Cultural Baggage, Sept 10, 2008
Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.
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 phamaceutical, banking, prison, and judicial nightmare that feeds on eternal drug war.
Dean Becker: Hello my friends. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. Today we're going to hear two major reports from overseas. First up, we'll hear from the BBC and the report they did which features an interview with Jack Cole, Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. And we'll also be hearing from New Zealand and a radio program there where they interviewed Judge Jerry Paradis from Canada who's touring New Zealand on behalf of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. And to close out the show we'll be getting some reports from the Drug Truth Network crew as well as broadcasting for the first time a new song here on the Drug Truth Network.
Next up, BBC.
Mark Easton: For most of the twentieth century it was pretty much only liberal fundamentalists and glassy eyed hippies who argued for the legalization of drugs of all drugs but since the millennium the mavericks and ideologues have found their ideas do not seem so outlandish after all. In 2002 the man who hopes to be our next prime minister, David Cameron, argued that the British government should initiate discussion with the UN about possible legalization of drugs. As a member of Home Affairs Select Committee he accepted that many sensible and thoughtful people have proposed legalizing all or most presently illegal drugs. Some of the arguments are attractive the committee agreed, conceding there may come a day when the balance may tip in favor of legalizing. But almost with a note of regret, Mr. Cameron and his colleagues concluded they were being invited to take a step into the unknown, to tread where no other society has yet trod and in their words, 'declined to recommend this drastic step.'
Drastic? But not unthinkable, worth talking about. Why? Because it was becoming clear that what Richard Nixon first called 'The War on Drugs,' was not being won. A few months after the committee report was published, Tony Blair was shown a Powerpoint presentation on drugs by his strategy team in Number Ten. Attempts to intervene have not resulted in sustainable disruption to the drug supply market at any level, he was told. Even if supply-side interventions were more effective it's not clear that the impact on the harms caused by serious drug users would be reduced. The billions the government had spent fighting illegal drugs had had no effect.
This internal indictment of drugs policy was quietly buried. It took two years, a series of freedom of information demands and a leak before the advice finally saw the light of day. Nevertheless, by then the anti-prohibitionists had gained in confidence and influence. There were public calls for decriminalization, regulation or legalization of illegal drugs from MPs, Peers, police officers and even judges. The government found its drug strategy increasingly attacked. In 2006 another select committee published a report entitled 'Drug Classification: Making a Hash of it.' And earlier this summer the influential UK Drugs Policy Commission concluded that law enforcement efforts had little adverse effect on the availability of illicit drugs in the UK. While not calling directly for legalization the reports final thought was this: 'It has been suggested that if demand for illicit drugs and all its associated costs were to increase even modestly ,then, over time, the pressure to reexamine the current legislative structure for controlling drugs would be overwhelming.'
We're not there yet. The political mainstream still see no electoral advantage in even engaging with a debate on legalization. When pressed, they predict disaster. But a view not so long ago dismissed as the province of weirdos and whackos is, slowly, edging towards center stage.
BBC Announcer: Mark Eastern there. We'll go to Ian Oliver who was a chief constable and he's a consultant to the United Nations on drugs. First though, Jack Cole, former undercover narcotics officer from New Jersey in the United States. And Mr. Cole, you believe that the war on drugs, so called, has not only failed but done damage.
Jack Cole: Yes. But it's not only I that believe that. I'm the Director of a group called LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. It's a group of 10,000 police, judges, prosecutors in 90 different countries who believe that we should legalize and regulate drugs because it's our only way to control them. You can't regulate anything that is illegal. Right now it's in the control of all the criminals. And that's why we have all the problems we have.
BBC Announcer: But the danger obviously is that we would then, somebody who wants to take drugs can go buy them. That's the very vivid, very simple objection to that, isn't it?
