Cultural Baggage January 31, 2010

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.
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Hello, my friends. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I'm glad you could be with us today. We have with us in-studio, Cynthia Henley. She's a Houston attorney, former head of the Harris County Criminal Lawyer's Association and one who has seen... the travesty and the carnage of the Criminal Justice System, here in the gulag filling station of this planet and today we're going to talk about that. I have a couple of other reports to share with you a bit later. But first let's welcome Cynthia.

Ms. Cynthia Henley: Hi. Thanks for inviting me.

Dean Becker: Thank you for being with us. Cynthia, I know you're a novice to the Drug Truth Network programming and perhaps you're learning a little bit about what we're trying to do and that is to expose what some have called... and by that I mean CBS Television, has called the worlds leading jailer, the City of Houston.

Primarily, we seem to do it for minor amounts of drugs and we don't much care to go out into the white suburbs. We tend to focus in the black and Hispanic communities, rounding up these youngsters. Kind of like mustangs on the prairie. That correct?

Ms. Cynthia Henley: That is absolutely correct. Our jails right now are overflowing, mostly with small time criminals - based on how the system has named them, and small amounts of drugs. That's exactly right.

Dean Becker: Now, they take pride in this. I mean, over the years you've heard the... I'll say pompous, the district attorney, the police chief, the sheriff, all these people talk about the good their doing. Their being tough on crime, that they are somehow making a difference. But yet despite these decades of efforts, it seems worse than ever. Your thoughts?

Ms. Cynthia Henley: I think that the difference that they've made is to create a situation where there's more need for jails. There are more people committing more “crimes” because of the war on drugs. I think that a lot of crime comes off of the war on drugs.

Dean Becker: Right, and by that I mean... you hear the term, you see it in the papers, hear and on the TV - the 'drug related crime.' When the truth be told, these people are not 'high' out of their minds. They're not so stoned that they go out and murder somebody on the street corner. No. These are businessmen that are fighting for sales turf in many cases and sometimes those bullets go wild and they do shoot the school children asleep in their beds. It's tragic, but it's absolutely unnecessary. Right?

Ms. Cynthia Henley: Well, I think a lot of the crimes that they're talking about that come from the drug crime of the drug war are the crimes such as property crimes. Thefts, burglary, those kinds of things. It's because drugs are so hard to get and because they're so expensive - because they're illegal, that these people go out and commit offenses and their not getting treatment, instead they're just seeking more and more need for the drugs. So, that's the related crimes that come from the drugs being outlawed.

Dean Becker: You know I saw a study done, I can't remember who it was, Rand Corporation or somebody, that they tried to do a study to trace the price of cocaine from farm-gate. From the actual price of production through the various levels of sales hierarchy until it made the streets in US.

What they determined was that in Columbia, the farm-gate price of a kilo of cocaine - at ninety-two percent, which is about as good as they ever make it, but nearly a pure kilo of cocaine, costs eight hundred dollars and yet by the time that makes it through Guatemala; in through Mexico; crosses our border; goes through the various distribution hubs - like Houston and Dallas and then out into the market place that is America, that it can go up to more than one hundred-thousand dollars, for that kilo.

Ms. Cynthia Henley: That's true and each step of the way it gets stepped on, which means that they dilute it. It gets less and less potent and so people have to use more and more of it. Which I think you and I talked a little bit about a situation that happened where some people died as a result of thinking they had the wrong drug and as a result of it being an almost pure drug.

Dean Becker: It was I think now, four and a half years ago, here in the city of Houston. Thirteen young people, basically seventeen to about thirty-five, died in one weekend because their cocaine turned out to be eighty-five percent heroin and it killed 'em, dead...

Ms. Cynthia Henley: Yeah.

Dean Becker: ...immediately, and it doesn't happen to that extreme everyday. Maybe not even every year, but it happens every day all across this country. People buying a “hotshot” and not knowing what they're sticking into their arm or up their nose.

