Cultural Baggage, August 16, 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. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage, the start of the Drug Truth Network Hour on the Drug Truth Network affiliates. We are approaching seventy stations now across America. I thank each and every one of you for your support. Now, we have with us today to talk about, I'd say, all aspects of drug war because she has certainly been observing it for these many years. She ran for governor in the state of Alabama. She is currently the president of US Marijuana Party and I consider a good colleague and reporter, as well. Let's welcome Loretta Nall.
Loretta Nall: Just to give a little background to everybody, I started in drug policy reform in 2002. In early 2003 the first case that I ever worked on in Alabama was with a high school kid named Webster Alexander. It was his senior year in school up in Moulton, Alabama which is near Huntsville – it's in north Alabama.
His principal, who was also a former sheriff's deputy and a member of the National Guard, thought that there might be some kids selling dimebags to each other in the little small town high school. So, instead of seeing for himself or maybe getting the parents involved and trying to keep it local, he decided to bring in an undercover narc. Webster was eventually arrested after this undercover narc told him that he needed marijuana for his grandmother who was dying of stomach cancer. Webster's grandmother had just died of cancer. He took Webster to and from school, giving him rides...
The principal even participated in the raid on Webster's house even though he was actually no longer a law enforcement officer. They tried to give Webster 26 years in prison for being a kid and doing what kids do. We got a lot of media coverage involved and were able to get it down to a year with all – he was on work release like the first weekend in jail.
But, this same principal later went to Iraq and served two tours of duty over there with his guard unit. While he was there, he decided that kids smoking pot in high school were equivalent to terrorists. So, when he came back he started Operation Bounty Hunter where he wanted to pay children a hundred dollars each to narc on each other. You can just imagine about how nasty that would get in high school with all the little high school drama and children that aren't old enough to know better – the kind of things they would do to each other.
So, last week it came out that to the nut of it, this is karma, this is karma, this is what all drug warriors will one day be on the receiving end of... This principal and his wife who was also a clerical aid at the East Lawrence High School in Moulton – she worked there and it came to light that she was arrested for having sex with a sixteen year old student there at the school and supplying him with alcohol and marijuana.
We have just been having a lot of fun with that story in Alabama – not that I think it's OK for adults to give kids alcohol and drugs and have sex with them but considering who principal Ricky Nichols was and all the horrible things that he helped to deal out on the lives of other people I just thought that it's really poetic justice.
Dean Becker: I sometimes upset other drug reformers because I am just so straightforward – so boldly stating certain things and god knows, somebody has to. And you do quite an excellent job of it yourself. But, I guess what I am wanting to say is, it's those situations like – you heard the story of Rachel Hoffman, the girl who got caught with marijuana a couple of times and then the police said, 'OK, you can become and informant and fix your slate, wipe it clean and start again.' Yet she wound up dying because of the ineptitude of the cops. They took that situation, I don't think anyone went to prison for it. It's like anything is possible or anything is absolvable if it's done in the name of the drug war, right?
Loretta Nall: It really seems to be. There seems to be – you know, cops don't have to play – they play by their own set of rules. If you get killed, well that's just part of the game and all these little internal investigations that they do or will investigate – it's like the fox guarding the henhouse.
There's really no citizen oversight boards to most police departments and things like this happen when they are just completely out of control and nobody really has control of them. Judges don't care. The whole system is corrupt from top to bottom.
Dean Becker: Yeah. That's why I take those – I'm not going to say cheap shots – just open shots, you know. I spend my whole life trying to get the drug czar or some governor's aide or the police chief – anybody – to defend this drug war. Now, the police chief, I'll be honest, he did come on the show and I didn't go for the jugular – like I should have – because I wanted to leave the door open for the next politician, for the next – you know what I am saying... to go up the ladder. I guess I am wanting that day with the drug czar but you have to be so cautious because you don't want to close that door. Your thought, Loretta - how do I go about that?
Loretta Nall: Well, you know, it depends on the situation. You have to be cautious if you think there is some room to work with a politician. You know, like, I do medical marijuana legislation here in Alabama and we have a scale - we try and contact the legislators, all of them, at the beginning of every session. And I think that the how that they react to our questions... You know one' a champion of our cause, and two's a yes and three's a maybe and four's a no and five's a 'hell no, get out of my office and never come back.'
