02/27/11 Phil Smith

Phil Smith of Stop the Drug War, Carlos Fuentes courtesy PBS & Steven Colbert does drug "side effects"

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Guest: 
Phil Smith
Organization: 
Stop The Drug War
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Cultural Baggage / February 27, 2011

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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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Hello, welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. This promises to be, well, an entertaining show, I think. We’re going to laugh our butts off at these drug warriors and their addiction to this Eternal War. Let’s go ahead and bring in our guest. His name is Phil Smith. He’s with drc.net, Stop the Drug War organization, as well as a reporter for the Drug War Chronicle. Hey, Phil, How are you doing?

Phil Smith: How’re you, Dean?

Dean Becker: I’m good. I’m good. Phil, tell folks a little bit about drc.net and Stop the Drug War and Drug War Chronicles, the work you do.

Phil Smith: Well, Stop the Drug War is dedicated to ending Drug War prohibition. We see drug prohibition as being – causing more problems than drug use itself and that’s what we are all about, not just for marijuana but for all drugs. We need a global regime where the drug trade is regulated and controlled and problematic drug use is treated as a public health problem instead of a criminal justice problem. So, that’s what we’re about.

Dean Becker: Okay.

Phil Smith: And in Chronicle, I cover drug policy related stuff from all over the world.

Dean Becker: Now, let’s tell the folks about that. In order to increase your efforts, you’ve toured Central and South America. You’ve done a junket to Afghanistan, as well, reporting on this Drug War right?

Phil Smith: That’s right and Amsterdam.

Dean Becker: And Amsterdam, right. How was that?

Phil Smith: It was brutal.

Dean Becker: (Laughs) I bet it was. Now, I was telling the listeners that we hope to have some fun today, just comparing what these drug warriors say with true governance with reality itself. Hey, I got a couple of clips I’d like to share with you and the listeners. Let’s go ahead and play that cut by Carlos Fuentes. I think it has its own introduction.

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Dean Becker: A recent guest of Charlie Rose on PBS was Carlos Fuentes, perhaps the best known Spanish novelist and a good friend to most Latin American politicians.

Carlos Fuentes: I’m part of a group headed by former Presidents Cardozo of Brazil, Trujillo of Colombia—

Charlie Rose: Right.

Carlos Fuentes: And Zedillo of Mexico, in which we propose to start thinking about a world of legalized drugs.

Charlie Rose: Legalized drugs or just legalized—

Carlos Fuentes: Yes, the consumption of drugs can be legalized, not penalized. For example, drug takers should not be sent to jail they should be sent to a sanatorium.

Charlie Rose: So, you would treat drugs like alcohol, say?

Carlos Fuentes: In a way, in a way. At the moment that drugs are not persecuted and they are not considered a crime, the level of consumption descends as happened in the United States with alcohol. As long as alcohol was prohibited, it was desired. When it was permitted, it wasn’t that much of a problem. We have to do the same with drugs. It’ll take time.

Charlie Rose: So, this is you and the former President of Brazil and the former President of Mexico.

Carlos Fuentes: And Colombia.

Charlie Rose: And Colombia.

Carlos Fuentes: Three presidents – this is the group to which I belong, yes.

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Dean Becker: the group to which he belongs. Sounds a bit like LEAP [Law Enforcement Against Prohibition] or maybe even drc.net. You were just talking about it. We’re not marijuana or needle exchange. We are trying to solve the whole of this Drug War, right?

Phil Smith: Yeah, that’s a Latin America Commission on Drug Policy and they came out with a statement I believe last year, calling for decriminalization. You have to be a little bit careful when you are talking about these Latin Americans because they will always talk about depenalization in Spanish and that’s roughly decimalization of drug use not necessarily legalization of the markets.

For instance, there was a recent debate in the Peruvian presidential campaign. It was a rather silly debate actually because drug possession is already decriminalized in Peru but one of the candidates suggested that they should decriminalize drug use.

