Cultural Baggage, April 16, 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.
Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I'm so glad you could be with us. As I promised last week we'll have Jack Cole, the Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, on here in just a moment. Stay tuned following our interview for the Poppygate Report from Glenn Greenway who gives us the lowdown about what's going on with the drug war in Afghanistan. Did you know that Afghanistan is now the world's leading marijuana grower as well as the world's leading opium supplier? I learned that thanks to Glenn.
Regular listeners to the Drug Truth Network know that we talk about marijuana, that situation, about 30% of the time. But some of the new listeners and some of the new affiliates may not realize that we talk with many of my band of brothers, if you will, in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and what we want to do is to tax, regulate and actually control all drugs, not just marijuana, and I'm glad to have with us today the Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Mr. Jack Cole.
Jack Cole: Hi, how are you doing? It's good to be with you again.
Dean Becker: If you will, tell the folks a little bit about your experience and the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Jack Cole: Well, my experience was I retired a detective lieutenant from the New Jersey State Police after a 26 year career with them, 14 of those years was undercover narcotics. I worked everything from busting little kids on the street for smoking pot up to billion dollar international heroin and cocaine rings. And I think I was certainly there long enough learn about the horrors we have created from the unintended consequences of this war on drugs so when I retired I sat down with four other police officers and we created LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and the way to creating it we tried to come up with what law enforcement should really be interested in doing and we decided what we should be interested in is reducing the incidents of four things: death, disease, crime and addiction. And certainly that doesn't mean the war on drugs because the war on drugs makes each one of those four categories infinitely worse.
Dean Becker: You know, I was lucky I ran into you in New Jersey about five years ago at a drug policy conference and we have seen the numbers of members of Law Enforcement grow exponentially over that time frame, haven't we?
Jack Cole: Oh yes. We went from five founding members to now over 10,000 members and we're not just cops anymore. We're cops, judges, prosecutors, prison wardens, DEA and FBI agents...just about any trade in law enforcement you can name we have members.
Dean Becker: Now, I just returned from California and the focus out there seems to be predominantly on marijuana, medical marijuana. We even have a couple of our retired law enforcement officers who are given recommendations for medical marijuana. But that's not all we talk about, is it?
Jack Cole: No it's not. Not by any means. As a matter of fact, the thing about marijuana is, to us, marijuana is like drug reform 101. It's the very first and simplest thing that anybody should be working on and it's, as far as we're concerned, it would be a given that this should be legal. But if we legalize it that will help a lot of people, for instance, that need medical marijuana and it will help a lot of people that recreationally use marijuana or experimenting when they're younger and will put the drugs behind them as time goes on so that they won't have a record and they'll be able to go ahead with their life in a decent manner.
But if we legalize marijuana tomorrow it wouldn't affect a number of things. It wouldn't affect the deaths out there because most of the, almost all the people that die as a result of this die as a result of the hard drugs, either the dealers who are on the street who are killing each other to control this very lucrative market, or the police who are charged with fighting this useless war, or our children who get caught in crossfire and drive-by shootings. All that would still continue whether marijuana was legal or not.
The deaths from overdose would still continue because nobody dies of an overdose from marijuana, there's never been a single case in all of recorded history of somebody dying from just ingesting marijuana. But certainly there have been many cases of people dying from ingesting hard drugs. And they don't die because they shoot more and more dope in some crazy attempt to get higher and higher. They die because of prohibition.
Because it's due to prohibition that they don't know how much of that little package of powder they're buying is really the drug and how much is the cutting agent. You get too much drug, you're dead. It's like Russian Roulette without a gun. So what we want to do is legalize these drugs and regulate them and let the users know what they're taking so we can stop overdose deaths.
Other important things that would happen, that wouldn't happen if we legalized marijuana, for instance it wouldn't affect AIDS and hepatitis. According to the Center for Disease Control 50 percent of all the AIDS and hepatitis new cases can be traced directly back to drug users, hard drug users, sharing their needles. And of course that wouldn't change with the legalization of marijuana. So there's a lot of more work out there to do. Also, the arrests of so many people--you know it's a shame what is happening with these marijuana arrests and every year now we're arresting 1.9 million people in the United States for non-violent drug offenses. And it's true that 43 percent of those arrests are for marijuana but the other 57 percent are for had drugs so, what we're trying to say, is that there's much more work to do and of course if we legalize and regulate all drugs that includes marijuana.