But it depends on the kind of person you are dealing with: if they seem like somebody that could be reasoned with later on - you know, you don't want to burn your bridges – but if they seem like somebody like representative Tommy Benton from Georgia... Representative Tommy Benton who is in the thirty-first district in Georgia, represents Jefferson, Georgia which is in the northwest part of the state. He is a Republican, surprise, surprise.
He was exchanging emails with a constituent named Dylan Thompson and Mr. Thompson had a well-thought-out, nice, email he sent to his representative to talk about marijuana legalization and the drug war and rep Benton – this probably won't surprise anybody - but he is opposed to legalization and he says that he thinks we ought to go chaining marijuana smokers and to executing people who sell marijuana.
For those of you who don't know what chaining is, it's something they use in little – in places like Singapore you know where they have tyrannical dictatorships for governments and they... if you do something wrong, they strip you in public, bend you over this wooden contraption and use a wet rattan cane to lash you. You're skin breaks open, it leaves permanent scars, it's really – it's an inhumane and torturous type thing.
And for people who sell, like Webster Alexander I was talking about a few minutes ago. He would be subject to the death penalty for selling marijuana to his buddies in high school. But one of the most surprising things that Tommy Benton did was after Mr. Thompson wrote him back and had further very respectable exchange. There was nothing in it that should have caused this man to do this but he said he wasn't going to talk about it anymore... 'you and your cronies want marijuana legalized to you can get a hit anytime without having to worry about getting arrested. I have forwarded your email to the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office so that they can be on the lookout for you. Consider this my last correspondence on the subject with you or anyone else who shares your similar conservative views.'
An elected official sent an email of his constituent who didn't admit to any wrong doing – they were just talking about the political issue of marijuana and it's a very hot button issue right now. Forward his constituent's email to the police and I am livid.
Dean Becker: Well, Loretta, I think... Look, I am too, but I understand perhaps why this gets under your skin a little more than most because you had a similar situation where you wrote a letter to the editor. Let's talk about that beginning for you.
Loretta Nall: Oh, wow, OK. Back in 2002, I wrote a letter to the editor if the Birmingham News calling for marijuana legalization and said that the laws against it do more harm to society than marijuana itself ever will. The local cops in my town of Alexander City which is just a really small town in Alabama read the letter.
They made up a statement and attributed it to my then five year old daughter saying that we had – that she had a leaf project at school and she said she didn't bring any leaves because I told her I had some but they were illegal and there were green, leafy plants hanging from the ceiling at my house and she had seen me throwing them out the back door that morning.
So, they used my letter, they used this fabricated statement and something else to get a judge to sign a warrant and I went to jail. It was only for nine hours but it was nine hours too long. I never should have gone and I fought for four and a half years. The school was involved, BHR was involved. Her kindergarten teacher at the time filed malicious complaints on us saying we were starving our kids. It was just this whole big, ugly mess.
But, I never gave in, I never plead guilty because I wasn't guilty. They raided my house. They claimed to have found like eighty-seven hundredths of a gram of marijuana in an envelope addressed to me lying on top of my printer. Now, I don't know about any other marijuana consumers out there, but I don't put my name on my bag. I mean, I don't know anybody else that does either.
Dean Becker: And keep it on your printer...
Loretta Nall: So, after about four and half years, and twice – once it was the judge and once it was the prosecutor tainted the jury pool on two different occasions – my case was dismissed on 4/20/2007.
Dean Becker: How apropos, to be dismissed on 4/20. My fiends, we are speaking with Loretta Nall. Loretta, that story you talked about, you know, you getting busted for the - what was it? Eighty-seven one hundredths of a gram or something?
Loretta Nall: Yes. Something ridiculous like that. You couldn't even see it in court.
Dean Becker: Well, I held the record until - I'll tell you the secondary thing – but in the Air Force I got busted for 0.23 grams.
Loretta Nall: Ooh.
Dean Becker: Point zero two three, there it is. Right? .023. It was an empty matchbox and I think most of the weight was matchbox scraping. They spent a long time in that matchbox...
Dean Becker: But anyways, there was a gentleman in – I think he flew in to Kuwait and somehow I think they found .0013 grams on his shoe!
Loretta Nall: I remember that. It's like, man, you could have picked that up anywhere.
Dean Becker: It could have blown across the ocean and landed on your shoe. But anyway, yeah. And that is how ridiculous these people are. There is no huge stack of dead marijuana victims anywhere. It's just...
Loretta Nall: Show me the bodies...
Dean Becker: Yeah, show me the bodies and I guess that is the whole point. Well, Loretta, you know, you have I think, over the years, you know, worn many hats. You worked with Marc Emery, Cannabis Culture Magazine – kind of their roving reporter there for a while, right?
