Cultural Baggage, June 10, 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.

Dean Becker: Hello my friends and welcome to this edition of Cultural Bagage. I think we have got a great show for you today. Our first guest is going to be Claudia Rubin, she is with RELEASE, in the U.K.

They are a drug policy group. They have a brand new campaign that is starting there in London - big signs on the buses saying, "Nice People Use Drugs." Here to tell us about it - Claudia Rubin. Hello.

Claudia Rubin: Hi there, Dean.

Dean Becker: Thank you for joining us. Now, Claudia, tell us about this campaign - Nice People Use Drugs.

Claudia Rubin: Well, it's, "Nice People Take Drugs," is the slogan we are running with for the campaign. It started at the beginning of June. We have got a whole load of buses traveling across London with that slogan. The reason for it, really, is to get a debate going here in the U.K.

Dean Becker: Well, we typically deal with the United States, occasionally with Canada and when we can, we talk about Great Britain but the fact is the drug war is still reaping its carnage there as well, is it not?

Claudia Rubin: Oh, most definitely, yeah. We have huge levels of problems in the U.K. with drug policy. I mean, some of them are very different from the ones you have there in the US, but some of them are very similar.

And of course, the attitude here is very much the same as the attitude which I believe is taken all the way around the developed world. Which is that drugs have to be criminalized, users should be criminalized, and the whole industry then therefore is pushed underground then causes even more harm than it really needs to.

Dean Becker: You know, I saw an amazing similarity to today. A couple of stories, one coming out of The Daily Mail - Six Scotland Yard Officers Accused of Waterboarding Drug Suspects.

They talk about simulated drowning during drug raids and that they had ducked the suspects heads in buckets of water. them, there is another one today's editorial in The Houston Chronicle - Deadly Detention: Federal Report Documents Harris County Jail Lapses with Fatal Results.

They talk about the conditions there - lack of medical treatment and the excessive use of force by jail staff against prisoners, including prohibited techniques such as hog tying and choke holds. It kind of shows what I like to talk about that - just like the Jews and the Gypsies in Nazi Germany - drug users are considered to be unconditionally exterminable.

Now, that may not mean they are being gassed in ovens, but their lives are being snuffed out here in the US as far as robbing them of a future. Your thoughts on that.

Claudia Rubin: Yeah. I think some of the reports that you just mentioned, particularly the one here about waterboarding are very, very worrying. And, it's of course, incredibly distressing when you hear about this kind of behavior.

Especially from the police service, which you really expect - you know, the police are supposed to be there to protect us. They are not there to abuse our human rights and to inflict torture. And, yeah, the drug using community are incredibly stigmatized across the world, certainly in this country.

The kinds of abuse that they suffer because of their drug use is just unimaginable. It goes to every level. I mean it's, of course, people who have a serious problem with addiction in this country aren't treated in the way that they should be. They deserve the sympathy and understanding that anybody else with a problem deserves.

I know in the US, for example, addiction medicine is a very well researched and well respected field. Here in the U.K., we don't have that at all. Addiction is really not studied, it's not understood, there is very little research that is going into it.

People think that if you are an addict, you are faulty, there is something wrong with you - you could just choose tomorrow to stop being an addict and of course, that is not true.

We find that a lot of - very interestingly with women, for example - a lot of women who have a problem with a heroin addiction or crack addiction - in many, many of these cases, they have suffered some serious levels of sexual abuse or violence abuse when they were children.

And that goes some way to explaining their issues later in life with drugs. And the fact that society doesn't have any tolerance or any time or any sympathy for these people really is appalling.

Dean Becker: Now, let's get back to the campaign, currently undertaken by RELEASE there in the U.K. "Nice People Take Drugs." Here in the US it's been determined that about one out of ten people use drugs. The fact is, many of them are nice people.

I am sure that the same would hold true there in Great Britain. I was looking at your website, under the topic "Shift the Debate," "Over a third of adults in England Wales have used illicit drugs."

