact is that we are learning and we are learning this around the high black maternal and infant mortality rates in this country that there is pretty much nothing a woman does during the course of pregnancy that has more impact than her whole life course leading up to pregnancy in terms of pregnancy outcome.
None of the criminalized drugs are pregnancy ending drugs, none of them have been found to create risks – not even harms – risks of harm greater than cigarettes. So people should back off and make sure that they recognize that everybody including pregnant people are respected and have access to evidence based care and are supported rather than stigmatized.

DEAN BECKER: What does your experience teach you? What have we learned and are we making progress and are things getting a little better in this regard?

LYNN PALTROW: What is getting better is that those involved in the work of reform of abolition, of increasing access to healthcare have become more aware of, conscious of, and inclusive of pregnant people. Unfortunately we are living in a time where the primary response to so many things is criminalization and punitive angry responses so we are not really seeing a decrease in the use of the criminal law system to respond to pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes. We fear it is going to increase and that the drug war has created a path for criminalization relating to abortion. If you can criminalize people who put drugs in their bodies than you can certainly criminalize people who let sperm in their body. The medications that are available, safe, and effective for ending abortions in clinics or at home and those are misoprostol and mifepristone. The fear is that these drugs which are perfectly safe and effective will be criminalized and the people who need them and use them and help others to get them will be criminalized building on the war on drugs. Part of my work is to help build the strength of many movements to end the drug war, to end the war on abortion. We are all fighting the same policies that promote and focus on punishment and criminalization instead of helping and supporting people, giving them dignity and recognizing that no one should be punished for what they put in their own bodies whether that’s drugs or sperm.

DEAN BECKER: All right friends once again we have been speaking with Lynn Paltrow of National Advocates for Pregnant Women. I am sure there is a lot of information out there on the web. Would you like to point folks to your site?

LYNN PALTROW: Yes. On the web:, @NAPW is our Twitter handle, and we have a Facebook page as well. We have a lot of information there and information that should help people who are challenging not only criminalization but also the gross, horrific misuse of the child welfare or better understood as the child apprehension system. No parent should fear that their newborn or children are going to be taken away based on a drug test. A drug test cannot tell you whether somebody parents well, whether they love their children and prioritize them and make sure their children are safe and fed yet all across the country drug tests are used as a substitute or as if they are a test for parenting ability. We must all join together to fight that and to focus on keeping families together. National Advocates for Pregnant Women works in the crosshairs of the war on drugs and the war on abortion and part of that work is representing women who become pregnant and who may have a serious drug problem or just use drugs and end up arrested. By bringing the war on drugs to women’s wombs you transform drug use in to child abuse – with the child being the fetus inside and the abuse using a drug or having a drug dependency problem and usually having a drug dependency problem and seeking help and not being able to get it. One of the things I have learned and thought a great deal about as a result of coming to the Drug Policy Alliance conference and others is what the point of prohibition is. When we prohibited people from drinking alcohol they still drank. When we prohibit people from using drugs or possessing them they still use them. When abortion was illegal before 1973, it is estimated that 200,000 to a million women each year got abortions. When lawmakers pass laws that prohibit things that are natural and fundamental to human behavior they already know it is not going to work, so why do they do it? They do it because they know they can enforce it selectively to control certain communities and particularly those that disagree with them and might challenge their power. We have to understand that prohibition and criminalization is not about protecting anyone’s health, safety, or wellbeing except for the people who passed the laws in the first place.

FEMALE VOICE: I am Christina Dent and I am the President and Founder of End it For Good, which is a conservative nonprofit working in Mississippi working to invite people to change their minds on drug legalization. We advocate for a legal, regulated market for all drugs which is the same thing as shifting from a criminal approach to drugs to a health based approach to drugs.

DEAN BECKER: Right. I understand there is a bit of faith based perspective involved in this. Am I right?

CHRISTINA DENT: Yes. I am an evangelical Christian and I am politically conservative. I have changed my mind on this issue and I think it is absolutely compatible with the Christian world view, with a politically conservative stance and am really hopeful that people can see just the amount of harm that our criminal approach to drugs is doing. Certainly drugs can have harms themselves in people’s lives but criminalizing them explodes that harm in numerous ways to individuals, families, and communities and it is just not consistent with the values that I have. Once I changed my mind on how we should approach drugs I eventually decided I wanted to do this and I work at it full time because I think it is such a big issue that has so much of a cascading effect that impacts all of society. The more I learned about it, the more I realize that it impacts almost every aspect of our lives and particularly people who are vulnerable.
The more vulnerable you are, the more deeply it impacts you. For somebody like me is college educated, not particularly vulnerable and don’t have that experience it impacts me – there is crime in my city that is created by the drug war. I have friends who have lost children to overdoses that would still be alive if we did not have substances on the street that are unregulated and contaminated.

My husband and I were foster parents, which is how I got interested in this issue about five years ago. I met a woman named Joanne who was the mom of one of the children that we fostered and I did not know anything about drugs or addiction at that time. I just thought people who used drugs while they were pregnant must not love their children until I met one of those women. As I got to know her, I saw in her a mom who loves her son just as much as I love my three sons. That deeply shook me because I knew that we were putting people like Joann in prison every single day in Mississippi, and across the nation. When I could see that that was the absolutely wrong approach for her I realized that we are destroying families by what we are doing and that got me interested in learning more. It was a really stressful process changing our minds rethinking how it affects all of the other beliefs that I have and on the other side of that I feel like being in this position is more consistent with my values as a Christian and someone who is conservative and prolife. Once I understood the issue I realized that there are thousands of people dying unnecessarily which goes against my value of every human life. There is massive amounts of crime in communities and it just does not have to be that way and it is being driven by the drug war. So now I work with people on considering changing their minds. I can’t change anybody’s mind but I can offer them the safety and a place where they can explore and get curious about whether or not we are wrong.

DEAN BECKER: Friends we have been speaking with Christina Dent, she is out of Ridgeland, Mississippi. How might folks get in touch with you, Christina?

CHRISTINA DENT: We have a podcast every two weeks called the End it For Good that can be found on ITunes. Our website: You can sign up for our newsletter which has in-person events that we host all over Mississippi, and we have a Facebook page where we share all kinds of content that is also shareable. We want to provide the kind of content that helps people get curious as well as helping people to spread this message to their contacts who currently support the drug war. Our goal is to help more people change their minds and we feel like that is the best way to develop and change policy because the fewer people that want to continue doing what we are currently doing, the faster we can move in a direction that actually saves lives and helps people improve their lives.

MALE VOICE: Yes, I am Joe Marcinkowski and I am the Chair of the Military Foreign Policy Workgroup with Houston Peace and Justice Center. I am also with the Foreign Policy Alliance.

DEAN BECKER: Joe, recently the Houston group held a protest here in town with dozens if not hundreds of similar protests around the country. Many of them are standing tall in particular because of President Trump’s supposed desire to tweak the nose of the Iranian government and perhaps lead us in to war. Is that a fair assumption, Sir?

JOE MARCINKOWSKI: Yes. I think what you said is absolutely right. We did have a rally with a number of speakers at Discovery Green on the 5th with about 300 – 500 people in attendance. I had an opportunity to speak as well. I think one of the problems with Trump’s argument that General Soleimani is a terrorist is that he was invited in to Iraq by the Prime Minister of Iraq to discuss a possible peace discussion with Saudi Arabia. He came in on a commercial flight, passed through customs with his state department passport and was probably blown up along with a very important Iraqi officer named (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

DEAN BECKER: Joe, this seemed to me to be in essence nothing but a setup. He was invited with the knowledge and awareness of the U.S. Government to make that flight to Iraq and then he was blown to smithereens.

JOE MARCINKOWSKI: That is absolutely right. You can go on the internet and find pictures where Gen. Soleimani is working with American troops to fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Certain individuals in our government have convinced Trump that this is the way he should go and I don’t understand it at all because it is madness and it is against everything he has always said. Now he is in a situation that I don’t know how the hell he is going to get out of and it could be very bad for us.

DEAN BECKER: All right, Joe. It has been good talking with you. Please update folks on how they can participate in the forthcoming rally.

JOE MARCINKOWSKI: Come to the next DSA meeting this Thursday. It is going to be at the Harris County AFL/CIO Council at 2506 Sutherland Street which is right off of Wayside.
DEAN BECKER: To those listening around the country please find out how you can participate in stopping the war in your city. It is important to participate and become a full citizen now more than ever before.

Again, I remind you because of prohibition you don’t know what is 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. Cultural Baggage is a production of the Pacifica Radio Network, archives are permanently stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, and we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.

