Cultural Baggage December 20, 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: Happy holidays my friends. Happy Hanukkah, wonderful Kwanza, merry Christmas, happy Ramadan or whatever the Muslims do. Happy winter solstice. Happy family gatherings. Happy family greetings. Hopefully a prosperous new year. Hopefully a better world which we can create. Today I ate a cookie little while ago, finishing up a little coca tea. I am wanting to talk to you tonight.
We have a great interview with Roger Goodman. He's a state representative up in Washington State and he and Tom Amiano had a conference last week and Tom's an assemblyman in California to talk about legalizing marijuana, to talk about the need for the change.
To talk about eliminating the reason for most of the gangs that are out there. Talk about getting the cartels to lose their main financial engine. Talking about making changes so necessary to safety and health and security and prosperity for you and your children and for our nation. Hundreds of billions of dollars every year going in the wrong direction all because of this policy of drug prohibition.
After our discussion with Roger Goodman I want to take your calls. But let's go ahead and get into that interview. In about fifteen minutes I want to take your calls. I want to talk about the Drug Truth Network, where we have been, where we are going, maybe who you think we should bring on the show. But let's go ahead and play that segment with Roger Goodman.
Dean Becker: Recently a teleconference was held, put together by the Drug Policy Alliance. It was titled West Coast Lawmakers Move to Legalize Marijuana. It featured assembly member Tom Amiano, chair of the Public Safety Committee in the California state assembly. Featured Joe Harris, managing director there at the Drug Policy Alliance as well as the [ ] Nidu staff attorney at the DPA and our guest for today representative Roger Goodman. He's the vice chair of the judiciary committee of the Washington state house of representatives. Hello Roger.
Roger Goodman: Hi Dean. It's good to be back with you.
Dean Becker: Roger, it is. It's nice to see progress, hear about people speaking the full truth about these drugs. In particular marijuana is getting a lot of focus these days, right?
Roger Goodman: Yeah, I figured it was time to step out on marijuana legalization. Of course, you and I both know that prohibition of any substance is bad for the public and bad for the economy and so forth. But I think culturally we are ready now to have really serious conversation about bringing marijuana back into the law.
Dean Becker: Now this teleconference featured representatives from California and the state of Washington to talk about perhaps some symbiotic understanding and need to change working together perhaps. But just yesterday you and Mary Lou Dickerson put forward a bill there in Washington State to legalize marijuana?
Roger Goodman: Yeah I am the number two sponsor, the prime sponsor of the bill, house bill 2401 in the Washington state legislature. Mary Lou Dickerson is, she came to me and asked me do you want to sign on and I said absolutely. It's time to get this conversation going.
We have pre-filed the bill. It's not official until the session starts in the beginning of January. So but the word got out I guess we, it's all public documents so folks found out about it. It's been a huge outpouring of support.
The only person who has objected to it is our attorney general who is running for governor and wants to look tough. And what's very interesting is that the response to his objection is overwhelming that he's, he doesn't get it, that he's hurting his chances for getting elected governor. And that this is like a litmus test for for many of the voters in our state and he is failing it.
Dean Becker: Now you say governor wanna-be is objecting? I wanted to ask, is he a medical doctor?
Roger Goodman: No, no he's a, he's a law and order guy and so his and also tends to act in on behalf of large corporations.
Dean Becker: Well, here in Houston we recently had a ruling from our district attorney said that they were no longer going to arrest people for less that one one hundredth of a gram of hard drugs. And the police, the police union spokesman came out and says we can't allow these crack heads to go free if we can't leverage them to point to those who sold it to them or otherwise you know terrorize them I guess in to cooperating, that we are going to lose a major tool. Your thoughts on that.
Roger Goodman: Well that's actually very refreshing to hear that in Houston, the black hole of the war on drugs, sorry to tell you that, but you already know that.
Dean Becker: Yes I do.
Roger Goodman: ...that the DA is finally starting to wake up. Our DA here in Seattle years ago stopped prosecuting what we call the residue cases where there's just a little bit of a drug left on the paraphernalia.
That was costing the city of Seattle or costing the county five hundred thousand dollars just to prosecute those cases and you know we cant afford it. Now of course we're waking up to the fact we can't afford the whole war on drugs. But yeah it's all absolutely ridiculous.
