07/06/14 Howard Wooldridge

James A. Baker III Conference on Med Cannabis for veterans II with Maj. David Bass & Tx Senator Joan Huffman + Howard Wooldridge of LEAP re progress in ending drug war & Summer Reading Assignment for all US officials

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Guest: 
Howard Wooldridge
Organization: 
LEAP
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Transcript

Cultural Baggage / July 6, 2014

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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!”

DEAN BECKER: 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: Thank you for joining us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. As always I got too much show to talk too much. Here we go.

A couple of weeks back we brought you the beginning segments of a conference that was held at the James A. Baker, III Institute for Public Policy. It was sponsored by Texas Monthly and titled, “Can marijuana help veterans with PTSD? Should Texas legalize the drugs?”

From that conference we now hear from Major David Bass. He is retired now. He is the director of Veterans Outreach and with Texas NORML.

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MODERATOR: Major Bass, you had served in the US Army for 21 years including multiple tours in Iraq. I wonder the degree to which some of this information sounds very familiar to you or is similar to your story not only being overseas and serving but the trauma of coming back and readjusting to life in the states. I wonder if you could talk for just a little bit about your history and to what we’ve heard from Dr. Martin and Dr. Shaw and how that relates to your personal experience.

DAVID BASS: I served one tour in Iraq not multiple. In ‘04/05 with the First Calvary Division in Bagdad. I had served in another combat operation, Desert Storm, in 1991 and commanded a maintenance company and I was at Logistics Base Echo way out in the desert of Saudi Arabia. After the combat operations were over we moved back to King Colet Military city.

When I came back from Desert Storm it was very normal redeployment back and decompression. Then I carried on my normal life after Desert Storm. It was no big deal.

When I came back from Iraq it was totally different. I expected that it would be like Desert Storm – it would take me a few weeks, couple months to kind of adjust and get back into the rhythm of the normal life and then everything would be exactly the same.

But when I came back from Iraq it was totally different because my experiences in Iraq were totally different and Saudi Arabia...my company we weren’t under fire and people weren’t dying around us. In Iraq, as you read in the article, you saw what I experienced.

When I came back from Iraq it wasn’t a simple process of just decompressing for a couple of months then carrying on my normal life in fact things were totally out of control and I was really confused about that because I had expected that it would be exactly like coming back from Desert Storm and I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

The symptoms I had were the exact symptoms that Dr. Shaw showed on the slide. I was really hard to live with obviously for my Army wife and I was getting ready to retire. I decided to retire. I really felt like I could not go out into the civilian world with these symptoms. I couldn’t function.

The kind of scary thing is that if I hadn’t been getting ready to retire I wouldn’t have taken any action. The only reason I went and checked myself into the mental health clinic was because I was getting ready to retire.

Many, many soldiers will not go seek treatment for PTSD because they’re still on active duty and they perceive rightly that that will affect their career. There are lots of soldiers still serving with symptoms of PTSD and they are not getting treatment for that because it is a stigma still in the military even though the military is trying to make it not a stigma it is.

I went to the mental health clinic because I had those symptoms and I went through the exact same assessment that Dr. Shaw showed in the slide. The psychiatrist at the mental health clinic at Fort Hood said, “You have PTSD. These are the symptoms of PTSD.”

I was shocked because it never occurred to me that I would be the type of person to get PTSD because I’m a tough guy and that don’t happen to us tough guys. They immediately put me into a therapy program and that was very useful – a cognitive therapy program with a psychologist – and gave me psychotropic drugs which were absolutely horrible. I really hated them.

I was getting ready to retire so then I went through the same assessment at the VA hospital with a psychiatrist at Temple, Texas. His diagnosis was the exact same diagnosis as the medical doctor at Fort Hood. He said, “OK, you have PTSD and here’s your disability. Good luck.”

I just switched getting my drugs from the hospital at Fort Hood to getting my drugs at the hospital at the Temple VA. They give you a lot of drugs – a lot more than I think we should get.