01/01/20 Inge Fryklund

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Inge Fryklund
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Inge Fryklund board member of Law Enforcement Action Partnership & David Borden of Stop the Drug War / DRCNET + DTN Editorial for New Year

Audio file



JANUARY 1, 2020

DEAN BECKER: I am Dean Becker, our goal for this program is to expose the fraud, misdirection, and the liars who support the drug war which empowers our terrorist enemies, enriches barbarous cartels, and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent U.S. gangs who profit by selling contaminated drugs to our children. This is Cultural Baggage.
DEAN BECKER: Hi folks I am Dean Becker the Reverend Most High this is Cultural Baggage, thank you for being with us. This is our New Year show with hope for the coming year for progress, for change, for sanity. Here we go.
FEMALE VOICE: Hello. My name is Inge Fryklund, I am a lawyer. Back in the 80s I was a Cook County, Illinois (Chicago) Assistant States Attorney prosecuting drug cases among other things. I then spent about a decade overseas including five years in Afghanistan and saw the disaster that we have made of that country by insisting that their main cash crop which of opium poppy be illegal. It has led to massive corruption within that country. Now I am semi-retired and living in Oregon. I worked on a legalization campaign there a couple of years ago.
DEAN BECKER: Inge, I think we are leaving out one important fact. We are here at the Drug Policy Alliance Reform ’19 gathering. You are one of the speakers that sits at the Law Enforcement Action Partnership table inviting others to learn about LEAP, perhaps to get on the mailing list, and to learn what they can do to invite our speakers to their conferences, their meetings to enlighten and hopefully embolden their community to help end this madness of drug war. Is that a fair summation?
INGE FRYKLUND: Yes, that’s correct. For I think four years now I have been on the board of directors of Law Enforcement Action Partnership which is an organization of current and former police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, sheriffs; people who have seen the drug war from the prosecution end of it and saw how much damage it caused and are now trying to stop the war on drugs. We have something like 1,400 speakers around the country. We find that people with this kind of credibility are usually very good at talking with city councils, police organizations because we have the credibility and we understand what life is like if you are a prosecutor or police officer.
DEAN BECKER: I would say, too, that you had the firsthand experience and knowledge of the futility and the failing of this drug war. Correct?
INGE FRYKLUND: Oh, absolutely. When I was first in a Cook County courtroom many years ago we would see the same people coming in to court day after day. Usually it was something like a marijuana conviction and I would look at the rap sheet, which might be pages of these and you knew that that person was never going to get a job in the legitimate economy. All we were doing was making things worse and cycling them back in to a street economy where drug dealing was likely to be their only option. We’ve cut them out of everything else. I also noticed that even though I knew that drug use of all varieties is pretty similar across racial groups; almost everybody who got hauled in to court was either black or brown. So a combination of the futility of it and the racial disparities is when I started thinking that we are making a big mistake here and of course also being from Chicago, I certainly knew all the stories of prohibition of alcohol and Al Capone. When there is something that people want and it is made illegal the natural and inevitable consequence is that there is going to be crime and corruption and the day that prohibition of alcohol was repealed in 1933, Al Capone’s outfit lost market share. They were no longer needed to enforce the deals for alcohol. All of the beer dealers went back to suing each other in circuit court of Cook County and they quit shooting. So much of the violence that we are seeing is a direct result of illegality.
DEAN BECKER: This is so true. We have this situation now as you indicated in Chicago where I would think it is ten times worse than it was under Al Capone with the daily shootings, the revenge shootings and the continual disruption of these neighborhoods to ensure one gang sells their drugs over another I suppose. It is a constant battle with gun fire every night and deaths every week, is there not?
INGE FRYKLUND: Yes. Though it actually is not as bad as it was back in the 80s when I was a prosecutor. We were running about 900 murders a year. I think it is 600 – 700 now which sounds terrible but it is actually an improvement. As you pointed out, most of these are simply business disputes over the territory for sales and if your business is illegal you can’t turn to the courts to enforce your distribution agreements. All you can do with an illegal economy with the self-enforcement is to start shooting and kids are getting themselves in the crossfire. At least Illinois is moving in the direction of legalization but it is going to be a long time for them to dig their way out of this hole because once these groups have gotten entrenched and you have a bunch of adults who have no other experience, though now maybe they will put more of their efforts in to hard drugs, prostitution, and gun running. Just like so much of the mafia in this country; it goes back to prohibition days.
DEAN BECKER: That is where they got their start. I had the chance to interview Anthony Placido about 10 -12 years ago and he was the Assistant Director of the DEA, something to that affect. He told me that they had done an approximation since there is no way to do this very specifically but they determined at that time that it was 370 billion dollars a year that flow in to the pockets of terrorists brave enough to grow flowers in to the pockets of these barbarous cartels in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras and in to the pockets of thousands of U.S. gangs who profit by selling these contaminated drugs to our children. I have heard now that it is closer to 500 billion dollars a year. There is no way that we are going to stop that market from existing through prohibition laws, is there?
INGE FRYKLUND: Well we are not going to stop a market in marijuana, and why should we any more than we want to stop a market in alcohol. Think of all of the craft beer businesses that have sprung up around the country like in my state of Oregon where our main business seems to be selling beer to each other. So yes, there is always going to be a market for it but by taking the illegality away you are taking the business and the market share away from these various cartels. There is very little in the way of illegal alcohol trade. Why? Why do it when you can just buy something and so many of the deaths that are happening we are referring to as heroin overdoses, but very few people are overdosing on pure heroin – you know, too much of a good thing. What they are dying from is the additives, particularly fentanyl and in an illegal market where you have got no FDA regulation of the purity of your product these illegal sellers have every incentive to cut the product with whatever is going to increase their profits. Back during prohibition of alcohol literally hundreds of people died of poisoning from alcohol that was adulterated.
DEAN BECKER: Bathtub Gin I think they called it, right?
INGE FRYKLUND: Yes. That was one of the things. People brewing their own may have been okay but the bigger problem seemed to be bigger dealers who were brewing up batches with God knows what in it. The number of deaths we have had I think would go away with legalization not just of marijuana but I think we also need to be legalizing heroin. I would love to see the U.S. follow the European model. In Switzerland since 1994, a heroin addict who hasn’t been able to get off of it by other means can go to a government clinic and shoot up with pharmaceutical grade heroin and if they can transition and get off it that is great; but if they can’t this becomes a maintenance program. Since ’94 they haven’t had a death associated with one of these when we are killing 40,000 people a year. The Swiss have found that HIV and Hepatitis transmission is down, burglaries are down something like 80% because people no longer have to scrounge illegally, and people who are able to get the fix for what their addicted to if they are on this maintenance program don’t have to spend their days scrounging for the next fix; they can have a more normal life. Maybe they can get off of it but if they can’t well maintenance may be the solution. In the U.S. we have no problem keeping people on long term maintenance of drugs for high blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol but oh my God; if the problem is heroin well we aren’t going to let you do maintenance for that one. I keep thinking maybe it is our puritan heritage that we get clean and we have got to have this perfectibility of human beings; even if it kills them trying.
DEAN BECKER: I have been developing this quasi scenario over the last year or so that about a hundred years ago the alcoholics banded together and decided they wanted to claim the moral high ground and they saw a target audience, mainly those that were doing other drugs that they could say were immoral, in need of correction, punishment, and perhaps a death sentence if they couldn’t stop them from their youth. That has panned out to be true pretty much over the last century. Your thought?
INGE FRYKLUND: It seems to be a uniquely American approach which is why I am wondering how much of it is our puritan heritage. Europe takes the harm reduction approach. We have got the Swiss model, Portugal decriminalized everything back in 2001 and the sky didn’t fall. In fact the crime and corruption calmed down.
DEAN BECKER: We have been speaking with Inge Frykland of Law Enforcement Action Partnership. Inge, I want to thank you. We have a good group of LEAP volunteers here at this conference. I just have to say that we get a lot of respect these days. Do we not?
