08/15/10 - Gretchen Burns Bergman

Gretchen Burns Bergman of Parents for Addiciton Treatment and Healing + Randy Credico senatorial candidate in NY & MJ Borden with Drug War Facts & premiere of "Legalize" by Sloshtown

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Guest: 
Gretchen Burns Bergman
Organization: 
A New Path
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Transcript

Cultural Baggage / August 15, 2010

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

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”

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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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(Music from Sloshtown)

I’m so tired of this government
Making all kind of laws
About what kind of drugs are Ok
You know if we want it
Then we get it, they can’t feel it
The crooked cops and the DEA

Everyone needs to realize
Stand up!
All drugs should be legalized.
Hands up!
They pretend to care about us
But we know inside
They don’t give a shit about us.

They all know it’s just about the money
Because the fat cat politicians think we’re dummies
We all know it’s just about the money
Because the fat cat politicians think we’re dummies
And you know they cannot stop

There’s a War going in these streets
A Drug War
And we must not be the people that we stand for
It’s time to take the veil off of your eyes
And look around
Can’t you see the shit going down?

Everyone needs to realize
Stand up!
All drugs should be legalized.
Hands up!
They pretend to care about us
But we know inside
They don’t give a shit about us.

They all know it’s just about the money
Because the fat cat politicians think we’re dummies
We all know it’s just about the money
Because the fat cat politicians think we’re dummies
And you know they cannot stop

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Alright my friends, that was Sloshtown, a local group with, they call it “Legalize”. I say it’s more “It’s all about the money”, which brings to mind, the ninth anniversary of the Drug Truth Network is coming up very shortly, in October, actually.

We’re going to hold a contest for people with the best songs that deal with the subject of Drug War and might even have a little cash money but it has to deal with Drug War, not just marijuana legalization. We’ll give more details as the summer unfolds and as we head towards the fall season.

I tell you what, we’re going to go ahead and run this report from Mary Jane Borden.

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Mary Jane Borden: Hello Drug Policy Aficionados, I’m Mary Jane Borden, editor of Drug War Facts.

The question for this week comes from a prominent federal legislator, who asks: Does marijuana serve as a pipeline drug?

The hypothesis that marijuana is a pipeline to heroin and other drugs is called a “Gateway Theory”. It asserts that marijuana use directly leads to directly to hard drug abuse. This concept was questioned in the 1999 Institute of Medicine report, Marijuana in Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. Which stated:

“There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.”

In 2002, the British Home Office looked at the presumed progression of drug use and arrived at the same conclusion, “There is little remaining evidence of any causal gateway effect.”

The 2006 study, Predictors of Marijuana Use in Adolescents Before and After Licit Drug Use: Examination of the Gateway Hypothesis, was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. It concluded that, “evidence supporting causal linkages between stages as specified by the Gateway Hypothesis was not obtained.”

Finally, consider the numbers from the 2008 from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. In 2008, more than 102 million Americans were estimated to have tried marijuana, with 15.2 million of them said to be past month users. There were an estimated 1.8 million past month users of cocaine and 213,000 past month users of heroin. These past month cocaine and heroin use numbers are respectively 11.8% and 1.4% of past month marijuana users and 1.8% and 0.2% of lifetime marijuana users.

If cannabis were a pipeline to hard drugs, wouldn’t these percentages be significantly higher?

These facts and others like them can be found in the Gateway Theory and Marijuana chapters of Drug War Facts at www.drugwarfacts.org. If you have a question for which you need facts please email it to me at: mjborden@drugwarfacts.org.

I’ll try to answer your question in an upcoming show. So, remember when you need facts about drugs and drug policy you can get the facts at Drug War Facts.

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Gretchen Burns Bergman: I’m Gretchen Burns Bergman and I’m the Co-Founder and Executive director of a New PATH, which stands for Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing. Our organization started in the year 2000.

We worked to reduce the stigma associated with addictive illness and we work for a therapeutic, rather than a punitive drug policy. We believe in therapeutic and restorative justice. I was a state chair of Proposition 36 in 2000, which is a mandated treatment instead of incarceration in California, which it did pass and was implemented in 2000.

One, it was kind of a break through law. Really showing that people are really – because it was an intuitive, it was that people are ahead of the politicians in their terms of understanding that drug abuse should not be criminalized and drug addiction.

Currently, we are working on a campaign called, Moms United to End the War on Drugs. We’re moving outside of San Diego, which we did from the very beginning in our advocacy work. We moved up to Sacramento as much as possible. We are taking advantage of the opportunity with Proposition 19 being on the ballot in November, to really organize Moms across the state to speak out.