I was also getting pain meds because I have a disability for some injuries that I suffered from the military and have chronic pain so I was getting psychotropic drugs and pain meds.

Anybody who has served in the military knows that the military is a drinking culture. It is an alcohol culture so I was carrying on my drinking just like we do in the military and taking the psychotropic drugs and the pain meds. That is not a good combination. That is not the way to live your life.

The bottom line is for me when I discovered cannabis...cannabis was my gateway drug. I was already addicted to drugs – legal drugs that the VA was giving me. Cannabis was [choking up] was an exit drug for me. It saved me.

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DEAN BECKER: Next we hear from Texas State Senator Joan Huffman.

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CHAIRMAN: Could you just help us get a sense right now of what are you hearing from your constituents. What are their concerns about this issue. What is the general talk at the legislature.

Dr. Martin had talked about some committee hearings in 2013. As most of you know we’ll be starting a new legislative session in January of 2015. I wonder if you could just give us a broader view of what it might look like in the capitol and what you are hearing from your constituents.

JOAN HUFFMAN: Sure. I could start out by saying that clearly the stories from the veterans are very compelling. I think what’s going on nationally and a lot of disgust at how the veterans have been treated I think certainly in this state we want to do what we can to assist veterans in any way that we possibly can to help facilitate their coming back into society and to living normal lives.

That being said how does this fit in to drug policy in Texas and current state law and what’s on the horizon for changing that law/? I think that’s probably the more difficult question.

It was said earlier that this is not a partisan issue and you are completely correct on that because I certainly hear (I’m a Republican) I certainly hear from some of my more conservative, Republican activists and I see I have some here in the audience. I bet you will hear from them. I hear from them a lot. They are very supportive of decriminalization of drugs. I have talked to them at length, read books that they have sent me and so forth.

You find people on both sides of the issue on both sides of the aisle. As we know Texas is a big state – it is 5 times larger than Colorado. Our issues here are different than issues in Colorado. We’ve fought the drug war on the border and that’s part of our culture as well.

We’re Texas. We think a little different than some of the other states and we have different opinions. From what I see and what I’m hearing ....we are hearing both sides of the issue. I don’t think my discussion with leadership and with others who would be in positions for big changes to happen on the horizon that anything is going to happen anytime soon.

Again, the story of veterans is compelling but if we look at this from a practical situation I would look at ...OK, how would we work it so the veterans could get what they needed? ...the drugs that the doctors decide that they needed...That is really what they need and we find a way that we can prescribe it in a legal way and they get what they need...

What happens in other states where some of the medical marijuana is really a farce and they set up these “doc shops” along the side of the road where people where one stop they get a prescription and right next door is the smoke shop. We don’t want that in Texas. I think I can speak for a lot of people that say we don’t want that culture and we certainly don’t want a culture where our children are exposed to marijuana.

I understand there are some benefits but I also think there is a lot of good science, recent science that it has made it clear that marijuana is dangerous to a developing brain in teenagers. I believe we could all agree on that. It comes from credible studies.

We haven’t been so good about keeping alcohol away from teenagers and I sort of believe that we’re not going to be successful about keeping marijuana away from our teenagers. That’s a major concern of mine.

As we try to fit all of these issues...work them out...I do think that we will have discussions and that’s a good thing. I think we will discuss where we want to go in Texas. I think we should watch the states that are experimenting with this like Colorado. I think the governor of Colorado has recently said he would encourage states not to follow their course and to pay attention for a few years and see how it works in Colorado.

The people in Colorado...you know, it’s a different state as I’ve said. I’ve heard people say we’ll go to the farmers and say this will turn around the economy. Trust me I haven’t seen the Texas Farm Bureau coming in and saying, “Senator, my guys want to grow weed out in their fields.”

I don’t see that happening with Texas farmers anytime soon but people change and cultures change and societies change so that could happen.