Ms. Cynthia Henley: Well one of the things that we can both agree on is that, if it wasn't illegal, than it would be normal. It would be a line; there would be like pharmaceuticals on top of the situation, giving people x number of grams of whatever it is they need or they're wanting or their buying. Rather than it being a potshot in the way that the people are able to obtain it. You know illegally; behind the closed doors; behind the buildings. Those sort of things.

Dean Becker: Right, right. I think about it, we're talking thirteen young people. Well, there was a situation in Mexico, just this morning. Thirteen young people. Let me read a little bit of this, from Reuters.
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Suspected drug hitmen burst into a party and killed 13 high school students, in Ciudad Juarez,... the latest massacre in one of the world's deadliest cities, Mexican media and witnesses said.

Gunmen jumped out of sport utility vehicles and fired at the students, who were celebrating victory at a local American football championship, in a house across the border from El Paso...

They say, “The men drove up in four SUVs, they were well-armed. They went into the house and shot at everyone, you could hear the gunfire all around,”
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Dean Becker: This is not a random happening. This is not once in a while. This is everyday. This is a continuing bloody and barbarous war, just South of our borders and they're sneaking into this country, wanting to control the drug trade here, as well. Your thoughts?

Ms. Cynthia Henley: That's a very scary situation. I also read an article today about them finding a bunch of headless people, down in Ciudad Juárez. What's happening there is that the people in control of these drugs are trying to show everyone else what they are and are not going to take, as far as law enforcement and because it is illegal, they're trying to show their strength in numbers and hurt us where they can hurt us and killing children that are coming across the American side of the border to come and party and celebrate in Mexico, is just a great way for them to show us what they're not going to take.

Dean Becker: You are listening to the Cultural Baggage show on the Drug Truth Network, Pacifica Radio and on many independent and college stations around the US and Canada.

The reason I'm bringing you this story; this focus on the mother-ship city of Houston is because we are the example, of what not to do. We should be a reason why the Canadians don't start doing mandatory minimums and locking up everybody for the littlest thing they can find.

Cynthia is an attorney. She was a past president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association and I've invited her in-studio because, she's seen this in the courtrooms. I mean, I get an occasional visit to the courtrooms and I'm always appalled by what I see going on with the court appointed attorneys that really seldom, if ever, work in support of those poor indigents that they're suppose to work for. Your thoughts on that, Cynthia. Are we making any progress here?

Ms. Cynthia Henley: Well, I don't think so. Not in the drug situation. It's just getting worse and worse. As you know, that they're always complaining that the jails are full. If you go and looked at the numbers of jails - and I don't have a specific number, but I know I've talked to Bill Hayburn, who does a lot of parole work and those kinds of things. The number of people in jail for a non-violent crime, for what I would call a petty drug offence - which means small amounts of cocaine, because that's a felony offence here in Texas - are just huge.

They're just huge numbers and we have people pleading out to sentences, it's state jail felony now. It use to be a third degree felony. If you possess more than four grams, then you move up to a third degree. You move up and up and up and our jails are just filling up. Our prisons are talking about over population and it's just because of this.

We have addicts who need help. We have some people who's life situation are just so bad, they're just trying to find their way out. It's kind of like people who drink. Only drinking is available readily to people, it has a different affect. So we can drink, why can't we do something that boosts our libido's; our ego's; our feelings about life?

Dean Becker: Well, you know you're right. I hear a lot of people say, “We don't want to add another drug to the mix,” and the truth be told, it's already in the mix. Sadly it's, as we talked about earlier, it's sometimes impure. Even sometimes including in the cocaine this drug they call Levamisole, which is a de-worming agent for animals; which is a cancer causing agent and which these gangs put the levamisole into this, to cut it and I'm told that the levamisole's actually a pretty good 'high' as well. So people don't notice it as much, but up to thirty percent of the cocaine being sold in America contains that cancer causing agent, levamisole... and nobody seems to care about those needless, needless deaths.

Ms. Cynthia Henley: Well, I think it sounds bad for a politician to say, 'Well I'm not for legalizing drugs,' and so that's why we keep going on with this. It's because the politician's are afraid. All they care about is being re-elected.