Loretta Nall: Yes, sure was and I'm sure, you know, everybody knows but I want to mention anyway – on September the nineteenth, Marc Emery will turn himself in in Seattle, Washington and he's facing, you know, like a minimum of five years in federal prison. Five to eight years. And right now, Canada is not doing any transfers sentences, especially for marijuana laws. Stephen Harper is the prime minister.
And we are hoping that people in cities all over the USA and all over the world, really, will on September nineteenth do a Free Marc Emery Day in their hometown and show your support for the guy who was a sugar daddy of the marijuana movement until the DEA decided that he was being a little too effective and arrested him and cut off one source of funding.
Since we are talking about funding, let me throw in here something that people maybe don't know but, when Bernie Madoff , you know, the big on Wall Street who bilked people out of a hundred and fifty billion dollars or something... When he did all that, when he stole all that money and it was found out, a lot of the foundations that support drug policy reformers like me and like Dean, lost money because they had invested with him and so the money pool that we're working from to do, you know, what I consider god's work is a lot smaller right now and if you have got, you know, if you've got some money, show some love to the people who are out here on the front lines fighting it every day.
Dean Becker: I have called the drug czar's office numerous times. I have visited, you know, the former drug czar. Well, I visited, I walked up to him, he closed his briefcase, guards gathered around him and he left the building. Would not answer my words, my questions. And as I walked next to him, “Won't you just take my business card mister drug czar?”
And he, honest to god, left the building and the guys were reaching into their coats as I walked up, you know, like, 'Take him out, Mr. Walters?' And I'm just wanting to ask a question or I got to ask his assistant, you know. She said, 'Well, what would you want to talk about?” And I said, 'Well, the first question would be: Can you name the number one success of the drug war? And I could hear the phone beginning to hang up, you know what I'm saying...
Dean Becker: And I said, 'hold on a minute, hold on a minute.' That is what lead me to produce the following public service announcement.
Darth Drug Czar, you're a coward, a liar, demon and thief. Seems you can't face the truth for just one hour.
Too busy looking at pee...
Dean Becker, drugtruth.net
Dean Becker: Yeah, too busy looking at pee and that's what they are doing. They want to look at everybody's pee real close. It reminds me of the alpha male in a wolf pack, you know, wanting everybody to roll over so that they can examine their genitals, see what they have been up to.
Loretta Nall: It's disgusting, isn't it? I had a similar experience while John Walters was drug czar. He came to Gunnersville, Alabama and spoke at a senior citizen home about expanding urine testing and pushing that kind of stuff and this was back in I guess 2003 or 2004. You know, I had posted it on the internet that I was going to go and that I, you know I was going to – it was supposed to be where question and answer period afterwards, I was going to film it you know, put it on pot TV.
I had to get there a little late and everybody was already sitting down and he was talking and when I waltzed in he looked at me and I knew that he knew who I was. And it was like that instant recognition thing so I took my seat and began videotaping and you could see him get a little nervous and started, you know, drumming his fingers on the podium and you know, wringing his hands and stuttering his speech and soon, just as soon as he was finished talking the men in black swooped around him and ushered him out the door and nobody got to ask a single question.
He jumped in like a big yellow hummer and sped off into the wild blue yonder. It was very frustrating but it was also, in a way, it was gratifying to see that he doesn't want to face us because he can't answer your question. There is no answer to the main success because there has not been one single success in the drug war and I... A few weeks ago, you know there has been a lot of talk about how much money California would make if they legalized marijuana and taxed it for adult use. So I got some help from the people on our drug mailing list and - you know what I am talking about – DRO list...
Dean Becker: Sure...
Loretta Nall: And I crunched the numbers for Alabama and not only did I come up with the amount of money we could make but I came up with the fact that for the latest numbers available for marijuana arrests in Alabama were 2002 and it was you know, ten thousand and something people were arrested out of almost 400,000 pot smokers estimated to be here and that is only 2.6 percent of the estimated number of marijuana consumers in Alabama. That's all that law enforcement was able to get their claws in to.
Dean Becker: Forgive me here, but we have... I want to let folks know that next week you will get your chance to Face the Inquisition. You'll be able to call in and talk toll-free to Fred Gardner. He is the editor, publisher of O'Shaughnessy's magazine and let's go ahead and play a little bit from Fred. A couple of - almost three minutes here – Loretta, and we'll be right back.