Dean Becker: Well Jack, it's been my experience that those who focus only on marijuana have only to look at the evidence, if you will, to realize that there is much more that we must accomplish. We got to kill Osama's fattest cash cow and destroy those cartels and paramilitary down south and take away the reason that these violent street gangs exist of course, which is selling contaminated drugs to our kids, right?
Jack Cole: That's exactly so. Exactly. And you don't see much of that money going from marijuana sales towards terrorists because much of that marijuana is home grown or is grown up in Canada. The hard drugs is where most of the money gets siphoned off to the terrorist organizations.
Dean Becker: Jack, let's talk about the growth of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. I was lucky enough to meet one of our new directors, I believe, Mr. James Anthony out there in California and he's kind of representative of the growth of our organization, right?
Jack Cole: Yes, he is. James is a former prosecutor from Oakland, California and he's actually an indigenous Hawaiian by birth. He's a wonderful guy, very smart, and he became one of our speakers and did very well very early and we invited him to be on the board.
Dean Becker: As I understand it, Jack, we have, through that growth from 5 to now 10,000 plus members talked to a lot of people. Thousands of presentations to fraternal organizations. I choose to speak mostly to churches and colleges but we have shared this information with enough folks that I think it's gaining traction. Some of these politicians are even daring to talk about that need for change, right?
Jack Cole: Absolutely. We've talked to, we've made about 4,000 presentations in the last four years. We were in existence almost a year before we really created our speaker's bureau. So 4,000 presentations roughly in the United States and about another 500 in other countries around the world. And, yes, you're absolutely right we are convincing people. And we don't go out and present to people who are likely to be using drugs.
We present to civic organizations, professional, religious and educational organizations and civic organizations we target are groups like the Rotarys, Kiwanis clubs, Lion's clubs, Chambers of Commerce, Chapters of Military Officers Association of America--these are some really conservative groups. And when we walk in the door there's very few of those folks who would ever be on our side. But thirty minutes to an hour later when we walk out of that door easily 80% of them agree with us.
Dean Becker: We are making a difference and we make the offer to any organization on the planet, that if they give us enough time we will come speak to that organization, right?
Jack Cole: That's right and we don't, we try to get an honorarium from groups that can afford an honorarium but we tell everybody that the talk is not dependent on that. We're going to show up and give out the information whether anybody gets expenses or not off of it. By the way, we've got 85 speakers now, which you should know well because you are one, Dean--
Dean Becker: Yes, Sir.
Jack Cole: --and have done wonderful work with us since you came aboard. But we have 85 speakers and they, none of them, make any money doing this. The best we do is give them a little money back for their car expenses if they have to drive to the gig and we pick up expenses of course if they have to fly someplace. But they're volunteering all this time and when you think about how much time would be involved in giving 4,500 presentations, that's a lot of time donated. But they do it because they really believe in it.
All our speakers have to be current or former law enforcement. That's the way we keep our credibility and that's the way we get people to listen to us. And once we get their ear it's very easy to convince them that what we're saying is correct because all the logic is on our side. As you well know, that's one of the reasons we almost never get a chance to debate the other side. They just won't come out and play, will they?
Dean Becker: (laughter) They can't do it. No, Sir. The good thing also was that we're being called upon more and more by governmental agencies and bodies for our opinions in this regard. You have been called upon more than most, right?
Jack Cole: Yes. When we started I did most of the testifying at that State level and we've been to maybe 15 to 20 different States and I've been to some States six or seven times to testify on different kinds of legislation. We back any kind of legislation, whether it's legislation aimed at trying to legalize and regulate drugs which really needs to done on a Federal level, or whether it's State legislation or even a city legislation that is aimed at lessening the incidence of death, disease, crime or addiction.
We back it all so anyplace they have marijuana bills in there to try to decriminalize marijuana or to try to legalize medical marijuana, we back the bills for needle exchange, free needle exchange or the bills that--Saturday I'm going to New York City and I'll be talking up in Harlem with a large group of folks that have come together to try to stop gun violence and Monday I'll be talking down in Lower Manhattan to a very large union, District Council 37, who are part of the 'Drop the Rock' movement in New York City which is trying to do away with the Rockefeller mandatory minimum sentences--so we back all these things.
While we're down there telling legislatures or anybody that is in the position to help end that, what we're telling them that this is what they should be doing we also end by saying 'But if you want to really reduce death, disease, crime and addiction to the lowest possible denominator you have to talk about ending the war on drugs.'