INGE FRYKLUND: I think we do because people understand that it is current and former law enforcement and we have seen this from the prosecution side and we have seen the damage which has more credibility in trying to stop the drug war than simply people who want to be able to use drugs.
DEAN BECKER: Alright. Friends I can advise you that you can learn more about this fine group by going to their website at: Thank you, Inge.
INGE FRYKLUND: Actually, a better website is
MALE VOICE 1: I had a bad experience with drugs with that golden weekend between summer school and regular school. Hey Homie, wanna smoke some marijuana?
MALE VOICE 2: They say it’s a gateway drug.
MALE VOICE 3: Well, well if it isn’t the doobie brothers!
MALE VOICE 1: Uh oh! Crush the weed, man!
MALE VOICE 2: Smell any drugs Sgt. Scraps?
MALE VOICE 1: The 60s ended that day in 1978.
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. Times Up! The answer: another FDA approved product, Acetaminophen.
MALE VOICE: Hello. I am David Borden. I am the Executive Director and the Founder of Since the old days – I think we are going to be talking about the old days – we were known and still are to a lot of people as DRC NET, a drug reform coordination network.
DEAN BECKER: My first inkling or interweaving back in the day was with you guys and with MAP, Inc., a fact gathering site I believe it was and it was great to find any content back then. Drug reform was not a big watering hole at that time.
DAVID BORDEN: Yes. The movement was smaller then and our organizations were part of the growth of the movement compared with before but there is far more going on now. In our reporting on the Drug War Chronicle newsletter which Phil has been doing for over 20 years and the organization was not completely new when he started doing that. Sorry, Phil has been doing this for almost 20 years. The newsletter has been going on over 20 years. So much now is happening on the issue and the movement that he can’t write about everything any more so we partially switched our format so we published these daily round ups; that’s the only way we can touch on everything.
DEAN BECKER: David, it is one of a continual, seemingly eternal series of horrendous happenings. The situation just south of Arizona with a three car caravan of some Mormons was brutally attacked and burned in their cars proving once again that prohibition isn’t working and that it doesn’t seem that these horrible happenings are going to end any time soon. Your response to that thought, David?
DAVID BORDEN: Of course. I think the way the question gets debated maybe in the academic sphere where many of them see things the same way, some of them will see that as a horrendous cost but other things going on and maybe there are ways to improve that. Scholars will talk about transitions and we can’t expect to transition away from prohibition to be smooth so there could be violence there, too. We have to be prepared for that. I think that if we continue to push these tremendous financial resources in to the hands of organized crime then they will keep building. They will use the wealth to diversify and things will get even worse.
DEAN BECKER: So true, David. I strayed there but that was on my mind with the death of these nine people being so recent.
DEAN BECKER: Let’s get back to the history.
DAVID BORDEN: Sure. That is sad though. We heard today from one of the speakers – I didn’t realize that this community, maybe members of this family were involved in the campaign for taking on the injustice of the Mexican movement that arose after the drug war violence really escalated.
DEAN BECKER: In essence legalizers, am I right?
DAVID BORDEN: They are. They came here to this conference at that time so when I heard about this tragedy it made me very sad and I didn’t even realize that we were connected to them through their community that intersected with our movement.
DEAN BECKER: I don’t know what to say, David. The lives that are sacrificed every day through contaminated drugs because some people don’t care that these users are forced to buy from some sorted black market. Not gonna start preaching, David. I am at a loss at the moment. That just knocked my socks off – the thought that they are us. They are us, dammit.
I had to stop for five or ten minutes to just regroup in thinking that that family was one of us – one of us. I am trying today to reach back to the early days. I started in Houston. I stumbled upon Al Robison and the Drug Policy Forum of Texas, and thank God there were other people who saw this like I did because I was so full of vim and vigor. I had studied the information and knew how stupid and evil it was and I had to do something. There I met Dr. G. Alan Robison. A very learned man who educated me; who gave me the courage and motivation to do what I am doing truthfully. David, you knew Al, didn’t you?
DEAN BECKER: Tell us about your work with him.
DAVID BORDEN: Well I saw Al at conferences and I am sure we had many emails. He was a stalwart, important leader of Drug Policy Forum of Texas. He is a wonderful person to be around. He was part of the strength of our movement. Of course he got older we all knew he was not well when we met him and I remember the last time he came to a conference he said that it was time to spend time with his grandkids and that we could reach him online. He made that choice while he still had some time left.
DEAN BECKER: He designated me the liaison of the Drug Policy Forum of Texas, which I used when I wrote letters to the editor. My very first time I got a letter published, it was published in four different papers at once. From there I began to challenge the logic or the failings and the fallacy of this drug war and put it in to words. David, you have been at this a long time. It is good to see progress being made, but by god we got a lot more to go, don’t we?
DAVID BORDEN: We have a huge amount to go but it is really phenomenal to be able to look at all of the changes and marijuana is being legalized in front of our very eyes.
DEAN BECKER: Psychedelics are coming.
DAVID BORDEN: Psychedelics are opening up. That was a subtle drug pun I guess.
DAVID BORDEN: Which I don’t know from personal experience.
DEAN BECKER: No, no, Dave.
DAVID BORDEN: I have seen the art.
DEAN BECKER: I want to throw in a thought here. Dave here ain’t never smoked weed. I don’t think he’s done any drug other than maybe what his doctor gave him or an aspirin when he had a headache, not sure if he even did that; but he cares a lot about this. He is not doing it because he wants to do drugs – he wants you to be able to do them safely and with true regulation, safety, and control. Right, David?
DAVID BORDEN: Yes. Definitely. You wanted to talk about history so I got in to this in the 90s when the issue was just starting to open up. In 1993 I started posting bulletins online the early days of the commercial internet when online advocacy was still innovative and right around that time Joycelyn Elders who was the Surgeon General made her comments at a press event.
DEAN BECKER: Remind the listeners what she said.
DAVID BORDEN: You have interviewed her, right?
DEAN BECKER: It’s hard to say. In the early days it gets fuzzy. With over 3,000 different interviews it is hard to keep up. Tell the folks what the thought was that she was presenting.
DAVID BORDEN: She became a little controversial for being willing to express her true opinions on things and one day at a press event someone asked her a question about if drug legalization would reduce crime and her response was from her understanding she felt it might and she was not sure what the ramifications would be of that, but it ought to be studied. That prompted an uproar of attacks against her, most of them opportunistic, none of which was smart or commendable. She stood her ground but it wasn’t quite time for the issue to get treated with the respect it deserves but it was a moment that helped to open things up. For me personally it spoke to my motivation. I should be serious about this. That helped me continue on to form this organization and not long after that funding became available with the grants program of the Drug Policy Foundation, a predecessor group to this organization that we are here with now. That enabled me to make this my work and not just something in my spare time. DPF extended me an invitation that if I were to move to Washington to work for free from their office for a period of time indicated that this would help to cement the relationship.
DEAN BECKER: Sure. Well Dave, There are just so many details that we are not even touching on at all and we are going to have to wrap it up for today but I just want to tell you that over the years you and your cohort, Phil Smith have been an inspiration. You guys were blazing the trail and I tried to glom on to that concept and take it to the radio. I just want to thank you for the help that you guys have given me over the years. Thank you, David.
DAVID BORDEN: Like Al Robison and others have shown up and added to our strength, you certainly did that and it has helped us continue, too.
DEAN BECKER: All right. Share your website with the listeners.
DEAN BECKER: Ladies and gentleman, this is the abolitionist’s moment. Prohibition is an awful flop. We like it. It can’t stop what it’s meant to stop. We like it. It has left a trail of graft and slime, it don’t prohibit worth a dime, and it’s filled our land with vice and crime. Nevertheless, we’re for it. – Franklin Adams, 1931
Through a willing or a silent embrace of drug war, we are ensuring more death, disease, crime, and addiction. Some have prospered from a policy of drug prohibition and they are not allowed their stance taken to be examined in a new light but for the rest, ignorance and superstition will eventually be forgiven but what Houston has done in the name of drug war will never be forgotten. Please visit Do it for the children.
This is the last Cultural Baggage for 2019, and once again I remind you that because of prohibition you do not know what’s in that bag. Please be careful.
Drug Truth Network transcripts are stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy More than 7000 radio programs are at

