Cultural Baggage May 9, 2010

This is your drug czar. Do not listen to the Drug Truth Network. It's evil. Pure evil.

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.

Hello, my friends. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. We have a couple of guests here, during the Cultural Baggage show. We're going to hear from Mr. Richard Lee, who heads up Oaksterdam University, out there in California. We're also get a report from Matt Elrod out of Canada, in regards to progress and the lack thereof, I suppose, in drug law reform. He's the web editor for Drug Sense, a distributor of news and information that I use quite regularly, here on the Drug Truth Network.

There's a story done recently in the Sacramento Bee, talking about our first guest, Richard Lee. Talks about his Houston roots. His mother's and father's involvement in trying to change these laws. History of the hemp store, here in town and as I indicated earlier, he's created Oaksterdam University and a whole segment, neighborhood if you will, there in Oakland, California. With that, let's bring in our guest, Mr. Richard Lee. You there, sir?

Mr. Richard Lee: Yes. Thanks for having me on.

Dean Becker: Richard, let's talk about that. I'm proud of the work you do and I'd like to throw in the thought that some of it has a history; a beginnings, right here in Houston. Does it not?

Mr. Richard Lee: Definitely. It definitely started with the legal marijuana, the hemp store, back in the early nineties there.

Dean Becker: Yeah Richard, it's really progressed for you over the... What, nine years? Ten years, you've been in Oakland?

Mr. Richard Lee: Thirteen, now.

Dean Becker: Thirteen? Wow, I have to keep up I guess. Yeah, OK. If you will, kind of give the folks a history. You move from Houston out there and the progress. How it came about.

Mr. Richard Lee: When I first moved here, I was working with the OCBC. The Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative, which was the first Cannabis outlet in Oakland. Then we opened our own outlet in 1999 and since then, like you said, we opened Oaksterdam University a couple of years ago and we've been real lucky. Then we've been able to work with the local City Council here and the people of Oakland are very understanding that Cannabis Prohibition doesn't work. So yep, we've been real lucky.

Dean Becker: Yeah as I indicated, there's a whole neighborhood I guess there in Oakland, called Oaksterdam, now. That has actually improved the sales for all those other retailers and such that are nearby, right?

Mr. Richard Lee: Exactly. We see Oaksterdam as a working model for urban revitalization. How the Cannabis businesses can subsidize food service businesses, the sidewalk cafés and things like that, which make the neighborhood safer and cleaner and bring in business for other businesses. So it's been working really well here.

Dean Becker: Richard, you and your associates have been covered pretty extensively on the major media, MSNBC and even FOX. Talking about the progress and the potential, for this tax and regulate that's on the ballot for this coming fall. Right?

Mr. Richard Lee: Yeah, we're real excited about the Tax, Regulate and Control Act of 2010, that will be on the November 2nd ballot. When that passes this year, it will make California the first state to tax and regulate Cannabis, similar to alcohol.

Dean Becker: Now Richard, you guys have done radio ads. I saw a piece on the web the other day. It was a video produced for S.K. Seymour, which is your main company, is it right?

Mr. Richard Lee: Right.

Dean Becker: It involves a friend of mine and I think yours as well, Judge James P. Gray. I'd like to play that for the audience. It'll give us a topic for our additional discussion.

The following public service announcement was produced by Oaksterdam University. It features Judge James P. Gray, author of “Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs” It's in support of California's tax and regulate measure.

James P. Gray: Why would I, as a now retired Superior Court Judge, talk in favor of regulating and controlling marijuana? Particularly when I've never used marijuana or any other illegal drug, for that matter. Based upon my twenty-five years on the bench, I have seen that the tougher we get with regard to drug crime, specifically marijuana, literally the softer we get with regard to the prosecution of everything else.

So we are actually having robbers, rapists and murderers reduced sentences or being prosecuted less severely, because we're spending all of these criminal justice resources on the prosecution of non-violent drug offenders. You can help change that and turn it around by voting in favor of this initiative in November, to tax and regulate marijuana. Mainly, treat marijuana like alcohol, for adults. This is something we must simply do.

Tax it. Regulate it. Control it. Hold people accountable for their actions.

Dean Becker: That's the heart of the matter. When I heard that, it reminded me of where I stole a lot of my ideas and that's from Judge James P. Gray. He's quite a guy. Isn't he, Richard?