Everyone attacked him they thought he was saying “legalize” and then he had to come back and retract and say that no, he understood that he only meant “decriminalize” and he understood now that is actually was decriminalized.

It was quite a farce. It got even more farcical when the candidates got literally got in a pissing contest over who could come up with drug tests the fastest, to prove that they were not high on cocaine.

Dean Becker: Right. You know the situation, it’s moved the war, the bloody war from Columbia and it’s now in Mexico I want to play this tongue in cheek – and I mean no offense with this. It’s a true question I want to get your response. I want to get you Phil. Here we go:

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(Acoustic guitar)

How many Mexicans will have to die?
Before Americans stop getting high?

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Dean Becker: And I guess the point I was trying to make there is, we’re never going to stop people from wanting to get high. We have go to have to go in a different direction, don’t we, Phil?

Phil Smith: Absolutely and so far 36,000 Mexicans have died in the Drug War, since Mister Calderón has escalated by sending in military in December 2006. It’s prohibition at work and attempting to repress this trade, you generate these Frankenstein monsters and these criminal cartels. They’ve got the money to buy the guns. They’ve got the minty to buy the politicians and it’s just a very ugly, bloody business and it’s all a direct result of drug prohibition.

Dean Becker: Yeah, I tell you what, you were talking about Carlos Fuentes. You know you have to be careful about what they are saying and you know I’ve got another piece here that I think helps clarify his stance, his understanding. Let’s play that and we’ll get our response here from Mister Phil Smith of drc.net when we come back.

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This is the esteemed Spanish author Carlos Fuentes on Charlie Rose on PBS:

Carlos Fuentes: Calderon decided to legitimize himself two weeks after taking power in a hotly debated election... He tried to justify himself by declaring a war on crime. And these are the results. The criminals fought the war against the President. The police are corrupt. The army is not fit for this kind of activity. We’re in this—

Charlie Rose: But, but -

Carlos Fuentes: The fact is we must understand first of all, now Charlie, this is a situation that compromises both Mexico and the United States. The arms are bought in the United States.

Charlie Rose: Right.

Carlos Fuentes: The consumers are in the United States. Once the drugs cross the border, where do they go? Who consumes them? Who are the North American capitalists?

Charlie Rose: Right.

Carlos Fuentes: We don’t know about that. We know Mexican criminals. We don’t know anything about U.S. laundering of money and the consumption—

Charlie Rose: What do you mean by "U.S. laundering of money"?

Carlos Fuentes: Yes, things are laundered in this country. Once we cross the border, what happens? We don’t know where the drugs go how they – the money is laundered. Drug money is laundered, the consumption, where is it? Who gives the—

Charlie Rose: So, what are you suggesting?

Carlos Fuentes: I am suggesting that Mexico and the United States come together and decide on a common policy to fight this.

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Dean Becker: Okay, it’s not a 100% clear but I think what he’s saying there is that we’ve got to defund the cartels. Your thoughts, Mister Phil Smith?

Phil Smith: Well, clearly that’s what needs to be done to begin to solve this problem. We have to understand that at this point in the growth of these drug trafficking organizations in Mexico that even if we were to end drug prohibition tomorrow, they’re now so powerful, so wealthy and so diversified.

There into human smuggling. They’re into extortion and all kinds of other rackets and there not going to magically vanish but if we were to end drug prohibition that would enormously take the wind out of their sails.

Phil Smith: Right and take away the reason for all the ultra-violence that’s going on in Mexico.

Dean Becker: Right, it’s just horrendous too.

Phil Smith: Yeah, it is.

Dean Becker: Once again, we are speaking Phil Smith of drc.net, a reporter for the Drug War Chronicle. Phil, I find it almost ludicrous that the attention, of not just the news media but of the entertainment industry, as well, has a strong focus in the Drug War.

Nearly every show on television has some people smoking some pot or some alignment with the cartel or a street corner trafficker. There is so much focus and attention and involvement of the Drug War within our daily lives its actually creeping into our television shows as well, right?

