09/15/17 Paul Butler

Paul Butler, former Fed prosecutor & author of Choke Hold (Policing Black Men), Jodie Emery Canada's Princess of Pot + Matt Elrod & Philippe Lucas on CA "legalization", Derrick Rosenfeld of DPA re deadly drug war games online & in Philippines

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Friday, September 15, 2017
Paul Butler



SEPTEMBER 15, 2017


DEAN BECKER: I am Dean Becker, your host. Our goal for this program is to expose the fraud, misdirection, and the liars whose support for drug war empowers our terrorist enemies, enriches barbarous cartels, and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent US gangs who profit by selling contaminated drugs to our children. This is Cultural Baggage.

Hi folks, thank you for joining us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. A bit later, we're going to hear from Jodie Emery up there in Canada, where they're quote "legalizing" marijuana. We'll hear from Mister Derrick Rosenfeld about the US embrace of Philippines dictator Duterte. We'll hear from Mister Matt Elrod up there in Canada as well, as well as from Mister Philippe Lucas of Tilray, who's with one of the corporations that's going to sell legal cannabis in Canada. But first --

Well folks, over the past few weeks we've been trying to focus on the impact of the drug war on racism, the impact of racism on the drug war. And today, we are privileged to have as our guest, he's a former federal prosecutor, you've seen him on Fox, CBS, he's been on the news, he's a man who's been digging into this situation for quite some time. He has a new book, "Chokehold: A Renegade Prosecutor's Radical Thoughts On How To Disrupt The System." It's subtitled "Policing Black Men". And with that I want to welcome Mister Paul Butler. Hello, sir.

PAUL BUTLER: Hey Dean, it's great to be here.

DEAN BECKER: Oh, thank you, I, the book just knocked my socks off. I've read probably a hundred twenty, hundred and thirty books dealing with the drug war, with this societal situation. But your's is right up there with Michelle Alexander's book, "The New Jim Crow." You rip the lid off of this, sir, and I thank you, first off, thank you.

PAUL BUTLER: Wow. Wow, that's high praise, I really appreciate that, and I hope your listeners will check it out. They can get the book from Amazon, or from their local bookstore, because I think it's so important to get the word out. You know, other people have said, made that comparison, which is, you know, to me, the highest praise, because "The New Jim Crow" just really started a revolution that we so desperately need.

So, I'm hoping what "The New Jim Crow" did for mass incarceration, "Chokehold" can be part of this beautiful struggle to transform policing in the United States, because it desperately needs change.

DEAN BECKER: I admit this over the airwaves, and I hope it doesn't offend you, but I got arrested thirteen times in my youth. You know, 11 of them --

PAUL BUTLER: My goodness.

DEAN BECKER: -- my, 11 of them for being drunk. But I'd happened to usually have a little bit of drugs in my pocket, and they never charged me for that, but through those arrests, I was able to learn a lot about racism, because I saw how I was treated, and then I saw how the black and Hispanic people were treated, and even in jail, there was a difference in the way people were attended to, if you will.

And I guess what I'm wanting to get to here, sir, is that, I'm going to quote something I learned just last night, quote, "Racism is as American as baseball," and that was what was on a banner that was unfurled last night at a Boston Red Sox game. Three white folks dropped that banner, and then got kicked out of the stadium. But this is an issue, this is a situation that has come to a head, that must be addressed. Your thought there, sir.

PAUL BUTLER: Yeah, I think that's absolutely right. One of the most controversial suggestions that I have in "Chokehold" is for us to think about prison abolition. When we think of what it is we want prison to do, or hope it does, it's to keep us safe from people who would do us harm, and to make people accountable for what they've done. And a lot of us know prison doesn't do either one of those very well, so, in "Chokehold," I'm imagining ways of accomplishing those important objective without locking people in cages.

And to your point, Dean, one concern people have is, well, what would happen if we didn't lock up people who commit crimes? And, as your story suggests, we already have a kind of abolition for white people. A lot of white people don't get arrested and incarcerated for things that people of color do. And so, when we ask, well, my god, would things be wild on the street if people who broke laws weren't arrested? We see with the white community that happens all the time, and we seem to be just fine.