Mr. Richard Lee: Yes. It's been really great having him working to support the campaign. We've been sending out his video with our emails. Which your listeners can sign up for, at You can become a friend on face book. We have more friends than all the governor candidates combined. We have sixty thousand friends on facebook, now. We want to get one hundred thousand. You can go to the website there. Get signed up. Get more information and make a donation.

Dean Becker: We're speaking with Mr. Richard Lee. He's the president, the founder of Oaksterdam University. Now Richard, you guys have now taught some several thousand individuals a better way, in regards to medical marijuana. Correct?

Mr. Richard Lee: We've had over ten thousand students, now.

Dean Becker: Wow! That's not just in Oaksterdam. You've branched out as well, right?

Mr. Richard Lee: Right. We have a campus in Los Angels and we just started having classes in Michigan on a regular basis, as well. In Flint, Michigan.

Dean Becker: That's wonderful. Now Richard, I want to go back to a little bit about what Judge Gray was saying that, 'For every drug bust we do, it means that we have less attention, less money and manpower to deal with the violent criminals out there amongst us.'

It's kind of compounding that awareness of that situation. Kind of compounding or contributing, I should say, to the progress in this regard. Cities and States and the Nation is running out money to fund the luxury of this drug war. Correct?

Mr. Richard Lee: Yes. Like the Judge was saying, 'The clearance rate on real crime; on murder and rape and robbery, has gone down in recent years. The only thing that's gone up is the number of arrest for Cannabis consumers.' That's actually what got me started in this. Is I was a victim of a car jacking and then the police response time was really slow. It made me think that we're wasting our police on trying to bust people like you and me, who aren't causing a problem. Like the real sociopaths and predators out there, that we need the police for.

Dean Becker: Yeah. I think that's really gaining more focus. The fact that, truthfully, we've been squandering our time and money on this futile drug war. Richard, I wanted to...

Mr. Richard Lee: Plus the loss of respect for the laws and law enforcement. That's to me, really important, too. Because I want to work with the police. I want the police to be there. I don't want to be some kind of rap singer swearing at the police and all that.

Dean Becker: The thing that we have to do is to look at this again. The last few weeks, I've been talking to a lot of elected officials around here. Last week we had City Councilman and former Police Chief, Clarence Bradford. We had Beto O'Rourke, El Paso council. We had DA Pat Lykos on a couple weeks back. Sheriff Adrian Garcia was with us and Constable Victor Trevino as well.

All of them are speaking of the need to reexamine this. Right here in Houston, of all places, Richard. Your thoughts? You have your ear to the ground. You're probably getting feedback from around the Nation. Is it changing everywhere? 'Cause Houston would tend to indicate as much.

Mr. Richard Lee: Definitely. We see the poll numbers going up. Almost seems like every month, not every year now and all over there's reform happening. A lot of it in the South. Alabama just introduced Medical Marijuana legislation and there's people working on an initiative for Florida. So you're right, there's a lot going on, all over the country.

Dean Becker: This is the Cultural Baggage show. We're speaking with Mr. Richard Lee of Oaksterdam University. Now Richard, I always enjoy my time out there in Oakland. I want to bring up a subject here, if I may presume for a second. You left Houston because progress was not readily at hand and perhaps it was better in Oakland. But the one thing I see in Oakland, or any of the California cities, is that the citizens are not afraid to challenge the elected officials, to do the right thing. Is that a fair assumption?

Mr. Richard Lee: Yes and their actively involved. Going to city council meetings and going to fund raisers. Supporting good candidates and opposing bad ones. That's what really makes it happen. A lot of people think politics is the President and Congress, kind of big items that you really can't get as involved with as you can, with just the City Council and everyday politics.

Dean Becker: Exactly right. Now Richard, I'm going to be following the progress. I'm certainly going to want to talk to you again as this election season unfolds and get a further update from you. I want to thank you for all the good work you do and I want you to know that, you know already, a lot of folks here in Houston are quite proud of what you are doing and we wish you Godspeed and great success.

Mr. Richard Lee: Thanks so much.

Dean Becker: Alright, Richard. Thank you, Mr. Richard Lee. Alright, we'll be back in just a moment with Matt Elrod from Drug Sense.

It's time to play: "Name That Drug - By It's Side Effects!"

