11/25/08 - Kris Krane

Kris Krane, president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy discusses recent SSDP conference to celebrate their 10th anniversary + 7 years later, CIA found responsible for shooting missionary's plane from the sky + the Reagans just say "yes" to drugs

Century of Lies
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Kris Krane
Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)
Download: Audio icon COL_112508.mp3


Century of Lies, November 25, 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.

Hello my friends. Welcome to this edition of Century of Lies. I’m so glad you could be with us.

Today, our main guest will be Mr. Kris Krane, of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy group who has just had a major convention there, near Washington D.C. and I guess with that, let’s go ahead and bring in Mr. Kris Krane.

Kris Krane: Hey Dean. Thanks for having me be on the show.

Dean Becker: Well, thank you for joining us. You guys just finished up a major conference, did you not?

Kris Krane: We did. We just finished the SSDP 10th anniversary conference and Alumni Reunion as well as a Lobby Day which is part of the conference. That just completed this past weekend. We held it Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

As I mentioned, it was our 10th Anniversary Conference and I’m very happy to say, it was far and away the largest conference that SSDP had held. It was the biggest gathering of student drug policy reform held ever, as far as I know.

Dean Becker: I consider you guys to be kind of ‘akin’ to LEAP members. You guys don’t have the law enforcement experience but you’re working, not just for marijuana or needle exchange, you’re working to end the drug war outright. Is that correct?

Kris Krane: That’s absolutely right. Yes, we are working to end the war on drugs, as it’s been fought for the last 30 or so years, in the modern drug war. If you want to go back even further we can go, say 70, 80 to 100 years.

But yeah, we are looking to change the way that we deal with drugs in this country. From a criminal justice issue to a public health issue. To end prohibition and the criminal black market and bring about some drug policies in this country that are based on common sense and scientific research and not ideology and law enforcement.

Dean Becker: Now, you had several panels. I noticed the first night you guys got together, you had karaoke gathering, if you will, that kind of speaks to the youth of those involved.

But you guys have the strength and the stamina and the outlook to get some things done. I understand you had a debate with a Mr. Kevin Sabet?

Kris Krane: Kevin Sabet. Yeah, Dr. Kevin Sabet. He’s actually the former speechwriter for the Office of National Drug Control Policy under both McCaffrey and Rogers. He also founded, Students Taking Action Not Drug’s. (STAND) Which is the, sort of, anti drug counterpart to SSDP.

He agreed to come to our conference, to address our crowd. I give him a ton of credit for having the courage and conviction to come speak to a conference where about 100% of the people there would disagree to his positions.

We had a very spirited and interesting and very respectful debate between myself and Kevin, which was moderated by Courland Milloy, of the Washington Post.

Dean Becker: It is my hope that in the coming weeks, we can get our hands on some of that audio. Share it with The Drug Truth Network listeners.

But, you’re right. He was courageous to step up to the plate and take a cut in debating this drug war that so many of John Walters himself and many, if not all his minions, refuse to do so.

Kris Krane: That’s right. It’s very rare that somebody from the drug warrior side of this issue will agree to debate a reformer. Often times we’ll hear a debate on TV but it’ll be, they’ll have to speak and then the reformer can come on afterwards. But, it’s rare that they’ll actually agree to a one on one debate. Let alone doing so at one of our own conferences.

So, I do credit Kevin. I hand him a lot of credit for coming into ‘our’ house and having this discussion in front of our crowd. I think our crowd was incredibly respectful of him. They were very welcoming to him and we had a great debate.

This is actually something we’re planning on continuing after the conference. Kevin and I have agreed to turn this into a ‘debate series’ that students can bring to colleges all around the country.

In fact, we’ve already had a number of SSDP Chapters approach us after the debate and said they wanted to bring this to their campuses. So, I really applaud Kevin for, not only coming to our conferences, but for agreeing to make this a discussion on the issue that we can bring to students all across the country.

Because nobody can really make an informed decision on this issue unless they’ve heard both sides of the story. That’s what we’re trying to do with this debate here.