Fred Gardner: My name is Fred Gardner, I edit a journal called O'Shaughnessy's for the growing group of pro-cannabis doctors in California and beyond.
Dean Becker: Fred, there is all kind of amazing news breaking of late. A gentleman in Colorado just got his two pounds of marijuana back from the state. And other news in California, people not getting sent to prison, all kinds of possibilities and actualities. Let's talk about medical marijuana though and the fact that it's a slam dunk as far as the science now. It's proven, right?
Fred Gardner: Well, it's proven like it's proven that the earth revolves around the sun and that the earth is round and that life has evolved from more primitive forms but those scientific findings are not accepted by everybody in this country where a large part of the population has been systematically mis-educated on cannabis and other subjects too.
Dean Becker: And that's the point, though, of O'Shaughnessy's is to share that information, to get it out there to where it needs to be.
Fred Gardner: Yeah, it's kind of – it's really an extension of my own education, Dean. Like everybody else, I didn't learn anything about cannabis in college. I worked for Scientific American in the 60s as an editor. Still didn't know anything about cannabis.
The first time I heard about medical use, I was visiting somebody in the VA hospital in 1970 or 71 and I could smell it in the ward where people were recovering from spinal injuries. It was very open and they said they got relief from spasms and I didn't know what to think. I thought, well are they – is this some kind of line that they are using so that they can smoke legally? And, I figured they might be smoking for mood, which was fine with me, of course. I thought that was legitimate use but it wasn't until after later I realized this really is an anti-spasmodic, very effective, possibly the most effective anti-spasmodic. Western medicine doesn't have much for convulsions, for epilepsy, for seizures, for spasms of all kinds.
We are up against tremendous organized forces. Look at these people they have sent. The drug companies and the insurance companies have sent these mobs out to town hall meetings now to shout down the reform pot – just the discussion about reform.
Anybody who is interested in this in advance can go to pcmd4u.org – that's pc as in pro cannabis, md as in medical doctor, the numeral four and the letter u dot org will get you there. It is under construction; don't get any wet paint on your hands
Dean Becker: OK. That was Fred Gardner. He will be our guest to take your questions and comments live next week on Cultural Baggage and Century of Lies: Face the Inquisition. This was done tongue in cheek but it's the damn truth as well...
Lady: Does that look like cocaine to you?
Man: Well, it's all white and powdery... I'd say, yeah.
Lady: That's good enough as evidence.
Announcer: Stayed tuned for CSI: Houston.
Dean Becker: Yeah, Loretta. Across this country we have failures of crime labs and, well, the whole criminal justice system, do we not?
Loretta Nall: We do and the failures in the drug testing labs and there are so many times that, you know, a drug test will come back false positive and people who are on probation or things like that, they really have no legal recourse. You know, a lot of the time they don't have money to get things retested. You know, the judges don't care, the prosecutors, you know, get another notch in their belt for everybody they can put in jail and keep there whether they belong there or not.
You know it's really kind of turning into America... I wonder sometimes, you know what we have lost that we allow these things to happen. Used to be that we didn't like authority figures and we didn't like to be told what to do and we didn't care for moral crusades or complete government control over every aspect of our daily lives.
That is why we fought the war to claim our independence and that is why we drank more alcohol during prohibition than we do today. Because you know, we are born free Americans and by god, we are going to live like them and die like them and we get to the point where you know, they are examining your bodily fluids or they are strip searching your children in school; where representatives are calling for, you know, torture and murdering people because of their political views or association with a plan.
We have let these people get so powerful that they have basically outlawed nature and put themselves above the very god they claim to believe in loudly every time they open their mouths and it's got to stop because it's really – it's ruined our country.
Dean Becker: I tell you what, Loretta, I have got a couple of other pieces I want to share with the audience but I want to give you the chance to please share your website and then a little pep talk with the audience about that need to get involved.
Loretta Nall: My website is nallforgovernor, that's n-a-l-l-f-o-r-governor.blogspot.com. Please visit, share some comments. I mainly comment on drug related stuff in Alabama and in the south. I am here if you have got questions, you want to get something going in your neighborhood, you want some advice, I can do that.
But, back again to the fundraising - and we hate to ask for money, you know nobody likes to sound like a beggar but we can't get government grants for what we do because well, the government doesn't want us to succeed. So, all we have is each other to get this done and if you...
You know, a lot of people don't feel comfortable speaking out publicly against the drug war. They are afraid they will go to jail and I understand that. I have been to jail for speaking out. This representative in Georgia forwarded his constituent's email to the sheriff's department because this guy was speaking out.
