11/04/08 - Bruce Mirken

Bruce Mirken of Marijuana Policy Project discusses election day progress in the drug war, Adam Assenberg broadcaster, Poppygate Report with Glenn Greenway, Reports from Australia: ABC - "federal police commissioner Mick Keelty says Australia needs to find a better way than arresting drug users" + Nimbin Australia report on efforts to shut down hemp bar and museum

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Guest: 
Bruce Mirken
Organization: 
Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)
Download: Audio icon COL_110408.mp3
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Century of Lies, November 4, 2008

The failure of Drug War is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.
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Dean Becker: Well folks, I think we finally got our country back or at least we’re on the right road to recovering same. You know, I’ve been thinking about it. You know what the conservatives hate most about the counter-culture, the pot smokers, the drug users? They hate us for our freedom.

Welcome to this edition of Century of Lies. Today we’ve got several reports to inform and educate and perhaps motivate you. But we’re going to start things off with an interview I did with Mr. Bruce Mirken.

I am Bruce Mirken and the Director of Communications for the Marijuana Policy Project.

Two state wide ballot initiatives that we played a key roll in, both passed overwhelmingly in the state of Massachusetts. Voters passed by nearly two to one, 65% to 35%, a measure to decriminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. Replacing arrest and the possibility of jail and a criminal record and in Michigan…

Michigan became the 13th state to permit medical use of marijuana. By the largest vote ever, for one of these initiatives, 63% Yes. An interesting thing about both of these votes, they were both in what are traditionally very blue state, very democratic leading states and marijuana reform outpolled Barack Obama by several points in both states. It kind of mirrors what happened in Montana in 2004, a red state, where medical marijuana outpolled George W. Bush by 3 points.

Dean Becker: You guys have been involved, at least instrumentally, in many other referendums, at the city level, around the country. You want to talk about some of those?

Bruce Mirken: Well, sure. We did give some support through our grants program to a handful of local initiatives around the country and tried to be supportive of them even when we hadn’t necessarily given them cash.

Again, the record is just pretty impressive all over the country. Fayetteville, Arkansas passed a measure to make adult possession of marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority, as did Hawaii County in Hawaii. A number of local advisory initiatives around Massachusetts also passed. Again, basically directing the state legislators from those districts to support reforms.

So, it was a good day. Oh and in Berkeley, California, a measure that will simplify and use the zoning and other issues that sometimes get in the way of medical marijuana dispensaries passed by a nearly two to one margin. So, good stuff all over the country.

Dean Becker: Politicians, I guess at the federal level, need to take a look around. Need to take a pulse of their community. Right?

Bruce Mirken: You know, there is just this bizarre notion out there, among elected officials, that supporting sensible marijuana policy is controversial. That it’s going to get them into trouble with the voters, etc, etc. Just not, we’ve seen it again and again.

An interesting case, out here in California, congressional race. A swing district, a guy by the name of Jerry McNerney, who won for the first time in 2006 in the democratic sweep that year, just barely beating a republican by the name of Richard Pombo and in 2007, McNerney the democrat, voted against the Hinchey amendment. Voted against an end to medical marijuana raids in California.

Clearly thought he was covering his political behind, but got a lot of heat from constituents for having done that, turned around this year and while there wasn’t a Hinchey vote on the floor, he did say publicly that he would now be willing to support it. Got attacked by his republican opponent for having done so and won re-election by 10 points. A much bigger margin than he originally won by.

So there is no danger, certainly on medical marijuana, supporting / protecting patients. He is hugely popular. There is really no constituency against it and it’s time for congress to learn that and you know, cross your fingers. We have a new President who seems to get it.

Just the other day a very well known supporter of medical marijuana, Mary Lynn Mathre, forwarded a response that she had gotten from the Obama campaign. In which they told her, “Focusing scarce law enforcement resources on these patients who pose not threat, while many violent and dangerous drug traffickers are at large, makes no sense. Senator Obama will not continue the Bush policy when he is President.”

Dean Becker: So Bruce, you know we’ll be in touch as we move forward into 2009 and now’s not the time to slow down. It is time to get involved. Please point folks to your website.

Bruce Mirken: Sure. It’s mpp.org
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Dean Becker: Next up, we’re going to get some breaking news from Australia, home of one of our fifty-five radio affiliates. But, this comes to us courtesy from Australia’s ABC and Gillian Maxwell.