Jack Cole: Well, it is a very simple objection. The fact of the matter is, we've always had drugs in the world and we will always have drugs and there will be a very tiny minority of people that will use them. In the United States for the last hundred years it's been 1.3 percent of the population have used drugs, become addicted to those drugs. And that hasn't changed in a hundred years despite the fact that we started a war in 1970, it's been raging now for 38 years, we've spent more than a trillion dollars on that war, and all we have to show for that money is that we've made more than 39 million arrests in my country alone, done everything we can do to destroy those folks lives and, yet, today drugs are cheaper, they're more potent and they're far easier for our children to access than they were in 1970, at the beginning, when I started buying them as an undercover agent. That's a failed policy, any way you look at it.
BBC Announcer: And Doctor Oliver, that applies to this country as well, the figures are slightly different but the fact is the policies over the years have not worked, have they?
Dr. Oliver: Well, that isn't true because we had one hundred years of drug control with the UN Conventions and you've got no way of knowing how bad things would have been without control.
BBC Announcer: No, but we know how bad it is with control.
Dr. Oliver: Yes, of course we do. And a lot of what Jack Cole was saying is true, as far as it goes. But the reality is that if you want to stop all the associated harms with addiction and all of that which is associated with other things like blood-borne diseases, AIDS, HIV, hepatitis, and all the sexually transmitted diseases that there's a huge amount of ignorance about in this country and in the States., you don't encourage and facilitate drug use.
BBC Announcer: No, you regulate it is the argument
Dr. Oliver: No, you do not. The compassionate thing to do is to prevent addiction, not to facilitate it. And apart from anything else, even if any government were unwise enough to say 'OK, we think that this argument is prevailing. Let's legalize drugs,' logistically it would be an impossibility. And which drugs are you going to legalize? Are you going to legalize crack? How are they going to become available? Anybody regardless of age and mental condition can get them? And do we really think that the bad guys wouldn't continue to undercut the government even if it had this massive bureaucracy of taxation?
BBC Announcer: Quick answer for that? Sorry. Very little time, unfortunately. Quick answer to that Mr. Cole?
Jack Cole: Well, actually, if we legalized and regulated the drugs the bottom would fall out of the market and it wouldn't be worthwhile for anybody to be out there selling them. It's because of prohibition that things that are basically worthless weeds come to be worth so much money. Marijuana, cannabis as it's called here, is worth more ounce for ounce than gold. Heroin is worth more than uranium. It's probably the most expensive commodity on the face of the Earth. They're just weeds...
BBC Announcer: Dr. Oliver?
Dr. Oliver: If that were true, why is it that we've such a thriving black market in alcohol and tobacco? It's naïve to believe that the criminals wouldn't attempt to undercut the government. And logistically, as I say, it's impossible. The government just could not afford to set up the infrastructure to do it. But apart from that, medically, the compassionate thing is to do no harm. And by legalizing drugs you are facilitating harm and it is naïve to believe that that would solve the problem. It would just exacerbate...
Jack Cole: As law enforcers we know that the day after we ended alcohol prohibition, in 1933 in the U.S., the next morning Al Capone and all his smuggling buddies were out of business. They were off our streets. They were no longer killing...
BBC Announcer: Terribly sorry but we will have to end it there. Thank you both very much, Jack Cole and Ian Oliver.
Dean Becker: I want to thank the BBC for delving into this subject. Next up, we hear from Mr. Jerry Paradis and an interview he did in New Zealand working on behalf of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Radio New Zealand Announcer: My next guest, Jerry Paradis, is an outspoken opponent of the criminalization, the prohibition of drugs. For over twenty years he served as a judge on the Provincial Court of British Colombia, applying the laws against drug possession and trafficking and production. While convinced that those laws were counter-productive, he retired in 2003, he wrote a research paper called 'A Modest Proposal for a Sane Drug Policy,' and he joined an international group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP. Now Executive Director of LEAP, Judge Jerry Paradis is here to make a submission to the New Zealand Law Commission review on drug policy and the law as well as other speaking engagements and he joins me now in Auckland. Hello, how are you?
Judge Paradis: I'm fine, thank you.
RNZ Announcer: Was there controversy during your tenure as a judge over lenient sentences?
Judge Paradis: There was. Controversy in the media but not on the part of the prosecutors whose job it is to appeal what I've done. I was very, very seldom appealed.