Phil Smith: Well, it certainly seems that way but in different ways too. You have shows like the DEA SWAT team shows and the and stuff like that

Dean Becker: (Laughs) Yeah.

Phil Smith: But you also increasingly have references, especially to marijuana, in television and in the movies that are positive or at least not negative or, you know, maybe just joking but not negative. So, I – it’s sort of evident of a sorts of schizophrenic culture that we have. These are the drugs we love to hate – or is it hate to love?

Dean Becker: Yeah, yeah and it’s just – people, I think know the truth and in particular about marijuana. They’re just so afraid to speak, the fear of the repercussion, right?

Phil Smith: Well, I think that is becoming less and less true, at least I hope that’s the case. I think were on the verge of seeing one of these states legalize pot. Maybe even this year.

Dean Becker: Well—

Phil Smith: There’s a bill in the Washington legislature right now that had moved though one House Committee and it has won an endorsement from the largest newspaper in the state and the Seattle City Prosecutor’s office to have pot sold in state liquor stores in Washington State. Will that pass? I don’t know if it will pass this year. But it is getting considerable momentum.

Also, in Washington there is most likely to be a legalization initiative on the ballot this year. They’re not waiting for 2012, despite some arguments from their allies in the movement that it might be wiser to wait, those guys at Sensible Washington are going ahead.

Dean Becker: For 2011.

Phil Smith: Yes.

Dean Becker: Wow, no that’s – I had heard that particular aspect. That is exciting just the same, isn’t it? Now, Phil I wanted to ask you, you know in regards to public perception, which I guess is what we are kind of talking about here.

The ability or the willingness of the average Joe or Jolene to speak up is becoming stronger, I think, due to all of that perception and news and the entertainment and the media, the press as well, the newspapers have several stories it seems in every edition, some aspect of the Drug War some involvement of the—

Phil Smith: There’s even a YouTube video that I saw recently of a Family Feud episode, in which they had a respond to “something that is commonly passed around.” In an instance or great hilarity, the first guy answered a joint and that came in with a higher score than the collection plate.

Dean Becker: No, no, we actually used that on the Drug Truth Network a week ago.

Phil Smith: (Laughs) Okay.

Dean Becker: And again, it shows the widespread knowledge – acceptance, if you will.

Phil Smith: And the sort of split personality that we have about this too, I mean, on the one had the host was acting shocked and appauded and bemused but and the other hand everybody was yucking it up

Dean Becker: Yeah and I think that part of is that Steve Harvey, the host, said surely America wouldn’t have answered in the positive to this and – boom – there it was.

I want to talk about the situation, you know, we had the revolt in Egypt we’ve got things going on in Libya and all around the Middle East and Africa and there was a comment made earlier this week that Kaddafi was quoted as saying that the protesters were that are relaying against his rule have been taking hallucinogens via their coffee and in essence what he is doing is discounting the mindset, the efforts of these protesters through the discriminatory – or calling them drug users. It kind of reminded me of what Nixon did in the sixties – or the seventies there.

Phil Smith: Well, you saw an eerie parallel that here in this country where none other than Glenn Beck was calling the protesters at the State House in Madison a bunch of “dope smoking hippies.”

Dean Becker: Really?

Phil Smith: And purported to have video evidence that showed them partying down in the State House but it didn’t. He showed a bunch of people singing

Dean Becker: (Laughs) Right, singing Kumbaya. They must be high. That’s it.

Dean Becker: I watch Glenn Beck every once in a while, just for the humor. It’s kind of like a Saturday Night Live skit every time. It really is.

Phil Smith: It’s horrible. It’s for the sheer entertainment value the monstrosities are the conspiracy theories.

Dean Becker: (Laughs)

Phil Smith: I mean, he wraps up everything it’s really impressive.

Dean Becker: Well yeah, Communism wrapped Nazism.

Phil Smith: Communist global conspiracy led by currency speculator George Soros. Yeah, that makes lots of sense.

Dean Becker: (Laughs) Well, Phil, okay now let’s get now back to the Drug War herefor a minute. We have as you indicated they may vote on a resolution this year but we have the opposite effect.