If drugs were so detrimental, so destructive of life itself, i suppose, it should be more obvious, wouldn't you think?

Claudia Rubin: Well, yes, of course. That's the truth of it, isn't it - that the majority of people who use drugs, use them very sensibly - they use them in moderation, in the same way that the majority of people who drink alcohol or eat, you know, hamburgers, they don't them every day and they don't drink too much every day.

They do it in moderation, and of course, a little bit of anything is not going to cause you any harm or much harm. And with 1 million adults in the U.K. using class A drugs, so yeah, coke or the more serious drugs, every year.

That's a huge proportion of our country. We talk about one in eight young people have tried cocaine, a third of adults in England and Wales have used illegal drugs.

It is just incredibly sad that the deception of drug use is that drugs have to be evil and drugs are going to cause huge damage and they are going to lead to huge health problems. And, sure, of course, they have their risks but lying to people and lying to kids - especially about the dangers of drugs.

Or exaggerating the dangers of drugs isn't actually an effective way of educating young people about drugs. You need to be honest with young people, there is no point in pretending that smoking a joint is going to send you crazy.

Because then, when a kid does smoke a joint and realizes it hasn't sent him crazy, why would he then believe somebody who tells him, "Well, heroin is really bad for you." So, we have got to be accurate what we are telling our society and what we are telling our kids.

There is no point in exaggerating the truth. It's got to based on the evidence and it has got to based on the facts.

Dean Becker: Well, you know, here in the US, now for a couple of decades, in one regard or another, we've had these mandatory minimums sentences. What this has done, is, you know, I think, quadruple our prison population.

At the same time, it has also extrapolated the number of women being sent to prison. And that is holding true in the U.K. as well, right?

Claudia Rubin: Yeah, absolutely. We have a huge program here in the U.K. with people going to prison for drugs and particularly we have campaign here at my organization RELEASE, about women in prison.

For example, we've got a large female prison population. The majority of them are in prison for non-violent offenses. The largest group, thirty percent of those, are in prison for drug offenses. There is absolutely no justification whatsoever for sending non-violent women to prison for possessing drugs.

You know, of course, more often than not, these women have children. And these children are left behind, they are sent off to foster care and the cycle of deprivation and poverty continues.

As you say, certainly with things like mandatory minimums, which you are very used to in the US, but we're starting to see in this country. You know, you have a totally distorted justice system which sends people to prison for much longer and totally in a disproportionate way than they should be.

We have a big problem in this country with drug mules - Jamaican women coming from the Caribbean who have been forced out of desperation to carry some cocaine into the country - and they have been sentenced to prison here for ten, fifteen years.

Often they have left young families at home. It causes huge devastation to their family back at home. Not to mention the fact that the U.K. spends an absolute fortune in imprisoning these women, who don't want to be in the U.K. in the first place and have no business being in prison here.

Dean Becker: Once again, we are speaking with Claudia Rubin of RELEASE Drug Organization the U.K.

Claudia, I want to ask you, here in the US we have an ongoing situation where we have anonymous snitches ratting people out, you know, for their drug use and tying them in to a "conspiracy to distribute drugs" wherein, they may not even have any drugs but, as long as there is some association, they can be sentenced to prison for that bit of contact with these other people. Does that happen in the U.K.?

Claudia Rubin: I haven't heard of anything quite like that here. We do have the situation which you just described, though, of people being encouraged to rat on somebody.

Actually, just this week in the U.K., we have - the government runs National Tackling Drugs Week. And it's really an awful week where the government go around the country and boast about how many successes they have had in tackling drugs, and everything that they are doing.

They talk about all the seizures they have made and all the arrests that they have made. They actually encourage people - it is called Rat on a Rat campaign - and they actually encourage, you know, civilians - individuals in society - to turn on their neighbors, their communities and - by labeling drug users rats - already, as you know, that is the stigma that you and I have already talked about.

And it's just a really strange way that the government thinks is going to do anything to do to improve community cohesion or trust in society.

