Cultural Baggage, December 17, 2008

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. We got a busy show for you today and I think we're just going to jump right into it. We're going to bring in our guest, Neill Franklin. He's got some 32 years law enforcement experience. He's still working as a law enforcement officer up there in Baltimore, The Wire. You know what I'm talking about and so let's just go ahead and bring in our guest, Mr. Neill Franklin. Hello Neill.

Mr. Neill Franklin: Hey, how you doing, Dean.

Dean Becker: I'm good, Sir. Good to have you with us.

You know, LEAP, our mother-ship; our band of brothers, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, is having some great success in recounting and rehashing the 75th anniversary of the repeal of alcohol prohibition and drawing so many direct and deadly parallels between the two. Are we not?

Mr. Neill Franklin: Yes we are. It has been a fantastic couple of weeks and we are really making some headway and getting the attention of quite a few folks.

Dean Becker: The many papers across the country have given us the chance for op-ed's and letters to the editor. I want to share a portion of one you had, just less than a week ago, published in the Washington Post.

I want to start at the top here. “Legalize and regulate the drug trade” regarding the December 4th article about Mexico drug cartel send a message of chaos and death and your response to that was, “This mayhem occurs as a direct result of, and not despite, increased enforcement of senseless policies that make drugs illegal.” You want to elaborate on that, Sir?

Neill Franklin: It's like what we say as we go back and compare to what we're facing now with drug prohibition and compare it to alcohol prohibition of the roaring 20's.

We've created the perfect atmosphere for, what I refer to it as, the perfect storm for criminal enterprise and it's not just criminal enterprise here in the states but, it's international.

Because of the proximity of Mexico to, of course, to the states here, they're one of the countries that are severely affected by our policies. Our failed policies as it relates to drug prohibition. By creating that perfect storm for criminal enterprise.

It's all about money for those folks and until we take the money out of it; until we develop and create some policies that work, it's not just going to continue but, it's going to get worse.

Dean Becker: It really boils down to, how many Mexican's have to die before American's quit using drugs. I mean, that's the stance of the U.S. government that, come hell or high water, they're going to continue down this same failed road.

Yet the evidence is getting ever more obvious and I think even politicians are beginning to bend a little bit. They're beginning to wonder if perhaps they haven't chosen the wrong path. Your thoughts on that political assessment.

Neill Franklin: See, here's the thing. Politicians know. They know that it's a failed policy. They know that we're headed in a wrong direction. Unfortunately, it's only a handful who have decided to take a stance in this. I think what we're seeing is that, like with most change and especially when it's significant change, it starts with us.

It starts at the ground level; the ground floor and that's the people, that's the citizens. We're the ones that put our elected officials into office. I think that what you have seen this year, for instance, in the electoral process for president, I think we have, once again, realized just how powerful we are as a people and as it related to electing our public officials. I think we realize, especially our young people, realize just how strong they can be.

Dean Becker: Now, the Obama team has a website, change.gov, and last week they asked America, What are top ticket items? What do you want us to address? Six of the top 20, dealt with the drug war. Just yesterday, they answered with a 12 word response that basically something to the effect that, 'Obama does not want to legalize marijuana.'

I was irked by that, that...

Neill Franklin: They got to do better than that.

Dean Becker: Yeah. I was irked by that brief little response, but perhaps, just the word, legalize. We had that battle in drug reform for years, “No, you can't say the 'L' word.” Perhaps there is a nuance, somewhere. Hopefully. What's your thought?

Mr. Neill Franklin: I think that, and I know that a lot of people were not happy with the brief response, with virtually no explanation as to why that position. I think it's a little early. I don't even really know if that's his response. There's so many things going on right now.

He's got so many people writing responses for him in so many different areas. I think that further down the road we will see the attention drawn to this and of course everyone is just inundated with the economy, which is extremely important but, this is also extremely important.

Because, as we started this session here, we started talking about bodies. We started talking about people dying. What can be more important than people dying? When you get to that point, it's all over.

I think that, one of the things that we see is, we are putting our resources and our attention, as a nation, on the wrong end of this thing. Once you start into the enforcement world, that's where we've been for many, many years; locking people up and filling up our prisons, we've lost the battle. We have designed a system. We have improperly designed a system.

If we put our resources and our money on the beginning part of this, you start talking about us using drugs as it compares to Mexico and people die in Mexico because of illegal activity.

Just like with cigarettes. Cigarettes are illegal. But, we are moving farther and farther away from cigarettes because of the positive attention, some of it forced on the tobacco companies. But, because of the positive attention and education that we are giving people, as it relates to the dangers and the harms of cigarette smoking and we're moving in the right direction as a country.

