Cultural Baggage, June 3, 2009
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"
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.
It's the Cultural Baggage program. Please, listen close.
That was silence. what too many Americans have produced in regards to this drug war. Each year, here in America, about 800,000 people are locked up for using cannabis. Today, we are going to talk to four such individuals facing the justice of the United States.
[cuts to a choir: silence is golden, let my eyes still see]
Now, if your eyes still see, perhaps you will listen closely, perhaps you can show your support for these four individuals.
Today we'll hear from Charles Lynch, the man who is now facing ten years for legally providing marijuana under California state law.
We'll hear from Mr. Eddie Lepp, also facing ten years for growing sacramental and medicinal cannabis in California.
And we'll wrap it up with a discussion with Mr. Ed Rosenthal, the guru of ganja, who was providing thousands of marijuana clones for the citizens of Oakland, California - and who only got one day time served in jail.
But first up, we'll hear from Mr. Marc Emery, a Canadian facing a long term prison sentence in the United States, for providing marijuana seeds.
Marc Emery: Hi, my name is Marc Emery. I am the leader of the BC Marijuana Party here in British Columbia, Canada and I am the publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, cannabisculture.com, and I have been an activist for twenty years trying to get marijuana legalized and end the war on drugs.
Dean Becker: Marc, the United States is after you. They are calling you a threat to our security. They want to bring you to our shores and put you behind bars, do they not?
Marc Emery: Well, yes, they do and unfortunately it would appear from my lawyers advice that I don't really have any good defense that would keep me out of a US prison and that is why ultimately they have recommended that I make a deal with the US prosecutor here in Seattle on one count.
The prosecutors office in Seattle is offering to drop or dismiss these other counts as long as I plead guilty to the distribution of marijuana. What that means is they are going to be asking for five to eight years in a US federal prison and I, we are going to be asking for less than that. Zero to five years, type thing and fortunately we had some good things in my favor.
I never kept any of that money. We did that only to raise money to give to the movement. It was done perfectly open and transparently here in Canada with everybody, including the government income tax, everybody knowing what was going on. And we had a clearly political motive. So, it's an unusual case in that I not any kind of marijuana distributor, that's for sure.
So, ultimately I could see myself spending some fair bit of time in a US federal penitentiary is what is going on. But if I had gone and faced all three charges, there are mandatory minimums on the money laundering one - although the money laundering that they allege I did is really all giving the money away to charity and my suppliers. So, we didn't really launder money in any conventional sense either.
I never actually kept any money because I never wanted to own anything. I never wanted to have any furniture or a car, an apartment, property, bonds, you name it, we never had any of it. The DEA always found that very difficult to believe.
The ideal situation is if I do get sent to the United States is that Canadians and Americans lobby hard to get me transferred back to a Canadian jail, which will get me out of prison sooner. And, certainly in Canada so Jodi can visit me.
Dean Becker: Your two associates, Greg and Michelle did their own bargaining with the United States?
Marc Emery: Yeah, they are going to be sent to two years probation.
Dean Becker: Now, you have, over the years, been called, as I indicated earlier, a threat to the United States. I think that they had you among the most, the top 50 drug dealers on the planet, or something, right?
Marc Emery: Yeah, most wanted. Yep. Craziness.
Dean Becker: Now, anyone who has ever met Marc, would realize this is a gentle man with a lot of intellect and a lot of ideas and capability and, as you said, operated transparently and I think I have heard it quoted that you want to end United States drug war. Is that...?
Marc Emery: Well, that - the news media - the article that is going around now with the Associated Press that has gone out everywhere says that my objective in life is to thwart the US drug war. I would have to say that is quite true.
That is as good a term as I can think of and I have been at it for a long, long time. This will an interesting latest chapter. I'm hoping that Americans feel a little self-conscious about jailing me in one of their jails when I didn't do anything there.
