Cultural Baggage, February 4, 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.
________

Hello, my friends. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. This promises to be a great show here in just a few moments. We're going to bring in our main guest, Richard Mack. A former sheriff, now a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. But, we've got some great breaking news coming out of British Columbia. We have the director of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, Mr. Philppe Lucas, with us. Hello Philppe.

Mr. Philppe Lucas: Hi. How are you doing today, Dean?

Dean Becker: I understand you have some positive news.

Mr. Philppe Lucas: We do! We do! After nearly five years and the British Columbia Supreme Court that in a court case that stem back in a raid on the Vancouver Island Therapeutic Cannabis Research Institute in 2004. I'm happy to announce that this week we had some success in that court case. The judge in question, Judge Koenigsberg, found the program, Health Canada's Medical Marijuana Program, to be unconstitutional once again.

That's the 5th time in five years that it's been found unconstitutional by high courts and despite finding Mat Beren, the defendant, guilty of producing cannabis for the purpose of distribution, she granted him an Absolute Discharge, which is a Canadian legal term that essentially means that the charges have been tossed out. He will have no criminal record and there'll be no penalty associated with his cultivating cannabis for the Vancouver Island Compassion Society and so, it's been an incredible victory, not just for us and Mr. Beren, but for medical cannabis users all over Canada.

Dean Becker: Now, you said the 5th time in five years, that this has been declared unconstitutional. Will the government appeal it? What's next?

Mr. Philppe Lucas: We're still not sure if the government's going to appeal it. The judge struck down two small sections of the Federal Medical Cannabis Program. The sections limited the amount of people who could grow in one location, which use to be limited to 3 people and now it's unlimited and also limited the number of people that a single producer could produce for. It use to be a one to one ratio and now it's a; a producer could produce for any number of people.

The judge gave the government one year; or 'Stayed the decision' for a year in order to give the government a chance to adjust their regulations accordingly and we still don't know, at this point, whether Health Canada is going to be appealing this decision, although it seems unlikely since they actually got the guilty convictions that they were seeking, despite the fact that, as I stated, Mr. Beren immediately received an Absolute Discharge.

Dean Becker: It just seems to be, I don't know, a maze; a rat race. I don't even know the term to describe it. I mean, you guys have a much more logical system up there, wherein you can actually provide marijuana for the people who need it legally and yet, they still continue to nip at the heels of it, to somehow want to destroy this ability to provide for sick patients.

Mr. Philppe Lucas: Yeah, I think that's a; I know our programs a bit confusing, but unlike US state programs like California, our dispensaries are actually illegal here in Canada but the federal government has never successfully prosecuted them and so we operate with the support and at the behest of our local communities.

We do have a Federal Medical Cannabis Program but unfortunately right now, it's only protecting about 2600 people from arrest and prosecution, since most medical cannabis users have found that they can't access that program, either because of resistance from their physician or for a number of other reasons.

Dean Becker: Alright. Well Philppe, we're going to bring you back for a further discussion here in the near future. I want to say first off, congratulations to you and VICS and to the people of Canada for this logical decision. Closing thoughts.

Mr. Philppe Lucas: Thank you very much. Closing thoughts? We're absolutely relieved that after five years, this turned out in the favor of medical cannabis users all over Canada. I'd like to close by thanking some of the amazing American organizations that have supported this important Constitutional challenge. Particularly the Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance and Robert Thiel, all of whom made this challenge possible and so 'Thank you, very much,” to them and all the other Americans down there who know that medical cannabis changes in the US certainly can be prompted by us having a more progressive and effective system here in Canada.

Dean Becker: Thank you, Philppe and real quick, ya'll website?

Mr. Philppe Lucas: It's a, yes. If anyone wants to find out more about our challenge, you can go to www.thevics.com and it's short for The Vancouver Island Compassion Society.

Dean Becker: Thank you, Mr. Philppe Lucas.
________________
(background sounds of an aircraft engine during dialog)

As he sneaks his aircraft across the border
The pilot pops a couple of amphetamines; Speed
Before delivering his load
Sure to cause death and destruction in the communities it impacts
His bosses insist that he take speed
because of the enormous value of his mission.