In fact, I have a segment on this week’s Century of Lies show. I interview Tom out of Montana about what’s going on up there but that’s a very retrograde, backward looking outfit in the legislature there now, right?

Phil Smith: Well, the Republican House has passed a bill that would repeal the medical marijuana law that the voters voted for back in 2004, I think it was. I don’t think that’s going to go anywhere. There’s a—what happened in Montana was that it got a little bit too out of control. There were some real characters up there, some of them pulling stunts that cause the good persons in Montana there to start getting upset.

There was one guy who was criss-crossing the state with his cannabis caravan with doctors in tow or doctors available online for these like instant recommendation and this is a guy who liked to walk around the street smoking pot in public and doing things like that. So, they created a backlash in Montana.

Dean Becker: Sure. Almost—

Phil Smith: But, those Republican House Members who repeal are not in tune with the will of the people even now. I just wrote a news brief a few days ago about the polling the show of broad support either fixing or leaving the medical marijuana status quo as it is in Montana.

There is a whole raft of bills before the legislature, including several done by a study committee that had input from medical marijuana providers, as well as sympathetic politicians. I think it is much more likely that we are going to get a decent regulatory bill in Montana then going to get repeal.

Dean Becker: Um, once again we are speaking with Phil Smith of drc.net, Stop the Drug War and the Drug War Chronicle. Phil, I want to ask you if you’ve ever had any success in wrangling an interview with the Drug Czar, Head of ONDCP or Head of the DEA, any of those kind of folks, ever?

Phil Smith: Oh, never.

Dean Becker: Never?

Phil Smith: I would occasionally get their flacks to talk to me.

Dean Becker: Yeah, yeah now I once said – did a roundabout like you know phone calls and email exchanges, a total of about fifteen rounds and when I finally got to the end they asked, where do my shows appear, I told then you know it is a significant number, back then I think it was thirty stations.

Phil Smith: Um-hum.

Dean Becker: And they said you know, “We won’t be able to appear on your show. We wish you the best of luck.” That was the end. There was no reason other than I guess I had too many stations. (Laughs) I mean come on.

Phil Smith: (Laughs)

Dean Becker: I don’t know what it was. I actually have that posted on-line that series of email exchanges I think you have to go to my archive website to reach that but on my main website, there is now a link there right at the top of the page, where we’re petitioning the Head of the ONDCP and the Head of the DEA to come on our shows to clarify the need an Eternal War on plant products. The number of signatories is not very many. I haven’t been pushing it too hard.

If you’re a listener out there and you are aware of the work we do and you would like to hear that interview with the Head of the DEA of the ONDCP, please we go to that link at the top of our page at drugtruth.net. Click on it and sign up. A lot of folks are leaving comments.

I urge you to do so, when we get a significant enough number, perhaps I’ll consider asking them again. Now, Phil, tell us a little bit about what is on the DRC and Stop the Drug War websites at this time?

Phil Smith: Oh, we have all kind of stuff. We’ve Scott Morgan who blogs on just about a daily basis. Then we have my Chronicle stories and one of the things that we have quite a bit these days, I’m writing the same stories just about each week is one state or another is banning synthetic cannabinoids.

Let’s see, most recently in Utah, I think it passed through the General Assembly in Virginia today, excuse me yesterday. It has to be signed by the governor there. There are more than a dozen states where that stuff is being outlawed and it’s before the legislature before about twenty more.

Dean Becker: Well, surely the death toll is rising from it use, right?

Phil Smith: It remains at zero.

Dean Becker: Uh, huh.

Phil Smith: Just like real marijuana.

Dean Becker: Right, but fear. Fear is what gives the Drug War life. It is—

Phil Smith: Oh yeah. There’s a reflexive, prohibitionist response to this thing of thing. I can see, I watch it happen a local TV – usually a Fox affiliate, does a scary story about this new stuff being sold in convenience stores and then some sort of politician, almost always conservative politicians, jumps on it, introduces a bill they get a cop to say how terrible it is and—

Dean Becker: (Laughs)

Phil Smith: Then it passes the legislature unanimously.