And you know some, as you said, Dean, it's not just us. It's the politicians who are coming along. Last October the Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, held a ten minute news conference on television and one of his quotes, which I remember well, was he told people 'If you really want to get serious, really serious about ending 70 percent of all the crime in the United States you have to talk about ending drug prohibition.'
Dean Becker: He's representative of a small but growing minority of politicians willing to speak in such a fashion. I'm lucky that a local Democrat running for Texas rep has become a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and is now speaking and calling for the end of prohibition as well.
Jack Cole: That's wonderful. And of course, Mayor Newsom is one of the 225 mayors from the largest cities in the United States who met last June at their National Mayor Convention and unanimously passed a resolution calling for an end to the war on drugs, calling to treat drug abuse as a health problem. Unanimously. So there's a lot of folks out there that are in agreement and about a week after that resolution came out, Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, which is where I'm from, who's a brilliant man, a Rhodes scholar, he came out with a statement, a public statement to the newspapers that just blew me away.
He said 'The war on drugs is destroying my city. The war on drugs is causing crime, it is not solving crime.' And he said 'I intend to end this war on drugs if it means taking demonstrations to the street like we did in the civil rights days. If it means my going to jail, then that's necessary because we have to end this war on drugs.' Now those are strong words from a mayor.
Dean Becker: Jack, those are extremely powerful words and it's the type of information that the constituents of these politicians need to hear. They need to hear it from the people who elect them. They need to hear that it's OK to change their stance, to get off of this -quote-moral high ground and go ahead and end this drug war, right?
Jack Cole: Absolutely they need to hear it and what we tell the politicians that we're working with, and we're finding out that they're in agreement with us, actually for the last three years we've been going to the National Conference of State Legislators and we've discovered that 83 percent of all the legislators and their aides that we talked to at these conferences, something just under 2,000 of them we talked to, 83 percent agree with us.
Only seven percent want to continue the war on drugs after they speak to us and seven percent are undecided. Now that doesn't mean they're going to run out the door yelling 'legalize drugs' but what it does mean, and what we say to them is we're just going to write their names down, we're not going to make them public at all, we're going to gather our list of legislators and two years from now we intend to go back to them when we can say 'we have in LEAP 20,000 law enforcers who are calling for the end of the war on drugs and a million private citizens who have joined us who say finally what these cops, judges, and prosecutors makes sense' and if we can show them an organization of million people we can prove to them they won't lose one more vote than they have gained by supporting these kinds of policies, and then we intend to call them all out together, because there's so much strength in numbers.
Dean Becker: And that's the point, as you indicated some 80 percent of them agree with us but they're afraid to speak in public for fear of losing that vote, right?
Jack Cole: That's true, and you can't even blame them for that, Dean, because after all they do have to get elected to office before they can do anything. But even that is changing. People are becoming electable who say they want to change the drug laws.
Dean Becker: I'm not really surprised but I am sometimes overwhelmed by the amount of media coverage that's coming forth that's speaking of this need for change, that's pointing out the failures of the drug war that's hopefully leading us in that new direction, right?
Jack Cole: Well, it's all new direction and there's things happening so rapidly out there because, I think, because we exist. We have legitimized the fact that people can talk about change in the drug laws and not feel like they're deserting the ship or surrendering or anything. We're making a policy change that will be for the better and that's all we're doing. And you can see this everyday. For instance, a dozen or so people that last year were running for the presidency. Three of those folks, that's almost 25 percent of them, were calling for an end to the war on drugs, one republican and two democrats. That has never been heard of in history. There's never been one person running for the presidency who's called for it and this time we had three of them.
Dean Becker: Jack, I want to thank you for being with us here on the Cultural Baggage Show and I want to just kind of walk back through the thought that, yes, we are for medical marijuana. We will work with organizations that are in that arena but there is much more for us to do. And the members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition will work with any organization trying to curtail the harms of this drug war. Right?
Jack Cole: That's absolutely true and when we come in we bring a credibility with us that few have because we model ourselves on Vietnam Veteran's Against the War, thinking when those folks came home from that terrible war and started speaking out about it they had an unassailable credibility. Nobody could argue with them. You might not agree with them but, boy, nobody argued with them because what are you going to say? You're not patriotic? Well, they were there. They don't know what they're talking about? They were there, they were the ones fighting it. And we think we have exactly that same credibility.
And what we say to the people, the private citizens or politicians or policy makers is 'You don't even have to say that you believe that we should end the war on drugs.' Just say 'Did you hear that Chief of Police the other night from LEAP? What he was talking about sounded like it made some sense.' And then you're putting it all back on us, we'll do the heavy lifting. You don't even have to come out and make the statement yourself.