That's what we need to do, with drugs. Prohibition's not working. That's what we need to do with drugs. I think you're going to see our politicians, sooner than later, start to make a massive turn towards where we are at this point. Because they're going to see us, from the bottom, pushing this thing and their not going to have a choice. But they already know that.

They already know what the right thing is but, it's just going to take a little bit more from us to get them moving in the right direction. It's already 70 something percent of us believe and know that we're moving in the wrong direction. It's just that this 70 something percent of these citizens here in the country, we think we are the minority.

Dean Becker: Friends, we're talking here with Neill Franklin. He's a working police officer. Thirty-two years experience up there in the Baltimore area. I wanted to address a couple of points.

You talked about the education and a little bit of leverage on the tobacco companies, has helped us severely curtail the amount of tobacco smoke here in America and... I don't know if this is something to be frightened by, I'm not frightened by it but, the fact is that a recent study determined that, I think it was for 8th and 10th graders, they were more likely to smoke marijuana than cigarettes. The reason for that is, of course, marijuana's more freely available to them because of the black market. Right?

Mr. Neill Franklin: Of course, it's easier to get. If, and I happened to be speaking with a very good friend of mine, yesterday at lunch, and we somehow ended up on this topic (imagine that) and I told her, I said, “If I had two 15 year olds, sitting with us right now and I said to one of them, 'I need for you to go get me a bag of heroin' and the other one, 'I need for you to go get me a pack of cigarettes.' I guarantee you, the one that I gave the heroin assignment to would be back first.”

Whether it's heroin, marijuana, cocaine... anywhere in Baltimore city, these kids know where to go get it and they can get it within a matter of minutes. Cigarettes, alcohol, it's a little bit more difficult because they have to involve someone else.

Dean Becker: You were talking about 70% in favor. It was actually 76% per a Zogby poll of about 6 weeks ago...

Mr. Neill Franklin: Yep. You're right.

Dean Becker: ...that people are just fed up with the drug war and yet the politicians keep stumbling along. I wanted to also... let's talk about your career.

My history, I guarded nuclear weapons. That was it. Nuclear weapons, B-52's. But, I picked up the gun, pinned on that badge, swore to uphold the Constitution and I still am trying to uphold the Constitution, by the work I do. But, you. You're still working. We have very few LEAP members that are currently wearing the badge. Tell us about your experience.

Mr. Neill Franklin: Yeah, I'm still at it. Well, I started with the Maryland state police back in 1976 and I spent about 23 to 24 years with the Maryland state police before I retired in 1999. Now, most of that time I spent in the narcotics or criminal investigation fields.

In the early 1980's, it was about 1980, that's when I became a narc for the Southern Maryland area. That's the borders of Washington D.C. Prince George's county, for those that may be familiar with this area, and yeah. I just want to say that when I first started as a narc, in 1980, I was a member of a 6 person team and we worked four counties in Southern Maryland.

We would go out, Dean, by ourselves. I mean, we each had a county. We would go out by ourselves. We would develop our own cases. Work by ourselves. Many times we were unarmed. Because, even thought the illegal drug trade was there, it was not nearly as violent as it is today.

Today, you don't let a narcotics officer work a case by themselves, go out by themselves or even unarmed. I'm going to get to a very important point, as it relates to the violence. I then went on to command seven task forces. Now, these are multi-jurisdictional task forces in the Western part of Maryland, involving federal agencies as well as local towns and so on.

I then moved to the Northeast part of the state and commanded about 12 to 13 task forces, both criminal and narcotics work on that side, before I ended up commanding a training division for the Maryland State Police prior to my retiring.

When I retired or prior to me retiring, I had a young man, a trooper who worked for me, many of us considered him the best narcotics officer that Maryland State Police had ever seen, his name was Edward Totely.

Edward Totely was... when I left, he joined a FBI task force, working the Washington D.C. area. I went on to Baltimore, to the Baltimore Police Department then and I was commanding their academy during this time. It was the year 2000, October of 2000.

Ed Totely was working a somewhat of a mid level dealer, in the Washington D.C. area. That night, late one night in October in 2000, with back up from other members of the task force that he was assigned to, when the person he had purchased the drugs from came back out to the car, to deliver the package, he was assassinated, point blank, from the drivers side of the car.

Dean Becker: And for what? That's really the question.

Mr. Neill Franklin: Right. For what? For what? Two sons and a daughter... and a wife, are now without him. Now, that's just one case. We know that this happens across the country. In Baltimore City, we know that officers are being shot at on a daily basis from members of the illegal drug trade. Because we, with our policies, have created this atmosphere, for this to take place.

Dean Becker: This boon, this granting of the ability to make money, to turn weeds into hundred dollar bills so they can afford that weaponry. Is that right, Sir?