Dean Becker: You guys had, on the first day, kind of, I’m assuming, a training session and then you sent your conference participants out to speak to their legislators. Is that correct?

Kris Krane: That’s absolutely right. On Friday, we had Congressional Lobby day. About 250 students participated in the Lobby Day, on Friday. There were 450 for the conferences, as a whole. We had them lobbying specifically on the ‘crack-powder cocaine’ sentencing disparity. Which is a 100 to 1 federal disparity between crack and powder cocaine.

I mean, if you posses 5 grams of crack cocaine, it triggers a 10 year mandatory minimum sentence, whereas 500 grams of powdered cocaine triggers that same 10 year mandatory minimum sentence.

We decided to lobby on the crack-powder issue this year as opposed to say, something that more directly impacts students. First of all, because it’s something that’s wrong with the drug policy that’s most likely to change in the upcoming congress. Primarily because the chief proponent of equalizing this disparity was Senator, now currently Vice President elect, Joe Biden.

So we know that this is on the administration’s radar. But also, we wanted to show that SSDPer’s and Student Drug Policy Reformer’s are not only concerned about issues that impact young people.

While those are the issues that tend to be most creditable on, we are concerned about the impact of the war on drugs, as a whole and there’s probably not policy that ‘s more damaging, particularly to the African American community, than the crack-powder sentencing disparity.

So, about 250 or our student went through training Friday morning and then went down and met with both members of the House and Senate, to lobby them on this very important reform.

Dean Becker: Kris, you know this but, I seldom hear it used in the debate, or the discussion about that ‘powder vs. crack disparity’ but, you take a 500 gram pile of powder. You take one gram, mix it with 7 grams of baking soda, pop it the microwave and then you have 8 grams of, you know, crack…

Kris Krane: That’s right.

Dean Becker: …and in essence, you take 5 of those grams which represents only 5/8th’s of a gram of powder. So it’s really 800 to 1, when you get down to actual cocaine content. It’s outrageous.

Kris Krane: You are absolutely right and it should be mentioned too that really, pharmacologically, there’s no difference whatsoever between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. They’re exactly the same drug.

As you mentioned, the only difference is that crack is a little cocaine mixed with a little baking soda or baking powder and cooked and that’s it. The only difference really, is the method of inhalation; the method of administration.

Dean Becker: Yep.

Kris Krane: So, it’s outrageous that we’ll be punishing primarily poor people and overwhelmingly, people of color on crack offences for really, possession amounts, while it takes a substantial amount of cocaine to receive the same sentence.

We think that should be an equal penalty and obviously, we’d like to see the threshold for crack cocaine raised significantly. Not obviously, not the other way around and that’s what we were lobbying on.

Dean Becker: OK. All right now, you are based in Washington D.C. You guy’s had more of a first hand look at this new election and maybe the candidates or the nominees for the various cabinet offices. What do you foresee in the future? Are we going to be able to make any progress?

Kris Krane: Oh, boy. I wish I can answer that question, Dean. I really do, neat-o.

There’s a big debate, as I’m sure you’re well aware, among the drug policy community, about where President-elect Obama may be going with drug policy reform. Frankly, we just don’t know. There’ve been some disconcerting signs in some of his appointments.

We know that Joe Biden, while he’s been terrific on the crack-powder issue, over the last couple of years has traditionally been one of the biggest drug warriors among the democrats. Raum Emanuel certainly has been no friend to medical marijuana in his days in congress. in the Clinton administration.

We know that Eric Holder, the new Attorney General, back in the 1990’s was a big subscriber to the broken widow’s theory and cited Giuliani’s arrest of marijuana, people for marijuana possession in New York, as a successful policy.

So, there certainly are some warning signs there. However, President-elect Obama also, during the campaign and certainly before the campaign, has shown that he understands issues. Some issues are on decriminalization, certainly issues around mandatory minimum sentencing, which was a big issue for him in Illinois.