We are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.

11/27/19 Richard Van Wickler

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Richard Van Wickler
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Richard Van Wickler past Chairman of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Lindy Clapp of Harm Reduction Service, Kristian Karas of DanceSafe, Sera Davidow of W. Massachussets Recovery & Author of Unbroken Brain Maia Szalavitz

Audio file



NOVEMBER 27, 2019

DEAN BECKER: Hi, my friends. I am Dean Becker the Reverend Most High, and this is Cultural Baggage. We have got another great show lined up for you with some great interviews I conducted while in St. Louis at the Drug Policy Alliance’s Reform ’19; the world’s largest drug reform conference.
It is still Day 1 on a Wednesday here in St. Louis, Missouri. I have seen a lot of my old friends along the way including the group I like to call by their first name which was Law Enforcement against Prohibition, they are now known as Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP). I am speaking with the former Chairman of the Board with LEAP, Mr. Richard Van Wickler. He is still running his jail and speaking at colleges. He has stepped down as chairman but he still speaks for LEAP. Am I right?
RICHARD VAN WICKLER: I am indeed. Dean, thank you so much for having me back on your show and thank you to your listeners and especially for the work that you do in this very important cause. Since we last talked a couple of years ago one of the big reforms that have happened in corrections is medication assisted treatment. Probably better than half of the people who we get who are incarcerated have what is known as O.U.D.s or S.U.D.s (Substance Use Disorder or Opioid Use Disorder).
Traditionally what corrections did was put people in a cell and the suffered and detoxed that way.
DEAN BECKER: And sometimes died.
RICHARD VAN WICKLER: Well it was a very difficult process and fortunately I didn’t have anybody die from detox but it was an awful thing to watch.
DEAN BECKER: Not saying that you did. You are more –
RICHARD VAN WICKLER: It is an awful thing to watch so Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is really relative because what we are learning about addiction is that long term heroin and fentanyl use do change the brain and it is a medical condition. What courts are ruling across the country right now is that for a jail to not provide MAT would rise to a level of failure to provide adequate medical care and that is a pretty significant turn of events in our country which is a very good thing. I am very proud to say that in Cheshire County, New Hampshire we are among the first to employ a MAT in our jail for our offenders which had the full support of the Commissioners in our delegation. There is a county out in New Hampshire right now whose commissioners are refusing to provide MAT and the bottom line is it is because the public is unaware of addiction, and they are unaware of how MAT can help. This is a new thing and we need to educate the public about how important it is so that when they elect people who vote in favor of providing MAT, it is seen with a positive point of view rather than a negative one.
DEAN BECKER: When I indicated that some people die undergoing withdrawal I did not mean you or your facility. I am just saying that I read the papers and it does happen. It is those who probably have less knowledge and awareness of that potential problem, or who could care less because they believe that drug addicts have got to suffer if they are ever going to learn. What is your thought there?
RICHARD VAN WICKLER: Unfortunately that is true. There are a lot of people that think that if you are suffering then you got what you deserved. You made a decision and this is the result of that decision so you deserve it. My point of view is that is not okay. If criminal justice were a job that is one thing but the three prongs of criminal justice which are police, courts, and corrections or arrest, conviction, and punishment really should have attached to that the academics of professionalism. We are America, and we are Americans. We should give a damn about suffering and we should not want people to suffer. We should have compassion, empathy, and understanding and not fall victim to our personal bias or our confirmation bias. This is a difficult thing for me since I run a small jail. I am not the L.A. County jail, or Chicago, or Dade County – I am a small jail and I have to have 84 employees view this the way that I view it and that is difficult; but they do. I set and enforce limits and say that this is the way that we are going to do this or you have to work somewhere else and I imagine that is a significant challenge in our larger jails in this country.
DEAN BECKER: Folks, we have been speaking with my long-term friend, associate and ally in ending this stupid drug war, Mr. Richard Van Wickler. Do you have any closing thoughts, Richard?
RICHARD VAN WICKLER: We are here at the Drug Policy Alliance conference which we do every couple of years. You and I were talking earlier off-record about how we always learn something from this and we bring that home with us and we reflect on what we learned and we try to make a difference in our community. So the challenge should be that every citizen go out and learn something and convey that which they learn to somebody else. Ask them to challenge their confirmation bias and get over this nonsense and show compassion. Let’s be who we truly are as Americans.
DEAN BECKER: Who we’ve been pretending to be all the while.
RICHARD VAN WICKLER: That’s right. Thank you, Dean.
DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Richard. Last I recall there were 170,000 members and supporters worldwide in support of LEAP. Has that number grown?
RICHARD VAN WICKLER: It has grown significantly. As you may or may not be aware when I was the board chair I was a very strong advocate and it was an unpopular thing to advocate that we change our name and that we broaden our speaking points. There was a time in 2007 when a police officer would say that marijuana should be legalized it was accompanied with shock and awe. That is not the care anymore. You can pretty much pull any police officer aside and tell them that marijuana should be legalized and they would chuckle and agree with you because it should be.
The other part is that we do fantastic work. Law Enforcement Action Partnership does fantastic work and what we need in order to do that work is money. We need supporters and people who are on the front lines of the drug war to come onboard and help us fight this. My view was that we either change as an organization or die. What we have done is increased our membership surpassing 67% new members which is beyond what we projected. Our revenues are significantly beyond what we projected because we are actively recruiting federal prosecutors, federal law enforcement officers, and law enforcement officers that are still on the job. If you will remember Dean, I was one of the only people who was still on the job and a member of LEAP.
DEAN BECKER: The guy in Canada –
RICHARD VAN WICKLER: David Brasser in Canada was on the job so he and I made two in two different countries. So I am still the only guy in this country at that time. Right now we can’t say that. We have got a lot of people on the payroll who are exercising their first amendment right on this issue and that is because we have broadened our talking points. We are making a difference and that is why we had to make that change and I am glad that we did.
DEAN BECKER: Okay, folks, if you want to learn more about Law Enforcement Action Partnership, please go to Thank you, Richard.
RICHARD VAN WICKLER: Thank you and thank you to your listeners.
FEMALE VOICE: My name is Lindy Clapp, I actually have a medical degree but I am not practicing medicine now because I didn’t feel like that was really reaching the people in the proper way. I work as the Linkage to Care Coordinator for Choice Health Network in Knoxville, TN., which is a part of our harm reduction program that offers one of the first four needle exchange programs that started in Tennessee in 2018.
DEAN BECKER: Needle exchange. Most folks know what that is but what does it accomplish?
LINDY CLAPP: Our particular program not only provides clean syringes to people and offers them the opportunity to dispose of their used syringes, we also offer testing for HIV, and Hepatitis C. We also offer referrals if anyone asks for it for anybody who has any healthcare needs including pregnant women. We connect people with HIV to care as quickly as possible and try to refer people with Hepatitis C to places in the area where they can get help whether they are insured or uninsured. That is a big problem right now because in the state of Tennessee the laws are still very prohibitive for people who are still using drugs. Any state-insured people must have some level of sobriety that is monitored for six months. Providers are less willing to offer uninsured people Hepatitis C treatment.
DEAN BECKER: Your work also coincides with helping pregnant women because often times if they are using drugs they can get themselves in to some terrible situations. Would you talk about that work, please?
LINDY CLAPP: Sure. Before I started this work in 2015, I worked for a different non-profit organization in Knoxville and at that time there was a law in east Tennessee that pregnant women who were using drugs could be convicted of a crime. That law actually doesn’t still exist but there is still a very high level of fear among women who are using drugs as evidenced by the people we see at the needle exchange about seeking help or prenatal care and we have more than one person right now who is still very reticent to seek care because she is afraid of the backlash or what may happen.
DEAN BECKER: Being at this conference is uplifting and it also reminds us just how scary and out of control a lot of things still remain. Do you have any closing thoughts or a website for our listeners?
LINDY CLAPP: You can go to, or Both of those are the same organization. At this point in time I think that legalization or decriminalization of drugs is the best way to make substance use a health issue rather than a criminal issue and it is vital that we do that if we want a healthier society.
It’s time to play Name That Drug By its Side Effects. Shortened attention span, hyper activity, obesity, diabetes, diagnostic diseases, kidney failure, heart disease, hypoglycemia, tooth decay, and death. Times Up! For the answer look in every bag of Halloween candy and in damned near every product we buy: Sugar.
FEMALE VOICE: My name is Kristin Karas, I am the Director of Operations at DanceSafe. DanceSafe is a 501(C) (3) Public Health non-profit that promotes health and safety within the electronic music and night life communities. We are a chapter based organization comprised of volunteers. We currently have 26 chapters in North America with 25 of those 26 being U.S. based and one based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. At events you can see DanceSafe providing a number of services coupled with educational literature and peer-to-peer education along with water and information about heat stroke, safer sex tools and information about consent; earplugs and information about hearing damage; and factual unbiased drug education coupled with drug checking when allowed.
DEAN BECKER: This is something that is stymied and objected to. It is called in to question at times in some communities despite the attempt and hope to save lives and create a better medical situation for the community. Tell us about some of those objections and what you have done in regards to those objections, please?
KRISTIN KARAS: Absolutely. I think that some of the objections are policy based. First and foremost something that often comes up in our line of work and if referenced is what is referred to colloquy as “The Rave Act”, which was passed in the early 2000s and it was an expansion of the 80s crack laws cut down on events where the selling of substances was taking place. Since then we have supported the Amend the Rave Act Campaign that was originally founded by Dee Dee Goldsmith who has since stepped down and passed off Amend the Rave Act to us so that is something that we seek to spread awareness about. In addition to that another policy piece that is a barrier to the implementation of DanceSafe’s services. In certain states drug checking kits are considered to be paraphernalia we have begun to get involved in trying to make changes in these states because it does at times interfere at times with our ability to sell drug checking kits at events as well as provide drug checking services due to concerns of event producers. We are happy to announce that we have just received a $15,000 grant from the Drug Policy Alliance to expand our Test Kit Program, which is centered on drug checking to include this advocacy initiative and building out a toolkit that the community will be able to use at a grassroots level for organizing. Beyond that I think that something that we continuously see as a barrier as does the rest of the harm reduction community is stigma. The behaviors that our community are engaging in are terribly stigmatized and that inherently creates a barrier to the provision of our services. There is a misconception that harm reduction is drug promotion which is not true. At DanceSafe we neither condone nor condemn drug use, however, we recognize that people will choose to consume substances regardless of prohibitionist policies in place and is in fact better for us to be grounding ourselves in health and human rights.
DEAN BECKER: Kristin I want to thank you for extoling on the ramifications, perceptions, the means and the goings on with all of this because it is very complex in its own way and it is also very simple in that it wants to save lives. Looking at The Guardian and The Observer out of the U.K. and I am see that they are beginning to recognize it. Their kids that are dying of MDMA (Ecstasy) at these raves and it doesn’t have to happen.
KRISTIN KARAS: In the United States it is common and there are headlines that are depicting situations in which there are MDMA overdoses which are actually misnomers because in many cases it is actually heat stroke that has been the result. In the U.K. there is this proliferation of high-dose pressed pills to circumvent drug laws so that is actually true.
DEAN BECKER: Kristin I do appreciate your thoughts. Once again we have been speaking with Kristin Karas, she is with DanceSafe based in Denver, Colorado. Kristin do you have any closing thoughts for the parents and the kids out there with regard to what they should know and maybe what they can do?
KRISTIN KARAS: Absolutely. I think for all of the parents out there the thing I would encourage you to do is to begin educating yourself. At the end of the day you can’t control what someone else is doing with their body and it is much better to be talking about these things in the open because in so many circumstances the stigma that is perpetuated and keeps people from speaking is what ultimately contributes to them getting in riskier situations in the first place.
I would share a similar message with all the kids out there. I understand that a lot of the drug education you have had is likely from untrustworthy sources or someone that you just don’t have trust in. I would recommend you look up DanceSafe and start your education there. You can reach out to us on social media if you have any additional questions about your choice in health behaviors.

FEMALE VOICE: My name is Sera Davidow and I work with the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community. We are a community of people who have all struggled ourselves. We have psychiatric diagnoses, we have lived without homes, we have had problems with substances, and an array of challenges that have interrupted our lives and that we have learned from. So we developed our community around the idea that those struggles bring wisdom we can use to support one another as well as ourselves to get our power back and move on with our lives in the way that works for us.

DEAN BECKER: Some people point back to Ronald Reagan and his idea of doing away with treatment being available for citizens and leaning more towards jails and prison. In the years since jailing and imprisoning people just doesn’t help a person with any mental problems, does it?

SERA DAVIDOW: No. I think that a lot of people end up struggling with problems with drugs, hearing voices, wanting to die and array of things because they lose their power and they lose control. Things like imprisoning people takes that power away even more and adds trauma which is not what helps people change their lives for the better.

DEAN BECKER: The drama and the trauma of modern life seems to be forcing people to present themselves more perhaps than in years past when the economy was better. What are your thoughts?