RNZ Announcer: How often appealed?
Judge Paradis: Twice, I believe. If that. [laugher] I'm trying to remember.
RNZ Announcer: It must have been a very difficult situation for you.
Judge Paradis: Well, the need to perform the duty that I'd sworn to perform kind of coped with that. I had a great respect for the law and for what judges' role is in applying the law. So I was able to work both sides of that street quite effectively without causing myself too much harm and, at the same time, being reasonable about what I was doing.
RNZ Announcer: Do you have respect for the law given that you think the law, in the case of drugs, is an ass?
Judge Paradis: Well, I want to say 'respect for the law,' I meant that generally. No, of course. I'm opposed to the policy that's been adopted for over a hundred years to deal with the unfortunate but inevitable fallout from drug use and abuse. And that policy has been one of prohibition and punishment. I really believe it's not only being horribly ineffective, it's also been the creator of a huge smorgasbord of problems that nobody anticipated when the law was passed.
RNZ Announcer: Such as?
Judge Paradis: Well, if, in fact, the purpose of a social policy is to assist in the protection and well-being of citizens, this has done exactly the opposite. It has created a black market in which only the criminals control the potency and the consistency of the drugs involved. From that, it has fostered property crime, petty crime so that people can get what they need on a black market where the prices for the things that they need are inflated.
RNZ Announcer: I just want to deal with that 'cause it seems a bit anomalous. On the one hand we're told, I mean I know this doesn't address your broader issue but I'm baffled about it myself.
Judge Paradis: That's fine.
RNZ Announcer: On the one hand we're told that making drugs illegal pushes them on the black market and then makes them hugely expensive. On the other hand we're simultaneously told that the drug laws haven't worked because drugs like heroin and cocaine are greatly cheaper now than they ever have been.
Judge Paradis: Oh, they are. They're certainly cheaper than they were in 1970 when the American war on drugs was announced. But they're still horribly inflated, comparatively, to what they would cost on a regulated non-black market.
RNZ Announcer: However, if you think that drugs in general are not a good thing...
Judge Paradis: Yes.
RNZ Announcer: ...having a very inflated price would be some kind of deterrence.
Judge Paradis: It apparently is not. That's the problem. The use of drugs has increased in great numbers throughout the time that these laws have been in place and certainly has increased geometrically since the war on drugs was declared.
RNZ Announcer: Why do you think that is? I mean, you're not suggesting cause and effect on that, are you?
Judge Paradis: No, no, I'm not. I think there are many, many factors at work.
RNZ Announcer: Well, you might be suggesting cause and effect. I mean, your argument might be that the war on drugs has, has fueled and inflamed the criminal underworld to such an extent that it's thriving and thereby pushing drugs harder, thereby getting more people on them.
Judge Paradis: Well, yes. The risk takers, those who want to deal with drugs that will do real damage to them are going to be with us forever. The, something that's added to that by way of prohibition is a kind of 'forbidden fruit' perspective on that and I think a lot of our youth who do, for a great many reasons, decide to use 'bad' drugs, the drugs that can really do damage to them, do so because there's a certain challenge involved in it, but otherwise you're quite right. Those who control the market are interested in increasing that market like everyone else would be and they can't advertise, they can't label, they can't brand so they do tend to press a certain proportion of young people, too, I suppose, too unwise in the ways of the world to resist, and they get sucked into it.
RNZ Announcer: Hmmm. You don't feel at all that the threat of punishment deters some people from drugs?
Judge Paradis: It may well do so. It may well do so. But broadly speaking, the statistics are very clear: the use of drugs in the most punitive jurisdiction in the world, the United States, has increased enormously since 1970. Well, actually since 1960. At that time approximately sixteen percent of the American population had tried illicit drugs of various kinds. And in 2001, I believe, it had grown to 46 percent.
RNZ Announcer: Well, I don't know. There's a number of reasons for that, maybe.