These are mostly socially dislocated people living on the street or something close to it selling very small amounts or providing very small amounts to one another. These are not dealers. This is these are people in need.
And maybe they are smelly and manipulative and have a mental illness but I think we should be regarding their dignity and that means you know not locking them up and giving them some assistance so they can become functional and not get in our way in public spaces and so forth.
You know I you know the incentives for law enforcement in the war on drugs are very strong and so you are going to get that party line when something like this comes up.
Dean Becker: Now like many states and municipalities across the country, Washington State is also considering other measures. There's a bill that was recently endorsed by the Washington state bar association that would decriminalize marijuana. Does it stand a better chance?
Roger Goodman: Yeah a bill was introduced last year - now we have two year sessions so the bill is still alive – to decriminalize. As you may know most, many states have already decriminalized marijuana possession. So we are still punishing but we're just punishing less. We're not saddling someone with a criminal record.
Washington state however if you possess more than a let's see it's forty grams so that's an ounce and a half I guess, if you possess more than an ounce and a half of marijuana in Washington state it is a felony. Now I think on a practical level it might not be prosecuted that way these days, again because we can't afford it.
But we absolutely need to crank down the penalties you know. While we are having the conversation about getting to you know a full regulated market which, we'll get there, we still need to reduce the penalties. And so the decriminalization bill is has a much better chance for sure and there is a lot of support for it.
It's going to come before the committee I sit on, the public safety committee. I am certainly a yes vote. And I know that there is some lobbying going on to see that that this decrim bill makes it through.
The speaker the speaker of the house has said that if he gets the majority of signatures on a discharge petition he will bring the bill to the floor. And so that's I guess our job as the members to bring to the speaker evidence that we have a majority in support of this and then we'll bring it to the floor.
So the decrim measure doesn't have any problems with federal law. There are twelve, thirteen states that have already decriminalized and so forth. Colorado I can tell you is moving to reduce penalties even further so that possession of half a pound of marijuana would be a petty offense.
And think of that. We are way behind. However progressive Washington state seems to be in its reputation, when you take a look at the drug war we're pretty we're pretty harsh when you look at the penalties. So the marijuana decrim bill is important.
There are other not official proposals but we're thinking about downgrading possession of other drugs in very very small amounts from felony to misdemeanor. No bill has been introduced so probably not going to happen this year but hey, it's all moving in the same direction.
Dean Becker: Roger as your day job because I think most legislators have to have a quote day job because it really isn't a high paying job.
Roger Goodman: Yeah.
Dean Becker: But you get a chance to talk to other legal groups around the country about some necessary changes. You want to talk about that day job?
Roger Goodman: Yeah, we don't make the big bucks in the legislature so we have to find a way. There's some legislators who are sort of rich and retired so they can afford to do it.
But I am a drug policy reformer by day and what I do is organize lawyers and lawyers groups. The group is called the Voluntary Committee of Lawyers. And for anyone interested go to vcl, voluntary committee of lawyers, vcl.org. And I work with lawyers groups around the country to influence their legislatures on cranking it down, reducing penalties, moving towards a regulated market and there's tremendous movement in many states.
We are working in Massachusetts, New York, Alabama believe it or not. Haven't come down to texas yet but I am planning planning to. Colorado as I said is making great progress, Wisconsin. So all over the country legislatures are waking up to the fact that we have to change this policy fundamentally.
And what we are doing is getting lawyers and lawyers groups and other professional groups too, medical societies and so forth to provide cover. You know it used to be kind of a third rail although now it seems to be mainstream.
I am not sure if you saw yesterday US house of representative passed unanimously a bill to take a look at our drug policies, internationally in particular. So jesus its not even cutting edge anymore. This is just mainstream conversation. So what I am going is consulting with these bar associations and legislatures around the country to help them move drug policy in a rational direction.
Dean Becker: Well you and I have tried for years not to get say the Houston police patrolman's union or the you know bar association or any stuffed shirt if you will organization to invite you and perhaps a couple of other speakers to talk about this. Perhaps the time is right for us to try again. Or if they are listening...