I still remain hopeful that we will get some change. I do hope, however, that the drug policy community is not too overly optimistic about how far this administration is going to go. My general guess, and again my guess is really as good as yours or anyone else, is that it’s likely going to be more about what the Obama administration doesn’t do, than what they actually do.

Meaning that, they may stop raiding medical marijuana providers in states with medical marijuana laws. They may send signals to the states that if you want to go your own way on issues, like medical marijuana or decriminalization, that we’re not going to oppose you.

On the international level, if they sent a very subtle signal through intentional channels, through diplomatic channels, that they would not threaten to cut off aid to countries that want to look to decriminalize. That could have a profound impact on changing drug policies around the world.

My guess is that we’re going to see a lot more in what doesn’t happen than what does happen. But again, my guess is as good as yours, Dean.

Dean Becker: OK Yeah, I have this hope that many of these, at least formerly known as drug warriors, might do the ‘Nixon Goes to China’ thing.

Kris Krane: Well, you know, I actually share your optimism on that a little bit. In that, if President Obama does decide that he wants to go in a very different direction on drug policy, having people like Raum Emanuel and Joe Biden around him would really make this a much easier ‘sell’.

Nobody in The House or The Senate would accuse Joe Biden or Raum Emanuel of being ‘soft on crime’ or ‘soft on drugs‘. I mean, these are two of the toughest democratic representatives and senators that we’ve ever seen.

They are also very, very loyal team players and so, if Obama decides that this is the direction he wants to go in, we know that they’ll back him because they are loyal and they’re certainly the types that can twist some arms and get things done and not fall victim to being accused of being ‘soft on crime‘ or ‘soft on drugs‘.

So, if he does decide to go in that direction, then these are good people to have around him.

Dean Becker: Well… and there have been some indications. The Rolling Stone interview indicated he saw the fallacy of the prison industrial complex and the bigotry and the over-incarceration. So there’s still some hope, right?

Kris Krane: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I know a lot of people are getting ‘down’ right now because of some of these appointments but, the guy hasn’t taken office yet. So, while we have to be very cautiously optimistic and while we… But as a movement, it’s our job to hold the new administration’s feet to the fire and make sure that they enact these changes that are so necessary.

We can’t start completely bashing them just yet, until they’ve actually had a chance to do something in office. So we’re taking a bit of ‘wait and see’ approach here. We’re certainly doing what we can to try and influence the transition team as much as we can.

We’re organizing at the grassroots and the grass-tops level to have as much influence as we can before the new president takes office and once he does, it will be our job to hold his feet to the fire and to call him out when he makes the wrong decisions and praise him if he makes the right ones.

Dean Becker: There you go. OK Once again, we’re speaking with Mr. Kris Krane of Students for Sensible Drug Policy based in Washington D.C. They just had a conference. Finished up just a couple of days ago. How many participants was there again?

Kris Krane: We had about 450 attendees. Which would make this, by far, the biggest SSDP conference we’ve ever had. I think our previous record was maybe 320 in 2006. So, it was a tremendous turnout.

We has students from about a hundred different universities from literally all over the country. As well as student representatives from Canada and Great Britain.

Dean Becker: Now, you didn’t have any from Australia?

Kris Krane: Actually our Australia chapter leader was unable to make it due to a visa issue. He had planned to be there but was unable to get a visa in time. So, unfortunately yeah, he didn’t make it there.

Dean Becker: Well, heck. OK Well still, just the same, we’re getting the word out and sharing it with folks in other countries.

We look at the history of the drug war in the United States and it seems that, you mentioned earlier, some of the other countries, Mexico and some Central and South American countries have talked about decrim. or legalization and yet it has been the influence of the United States, kind of holding their feet to the fire, ‘If you want our bribe money, you’re not going to do that.’

Kris Krane: That’s right.

Dean Becker: …and yet, I look North and Canada, I don’t think they have that leverage over Canada, and yet Mister Premier Harper is trying to emulate our mechanism. What feedback did you get out of Canada?