Dean Becker: Yeah, no one wants to be on the wrong side of that one, that’s right. Then again: no facts, no science. It’s just fear.

Phil Smith: Well, there have been calls to poison centers and people have gone to emergency rooms after smoking this stuff but if you look at what they are reporting, it’s anxiety and panic if attacks. Kind of like the affects that sometimes you get from smoking pot.

Dean Becker: Yeah. You know, I’ll fess up to folks. I once had a panic attack. I was sitting and smoking with Mister Jack Herer.

Phil Smith: Oh, yeah?

Dean Becker: Jack always has a gathering of growers gathered around him, showing the very best they’ve got. Somebody passed around a joint and I took a hit. It was the whitest smoke that I have ever seen in my life and I started kind of leaving the room. (Laughs)

Phil Smith: (Laughs)

Dean Becker: I left the room. I told jack I’d have to come back and do the interview and just—I got to go. I got down the hall about a hundred feet and realized – wait, I was smoking with Jack Harer and I got high. I had a panic attack.

Once I realized I had a panic attack. I went back and knocked on the door. It can happen to anybody and we need to have folks prepared. Again, I was educated enough. I figured it out for myself but—

Phil Smith: Like, “Oh, I’m freaking out.”

Dean Becker: Yeah, “Oh, it’s okay than I can undo that, because I’m not afraid.”

Phil Smith: Right.

Dean Becker: Well anyway, I’ll tell you what, Phil, what else you got there on Stop the Drug War?

Phil Smith: Well, one thing I’ve been doing this year is tracking every drug law enforcement related death in the US.

Dean Becker: Um.

Phil Smith: I’m up to eleven and we’re just at the end of February.

Dean Becker: Right. And this is police officers?

Phil Smith: No, this is people dying in drug raids, being shot by a police.

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Phil Smith: In most cases, one police officer, ten civilians. One thing I’ve noticed is that about half of these people were shot in their cars or were shot by a police who claimed that their cars were coming at them and they feared for their lives or that they bumped them with their cars, then the officers would go to the hospital and be released after with no serous injuries.

I am really starting to wonder, how many of these people are actually homicidal maniacs who are trying to run over police officers and how many are scared people trying to escape being arrested?

Dean Becker: Right and again I would imagine the amount of drugs involved in each of the cases you’re looking at are not that significant.

Phil Smith: Significantly puny. I – let me tell you about the first a case of the year. It’s what really inspired me. It happened January second or third. It was a drug raid of a couple of small time crack dealers in Massachusetts. One of the crack dealers lived at his grandpa’s house. The grandpa was a sixty eight year old retired civil servant. He ended up dead.

Dean Becker: Hm.

Phil Smith: Shot by police. That was seven weeks ago. We still don’t have anything out of the local prosecutors office about if anyone is going to be charged with that or what the deal was. He was not armed it looks like they shot – the cops shooting a man for no reason

Dean Becker: As it happens all too often, they just mention the word that there was suspected drug use or drug sales and it’s just forgiven.

Phil Smith: Right, right.

Dean Becker: It’s just blessed and overlooked.

Phil Smith: And if you read the comments sections in newspapers on-line after those incidents, you always find people happy that one more “piece of scum had been washed off the planet.”

Dean Becker: Yeah, yeah even thought it was a sixty eight year old grandpa who had nothing to do with crack

Phil Smith: “If his son hadn’t been selling crack he’d be alive today.” I actually saw something very similar to that posted on the Massachusetts newspaper website.

Dean Becker: Well.

Phil Smith: Well, there is a polarity in the country even in the newspaper comments, columns sometimes.

Dean Becker: Yeah, the phrase I like to use here on the Drug Truth Network is drug users are unconditionally exterminable. And that’s kind is the way it goes, huh?

Phil Smith: It seems to be that way, you know, let’s see what the year brings. We have more than on a week so far this year.

