Cultural Baggage, 11-12-08

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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Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. It's going to be a marijuana centric program this time. We're going to hear from a couple of folks that I consider to be courageous and good ministers. Preaching the gospel of sacramental use of marijuana.

First up we're going to hear from Mr. Eddy Lepp, who was busted in California for, I think, some 34,000 plants he was growing openly, beside the highway, for his ministry and for the medical patients in his vicinity.

If we can get things worked out, we'll also hear from the Reverend Carl Olsen of the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church. A group which, for a short time in America, was recognized and left alone by the federal authorities until they brought 20 tons of Jamaican marijuana to Maine, I think it was, where they were trying to offload it and it all, went to hell, after that.

But Mr. Olsen is trying to gain recognition for his right to use sacramental marijuana and his case is headed to the US Supreme Court. I thought Eddy Lepp was also, his case was headed to the Supreme Court but it's kind of more in limbo at this point and there's some more details I'd like to share with you but let's just go ahead and let Eddy do that himself.

Dean Becker: You know as a minister, I get to preach in many churches here in the South Texas area on a infrequent basis. I talk about sacramental use of marijuana. I talk about the whole of the drug war just being an absolute fraud and today I'm proud to bring with us here on the Drug Truth Network, the Reverend Eddy Lepp out of California. Hello Eddy.

Eddy Lepp: Hello. How are you today?

Dean Becker: Eddy, you have stood forth for that same truth. I'm talking about that, marijuana is a sacrament, and you worked with local officials to bring medicine and sacrament to those people in your area and yet it has fallen down upon you. Or at least, they have attempted to place it upon you, have they not for having done so? Please tell us about your situation.

Eddy Lepp: Well, as you were alluding to, I've been a minister for many, many years now and quite a few years before 215 was actually passed, my father passed away, due to cancer, and we used marijuana to get him to eat because the last three or four months he was alive, he couldn't even force down the Ensure.

So, I used the marijuana and his doctor told me, at that time, that he knew I had added several months to my dad's time despite being able to get him to eat.

I've known for many, many years before 215 was passed, that the healing powers of this sacred plant and so when 215 was passed, it was very easy for me to step forward and start telling people the various stories about how I'd seen this miraculous plant work and help people.

We went from that to becoming the first person arrested in the state of California, under Proposition 215 and I was later acquitted and became the first one arrested, tried and acquitted completely under the umbrella of 215 and from there Linda, my wife who sadly passed away last year, and I started having huge clinics where we would help people get their recommendations anywhere from 150 to 500 people a weekend. Once a month

That went on for several years until it became more mainstream and more doctors were willing to write prescriptions, etc, etc. As this progressed, we tried to help more and more people and ultimately I ended up putting in a garden with 32,524 plants that the federal government took exception to and consequently turned around and arrested me.

Technically, I believe that I'm still scheduled to be sentenced December 1st, up to two life sentences, for helping sick and dying patients. The other side of that is, is that with Obama being elected and a whole bunch of other things that have happened politically and a whole lot of things that we've done ourselves, it appears that I probably am not going to go to prison for the rest of my natural life. Which is really good news for me.

We did a letter writing campaign, having people write letters to the judge. Which has been very effective and we're hoping will resolve in me possible getting a halfway house or home detention as opposed to going to prison for my spiritual and medicinal use of this sacred plant.

Dean Becker: Eddy you, as you've said, you've been a minister for, I guess, decades, at this point, and we have seen, you and I, the benefit; the positive, that this sacramental use can bring to the individuals, right?

Eddy Lepp: Well, so many times it's not even funny, Dean. Like you said, you and I know first hand the benefits of this sacred plant. You see people out there all the time saying, 'Oh Jesus, that's terrible, it's going to kill you, it's a gateway drug, yadda, yadda, yadda.'

It goes on and on and on and they're just horrible and then all of the sudden, somebody in their family gets sick and they turn to marijuana and it saves their life and that same person that before was telling me what a no good s.o.b. I am, how I'm turning kids onto drugs and ruining the world, comes to me and tells me, 'Eddy, my God, you're a hero. What a great man. I'm so sorry, I didn't realize what you were saying when I heard it the first time.'

So, it's definitely one of those things that, if you see it and experience it firsthand, it completely changes your attitude about it, because it does work. My dear friend, Jack Herer, has said for many, many years, “Hemp will save the world.”

If you look at all of the different applications that they have right now for lessening our dependence on the coal and the petroleum and stuff. They're talking about solar power, they're talking about the wind power, they're talking about building new hydro-electrical damn's.

These are things that are going to cost billions upon billions upon billions of dollars to do and build and they're going to turn around and triple the cost of our energy and then blame us. They're going to say, 'Christ, you guys wanted green fuel. So we gave 'em to ya so quit bitchin.' If we used hemp, that would all go away.