Gillian Maxwell: The federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty, says Australia needs to find a better way and quickly, of curbing the demand for illegal drugs. Mr. Keelty says, ‘Authorities and lawmakers have to stop quoting statistics on seizures and feeling good about themselves and come up with a better strategy to stem the flow of drugs into the country.’

The commissioner says, ‘It’s now time to address demand and harm minimization.’ On drugs, educator says, Commissioner Keelty would never have made the remarks under the previous federal government.

From Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

Sabra Lane: For years Australia’s anti-drugs approach has been based around the ‘Just Say No’ campaign. But Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty, says the nation had to find a better way of tackling the problem than just law enforcement. To underline his concerns, he points to seizures made since July, this year.

Commissioner Keelty: “We’ve seized 195 kilograms of Cocaine which equates to 195,000 street hits. 4.4 tons or 15 million doses of Ecstasy. 27 kilograms or 270,000 hits of Crystal methamphetamine or Ice and 1.7 tons of precursor chemical Pseudoephedrine. They’re enormous seizures.

I remember, years ago, being excited about a multi kilo seizure. But these seizures are beyond belief.”

Sabra Lane: The Commissioner made his comments, said an Australian National Council on Drugs discussion, on justice issues for drug use. Government Ministers Health officials and influential policy advisors were in the audience.

Commissioner Keelty: “What we do as a group of individuals, to change this, will be very important. We’ve got to do something, now, to change the pattern. We can’t just keep quoting statistics and feeling good about ourselves that we’re doing a good job.

We actually have to now, think of a different strategy, a better way to combine the demand reduction and the harm minimalization as well as supply reduction strategies, in order to stem the flow of these drugs into our country. It can’t be just as simple as saying, ‘No’ to drugs.

It has to be more important work, in drug education, to ensure that future generations are not creating this sort of demand that we have in our country at the moment.”

Sabra Lane: Commissioner Keelty says, ‘Law enforcement is still crucial’ but he says, ‘Demand reduction also needs addressing.’

Commissioner Keelty: “This is a real complex problem. It’s not about law enforcement. It’s not only about supply reduction. It critically is about how we manage harm reduction and demand reduction.”

Sabra Lane: Australia’s Chief Police officer gave the example of Ecstasy during his talk. He says it costs about fifty cents to manufacture and while it’s sold for about three dollars a tablet in the U.K., it’s market price in Australia is between thirty and fifty dollars a tablet.

Commissioner Keelty: “Now I don’t know how I can bring this to you, but to be in one of our offices, either in Sydney or Melbourne or wherever it might be, and see the size of these seizures and the millions of these little tablets, and realize that our people are paying thirty to fifty Australian dollars for each one of them. That is why they’re coming here.

It’d be totally irresponsible of me to sort of say, ’Well, maybe we should teach our kids to pay less.’ We’ve got to do something about it. We’ve got to do something to actually break this cycle.”

Paul Dillon “I think it’s really quite amazing that Mr. Keelty has come out with these comments. I don’t think you would’ve seen him come out with these comments under the previous government.”

Sabra Lane: Paul Dillon’s from Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia. (DARTA)

Paul Dillon: “We do have to change the demand for illicit drugs. In particularly; definitely Ecstasy, I think, it’s a key one here. Because it’s really the only drug where we’re seeing increases in use, particularly amongst young people, and we really haven’t done a great job of looking at how we can reduce demand.

Definitely our school drug education is fantastic. We’ve had some mass media campaigns. But, have they been targeted appropriately? Are we saying the right things? I think we need to ask those questions.”

Sabra Lane: Mr. Dillon says the previous government concentrated mainly on enforcement and he hopes the Commissioners comments will trigger a community debate.

Paul Dillon: “Every single time they said that they were doing anything about drugs, out would come a new police helicopter or out would come a new customs machine. You know that’s very easy to parade to the media and say, ‘Look, we’re doing something about drugs.’ It’s a lot more subtle than that.

You know you can’t parade everything out that is demand reduction. Harm reduction isn’t particularly palatable to some members of the community. So of course, that’s a tough one. That’s going to prove a very, very tough one for the rouge government.”

Gillian Maxwell: Drugs educator Paul Dillon ending that report by Sabra Lane.
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Dean Becker: We go from that report from ABC in Australia, to our broadcast affiliate in Nimbin, Australia. Where they have a hemp bar and a hemp museum and forces of corporations and of the police department are trying to shut it down. This is courtesy of Martin Jansen.