Kris Krane: Actually, I had the pleasure of attending the 2nd Annual Canadian Students for Drug Policy Conference just about two weeks ago. I found out quite a bit while I was up there talking to those folks and listening to some of the panelists.

There’s no doubt that Prime Minister Harper is trying to emulate the American approach to the drug war. They are pushing for new mandatory minimum sentences. They’re pushing for an ad campaign, a new media campaign, similar to the silly propaganda ads that we run here in the United States.

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Kris Krane: They’re pushing for more incarceration. They’re pushing to shut down harm reduction programs. They’re pushing to shut down Insight, which is the only legal… heroin… maintenance, well it’s not a heroin maintenance program but, essentially a heroin shooting gallery in the United States.

See, they’re really trying to move backwards. We’re fortunate that we have a really good crop of activists up in Canada and I would say, increasingly lead by the new Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy who are working with the opposition parties there to make sure that this doesn’t happen.

In the last… just for the last elections, Harper, the Harper government tried to push through some new mandatory minimum sentencing laws and fortunately those did not go through before the elections were held.

Now unfortunately, Harper did win, the conservatives did win the re-election up in Canada just about a month ago, I believe. They increased their number of seats in Parliament but they don’t yet have a total majority.

So, they still need the opposition parties on board if they’re going to pass any of these radical types of legislations. So we’re very hopeful still that none of those will really come to pass since they are operating under a minority government there.

Dean Becker: Well, you know too often these politicians, whether in Canada or the United States and the Prison Guards Union and the Police Chief’s and the District Attorney’s, are really the only ones left standing, still calling for more draconian measures.

In Canada for example The Insight, shooting gallery as you said, has been supported by science, by studies, by every investigation outside of a police investigation.

Kris Krane: Oh, that’s absolutely right. There’s been some great research. The Naomi Project, probably being the most prominent one, on Insight, on the Insight facility there, the findings are terrific. What they show is that there’s been absolutely no overdoses in the history of Insight, since it’s opened up.

Because, everybody who’s having their heroin administered there, is under supervision of a nurse at all times. So if there is any overdose, they take care of that immediately. So nobody has died of an overdose in Insights history. They’ve got an in-patient treatment facility, just upstairs.

But, most importantly what they’re doing here, well I would say two things… One, for the community at large, who are worried about dirty needles on their streets, who are worried about people shooting up in the streets and the image that that gives of the downtown Eastside in Vancouver,

It really helps the area business’ and in fact they’re about a block away from Chinatown. The business’ in Chinatown have been lobbying the Canadian government to keep Insight open because it keeps people from shooting up in their alleys, on their front stoops and so forth and it helps their business.

But most importantly for the actual addicts themselves, the safe injection site, Insight, it provides them with a place where they can go where they’re shown that people actually care about them.

I think that’s the biggest benefit of Insight. In addition to the fact, they’re not contracting HIV, they’re not contracting Hep C, they’re not overdosing, they’re within a sort of a medical framework. They’re going to a site where there’re people there who genuinely do care about them.

The staff of Insight is terrific. I had a chance to tour it myself, earlier this year, when I was in Vancouver for a United Nations Summit. The staff are just… they’re wonderful, caring, decent human beings who really do care about the clients that they serve and so when these people come in, they’re shown that there is a staff who cares genuinely about them.

Which, for a population that is neglected by society, I mean entirely neglected and forgotten by society and left to fend for themselves in the streets. To show that there’s somebody who’s not just a street person, who’s not necessarily another addict, but who genuinely cares about them, gives them a little bit of hope.

That allows them to move into treatment. That allows them to help start to deal with their addiction problems and they actually, like I said, they have an inpatient facility, where they can keep them on site, once they decide that they’re ready to get treatment, until they can put them into a permanent treatment facility.

So, it’s and absolute shame that the Canadian government is trying to close Insight and I really hope that the activists up there are successful in keeping it open.

Dean Becker: Just this morning, I saw an article in the Guardian, coming out of UK and for folks that don’t realize, I think it was about two years ago, they moved marijuana from Class B (more dangerous) to Class C (less dangerous).