They truly aren't taking a step and looking at what the situation is and how can we fix it. I think, for a little while, the new sheriff here had talked a little bit about some of the things he would like to do and you may remember that Pat Lykos, the District Attorney here, mentioned 'not arresting people for marijuana anymore and giving out tickets instead and there was a big 'hubbub' in the police department. All the sudden the next day, she took that away. So, it's political.

Dean Becker: You know it is. Once again, we're speaking with Cynthia Henley, a Houston attorney. Cynthia, I want to share a track with you. Let's go to number eight and then I've got something I want to share with you. No... never mind. I'm thinking of the wrong thing here. I want you to do track nine.

This is something I'm going to present to the Houston City Council, this coming Tuesday. You get a chance to speak for three minutes. I want to share this with you and then we'll continue our discussion.

Ms. Cynthia Henley: OK. Great.
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The following is a Drug Truth Network editorial:

“Houston is one of the largest drug distribution hubs in the world. Yet, elected officials have for decades, remained surprised and angry that thousands of our young people are tempted by the black market in drugs, the lives of crime, or addiction.

A couple of years ago a report from KHOU Television noted that, 'Houston is the worlds leading jailer'. The jails still remain near unconstitutionally overcrowded levels. This drug war has been a miserable failure. Racially enforced; empowering criminals around the world; draining our economy and robbing our law enforcement community of respect when they must pretend alliances; utilize unsavory informants and snitches and otherwise terrorize the community they are sworn to protect, to protect them from themselves.

Let's stop fooling ourselves. This is an issue that will continue to escalate as the Mexican cartels bring their influences Northward. They don't want 'just' the forty billion dollars they make smuggling, they want the full two hundred billion from the US retail trade. Unless and until we decide to consider any approach other than all out drug war, they will grow ever closer to reaching that goal.

Last year the City Council of El Paso called for a national investigation to determine if there is a better way to examine other possibilities, including repealing the drug laws. I ask this council to consider joining El Paso in questioning the wisdom of this eternal war.

Cities and states all across this nation are changing their stance in regards to the drug war. Mostly choosing to lessen the penalties toward the use of marijuana, the one drug that has never killed anybody. If only Houston would make use of Texas House Bill 2391 and advise the new Police Chief to stop arresting those with less than four ounces of marijuana, to simply ticket them, which would allow law enforcement to focus tens of thousands of man hours each year chasing violent criminals instead.

I suggest we begin to face down this drug war lion by first joining our voice with that of the City Council of El Paso, in calling for a national dialog on our drug war policy and secondarily by utilizing Texas House Bill 2391 regarding the use of marijuana, to curtail jail overcrowding, to save millions of dollars and to better focus the efforts of law enforcement.

This is Dean Becker and that was a Drug Truth Network editorial.
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Alright. You're listening to the Cultural Baggage show. I'm here in-studio with Cynthia Henley. She's a Houston attorney, former head of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association. Cynthia, I use to speak to the city council, pretty much on a regular basis. Once or twice a month probably from 2003 to 2007 and I just kind of grew weary of never receiving a response. Do you think it's time for them to respond to...?

Ms. Cynthia Henley: Absolutely. Absolutely and I love how you pointed out that bill that they could use - what we were just talking about a minute ago, where Pat Lykos talked about just giving tickets out. Why don't they do that? You know, they'd still be making the money. The City would still be making the money, because they would still be able to get fines. People would still have to come to court, they just wouldn't have to go to jail.

You know a lot of those cases, if they're first offenders, they're not going to get a jail sentence anyway. They're going to get a probated sentence. Because that's the only way they could not lose their drivers license. They're going to get deferred adjudication probation and they're not going to lose their drivers license. Why send them to jail to start with? It's ridicules.

Dean Becker: Too often, those who go to jail perhaps they don't have the family infrastructure. Perhaps they're afraid. But for one reason or another, they wind up staying there too long. They lose their jobs; they lose their car; they lose their apartment; they lose their ability to continue and...

Ms. Cynthia Henley: Absolutely.

Dean Becker: ...and little wonder then that they fall into the pit of... going into crime to... because they can't even get a job.

