11/01/09 - Howard Wooldridge

Howard Wooldridge, founder of Citizens Opposing Prohibition + Phil Smith of Drug War Chronicle on the level of violence in Mexico

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Guest: 
Howard Wooldridge
Organization: 
Citiens Opposing Prohibition
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Cultural Baggage, November 11, 2009

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[PSA]
This is your drug czar. Do not listen to the Drug Truth Network. It’s evil, pure evil.

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Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

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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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Dean Becker: Hello my friends. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. Here in just a little bit we’ll be bringing in our guest, Mr. Howard Wooldridge. He is one of the founding members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. He is now branched out and doing his own work in Washington DC on your behalf with a new organization he calls Citizens Opposing Prohibition.

One of the things we do on your behalf is produce seven programs each week for daily insertion into other news or music programs. They are called the 420 Drug War News and here’s what you’re going to hear this Tuesday on the 420 Drug War News:

Phil Smith: This is Phil Smith of the Drug War Chronicle with this week’s news for the Drug Truth Network. This week we are going to look south of the border with a run down of the daily carnage in Mexico’s drug war. Increasingly militarization of the drug war and the arrest of high profile drug traffickers has failed to stem the flow of drugs or the violence whatsoever. The [ ] Initiative which provides 1.4 billion dollars over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training equipment and intelligence has so far failed to make a difference.

Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico’s drug war. On Saturday a high ranking police official was assassinated in Chihuahua. Jose Alfredo Pena was a naval captain who served as a federal police intelligence official. He and three other men had been kidnapped by three heavily armed men some hours earlier.

Additionally, twenty-three people were killed in violence in Chihuahua during a forty-eight hour period. Eighteen of those murders occurred in Ciudad, Juarez. In Guerrero, four bodies were found in a hidden pit just meters from where seven bodies had been found last week.

In other parts of Mexico, an unidentified gunman was killed by the army near [ ] and two more were killed and six captured after battling soldiers near Tomalipas. The day before, four people including two police officers were killed after a firefight in Hidalgo. Two more people were killed in [ ] and three each in Durango [ ] and [ ].

The next day, Sunday in [ ], [ ] gunmen ambushed the convoy of the municipal public safety director. The official survived but a nearby civilian was killed. In another part of Toreon a gun battle left at least two people dead, one of whom was apparently homeless.

Fifteen more people were killed in Chihuahua fourteen of whom died in Ciudad, Juarez. One of the dead was the head of the police anti-theft unit who was gunned down in a restaurant as he ate. At least three killings occurred in [ ] and two women were kidnapped after being snatched from their car on the highway. At least three people were killed in Sonora including a lawyer and reputed gang leader.

Also on Sunday the Associated Press reported that dozens of American Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have been investigated for their handling of informants. Allegations include that ICE steered investigators away from a man who has since been charged with the El Paso murder of Jose Daniel Gonzalez Galliana. He was a Juarez hotel manager and an ICE informant.

Additionally, ICE officials are being accused of allowing a man described as a homicidal maniac by the DEA to continue to be an informant even after having supervised the killings of a Juarez cartel associate.

On Tuesday in Puebla, four police officers were killed and a fifth wounded after being shot by gunmen. The officers were performing a traffic stop of a suspicious vehicle when another truck pulled up from which several heavily armed gunmen emerged and opened fire in an apparent attempt to rescue the passengers of the first vehicle.

In [ ] four men have been arrested in the videotape and widely publicized torture of five teenagers. In addition to being beaten and threatened with weapons, the boys were forced to kiss each other. The boys were later dumped naked on a street. There has been increase activity in recent months by vigilante groups thought to be linked to drug traffickers or members of the police.

On Wednesday Mexican soldiers discovered and enormous partially completed tunnel which ends just across the border from [ ], California. The tunnel which was incomplete came complete with electricity and an air supply system. [ ] in Tijuana were invited to tour the site which is the latest of many similar discoveries in recent years.

Also on Wednesday Mexican police arrested a man suspected of being La Familia’s operations chief for the state of Michoacan. The man, Abel Valedez [ ] was on his way to a cockfight when he was detained by police after being tipped off by informants.

[ ] also known as El Quenton, is also suspected of ordering multiple murders including that of the mayor [ ] de la Salle. His arrest comes a week after three hundred and three suspected members of La Familia were arrested across the US.