{choir singing "Nothing Can Stop the US Air Force'}
________________

Alright, my friends. You are listening to Cultural Baggage. We've been speaking with Mr. Philppe Lucas of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society but I'm glad to bring in one of my band-of-brothers from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, former Sheriff, Richard Mack. Are you with us?

Richard Mack: I am with you all the way, Dean.

Dean Becker: {chuckling} I have no doubt on that, my friend. Yes, Sir. I tell you what, let's start off; tell folks about your experience in law enforcement.

Richard Mack: Well, I spent nearly twenty years in law enforcement. I started off at the very ground level in Provo, Utah. I started working as a cadet, that's the official term, the most popular term for it is Meter Maid...

Dean Becker: OK.

Richard Mack: ...and I was working my way through college at Brigham Young University and by the way, I am LDS, I'm a Mormon, a registered republican and I totally believe in the legalization of drugs, which might be contrary, a little bit, to what other people believe, especially my own family and church. But, the argument there, and I'll get back to some of my background too, but the argument with, over the discussion or the debate that I have with anybody and everybody about decriminalization or legalization of drugs, especially marijuana is, I don't want people; I don't want my children; I don't want your children; I don't want strangers or any other Americans, misusing drugs or abusing drugs. I don't want that. I hate drug abuse with a passion.

But what we have to realize is what we've been doing is wrong, immoral and counterproductive and has not served the public need. When I was a police officer, I believed that it was our job to work our way out of a job. Make things so peaceful and it's not our job to protect people from their own stupidity.

During my first eleven years, I stayed at Provo PD. I was an undercover narcotics officer. I worked Vice. I worked youth crimes. I was a Youth Crime Specialist. I was a Corporal, communications supervisor, a Sergeant and finished up as a Detective, still specializing in juvenile crime and some sex crimes and then I decided in 1988 that I would move home to Arizona, where I was raised and I ran for Grant County Sheriff. I was elected twice.

I served there eight years and then; really, where I started to question what we were doing was right after my undercover assignment. When I was in Law Enforcement, I was just like everyone else. 'Let's arrest every drug dealer, let's arrest pot holder, pot head, throw them all away, lock 'em up, throw away the key. Who cares about 'em?' and then, when I was undercover and I lived in that drug culture for such a long time, I saw what we were doing as really, spinning our wheels and we've lost our way. Law enforcement, I believe, is in a tough predicament and I don't want any of my fellow law enforcement brothers or sisters risking their lives, any more, for these idiotic drugs and especially, marijuana.

Dean Becker: Well, thank you for that. My friends, we're speaking with Richard Mack, former Sheriff. Richard, I enjoy the opportunity, as I said, to speak with my band-of-brothers because, there is nobody in government, no official, no authority of any kind that's willing to defend this policy. Certainly, not when one of us is in the room.

Richard Mack: Yell, yeah. There's a few.

Dean Becker: Well...

Richard Mack: Sheriff Bill Masters in Colorado. He's a 'still' sheriff and he is unabashedly opposed to the drug war.

Dean Becker: No, you misunderstood me. Richard, I meant there's no drug warrior willing to come on this radio show or to debate us, in a public environment.

Richard Mack: Oh, I see. Yes. I see what you're saying, yeah. Yeah, there's lots of law enforcement officers joining the true service guys who really believe in telling the truth and if you look at the LEAP website, you saw the Sergeant who was just re-instated after being fired for talking about the drug war and how insane it is and you really got to take your hat off to guys like that...

Dean Becker: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Richard Mack: ...willing to stand and risk his job. That's amazing and the courage of that sort of people is amazing. But I've debated, when I was in Nevada fighting for the Question 9 Initiative, where we were trying to legalize marijuana, I debated several police officers there. On the radio and in person at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. They were pretty willing to stand up, there. But, why won't they come on your show? I mean, let's bring them on. Heck, what are they afraid of?

Dean Becker: Well, if you can find those Nevada officers and point them this direction, I would relish the opportunity because...

Richard Mack: You already know what they're going to say.