SERA DAVIDOW: I think that we are in a really fast paced society and the more it speeds up and the fewer resources there are available people get desperate and they do get exposed. If you have a lot of resources you can be eccentric, you can be different. If a person doesn’t have a lot of resources then they are the person that we don’t want to see; we want to shuffle them off somewhere. The more that our society spins and gets chaotic; the more people can’t fit in anymore which leads to more people wanting to see them shuffled off somewhere so that they can feel “safe”.

DEAN BECKER: If your art is so poor you might be considered dangerous. It is crazy.

SERA DAVIDOW: This idea that we can stop bad things from happening and that we can identify who is and is not dangerous is an enormous myth because who gets to decide who is dangerous and what is considered violence is being decided by those who are in power.

We are in a society where more and more people in the general community are saying tell me I am going to be okay and that my family is going to be safe. Meanwhile, those in power are trying to create these illusions that they are doing things and those things are often harming people more. People in general don’t know that or they don’t want to know that. I don’t know how they could not know that things are getting worse if they really think about it. It is easier just to allow people who are responsible for the society to say that they are making it better and go on with our lives.

DEAN BECKER: Yes. We will wrap it up on that note. We are here at the Drug Policy Alliance Reform ’19 Conference in St. Louis, Mo., and you touched on it a bit but can you please give us the connection of your organization and this event?

SERA DAVIDOW: Sure. Our roots are more in the world of emotional distress which is where our original funding has come from, we have since expanded. What people don’t always understand is that the people who end up in psychiatric hospitals, hearing voices, contemplating killing themselves are often the same people who also end up homeless, have problems with substances, and find themselves incarcerated because so much of all of those things have their roots in environments that are full of systemic oppression where there is not enough resources to go around, where people’s basic needs are not being met and people are experiencing trauma. So if they look at things like the adverse childhood experience and study all of the different research that is out there, it actually says that there aren’t these different boxes. The people with problems with substances over here and then the people with psychiatric diagnoses over here…all these different boxes that we create with our systems. Those are all fake; we are all the same people. The way that we can all make some sort of relative change in society perhaps is to come together and recognize that we are the same people and come from a harm reduction approach so that we can all try to figure out how to get our voices back.

DEAN BECKER: Okay. In closing, I am sure there is a website where folks can learn more about the work that you do.

SERA DAVIDOW: Sure. The Western Mass Recovery Learning Community can be found at

FEMALE VOICE: I am Maia Szalavitz, I am a journalist and author most recently of Unbroken Brain, which looks at addiction as a learning disorder.

DEAN BECKER: Your writings appear in many editorials and correspondence giving focus in newspapers and other periodicals around the country bringing focus to bear on the futility of this damned drug war. Am I right?

MAIA SZALAVITZ: Yes, you are correct. For the past 30 years I have been trying to get people to understand that addiction is a medical problem. It is not something that you can stop by punishment because it is defined as compulsive use that continues despite negative consequences. If punishment were going to fix it, the condition by its very nature would not exist in the first place.

DEAN BECKER: Well it certainly would have done its job by now you would think.

MAIA SZALAVITZ: Look at the people who are the most oppressed by the drug war. They should be the most drug-free and having no problems whatsoever but no, because oppression does not help anybody.

DEAN BECKER: Right. We keep getting ugly results and situations that should make us wake up and realize that this is not working. One of the most recent things that grabbed my attention is a situation that happened just south of Arizona in Mexico where a three-car caravan was ambushed and burned by a cartel who thought they were part of another cartel. Three mothers and six children –

MAIA SZALAVITZ: One of the kids actually lived. There was a baby that was in one of the vehicles for approximately six hours. I was just reading about this and it is just so awful, and Trump goes on about how we just need war, more soldiers, more fight. No. We have been doing that for the last 100 years. You cannot stop this by force. The way to stop drug problems is to treat people like human beings and recognize that all human beings like to alter their consciousness. We do so in various ways and to say that one way is good not a drug, i.e., caffeine, alcohol and your way is bad i.e., marijuana, heroin, and cocaine is a drug. This just creates a black market and one of the features of a black market is that it cannot use the legal system to deal with disputes so you end up encouraging this horrific violence. We haven’t seen a shootout by alcohol dealers probably since the end of prohibition, and that is not a coincidence.

DEAN BECKER: The evidence is there so why are we having such a difficulty in recognizing it and changing our ways?
MAIA SZALAVITZ: I think there is an important thing to keep in mind which is that drug policies really are not about drugs. They are about keeping down particular groups of people and until we understand that it doesn’t matter how many rational arguments we make about reducing violence and spending, or that you would have more people able to function and all kinds of wonderful things. Until we get at the fact that these laws were made for racist reasons and they continue to be enforced in a racist manner because people have this idea in their heads that the FDA or somebody sat down and said that alcohol and tobacco should be legal because they are safer than sugar, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin and that never happened. It was not a scientific weighing of the facts. It was a series of racist moral panics or often anti-immigrant panics as well. Once we get that, we have to look at the drug war differently and realize that one of the ways that we are going to change this is by recognizing that it works perfectly for what they are trying to do; it doesn’t work perfectly to deal with drugs and addiction. If we want to deal with drugs and addiction we have to let the public know about the history of the laws and the fact that even though you think our laws are made rationally all of the time, sometimes they are made for really stupid reasons and then exploited by politicians who want power. If we want to actually help people with addiction I think we are in a situation where because this current thing is framed as white, we may actually be able to improve policy because when we see drug users as us and not them, suddenly harm reduction becomes a nice thing. Suddenly harm reduction becomes a phrase that you can say in public rather than something if you want to get your grant. As this happens and the rhetoric softens where we realize that we cannot jail our way out of this we have to understand why we were trying that in the first place and recognize that it has failed. We now need to use the evidence that we have for what works and move the money that way so that we can teach people the real truth about drugs and addiction.
DEAN BECKER: Again, Maia Svalavitz. I am sure there are a thousand places that you could reference but where might folks go if they want to learn more about your work?
MAIA SZALAVITZ: I do have a website that someone happily keeps updated with my articles and you can find that at:, and that usually has all of my stuff.
DEAN BECKER: And I urge you to visit Again, I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what is in that bag. Please be careful.

Cultural Baggage is a production of the Pacifica Radio Network, archives are currently stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, and we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.

05/22/19 Ron Paul

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Ron Paul
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Winning the War on the War on Drugs: Congressman Ron Paul, former NYPD detective John Baeza, Jacob Sullum Editor of Reason Magazine

Audio file


MAY 22, 2019


DEAN BECKER: I am Dean Becker, your host. Our goal for this program is to expose the fraud, misdirection, and the liars whose support for drug war empowers our terrorist enemies, enriches barbarous cartels, and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent US gangs who profit by selling contaminated drugs to our children. This is Cultural Baggage.

Hi folks, welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I am Dean Becker, your host, I am the Reverend Most High.

This past weekend I was privileged to attend a conference here in Houston where a lot of folks were talking about the drug war very specifically. Ron Paul spoke, Paul Armentano from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Here in a little bit we're going to hear from another speaker, Mister Jacob Sullum, editor of Reason Magazine.

But the one who brought down the house, so to speak, was one of my brothers in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, retired New York City Police Department Detective John Baeza. Hello, John, how are you doing?

JOHN BAEZA: I'm good, I'm doing good, Dean, thanks for having me on.

DEAN BECKER: Well, John, you know, the truth is writ large enough, I think more and more politicians, major media, folks everywhere, are starting to realize we have failed with this drug war. It is not what we intended, is it?

JOHN BAEZA: No, it is not. We have failed. It's a fool's errand, and I think that we've known about it for a long time. But, people are - hopefully people are starting to realize it more and more with our efforts to get the word out that this is just a failed - a failed war, not only is it a failed war on drugs, it's a failed war on people.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. And, John, this conference they had there, you know, to, well, to recognize that. The conference was titled The War On The War On Drugs. And I think it was a fitting title.

And I guess, John, you, I think more than anyone there, got a standing ovation. You were recognized for bringing forward that truth, for saying it out loud, for saying it with your credentials, your experience. It resonates really well, does it not?

JOHN BAEZA: I believe it does, I believe it does, I believe the truth always resonates, no matter what, and I think that if you don't, if something is a fraud, you see it's a fraud, like the drug war, and you don't call it a fraud, then you yourself are a fraud.

So I don't want to be a fraud, and I want to make sure that I'm telling the truth, and I want to give a different perspective, a perspective from the street level, and I think that, it seems - it appears that most people really appreciate that specific perspective, you know, from the street, and from somebody who's actually been making actual buys during the drug war.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and that brings to mind, I think the part of your speech that really hit people in the gut was your talking about the amount of officers involved in the various types of investigation. I hope you understand what I'm alluding to there, and you'll fill in the listeners about that difference, if you will, please.

JOHN BAEZA: Yes, and I know what you're alluding to, and really I noticed it when I moved from the narcotics division to real investigations and I worked with the special victims squad, where we did child abuse and rape and so forth, and I had real victims to investigate and help.

And what I noticed was, for the entire borough of Manhattan we only had about twenty-two or so detectives to investigate thousands of cases of rape and child abuse, where there were at - six hundred to a thousand investigators who were assigned to investigate victimless narcotics so-called crimes, and I thought to myself, my gosh, you know, I have a stack of cases that are horrific crimes here, and I'm trying to juggle them, and there's no manpower here, but yet there's plenty of manpower, you know, trying to arrest people for this drug war.