In another part of Michoacan the dismembered remains of an unidentified man were found by the roadside near [ ]. [ ] was the site of one of the most publicized incidents of the Mexican drug war in 2006 when gunmen threw five severed heads on to a dance floor in a local night club.

The violence in this past week brings the total body count for the week to a hundred and fifty-seven and the total body count for the year is six thousand, one hundred and seventy-five.

Now in relation to our Mexico drug war update, I want to mention to your listeners that there is a book they should be checking out if they are interested in this. It is called Drug War Zone: Frontline Dispatches from the Streets of El Paso and Juarez by Howard Campbell who is an anthropologist and sociologist at UT El Paso. And his book couldn’t be more timely.

What Campbell does is interview all kinds of people involved in the drug trade or in fighting the drug trade. He’s got police, he’s got drug dealers, he’s got smugglers, he’s got kids who grew up in the barrios of El Paso. He talks to everybody and he really provides a detailed, beneath the surface look at the social realities of the drug trade, the drug culture and the drug war in Juarez and El Paso.

I highly recommend this book to your listeners. Again it is called Drug War Zone by UT El Paso anthropologist Howard Campbell. As always there’s more news from the drug war. You can check it out online at www.stopthedrugwar.org.

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Dean Becker: I’m going to see if I can get this fellow Howard Campbell to come on the Drug Truth Network programs.

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[musical interlude]

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[PSA]
It’s made form doorknob handles and covered with mayonnaise. It’s faster than greased lightning and it’ll be your end of days. It’s a slippery slope.

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Dean Becker: I know that many of you are big fans of the 420’s, maybe rarely hearing the Cultural Baggage or Century of Lies show. And I guess what I am trying to say here is that we produce nine programs per week on behalf of the Drug Truth Network, Pacifica Radio. And we are now up to seventy independent affiliates nationwide up into Canada, one in Australia that carry these programs.

And one thing all of these stations have in common is that none of them give me even one penny for these programs. We produce them for free on their behalf. We upload it to make it accessible to them and they play this because they want their audience to hear this message, the unvarnished truth about the drug war.

If you appreciate this unvarnished truth, if you recognize that we were forerunners, that we were the first to begin this process of dismantling this horrendous machine called drug war on the airwaves. We have done it three hundred and sixty-five days a year for now more than eight years. Four hundred and sixty-nine radio programs per year on your behalf.

Alright, and with that, let’s go ahead and bring in our guest Mr. Howard Wooldridge, longtime friend of the Drug Truth Network. Hello, Howard.

Howard Wooldridge: Good to be with you.

Dean Becker: Thank you sir, thank you for all you have done on our behalf. A lot of folks don’t realize the longevity of your efforts, of many of our friends and associates efforts, to bring about a change but there is change afoot, is there not?

Howard Wooldridge: Oh there definitely is. As Congressman Rohrbacher, republican, California, twenty-two years in the United States house said this spring, if the congress could take a secret vote, marijuana prohibition at the federal level is over today.

Dean Becker: Right. And sadly that brings to focus the fact that they just, they are afraid to say what they believe publicly, right?

Howard Wooldridge: Exactly. These politicians their number one concern for ninety percent is to get re-elected in November of 2010 and they believe that at this moment the issue of coming out in favor of repeal of marijuana prohibition would cost them some votes so therefore they shut their mouth and vote to keep it going.

Dean Becker: Well Howard I don’t know if you got to hear early in the show I mentioned that you were one of the five founding members of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and they are still doing great works and moving forward but you have branched out and you have now created a separate organization with a different focus. You want to tell us about that?

Howard Wooldridge: Yeah. Citizens Opposing Prohibition dot org is a an organization which is dedicated to at the federal level to repeal the drug prohibitions starting with cannabis, marijuana.

And the difference is with this organization is we go to all five hundred and thirty-five members of congress on a regular basis, yearly to make a presentation and then do updates and sustain communications, develop relationships with these legislative aides and some congressmen um to keep them up to date as to what is going on.

And then help other organizations like Marijuana Policy Project, Drug Policy Alliance, DPA and of course [ ], [ ] is against mandatory minimums with intelligence. One of the most important things that COP, COP’s does here in Washington DC is connect the stove pipes, be if you will like a bee that goes from flower to flower but instead of pollinating I simply give them information that they are often not aware of.