Dean Becker: Well... But again, it goes back to my mantra. I want to put a bullet through Obama's fattest cash cow. I want to take away the reason these cartels are waging war in Mexico...

Richard Mack: Yeah.

Dean Becker: ...and I want to eliminate the reason these street gangs exist in America. You mentioned earlier the thought that, you know, people don't want anybody to use drugs and I would prefer that cocaine and methamphetamine disappeared from this earth.

Richard Mack: So do I.

Dean Becker: But that would never happen. That isn't going to happen. So, we have to adjust to the reality of this before our eyes, right?

Richard Mack: Right and the reality is, that we have created the lure, the profitability and the cartels. We have created that black market. Our laws of prohibition, created that and so you have to look at it from a common sense standpoint and say that, 'If we did away with those laws of prohibition, we would probably do away with that black market,' and there would be no way that the profitability could stay the same.

I mean sure, somebody's going to try to do something with it somewhere and there's still going to be somebody trying to sell it on a street corner. I don't deny that. But, the huge profitability of these substances; we have caused that. We have given the cartels and the terrorists, a means by which to make money for their nefarious purposes and causes.

Why we can't see that and why we don't do something about it, it's a national security issue? It's a common sense issue? It's an economic issue? It's a government over regulation issue and it's a freedom issue. I don't have the right to force my neighbor, with the point of a gun, not to use these substances. I can't do that and if I can't, that means you can't. If you and I can't, that means our government does not have the authority to do that either.

Dean Becker: Well, it's a term that's, I'm not going to say overused, it should be used more and that's the fact that Albert Einstein defined this situation for us long ago that, 'Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results, is the definition of insanity.'

Richard Mack: It is and we say that all the time but nobody listens. Everybody says, 'Oh, no, there's an exception this time, because it's such a horrible thing, of stopping these drugs. We haven't stopped them! We've made it worse! The people in government just don't seem to catch hold of that and my fellow officers that will debate and that I have debated before, will tell you, 'These substances are so horrible, we just have to do something to get rid of them.' Well, I agree with that. Let's do something that will be the best for the community and best for the tax payer and not make it to where there's a bunch of people trying to push these on our kids, because there's such huge profit.

Every time you read or hear about a news story where a huge catch of drugs are confiscated and people are arrested, that has not prevented one person from getting drugs. Drugs are available in every High School in this country. You could hire a kid to go in; who looks like a high school student. Let him go into any high school, in this country, in the morning and by the time the bell rings, he could have just about any illegal drug that you could imagine.

It's in our high schools. It's even in our middle schools and grade schools. Not as much as the high schools, but it's there and we cannot even keep these substances out of prison. Because of the corruption and money that is involved with this stuff. I don't know the answer to all this stuff, but I do know what hasn't worked and what really concerns me is, America is the freest Nation on earth and we only comprise 5% of the worlds population, but we use 50%-60% of the worlds illicit drugs. That worries me. That show's that we have a very serious problem and that we better damn well look at what's happening and do something else.

The police officers and people who believe in this idiotic drug war, that has failed miserable and has produced no results in the last 38 years, they'll say, 'Well, give me more man power, give me more money and give me more constitutional provisions 'out the window' so I don't have any restrictions to go after this stuff. I'm not willing to do that. I'm not willing to surrender freedom or my rights, because of this idiotic drug war.

Dean Becker: There was a resent Supreme Court ruling, I don't have the exact one in front of me but, it dealt with the fact that, 'If police officers happen to mess up in their process of arresting people, as long as they have good intentions...

Richard Mack: Good faith. Yeah, good faith.

Dean Becker: ...then, it stands and the person can be convicted. It's following on the heels of decades of that 'disruption' or 'nibbling away' at our Constitutional rights, all brought forward, all underlined or made possible by the drug war, right?

Richard Mack: It is and there's been a lot of abuse of American Constitutional parameters. It really bothers me to see Police Officer's and Sheriff's and Deputy's that have sworn an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution are the one's lobbying legislatures and going to the United States Supreme Court, trying to get more leniency in following the law, the supreme law of the land. I don't like to see officers do that.