Martin Jansen: Hi. I’m here in Nimbin, behind the museum. It’s still there. Good day Michael. Michael Balderstone is with us again to help us a little bit on…

Michael Balderstone: Martin, a lot of people think we’re closed, it’s really… No we haven’t been closed at all. The hemp bar has been closed. As you know the hemp bar closed and we’re hoping, I’ve got several, up to six or eight although a few are ineligible, parties interested in opening the hemp bar and we’ve had a lot of pressure.

I hope next week we might see the hemp bar open again and there’s going to be different things happening in there but still it’s going to remain an activists’ kiosk for cannabis law reform and…

Martin Jansen: Particularly with the web cam.

Michael Balderstone: …a place to meet.

Martin Jansen: The internet and web-camming made it quite…

Michael Balderstone: I think it’s still going to be there. Yep.

Martin Jansen: Yeah. …made it quite a good place to visit on the internet.

Michael Balderstone: Yeah. Yep.

Martin Jansen: Yeah, ok. That’s the hemp bar.

Michael Balderstone: Yep. There’s been lots of energy for hope that it’ll open again.

Martin Jansen: So, it’s still on the… If you Google it, the website’s still there. There’s some… That’s good news, Michael.

Michael Balderstone: I think Gary’s been there all the time but the front door hasn’t been opened. The museum…

Martin Jansen: Yeah.

Michael Balderstone: The landlord is coming, after several false arrivals, he coming. I’m picking him up at Lismore Airport tomorrow morning, Thursday. He’s going back to Sydney on Friday and our fate, it really, I reckon, is in his hands.

I’ve emailed the counsel and the cops this morning and said, ’Hey, tomorrow afternoon at the museum. You want to meet him?’ I think he will just say, ‘Yep, we’ll do this, we’ll do that. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang.

Maybe he wants to build some shops or market stalls out in the back yard here. I believe the police have asked him about fencing it off. I’m not sure if he’s going to do that, ‘cause he’s never been here. It’s hard for him to practically see this situation.

Martin Jansen: So he’s not necessarily prejudice on the matter. He could be, actually be, become interested in supporting the culture here. Would you think that or is that too far fetched?

Michael Balderstone: Look I reckon, he’s a little Lebanese guy from Bankstown. He’s worked hard and possibly made a lot of money, it’s me guessing. He’s a nice guy. He might never have smoked pot in his life.

I think it will be really interesting. Let’s see what he thinks. I think he’s interested in it remaining a tourist attraction and looking after that part. How we managed, I don’t know. The police have asked for camera’s inside and outside.

Martin Jansen: Let’s spell out the tourist attraction where it’s not about buying stickers and stuff, it’s about seeing the history of the movement.

Michael Balderstone: Yeah, it’s to do with local artists. We’ve painted through eight rooms in the building. It’s a journey where you walk through the history of Nimbin. Really, through a hippies’ eyes. So, the first main room is all the Aboriginal dream time painted by local Aboriginal, Burri Jerome.

Then the pioneers arrive and tear down the forests in a hundred years and try and kill the dreaming. But out of the English immigrants’ cows, grow the magic mushrooms and the hippies have changed and color comes back into the journey as you pass through these rooms...

Martin Jansen: You can’t miss it, no.

Michael Balderstone: NimbinMuseum.com There’s a website, you can have a look. Anyway, because of… it was always intended as a place for locals to meet visitors who want to come and check out how the hippies are going.

Of course now, they make lots of pot and there’s a lot of pot exchanged and rah, rah, rah in the back yard for a long time now. So, this is what’s brought the heat from the police onto the landlord. He’ll be here tomorrow, we’ll know our fate. By next week, we’ll know what’s going on.

Martin Jansen: And prohibition and the campaign against, is back on the table at the same time.

Michael Balderstone: Yeah. It certainly is. It looks like Elspeth is going to sign a new lease. So far, so good. We haven’t seen the details of it yet and how many cameras or what fences or whatever. As we know, camera’s don’t get rid of drug dealing, they just sort of push it further into the shadows. We’ll find out more.