Mr. Neill Franklin: That's it and 'course... oh, that's another point, oh, God. Even with the advancements that we have made, as law enforcement officers with a higher quality of fire power that we have, we still can't match what they have. It's just become so dangerous for our men and women who are out there on a daily basis in anyone of these cities or towns and their just chasing... It's like a dog chasing it's tail.

Dean Becker: Well, we've all seen that HBO program, The Wire. Would you say that's pretty close? Near the mark?

Mr. Neill Franklin: It is right on the mark except for one piece and that is the small community they created in the Western district called Amsterdam, where they allowed the drug trade to take place as long as it was within these boundaries. Everything else, as far as the battles, the bodies, the disregard for human life and the characters, is all true to life.

Now the time frames may be a little different as far as when these accounts actually took place 10 years ago or 5 years ago but, it's all real. That's exactly what it's like.

Dean Becker: Now, I want to... you know, you send your friend or someone sent your friend out to do this task, to curtail the supply, to make a difference and yet, we have never made a difference. Have we?

Mr. Neill Franklin: We have never, at least not to my knowledge, if someone knows different, please tell me. But, it has gotten worse. We haven't held the line. We haven't pushed the line back. We're losing. We're losing ground. The numbers are increasing in every size, shape and form, mainly when it comes to people dying.

When I say, 'people dying' it's not just one group of people. It's not just the people who are involved in the game. It's, as we just talked about, it's law enforcement officers, it's innocent bystanders. In Baltimore here we have a number of children that are caught in the middle, on a monthly basis. We have a very high juvenile homicide rate, here in Baltimore.

It's even for those who are addicts. Because of the non-regulated supply of drugs that they get, the poor quality of drugs that they get, the change in quality and purity of the drugs that they get and the stigma that's attached to being involved in illegal activity, they don't get the help that they need. They're dying at alarming rates.

Dean Becker: It's... I don't know, that question that was on change.gov. Maybe it should be worded something like, 'By ending prohibition, we can quit funding the terrorists that destroy the cartels and eliminate the reason most of the gangs exist.' I wonder if they can answer that, so curtly.

Mr. Neill Franklin: Oh, my goodness. It's... this thing just reaches just so many different areas, both directly and indirectly. I don't think that many people understand the totality of this issue.

When you compare where we are now and the devastation that we are experiencing now to those who say, they don't want to move in this area because they fear that more people will use drugs. Oh, my God. Such uninformed people. Because, if that's your only fear, I mean, think about this.

First of all. It's an unsubstantiated fear. There's no documented evidence. There's no proof. There's no studies that would indicate that drug use will go up 5%, 10%, 20%, 100%, whatever. But even if it did, those people, those new addicts per say, that we would have, you know what? They're alive. They're alive and they have a chance to get off of it.

Dean Becker: They would have a regulated supply. There wouldn't be a hot batch the next week that would kill them. They would know what they're buying. They could seek medical help, should they overdose...

Mr. Neill Franklin: ...and the funding would be available...

Dean Becker: ...and without fear of prison. It's hard to say whether use would go up or not. My own feeling is, it might go up a little bit in the first 6 months or a year, but it would probably begin to taper off approaching zero eventually or to that level 1½%.

Mr. Neill Franklin: Absolutely. Why don't we continue to look at the past. We do for many things and we learn from many things of the past, in our history. But we, for some reason, there are those who fail to look at, as you just said, it may go up a little bit, just like with alcohol use at the end of prohibition. But you know what? It peaks, it levels off and it starts to come back down. So maybe, just maybe, the time is right.

Dean Becker: Well, I think that's the proper thought to close this interview with. Neill, we'll be in touch with you in 2009. I want to do this again and get some more reports from the Northeast. Thank you for being with us, my friend.

Mr. Neill Franklin: Yeah. This was absolutely great. I appreciate it, Dean. You have a wonderful day and a very wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Dean Becker: Thank you, Sir. Happy Holidays.
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It's time to play Name That Drug by its Side Effects!

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cirrhosis, psychosis and dementia. The number one contributor to domestic violence and deaths on American highways.

(((gong)))

Time's up. The answer: Beer. Taxed, regulated and freely available in all non-Muslim countries.
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Well, as the year ends and a new one begins, there's more positive news about medical marijuana coming forth and we have with us, Mr. Ken Wolski, a nurse up in New Jersey. There's breaking news up that way. Please, tell us about it.

Mr. Ken Wolski: Yes, Dean. We're very excited, up here in New Jersey, to report that the Senate Health Committee voted favorably on our New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. Today it happened, just about noontime, in the State House.

So, the hearings were hotly contested. I mean, there were a lot of the usual suspect drug warriors there. But, we had a number of people who testified in support of medical marijuana and basically we carried the day in the committee.