Sleepiness, dizziness, disturbed coordination, fatigue, confusion, restlessness, excitation, nervousness, tremor, irritability, insomnia, euphoria, blurred vision, vertigo, hallucinations, convulsions and death.


Time's up! The answer: Cheese. Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride and opiates. Tylenol PM and heroin.

In particularly for children, it seems most of the symptoms listed are due to Tylenol PM and the heroin only serves to bring the 'high' in focus.

(sung to Lifty Frizzell's, If You've Got the Money, I've Got the Time)

If you've got the money, rummy, I've got the crime
I'll bust all of the druggies and I'll give 'em time
I'll keep filling the prisons on the tax payers dime
If you've got the money, rummy I've got the time

With that let's welcome, from Drug Sense, Mr. Matt Elrod. Hello, Matt.

Mr. Matt Elrod: Good evening, Dean.

Dean Becker: Hello, sir. Good to hear from you. Matt, we work kind of on the same topic, certainly. Distributing drug war news. Do we not?

Mr. Matt Elrod: Yes. You're doing it via MP3's and we're doing it via print media. Through our mapinc drug news, news clipping service.

Dean Becker: Matt, I have, over the years, leaned on you guys pretty heavily. Sometimes you're the only means by which I learn certain bits of news, which I'm able to share with my listeners. I want to thank you and all the good folks at Drug Sense for the fine work you've done for well over a decade now. Right?

Mr. Matt Elrod: Well, thanks. Yeah, we've been at it now about thirteen years and we have over a quarter million drug related news clippings in our archive, now. We've encouraged over twenty thousand, it's been awhile since I've looked, letters to the editor, urging reform and criticizing some of the worst pressures out there.

It's been said, I think it was Richard Callen who said that, 'If one had to describe the cause of drug prohibition in two words it would be, Bad journalism.' All the way back to Harry Anslinger and Hearst and in our case, here in Canada, Emily Murphy who was our equivalent of Harry Anslinger. She basically, single handedly caused Canada to prohibit Cannabis in 1923, with a series of articles that were pretty atrocious.

Dean Becker: Well, yeah. The way I understand it, Hearst would publish articles written by Anslinger, for the most part. Right?

Mr. Matt Elrod: Right, right. Not unlike Dick Cheney, where you would put something out from his Gore file, ax murderer - what have you, and he would appear later in an interview and say, 'See, here it is in the paper.' Kind of a vicious circle.


Dean Becker: Yeah, very vicious indeed. When you stop and think about it, I've heard it's some thirty-nine million Americans have been arrested for drugs over the lifetime of this thing. The numbers in Canada would pale to that. But then again, you guys have a lot smaller population. Right?

Mr. Matt Elrod: Right. You can basically take any US figure and ten percent of it, is what you'll see in Canada. So here we've got maybe two million people with criminal records for drug possession. We spend about one billion dollars annually, at the federal level, on drug control. Which I guess is about a 20th of what you're spending. But nonetheless, I think our proportions are actually worse. We actually spend a larger proportion of our drug control budget on guns and badges and a smaller percentage on treatment.

Unfortunately, we've kind of taken a step backwards, of late. We have a conservative government and under their rule, drug arrests are sky rocketing and they've completely removed harm reduction from their drug strategy and most recently have reintroduced a bill that would impose US style mandatory minimum sentences, for various drug related offences. Including cultivating as few as six Cannabis plants.

Dean Becker: Dear Gosh. Matt, the drug war never makes any sense. But the fact is that the US has now rounded the corner on the mandatory minimum things. We're starting to reverse some of the prior draconian measures and yet, Canada's still thinking that it's a good route to follow on, huh?

Mr. Matt Elrod: It's rather bizarre. They held hearings, both in the House and Senate, over the proposed mandatory's and a lot of good people came up from the US to say, 'Don't follow us. We're lost. Don't do what we've done.

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Elrod: But despite all the expert testimony and all the studies and all the empirical evidence, the government is forging ahead. Basically looking just to public opinion polls. I'm sorry to say, but a majority of my fellow Canadians seem to think mandatory minimums are the way to go. I guess there's a worldwide missconception that crime in general is on the rise and out of control, when the opposite is true. It's been in steady decline...

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Elrod: ...and the press and the rightwing 'tough on crime' types like to blame it on our soft judges and our revolving door justice system. A study came out of Canada, just today, published in the National Post, one of our two national papers. Finding that the incarceration rate per women, has doubled in of the last few years. Mostly from non-violent drug related offences.