Martin Jansen: O.K. Well thank you very much, Michael Balderstone from Nimbin Hemp Museum, Hemp Embassy. Speaking on behalf of the community of the Hemp Museum. Perhaps, not closure just yet.
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Hey, this is Tommy Chong for the Drug Truth Network. Telling everybody, don’t let free speech go ‘Up In Smoke’ man.
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Dean Becker: Poppygate, bizarre news about the US policy on controlling heroin. Featuring Glenn Greenway.

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Glenn Greenway: They've sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind. In the seven long bloody years since the United States overthrew Afghanistan's government and reestablished its opium trade, the country has become ground zero in a heroin hurricane of historic proportions which has churned out upwards of a hundred million pounds of pure product under Western occupation.

In the most recent figures available from the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse the number of past-month heroin users in the United States more than doubled between 2005 and 2006.

The whirlwind now blows a fine mist of Bush White everywhere, from Australia, where the Brisbane Times reports that Afghanistan is now the primary of source of smack down-under, to Zambia, which the UN terms a gateway and distribution center for heroin going to Europe and North America.

The wind howls even in Republican dominated, 95 percent white Bismarck, North Dakota, where four people were charged by police on October 30 in an alleged heroin operation. One of those arrested is hospitalized after allegedly swallowing the drug in order to conceal it from authorities. Charges include possession of drug paraphernalia with regards to the latex balloons in which the drug was packaged.

Back to the storms epicenter, one in six Afghan police recently tested positive for opiates and many Afghan soldiers also find solace in the fruit of the poppy according to an October first article in the Chicago Times

Quoting directly from the article, entitled 'Cops, Troops in the Ranks of Addicts' by Kim Barker: "Mohammad Akbar is a first lieutenant in the highly touted Afghan National Army, considered crucial to the future of this war-torn country. But for three years, Akbar has also been a junkie, shooting up heroin with hundreds of other addicts in a bombed-out building in Kabul littered with disposable needle wrappers and human waste."

On a lighter note, the article also notes that, "It's not uncommon to show up at a remote police station and be greeted by a cloud of marijuana smoke."

This is Glenn Greenway reporting for the Drug Truth Network.

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What is the blue? It is the ability to sway a jury. The inclination of a K-9 to sit down. The hunch of an officer, the phantom turn signal or California roll at a stop sign. Little things like this are all that’s necessary to search a person’s vehicle in this day and age.

Such minor and uneventful things, as sworn to from someone wearing the blue, can be used to justify an otherwise unconstitutional and blatantly illegal search, arrest, conviction and incarceration of any citizen of the U.S.A.

What is the blue? It is represented by the ‘not’ credible, illegal and unconstitutional enforcement of the drug laws. It is the 1.6 million non-violent US citizens arrested each year for a baggie, containing a puff of powder, a couple of pills or some plant leaves.

There is not one person in law enforcement whether on the beat, presenting the case to the judge, wearing the black robes or writing the laws that dares to defend their drug war policy on this radio program. The blue is all these people.

Charlton’s, everyone, they allow their drug war to continue so they can guarantee their mortgage payments. The blue was, and will again be, a positive, constitutional brotherhood that stands for justice, community and the U.S. Constitution. But for now, blue is creating a stain on our society.

The color of the stain, is red. Blood red.
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Dean Becker: Well, with the Obama presidency on the near horizon, maybe it’s time we look back, just a little bit, and maybe we could indict and convict many of these sleazeoids who’ve been serving the corporate interests for the past eight years or so. Seems like a lot of fun to me. How about you?
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Just last week, I had the ‘youtube kid’ who had a really good outline of how you implement jury nullification and another gentleman who’s caught my attention on a bigger scale. Reaching out on the broadcast airwaves each week is Mr. Adam Assenberg.

Dean Becker: I’m thrilled each week when I get to talk to the public and for countries, kind of reaching halfway around the world, if you will and I’m even more proud of the fact that there are beginning to be others who have followed in my footsteps. Like NORML’s Potcast’s and the gentleman who’s voice you hear next, who is producing radio programs of his own. Seeking the truth about the drug war, Mr. Adam Assenberg. Hello Adam.

Adam Assenberg: Hello. How are you doing today, Dean?

Dean Becker: I’m great. I hope you heard that. That I want to commend you, pat you on the back. I’m thrilled to have competition.

Adam Assenberg: Well, I’ll tell you, I really don’t think of you as competition. I think of you as a partner in this war. Simply because of the fact, you and I are both trying to educate the people about how the government’s ripping us off.