They are clearly reaching out and grabbing someone from a foreign country and bringing them to America based on their political activity. So I hope my American supporters and friends feel compelled to take action to get me out of a US prison.
Even by asking the president for a pardon or clemency or a commuted sentence or any number of things as well as transferring me back to Canada so I am hoping we can get a bit of support should I get sentenced to a US federal penitentiery as a Candian who never came to America. I hope Americans are somewhat offended by that very imperialist kind of approach.
Dean Becker: Well, Americans are becoming more aware of that imperialist stature or positioning of our country. I would hope they will. Now, after the DEA had brought down the website, you now have your website back, right?
Marc Emery: Well, we've never lost our website. We just, I couldn't deal in seeds any more or advertise and so the emeryseeds.com website was going to be closed because I was no longer going to be able to do that after we got raided.
Part of my bail conditions were I wouldn't sell seeds, so the last four years that has not been possible. Certainly there have been lot's of people to take up that cause. There are certainly enough seed sellers in the world so I am not particularly worried that people don't have a good source to go to.
But, of course we gave all of our money away to activism which is very distinct and very different from what all the other seed sellers do to this day and have always doneit. There is only one Marc Emery, as it were, so...
Dean Becker: I have said this before, I am going to say it again. If you are guilty, I'm just as guilty because I took some of that money. I used it to start the Drug Truth Network, to keep us rolling at a time when we were in great financial straits.
Marc Emery: Well, actually lot's of people did, except lot of the American recipients are anxious for me to mention that that much anymore in case it implicates them like in a receiving money laundering, but of course that charge isn't even up now so there won't be any need for people to worry about that too much.
But, yeah, I was grateful what happened with Drug Truth Network, that has been great. You are one of my great uses of money. I am happy to have given you money at the time we had it and I am glad it came in handy and I am glad you are still on the air. That's awesome!
Dean Becker: Well, Marc, thanks to your help, we are now up to sixty-three affiliates US, Canada and Australia.
Marc Emery: That is so symptomatic of how the movement's been. It keeps growing, and getting bigger. So, you know, in our time, that four and a half million dollars I gave away, which is how much we did give away, did some incredible things and we have just such a vigorous and vibrant movement in almost every state and province of North America now.
It has really turned out to be a good investment. So, of course, I can't really say I regret what I did because it so many wonderful consequences that exist to this day and that was the whole point. So I am going to jail on principle.
I am going to jail - if I do go to jail - on the merits of what I have done for the movement - not on because I have hurt anybody. There is nobody hurt who is making any claim or anything like that. So, you know, I am feeling pretty good about what I have done with my time.
Dean Becker: Well, Marc, one more time, why don't you share your website with folks and any other way that they...
Marc Emery: Yes, definitely, our new, revamped cannabisculture.com website. We have several stories every day. We write our own stories and produce our own material as well as full archive of all of Cannabis Culture magazines, back issues, stories, everything we have ever done is there. So, it's full of - it's got a great forum. It's full of tons of information for anybody interested in cannabis culture.
Dean Becker: And is there a specific mailing address where folks could perhaps send contributions?
Marc Emery: Well, if anyone wants to send a contribution... [coughs] ...that's a bong hit I had a little while ago.
Dean Becker: Haha...
Marc Emery: The cannabisculture.com website will tell you all those kind of addresses and noextradition.net is an excellent website to find out about keeping up to date about what is going on with my battle with the US Justice Deaprtment.
Ultimately, we are at 307 West Hasting Street in Vancouver, British Columbia. That postal code is V6B1H6 victory six bravo one hotel six. And we are known as Little Amsterdam and anybody who comes to visit us here in downtown Vancouver will have a delightful time at our market with Cannabis Culture headquarters and the Vapor Lounge on the third floor and the Amsterdam Cafe next door. So, that is a nice reason to visit Vancouver.
Dean Becker: Folks, today we're to and about several people who have been singled out by the US government for growing or somehow promoting the growth of the cannabis plant.