Dean Becker: Now, Howard it’s um it’s been a long term project for you. You started out here in Texas lobbying our legislators, right, back how long ago?

Howard Wooldridge: Oh boy well you know Rick Day and Suzy Wills, Bob Ramsey got me into this thing twelve years ago in Fort Worth/Dallas Texas and from there Rick Day was instrumental a couple of years later in to introducing me to Mark Stepnoski, the former Dallas Cowboy football player who an incredibly committed individual who funded my efforts in Austin in 2003 the first time, my first rodeo as a lobbyist to move the issue of making marijuana a traffic ticket, cite and release as opposed to an arrestable offense.

And four years after I started doing that, happy to say as you probably know the Texas legislature in 2007 made it optional for police officers to give a ticket and release the guy as opposed to take him in for you know a joint. So that is where I started. I cut my teeth in Texas and then moved here in 2005 after Missy and I finished our ride across America.

Dean Becker: You know, Howard, I mean look I salute you for your efforts but let’s face facts that House Bill 2391 which gave the district attorneys and the police chiefs the option of no longer arresting and jailing people for less that four ounces of marijuana. They chose, the predominant number of those authorities, chose to ignore it and they are still arresting people, right?

Howard Wooldridge: Oh my understanding is that is absolutely correct. It is optional however at least it now gives the that option and I am sure as budgetary pressures mount in Texas and elsewhere you will see more departments say uh, you know what? We just don’t have the manpower or the personnel time to spend an hour and a half take some police officer off the street for somebody who has a couple of grams, half an ounce of marijuana.

The budgetary pressures as you know Dean are pushing our issue all across the country in our favor in that they are saying we just don’t have time for marijuana. We have rape, we have got murder, we got armed robbery and other serious crimes. We should not be spending worthless time on chasing the Michael Phelps’ and Willie Nelson’s.

Dean Becker: You betcha, you betcha. And you know that is coming about. I wasn’t trying to rain on that thought or that… what you put out there. But the truth is and for the listeners across America there was one district attorney here in Texas and this is almost a verbatim quote, he said, what if we don’t arrest these people for marijuana and they go on a murderous rampage? And somehow they will be held responsible and I think that is how preposterous this drug war is.

Howard Wooldridge: Oh yeah but the good news is Dean, guys like that make headlines as where twenty years ago that was accepted doctrine. So that again all going our way in that as you know the latest polls are showing about forty-four percent of the of America would legalize regulate and tax marijuana. The numbers keep going up every year.

So the dinosaurs are literally dying out and our position of a regulated, controlled market, perhaps taxed, is gaining more and more ground every year and with this economic recession I urge all your listeners to. This is the time to tell your members of congress, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Senator Koryn whoever else of course. I know you have listeners all across the country. No matter who your senator is or congressman or congresswoman, tell them how you fell. Tell them now is the time to repeal federal prohibition, make this a state’s rights issue.

Dean Becker: We are speaking with Mr. Howard Wooldridge of the new organization Citizens Against Prohibition making great strides in Washington DC on our behalf. I want to share this with you all…

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[PSA]

[music playing]
It’s possible to stop five hundred million drug users
To prevent ten million peasants from growing opium
To stop a million sellers from making billions every year
To win the drug war we must believe
We can and we must control the uncontrollable
To prevent bad deeds we must prevent bad thoughts and circumstance
Users must remain unconditionally exterminable
So in the name of God we will believe

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Dean Becker: Ah, yes. Do you believe in drug war? Do you believe that we can keep pouring hundreds of billions down that hole and eventually it will stop? We believe in you, I hope you believe in us. I don’t believe in the drug war. Not me. But we have with us Mr. Howard Wooldridge, runs a new organization, Citizens Against Prohibition. Howard, did you have a chance to hear that little PSA about we will believe?

Dean Becker: Yes, I did. Way to go.

[laughter]

Dean Becker: Well, you know that is the whole thing. It’s a bad belief system is what this whole thing is. It’s superstitious, ignorant thing, isn’t it?

Howard Wooldridge: Well, it used to be quite a bit that way Dean when I first started certainly twelve years ago when I was a police officer you know crushing crime back in Michigan. However today as Ethan Nadelmann said a while back is that the wind is, especially on marijuana, it is finally at our back as opposed to that gale force wind in our face.

