Cultural Baggage May 6, 2009

It's with enormous sadness that today, I report the death of one of the strongest supporters of the Drug Truth Network. E. Darrel Obrecht passed on to meet his Maker on May 4th.

He was very active in the Bill Glass Prison Ministries, visiting dozens of prison's, per Jesus' instructions. He was a major funder of James A. Baker the III's conference on drug policy. He was one of the patriot generation, a man of honor who believed in human dignity and freedom.

E. Darrel Obrecht, though we had different last names, that's my dad.
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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. This is going to be a tough one. I have two guests for us today. A bit later, we'll hear from Mr. Phil Smith of DRCNet, the man who most often brings us the Corrupt Cop story of the week.

But first up, we have with us a gentleman who's written a great book. It's about a favorite son of Newfoundland, who became one of the worlds most efficient marijuana traffickers, did ten years hard time at Terminal Island Prison and survived to know a better life and with that, let's bring in our guest, Mr. Brian O'Dea, author of, “High: Confessions of a Pot Smuggler”. Brian, are you with us?

Mr. Brian O'Dea: I am Dean and thank you for having me.

Dean Becker: It's an honor to have you with us. The truth, sometimes it's hard to spit it out or to say it, but you've presented a full truth about your life. Have you not?

Mr. Brian O'Dea: Well, I certainly hope I have. It's to the best of my recollection in there. There were some foggy years, as you can tell by reading that book but, yes, it's the truth.

Dean Becker: Contained in this book are many lessons, I think, for our youth. The fact is, that in the end the money wasn't the answer, was it?

Mr. Brian O'Dea: Well, if money was the answer, I wouldn't have found myself within one house having a closet full of money yet hiding in another friends' house's closet, snorting cocaine into my practical demise.

Dean Becker: Exactly. The candor of it. It's hard sometimes to do the confessions, as the book eludes to. I find it, I'm trying to find a spot here, early in the book, where you're talking about the way that you got into this, I guess is the way to look at it. It was a friendly thing. Pot dealers are a rather casual group. No guns, rather friendly, if you will...

Mr. Brian O'Dea: Yeah.

Dean Becker: But that as you get into the harder drugs and the dealing with the authorities, the corrupt, bribed authorities, that it's necessary to have guns and leverage and ... Let's talk about that progression, if you will.

Mr. Brian O'Dea: Well, you know, it's certainly become that way today and there're guns everywhere today. It's not just with coke and heroin and those wicked drugs, but there's guns in the pot business as well, and why is that? It's a very simple reason. It's because they're illegal.

As long as drugs are illegal, they're the currency for illegal gangs, for illegal criminal organizations, that prey on neighborhoods, that take control of neighborhoods, that take control of fatherless children in neighborhoods and it's 'The Lord of the Fly's' everywhere, Buddy and it's due to the illegality of drugs.

We're treating a medical problem with a correctional hammer and that can never possibly work. As a matter of fact, after having thrown over a trillion dollars in it's general direction, over the past 40/50/70 years, this situation has become worse and worse and worse. Surely one would think, that if the way we were doing things worked, we would have noticed it diminishing, in the drug use.

Well it, in fact, it's been an increase, an ongoing increase. So, we've got to be brave, now. We've got to step up to the plate and do something completely different. If we want different results, we've got to do something different and we've got to take chances. It's easy to tell that what we've done, has not worked. It hasn't! So, what do we do? Well, we have to take a great big risk here and try something different.

Dean Becker: Exactly.

Mr. Brian O'Dea: Are we just going to continue to do the same thing? I hope not and what's that something different? Take a big chance. Legalize and control the distribution of drugs. It's not going...
I'm not going to rush out and become a heroin addict, the moment heroin becomes legal. I could do that today. I don't need it to become legal, to do it. There's plenty of heroin around and as a matter of fact, I haven't met anyone who doesn't do drugs, because they're illegal.

Dean Becker: Exactly and that's the point. I hear some of these drug warrior types speaking of, “Well, we don't want another alcohol,” but the fact is, it already exists, my friend. It's there.

Now, early in the book, this one page talks about, a friend had given you; Fred, actually, had given you some green powder, and it brought to mind, in my youth in the Air Force, I heard about this stuff called Doctor Schiffman's Asthmador Cigarettes and they contained Belladonna...

Mr. Brian O'Dea: Really?