We have with us one such gentleman who is facing a prison sentence at the behest of the US government, Mr. Eddie Lepp. Why have they singled you out?
Eddie Lepp: I don't know why I was singled out anymore than I know why anybody else was singled out. But my attorney probably had the answers closest, what he thought was possible, and he said was, from a military standpoint, if you cut the head off the snake, the snake dies.
Now, his thought, or his theory is because people like myself and Marc Emery are so well known nationally and internationally for activist work on behalf of the sacred plant and individual and civil and human rights and all of the other things that we stand up for. You know, we kinda painted targets on ourselves according to my attorney because, you know, we are willing to stand up for what's right.
I mean, frankly, I didn't break any laws in the state of California where I live at all - not a law. I sent letters to the sheriffs and everybody else locally for seven years telling them, hey, if I am breaking any laws, let me know. We'll nip this in the bud and stop it before there is a problem.
And the feds came in anyway, in direct violation of the Supreme Court ruling, which is Gonzalez vs. Oregon, which is over the assisted suicide - the doctor assisted suicide law. Even in a case where doctors are actually killing people - granted, I agree with it and I think it's a wonderful program - but the bottom line is doctors are literally killing people and in a case where people are dying, the Supreme Court of the United States said in a state accepted medical practice, the federal government has no jurisdiction at all. Period.
That means in 1996 when California voters passed 215, they said, hey, in the state of California, we believe that medical marijuana has medical use. That's why we passed this law. And once that law was passed, the federal government had no jurisdiction in the state of California when it comes to dealing with medical marijuana dispensaries or patients or anybody or anything else.
If you've got a valid recommendation, you are exempt from the law. And this is one thing that has always upset me and always bothered me these last ten or eleven years. It's that the government has looked at this and said clearly that it's a defense. It's not a defense. It is a legally guaranteed right.
If you read 215, we are exempt from prosecution. So why is it costing us five and ten thousand dollars to go to court to prove that we are exempt from prosecution? The law is clear - you can't arrest me in the first place. So why are they still arresting people?
That is the part is really the hardest to understand. The laws that they are supposed to be operating under are very clear and yet they ignore them.
Dean Becker: We are speaking with Reverend Eddie Lepp. This is the maintenance of the legacy - the reputation and the mortgage payments of thousands of drug warriors as well, right?
Eddie Lepp: Well, the thing is, you know, if you read the Constitution of the United States - the Constitution is very, very clear. In order for there to be a jailable - and that means, by definition, where they incarcerate you and put you in prison or jail.
For there to be a jailable offense, there must be a victim. That victim must go in front of a magistrate or a judge and swear out an affadavit in support of claim. And by the way, a public employee, cannot be a victim. The victim then has to state to the judge how they were injured or whatever. After hearing that, the judge determining that there was a fault, issues a warrant, and you are arrested.
Then, you go in front of a jury - a grand jury of your peers - where it is incumbent upon the prosecution to present a preponderance of evidence - not just evidence - a preponderance of evidence that there is even a reason to have a trial.
Now, if the grand jury indicts you and says there is a reason to have a trial, then you are entitle to a trial by jury of your peers, in front of a fair, impartial judge, where everybody hears the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Now that is the way it is supposed to go according to the Constitution of the United States.
That is not, however, what they are doing. The reason for that is that they have found out that incarcerating people is a very, very, very, very, very lucrative business. The more of us they put in jail the more money they are generating and making. We have more people incarcerated per capita for any reason across the board. China and places that have these alleged horrendous problems with political prisoners and everything else.
None of these people even make a pimple on our bottoms. We incarcerate everybody and the sad thing is ninety probably eight percent of them are in jail illegally according to the Constitution of the United States.
So, I really, really wonder how can our legislators, our politicians and our judges and our police officers look themselves in the mirror knowing that they swore an oath and yet they find themselves going to work every day deliberately violating the Constitution and the sacred oath that they swore.