DEAN BECKER: Right. Too often, I, just a few weeks back I saw a story of some cops that were busted, I think in Los Angeles, that were stealing drugs from the inventory room, that were taking the top buds when they busted a grow site, and were reselling that on the black market. The cops cried and brought their family before the judge, and got probation. Yet I would imagine those that they had sold those stolen drugs to were not so lucky, were they to be busted. Your thought there, Paul.

PAUL BUTLER: Yeah, there is absolutely a double standard with regard to the way that drug laws are enforced, who gets arrested for those crimes, who gets prosecuted. In the District of Columbia, where I practice and I'm ashamed to say put a lot of people in prison for things that they probably should not have gone to prison for, a lot of nonviolent offenders, so, I did that for a while, and have spent the rest of my career trying to atone for that by writing books like "Chokehold," where I call for the end of the failed war on drugs, and just the transformation of our criminal justice system.

I admit, I own up, in "Chokehold," to my hypocrisy. I smoked weed in college, and the only reason I stopped was, when I became a prosecutor, was because I didn't want to get caught with dirty urine, because we got drug tested. But, at the same time that I'd only stopped smoking weed because I got the drug test, I was actively participating in the system where I was locking up people for the same crime that I committed.


PAUL BUTLER: I'm deeply ashamed of that now, and again, that's why I often describe myself as a recovering prosecutor.

DEAN BECKER: I like that. And I am, you know, in my youth, I was a cop, I pinned on that badge, strapped on that gun, and I now am a member of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, formerly Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and we all have, no way to get around it, guilty consciences as well about the hypocrisy of it all, and that's what the drug war, is just pure hypocrisy. Isn't it?

PAUL BUTLER: Oh, absolutely, I mean, when we talk about legalizing drugs, we really ought to be talking about re-legalizing them, because for most of the history of the United States, it's been perfectly legal to possess and sell drugs. So, Dean, you know that it didn't start becoming a crime until the late 1800s, the first drug law, drug prohibition law, was in California, it was about opium, and the concern was that quote unquote "Chinamen," I hate to use that derogatory term, but that's the language that was used in the ordinance, in the legislative history of the ordinance.

The concern was that "Chinamen" were using opium to seduce white women. And since then, our drug laws have always been about race. They've been about racial control. Certainly more than they've been about any kind of public health, or community safety.


PAUL BUTLER: If you trace the history, you can see concerns about cocaine and black people in the south, marijuana and Mexican laborers. So, they've always been about race, and I don't think it's possible, frankly, for us to enforce drug laws in a way that doesn't continue to be all about race.

DEAN BECKER: Well, yeah, I mean, you're absolutely right. Crazed negroes were impenetrable to .38 caliber bullets when they did cocaine, it just goes on and on, doesn't it, sir?

PAUL BUTLER: It sure does, and you know, there's echoes of that even when we look at the way that police treat African American men now, men and boys, because Tamir Rice was 12 years old when he got gunned down by that cop. And, when you look at some of the language that police officers use to justify beating up, assaulting, and killing black men, it's that same kind of almost mythological group, called King Kong imagery that they use.

So, Darren Wilson, who gunned down Michael Brown in the streets of Ferguson, when he testified in the grand jury, and he said it looked like Michael Brown could beat him up, it was like Michael Brown was impenetrable to bullets. So, a lot of people see black men, and they don't see us as we are. They think King Kong, quite frankly, they see a brute, they see a thug, and so in the "Chokehold," I talk about the first part of the "Chokehold" theme, the way that African American men and boys are constructed as threats, as dangers to society, and then the second part is this social and legal response to put us down, to contain the threat.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and to contain this threat of competing, if you will, with the white race, to, you know, look, Paul, the fact of the matter is, in "Chokehold," you underscore each and every one of these perspectives, each and every one of these means by which this continues to unfold, if you will. I love this little subchapter in here, "The Ape Thesis." "In fact, the anxiety about African American men has origins more sinister than data about victimization. A surprisingly large number of Americans don't actually think of blacks as human beings. They think of us as apes, to be exact. Psychologists call this the "dehumanization thesis." It a means to keep another race down." What is your response, Paul.