Roger Goodman: Absolutely. I promise you and now I am a politician so you got to be wary, but I promise you I am coming I am coming to Houston in 2010.
Dean Becker: Alright and again anyone out there listening that's involved with those organizations, think about it. This is your chance to look intelligent on the war on drugs and to help bring about a positive difference. Right Roger?
Roger Goodman: Well sure, like the Harris County Bar for instance or the Houston bar association. If if anyone is an attorney who is listening, try to get the bar association to start talking about this. I know that the Houston Rotary Club is very influential and they are starting to think about it. So I am looking forward to coming down there and working with you guys.
Dean Becker: Alright. Once again we are speaking with Mr. Roger Goodman. He's a representative up in the state of Washington. A man of many talents and a lot of great acumen about this war on drugs. You have devoted years if not more than a decade to understanding this, right Roger?
Roger Goodman: I can't believe its been a decade but it actually has.
Dean Becker: And you know what we want to do... I don't know if you are a member of LEAP but what my group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition wants to do is to curtail death, disease, crime and addiction. And if you're not a member Roger, you certainly would qualify to...
Roger Goodman: I am a member of LEAP and I encourage people to go online vcl.org and join the Voluntary Committee of Lawyers too as an associate member. Our objectives are very similar. We want to improve public safety, enhance public health, protect children and families better and make wiser use of public money, fiscal responsibility. So these are legitimate public policy objectives.
This is not about drugs, this is about larger issues and we have been fetish-izing drugs you know turning drugs into the object of our of our hatred and so forth. Drugs are, they don't move unless we make them move. You know they are not coming out and attacking us.
And as a matter of fact people use drugs by and large to feel better or to enjoy themselves and and and the great majority of circumstances it's without any dysfunction or harm to anyone else. We hear about the stories where there is harm to anyone else and that makes it sound like that's the norm but it's not.
And so I think we are moving in the rational direction. Kind of interesting Dean you know since the election last year, the twentieth century is officially over now and all of a sudden rationality is acceptable in politics. It's great; it is like something was released.
And we can talk about things and make sense and not be called crazy. I don't know what was going on in the last few years but then of course when you pull the plug on the economy that gets people to you start to getting real and this is part of that, ending the war on drugs.
Dean Becker: Well I noted in the teleconference which you participated in with assemblyman Amiano and others. I beleive it was a tough name [ ] Nidu who stated that there is nothing in the controlled substance act, there is nothing in federal law that would prevent the various states from legalizing cannabis. Your thoughts on that?
Roger Goodman: Well I have to be honest as an attorney and as someone who has studied this particular issue, the federal state conflict in law that it can go both ways. This would certainly go before a court. Because the federal law, the controlled substances act is pretty preemptive in allowing states to do something like create a regulated market the federal controlled substance act certainly allows states to decriminalize.
But you know decriminalization doesn't mean ending punishment, it just means turning a criminal punishment into a civil punishment. What we need to do is end all punishment, create a regulated market in this commodity, controlled availability to adults.
And then when we are talking about that we are talking about commodities. Then we are talking about commerce. And the federal law, the interstate commerce clause of the constitution has been interpreted to override what the states want to do in this area.
So you know I think ultimately it's going to have to be a political decision. So for instance medical marijuana is not allowed under federal law and the federal government can still go and raid dispensaries or arrest people or do whatever they want.
President Obama has wisely decided to back off and so the question is would president Obama wisely decided to back off when it comes to states wanting to regulate this product for public health, welfare and safety. Frankly we need the congress to act on this as well to make it official. So constitutionally it's up in the air. Politically it's a decision for our leaders to make.
Dean Becker: And I would kind of throw in this thought that it was Mayor La Guardia in New York who decided he was no longer going to enforce the alcohol prohibition laws.
Roger Goodman: That's right.
Dean Becker: And I would say that under the current circumstance there is no way the federal government could afford to enforce the marijuana laws nationwide let alone in a state as big as California or Washington.
Roger Goodman: Yeah I can tell you on the border up here in the northwest on the border of...
Dean Becker: OK, once again that was Roger Goodman, state representative state of Washington talking about the need for change to the marijuana laws. Here in about two, two and a half minutes we'll be done with this discussion with Roger.