Judge Paradis: Oh, there are. I'm not suggesting that prohibition is the reason for it. I'm suggesting that prohibition has failed to stem that and in the process has created that black market and has contributed to the incidence of death and disease from substances that are not quality controlled, their composition and their potency is always a 'crap shoot,' as the expression might be, and those are the kinds of things that it has, prohibition has managed to create while attempting to reduce the incidence of drug use and abuse.
RNZ Announcer: The thing that troubles people most, I think, is that by legalizing drugs you would give them some kind of social sanction.
Judge Paradis: Well, in the same sense that you do alcohol.
RNZ Announcer: In the same sense that you do alcohol and we have a huge alcohol problem in this country.
Judge Paradis: I agree, I agree you do and so do we. And...
RNZ Announcer: I mean I'm not saying that alcohol is any more benign. I'm saying that we should learn from the alcohol example, should we not?
Judge Paradis: I doubt it. I really do. I think alcohol would simply represent one side of the coin. The fact is people -- when we tried, when the United States tried, to prohibit alcohol, they tried that for thirteen years -- the use of alcohol diminished in 1920 and 1921 by a small amount and then it grew approximately eleven percent until 1933 when the law was repealed. Even with prohibition alcohol is still the drug of choice of most people, will always be and there's no getting around that. I don't feel, at all, that creating a legalized but regulated market for other kinds of drugs will lead to the same outcomes that alcohol has led to, mainly because of the nature of the drug. The drug is one that really does induce disinhibition and lets people believe that they can do things that they otherwise wouldn't do if they weren't under the influence. That isn't the case with most illicit drugs.
It's time to play 'Name That Drug by its Side Effects.'
Headaches, unexplained muscle pain or weakness, allergic reaction, swelling of the face, lips, tongue and/or throat, difficulty in breathing, rash, hives, joint pain, liver problems, nausea, inflammation of the pancreas and gall bladder.
The answer! Vytorin, from Merck-Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals, a Singapore Company, LLC.
Dean Becker: Poppygate. Bizarre news about the U.S. policy on controlling heroin, featuring Glenn Greenway.
Glenn Greenway: According to the CIA, last year Afghanistan's opium output was equivalent to 1,044 tons of pure heroin. In 2008 the United Nations determined that this year's harvest decreased six percent. Together, these two figures indicate that this year's Afghanistan's opium bounty was equivalent to 981 tons of pure heroin.
In the nearly seven years since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the country's heroin output has increased about 50-fold.
UN Drug Czar Antonio Maria Costa commented on the marginal reduction in Afghan narcotics production: "For the third year in a row, opium supply far outweighs world demand. Prices are falling, but not dramatically. This suggests that vast amounts of opium, heroin and morphine have been withheld from the market."
Oliver North who gained notoriety for his role in the Reagan Era Iran/Contra Cocaine imbroglio writes for Fox News. "Illicit drug production – heroin/opium/hashish/marijuana – the only real cash crops in the country – are an enormous criminal enterprise generating more than $5 billion in cash to benefit the Taliban and corrupt officials in the Afghan government," he reported on September 5.
The same day, 330 miles from Vice President Cheney's residence in Jackson Hole, police in Elk Mountain, Wyoming, arrested a man for possession of 11.3 pound of pure heroin. The heroin was said to be valued at at least $10 million dollars. If Western Occupied Afghanistan's entire narco-bonanza were to be sold at this price the estimated value of this year's harvest would approach two trillion dollars.
Finally, on September 4, the head of Afghanistan's anti-drug court was shot on his way to work and died later in the hospital. Further details regarding Judge Alim Hanif's assassination are not yet available.
This is Glenn Greenway reporting for the Drug Truth Network.
Doug McVay: The U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics recently released a report on parents in prison and their minor children. According to BJS, 'An estimated 809,800 prisoners of the 1,518,535 held in the nation's prisons at mid-year 2007 were parents of minor children, or children under age eighteen. Parents held in the nation's prisons -- 52% of state inmates and 63% percent of federal inmates -- reported having an estimated 1,706,600 minor children, accounting for 2.3% of the U.S. resident population under age eighteen.' The bureau notes that in the space of a single generation, between 1991 and mid-year 2007, 'Parents held in state and federal prisons increased by 79% (357,300 parents), children of incarcerated parents increased by 80% (761,000 children) during this period.'