And it really, it really hit home with me. People really don't understand that the manpower assigned to the drug war really is just a - it's just out of wack with what it should be assigned to, they should be really assigned to people who are really, you know, personally affected by crime, which is, you know, people who are robbed, people who are raped, child abuse, stuff like that.

That's where you need the investigators, not to investigate this victimless crime, of this alleged crime of the drug war.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. And, John, I look at it like this, that, you know, we've been, I don't know, what's the word, whipped into submission, or, over the century, in essence, that this has been going on, it's just become like leaning into a blustery wind. It's just something that we deal with, don't recognize that it's - its impact on us. It's hard to put into exact words, but it's just become rote. It's just become the way it is. Right?

JOHN BAEZA: It has, and people just think, you know, okeh, this is the drug war and it's just - but they don't look. People are not looking. We're trying to educate them, people like you, people like me, people that are [unintelligible], they're trying to educate people that, hey, listen, this war is a failure. It's, as I said, it's a fool's errand, and it's not working.

It will never, ever work, and it's a war on freedom. People want to put what they want to put into their bodies, and, you know, you're never going to stop that. That's not going to stop.

So, once people, you know, get to realize that at some point, and they must realize it, because this war can't continue. Too many people are getting incarcerated, their lives are just ruined by this, and we're not treating it as a medical issue as we've said, you know, so forth.

We really need to get this message out there and we need to break through to people and let them know that, hey, this drug war, and from my perspective, I was involved in it firsthand. It is a failure, you'll never, ever win it. You will never win it, and it's not even worth winning because it's a challenge to freedom, because freedom, that's what it is, really.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and John, that brings to mind that the stairstepping, or the ramifications, or the spin-off, or however you want to say it, this perspective that drugs are bad, drug users are bad, we must do whatever we can to rid the planet, blah blah blah, and it has led to incremental changes to law enforcement perspectives, law enforcement tactics, et cetera et cetera.

It's a means to slowly whittle away our god given and human rights, it's just an encroachment on that, is it not?

JOHN BAEZA: It is, and you see that, obviously with mass incarceration, with the arrests, with the, not only is it a war on people of color at this point, it's a war on the poor, especially. Especially a war on the poor, because you can't defend yourself, people take guilty pleas and their false guilty pleas, and all kinds of stuff like that happens.

And, you know, this is - we're faced with this tremendous war that just completely erodes all of our liberties and our freedoms. You know, it's just like you said, we really need to - people need to understand that it's - I really hope that what we talk about drives this home to them, and lets them know this.

DEAN BECKER: Well, yeah, John, you know, seventeen years I've been on air doing this, twenty years in total, and I am encouraged, and I'm also really disappointed. This truth we've been bringing forward, you and a hundred other LEAP speakers I've had on air with me, the authors, the scientists, the doctors.

We have kicked the concept of drug war in the teeth. We have stomped it into submission. If people would only listen. It's like, again, it's like leaning into that stiff wind, people just do it and don't even think about it. What can we do to, I don't even know, man, how do we motivate, encourage, kick them in the ass to do something? Your thought there, please.

JOHN BAEZA: Well, I think what we do is we continue to do what we're doing, see. We're leaning into the wind as well, you know, we're leaning into the wind in a different direction. Right?

So, we have to continue to do what we do, and what you do every day, and continue to open people's eyes, even if it's one or two or three people at a time. Spread this out like brush fires, and get this, get the ideas rolling, because, as Doctor Paul always says, you know, there's not too much stronger than a good idea, especially a liberty minded, freedom idea.

I think it just takes a - it takes time to hold, take hold, and, you know, as George Washington said during the Revolutionary War, you know, we've seen times of despair like this, and it's turned for the better for us.

So, you know, he told the army that, and you know what? That's what I kind of think about this. It's kind of - there's some despair, and it's very discouraging at times, and you get pessimistic, but you know what? Times can change, and they will, if we continue to work hard and people like you and people who want to spread this message out there, and I'm one of them, I know I want to spread the message, we have to keep leaning against the wind the other way.

DEAN BECKER: Well, well said. Folks, we've been speaking with John Baeza, he's a retired New York City Police Department detective. He's based now down in Florida, Brooksville, not sure where that is, but he has a website where you can learn about him, the work he does, he works as an expert for lots of folks on police practices and procedures, investigates homicides, murders, whatever, he still has the acumen and the intelligence and the experience to work with the public as an independent investigator.

John, any website you'd like to share, some closing thoughts?

JOHN BAEZA: Yeah, I think if people would like to they could check out the website, it's very interesting, it's NYPDTruth, all one word, And you can go to the website and see it, some people might need it, some people may just find it interesting, but I think it's a good website to take a look at, and I encourage them to go to

DEAN BECKER: And, if I may say, recommend that if you don't live in Florida and you'd like to find an expert, that might help in your efforts, be they criminal justice related, you can always go to the website of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, and that's out there on the web at

John, thank you for your time.

JOHN BAEZA: Thank you, Dean. I appreciate you having me on.

DEAN BECKER: 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.

Again, I was at the Crowne Royale Hotel. I wasn't invited, they didn't really want members of the press there, so I paid the fee. I got to eat the breakfast, ate a lot of bacon, and I kept asking Ron Paul to do an interview with me, and, well, he kind of backed away a couple of times. Maybe it's my haircut, I don't know.

They didn't want me to record any of the event, and I didn't record much. Here's a little bit of what I did record. This is former Congressman Doctor Ron Paul.

RON PAUL, MD: There's a lot of people still suffering from alcohol, so, in other words, there's a lot of other problems there, since we don't agree with the direction of the war on drugs, we have to say, well, if you believe this, do you believe in prohibition of alcohol? Of course not, they don't.

And I poke fun at the members of Congress, in one of my speeches, that you're obsessed with the uses of drugs and here you come in and some of you are, you know, been drinking too much and here you are on the House floor.

It's - it is something that, the problem I have to question is, what's the purpose of government? Is the purpose of government to protect us against risk, against ourselves? And that's where we are flawed. It's the - people will say, no, it's to make you safe and secure, you know, we don't want you to get hurt and that is our job, that's our moral obligation to do it, even if we have to take all of your liberties away and we'll treat you like the cattle in the field but you'll be safe.

DEAN BECKER: Jacob Sullum, he's the senior editor at Reason Magazine. He's a nationally syndicated columnist, he's author of Saying Yes: In Defense Of Drug Use, and he was one of the speakers this past Saturday at an event here in Houston, the Winning The War On The War On Drugs.

First off, it's been a few days back, that was a pretty spectacular event, was it not?

JACOB SULLUM: Yeah, I was impressed by the turnout. I think they had a hundred to a hundred and fifty people there, and there was a very powerful talk I thought by a former undercover narcotics officer, who talked about how he had turned against the war on drugs.

And, we also heard about progress that's been made in reversing the war on drugs, we're scaling it back, and everybody there seemed very attentive and enthusiastic.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, and Ron Paul, he had a rather lengthy discussion about our rights and maybe failings and some areas where we need to improve, but all in all, I was really impressed and I was impressed with what you brought forward as well, Jacob, that's why I'm having you on air with us today.

Now, Jacob, if you could, give us just a brief summary of, I realize it was a very wide stance taken, but, what did you present at this conference?

JACOB SULLUM: Well, I was trying to explain why Americans finally turned against marijuana prohibition. The polls currently show that something like two thirds of Americans now support legalization, according to Gallup, which is pretty striking.

That has happened pretty rapidly during the last half a decade to a decade, and I tried to speculate about the reasons why public opinion has turned around and what lessons we might learn from that experience.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and you, I'm sure you'll concur that it has a lot to do with good folks like you and me and Paul and even Ron Paul, that have stood up boldly and shared that truth in every which way we could. Right?

JACOB SULLUM: Well, I'd like to take credit, but honestly, my main hypothesis about why people changed their minds about marijuana legalization is that they became more familiar with marijuana.

And, if you look at the increase in support for legalization, it tracks pretty closely the increase in use of marijuana. And, it's much harder to demonize a drug that people have some personal experience with.

Most Americans at this point have tried marijuana, judging from survey data, such that if you allow for a certain amount of underreporting, and even if they haven't tried it, they almost certainly know people who have, and those experiences tend to contradict what the government has been saying about marijuana for decades.

So, it's hard to maintain the scaremongering when people know otherwise from their own personal experience. And so in a sense, that's encouraging, and I mean, one thing that happened early on, even before a majority supported legalization, is that most people came to the conclusion that using marijuana should not be treated as a crime. It's not the sort of thing you should be arrested for and go to jail for.

Now, unfortunately, the reason that happened I think is that they perceive the victims of that policy as being more like them. Right? So back when marijuana users were perceived as being members of racial minorities, out groups, foreigners, with possibly weird and threatening practices, putting people in jail for using marijuana seemed much more acceptable.

But once, you know, middle class white kids, basically, started using marijuana in the Sixties and the Seventies, it was no longer terrible to say, you know, we're going to arrest this college kid and put him in jail for, you know, a substantial length of time simply for using this plant.

So, that turned around, you know, and by the Seventies, public opinion on that had started to turn around and we saw a bunch of states decriminalize, meaning - mainly meaning that they treated possession of small amounts for personal use as a citable offense, or in some cases it was a low level misdemeanor, but at least was the sort you couldn't go to jail for.

And there was some, you know, there's a dip in support for liberalizing marijuana policies during the Reagan administration, but since the Nineties, it's been going up more or less steadily, especially in the last five to ten years.