It's OK to go by the rules. It's OK to keep America the free country it is without a police state, and quite honestly that's been one of the results and consequences of this drug war is that we have created a police state and I don't want to live in a society that has 600,000 some odd police officers in this country wanting to know what's in my pocket, my glove compartment or my chest of drawers at home. I don't want that.

Dean Becker: I would say my garden as well, but... {chuckling in background} People try to distort things. They talk about Needle Park being a fiasco. They talk about certain aspects of harm reduction, the type of stuff that they do in Europe. They talk about, the horrible part, they fixed the Needle Park situation long ago...

Richard Mack: Right.

Dean Becker: ...and they never talk about the fact that the Netherlands, the kids wait about four years later, before they use marijuana, despite the fact that it's available in the cannabis café's. They don't talk about the fact that their violent crime rate is 50% of ours, that their drug use is 50% of ours, despite the fact they have perhaps the most lenient laws on the planet, in regards to drugs. We have the most draconian and we have the most drug use, as you've said, 50% - 60% and we have the most people in prison. How do you think this will pan out during the Obama administration? Is change afoot?

Richard Mack: I doubt it. I would hope so. It would probably be the only thing I've heard from Obama, right now, that looks like it would be anything that would make sense. But, I haven't heard him say anything about this. Not during the campaign. Not at anytime. I think he is going to turn his back on this issue and that's what it seems like he's doing.

I've actually thought, I said, 'You know what, somebody's got to run for office,' and I have run for office before. I would love to run on this campaign, of legalizing drugs. Especially marijuana and see how the people respond to it. Say, “Look, I believe on some other things but, this is going to be my primary platform. We have got to stop the drug war,' and see where it goes and make it a real issue instead of some of these mundane things that they debated about last election that just really, it made me feel so hopeless, watching the last election process.

Dean Becker: Right. The content was lacking. I would agree.

Richard Mack: Very much so.

Dean Becker: Now, I think about; I talked to a couple of politicians during this last election cycle and tried to get them to endorse the LEAP position...

Richard Mack: Yeah.

Dean Becker: ...to say, 'I'm the one who wants to kill Osama's cash cow. I want to eliminate these cartels. I want to take away the reason for these gangs.'

Richard Mack: Right.

Dean Becker: It seems to me like it's a win / win situation. Who's going to stand up in support of the gangs or the cartels or the terrorist? It's...

Richard Mack: Well, it looks like our government does. You know?

{chuckling}

Dean Becker: Well, I...

Richard Mack: If you want to call a spade, a spade, that's really the truth. There's only two groups that want to keep it illegal and that's government and the cartels.

Dean Becker: ...and makes you wonder how often they're in bed, actually. But, a...

Richard Mack: Yeah, it does.

Dean Becker: ...I would agree with that. Now. We're speaking with Richard Mack, former sheriff, current member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Richard, I wanted to; I noticed you had written a couple 'letters to the editor'. Like most of us LEAP members, you get the chance to speak about this situation. What has been... Have you had any response from some of the former law enforcement officials you worked with?

Richard Mack: Not recently, pursuant to those particular op-eds that I've written. But I certainly have in the past. One, a very dear friend of mine, who recently retired as a Captain from Provo PD, in Utah and he and I really got into it, thought it was going to destroy our friendship there for a little bit, but he and I have always been able to disagree and still be friends. But basically, they just get into the same ole, same ole.

I just wrote a letter in the local newspaper here in Safford, Arizona and people respond in the typical fashion that, 'Oh, how could you say that,' 'Blood would be running in the street if we legalized drugs.' But the one thing that they don't understand is, anybody who wants to use drugs, is doing so now and yet, as you eluded to earlier, the Netherlands, Denmark and other places that have legalized marijuana, have less abuse. Children trying it for the first time, is much later. There's not this lure. There's not this, 'Oh man, there must be something really neat about this stuff or government wouldn't make it illegal.'

You have to look at the numbers and see the success, where legalization has come in and it has actually protected children better, especially high school students. The rate of abuse is much worse in the United States where it's supposedly illegal and I still hear cops saying that, 'they're protecting our children.' There's no such thing. Any child; any high school student who wants to use it, can get it very easily. In fact, all too easily and it's all clandestine and it's so hard to watch and it's so hard to manage and really the only way to really get at the bottom of this stuff is to violate what America really stands for.