Moms and parents really know, more than anybody else because we’ve experienced first hand, the devastation of the Drug War in terms of loss of life, loss of liberty, overdose death, mass incarceration. It’s just astounding in terms of dollars lost as well as human life lost.

Dean Becker: Alright, now Gretchen, I get occasional emails or phone calls of people asking me about treatment centers and I’ll be honest with you. I have just, you know, just grave reservations that all these people being sent to treatment, that it’s necessary that all of them go.

Particularly, the Drug Czar touts the fact that 60-65% of those sent for treatment are going for “marijuana” addiction. It’s time to evaluate and properly involve those in treatment who need it. I’m all for treatment as required by the individual but the State overdoes, which I guess is what I’m trying to say, in sending too many people to treatment. Your thoughts on that?

Gretchen Burns Bergman: No, absolutely, we’re not handling the people that are truly at risk. It’s interesting because both of my sons are drug addicts and they graduated to heroin addiction. One son is now in long-term recovery but he was arrested in 1990 for simple marijuana possession. Since that time for eleven years of his life, he cycled in and out of the prison system for non-violent offenses and relapsed.

The waste, it was so tremendous but my point is that since that time, marijuana arrest, simple marijuana arrests are up 127%, so what on Earth are we doing? Instead of throwing all of this money out after marijuana users, we need to have and provide treatment for people who have very serious addictions like methamphetamines and heroin addiction. We need to be looking at and spending preventative dollars on loss of life and overdose deaths, not grabbing someone smoking pot on the corner.

I guess it is very interesting for me as a parent to come to this point because I never liked marijuana. I associated it in the early day with my kids going downhill. Since I’ve become such an active advocate, I’m realizing that it’s no more a drug that gets kids started on – or a gateway drug than alcohol or tobacco or anything else is.

So, I just really believe that we need to change our drug laws because we are losing too many people. We are throwing money in wrong places. All you have to do is look at the prison industrial complex to see where our money has gone and what kind of damage that’s created.

In terms of treatment, we don’t advocate for one treatment over another. Certainly, I have been dismayed also, that so many people who get caught up in system for smoking marijuana, get sent to treatment, which is almost non-existent, because there’s no dollars for treatment. So, they are now gutting all the self-help programs that the Al-anon meetings or the AA meetings because they have to fill out paperwork rather than being there for really legitimate addiction.

You know there is a really big difference between someone who uses drugs and sometimes maybe abuses drug and those who are addicted like my sons are to drugs. Those people are the ones that need the treatment and need those treatment dollars and services. They’re nonexistent at this point. Behind bars, in the community, even Proposition 36 this money has been gutted. So, yes I agree with you. That’s the longest thing I could give you.

Dean Becker: No, that’s fine. We’re speaking with Gretchen Burns Bergman, she’s Executive Director of a New PATH. I wanted to focus on the fact that we have, over the years, endured ongoing waves of hysteria. One drug du jour, followed by another a year later and a year later.

Drugs have been around a long time and I guess what I’m wanting to say that it is the hysteria that leads us down the wrong path; that it’s better to lock these people up than to help them rebuild their lives. Your thoughts on that?

Gretchen Burns Bergman: Well, I would agree and I apologize I think that you may have had a career in criminal justice but there is certainly a lot of people who are using this hysteria to incarcerate more to use people’s fears.

What people don’t understand, they fear and drug addiction can look very scary. So if you have somebody saying, “We’ve got to – These are bad people doing bad things and they’re dangerous and we’ve got to lock em’ up”. Unfortunately, if you hit on people’s fears, they will agree. Without being educated, without understanding it sometimes even when it is in their own family. Certainly, as a parent, I was talked into doing some tough love and I no longer promote tough love because I realize that for me, my son’s overdoses, I’m glad that their alive.

My neighbor’s and friend’s children are not alive. They need supportive services and they need to be pushed into services so they stay alive. I’m afraid that in the worst times, of course right now when economic times are so bad, people are fearful. So somebody coming to them and saying, “See, these people need to be locked up to protect your safety”. People buy into it and it’s very unfortunate.

Dean Becker: Gretchen, I have over the years, heard from several doctors, most notably from Dr. Stanton Peel. I think he’s author of Seven Ways To Beat Addiction. He talks about the fact that most drug users by the time they hit the age 25 or so they have at least quit the addictive behaviors if not the use of many of the so-called “recreational” drugs and that by age 35 nearly everyone has walked away from that abuse.

Isn’t a question of just sometimes educating and allowing our children to “grow up” and away from these habits? Your thoughts there?

Gretchen Burns Bergman: Well, they always say that there are no heroin addicts over the age of 35. There are very few because they’re either dead or recovered. My youngest son is 35. I’m waiting for that to happen. Right now, I still see someone who is very much involved and suddenly – it’s not day to day, it’s no an easy thing to walk away from.