Dean Becker: ...and me and a buddy cooked up some of it, took a couple of sips and damn near got killed prowling the streets of Dallas, not knowing what we were up to...

Mr. Brian O'Dea: Well.

Dean Becker: ... and I told some friends, “Don't do this,” and of course, they did it. They had a coffee pot and they were found later by the security police and eventually kicked out of the Air Force, because of that, that use and I tried to warn them, “Do not,” and I told them a little bit about it and I guess, it enticed them somehow. But, that is an example of the type of knowledge that the ONDCP does not distribute; does not provide warnings of what can happen and show those people so incapacitated and really primitive. You just turn into kind of a protoplasm walking around. You have no idea of what you're up to.

Mr. Brian O'Dea: Absolutely. That's Belladonna. It's a horrible substance as well and not recommended unless you want to visit Hell.

Dean Becker: Exactly.

Mr. Brian O'Dea: Look, what I do today is, I go around to schools across this country and anywhere that invites me and I do this for free. I just give my time to these kids and I don't go in there and tell them what to do, or what not to do. My thing is called: The Consequences of Choice. So, I go into the school and I tell them my story and I say, “If this sounds like anything that you're doing today, chances are the consequence you're going to experience, are similar to the consequences I experienced.

“I'm here to tell you that for the most part, that's a price today, I'm not willing to pay. Today, I don't do drugs, I don't smoke, I smoke cigarettes, I don't smoke dope. What I do, is I drink coffee and I probably eat too many chocolate bars but my lifestyle is not threatened by that, at least at the moment.”

Dean Becker: Well in two days, I'm going to celebrate twenty-four years of non-alcoholic imbibement...

Mr. Brian O'Dea: Yeah, baby!

Dean Becker: ...and that, to me; I was busted thirteen times and car wrecks, fights, you name it. I was a threat to society and once I quit alcohol, I've not had a fight, a traffic ticket, nothing.

Mr. Brian O'Dea: Well, isn't that interesting. You see, alcohol this year, is going to kill in excess of a hundred thousand people and probably many more than that, in related deaths and here's a drug that's legally distributed and not only that, it sponsor's sports. It encourages young people to participate in it. It's a highly addictive drug. As a matter of fact, it's a solvent and it's poisonous if taken in vast quantities.

So, while people are able to go out to the corner and buy alcohol and drink it, as a matter of fact, just as an aside in my little straw pole in the number of prison's I've been in, everyone I was in, I conducted a little straw pole and ninety-five percent of the violent offenses committed by people in prison, were committed under the influence of what? Not heroin. Not cocaine. Alcohol... and yet, we're incarcerating people for marijuana.

We arrested over a million people last year for marijuana. Not one violent incident. Not one death. Not any sickness. Nothing documented and they keep saying, 'Well, there's some talk about...” You know what? That is the greatest hypocrisy and young people today spot hypocrisy coming a mile away. Just like I did. Just like you did. So, if you're going to tell me this lie, and I know you're telling me a lie, chances are I'm not going to believe other things that you tell me as well.

Dean Becker: Exactly.

Mr. Brian O'Dea: It's time for us to get honest with our children.

Dean Becker: Thank you. Friends, we are speaking with Mr. Brian O'Dea. He has authored a great book, “High: Confessions Of a Pot Smuggler.” My thought on this Brian, is that those who support continuation or escalation of this drug war, are the best friends the drug cartels and the terrorists and the gangs could ever hope for.

Mr. Brian O'Dea: Oh, absolutely. I just saw a joke today and the joke was in the Manchester Guardian, in England, and it said, There were two guys around the corner of a bar and saying, “I wonder who's responsible for the swine flu?” and around the corner you saw a bunch of pigs 'plotting' about the swine flu, because it prevents them from being eaten, you see. {chuckling}

In the same sense, the drug war. Who's perpetuating this drug war and who's creating the misinformation that keeps it in place? Why, it's the single largest lobby on 'Pay Street' in Washington. It's called the Correction's Lobby. Private Prisons. I've had friends who were in prisons that were run 'for profit' by corporations.

Well, what's that about? That's about the bottom line and when it comes to the bottom line, if you're not making money, who's going to pay the price in those prisons, so that they turn around the bottom line? I'll tell you who. You, me, the prisoner.