Do the politicians we have in place truly want a better world or do they just want a better world for the one percent? Religion is much like the government. They seem to function best and have their best results when they've got everyone living in fear.

Hey, they tell you these stories about how you're going to go to Hell and burn in a handbag and all this other bull that they tell people and it's ridicules. The bottom line is, there's really only one thing God want's out of any of us and it really doesn't matter if you're a Muslim, it doesn't matter if you're Christian, it doesn't matter what faith you follow. God wants one thing from all of us.

All God wants from any of us, is on the day that we die, is to be able to stand in front of Him, look Him in the eye and say, 'You know what? I honestly believe that I lived my life in a way that You would find pleasing.' Now, if you can't look Him in the eye and tell Him that you lived that kind of life, than maybe you better change the way you're living your life, to be good people. To live our life in a way that He would be proud of. If we do that, we're all going to Heaven.

Now, I don't know why, people got to tear the world up. I don't know why people feel that forcing us to live in fear is better for us. But, if you look at government, that is basically how they operate.

So, hopefully, we can move on this and move beyond this. I'm very hopeful that President Obama will be able to help not just the America, but the entire world, see that we don't have to have all of these wars. We don't have to kill each other.

We can get through this in a peaceful co-existence, where everybody is equal and nobody suffers. There's no reason in the world for anybody in the world right now to be starving. There's no reason right now for anybody to not have medical care and yet, millions don't and there's no reason for it. It's right now a world controlled by greed and Babylon.

Dean Becker: Well Eddy, I'll tell you what, we're going to be sticking close to you in the fore coming months and make sure our listeners know how your case is progressing. But in the meantime, please share your website with folks so they can tune into the latest news on your situation.

Eddy Lepp: They can go to eddylepp.com, freeeddylepp.com or eddylepp.org, all of which should take them to the same website. They can also get a hold of me at myspace/eddylepp and they can also call me at (707) 275-8879.

Like I say, right now things are looking positive. We're hoping that with these letters written to Judge Patel, on my behalf, that she will show some leniency is this and I'd ask all of your viewers if they would, please go to the web site. You can get the address to send the letter. There's a form letter you can download and sign, there's an email address and you can send a letter to the judge via my attorney.

But the very best thing for me is, and I know it's asking a lot but, if you've got thirty or forty cents for a stamp and an envelope and two or three minutes just simply to write something as simple as, 'Your Honor, This is a good man. Isn't there a better way to do this than put him in prison?' and sign it. It doesn't have to be long. It doesn't have to be complicated, although it can be.

But simply a hand written note saying that you're not happy with the way this is working out, it all that's necessary. So if we could get people to do that, I'd really, really appreciate it.
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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 Glaxo Smith Klein, Treximet For migraine headaches.
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All right. We're having a little difficulty reaching Mr. Carl Olsen of the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church. Him and Eddy both, they get court dates and all kinds of infringements on their time. Perhaps we'll be able to reach him, if not, we'll have him on a future date.
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You know, there were several measures on the ballot this last election for drug law reform, mostly about medical marijuana. Here to tell us about it is Bruce Mirken.

I am Bruce Mirken and the Director of Communications for the Marijuana Policy Project.

Two state wide ballot initiatives that we played a key roll in, both passed overwhelmingly in the state of Massachusetts. Voters passed by nearly two to one, 65% to 35%, a measure to decriminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. Replacing arrest and the possibility of jail and a criminal record and in Michigan...

Michigan became the 13th state to permit medical use of marijuana. By the largest vote ever, for one of these initiatives, 63% Yes. An interesting thing about both of these votes, they were both in what are traditionally very blue state, very democratic leading states and marijuana reform outpolled Barack Obama by several points in both states. It kind of mirrors what happened in Montana in 2004, a red state, where medical marijuana outpolled George W. Bush by 3 points.

Dean Becker: You guys have been involved, at least instrumentally, in many other referendums, at the city level, around the country. You want to talk about some of those?

Bruce Mirken: Well, sure. We did give some support through our grants program to a handful of local initiatives around the country and tried to be supportive of them even when we hadn't necessarily given them cash.

Again, the record is just pretty impressive all over the country. Fayetteville, Arkansas passed a measure to make adult possession of marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority, as did Hawaii County in Hawaii. A number of local advisory initiatives around Massachusetts also passed. Again, basically directing the state legislators from those districts to support reforms.

So, it was a good day. Oh and in Berkeley, California, a measure that will simplify and use the zoning and other issues that sometimes get in the way of medical marijuana dispensaries passed by a nearly two to one margin. So, good stuff all over the country.