Dean Becker: Well Phil, I’m sure the number is bound to rise just like the cost of the Drug War continues to rise

Phil Smith: Well, let me say something else.

Dean Becker: We got about a minute, Phil.

Phil Smith: We’re not in a place in without state budget crisis where California is no treatment for Prop 36 people, that’s the treatment not jail program. So, now they’re not getting jail or treatment. Illinois has stopped providing treatment for drug offenders because they’re out of money.

There are Senate reforms a foot in several states Ohio, Indiana and among them Kentucky. I think they may pass one tomorrow in Kentucky that will lessen penalties for drug crimes. We are in a place where states are open to – what’s the word – slowing down the Drug War. To lightening up a little bit so, I think we need to take full advantage of that early and press the state legislatures.

Dean Becker: Yeah, that is what we hope the listeners out there are doing with the courage and backbone to do just that. You can learn more by visiting the website of drc.net. Phil, we have to go. Please share your website.

Phil Smith: www.stopthedrugwar.org. Thank you, Dean.

Dean Becker: Thank you my good friend. We’ll talk to you soon.

Phil Smith: Bye, bye.

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Stephen Colbert: This is Cheating Death with Doctor Stephen T. Colbert, DFA.

First up, drug heath. Folks, we now the right medication can give you your life back but one patient says his prescription gave him a life he never wanted.

News Announcer: A fifty-one year old, married father of two is suing a huge pharmaceutical company, claiming the drug he took for Parkinson’s disease turned him into a gay sex addict.

(Audience Laughs)

News Announcer: He alleges he starts exposing himself on the internet and cross dressing.

Stephen Colbert: Thank God. Thank God, they said he was a French man.

(Audience Laughs)

Stephen Colbert: I was worried that we lost another Republican Senator. This French guy expects us to believe the Requip, the drug he took for his Parkinson’s, made him a gay sex addict.

(Audience Laughs)

Stephen Colbert: That is not a side effect on the warning label. It only says hallucinations, amnesia, confusion, impaired concentration, vertigo, malaise, flatulence, abnormal dreams, full body pain, impotence, eye abnormality, intense urges to gamble, and increased sexual urges.

(Audience applause)

Stephen Colbert: Sorry, nothing about gay in there. Though, I do believe that Xanax will make you bisexual. Just look at the name. It goes bother ways.

(Audience cheers and laughs)

Stephen Colbert: Clearly, cleary, this guy is just using the drug as an excuse to justify his jollies and that got the researchers at Prescott [Pharmaceuticals] thinking then it got them ejecting thing into monkeys, as a result Prescott is glad to announce Ablibalify.

(Audience cheers and laughs)

Stephen Colbert: The only drug guaranteed to give you an alibi for whatever uncontrollable desires you are most ashamed of.

(Audience cheers and laughs)

Stephen Colbert: It is made from a patented, powerful combination of sugar pills, a box of warning labels and a sharpie. Just – (smells the sharpie) – woo!

Just use the sharpie to write any side effect you want on the warning label to excuse your kink. Then when you are caught, you just place the label on the bottle and tell you crying loved one. “It’s not my fault. Ablibalify made me bikini wax hobos.”

(Audience cheers and laughs)

Stephen Colbert: Or uncontrollably dry hump garden gnomes. Side effects of Ablibalify may include: legless leg syndrome, Earl of shirving stones agu and cranial biebering.

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Dean Becker: Alright, we gave you that in lieu of the Name the Drug by its Side Effects. I’ve been doing those for nine years but I think Stephen Colbert outdid me on that one. Be sure to tune into this weeks’ Century of Lies with our guest Paul Armentano talking about the government allowing marijuana pills, real marijuana.

We’ll hear from Tom Daubert out in Montana and Doctor Rick Doblin, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies and next week on Century – on Cultural Baggage, our guest will be Doctor Stanton Peele with Seven Tools to Beat Addiction and Addiction Proof Your Child 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.

Drug Truth Network programs are stored 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.