Dean Becker: Now there are 13 states that already provide some means of medical marijuana. What does the outline of the bill look like up there?

Mr. Ken Wolski: Well, this bill would allow a patient, with a doctors recommendation, to grow 6 plants and possess one ounce of marijuana. It's in a program that's run by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. It would require an ID card from the Health Department for either the patient or a caregiver, if the patients not able to grow the marijuana himself or herself.

At the last minute, on Friday, there were some amendments added to this bill, which I haven't seen yet. But apparently, they sound like they're pretty much consistent with some of the recommendations that we made, in the form of regulations, to enact a bill that would allow for collective gardens.

Or some type of collective gardens and a model collective gardens. They talked about some type of New Jersey government approved system where patients could go if they weren't able to produce their own medicine.

Dean Becker: Well now, in that this was from the Senate Health Committee, that's kind of a good star, if you will, on it to indicate to the further legislators, that it's time to pass it. The Governor's indicated that he would sign it, right?

Mr. Ken Wolski: Yes. Governor Corzine has come out in support of medical marijuana. He said that during his debates, when he was running for Governor and he reconfirmed this later on at a community, sort of get-together, where I saw him.

We have the Governor's support of it and you're correct when you say that the Senate Health Committee is a very important kind of endorsement to get when the vote goes to the entire senate, Dean. Because often times, for the most part, I can't say always, but for the most part when a bill passes favorably out of the committee, for a vote by the entire Senate, that usually it's going to pass the entire Senate.

It's the committee that are the experts and have studied this issue in great detail and their recommendation to the entire Senate, is very important. This is one important step. It represents very important progress in medical marijuana legislation in New Jersey but, it's certainly not a slam dunk yet and we certainly have a lot of hard work ahead of us.

Dean Becker: Now, you have worked on this for years, as have many other reformers over the decades, if you will, and it's important that we get involved, that we do our parts as citizens, that we bring that information forward and it would appear that, well there's a good chance, that New Jersey will become the 14th medical marijuana state.

Any closing comments or websites you'd like to talk about?

Mr. Ken Wolski: Well, we're very hopeful that New Jersey will become the 14th state to protect it's patients, who use medical marijuana with a doctor's statement. For more information you can go to cmmnj.org for the Coalition for Medical Marijuana - New Jersey and actually, The Drug Policy Alliance in New Jersey is also simultaneously running a compassionate use campaign. They're working very hard here, too. So, we're not the only ones.

We also have the support of a lot of health care organizations in New Jersey. We're very grateful for the support that we have and we hope to get this done soon to protect patients here in New Jersey, Dean.
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(to the tune of: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)

Billions and billions....... flushed away.
No one knows just why, but we do it everyday.
The drug lord smiles, the cartel thrives,
the gangs come out to play.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.
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Alright, I'm glad you could be with us for this holiday edition of Cultural Baggage. I want to thank Neill Franklin. He's with the group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and he or I or one of us, will come speak to your organization. All you have to do is get in touch with us. Our website is leap.cc
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This is the Abolitionists Moment.

To continue the drug war is lock-step idiocy. Such a deviation from fact, from cause and effect, blaming the problems of drug war on the drug users.

Let's return to the US Constitution. Judge people by their actions not the contents of their pocket or garden. Washington and Jefferson grew marijuana. Franklin was a known opium user. JFK used methamphetamine. Little W used cocaine and alcohol to excess. Clinton and Gore smoked marijuana and Obama used both cocaine and marijuana.

Drug use. Youthful indiscretions would seem to be a prerequisite, to getting elected. With $400 Billion per year in profits, the terrorists, cartels and gangs continue to buy the necessary fear in congress, in the major media and on the streets of America.

The only people; the only people who benefit from this 94 year old war on non-fortune 500 produced plant products, are the cops and the criminals. The rest of us, LOOSE. You, me and 300 million of our fellow Americans, we all loose.

Not to mention the hundreds of millions of users worldwide, who are forced by U.S. mandated drug prohibition, to bow before the morals of those who's posturing finances terrorism and deception. Who motivate and enrich criminals worldwide via their misguided and illogical policy via their wielding of financial leverage on nearly every government on the planet to participate in this drug war.

Their fained ignorance serves as a badge and the fear they generate, serves as a bludgeon. Please do your part to end the madness of drug war. Visit our website at endprohibition.org. Do it for the children.
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In this holiday season we take time to be a little more human, a little more humane. Maybe it's time for you to take a look at this drug war. How it impacts you, your family, your neighborhood, your city, state, this county and even the world.

It's time to reassess what we've been up to. It's time to do something different. I urge you, participate and do your part and please remember, that because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag, do you? 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