Dean Becker: You know, I noticed another tab on your website. It's talking about sniffer dogs. Just about a month ago, I went to a conference here in Houston for defense attorneys to learn about the drug detection dogs and how the work and how they are supposed to work and how it is supposed to communicate its finding.

And you are having a lot of problem - a lot of sniffer dogs in the subways and other parts of Great Britain as well, right?

Claudia Rubin: That's right, yeah. They seem to be being used more and more actually. And there's very, very sketchy law on this actually - there's really no real legislation which covers the use of sniffer dogs and the police are using them more and more.

They are using them in ways that they shouldn't be using them and the problem is that there is just no evidence to show that these dogs are effective.

You know, they might indicate somebody, and that can prompt, you know that can prompt an individual who is going about his every day life to be pulled to the side of the, you know, of the corridor that he's walking down and asked to empty his pockets, asked who he is, where he is going, what his business in that particular location is - and that is a very invasive and intrusive thing to happen to somebody who's only been indicated by a dog.

We have - actually there is very little research on the effectiveness - but the research that has been done shows that in over seventy-five percent of searches that resulted in being sniffed by a dog, no drugs were found. So, three out of four times the dog is wrong.

The fact that the police can get away with using that is really worrying. Look - I, myself, I am actually quite afraid of dogs. Any dog that is bigger than the size of a cat, I really, I am quite afraid of them. The idea that I might have a dog, you know, sort of sniffing around me and barking at me - you know, I just find it incredibly offensive.

Dean Becker: Well, you know, Claudia, I learned from that conference that many time the dog is either a passive or aggressive. Passive means he sits down to show awareness of the drug or active, he might bark or scratch at the box or person.

There was one scenario described there wherein this dog was supposed to be the passive - he was supposed to sit down. They walked him around the truck seven times, he never sat, but they searched the truck anyway and when it went to trial they asked the handler, "Well, what was the reason for searching the truck?" and he said, "The dog looked at me and kinda smiled."

Now, I mean, that's how preposterous it gets. I mean, and we give such credence to these dogs because certainly their noses are so much stronger et cetera, et cetera, but they shouldn't be, you know, the only justification for such intrusive searches.

Claudia Rubin: No, of course, and of course dogs have for a long time been used in police operations and they can be used very effectively. But, there is no evidence at all to show that they can be used effectively around a tube station or a train station where hundreds of people pass by.

And of course, they smell something on you - you don't know why they smell that or not. And the fact is it is just a wrong and inappropriate use of police resources. That is what is so concerning here. What we would argue is that - well, you know we live on an island, as you know, Britain is a little island.

But, if the government and the police wanted to try and stop drugs from coming on to this island, they would have to search every boat, every ship, every lorrie, every truck, every plane, every individual coming into this country. And as anybody would tell you, within about twenty-four hours of that kind of behavior, the whole country would shut down.

So, the fact is, you can't win the war on drugs with this kind of behavior. You cannot stop drugs coming into our country. In the same way that prisons - I mean, if they could stop drugs getting into prisons we might believe they have a chance of stopping drugs coming into an island like the U.K.

But clearly they cannot stop drugs coming into prisons therefore they definitely can't stop drugs coming into the U.K. And sniffer dogs for three million people using the London Underground every single day.

What chance do sniffer dogs actually have of making any kind of difference whatsoever in the number of people using drugs? And the answer is none, they make no difference at all.

All that they will achieve is maybe criminalizing a few people who are going about their everyday business who happen to ben carrying a little bit of weed or a little bit of marijuana on them or a couple of pills. But, it is totally disproportionate, it's an incredible waste of police time and of course, it is a waste of our taxpayers money.

Dean Becker: Well, you know, I have come to the conclusion that the only way to stop drugs is to post a DEA agent in every home and every workplace around the world. Because that is the only way it could be done.

Now, once again speaking with Claudia Rubin of RELEASE, a drug-reform group in the U.K. Let's get back to this new campaign: Nice People Take Drugs. How is it progressing?