Dean Becker: Well, all right. Once again we've been speaking with Mr. Jack Cole, Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Jack, before we go, why don't you give folks our website?
Jack Cole: Sure. The website is, the name is Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and the website is www.LEAP.cc. Not .com, .cc. And the phone number of our organization is 781-393-6985. You can join us on the web. You can give us a call. We're always there, always willing to help.
Thanks so much, Dean.
It's time to play 'Name That Drug by its Side Effects.'
(horrible side-effects including including seizure and death)
Times up! The answer, from the UCB group, Xyzal, for asthma.
Poppygate: Bizarre news about the U.S. policy on controlling heroin, featuring Glenn Greenway.
Glenn Greenway: Afghanistan is roughly the size of Texas and its population is about the same. In that regard, the number of individuals currently estimated to be directly involved in producing Afghanistan's record-smashing opium harvests is about the same as the populations of Houston and Dallas combined. The illegal narcotics trade is Afghanistan's largest source of income.
By extension, the U.S. and its allies depend on the trade to maintain a facade of Afghan success. Without the trade the already desperately poor country would almost certainly collapse.
How poor is it? In Helmand province, the center of occupied Afghanistan's narcotics industry, per capita income is $1 per person per day. Recent reports tell of Afghans now forced to eat grass in order to survive and of displaced families who have left their homes in order to search for food. Reflecting global market trends, the price of bread in Afghanistan has risen between 60 and 80 percent in the last year. Even so, Afghans continue to earn between 10 and 20 times more money growing opium poppies than wheat.
At least 15 police members of Afghan eradication teams have been killed in the last two weeks. More generally, the tempo of so-called 'security incidents' in Afghanistan has risen 40% since last year.
This week in Modesto, California, nearly 4,000 opium poppy plants were seized by police. A 84-year-old man and his wife are being questioned. Officers have referred charges to the District Attorney's office. And in Calgary, a 63-year-old has become Canada's first person convicted of growing opium poppies. The man grew the plants for personal use in tea, something he had done since he was a teenager in India.
This is Glenn Greenway reporting for the Drug Truth Network.
Dean Becker: I hoped you enjoyed today's program. Here is a Drug Truth Network editorial so the new affiliates, the new listeners, can better understand why it is I produce these nine radio programs per week.
Drug war is Treason. Does the drug war do anything for our nation? Does it protect the children? Does it stop international intrigue and rebellion? Is it based on science? Is it even logical? After investing 20,000 hours into this subject I know there's absolutely no basis for this drug war to exist. There is no truth involved. No justice to be found. No scientific facts sufficient to justify this jihad. No medical data existent to excuse this inquisition. That to me is what this drug war is, an inquisition. A means to frighten the people with propaganda, moral posturing and justifiable fear of the inquisitors.
The U.S. Supreme Court claims a drug war exception to the U.S. Constitution. Science has been corrupted for the last one hundred years in the name of drug war. Medical practitioners have been corrupted as well and are now suffering for their cowardice as more pain doctors are locked up and their careers destroyed. Law enforcement has been corrupted, our legal system: a hell hole. Customs and border agents are bribed on a daily basis. Prisons are filled to overflowing.
The U.S. in now the world's leading jailer. Children are enticed to join violent gangs or to use the tainted products circulated by the black market in drugs, the world's leading multi-level marketing organization. Rebels and paramilitary in Colombia and Mexico are making billions and are escalating their wars. Thousands are dying each year. The Taliban, al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden make additional billions from the opium trade so they can buy more weapons with which to kill our fine soldiers.
It is necessary that we have wars, death, disease, crime and addiction so that these 'moral' leaders in government, science, medicine, the media and the legal system can point to the symptoms of drug prohibition and through their stilted and evil lens of propaganda they can call for more drug war.
This is treason. Those that support this drug war, whether by outright complicity, feigned superstition or feigned ignorance are the best friends the drug lords could ever hope for: the wings beneath the wind of the terrorists; homeboys to the gangs; purveyors of deceit; enablers of crime; reapers of the harvest of non-violent offenders.
Bigoted and unconstitutional, drug prohibition is a betrayal of morality, science, medicine and common sense. Those who stand for drug war must be brought to justice. Once we remove these charlatans from positions of power other social changes will become much easier. That could only be done by you, by your words and by your courage.
(PSA) End drug prohibition. Please visit LEAP.cc.
My usual closing was supported in this program by Mr. Jack Cole and I remind you once again 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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