You'll get a chance to Name That Drug by its Side Effects. But we want to hear from you. Our number locally 713 526 5738 and anywhere in North America toll free you can call 1 877 9 420 420. Let's close that out with Roger.
Roger Goodman: I can tell you on the border up here on the northwest on the border with Canada and there's some BC bud coming across the border all I have to say that the marijuana grown in Washington state is arguably of better quality but the federal, the US attorney here, who is a rough, tough guy, although we have a brand new one.
But the immediate former federal prosecutor here wasn't prosecuting anything under five hundred pounds. So you are right. The federal government does not have the resources to go chasing people down and so you know on a practical level it really is up to the states. But you know I think we need to have federal and state law in alignment here. And you know it will get there. We'll get there.
Dean Becker: Alright once again we have been speaking with Mr. Roger Goodman, representative in the state of Washington. He serves as the vice chair of the judiciary committee up there and there is much change afoot, is there not Roger?
Roger Goodman: Well there is. I mean the thing is that I am a reformer, right? And as a reformer you have to stay on the cutting edge. And now all a the sudden everything I have been talking about for a decade is now like mainstream and so I am not on the cutting edge anymore you know.
But it's very refreshing to see people say wow you know what you have been talking about for so long is really true. And it also feels good personally to be sticking to your principles and knowing that you are speaking the truth. And knowing that you are trying to improve you know our societal conditions. And like I said in the last year we have had a refreshing resurgence of rationality in our politics and I just hope it continues in this direction.
Dean Becker: Well, I am going to close out this with a thought that if anybody wants to hear a speaker from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition contact me, email@example.com. I'll get you a warden or a former narcotics officer, CIA agent, somebody to come talk to you And if you lawyers out there would like to hear from Mr. Roger Goodman, tell them once again where they can contact you Roger.
Roger Goodman: It's the Voluntary Committee of Lawyers and so that's vcl.org, go to vcl.org and you'll se what we are doing across the country.
Dean Becker: Well Roger I want to wish you and your family a safe and prosperous holiday season and I look forward to our next discussion.
Roger Goodman: Thanks a lot Dean. Happy holidays to you too.
It's time to play Name that Drug by Its Side Effects!
Flying projectiles, flu like symptopms, itching, pain, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, low blood pressure. May affect heart function and immune response. Should not be used by pregnant or breast feeding women or by children under the age of twelve.
The answer, mistletoe, the American mistletoe is poisonous, deadly in fact. The European mistletoe is undergoing clinical trials because it has been shown to kill cancer cells.
Corruption is why you and I are prancing around in here instead of fighting over scraps of meat out in the street. Corruption is why we win.
Dean Becker: Alright my friends, phone's not ringing, that must be you not calling. Our number here 713 526 5738. I got lots of stuff in the can if you just don't want to talk. I I no one wants to get on the shift list, I understand that. But there is no shift list so fear not. Give us a call toll free 1 877 9 420 420. I'd love to hear from you.
OK folks, are we winning the drug war? That's a question we really need to stop and ask ourselves. Is it working out for us you know? Is it making good policy? Is it protecting our children and our borders and keeping us safe? And if it's not, then maybe we should do something else and that's why we are here.
We just went over eight years, we are about eight years and two months now of Drug Truth Network. We have seventy-one affiliates, US Canada, one in Australia. Do we have, we have we do have one caller. I appreciate your bravery, John, you have a thought you would like to share?
Caller: Yes, I was watching the news the other day and they were talking about al the people that are being killed in the border area there at El Paso and it's amazing. I wonder if you could make a comment about that. I mean the people are just getting shot left and right man.
Dean Becker: Well just the other day they busted one of the major kingpins. They called him one of the biggest fish of all and you know they talked about one of the drawbacks to doing so. It's certain to increase the level of violence in Mexico.
I interviewed judge Eleanor [ ] a few years back and she talked about the fact that when she her husband was a pharmacist and when the pharmacy got raided and the gunman came in and frightened you know everyone in the facility that the head of the then it was bureau of narcotics, Harry J. Anslinger, the father of it all said well that shows that we're being successful when they are starting to have to rob the drug stores.
Caller: Yeah I think your show is fantastic man. I am gonna listen to you. Thank you now.