Certainly, some people grow out addictive illness and can walk away from it or simply just “grow up” but we’re losing. We’re losing so many individuals right now and I attribute a lot of that to the war on drugs because I think we are throwing misinformation at this.

We need better “Good Samaritan” laws on how to handle overdoses. Unfortunately, if somebody’s in the middle of a heroin overdose and that person is using it with them, they’re not calling 911. So, the person is dying needlessly.

Yes, we need much better public policy. We need to not only change laws but we need to change public policy and certainly we need a more compassionate, harm reductionistic society. When you say 25, I say, “No. I don’t agree at all” but at 35, I can see that that’s happening with some people. Unfortunately, it’s not happening yet in my own family.

I would like to speak directly to moms and parents. I think this addictive disease is so crippling not only to the individual but also to their families. Unfortunately, there’s shame and stigma attached to it, as well as downright discrimination against people and their families of those who use and abuse and are addicted to drugs.

I’m pleading to moms out there and parents 1-in-4 families is dealing directly with this, so speak up to say, “My son is not a bad person who does bad thing because he likes to do bad things. My son or my daughter is somebody who’s life is a risk, who needs compassion, understand and supportive services.”

Start demanding that they start supporting those systems not though the criminal justice system but through public health systems. So, I would plead to parents, that sort of quiet majority, the silent majority, to stop being silent and join with us and speak out because legislators will do what the people demand.

We just aren’t demeaning enough. We aren’t doing anything about and we are the ones who understand and deal with it everyday. Therefore we need to have a voice.

Dean Becker: Alright, once again we’ve been speaking to Gretchen Burns Bergman she’s Executive Director of a New PATH, Parents for Addition Treatment and Healing. Gretchen, please share you website.

Gretchen Burns Bergman: It’s: www.anewpathsite.org

Dean Becker: Alright, you are listening to the Cultural Baggage Show for the Drug Truth Network on Pacifica radio.

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(Game show music)

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

Abnormal dreams, confusion, coughing up blood, decreased sensitivity to stimulation, decreased sex drive, difficulty concentrating, difficulty speaking, hepatitis, impotence, memory loss and sensitivity to light.

(gong)

Time’s up!

The answer: Claritin. Another FDA approved product.

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(Energetic music)

If you got the money, Rummy
I’ve got the crime
I’ll bust all of the drugies
And I’ll give ‘em time

I’ll keep fillin’ the prisons
On the tax payers dime
If you got the money, Rummy
I’ve got the crime

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Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the Abolitionist Moment

War is over, if you want it. The Drug War is over as well. It’s just awaiting your approval. The evidence is overwhelming: the science, the ramifications, the justice, the lost lives, the families fractured and forfeited. Judges handcuffed to inequity. Politicians trapped by the bones they made. The great wall of Blue, corrupted and inbred.

All await your approval, your thoughts, your voice before they will stop feeding their evil cornucopia the lives of their fellow man. Please, do your part to end the madness of Drug War.

Visit: endprohibition.org. Do it for the children.

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(Country music)

War is peace. Peace through war.
A hundred years of prohibition
Needs a hundred years more.

We’ve gotta fund
the terrorists and gangs
To save the kids
We’ve got to do the same damn thing.

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Dean Becker: Ah, yes, we’re doing the same damn thing. That’s what this Drug War’s all about because eventually, we’ll find different results. Don’t you know? A hundred of practice we ought to get it right some day.

Like most people running for office it’s hard to keep up with him and we did get a chance to catch up with Mr. Randy Credico. He’s running for Senate in the State of New York and I think he’s out on 6th Avenue. Is that right, Randy?

Randy Credico: Yes, I’m in New York to face my opponent, Chuck Schumer at a fundraiser for Charlie Rangel.

Dean Becker: Alright, tell us a little bit about that race. What motivates you?

Randy Credico: Well, I for twelve years ran the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial of Justice. I’m extensively involved in fighting against the racist Drug War. I spent three years working on the Tulia, Texas case and brought at lot of attention down there – national attention with a documentary and raised a lot of money and put the lawyers together.

In New York, I spent twelve years against the Rockefeller drug laws. So, then Schumer is a great component of the Drug War. He likes a lot of police. He likes mandatory minimum sentences and he’s in favor of the racist criminal justice system in general. It’s because of this and of course this deplorable war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan, the war in Colombia, the Drug War. All of these factors and no one would run against him and challenge him on these issues.

So, I decided that I would somehow use this platform since I am so frustrated fighting this battle against the Drug War and against the criminal justice system here. That this would be a great platform to bring some attention to these issues that are dear to me.