I think we have to stay informed. I think it is wonderful to have a discussion like this and I would hope that the feds would allow more research in this area – release the marijuana so that some high level studies can be conducted and see if we have good positive research from credible sources then maybe there is a way to craft legislation which is for veterans and is specifically for them. I would be very open to looking at very controlled legislation that was based on good evidence and good research.

That’s sort of a summation. I can’t speak for everyone. I can only say that just from folks I’ve seen from both sides of the aisle ( I want to stress that – from Democrats and Republicans) they don’t see things changing anytime soon.

Will we look at the penalty charges for marijuana? I think we’ll look at it. Whether they’ll change I don’t know but I don’t see any major changes in the near future.

MODERATOR: Are we in a position right now that we have had the opportunity of these states that have done that long enough to get information about how well is it working or not? What are the benefits for it...the unintended consequences that we hadn’t for seen or is the country sort of too new at this to have a sense at this that we might say, “If we went down this path this is something that might happen in Texas” or perhaps there’s a warning out there for perhaps why Texas wouldn’t want to do that.

I’d like to open that up to the panel.

DAVID BASS: I’ve talked to veterans in other states and there is 22 medical marijuana states right now. Of those 22 states 10 of those states PTSD is a qualifying condition. I talk to veterans every week not just in Texas but in the states with medical marijuana and in the states that control it well it is working perfectly.

There is a dispensary and the veteran goes and gets the prescription from the doctor and then the veteran goes to the dispensary and instead of buying his marijuana from the “bandito motorcycle club” he’s buying his marijuana from a person that has 20 different strains of there with different effects. The veteran can match the strain of marijuana (as Dr. Shaw talked about) to his or her symptoms and it’s very controlled.

In some of these states the veteran can grow up to say 6 plants of his own in his backyard. If I can grow my own medicine in my backyard the pharmaceutical companies would prefer that I not do that. They would prefer that I get my drugs from the VA.

It can be controlled and Colorado I think is the perfect model for how medical cannabis can be controlled. Of course it is outside the scope of what we are talking about now but if you look at Colorado’s medical marijuana program it is a very good program. The government controls it.

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(Game show music)

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

Yellow eyes, vomiting, black tarry stools, cloudy urine, fever with chills, sores, ulcers or white spots on lips and mouth and unusual bleeding.

(gong)

Time’s up!

The answer: Another FDA approved product, Acetaminophen.

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HOWARD WOOLDRIDGE: My name is Howard Wooldridge. I’m a retired police detective from Ft. Worth, Texas and co-founder of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition).

DEAN BECKER: You patrol the halls of congress on a daily basis year and year out, correct?

HOWARD WOOLDRIDGE: Correct. I have been doing that since the Fall of ’05.

DEAN BECKER: I’m sure you can kind of take the pulse of things. It seems to me that the fabric of the drug war is starting to unwind a little bit. Is that obvious in congress?

HOWARD WOOLDRIDGE: It is obvious in congress, Dean. We had a historic vote right at a month ago in the House where a majority, 219 to 189, voted to deny the DEA funding to go after patients and operations in legal marijuana states.

We had never had more than 165 votes. It was a huge shift. It demonstrates that especially Republicans who 49 of whom voted for us are really feeling the libertarian philosophy and belief and, perhaps, pressure.

DEAN BECKER: This is I think representative or an example around the country more and more states are legalizing medical marijuana in one fashion or another. They are talking about changing their mandatory-minimums. There’s hope on the horizon, right?

HOWARD WOOLDRIDGE: Yeah. A couple of years ago a bunch of conservatives – the serious guys, former attorney generals, guys like Jeb Bush, Governor Perry, Grover Norquest, Ed Meese – guys like this got together and formed http://rightoncrime.com to bring conservative principles to the issue of law enforcement. They’ve demonstrated over and over again that you can have good solid policies which save the taxpayers money like cutting your mandatory-minimums and treating drug issues more like a medical issue as opposed to a criminal issue to save taxpayer dollars and, of course, the human suffering.