And I think again that that has to do with people finding marijuana not as scary as they used to. Maybe they don't necessarily approve of it, but at least they don't see it as a dire threat to the nation and to the youth of America, and they don't think it's just, you know, to arrest people for using it.

And then of course the logical correlation, that it's, you know, it's not a crime to use it, why should it be a crime to help people use it. Right? That's - it took a while for that conclusion to follow, but it makes sense. You don't usually punish aiding abetting more severely than the crime itself.

So if there is no actual crime, if you don't think using marijuana is a crime, it doesn't make sense that growing marijuana or selling marijuana should be treated as a crime, either. So it's all pretty logical, but I think it's not - I mean, you know, the extension of that reasoning is pretty logical, but it took a long time, and it really required identifying that the victims of marijuana prohibition and having less emotion wrapped up in it. Right?

So that's part of it being more familiar, makes it less scary, and people are more willing to contemplate a more - a more tolerant approach.

DEAN BECKER: You know, I think tied into what you've been talking about here is the fact that yes, more people have been experienced with marijuana, or as you say have friends who have.

And I think it's also a result of, in the last five years we've had legal sales in Colorado and, was it Washington, that same year, that has given examples of legal use, no major ramifications, and that perhaps they hear about relatives or friends or others in these legal states, more states now of course, but where there have not, you know, there's been no repercussions to justify the prohibition. I hope I -

JACOB SULLUM: Yeah, I think - yeah, I think that's correct, I mean, I think the legalization in Colorado and Washington was crucial, because it went from being something that's purely theoretical to something that had actually happened in a couple of states in the US, and you could look and see. Was it a disaster, did the sky fall? And basically, the answer is no.

So, that is more reassuring than any amount of theorizing, and once you can say to people in a poll, do you think marijuana should be treated the way they treat it in Colorado and Washington, right, that's much more powerful than saying, do you think marijuana, you know, should be legalized or even do you think it should be treated more like alcohol, although that also tends to elicit more support, when you compare it to alcohol.

I think people tend to think, well, that's a model that seems to work okeh, and marijuana is not any more dangerous than alcohol, and in some respects substantially less dangerous. So that makes sense to people.

DEAN BECKER: And, I was - I was privileged to have my letter to the editor published. I want to read a bit of it. It was titled up by them "Avoid Pot Hysteria," and it's talking about, you know, how dangerous marijuana was and how it's deadly and more car crashes and all that, and I responded by saying:

"Powerful cannabis has always been around, ranging from Thai Stick in the 1960s to hashish, a powerful cannabis extract that has been around for thousands of years. The National Academy of Science stated 'conclusive scientific evidence available today, establishes the efficacy of the use of whole plant cannabis to treat a number of clinical conditions, among them chronic pain, nausea and treating spasticity associated with diseases like multiple sclerosis.'"

I go on to say:

"Cannabis use has never killed even one person. Nearly all hard drug users likely did start with cannabis and probably a beer or two but way more than 90 percent of pot users do not move on to other drugs. The author’s claims regarding suicide have no reference I could find anywhere other than within his organization SMART."

I go on from there, but it's an example of the media is starting to allow the truth to come forward, to counter this BS that's being put forward for decades by these prohibitionists. Your thought there, Jacob Sullum.

JACOB SULLUM: Right, and I - that's definitely true, they're recognizing that there's another side to these issues, in fact, I mean, this is a majority position now. They can't very well ignore it.

But even before then - before now, before it became a majority position, especially with the medical issue, that really helped pave the way, which is another point I made on Saturday, that you have sympathetic cases, people suffering from AIDS or cancer, where they say, this drug gives me some relief. My doctor thinks it's a good idea.

And you ask Americans, should doctors be allowed to recommend this drug, should patients be allowed to obtain it? And a large majority for years has been saying yes, of course, of course they should. Even people who don't necessarily approve of broader legalization.

But what happens is, once, and of course, you know, now they're at the, thirty-three states allow medical use of marijuana, and the polling is very, very strong on that issue in favor of medical marijuana.

And what happens then is that this helps also make the drug less threatening because you see that people who in some cases are quite frail and unhealthy, you know, which is why they're using marijuana, you have to worry about side effects, and when you look and say, well, what are the side effects of marijuana, they're not, I mean, they're, not that there are none, but they're, you know, they compare quite favorably to the side effects of many pharmaceuticals.

So once, you know, so that illuminates the issue obviously of is this a good idea for a particular patient to use it, but also the broader issue of what are the dangers posed by marijuana? And are they so serious that we need to contain - continue this prohibition policy?

So that has helped as well, and one other aspect to this is that in states where the rules for medical marijuana were pretty loose, so that anybody who was determined to get a recommendation letter could get it, people would say, on the one hand, that's not, you know, you're faking it, basically, there are too many people, they're claiming they have back pain or they have trouble sleeping and they can get legal access to marijuana, and that's not right.

But on the other hand, you know, look at California, since 1996, they've had legal medical marijuana, and if you assume that the rules are so loose that pretty much anybody who wants to get it can get it, then that means that really, it was, marijuana was already legalized in all but name. Right?

And if that's your position, well, what happened, you know, has California gone to hell? No. So, I think that also, even though on the face of it it seems like that would count against the reform movement, because it looks sort of shady, right? Dishonest, that you're saying, oh, it's for medical use, but then people are surreptitiously using it for recreational purposes.

At the same time, it shows that tolerating recreational use, even if you call it medical use, does not mean the end of the world.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and that brings to mind, we have a situation where Oklahoma just did a medical marijuana law that I think is even more lax than California's was, where you can come in with a back pain or can't sleep and get a recommendation.

And, it points out that Texas is just so far behind. New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, are surrounding us with better marijuana laws than we have, certainly, and the nation of Mexico to our south is wanting to legalize it outright. Your closing thoughts, there, Jacob Sullum.

JACOB SULLUM: Well, you know, it depends on how you look at it, I guess. I was surprised that Texas actually created a system where you could obtain CBD extracts. Granted it is from a very limited number of providers, and it is for a very limited number of conditions, but I figured Texas would do the same thing a bunch of other states had done, which is to ostensibly legalize CBD but provide no legal way for people to obtain it.

So the fact that they actually created a system of, with a licensed and regulated production and distribution, even if it is only one particular cannabis preparation, and even if it is for only very limited purposes, that surprised - was a pleasant surprise to me.

So, and I think, if you look at polling, you will see that there's broad support certainly for decriminalizing recreational marijuana so that people don't get arrested for it anymore. And then according to some polls there's support for general legalization as well.

Now, it takes a while for politicians to catch up with public opinion, and what you're going to see is that the states where - that don't have an initiative process, where people - where the voters can change the policy, it's going to be more arduous and it's going to take more time.

And you look at what's going on in New Jersey and New York, where I think people were overly optimistic about how quickly marijuana would be legalized, but you're dealing now with a process that involves lots of legislators who have all kinds of political concerns, and there's a lot of, you know, log rolling going on and a lot of concerns about political implications, and all sorts of barriers that don't exist when you present the question clearly to voters.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Thank you very much. Friends, we've been speaking with Mister Jacob Sullum, he's senior editor at Reason Magazine. Jacob, please point them to your website.


DEAN BECKER: Once again, that's about all we can squeeze in. I hope you are beginning to think about what you can do to help end this madness. It is really dependent on you speaking up, standing up, I want to remind you again, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag, and I urge you to please, be careful.

To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the unvarnished truth. Cultural Baggage is a production of the Pacifica Radio Network. Archives are permanently stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. And we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.

04/17/19 John Delaney

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Laura Lagano
Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Cannabis Therapeutics 1, Laura Lagano author of CBD Oil Miracle, William Simpson of CannaCrafted, Dale Geiringer of Ca NORML + Judge John Delaney testifies re cannabis to Texas Legislature.

Audio file


APRIL 17, 2019


DEAN BECKER: Hi folks, this is Cultural Baggage, I am Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High. We've got several shows lined up from the Thirteenth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics. It was held in Tampa, Florida. We'll be doing a show or three here on Cultural Baggage and a couple more on Century of Lies with Doug McVay. Let's get started.

LAURA LAGANO, MS, RDN, CDN: Laura Lagano, integrative clinical nutritionist and holistic cannabis practitioner. I wrote a book called The CBD Oil Miracle, which is really not just about CBD, but about this ancient plant called cannabis.

What people don't realize is that hemp is cannabis, and marijuana is cannabis. Hemp, according to the US Farm Bill, is less than 0.3 percent THC, and what we're identifying as marijuana is over 0.3 percent THC.

So THC is the cannabinoid, one of the compounds in cannabis, that provides its intoxicating effect. A lot of people refer to CBD as non-psychoactive, and that's not really true, because CBD is psychoactive, that's why it works. That's why it works to quell anxiety, that's why it works for PTSD. That's why it works in depression.

It is one of the compounds in cannabis that really helps to modulate a lot of immune function, a lot of -- it works as an anti-oxidant. But it does work in combination with the other compounds in the plant, what we call the entourage effect.

And, you know, essentially that's also the way other plants work. You know, when we start taking out components in plants, it just doesn't work as well. We see that plants work when you eat a whole plant, and cannabis is really no different.

So in fact, when people are looking for a product, a CBD oil, they typically want to look for something that is full spectrum, meaning it contains the full spectrum of the cannabinoids and often other plant materials, which would include the terpenes. Nobody ever talks about the terpenes.

And just to give people an idea of what is a terpene, take your fingernail, run it over the outside of a citrus fruit, and you'll get that beautiful fragrant smell. That's the terpene, the essential oil, if you will.