Dean Becker: Thank you John, I appreciate your call. Alright Laura, line two you are on the air.
Caller: Hello, I kind of appreciate Roger Goodman's push to end the drug war. It's like really expensive. But he was saying something about homeless people. How we have got these people some help.
Well speaking against criminalizing them and against criminalizing people sometimes I wonder if getting people some help is just another back door way of locking them up because sometimes people might be forced to accept help that they don't want.
Dean Becker: Well I'm with you Laura. I believe in available treatment to anyone who seeks it rather than being forced to go through a prison bed to get that help. And I think you have a very valid point. Thank you for your comment. Let's go to Anthony, line three. Welcome to the Drug Truth Network.
Caller: Oh, how are you doing tonight?
Dean Becker: I am good sir. What do you have to share with us?
Caller: I just don't understand how...
Dean Becker: Oh, did we lose Anthony? OK, Tom's been waiting on line four. You're on the air sir.
Caller: Hi Dean, thanks for doing your show every week. Really we appreciate it.
Dean Becker: Well Tom thank you for listening. It's important to me that my hope, my goal you know reaching out to millions of pairs of ears every year is that I encourage one of one person each day to do a little something.
Caller: That's right, Dean. And it especially touched me when the representative from was talking about being a reformer and just feeling every day that you were doing the good work. I know that rings especially close to your heart Dean. And myself I have been in the movement for since the last millennium.
Again it touches me that we are seeing the end of it and this is now if anybody was shy about being pro cannabis, this is the time to get over it and start spouting off to your relatives. Start snapping back. Start talking back. Say at dinner conversations industrial hemp has a one hundred day grow cycle just to see the look on their face.
Dean Becker: Well it does. It's a heck of a, it's a money tree to be honest. Out of the current prohibition stance it certainly is. Tom, thank you for your call and I am aware of the work you do in the Houston community. We are starting to get a flurry of callers. We're going to go now to Lisa who's...
Dean Becker: Oh boy. OK, are we back live? We had to dump. That wasn't Lisa; she had a very manly voice and saying some very ugly manly things. But well Laura is tending to a couple of other calls that are still coming in.
I want to say something to you guys you know, I pride myself on the content of this. I promise you that in the next year I am going to work on the quality of the audio if I have to buy, I have been studying up on it, ISDN line for some of these recordings. I want to give you a better product.
I want to increase the outreach of the Drug Truth Network and I want to mostly just make some progress you know. A lot of the guests have been talking about it. The time is right, the iron is hot. It's time for us to speak up and do our part and to make these changes occur. Are we ready for Lee? Lee from Utah, you're on the air. What did you have to share?
Caller: Hi. I spoke with you earlier today. I called, I decided to call.
Dean Becker: Yes ma'am.
Caller: Thank you.
Dean Becker: Well thank you. Lee is new to the Drug Truth Network. What are your perceptions Lee?
Caller: You know a pet peeve of mine is something that Roger Goodman brought up and that's bringing the federal and state laws in alignment. Well there's a great deal of progress with the state laws.
My heart goes out to those who are in the military and living on military bases. And if they are living in a state with medical marijuana, how in the world are these people going to get medical marijuana, especially if they qualify for it. But then here they are in the military living on military bases.
Dean Becker: Well, Lee there's so many box canyons if you will, so many conundrums associated with the drug war that you know even for the NFL players in some states maybe its legal for them to smoke their medical marijuana and then again maybe it's not. That hasn't been decided.
But as always it's going to take us doing our part to speak up and to change our local elected official's minds, one on one, face to face, let them know you know the truth and that you know they know the truth. That's when we'll begin to make progress. We're basically out of time. Lee, I thank you.
Anthony, we're going to be taking calls on the Century of Lies show if you want to call us back after our discussion with Mr. Steve De Angelo. He's the executive director of the Harborside Cannabis Dispensary out there in Oakland. That'll be next on many of the Drug Truth Network affiliates.
You know guys I am counting on you this next year to wake up, stand a little taller, speak a little bit louder, do a little bit more and to help bring this madness to an end and as always, I remind you and it's becoming more evident to everybody 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.
This show is produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT Houston.
Tap dancing on the edge of the abyss...