Ms. Cynthia Henley: Well, they end up... One of the things, if you start with a first offender - somebody who's not been in trouble before. Young person, he doesn't want to tell his family. He doesn't want to call anyone. He sits in jail. You know, he's in there a couple three days and then he gets out. But he has a final conviction now, for possession of marijuana. That means his drivers license is suspended.

If he's under twenty-one, it's suspended for a year. If he's over twenty-one, it's suspended for six months. How's he going to get to work? Even if he gets to work he's missed two or three days. He may have lost his job, as you noted for that.

Now, he has a drug conviction on his record. So how's he going to get a job? Or if his job finds out or figures out that he was gone. Usually it's not just for a weekend. It includes at least weekday; a work day and they figure out he got arrested for a drug offense. Next thing you know, he doesn't have that job. So now what's he going to do? I said he. It could be he or she.

Dean Becker: That's right. More women... younger - I won't say girls, but younger women are getting involved in these drug crimes. All too often they're the ones that picked up phone and says, 'Johnny says to meet him at seven o'clock...' and suddenly they're a co-conspirator...

Ms. Cynthia Henley: Absolutely.

Dean Becker: ...and wind up doing more time because they don't have anyone to turn on; to snitch against...

Ms. Cynthia Henley: Yeah, we had talked about that a little bit. Especially when it comes to the bigger, like federal cases and in those cases, you've got the mule. Those are the people who carry the drugs, who know nothing. That's the purpose that they serve. Is to pick it up and to take it someplace and to know absolutely nothing. So that if they get arrested with the drugs, they have nothing that they can tell and those people end of doing a heck of a lot more time, because of their lack of knowledge and inability to cooperate.

Dean Becker: That, plus the court appointed attorneys don't much care to spend more than an hour, perhaps just before the trial... prepping them, I guess...

Ms. Cynthia Henley: Little different in federal court but that in federal court, you have multiple appearances. But in state court you're exactly right. There's a lot of lawyers who don't care. They're there just for the money.

Now I will tell you that I've done some appointments and I continue to do them in misdemeanor court. I don't look at it that way. But I can tell you that everyday I sit beside people and I am just shocked at what I hear. The guy beside me telling this client, sitting there trying to coerce him. Not reading through it. You know, they let inexperienced lawyers do misdemeanors.

Well, that doesn't really work. Because I know the law I know a good search and a bad search, when I see one. All I've got to do is open the file and read it and I can't tell you the number of times I've gone to the prosecutor and said, “This stinks. This is not a good search.“ I may have had to gone a step higher because these are new prosecutors but the lawyer sitting beside me's got a similar type case and unless I hear the facts of it - sometimes I do, it's a bad search and they do nothing about it.

Dean Becker: Cynthia, I have, over the years, really tried hard to get somebody with the authority to really speak from their heart, to address this problem of drug war. I have gone to the head of the DEA, the head of the ONDCP, I even appealed to President Bushes office back when he first got into power and I strive to find someone with the stature; with the ability to swing this cat; to make a difference; to come on this show... and they absolutely refuse. They have refused now for over eight years, to defend this policy.

I most recently spoke to Gil Kerlikowske's office, the new drug czar, and they asked me, 'Well, what would be the topic of discussion?' and I'm thinking, 'Well good God, he's the drug czar. But why are they asking me this? So I said, 'I'll tell you this, the first question I'm going to ask him is, 'Can you name the number one success of the drug war?' and you could hear the phone hanging up before she actually said, 'Good-bye'. You know what I'm saying?

Because they know they cannot defend that. There is no justification for a trillion dollars flushed away; thirty-nine million arrests. Empowering terrorists, cartels and gangs. Ensuring more overdose deaths, as we were speaking about earlier. There is no justification and yet because, I don't know. It's just been handed down like some quasi religion, like the arc of the covenant. Right?

Ms. Cynthia Henley: Well, and now it's to the point, what we were talking about, the political thing. It'd be political suicide to turn around and say, 'Oh actually, I think I'm for drugs. I think I'm for the legalization of drugs,'...

Dean Becker: {chuckling} Yeah.