Dean Becker: (agreeable sounds)

Adam Assenberg: Basically, what I do is, I call ten politicians each week in Washington D.C. and talk about how I’m going to explain how they are ripping off the public.

I use to be a guard in 1985. Broke nine vertebra when I was guarding dynamite, that some people tried to steal, after being hit in the back with a baseball bat and being thrown off a bridge, went down fifteen feet and being left for dead.

Through all these years, been on every kind of pain medication known to man and even on 500 mg of Morphine a day for pain and 60 mg of Percocet a day for pain, I was still going through 35 pain convulsions a day, that look like a grand maul seizure, that would cause me to black out from the pain.

So my doctor placed me on the medical use of marijuana which the low income housing didn’t want to honor, in Washington state where I live at, and threw me, my wife and our children out onto the street.

So I come to Colfax, WA and KRFP in Moscow, ID, 92.5FM, caught wind of my families story, found out that I was going after the federal government and HUD, suing them and causing them to pay for this lawsuit with the federal governments own money. They let me do a show of my own called, Marijuana Fact or Fiction now where I try to educate the public just like you do.

Dean Becker: Well, it’s an honor to share the airwaves with you Adam. Now, insofar as these medications, there’s a recent revelation about the prescribed type of medicine that they will allow you to use. Tell us about that please.

Adam Assenberg: Yes. I cannot believe it. You know they put marijuana into a Schedule 1 listing that says it has no medical value whatsoever because of a particular part of the plant that has, what’s called, THC in it.

But yet, the government goes ahead and allows pharmaceutical companies to produce a drug called Marinol and also another one call Dronabinol. All those are is man made THC, the same thing that the government says has no medical value.

So, why are they charging the tax payers $1,725 a month for 90 pills of Dronabinol and $184 for 30 pills of Marinol each month? This is costing the tax payers a ridiculous amount of money.

Dean Becker: And, the truth be told, marijuana is weed. It would cost basically… nothing, if they just pull their heads out. Right, Adam?

Adam Assenberg: Well, the thing that gets me is there are still four federal patients, alive today, that the government goes ahead and grows marijuana for and gives it to those four federal patients, as medicine.

Dean Becker: And yet, they still say there is no medical use. It’s just mind boggling, is it not?

Adam Assenberg: Well, I’m going to be having Elvy on my show next week and she’s a federal medical marijuana patient herself and yet she’s willing to go ahead and come from Oregon and testify in my federal court case to say that, ‘Hey, the federal government gives me my medicine. Why can’t he have his?’

Dean Becker: I scratch my head and stay up late and night wondering about the American people, when they’re going to get it.

I tell you what Adam, if you would, share your website with the folks where they can keep up with you and please say ‘Thanks’ to all the good folks there in Moscow, Id that were, one of the first stations to give me a start, as well.

Adam Assenberg: Well Dean, before I do that, I do want to say that you are the main reason I went ahead and started up my show. After listening to what you do each week I thought, ‘Hey, you know, more people need to get the word to them’ and I just thank you for being such an inspiring person.

Dean Becker: Adam Assenberg, creator of Marijuana Fact or Fiction.

Adam Assenberg: My website is www.marijuanafactorfiction.org

You know Dean, I’d like to say before I go that, you’ve really been an inspiration to me, like I was saying earlier. Before we do the Marijuana Fact or Fiction show out of KRFP, we go ahead and run your show, Cultural Baggage, before my show and then right after my show, we run Century of Lies, to get the full educational message out to the public.
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Dean Becker: Be sure to join us on next week’s Century of Lies. Our guest will be Cele Castillo, author of Powder Burns. Cele was the whistle blower that helped to uncover the Iran Contra affair.

You know, trading drugs for guns?

He’s been convicted of selling a handful of guns at gun shows just like thousands of you have done in the past. He was indicted by US attorney Johnny Sutton.
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Again I remind you. There is no truth, justice, logic, scientific fact, no medical data, in fact no reason for this drug war to exist.

We’ve been duped. The drug lords run both sides of this equation. Please do your part to help end the madness. Visit our website. endprohibition.org

Prohibido istac evilesco.

For the Drug Truth Network this is Dean Becker asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.

The Century of Lies.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston

Transcript provided by: C. Assenberg of www.marijuanafactorfiction.org