Claudia Rubin: Well, it was very successful actually. We are very pleased with how it is progressing. The adverts were running on London busses last week, they started last Monday.

We had a lot of really positive comments in the press. Got a lot of phone calls from people such as yourself, abroad, certainly interest from places as far afield as Columbia and Australia. A lot of positive feedback, to be honest.

And then, we had very strange call thing first thing this week, on Monday morning, from the bus company saying they had decided to remove the bus adverts. They said that they are concerned that the adverts might be misinterpreted, they are concerned that people might see them and think that in order to be a nice person, you have to take drugs.

Clearly - nice people take drugs - could mean that but I think anybody with, you know, half a brain would realize they are not saying, "You have to take drugs to be a nice person." But, the bus company got a little bit concerned, a little bit nervous about the sloan and they decided they wanted it removed.

So, unfortunately, today - ten days after they first went up - the buses that were carrying that slogan have all been taken off the streets and the slogan has been taken down.

Dean Becker: You know, Claudia, I encounter recorded conversations - even some that I have done with quote high elected officials - and they will all talk about the need for change.

The need to nuance this drug policy. But, they never mention the word legalize. They might say, "Well maybe it's time to talk about legalization but I'm not for it." And yet, I think at heart, many of these people know it's a failure, know it's time for a change, and yet somehow there is this ingrained quasi-religion that keeps them from speaking this full truth.

Your closing thoughts on that, we got about a minute.

Claudia Rubin: Yeah, I think definitely that's why we ran this campaign. The reason we ran Nice People Take Drugs was to give our politicians the confidence to start talking about drugs. I mean, our Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been in office for a couple of years now.

He has not once talked about drugs. Nobody in a senior position in government here talks about drugs. And that is what we wanted to achieve with this campaign. We need to start addressing policy. We need to start being real about the situation and actually look at all the alternatives that are out there.

And whether it's legalization or some form of liberalization, clearly prohibition isn't working and it's time our politicians realized that and talked openly and honestly about the situation we have got today in society.

Dean Becker: Alright. Claudia Rubin of RELEASE. Now, please give the folks your website.

Claudia Rubin: Yeah. Well, do come and find out about us. It's

Dean Becker: Alright. Claudia, thank you so much and we'll be back in touch.

Claudia Rubin: Thanks, Dean. Have a good day.

Dean Becker: You too, bye bye.

It's time to play Name That Drug by its Side Effects!

Nausea, vomiting dizzyness. Urges to gamble, or increased sexual urges and behaviors. Hallucinations. Unreal sounds, visions or sensations. Overwhelming sleepiness while driving a car.

Time's up!

The answer: to be used for RLS, restless leg syndrome, for patent extension reasons, and Parkinson's Disease, Requip, from Glaxo Smith Klein Laboratories.

Meantime, nearly half of Parkinson's Disease patients who have tried marijuana have experienced therapeutic relief from it according to the results of a survey presented at the Movement Disorder Society Seventh International Congress of Parkinson's and Movement Disorders in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

This is Doctor Hockman with guidance for the parents of potential overdose victims. Do not pretend that your child will never be involved with drugs. Assume that drugs are everywhere and will always be available.

Supply side strategies have never succeeded and will never succeed. Make sure that your kids are factually educated about every drug. If you misinform them or give them propaganda, your credibility and authority with them is over.

Share your personal experience and knowledge with them. Do not be a know-it-all, because you aren't. Accept the fact that they may be smarter and more knowledgeable about drugs than you. If you are going to keep medications in your home, keep them absolutely locked up: no exceptions.

Do not expect that they will not try to defeat that security. Be informed about the symptoms and signs of intoxication and/or overdose. Have an overdose plan. Know what to do, who to call, and what to say. Do not blame the drugs. Your kid took them, they didn't take your kid.

Expect that your kids will experiment - you probably did. Make sure that they know what to expect and what to do if they get in trouble with a drug. Tell them you really love them, will miss them the rest of your life if they kill themselves and that you would really appreciate it if they don't.