Dean Becker: Do they get caught up in the conspiracy side of that, as they tend to be here in the US? Where the woman knows, or is dating a guy, who happens to be doing drugs and they wind up with no one to snitch on.

Mr. Matt Elrod: Right. Or the drug dealing guy turns in his girlfriend, or gives away his girlfriend in a plea bargain. Unfortunately that happens a lot and I expect we're going to see a lot more of it if these mandatory minimums come into play.

Dean Becker: It's so sad. We have a brand new book here. It's titled: My Medicine. It's written by Mr. Irvine Rosenfeld and the subtitle is, How I Convinced the US Government to Provide My Marijuana and Helped Launch a National Movement.

Irv's one of the four surviving Medical Marijuana patients, who gets his supply from a farm that's owned by the US Government. It's approved and distributed through the DEA and the FDA and it's sent to a pharmacist, where he picks up about three hundred joints every twenty-eight days, supplied by the US Government. It seems well beyond bizarre. Does it not, Matt?

Mr. Matt Elrod: Yeah and it's something that few people are aware of, that the Government has been supplying Medicinal Cannabis. One of the sad things about that program, I think, is that the government never did any follow up study, on how that Cannabis has helped and what the long term effects had been. It was a marvelous opportunity for a controlled test.

I know that some independent studies have been done on Elvy and Irv and the other remaining people in that program and found, not too surprisingly, that they have great lung function and that their symptoms have been well controlled and none of the bad things that one might anticipate happening. You know, psychosis, etc. have come in.

But it's really unfortunate that what could have been a great sample for looking at the efficiency of Medical Marijuana and the side effects and so forth, was kind of passed by. You'll often hear prohibitionists say, 'Nobody thought tobacco was bad for you, but you just wait and see. Soon, any day now, all the people will stop dropping dead from smoking Cannabis.' Yet that programs been going on for what? Thirty years, forty years?

Dean Becker: A long time. I think it says something about a hundred and fifteen thousand Federal Medical Marijuana Cigarettes that have been, more than that, have been supplied to Mr. Irvin Rosenfeld, without any problems whatsoever. They had a major study done up in Iowa a few years back, him and the other patients, and they found no problems with their lung function, or anything, as a result of using this federally supplied marijuana.

Mr. Matt Elrod: ...and further, that Cannabis is really low quality, or so I'm told.

Dean Becker: Well, yeah.

Mr. Matt Elrod: It's overly dried. It's old. It's packed into tins. They use an old tobacco manufacturing system, I understand, so that the Cannabis is ground up with stems and leaf and so on and so forth. So even with that low quality Cannabis, there don't appear to be any serious lung function problems and so forth. It's quite remarkable.

Dean Becker: It is. Once again, we're speaking with Mr. Matt Elrod of Drug Sense. I wanted to let you know, I mean we got just a few minutes left on this show. Matt, I want to thank you for being with us. We're going to have to cut this short here, in just a minute. But I wanted you to once again, tell folks about Drug Sense and where they can learn more about the work you guys do.

Mr. Matt Elrod: OK. Well Drug Sense is a 501 non-profit organization with our head office in California. But we're really a cyber organization. In addition to running the News Clipping service, we also provide hosting and tech support for a lot of Drug Policy Reform organizations. Including the Drug Truth Network and various NORML chapters and Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Law Enforcement Against Prohibion and so forth.

The idea is just to get the word out there and provide reliable, extremely affordable, sometimes free web hosting and to get the word out over the internet.

Dean Becker: Matt, once again I want to thank you. Oh, quick question for you. I've been telling the folks that we're working with the James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies at Rice University and they're going to permanently archive all the Drug Truth Network information. But we still have to get it all framed and put together, right? Have you heard anything recently about that?

Mr. Matt Elrod: Right now, that ball is in their court, I'm pleased to say. Not in mine. I've made some changes to your website. Which will aid them in copying over all the audio files and the entire archive and keeping it up to date and I expect we'll hear about that a little bit later in the summer, that that new archive should be online.

Dean Becker: Alright. Well once again Matt, I appreciate you being with us and we'll be in touch. You're going to be doing a weekly, or at least regular, segment here on the Drug Truth Network as well, right?