Ms. Cynthia Henley: ... you know and I'm telling you, you get back to Pat Lykos. Maybe you can try her out and see. Because she did make the step. She made the step and said it and announced it and then pulled it back.

Dean Becker: Well, was it the Police Patrolmen's Union objected, as I recall hearing a bit about that...

Ms. Cynthia Henley: I think that's what it was.

Dean Becker: ...and again, they have to work together. They have to trust and support one another, in order for this criminal justice system to work.

Ms. Cynthia Henley: Absolutely.

Dean Becker: But there's a lot of bodies buried. Maybe they're not dead bodies, but they're bodies who have been covered over with a little dirt. Like we were talking about earlier, who can't get a job or housing or credit or... you know, a life worth living. Because, you don't pay a debt with a drug sentence. You continue paying that debt for the rest of your life.

Ms. Cynthia Henley: For the rest of your life. It never is off your record unless you get a deferred adjudication probation and then you can seal it, if all these particular excuses, these basis' are in place. But law enforcement, that means the prosecutors office; it means police officers are still able to records there were sealed.

Dean Becker: Right.

Ms. Cynthia Henley: So those people, let's say for example you want to own your own business and it's a kind of business where you need to carry a gun, they can't get their concealed handgun license, with a drug case. So, there's all kinds of ramifications for it.

I got to tell you. Washington now - Washington Ave. over here in Houston, has all these new bars opening up. All the cool young people are going over there. They are busting people left and right over there, for drugs.

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Ms. Cynthia Henley: Little amounts; tiny amounts of cocaine. Because everybody's over there doing it. It's just who's getting caught, is the question and who can get out of it.

Dean Becker: Then again, these drug busts are so easy, it's easy to build your career, so to speak, with the number of arrests.

I'm told we're running out of time. We've been speaking with Cynthia Henley. She's an attorney here in Houston. Check her out on the web at henleylaw.com. Cynthia, thank you so much for being our guest.

Ms. Cynthia Henley: Thank you...

Dean Becker: I hope you'll come back and visit us again.

Ms. Cynthia Henley: I'd love to do that.

Dean Becker: Alright. Thank you, Cynthia Henley.

Ms. Cynthia Henley: Thank you.
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It's time to play: "Name That Drug - By It's Side Effects!"

Nausea, photophobia, phonophobia, gastrointestinal events - including bleeding, ulceration and perforation of the stomach or intestines. Thrombosis, myocardial infarctions, stroke, cerebral hemorrhage and death.

(((gong)))

Time's up! The answer from GlaxoSmithKlein,

Treximet. For migraine headaches.
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Alright, my friends. You know there's news breaking about drug law changes all across this country. Many states are talking about marijuana. We've got one here, coming out of Virginia, I'd like to share with you.

The following come to us courtesy of WTKR Hampton Roads, Virginia:

The mellow over Virginia's laws on marijuana - News Channel Three's viewers showed overwhelming support for two bills that today face their first big test. Dan Tordjman is just back Richman, with a story.

Most here expected Harvey Morgan's marijuana bills, dead on arrival. It actually took nearly two hours for a House Sub-committee to kill them, “All those in favor say 'I'... 'Opposed'.....” The anti-climatic outcome still crushing for dozens of pot supporters in Richmond Wednesday. From a dying AID's patient defending marijuana for treatment, to a retired police officer testifying alcohol, always more dangerous than weed.

“Marijuana generated zero calls for service. Zero calls for service of any sort during my eighteen years of ...”. But opposing delegates looking disinterested, even annoyed, at most of the bills wording. “Are we then in fact lowering the penalty for selling marijuana on school property?” “Yes.”

More descent when researchers argued for reducing penalties for simple pot possession, saying it could save police and prosecutors a lot of money, “.... seventy-five million, I think, is inaccurate.” “You're a professor. Are you asking us to accept these figures as...? I mean, they're preposterous, sir. I mean, come on.” “... fourth in there, I think. Too many minds... already made up.”