You know I first started wearing that t-shirt, cops say legalize pot, ask me why, back in Fort Worth in 1999. People were not happy with that and they were putting me in the same place as child molesters and other sort of bad guys.

And I can tell you today overwhelmingly people support that at least as I wear that shirt my wife has a shirt, mom’s say legalize pot. And she has had nothing but in the last year and a half positive response to it and they thank her for her courage to wear such a shirt. And she tells them to contact their politicians et cetera.

So today the good news is you know seventy-six percent of Americans agree the war on drugs is an ineffective, failed policy from Barack Obama to republicans like Senator Hatch and Congressman Rohrbacher, Tom Tancredo. Tom Tancredo came out early this spring saying we need to at least legalize, regulate and tax marijuana.

So the wind is shifted, it is going in the right direction but we need people to really you know keep the pressure up on both local, state and federal politicians to put this puppy in the history books.

Dean Becker: Well, you know last week we had a segment by Dr. Joel Hockman. He is a Houston area pain doctor, heads up I think it’s the American Pain Doctor’s Association. And he put out a little guide for parents of those afraid their children might be using drugs. And he also produced this other one, it’s just a minute ten. I want to share that with the audience and then get your response when we come back.

Joel Hockman: This is Dr. Hockman’s guide for would be over dose victims. If you are considering using a drug: number one to change your mood; two to get high; three because your friends are doing it; four in combination with other mind altering substances particularly alcohol; five to cope with stress; six to escape; seven in a party situation; eight alone with potential help unavailable; nine for the first time and you are unfamiliar with it; ten at a dose higher than you are used to or you don’t know how strong it is; eleven when you have health issues and it might affect your breathing or your ability to metabolize the drug, and twelve and you don’t know about [ ] for opiates and its not available anyway, the possibility that you may kill yourself is very high.

Proceed at your own risk and do not blame the drug – you took it, it didn’t take you. Relax. If you kill yourself your parents will blame the drug not you and they will think about you every day for the rest of their lives. This is Doctor Joel Simon Hockman from the National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain. Good luck and be wise.

Dean Becker: Some pretty sound advice there from Doctor Hockman, right?

Howard Wooldridge: It sure is. You know it, somebody once said that personal freedom and personal responsibility are two sides of the same coin. That is so true. With anything you do in life take some personal responsibility as you enjoy the freedom of this great country. But if you mess up, look in the mirror.

Dean Becker: Yeah and one of the many ramifications, spin offs, blowback, problems created by this drug war. First off we don’t give proper. If our kids are going to use it’s like sex education. We don’t want them to do it; we are not going to tell them how to do it you know safely.

And the same holds true for education and using these harder drugs perhaps. There is no control on the purity so it’s a crap shoot when they go buy it in the alleyway from an armed gangster. And they are unable to call for help should they think they have overdosed because nobody wants to go to prison. It’s… it’s… your thoughts, Howard?

Howard Wooldridge: You know it is interesting because you know New Mexico became the first and so far only state to pass a good Samaritan 9-1-1 bill whereby in New Mexico if someone is dying or in serious distress over a drug overdose whether alcohol or any other drug, residents there can now call 9-1-1 without fear of arrest for simple possession.

And the sad part was Dean that that bill was introduced by Naomi Long of Drug Policy Alliance in Baltimore, in Maryland here two years ago and the district attorneys came back and said this is a terrible law because it will give the green light to use drugs and so that gentleman has helped ensure the deaths of dozens of people here in Maryland because he fought against this good Samaritan 9-1-1 call.

You know people who think they are pro life are usually against saving lives of someone who has used an illegal drug or even a legal drug like alcohol used by someone who is eighteen, nineteen, twenty. It is amazing how people who are in favor of this prohibition this drug war are so anti life they would rather have you die than save your life and let you be free of a criminal charge. It’s just complete madness.

Dean Becker: It is Howard and you can draw that same parallel with needle exchange which we have had think we have run around here in Texas as well. Lot of health authorities asking for it and one or two hard line you know politicians saying no, not on my shift. It will increase drug use. Of course it doesn’t.

Howard Wooldridge: Well every, there has been four major studies at least four by the United States government all showing it does not increase drug use and abuse. However, don’t bother me with the facts. Let’s just believe what we have for the past thirty years.