Dean Becker: Politicians, I guess at the federal level, need to take a look around. Need to take a pulse of their community. Right?

Bruce Mirken: You know, there is just this bizarre notion out there, among elected officials, that supporting sensible marijuana policy is controversial. That it's going to get them into trouble with the voters, etc, etc. Just not.

Dean Becker: The website for the Marijuana Policy Project: mpp.org
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All right, we have, over the years, seen a lot of progress. Seven years of The Drug Truth Network and nowadays even NPR and most of the major TV networks are beginning to focus, at least, a bit on the drug problems, the drug policy problems, if you will, and for seven years we've been calling upon Mr. Sanho Tree and now we hear this interview with him on BBC.
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Interviewer: Could do better, that's the verdict of a US congressional committee on America's efforts to fight the drugs' war in Columbia. It's called: surprise, surprise, Plan Columbia and it's backed up by five billion dollars worth of American aid. It's aim? To half the production of illegal narcotics. A target, the committee says, it has failed to meet.

On the plus side though, it notes however that American military assistance has helped security in Columbia. Sanho Tree is with a Washington based Institute for Policy Studies. A long time critic of US drug policy in Latin America. What does he make, of the committees findings?

Mr. Sanho Tree: If there's more cocoa bean grown today than when we first began Plan Columbia, than that's a pretty good sign of failure. It's not possible to make this crop disappear by making it more valuable, which is what our policies have done.

When you have more than two thirds of the population of Columbia living below the official poverty line, which is approximately two US dollars, a day, our policies of eradication, when there's still constant demand throughout the world, it only manages to increase the value of the crop itself. So it's a wonderful kind of 'price support' or an unintended crop subsidy for these cocoa farmers.

Interviewer: I don't know whether the congressional committee was trying to accentuate the positive but in terms of security, it does say that since the production of Plan Columbia, things have got better there.

Mr. Sanho Tree: It depends on for whom. If your talking about security from attacks and kidnapping by left wing gorillas then generally speaking, Yes. In the urban areas, and Columbia's 80% urban population, there is a better sense of security and it's safe to travel in between the cities on the highways now.

But on the other hand, if you're talking about attacks from right-wing paramilitary death squads, particularly if you're a human rights defender or a labor organizer, these times have become much more perilless for those groups.

Interviewer: Our new American President about to enter the White House, you could think that could give new impotence to the fight against drugs in Latin America but then again, with so many economical problems piling up, maybe what's happening in Columbia could be very low down on his list of priorities.

Mr. Sanho Tree: I think it's a fair assessment and ultimately fighting drugs, there is no substitute for building a healthy society. Both, in terms of drug consuming countries, like the United States and drug reducing countries, like Columbia.

There is a roll for law enforcement and coercion. But, you cannot coerce people if the alternative is for them to go hungry. Coercion works best if you give people and alternative. 'We rather you did A instead of B.' For the past eight years it's been, 'We rather you didn't do A and how you feed your family is not our problem.'

Interviewer: As things stand today, is America losing the drugs' war in Columbia?

Mr. Sanho Tree: I certainly think so, yes. The idea that we can destroy the drug at the source and prevent it from getting to consumers on the streets in the United States or other countries, I think, is folly. There is simply too much land in Latin America and indeed in the rest of the world. These ungoverned territories where you can put a seed into the ground and come up with an illicit crop and there's an inexhaustible reservoir of poor peasant farmers in Columbia, in Latin America and indeed in Sub-Sahara Africa and other countries as well, willing to take that risk because they don't have other economic alternatives.

Interviewer: That was Sanho Tree of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington.
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Dean Becker: You know last week we carried a speech from Drug Czar, John Walters and one of his under-assistants drug czars is Mr. Joseph Califano of CASA. They're the group that put together the annual household surveys on, who's using what drugs at what age and how often and all that stuff. He supports John Walters. He doesn't call for people going to prison, but he does serve, much like Joseph Goebbels did in the Nazi party.
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Joseph Califano: Go Back to School Survey continues the unique effort of the national center on addiction and substance abuse at Columbia University.

CASA, to track the attitude of teens and those, who like parents, influence them. We seek to identify factors that increase or decrease the likelihood of teen substance abuse.

Armed with this knowledge, we believe that parents, teachers, clergy, coaches and other responsible adults, can help our nations teens grow up drug free.

We regard this as a work in progress as we try each year to improve our ability to identify those situations and characteristics that increase or diminish the risk that a teen will smoke, drink, get drunk, use illegal drugs or abuse prescription drugs.

Now we do this, not by questions that ask whether the teen uses these substances. A number of government surveys conduct such studies of substance abuse. Rather, the CASA survey asks such questions as, how many of the teen's friends smoke, drink or use illegal drugs? Or, what percentage of the parties, the teen goes to, are illegal drugs used? Or, how easy or fast, is it for the teen to buy marijuana or alcohol?