DEAN BECKER: Now you’ve had the chance to tour internationally to see how it’s done in other countries.

HOWARD WOOLDRIDGE: I did attend the United Nations Drug Conference in Vienna a couple of months ago. What was encouraging to me, Dean, was the talk in the hallways of Colorado and Washington State – the voters there, the activists there really should take another bow because they’ve really had “shot heard around the world” sort of thing.

Also at the United Nations I heard a lot more talk of treating a drug user with humanity and not ever putting them in jail one day for drug use/possession. This is a huge paradigm shift in the mentality of the United Nations which just a few years ago was “lock ‘em all up, throw away the key...dealers/users – anybody.” Just treat them like animals. There is a shift going on as we speak and I’m going to do all that I can to keep that ball rolling.

DEAN BECKER: Indeed. As you are aware I’m going to try to bring my “dog and pony show” to Washington, DC. We’re going to give a copy of my new book, “To End the War On Drugs: The Policy Maker's Edition” It’s going to include a page from the James A. Baker, III Institute for Public Policy as well as from our group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. We’re even going to include the letter that I received from the Drug Enforcement Administration thanking me on their behalf as well as on the behalf of our attorney general, Eric Holder, for this book.

We’re hoping to wake up a few more people, get a little more impetus going. Looking for your help when we get there. What’s your thoughts in that regard? What might we do to publicize or get these politicians to recognize this book for what it contains?

HOWARD WOOLDRIDGE: It boils down to the people in Washington...the aids understand it very, very well – that’s the legislative assistants, the legislative directors – the ones I work most closely with. They are talking to the boss, to the members of the legislator and saying that they need to get into the 21st century, admit this has been a failure and that the rational solution is to apply science to this issue and treat all drugs as a medical issue.

So your book and your “dog and pony show” will continue that momentum of helping the congress understand it is time to let go of federal prohibition. As you know, Dean, all I have been doing for the past 9 years is asking the congress to let Texas run Texas, let Missouri run Missouri...just apply the tenth amendment, state’s rights to all drugs like we do with alcohol and that is why the Libertarian movement and the Libertarian thinking of young people (under 40) is trending that way saying what you do in your own home is none of the government’s business and that philosophy/mentality is all throughout the congress and it’s now seeping into the members where, as I say, a month ago we had a first ever victory party – Rob Kampia threw a nice party at his place in Washington to celebrate that historic vote to win such a vote in congress.

DEAN BECKER: Your associate...you go to his weekly meetings – Mr. Grover Norquist – he came on this show and I’m certainly going to want to invite him. I’m thinking Rand Paul might be a good one to attend this press conference that we are going to have on July 29th. Do you have some other ideas? I hear Corey Booker saying some very observant things and others. I wonder who you might recommend.

HOWARD WOOLDRIDGE: Corey Booker and Rand Paul for your listeners have co-sponsored an amendment to the Appropriations Bill to do the exact same thing that the House did which is to deny the DEA the money so those two are “two peas in a pod” when it comes to it.

Other support, support in the Senate those would be excellent to show the bipartisan nature of this growing movement to end the federal prohibition of marijuana. I say ...with 49 – it’s historic – 49 Republicans voting our way. It’s important for your listeners to know that even if you House member was always a drug warrior there are changes out there.

A guy name Luetkemeyer of Missouri was always staunch drug warrior and then he had a personal conversion because of a family member needing Charlotte’s Web (the CBD for childhood epilepsy) and this flipped him overnight because his loved one, a very close family member said this works. He flipped his vote.

You’re going to see more and more of that as we now have 34 states with ...even states like Utah, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida have passed these Charlotte’s Web/CBD bills and this is the kind of pressure we need to keep putting on congress to pass the Charlotte’s Web concept in all 50 states. This really helps move the congress.