I just don't know how they can look themselves in the face? How can they look themselves in the mirror knowing that they took the sacred oath of office and they are breaking the oath? They know how illegal what they are doing is. I don't understand why the American people don't have the courage to stand up and see that these things are stopped.
Dean Becker: Eddie, tell us about your current circumstance. What on the horizon for you?
Eddie Lepp: Right this minute, we are told that I am going to have to turn myself in somewhere around or near July 6th. Self-surrender to a federal prison I imagine somewhere on the West coast.
We are planning at some point to ask for a stay of sentence until after the appeal. I believe we are also going to make motion asking that I remain out on bail pending appeal. I'm involved with an embassy that is doing all kinds of things from an international - from an embassy level, trying to get me freed.
President Obama has received approximately 7,000 letters on my behalf in the last month and a half. We are asking everybody to email or please write the White House and ask him to pardon Eddie Lepp if they would. That is the single thing that people could do to help us. It would mean the most.
The more people that let him know that they are unhappy about what is going on, the better chance I have of going free. And currently the better chance we have ultimately of marijuana and cannabis in all forms being legal. Because marijuana really is not the issue here.
We've got so many problems on this planet that cannabis sativa would solve that, you know, in a big pie, the medical marijuana is a little, tiny sliver of the multitude of problems that cannabis hemp can solve and for them to turn their back on a plant that has no THC in it that could change our world is just ludicrous, absolutely ludicrous.
Dean Becker: Eddie, how much time are you facing?
Eddie Lepp: Ten years. I believe I received two ten year sentences for the two charges running concurrently.
Dean Becker: Reverend Eddie Lepp's website: eddielepp.com.
It's time to play Name That Drug by its Side Effects!
Loss of personal freedom, family, and possesions. Ineligible for government funding, education, licensing, housing or unemployement. Loss of agressive mind-set in a dangerous world. This drugs peaceful, easy feeling may be habit forming.
The answer: doobie, jimmie, joint, reefer, spliff, jibber, j, biffa, jazz, blunt, steege, greener, cracker, hogger, bone, carrot, mary jane, marijuana, cannavis sativa. Made by God, prohibited by man.
[The Sound of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel]
Hello my friends, this is Dean Becker. You are listening to the Cultural Baggage SHow on the drug Truth Network. Today's topic: silence - mostly your silence, in regards to the injustice that goes on in this drug war and in particular, towards marijuana. Next up, we hear from Mr. Charles Lynch, a dispensary owner in California.
Charles Lynch: My name is Charles C. Lynch. I am the former owenr of the medical marijuana dispensary located in Mauro Bay, California. I operated the dispensary for a year without any problems then was raided by the DEA then prosecuted then arrested and convicted in federal court for distributing medical marijuana.
Dean Becker: A situation that, for you, means a prison sentence pretty soon, right?
Charles Lynch: Uh, yes. I was convicted on some charges that have mandatory minimums so I facing the 5 year mandatory minimum sentence.
Dean Becker: And Charles, you opened up this dispensary. It was with the blessings of and the cooperation of your city elders, was it not?
Charles Lynch: Actually, it was in 2006, April 1st, 2006, when I opened the dispensary. And yes, the city of Mauro Bay welcomed me. They issued me a business license that clearly stated medical marijuana dispensary on it.
Also went through the conditional use process, permit process to get a medical marijuana nursery permit. Our business was a member of the Chamber of Commerce. The mayor and the city attorney and city council members all toured the facility before we opened.
We passed fire code inspections and police officers came in. We didn't have any major problems that I knew of for the entire year that we operated.
Dean Becker: Now, Charles, you are hoping for some glimmer of hope, some change of stance, some word to come out of the White House.
Charles Lynch: Yeah. Actually, my sentencing was postponed because the judge wanted to get the new policy in writing so he could apply that to my sentencing. Unfortunately when the government replied back they indicated that I had been correctly investigated, convicted and prosecuted.