So, you know, people like Dean and me and the people at LEAP and Drug Policy Alliance and NORML and MPP and all the medical marijuana people in California. You have to stand up and if you can't stand up, you have to support the people that do or we are not ever going to get anything changed in this country. Either support by, you know, putting your own ass on the front line or by reaching into your pocketbook right now and supporting Dean Becker and the Drug Truth Network.
Dean Becker: Loretta Nall, thank you so much. We'll be in touch, hope to see you at a conference here soon.
Loretta Nall: I'll see you out there, Dean. Take care.
Dean Becker: Alright, bye bye.
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Sigifredo Gonzales, Jr.: Sigifredo Gonzales, Jr. I am the sheriff in Zapata County, Texas.
Dean Becker: Sheriff, we met briefly during the premier of the movie Drug War: Silver or Lead there in Victoria. I was wanting to get an update from you if you had seen many changes from that point in time - if the cartels are still sneaking that stuff in – if it's still as bad as we then thought it was?
Sigifredo Gonzales, Jr.: Yeah, we saw from what was received as a reduction in the activity along the border in this area anyway. There was a tremendous increase in the area of Juarez and the area of El Paso. And I received certain increase of gang violence along the border on the Mexican side but there is some spill over to the US side in the area of Del Rio, Texas and Laredo, Texas and even across from Star County, Texas. It's starting up again.
Dean Becker: Yeah, they couldn't hold off their shipments forever. They have got to get that product across the border some kind of way, right?
Sigifredo Gonzales, Jr.: Well, it's true and at the same time, it's also the violence. You saw what happened in Cahone, California where the border patrol agent was killed - shot about nine times, once in the face - a clear message to law enforcement on the US side to get out of the way.
Dean Becker: The sad thing is, sir, I understand those cartels make twenty, some say as much as forty billion dollars a year and they use about half that to bribe law enforcement officials even on both sides of the border, right?
Sigifredo Gonzales, Jr.: I understand that to be true. I don't really know anything about the figures or if it's half or not but yeah. There is bribery along the border from what I understand. There have been several officers that have been arrested for that.
Dean Becker: And, I guess the point is, sir, when we last talked you said you are not for legalization but perhaps it is time to talk about it.
Sigifredo Gonzales, Jr.: Well, that is something that I am not saying for or against anything, really, in a professional capacity and if people want to talk about it, they have been talking about it for a long time and they can continue talking about it.
Dean Becker: You are also a head of a sheriff's...
Sigifredo Gonzales, Jr.: I am president of the – I am the Head of the Southwestern Border Sheriff's Coalition which is the coalition of thirty-one sheriffs from San Diego, California to Brownsville, Texas.
Dean Becker: When you guys get together this drug war is a main topic of discussion, is it not?
Sigifredo Gonzales, Jr.: Our topic of discussion is mostly border violence. That is really what we are in to and that is what we have been doing.
Dean Becker: And, of course, much of the violence, as we indicated earlier, is caused by the involvement of these cartels.
Sigifredo Gonzales, Jr.: Oh, of course. Cartels are a very big part of the violence that is happening along the border, both on... not only along the border we have see this violence probably spreading all the way to Ohio, so it's not just along the border. It's elsewhere, also.
Dean Becker: Yeah, I saw a report last week. I think, out of Troy, Ohio. They found a group of illegal aliens up there growing pot beside the highway.
Sigifredo Gonzales, Jr.: It happens all over the nation and it is a problem. Narcotics violence is one problem and we also have a problem related to the violence, spill over violence at the border regarding illegal immigration, which we are not a part of but we are still in it unfortunately.
Dean Becker: Yes, sir. Alright, well, once again, we have been speaking with Sheriff Gonzales out of Zapata County, Texas. Sheriff, thank you so much for your time and we'll be in touch.
Sigifredo Gonzales, Jr.: Alright, thank you, sir.
Dean Becker: Alright, my friends. Over the years my list of contacts has gotten better where I can now call up south Texas Sheriffs and they will talk about it. Again, he is not for legalization, but he says, we can talk about it. Why can't the drug czar talk about it with me? Well, I don't know what to tell you.
We are going to try to answer that in our next show which happens to be Century of Lies on the mother ship and most of the Drug Truth Network stations. We love you. We appreciate you being with us and please show your support and remember because of prohibition, you don't know what's 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.
This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.
Tap dancing on the edge on an abyss.