DEAN BECKER: Indeed it does. It kind of shows the flip side of this equation so to speak in that the hysteria and propaganda that was promulgated 50 and 100 years ago has to be looked at again. As they’re learning with cannabis and, as you say, with the kids with epilepsy there’s also a flip side to the equation in regards to heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine – any and all of these that we need to look at the fact that we’re empowering terrorists, enriching cartels, creating gangs, putting the street corner dealer out there selling drugs to our kids. It needs another look.

HOWARD WOOLDRIDGE: Those 60,000 kids on the border they are drug war refugees. They are fleeing the war in Central America brought on by the cartels the same as any refugee out of Syria or Iraq,

Also the propaganda from 50 years ago is still alive and well. I went to a briefing three weeks ago put on by SAM (Patrick Kennedy) – Sensible Approach to Marijuana people. The propaganda about marijuana is not much changed from 1940. It really is....they’re still trying to claim that marijuana is at least if not more dangerous than alcohol or any other drug out there and that it should stay Schedule I with heroin, etc.

The forces of prohibition are fighting for all their worth to keep this going for their own financial and moral reasons. We’re winning and it’s important for your listeners to continue calling and talking to your state senators, your state reps and your governor to continue this march towards sensible drug policies based on science.

In 2014/2015 be sure your state passes some type of medical marijuana bill. It really makes a difference in the congress.

DEAN BECKER: Even Governor Perry of Texas is starting to talk about maybe treating it differently in fact I hear he’s maybe moving to California...I wonder what for but it is changing. People are realizing they have to get on the right side of this issue because history is going to change in some near future, right?

HOWARD WOOLDRIDGE: That is correct, Dean. I emphasize that every visit I make. I have made over 3,000 visits since I started 8 and one-half years ago. I always emphasize the politics are your boss is going be run over by a tsunami of generational shift because the young people under 40 are 3 to 1 in favor of our position of legalize/regulate/tax and these politicians are understanding more and more that they need to get on board.

be run over by a tsunami of generational shift because the young people under 40 are 3 to 1 in favor of our position of legalize/regulate/tax and these politicians are understanding more and more that they need to get on board.

You’re right Governor Perry said five months ago, big change, he said apply the 10th amendment state’s rights to marijuana – huge change and I bet you’ll see more presidential hopefuls for 2016 take the Governor Perry position because it irritates the fewest number of voters.

You’ll see more of that coming out of congress and I believe other state houses as they understand that if they want to continue having the young people vote for them and help them on the campaigns, etc. they are going to have to get into the 21st century.

DEAN BECKER: I tell you what, Howard, if you would share your website with the listeners and some closing thoughts – a little more pep talk because we need people to get involved, don’t we?

HOWARD WOOLDRIDGE: We do. Be sure to continue with your medical marijuana efforts at your state capitols and also your legalization/regulation/taxation of marijuana. Become the next Colorado and that takes citizens on the ground in the various states around the country to organize for the next election in ’14 and ’16 to be sure this momentum continues because the other side is well funded. The one guy just gave them 5 million dollars down in Florida.

We need to continue what we have been doing for the past many years and make sure that we can bring it home so that all of us can enjoy the safer choice between marijuana and alcohol and my profession can get back to chasing bad guys like pedophiles as opposed to chasing a green plant.

Please continue all your efforts that you’ve been doing these many years. Keep it up until we bring home the final victory.

DEAN BECKER: Alright and a website you might like to share?

HOWARD WOOLDRIDGE: http://www.leap.cc and my own organization is http://citizensopposingprohibtion.org. More information about what you can do/faqs in 4 languages and a few others things that the LEAP website does not have.

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DEAN BECKER: If you would like to learn more about our July 29 visit to Washington, DC to give a copy of our book to every US rep, senator, president, supreme court and all 50 US governors please go to http://endthedrugwar.us

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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DEAN BECKER: 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… of an abyss.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org