Dean Becker: Exactly. We see it, in the major media. I think there's been a hundred and twenty editorials and op-eds, in just the last couple of months, from voices who we should appreciate, calling for the end; well, I'll say it this way, calling for an examination of the policy of drug prohibition. Not willing to say the word 'legalize' but saying, 'It's time to consider legalizing,' and that's from US Senators, that's...

Just this week, the Mexican Congress backed up the Mexican Senate, called for decriminalization of all drugs, in Mexico. The bill is headed to President Calderon. We'll see if the US drug czar will allow him to sign it.

Mr. Brian O'Dea: Look Dean, in Portugal, all drugs have been legal for a number of years now...

Dean Becker: Seven plus.

Mr. Brian O'Dea: ...and so, let's give lie to the argument that, the moment drugs are legalized, it's going to open the flood gates. Since they legalized all drugs in Portugal, the number of drug addictions and the number of drug deaths has decreased, dramatically. It speaks for itself. It's not a moral issue at all, Buddy. If anything, it's a medical issue

But look, here's the issue as far as I'm concerned, today. It, and this is what I tell everybody who listens to me, 'In life, we are given one gift alone and what is that gift? That gift is the here and the now.' This moment, the present. It's not called 'the present' for nothing, this is it and so the past, as we say, is history, the future is a mystery.

This is the moment that I have saved my best for. This one. If I take anything into my body, that alters my perception of this moment, I am refusing that gift and so I've got to be very careful what I take in and how it changes me, because this is it. This is where everything that I need to move on to the next part of my life, is contained in this moment.

All of the potential for my life is contained here. I got to be so careful what I do with 'right here, right now' so that when I get to the 'there and then', I'm going to be on target. If I'm not on target 'right here and right now', if I'm not inhabiting this moment, the 'there and then' is never going to be together when I get there.

Dean Becker: Let's talk about lessons learned. What being involved in the drug trade and walking away from it. How your life has changed.

Mr. Brian O'Dea: Well, I traded so much... when I put money on the table, for instance let's take cocaine, because I had a cocaine problem. When I put money on the table for coke, that was the visible transaction. What went alongside that and invisibly, next to the money, was everything that I loved and everything that loved me.

That was the price that I paid for that abuse and I'm here to tell you, it's a lousy trade. It's a lousy trade. Even if it was given to me for free, I still paid with all that loved me and all that I loved. Because, that's the price of addiction and it's just not worth it. It's not worth trying. It's not worth doing and it's not worth continuing to do.

My life today? I've got a relationship with my family that I never had before. I have great children who love me today. They didn't know who I was before. I've got a terrific wife. I've got a great relationship with my wife.

I'm working on a film and television career. I've written that book. None of that would have been possible had I been messed up with dope and so, while I support your right to use it, and I don't think you should be incarcerated for doing so, I suggest strongly, that it was a lousy trade for me, it might be for you too.

Dean Becker: Exactly. I mean, I did it all myself and I've, thank God, lived to tell the tale, that it was not worth it. If I could eradicate all these drugs from the planet, by my will, I would do it. But, I cannot and no one can and therefore we have to live with that situation and, as you said earlier, to find a better way.

Mr. Brian O'Dea: A compassionate way.

Dean Becker: We thank you so much. Brian O'Dea, author of “High: Confessions of a Pot Smuggler” Brian, thank you so much and as I said, we'll bring you back here during the summer.

Mr. Brian O'Dea: Dean, I look forward to it. You can call me anytime. If I can help in any way, I'm there.

Dean Becker: OK. Thank you.

Mr. Brian O'Dea: Thank you.
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________________

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Abolitionists' Moment.

War is over, if you want it. The drug war is over as well, it's just awaiting your approval. The evidence is overwhelming. The science. The ramifications. The injustice. The lost lives. The families, fractured and forfeited. Judge's handcuffed to inequity. Politician's trapped by the 'bones' they made. The great wall of blue, corrupted and inbreed.

All await your approval. Your thoughts. Your voice. Before they will stop feeding their evil cornucopia, the lives of their fellow man.
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You're listening to the Cultural Baggage show on Pacifica Radio. Independent, pirate stations, world wide, we're privileged to now have our second guest. He's with DRCNet. You hear him most often when he produces for us, the Corrupt Cop story and with that, let's welcome Mr. Phil Smith.

Mr. Phil Smith: Dean, how're you doing?