They found that children are using it less and yet agents of government again, you know, police chiefs and all those folks, are trying to say, ’No, we need to move it back to Class B, to arrest more people.’…

Kris Krane: Yeah and in fact, if I understand correctly, that’s pretty much a done deal, that that’s about to happen.

Dean Becker: …and yet, now the scientists, within their governmental agency, are starting to quit. Because they say, ‘If you’re not going to take our scientific fact and use it appropriately, there’s no part in our being part of this organization.’

Kris Krane: That’s right. That’s absolutely right.

Dean Becker: It’s just exemplary of the idiocy of many of these policies and the ramifications that come about.

I understand that you guys also talked about the fact that this drug war, is a war on youth. They’re out there looking for people late at night, young people crowded in a car. Am I right?

Kris Krane: I see, well I mean, if you look at the statistics, there’s no doubt the drug war has been a war on youth. It’s not necessarily that youth use drugs at a much higher rate, I mean they do use drugs at a bit of a higher rate than general population but, not in the numbers that they are targeted for in enforcement.

If you look at marijuana arrests for example. It’s something like about 85%, I believe, of marijuana arrests are for people under the age of 30 years old. So chances are, if you make it past 30 and you’re not smoking like, way out in the open in front of cops, your chances of getting busted are pretty slim to none and yet they’re directly going out and targeting young people for enforcement of marijuana policies and other drug policies.

When you start talking about African American and Latino youth, now you’re talking about an incredibly dire situation. We’ve literally gotten to the point where one in three black males, or is it one in four black males, between the ages of 18 and 29 are under the care of the criminal justice system and most of those are for low level, not violent, drug offences.

Dean Becker: OK Well Kris, we’re going to wrap it up here in just a minute but I wanted to give you a chance to, if you will, just send a shout out, to the students that may be listening, that might want to join forces with Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

Kris Krane: Absolutely, absolutely. What I want to say first of all is a huge, ‘Thank you’ to all of the students who showed up at the SSDP conference this past weekend. For all of you who were there, you made this the most successful SSDP conference that we’ve ever had.

Certainly, our organization is only as strong as our membership and I think our conference proved what a strong organization that we’ve really become over these past 10 years.

If there are any other students who are out there who were listening, who are interested in the devastating impact that the drug war has on young people, on communities in general and who want to get involved, they should join up with us.

They can get involved at www.schoolsnotprisons.com. We’ve got a web form on there and make it really easy to fill out a form to start a chapter. You can send us an email. We’ll get you all set up.

I hope that any students out there who were listening, who are interested in ending the drug war, will join with Students for Sensible Drug Policy and help us continue to grow this organization.

That’s really training the next generation that, we hope, will be the one that finally ends this insane and misguided war on drugs, once and for all.

Dean Becker: All right Kris and in closing, I want to remind you again, gather up whatever audio you can from this event and ship it to The Drug Truth Network. We’ll be sharing it with our listeners.

Kris Krane: Absolutely. We’ll be getting you some audio very shortly, Dean. I thank you so much for what you do on this issue and for getting this information out there.

Dean Becker: Alright. Thank you.

Kris Krane: Alright. You take care.

This is Gustavo de Greiff, the former General Attorney of Colombia. Talking about the drug problem to the Drug Truth Network.

Despite a decades long drug war, billions of dollars spent and millions of American’s locked up, drug use rates have remained relatively constant.

When an drug dealer is busted, it’s nothing more than a job opening for someone to fill. It’s Economics 101.

Join Students for Sensible Drug Policy, to help teach law makers the simple economics lesson.

Visit www.schoolsnotprisons.com to find out if there’s a chapter at your school, or how to start one.

The following comes to us courtesy of The Washington Post.

‘An internal CIA probe has concluded that agency officials deliberately misled congress, The White House and federal prosecutors about key details of the 2001 downing of an airplane carrying US missionaries.