The racial implications of this generational loss may surprise some. According to BJS, 'Parents held in the nation's prisons at mid-year 2007 were mostly male (92%). More than four in ten fathers were black, about three in ten were white and about two in ten were hispanic. An estimated 1,559,200 children had a father in prison at mid-year 2007. Nearly half, 46%, were children of black fathers. About half, 48%, of all mothers held in the nations prisons at mid-year 2007 were white, 28% were black and 17% were hispanic. Of the estimated 147,400 children with a mother in prison about 45% had a white mother. A smaller percentage of the children had a black, 30%, or a hispanic, 19%, mother.'
For the Drug Truth Network, this Doug McVay, Editor of DrugWarFacts.org.
Terry Nelson: This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Jack Abramoff, the one time powerhouse Republican lobbyist whose influence peddling led to one of the biggest public corruption investigations in recent history, was sentenced by a federal judge last week to four more years in prison. Abramoff apologized for his crime, saying 'he was no longer the person who happily and arrogantly engaged in a lifestyle of political corruption and business corruption.' Prosecutors and defense lawyers sought leniency for Abramoff, citing his extensive cooperation with the wide-ranging public corruption probe.
Now, let's put this in perspective. Abramoff got four years. By sharp contrast, anyone caught growing one to one hundred marijuana plants or possession of a few grams of cocaine can get ten years. This dude corrupted everything he touched and further tarnished the trust meter, making all of us wary of government. While I wish no one ill will I would rather see Abramoff do the ten and the other guy do the four years. The damage done is far less from the grow operation than the official corruption one. But then, we all know that the war on drugs is a seriously flawed policy and it's doing far more harm to our society than the drugs could ever do. We must convince the government to change the policy to one of regulation and control of all drugs, to remove the criminal element, and education and treatment for those that abuse drugs.
LEAP does not condone nor encourage drug use of any type but we do know that the occasional
use of a drug of choice is not abuse of the substance. Ironically, the courts now often mandate treatment along with incarceration. This is, in a way, admission that the only way out of this mess is treatment. So instead of us paying a few thousand dollars for treatment, the system incarcerates at a cost of between $25,000 and $35,000 a year and then pays for the treatment as well. Is that not insane or what?
The four decades long war on drugs must stop and sanity must again prevail in our police departments. Let's change this policy and try to get the public to respect the police again. There's plenty of policing to be done. There were more than 2.1 million burglaries and 1.2 million stolen cars in the U.S. at last report and the police made arrests in approximately 13% of those crimes against people and property. The increase in insurance premiums and losses cost the taxpayer a whopping seven billion dollars. Let's get the police out of the drug war policy game and get them back to policing crimes against people and property instead.
Let's all work together to make this a safer and better place for ourselves and our children.
This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, www.LEAP.cc, signing off.
Pfizer and Merck kill more of us
Than the cartels' crap ever could
They thank us for our silence
Each year's hundred billion dollars
And the chance to do it forever more
Drugs... the first eternal war
Cut me loose
Set me free
Judge what I do
Not what's inside of me
Why do you pick my pocket?
Just let me light my rocket
Who made you the boss of me?
Get out of my life.. let me be
If they stop Afghanistan from growing opium
And they cut down the Colombian cocaine
When Mexico runs out of marijuana
They think that we'll quit getting high
But Walgreens is always standing by
- Repeat Chorus -
Are we just peasants in the field
Let's stand for truth or forever kneel
Every 16 seconds we hear the slamming door
And we owe it all to eternal war
.. The first eternal war
© 2008 Drug Truth Network
Dean Becker: Hope you enjoyed the show. I hope you liked Eternal War. The Adult Users are Randy Wall, vocals and keyboards, Roger Tausz on bass, James Reese on guitar. We have avi and mpg and mp3 and wav and every type file you can name available on our website which is DrugTruth.net. It's on YouTube. Search for FD Becker.
And 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.
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