There's no line of people. I'm not. I don't know anybody of my friends and family or acquaintances, who just can't wait for marijuana and drugs to be legalized, so they can start using them. That's absurd. There's no line.

Dean Becker: Well, you know that thought about the rebelliousness or the attraction of that. I do a little quasi PSA that says, 'This pot's so good, that when I smoke it, the government freaks out,' and...

{chuckling}

...it kind of, it sums it up for us. Well Richard, we're going to be bring you back soon. I very much enjoyed our discussion. Our website for our band-of-brothers in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is leap.cc. Tune in. You can sign up there to show your support for what we're up to. Richard, thank you so much.

Richard Mack: Thank you and if you want to see anything that I'm doing, separate from that, I've got to get LEAP on there, but I have a sheriffmack.com website if you want to look at that.

Dean Becker: ...and we will. We appreciate your input, Sir.

Richard Mack: Appreciate being on with you. Thanks so much.

Dean Becker: Alright. Bye-bye.
________________

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

Low blood sugar, decreased appetite, hunger, drowsiness, weakness, dizziness, confusion, irritability, fast heartbeat, sweating, acid stomach, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, renal failure and death.

(((gong)))

Time's up! The answer from Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Vietta! For Diabetes.

The drug was originally discovered in the lizard: Heloderma suspectum.
________________

My name is Radley Balko. I'm the senior editor for Reason Magazine and I do a lot of reporting for the magazine on civil liberties issues and the drug war.

Dean Becker: Well, you just had one posted following the news, that Mr. Phelps has been seen with a bong to his lips. Let's talk about that.

Radley Balko: It's kind of the usual righteous indignation I think we hear from the sports media and a lot of sports commentators when an athlete gets caught with marijuana, it's suppose to sort of bring shame upon that athlete and diminish that athlete in our eyes and I don't know, I think that's all kind of silly. You know, Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer the world has ever seen and the idea that he does occasional smoke marijuana, as he obviously does, I think puts the lie to the notion that the government tries to feed us, that people who smoke marijuana tend to be dead enders and couch surfers and...

If you saw the latest ONDCP campaign, you know, 'if you smoke marijuana, you can expect a career as a burrito maker.' The jist of the piece is that, I think it's regrettable but Phelps apologized. I think he should have basically said, 'This is my life. This is my private time. I have a little bit of down time every year. I should be able to relax and enjoy it and it's none of your business.'

Dean Becker: I find it just so absurd that, as you said, people want to hold his feet to the fire; want to make him...

Radley Balko: What they want to; there's a kind of a voyeuristic thrill I think we see in watching, particularly elite athletes who, I think, a lot of people are both envious of and sort of don't think they deserve the riches and fame that they've earned. But I think there's a sort of voyeuristic element to watching an elite athlete fall and fall from grace and I think people sort of egg it on because; particularly sports writers. Sports writers, I find then utterly contemptible, in this regard. I think a lot of them are failed or wanna-be athletes and when they see a world class athlete fall, I think they take particular joy in it.

Yeah, the other thing is the blatant hypocrisy in all this. The drug laws are in place to allegedly protect us from harming ourselves, right? Well, yesterday we all watched the Super Bowl and we watched three hundred pound athletes, in full pads, smash each other while running at full speed and I enjoyed it. I love NFL football. But, that's dangerous.

These athletes suffer severe injuries all the time, career ending injuries, life altering injuries. There's a study out, a couple studies, last few years showing that the average NFL football player has a life expectancy of about 55, which is 20 years earlier than the average. Nobody's really showing a lot of concern for that because we enjoy it and we understand that they take these, the football players take these risks knowingly and voluntarily, so the idea that...

Dean Becker: OK. That was Radley Balko. I mistimed things. We had to cut it off short. If you'd like to see this article, which he wrote, you can see it on reason.com and on theagitator.com. We have hundreds of programs for your perusal out on the net at drugtruth.net. Please do your part. Participate, become part of the solution. I remind you once again, 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