And the trouble is you still have mainstream media like the Christian Science Monitor put out a report last May saying legalize marijuana wait, not so fast and it just went one lie after lie after lie. The biggest of which of course was no major medical group supports medical marijuana. And of course if you go to the websites of NORML or MPP they have got dozens of major medical organizations, in fact almost every major medical organization in America supports medicinal use of marijuana except the AMA.

But the Christian Science Monitor allowed these people to put out a lie on their paper without fact checking it and that is part of our problem. There are forces out there especially from big pharma that wants to keep those uh… you taken pills for fifty dollars a piece as opposed to using god’s medicine for free when you can grow it in your backyard like they do now in thirteen states.

Dean Becker: Speaking with Mr. Howard Wooldridge the director of Citizens Opposing Prohibition. Howard we have just got a couple of minutes left. I want you to point folks to your website. Tell them a little bit about what they will find there.

Howard Wooldridge: Well citizensopposingprohibition.org. You’ll find a vision statement that almost was paralleling your song there, Dean.

You know, imagine a world without drug dealers. See a world where no teenager has a job option to sell drugs off sidewalks which gets them killed. Imagine police focusing on bad guys like drunk drivers, child molesters, at the federal level, people flying airplanes in to buildings - as opposed to going after medical marijuana gardens across the country.

Uh we don’t, we cannot afford the seventy-two billion we are spending. Imagine redirecting that money towards something worthwhile. And all the millions of people out there if one day you have a drug problem, you see a doctor not a judge or a police officer. That is just wrong on every level.

And just know that COPs, Citizens Opposing Prohibition is working at the federal level to repeal that federal prohibition of marijuana first and after that is done and in the history books, we will go after all the rest of them because no teenager in America should have a job option to sell drugs off sidewalks.

And we have got to stop funding our mortal enemies, Al Quaida and the Taliban which derive a substantial proportion of their funding from the sale of illegal drugs. This is bad for America. Everybody knows it but we need, you need to tell your politicians. That is the number one thing to do.

I know your politicians have all said, I support the drug war! I support prohibition! But tell them anyway because when enough people say enough already they will change. Tom Tancredo finally changed.

Dean Becker: Yeah. It can be done and that is the whole point. Howard and I have devoted our lives to educating and changing the politician’s and especially the public’s mind. Howard one more time, your website?

Howard Wooldridge: www citizens opposing prohibition dot org. Go there, check it out. Frequently asked questions in both English, French, Spanish and German. A vision statement, you can see what we are doing up on the hill and making this thing happen at the federal level.

Dean Becker: Alright, Mr. Howard Wooldridge. Thank you so much. We have got about a minutes worth of messages here.

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[PSA]
The DEA is a joker
The FDA is the joke
The joke is on the USA
So why not take a poke?

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It’s time to play Name That Drug By It’s Side Effects!

According to the manufacturer this product will give you healthy blood flow and circulation, enhanced physical performance, sexual stamina, firmer, fuller feeling erections and wide eyed female approval to swim naked in the community pool.

Time’s up!

From Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, Enzyte for love.

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Hi, this is Valerie Corallin. I am the director of the Women’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, WAMM, in Santa Cruz, California. We’re a collective of patients and caregivers and we provide for ourselves and one another medical marijuana at no cost in the true name of a collective. I listen to Cultural Baggage and obviously you do too. Please support our constitution and free speech through the Drug Truth Network and Pacifica radio. Keep free speech alive and free.

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Dean Becker: Be sure to join us next week when we will have Mr. Cliff Thonton, he of efficacy-online.org. We are going to be talking about the situation involving what happens after we legalize drugs because many communities depend on these black market dollars.

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[PSA]
Drugs will destroy your life especially if you are caught, jailed and permanently stigmatized. Drugs enslave our children especially if they are made by charlatans and sold by gangsters. Drugs and crime go together like peanut butter and jelly. Everybody likes peanut butter and jelly. Drugs…

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[PSA]
The day we regulate the distribution of these illegal drugs to adults is the day we destroy Osama’s profits on Afghan opium. We take away the reason for which most street gangs exist. We basically eliminate drug over dose deaths and take away the jobs of those selling drugs to our children. In so doing we immediately have fifty billion dollars each year to spend on treatment and other health services, defense and education. The drug war is the largest fraud ever perpetrated on the peoples of this earth. Visit the website of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition: leap.cc

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Dean Becker: And as always I remind you that because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag, please, be careful.

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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.