Morgan not surprised, yet still disappointed his bills failed. As a pharmacist, he hopes his intentions are clear, “I never use it. I have no desire to use it. But I think the penalty should fit he crime. If it's a crime to use it. You know, it's not a serious crime.” “So, you never use it? After a day like today, it may come in handy.” {laughter}

Undeterred, Delegate Morgan says he'll be back with his marijuana bills next year and perhaps in the years to follow, even though they were both easily killed here today. Delegate Morgan says he hopes the conversation he's helped start, might lead to more reasonable marijuana laws in the future.

In Richmond, Dan Tordjman. News channel three.
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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.
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This is Phil Smith of the Drug War Chronicle with this weeks corrupt cops stories for the Drug Truth Network. Busy, busy, busy.

We've got, 'Cops punching drug suspects, deputies smuggling dope to a jailed gang leader, a probation officer trading clean drug tests for sexual favors, a cop who got in trouble when he overdosed on the dope he stole, a cop whose Oxycontin habit got the best of him, and, of course, more crooked prison and jail guards.

Los Angeles... The LA County Sheriff's investigators are looking into whether two deputies smuggled drugs into a gang leader's jail cell in 2003. ...the deputies concealed drugs in a bedroll at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic and sneaked them into the gang leader's cell. One of the accused deputies, Carlos Restrepo, was investigated six years ago for a similar allegation.

In New York City, two NYPD officers were suspended last Friday after being caught on camera punching a handcuffed drug suspect who was lying on the ground. Undercover narcs were conducting an arrest when one of their victims fled. Two uniformed officers joined in the chase and were caught on video assaulting the man. No word yet on whether they will face any criminal charges.

In Anchorage, Alaska, a state probation officer was arrested January 19 on charges he certified a female probationer's dirty drug test as clean in return for sexual favors and money. James Stanton, 53, was arrested in the Nesbett Courthouse, where he worked. He faces bribery and official misconduct charges.

Over in Youngstown, Ohio, a Bracewell police officer was arrested January 21 for conducting an illegal information search on police computers for two acquaintances who have been arrested on heroin distribution charges. Ryan Freeman, 30, found out that his friends were under investigation by a local drug task force and let them know it. He will face charges of unauthorized use of the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway and obstruction of justice.

In Calipatria, California, a Calipatria State Prison guard was arrested last Friday by FBI agents for allegedly smuggling heroin and methamphetamine into the prison. Charles Rowe, 42, was taken to the Imperial County Jail where he was charged with bringing a controlled substance into a jail, transporting or distributing a controlled substance, and conspiracy.

In Lyndhurst, Ohio, a former Lyndhurst police officer was sentenced to probation January 20 for stealing heroin he had seized in a May traffic stop. Robert Colombo, 40, a 15-year veteran, arrested two people on heroin possession charges, but replaced the heroin with rock salt on his way to the evidence room. The next day, he overdosed on the stolen dope. He resigned from the department in September and pleaded guilty to drug possession and theft in office last month.

In Yuma, Arizona, a former Yuma police officer was sentenced last Friday to three years and four months in prison for stealing cash from the department's evidence room to buy prescription drugs on which he was strung out. Former Officer Geoffrey Michael Presco was convicted of stealing nearly $11,000 to support his Oxycontin habit. He said he became addicted after being prescribed them for a knee injury.

As always, there's more Drug War New online. Check it out at www.stopthedrugwar.org

http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/618/police_drug_corruption
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Alright. Mr. Phil Smith of stopthedrugwar.org. He's gone to Mexico, trying to report on this. He couldn't get anybody to take him up to the mountainsides to take a look at the heroin, opium or marijuana the crops, because everybody's too scared, you know. Absolutely too scared and why is that? Because of the US Drug War. Because of our hundred year mandate. Because of our reach to control the law of supply and demand.

That's what America's all about. We want to control every aspect; the morals of the whole world. You think the Taliban's bad? Think of all the people that have died, in the name of this drug war. Then think about your support; your silence; your allegiance therefore, to this.

I urge you folks to please, come down to Houston City Hall on Tuesday at 2 PM. A little later than that I'll be talking to the council and once again 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 www.marijuanafactorfiction.org