This years survey of parents and teens focused on ways in which parental actions and inactions influence the risk that their children, their 12 to 17 year old children, will abuse substances.

The results indicate that although virtually all mothers and fathers are concerned about the challenges of raising kids in today's world, many do not realize how certain of their actions affect the likelihood that their children may smoke, drink or use drugs.

Many parents are doing a good job in raising their children. However, this years survey has identified problem parents. Problem parents who enable, some even encourage, their 12 to 17 year olds to use tobacco, alcohol and illegal and prescription drugs. By their actions and inactions. By failing to become part of the solution, these parents become part of the problem of teen alcohol and drug abuse, in our nation.

We know, from years of research at CASA, that teens who's parents are hands on, engage in their teens day to day lives, relaxing with them, having frequent family dinners, supervising them, establishing standards of conduct, going to religious services with them and setting positive examples of healthy behavior. These teens of these parents are much less likely to smoke, drink and use drugs.

This years survey identified it's problem parents, those that increase the likelihood of substance abuse by their 12 to 17 year olds because, they failed to monitor their children leaving their home and hanging out on school nights, Monday to Thursday. They failed to safeguard from their children, their dangerous and addictive prescription drugs, like pain killers and stimulants. They failed to address the problem of drugs in there children's school and they failed to set good examples.

You know, not knowing where your kid is or what your kid is up to at 10pm is a risky business on a school night. Why? Because the later teens are hanging out with friends on school nights, the likelier that drug and alcohol use will be going on among them. Half of teens that come home after 10pm on school nights, say that's the case as do almost a third of teens who come home between 8 and 10pm.

Many problem parents become passive pushers by leaving abusable and addictive prescription drugs like their painkillers, oxycontin and vicadin, around the house, making them easily available for their children. Home appears to be the largest single source for prescription drugs that kids want to abuse.

While almost all parents say it's important that their schools their children attend be drug free, almost half of parents say, their children are in schools where drugs are used, kept and sold and only 39% of those parents believe the goal of making the school drug free, is realistic. Not surprisingly in view of those parental attitudes, one in five middle schoolers and almost two thirds of high schoolers attend schools where drugs are used, kept and sold.

Research, ours and others, consistently demonstrates that the presence of drugs greatly increases the risk that the kids in those schools will smoke, drink, get drunk and use marijuana. These pessimistic problem parents should not accept drug infested schools as an inevitable part of their children's school experience anymore than they would tolerate asbestos infested schools as an acceptable risk for their children.

We found that a quarter of teens know a parent of a classmate or friend, who uses marijuana. Ten percent of 12 to 17 year olds say this parent smokes marijuana with kids that teens age. The most irresponsible problem parents are those who set a bad example by smoking marijuana and those parents who smoke marijuana with their own or other 12 to 17 year old children should be considered child abusers.

This years survey finds marijuana more available than ever with a 35% increase over last year in teens who can get marijuana in an hour or less and a 14% increase over last year in teens who can get marijuana in a day or less. From 2007 to 2008, in just one year, this represents an increase of 1.4 million teens who can buy marijuana in an hour or less and of 1.1 million who can buy marijuana in a day or less.

Think about this. In the same year there was a decrease of almost half a million, in the population of 12 to 17 year olds. Preventing substance abuse among teens is primarily a mom and pop operation. Every mother and father should look in a mirror and ask themselves, 'Am I doing the parenting essential to help my child negotiate the difficult teen years, free of tobacco, alcohol and drugs?

Compared to the time when they were growing up, most 9 of 10 parents surveyed, said in these days it's harder to keep teenagers safe and 3 of 4 parents said it's harder to raise a teen of good moral character. Against this realization it is inexcusable that there are so many problem parents who either don't appreciate the impact of their actions on their children's vulnerability to substance abuse or who don't try harder. When parents are not part of the solution, they're part of the problem.

All parents should monitor their children on school nights. Keep dangerous prescription drugs out of their kids' reach and demand that their children's schools become drug free and all parents should set a good example because what they do will have a far greater influence on their kids, then what they say.

By identifying the characteristics of problem parents, we seek to identify actions that parents can take and avoid in order to raise healthy, drug free, kids and become part of the solution to the nations serious substance abuse problem.
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Dean Becker: O.K. Are you scared yet? You know we provide such mindless blather because these drug czars run from me and my questions. Because they are such cowards.

Is it right to lock up little Johnny and Janie when they turn 17, if we catch them with a joint? Well, that's really up to you, isn't it?

All right my friends, we're out of time. I'll remind you that because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag, do ya? 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