Don't do anything to convince them it's too risky to tell you the truth and give every child in your home a copy of my advice to them and discuss it with them. This was Doctor Joel Simon Hockman with the National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain. Good luck.

That was Doctor Joel Hockman. He is going to be our guest on the next Century of Lies Show, right here in studio.

Prohibition is an awful flop.
We like it!
It can't stop what it's meant to stop.
We like it!
It's left a trail of graft and slime.
It won't prohibit worth a dime.
It's filled our land with vice and crime.
Nevertheless, we're for it!
- Franklin P Adams, 1931

Winston Francis: If we end the drug war now, all of our efforts are for nothing. Victory cannot come from admitting defeat. Lives lost, families ruined, billions spent - all for nothing.

Almost a century, generations of fighting - all for nothing. Giving up is the only true path to failure. We must continue to fight, to spend and jail and kill - to honor the memory of those who fought before us. It is what we know, so it is what we must do. Follow the leader, do not falter - your path has been chosen for you.

Julie Roberts: My name is Julie Roberts. I am the policy coordinator for Drug Policy of Alliance New Mexico. We are a non-profit organization that focuses on safe and effective policies regarding the drug war here in New Mexico as well as around the country.

We were the lead on advocating organization for the medical marijuana law that passed in New Mexico in 2007. One of the keystones of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act was the incorporation of a production and distribution system that would be state licensed.

It's something that has never been done before. And it is very different from a lot of the other medical marijuana laws that had passed. Where, you know, have a medical marijuana state - patients would be protected for possession. But it wasn't clear where people were supposed to get a safe and secure supply of their medicine.

So, what the New Mexico model does, is allow for the state licensed production and distribution system that is regulated through the department of health. So, under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, it just required the state to license the production and distribution of medical cannabis.

So, then what happened was the New Mexico Department of Health with these really specific rules and regulations to govern how this would actually work in New Mexico. So, the model that we have suggested by the department of health to allow for non-profit organizations to apply to the Deaprtment of Heath to become one of the se state licensed producers and distributers.

So, the regulations are fairly complex. You have to have a board, by-laws, a security system. The board has to include three qualified patients in New Mexico. You have to outline dosage and labeling. It's a pretty intense process. And once you fill out that application and submit it to the Department of Health, it's reviewed by the Department of Health and can be approved or denied for the production and distribution of medical cannabis for licensed patients.

Only one producer and distributor has been approved so far. And supposedly they are breaking way to begin to produce the cannabis for qualified patients. The other organizations that are listed in the Santa Fe Reporter article are folks who have applied.

Dean Becker: As I understand it, the producers can only grow ninety-five plants per center. This would seem to limit those who are so inclined to get involved with this because that is really not a lot of cannabis.

Julie Roberts: That's correct. The production and distribution facilities would be limited to ninety-five plants only. I think that is part of why the option to license multiple sites would help provide the necessary cannabis to patients who are enrolled in the program.

It's also the, all of the organizations who apply are non-profits, so the chance to really come in and make a ton of money off of the patients in New Mexico is really not going to be an option for a lot of people at this point in time.

The best way to receive more information is to visit our website at and on the left had side there's a link for medical marijuana and it provides a break down of the current program, what conditions are covered to apply for the program, how to find applications to be either a producer or a patient, as well as the official regulations that are governing the program.

[cuts to music]
Pfizer and Merck, kill more of us
When the cartels crap ever could
They thank us for our silence
each year's hundred billion dollars
and the chance to do it forevermore...
Drugs - the first eternal war.

Alright my friends, I appreciate you joining us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. I want to thank Claudia Rubin of RELEASE in the U.K. Our next Cultural Baggage will feature Casper Leitch. He is producer of "Time 4 Hemp," does weekly podcasts featuring the likes of Willie Nelson and many other drug reformers, et cetera.

As always I remind you: because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that drug. 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.