They try to claim that I violated state law now. You know, where, during my trial the state law didn't matter. My business license didn't matter. The Constitution didn't matter. Nothing mattered except for the federal government drug codes and then actually the only thing i had in my defense was that I actually called the DEA before I opened and they told me it was up to the cities and counties to decide how to handle the matter.
So, yeah, I was really disappointed that the new policy doesn't seem to be applying to me or to any of the other people that are already into the grinder so to speak.
Dean Becker: What might you say to those folks out there that know the truth of this matter and yet remain silent? What would you tell them?
Charles Lynch: Well, I have been asking people to fax the White House. For me there is not much anybody can really do. You know, i mean, the judge has gotten plenty of letters from people in support and the judge - he doesn't even want to sentence me to the mandatory minimum because he knows how unfair this is to me.
But, you know, he is forced by federal guidelines on what he has to do to me. And, so I would ask people to contact their legislatures. Contact the White House. I think the best way to get through to them is to send a fax. You can ask them to, you know, stop interfering with state's rights.
The California medical marijuana laws are based on the tenth amendment of the Constitution. So, people need to definitely contact their officials. Up on my website I have a whole list of people that, on my letters of support page, a whole list of people that you can contact. I've got their fax numbers, their mailing address and everything - senators and Department of Justice people.
They can write letters - that's about all anybody can seem to do at this point. What really needs to happen though is the federal government needs to recognize the medicinal use f marijuana and pull it out of the schedule 1 listing.
Dean Becker: Charles, give us that website, please.
Charles Lynch: My website is www.friendsofccl.com. my story has made it on to MSNBC and John Stossel and Al Roker and Drew Carrey also narrated my story about one of our younger patients. So I have gotten a lot of good media and a lot of support form people across the nation.
Dean Becker: Today we have beeen talkig to Mr. Eddie Lepp, to Canada's Marc Emery, and to Mr. Charles Lynch, who was convicted of providing medical marijuana.
I am lucky I have a friend I can call upon who has had similar circumstance and lived to tell the tale. He is the guru of ganja. You've seen and read his books, Mr. Ed Rosenthal. What do you thin of what is happening to these three men?
Ed Rosenthal: They are being treated unconstitutionally and unfairly and without justice. And, I am familiar with that. I experience it. My own judge, Judge Briar, said, just said to the jury - justice, whatever that is - as if he had no idea of justice. He had been in the forest so long he didn't see the trees any longer.
I was at both Eddie Lepp's case and at the sentencing also of the first sentencing of Charles Lynch. In the case of Eddie Lepp, the judge said this penalty is harsh. So, she already knew that the penalty was unconstitutional, she knew that and yet she gave it.
These judges are no different than the judges who decided whether people lived or died in Nazi Germany or the judges in Louis the 16th's France, where Les Miserables took place and they wanted to put a person in jail for twenty years for stealing a loaf of bread. It is no different than that.
How can you put a person in prison and call it justice when you know that that person has been supplying medicine to help sick people? It is a miscarriage of justice.
These aren't real judges. These are war criminals. We are dealing with this society where we have these war criminals - that is the judges, the prosecutors and the cops - parading around as the legal people and they are not legal.
In California, for instance, where we do have medical marijuana, we have both the state and the federal forces trying to stop it. They are not acting for the people, they are acting in their own interest. That is what is happening.
Dean Becker: If you want to learn more from Ed Rosenthal, he recommends you visit him on Myspace or Facebook or check out his blogspot at edrosenthal.blogspot.com.
Well my friends, once again I have tried to educate and motivate you to do your part. Polls and surveys across the nation show the acceptance of medical marijuana to be 60, 70, 80 percent and yet this drug war continues. There is only one reason why. That is because too many of you remain silent, refuse to speak your mind in this regard.
Now as always I remind you: because of prohibition, most of you don't know what is in that bag so please, be careful.
To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.
This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.
Tap dancing on the edge on an abyss.