Dean Becker: Now, Randy, we are in Houston now, focusing quite intently on the racial disparity in this Drug War as it plays out so evidently in Houston and the streets of New York and most major cities across this country. It’s an issue whose time had come, deserving of new focus, correct?

Randy Credico: Absolutely, the thing is that Houston, Harris County I consider to be one of the most racist counties in the country, right behind, it of course, New York City and all of it’s five counties. This is no different.

Houston is pretty bad. I spend a lot of time in Texas, in Burleson county, Brazos county and it’s throughout the state the Drug War is basically the reintroduction of slavery or convict leasing. It’s such a scam, the Drug War.

I consider all these courthouses to be nothing more than modern day slave auction blocks. It’s a conspiracy between the cops, the district attorneys and judges and the very frightened jury that all conspire to put black people in prison for basically spitting on the sidewalk type of charges.

It’s a real problem. It’s an epidemic. The time has come for some new blood to replace these political hack which that are in power that sustain this criminal justice system as it’s really played out through the Drug War.

Dean Becker: Once again, we’re speaking with Mr. Randy Credico, on the streets of 6th Avenue up there in New York City. Randy, it’s been a bit of an endeavor, still some maneuvering going on so far as getting on the ballot.

Randy Credico: First of all, I’m going to be on the ballot for two lines. The Libertarian line and the Anti-Prohibition line, which is a line that’s basically for the legalization of marijuana and eventual legalization. For me, I’m for legalization of all drugs. The Drug War is dead. I agree with Vicente Fox, it’s a losing cause but it’s a winning cause for the people who make money off of it, that’s all; people who build prisons, people who take prisoners from places like Brazos county into Huntsville, the people who do the laundry.

It’s the lawyers and the judge and all that crap on a state and local level. It’s winning for them but at a big expense for the Black and Latino community and our civil rights and of course, the public treasury. It’s a complete waste and it’s a losing battle.

Dean Becker: Long-term listeners of The Drug Truth Network may remember the last time that Randy Credico was our guest. He was talking about the racial disparity in the enforcement of the marijuana laws there in New York City. Do you want to sum that up again for us, Randy?

Randy Credico: Yes, I got arrested a couple of years back because I chronicled photographically the Drug War in New York City. It involves 94% of the people who go to jail are Black and Latinos and 100% are poor. They don’t get anybody big here.

If they got somebody big, then it would be all over. They wouldn’t have these small fries put in prison. All of the arrests here, the marijuana arrests are Black and Latino people who have to smoke on the street.

You don’t have to – it’s $100 fine. It’s even not a felony. It’s not even a misdemeanor, it’s a ticket but they arrest people here. They arrest people. They stop and search people. 590,000 people are stopped and searched without prob – and frisked – without probable cause very year and that’s the ones they report on their US250 forms. 590[,000] last year, it’s an amazing figure. It’s something like 1,500 a day are just pulled over for no reason. Of course, they’re all Black and Latino.

It’s a complete violation of the 4th Amendment but it’s done. People tolerate it because it’s not them. Just like they tolerated people being put on flatbed trucks, who were Jews or Communists in the Thirties in Germany. People don’t care as long as it’s not happening to their particular ethnic group or their particular class.

Dean Becker: We’re speaking with Randy Credico. He’s running for US Senate in the state of New York. Randy, please share your website with the listeners.

Randy Credico: It’s: randycredico2010.org

Dean Becker: He kind of demonstrates what I’ve been talking about over the years folks. You’ve got to do your part, whether it’s picking up the phone and contacting your legislators or going to their office or emailing at the very least.

What they really appreciate is a hand written letter. It’s something they can plop down on the desk and show other Representatives why they are moving from this Draconian framework on this Drug War.

We have, over the years, made great progress here on the Drug Truth Network. I don’t mean me personally, I mean with the Drug Truth Network itself. We have done is educated and enlightened and emboldened not only our listeners but many of our guests who have been this show and begun to understand, “Hey, people get it. People do know the Truth about this and people are in fact working together to bring this madness to an end.

That’s what this Drug Truth Network is all about. I want to thank all of you out here for being our listeners. I want thank those over the years that have supported what we do and I want thank the ninety one that carry one or more of the Drug Truth Network programs.

It’s changing folks. Glacially slow but it is changing. We need you to do your part, just like Randy Credico running for Chuck Schumer’s Senate Seat up there in New York. It’s really amazing and you know, we all have to work together to do this. So, please do your part and always remember 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.

Drug Truth Network programs are archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies.

Transcript provided by: Ayn Morgan of www.eigengraupress.com

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.