And terpenes interact with the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant for different effects. So for example, limonene is a terpene that's often found in the cannabis plant, and limonene is very uplifting. There are some people, however, who cannot tolerate limonene, and you will see typically those people are what I would call, you know, more 'Type A' people.

And it's not necessarily because they're -- why are they a type A person, they typically have some sort of a genetic mutation, it's not necessarily -- it's not a bad thing, it's called a snip, a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, where limonene really doesn't match with their genetic health. For some people, though, it's wonderful.

Linalool, which is in lavender, also, and can also be in the cannabis plant, works extremely well for people for a more sedating effect. So that's why you'll see often, most people are very aware of lavender as something that's common, and that can really help to modulate mood. So we have strains, which are also called cultivars or chemovars, of cannabis that help to relax.

So in the book, I go over a number, thirty plus, conditions where CBD, whole plant, has been shown to have some sort of effect. Much of this data comes from clinical experience with patients that many practitioners have had.

Some of it does come from studies, so for instance, let's talk about epilepsy. CBD really came on to the consciousness of the US because of the use of CBD with seizures, and of course there is a drug out there now that is available for patients who have two very specific forms of epilepsy.

We also have seen that patients who have other forms of epilepsy and seizures do benefit from CBD, but I would caution against just going out and purchasing CBD if you do have seizures. You must do that with a healthcare professional, and for any disease state that is very serious, whether it's, you know, diabetes, Alzheimer's, MS, you do want to work with a healthcare professional to determine what CBD you might want to purchase.

Because hemp cannabis is what we call a bioremediator, it actually sucks up everything in the soil, so that means that if you have heavy metals or anything in the soil that's deleterious to health, that will end up in your CBD products. You really have to be very careful, and always work with a healthcare professional.

DEAN BECKER: Right, I've heard that it even, that it stores radiation, just, you know, it could help folks over in Chernobyl to remove the radiation from their soil. Well, Laura, let me ask you this, you touched on it, and, as a radio host, and speaker here and there, I get a lot of questions these days about CBD, which brand to buy, what's it good for, et cetera et cetera, and thus far, I say let's let the market figure it out. I don't know. I don't want to steer you wrong. Am I doing the right thing?

LAURA LAGANO, MS, RDN, CDN: You are. I think right now, I don't even know how many products are on the market. It is really excessive, because everybody's trying to jump in on the green rush, and get their product on the market, and of course, like any advertising and marketing, every person out there has the best product.

This is truly caveat emptor, buyer beware. You need to talk to a healthcare professional to find out what products are the best products to use, and not only for your condition, because we don't match the product to the condition. We match the product to the person.

Cannabis, whether it's with or without THC, if it's, you know, CBD oil, if you're, you know, you're going to a dispensary to buy a product, it is matched to the person. This is personalized, lifestyle medicine. You always want to match it to the person.

And, I mean, this is what I do in my own private practice as a clinical -- as an integrative clinical nutritionist, I am matching the food plan, the lifestyle, whether I'm recommending CBD, whether I'm referring people to get a medical marijuana recommendation, it's always to the person.

Because I could have two people with the exact same clinical presentation, but they respond differently. They respond differently to food.

DEAN BECKER: We have this situation where cops are looking for ways to determine who's high out on the roads, looking for a means to determine that inebriation, if you will, whether it be, you know, from blood or breath or however else they might want to do it, and I guess my point I'm getting at is, for some folks, a mild dose of THC is more than they need to be out driving, and for others, an enormous dose is not going to incapacitate them or keep them from driving.

And I guess what I'm saying is, it's per person, as you were kind of indicating earlier, they're, the effects are different, person to person, from use of cannabis.

LAURA LAGANO, MS, RDN, CDN: Absolutely. Everybody has a different response.

So, I'm going to tell a funny story. When I was in college, I was going out on, we used to take the train out to the beach with my college roommate. And, she's Irish by heritage, and I'm Italian, and we would meet, I was working in a test kitchen at that time for a magazine, and we would meet at the test kitchen I worked in, and we would make some beverages before we left, which were made -- which was alcohol with grapefruit juice.

And we would consume the exact same amount, and we're about the exact same size. When we got to our destination, my girlfriend, Kathleen, would be totally fine, and my name is Laura Maria, I would be completely on the floor.

Now, why is that? Well, later on, fast forward, here's the funny thing. That is because I have a genetic predisposition, a SNP, a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, where grapefruit juice, a compound in grapefruit juice, actually potentiates the action of alcohol, where I don't actually detoxify it through what's called the cytochrome P450 system, basically making alcohol much more potent for me.

So there you go. So we had the same thing happening with THC. So, we know that there are genetic SNPs that are specific to people within different systems of the body, particularly in that cytochrome P450 system, where people are not detoxifying the THC as quickly.

Some people are detoxifying it more quickly than others. So, that's the same -- it's the exact same thing.

And the other thing I want to mention, which you're pointing out, is the euphoria. And I did a talk on this several years ago, where I say, well, what is euphoria? What is high?

If you have people using THC, many of them are microdosing, which is of course as a healthcare professional, which I prefer, because the microdosing is really what enables people to satisfy their endocannabinoid system, and be their best self.

So if you're going from being tightly wound, and stressed out, to your mood being regulated, is that really high?

DEAN BECKER: Some profound words. Laura, I know you're going to be speaking here in just a little bit here at the Patients Out of Time conference. Your book, the title, maybe where folks could learn more about it?

LAURA LAGANO, MS, RDN, CDN: Sure. So, you can go to my website,, where you could purchase the book. You could also purchase it from McMillan, who is my publisher. You can also go to my site, where I actually have an online cannabis education program about integrating cannabis with holistic modalities, like nutrition, aromatherapy, yoga, meditation, breathwork, acupuncture.

It is for healthcare professionals to learn more about cannabis. I do have smaller programming for patients, if they're interested, and you could always email me at

You know, I'm really -- I'm an educator. I'm a clinician, so I really want to get the word out there and really, really stamp out cannaphobia.

DEAN BECKER: It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Severe depression, cancer of the breast, stroke, dementia, blood clots in the lung, prolonged bleeding, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and congestive heart failure. Time's up! The answer: Primpro, a combination hormone replacement, approved by the FDA.

Okeh, folks, I'm in Tampa, Florida, I'm attending the Thirteenth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, and first thing this morning I run into one of my old friends, a strong ally of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a man who's been at this for decades, Mister Dale Gieringer. How are you doing, Dale?

DALE GIERINGER: Good to be here.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Dale, California has really run the gamut. They've legalized now. What's it like out there?

DALE GIERINGER: Oh, the regulatory system they set up under legalization is a real disaster. They're overregulating to the hilt, everything's too expensive, two thirds of the products you can't get anymore because they haven't figured out how to produce them and pass their absurdly rigorous testing requirements.

And really it's sort of a SNAFU at the moment, I think everybody would agree, but it will get better as time goes on. But they really did go too far in their regulations in California. So, you know, I thought it was best, the situation in California was best, in 2017, which was the first year that adult use was legal, but the dispensaries were operating under the old medical system, and they didn't have these new regulations in place.

But it's feeling -- it costs you a couple million dollars to go into business these days, and that's just not the same game that all those old backyard growers were playing all these years, so there's an enormous adjustment that's going on out in the market.

And a lot of small people and, you know, medical co-ops, veterans co-ops, and things like that are not strictly within the law anymore, and they're nervous about what happens next. So, that's one issue that we're trying to straighten out.

DEAN BECKER: Now, a couple of weeks back I talked to Ed Forchion, the New Jersey Weedman, I'm sure you've heard of him, and he was talking about New Jersey's going to legalize, they didn't, but he was going to then protest --

DALE GIERINGER: Never count on the politicians to legalize for you.

DEAN BECKER: No. No, but, he was going to protest in front of the state house, going to smoke joints, try to sell some pot. But he's not going to be able to do that now, but, it comes back around to the thought that these politicians, really, it's like, I don't know, trying to solve a puzzle with a couple of pieces missing, they don't quite know how to frame this up, whether it's New Jersey or California.

And to me, what's, I don't know, nauseating, perhaps, what Canada has done is given the rights to grow and sell to all these former cops and prosecutors and others, and --

DALE GIERINGER: -- now have so much money that they're investing in the US, and, we had to a clause, our initiative, actually, the Prop 64, one of the legalization initiatives did have a clause in it forbidding out of state investment, which is a very hard thing to police anyhow, but, that got written out of the -- a subsequent draft and amendments were passed after the initiative passed, through the legislature, passed amendments by the governor that eliminated that on the grounds that it was probably unconstitutional to forbid, to limit investment to people from one particular state.

And so we've got Canadians all over the place.

DEAN BECKER: Well, then, that's my understanding, that, well, I'm not going to say any names, I have friends at a couple of those organizations. But, they have the money, they were able to offer their stock up for sale first, and get that bank roll, and go to work on Big Marijuana.


DEAN BECKER: Well, Dale, what brings you to this Thirteenth National Conference, here?

DALE GIERINGER: Well, I'm just trying to keep in contact with the medical marijuana movement. I mean, this is, I'm very closely attached to this movement because I was there at the beginning. I worked with Dennis Peron on San Francisco's medical marijuana initiative in 1991 [Proposition P], which was like the first successful marijuana initiative, pretty much anywhere, ever.

And, which just, you know, snowballed from there, from 1991 it took us five years to get it legal in California with