Mr. Matt Elrod: I'm looking forward to that and the economy, in one way, is helping us I think, drug policy reform. Because states are realizing they can't afford prohibition anymore. But it's a kind of double edge sword. Because people who formally funded drug policy reform are thinking, 'Well, maybe I don't need to anymore.' Or maybe they can't afford to anymore and I know things are really tight for all of us trying to end the drug war. So I urge your listeners to support what you're doing there, Dean.

Dean Becker: Alright Matt. Thank you so much. I'll be in touch next week?

Mr. Matt Elrod: Alright.

Dean Becker: Alright, Matt. OK, folks. It's up to you. I try to treat you like adults. I try to let you hear this information. I try to embolden and motivate you and give you a little kick in the butt. I talk to a lot of these politicians, on a fairly regular basis and I want to tell you something. Everyone of them knows this drug war is a failure. Everyone of them.

They're waiting to hear from you. They want to hear. They beg me to get you to call them. Please, get in touch with your elected officials. Tell them you know the truth. Tell them you want to help bring this madness to an end.

My name is Irvin Rosenfeld. I'm the longest surviving of the four Federal Patients that are alive today. I've been getting my medicine for a disorder which causes bone tumors to grow on the ends of long bones of my body. Marijuana serves as muscle relaxant anti-inflammatory, for pain and it's kept the tumors from growing.

I have just recently published a book called, My Medicine: How I Convinced the US Government to Supply My Marijuana and Helped Launch a National Movement. Basically it's the history of the Medical Marijuana Movement in this country, as seen through my eyes and of course my history in growing up with a severe disorder. Being an advocate against marijuana and illegal drugs.

Then learning by accident at age eighteen, that marijuana was a very, very good and important medicine for me. Then it's the ten year struggle of taking on the Federal Government, until I finally became a patient and then the trials and tribulations and the different stories of being a Federal patient and what's transpired during those years.

Dean Becker: Irvin, you have shown over the years, through your actions, your capability, and your progress as a stockbroker, that marijuana is not the great debilitater, that the government says. Right?

Mr. Irvin Rosenfeld: That's definitely the case. I'm a stockbroker handling millions of dollars on a daily basis and all of my clients know that I use between ten and twelve marijuana cigarettes a day. I get no euphoric effect and that's why I wish the government would understand and realize and want to research us. Because it's not been detrimental for me at all, in any aspect. Including any kind of lung damage or anything like that.

I mean, myself and three of the other patients had to have a privately done study to prove that we were in such good shape. That was done in 2001. To this day, the Federal Government does not want to realize that it is an important medicine.

Dean Becker: Well Irvin, in that you've just published this book, we're going to make copies of that book available via a pledge to the mother-ship of the Drug Truth Network. If folks will pony up for their pledge, you'll autograph each one as well?

Mr. Irvin Rosenfeld: Yes, I will. I'll be glad to help you in that endeavor.

Dean Becker: Well Irv, I tell you what. We have you scheduled for a week from today to come on and give us a more in depth accounting of this book and a better understanding of how it works on your behalf.

Mr. Irvin Rosenfeld: Fair enough. Look forward to it.

(violin accompaniment)

This is the Abolitionists Moment. Today, I want to read a quote from retired Judge Dennis Challeen, about sending the addicted to prison.

“We want them to have self worth.” So we destroy their self worth.

“We want them to be responsible.” So we take away all responsibility.

“We want them to be positive and constructive.” So we degrade them and make them useless.

“We want them to be trustworthy.” So we put them where there is no trust.

“We want them to be non-violent.” So we put them where violence is all around them.

“We want them to be kind and loving people.” So we subject them to hatred and cruelty.

“We want them to quit being the tough guy.” So we put them where the tough guy is respected.

“We want them to quit hanging around losers.” So we put all the losers in the state, under one roof.

“We want them to quit exploiting us.” So we put them where they exploit each other.

“We want them to take control of their lives own problems and quit being a parasite on society.”

So we make them totally dependant on us!

{The violin solo: by Drug Truth Network guest, Professor Arthur Benavie. Author of, Drugs: America's Holy War.}

(You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch, plays in the background)

Darth Drug Czar, you're a coward, liar, demon and thief.

Hello. This is Borat. Please tell your children's to buy my Kasikstan's opium and heroin's. So my children can live long enough, to grow pubis for harvest. Thank you.

As always, I remind you that 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.

Submitted by: C. Assenberg of