Dean Becker: I'm good, Phil. Good to have you with us. You and I have been at this a while. I think you a bit longer than me but, business is good, in a way. Let's talk about the change in attitudes, in this country.

Mr. Phil Smith: Well, you're certainly seeing that all over the place. You can almost date it from the time of the Michael Phelps' non-scandal, when he was photographed holding a bong and not much really happened with that. He was not ostracized in the media. It was sort of like a collective shrug. Like, so what?

Also, I think we have to tie in the election of Barack Obama, although he's not been a leader on drug policy reform. He seems to have ushered in a new era of openness after eight years of the Bush administration and we're seeing changes reflected in public attitudes in polls in the US. We're seeing a steady increase in support for marijuana legalization, not quite over the 50% mark Nationwide yet, but getting very, very close.

Exceeding that on the West coast. In California, I think we're at fifty-six percent, now. We've got the Governor in California saying it's time for a debate on marijuana legalization. Also, North of the border, I just reported on a poll, in British Columbia, that found sixty-five percent supported legalizing marijuana as a method of dealing with gang violence in Vancouver.

So, I think we are seeing the result of years and years of work finally coming to fruition. We're not there yet, of course. We're seeing changes in public attitudes, but we're not seeing them translated into changes in laws, on the ground yet. Decriminalized yes, but in terms of getting to legalize marijuana, tax and regulated marijuana, we still have a ways to go.

Dean Becker: We do. We have, Phil and I, gosh, I don't know, four/five years that you've been working with us to do the Corrupt Cop stories?

Mr. Phil Smith: Indeed.

Dean Becker: I sent you a story yesterday about, I think it was in Texas...

Mr. Phil Smith: Actually in North Carolina.

Dean Becker: North Carolina. Tell the folks a little bit about that situation.

Mr. Phil Smith: Well, this was in Spring Lake, North Carolina. A small town, not too far from Fayetteville. The entire Spring Lake Police Department has been shut down now, after two of it's officers were arrested Monday, on corruption and abuse of authority charges.

One of them, an officer named Alfonzo Whittington, was indicted by a special jury on eleven counts, including embezzlement, obtaining property by false pretences, larceny and obstruction of justice. That's for stealing twenty-nine hundred dollars out of the departments evidence room, which he was in charge of.

A second officer named Darryl Coulter, faces twenty charges, including breaking and entering, kidnapping and obstruction of justice. Some of those charges stem from an April 2008 “drug raid“ where he broke into a home occupied by three men, assaulted them, threatening them with a hand gun and shot gun and held them against their will, by handcuffing them.

He's got other charges too, stemming from a raid at a local motel room where he seized twenty-nine hundred dollars from a room where he said he smelled marijuana. That's the same twenty-nine hundred dollars Whittington is accused of stealing from the evidence room. Now, Whittington's looking at twenty-four years in prison. Coulter faces up to thirty-two years.

The department had already been in some trouble. It had lost the ability to investigate homicides after they botched child abuse case and the kid ended up dead. That soon expanded to include all felony's and the town mayor asked the state Bureau of Investigation to look into the departments narcotics squad.

Now, the department has been relieved of investigating even misdemeanor cases and the county sheriff's office has taken over policing duties for the town. This is just one of the incidents, the sort of incidents I write about every week. I have four or five, typically.

For instance this week, there's also a former Starr County Texas Sheriff who pleaded guilty to helping the Gulf Cartel. He'll be going to prison for awhile and of course, we always have a jail guard getting busted trying to smuggle dope into the prisoners. There's another one of those, this one from Delaware.

Also this week in Tucson, a former South Tucson Police Lieutenant got three years in prison, for embezzling more that four hundred fifty thousand dollars in asset forfeiture funds and evidence room money, so he could go gambling, buy booze and go to strip clubs. He's going to do three years.

Dean Becker: Oh. Yeah, and meantime, somebody gets caught with a rock of crack, they're going to do five or ten. It's just...

Mr. Phil Smith: Dean, I want to talk about small time drug possession, because there's something really interesting going on in Mexico. It has not gotten much attention, North of the border. Last week, the Mexican Congress passed a bill that will decriminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs. It's part of a larger effort aimed at going after the cartels, I mean this bill is a mixed bag. It would also allow state criminal justice systems to prosecute small time drug dealing, which had previously been the province of the feds.