The agency’s Inspector General said, CIA officers repeatedly ignored rules of engagement in a joint U.S. / Peruvian campaign to halt air-born drug smugglers, resulting in the downing of at least ten other aircraft without proper warnings.

Afterwards, CIA managers concealed the problems from law makers and the justice department. Even the White House was kept in the dark as agency officials and lawyers withheld key details, while cautioning their staff to avoid putting anything in writing that might be used later in a criminal or civil case.

Unclassified excerpts from the report were released by representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the ranking republican on the House and Intelligence Committee, who blasted the agency for actions that he said were tantamount to obstruction of justice.

Dean Becker: I’ve been following this story for more than 7 years and I’ve been wondering just when the government would get down to the truth of this matter. Here’s how it was seen on FOX News.

‘Veronica Bowers and her 7 month old daughter were killed in the shooting. The wacky republic on the House and Intelligent Committee, Pete Hoekstra of the missionary’s home state of Michigan, unveiled the results of an investigation, by the agencies Inspector General.

This is about as ugly as it gets. Now, when people think about the community, an agency operating outside of the law, covering it up and getting away with it for as long as they did.

Agency officials characterize the shooting of the missionaries as, at the time, as a ’one time’ mistake, arguing strict safeguards were followed in other cases. But Hoekstra said the IG found, ‘agency personnel never followed the safeguards.’

The Inspector General found that CIA officers knew of and condoned the violations fostering an environment of negligence and disregard for the procedures.

…preventing officials from fixing the program. The senior intelligence official says the IG report was delivered to CIA Chief, Michael Hayden in August, who read it right away and sought outside advice from retired chairman of the Joint Chief’s Richard Myers, an Air Force General, on what should have been done.

But officials say Hayden, who came to CIA years after the incident, has made no decisions about the IG’s recommendations. John.

John: All right Jim Angle, live in Washington. Thank you Jim. Now the war on terror…’

Dean Becker: They thought they were changing the story line. Little do they realize that the war of terror is the war on drugs, with afterburners.

Ronald: Nancy’s joining me because the message this evening is not my message, but ours.

Despite our best efforts, shortages of marijuana are now being reported.

From the early days of our administration, Nancy has been abusing marijuana on a daily basis and her personal observations and efforts have given her such traumatic insights, that I wanted her to share them with you this evening. Nancy…

Nancy: Thank you.

For five years, I’ve been traveling across the country, learning and listening and one of the most hopeful signs I’ve seen, is this new drug, crack.

Each time I meet with someone new, I yearn to find a way to help share the message that drugs open your eyes to life. To see it in the vivid colors, that God gave us, as a precious gift to his children.

Ronald: I think you can see why Nancy has been such a positive influence on all that we’re trying to do. The job ahead of us is very clear. Nancy’s personal crusade, to expand the use of smokeable cocaine, otherwise known as crack, should become our national crusade.

Nancy: Our young people are helping us lead the way. Not long ago, in Oakland, California, I was asked by a group of children what to do, if they were offered drugs. Say ‘Yes‘, I answered.

Soon after that, those children in Oakland formed a ’Just Say, Yes’ club and now, there are over ten thousand such clubs all over the country.

Ronald: Drugs are the mightiest force for good that we know.

Nancy: Many of you may be thinking, ’Well, drugs don’t concern me.’ But it does concern you. It concerns us all, because of the way it could fulfill the promise and hope in those restless minds. Drug and alcohol abuse needs our encouragement.

Dean Becker: Oh, my. I guess we’re going to have to cut that off for now, but, it’s somewhere in between. Just saying, yes. and Just say, no. Just saying, caution. Just saying, education. Just saying, adult use.

That’s really the answer. To allow adult to decide for themselves, what they want to do with their own bodies.

I want to thank Kris Krane for being our guest, SSDP. Be sure to join us this week on our Cultural Baggage. Our guest is Bruce Alexander, author of Globalization of Addiction.

As always, there is no truth, justice, logic, scientific fact, medical data, in fact no reason for this drug war to exist.

We’ve been duped. 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