So, in that sense, it would be an expansion of the drug war. But, it is decriminalization of possession of small amounts and let me tell you what those amounts are. It's two grams of opium. It's a 20th of a gram of heroin, a very small amount. It's five grams of marijuana. It's a half gram of cocaine. It's a fifth of a gram of ecstasy, a fifth of a gram of methamphetamine. I suppose that's a couple of normal sized lines of crank.

Now this law has not been signed by the Mexican President but Mexico is a parliamentary system. This is a bill that was proposed by the President and there's every reason to believe that he is going to sign it. I find it kind of interesting that we tend to think of Mexico as somewhat backward but when it comes to dealing with drug use and drug possession, they seem to have stepped ahead of us, in that regard.

Dean Becker: They do. Once again friends, you're listening to Cultural Baggage. Terry Nelson said, 'The violence is dying down', probably means that one cartel has gained influence, but you were there. Was it earlier this year or late last year.

Mr. Phil Smith: It was last year.

Dean Becker: Last year. You tried to take a tour up into the growing regions. You tried to talk to some of the smugglers or get a little knowledge of the 'nuts and bolts' but, everybody's afraid. They were unwilling to even take you close. Right?

Mr. Phil Smith: That's right. I went to Seena Lowa, home of the Seena Lowa cartel. Also, traditionally one of the drug producing regions of Mexico. They've been growing Poppies and pot in the hills of Seena Lowa for decades, now. For sixty or seventy years, by now.

The situation is extremely tense. When I was in Culiacan last summer, there were eight policemen killed in one night. There were convoys of narco's in their SUV's with machine guns or, at least semi-automatic weapons, I'm not a gun expert, but they had guns barrels pointing out their windows just driving around the streets of the capitol city of that state. There were military helicopters flying overhead. Army roadblocks. Shootouts taking place everyday. It was pretty crazy.

Dean Becker: How long can we follow this crazy trail. It just doesn't make any sense that somehow, it's going to succeed. It underlines Einstein's theory. You do the same thing repeatedly, expecting different results. It's crazy.

Mr. Phil Smith: Well, I think the problem is that, we have vested interest involved in this, who don't really care if it succeeds. They just want it to continue. It's a gravy train for Law Enforcement, for moral entrepreneurs, for 'tough on crime' politicians.

There is a huge set of vested interest behind maintaining drug prohibition. They are the real obstacle to change and we have to address that head on, and it's a difficult fight. It's hard to go up against the cops. They're always talking about how they're going to protect our public safety, even when they're engaging in supporting policies that have the opposite effect.

Dean Becker: Yeah. How long are we going to listen to these guys. You know, if there's a shoot out on the street corner or somebody OD's, who do they talk to? The DA, the police chief, the guys who have the vested interest in continuing this...

Mr. Phil Smith: It's the same thing with medical marijuana. It really strikes me and it really galls me that we look to police chief's or state attorney general, to tell us about medical marijuana. They're not doctors. They don't know anything about medical issues. Yet, we heed to their alleged authority on this. It's very frustrating.

Dean Becker: My father died Monday and gosh, when I first got there, there were six or eight cops. The neighbors had called it in and two of them hung there and one was veteran, the other was a rookie and I talked about it. “What do you do, Dean?” and I told them, “I produce nine show's a week, sixty-two affiliates, all this,” and they said, “Well, I'm with you,” and that just; it was wonderful to hear but it just struck me as pretty odd that these guys that maintain this, that continue to enforce this policy, are with me and yet...

Mr. Phil Smith: I think if you look at the cops on the street Dean, you'll see; you know, police should go around arresting drug users 24/7 if they wanted to, and you see some of that. You see some of that in enthusiastic young officers coming into big city police departments. They want to go out and bust heads and bust junkies and all that good stuff and they do it.

But after awhile, most police, I believe, tend to realize the futility of what they're doing, the uselessness and become cynical about it and, in many respects, turn their heads. As I said, they can be in big cities where there's high drug use areas. They could be arresting people as frequently as they wish.

Dean Becker: Phil, y'alls website?

Mr. Phil Smith: It's www.stopthedrugwar.org

Dean Becker: Thank you, Phil. We'll be talking to you soon.
________

As always, I remind you, my friends, that because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag. Please, be careful.

To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the unvarnished truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.
Tap dancing on the edge on an abyss.

Submitted by: C. Assenberg of www.marijuanafactorfiction.org