PAUL BUTLER: Yeah. I think that's absolutely right. So, you know, I was asking why do people, so many people, seem to have this anxiety around African American men? Of course, you hear, oh, well, black men commit a lot of crimes. But in "Chokehold," I looked at the data, and it turns out that white men commit more violent crimes than African American men, and in fact, if you're a white person, you're much more likely to be victimized by another white person who you know, than a random black male stranger.

And so, I was trying to understand, well, if the threat is more coming from white folks than black folks, why are so many people, again, still so anxious around black men? And that's why I discovered the work of this MacArthur Genius, Jennifer Eberhardt, who's done this amazing research, where she's found that a lot of folks really don't see black people as fully human, they see us as apes, and that I think explains a lot of the imagery around black men, a lot of the language that people use, like "thugs," and it explains some of the ways that we are treated, because cops certainly treat us like we're less than human.

DEAN BECKER: Well, folks, once again, we're speaking with Mister Paul Butler, he's author of this new book, "Chokehold: A Renegade Prosecutor's Radical Thoughts On How To Disrupt The System," subtitled "Policing Black Men." You've seen him on the network news, he's, I'm proud that he's willing to come on the Cultural Baggage show.

Now, Paul, I want to ask you this, you know, you mentioned the perspective, you know, looking at blacks as less than, and that started out with the print media, and perhaps radio, back when, that got this all agitated and, well, continued from the civil war, it hasn't gone away, has it sir, but the fact of the matter is that now it is the entertainment media that helps to perpetuate this perspective, this attitude towards blacks. Your thought in that regard, sir.

PAUL BUTLER: Well, it's certainly true, and again, people have done studies where they've seen that African Americans, especially black men, are more likely to be, on TV in those cops and robbers shows, as the bad guys. So, not so much the police, and not even so much the victims, but they're guys who are committing the crimes. So again, it's just this stereotype that a lot of people have that's enforced, and not only by the cops and robbers shows, but also by the local news, which often lead with a story about a black man who's committed some crime, and so, when you watch the news, again, you wouldn't be aware of reality, about how much law breaking white people do, especially white men, how much violent crime is committed by white men.

And again, this isn't a race to the bottom. Everybody has a right to be concerned about crime, and a right to want to live in a community that's safe, and African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, native people, white folks, we all want the same things when it comes to being able to feel secure in our neighborhoods.

But the fact is, all this focus and attention to black men doesn't make us any safer. So, you know, sometimes I say at the end of the day I still want the same things that I wanted when I was a prosecutor. I want the streets to be safe. I want people to feel secure. It just turns out that the way that we go about that now, arresting and locking up as many black men as we can, that doesn't make us safer.

DEAN BECKER: No. No, and it's -- it's just part of the pipe dream that is the drug war, that somehow there will be a better day, the more arrests we make, and it's just -- it's just getting worse, isn't it?

PAUL BUTLER: You know, when we look at the statistics, there's some fluctuation, so in some ways fewer people are getting locked up for as long for drug offenses, but we have so much further to go, because, especially if we look at how the federal laws are used, about half of the people who are in federal prison are there for nonviolent drug offenses, and that just doesn't make any sense.

And so, you know, I think President Obama started us down the right path when he commuted the sentences of about fifteen hundred people who were mainly in federal prison for drug crimes, who, if they'd been sentenced today, under the new guidelines, would get lower sentences. I don't think the president, President Obama, went far enough. But he certainly did way more than we can expect from president Trump.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, he went way further than most of his predecessors put together, I think. I'm going to quote again from your book here, in the chapter "Controlling the Thug." Quote: "Former President Bill Clinton has suggested that if our criminal policies had the same adverse effect on white people that they have on black men, we would change the policies." And I think that's beginning to unfurl, unfold, if you will, with this new perspective, which you also mention here in your book, that white folks are ODing on heroin. It's becoming a societal problem rather than a criminal justice problem.

The perspective is changing. Your thought there, Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER: You know, and then, Hillary Clinton, when she was running for president last year, made the same kind of comment. So when we have this situation, where one in three young black men have, or will have, a criminal case, we have to look beyond saying the problem is with young black men.

We have to start asking, what is it that we as a society are doing, where we have this situation where African American men are disproportionately getting locked up? And I think that President Bill Clinton, and Hillary Clinton's, intuition, that if we had the same scenario for white folks, where one in three young white men was in the system, that we wouldn't blame those young men, we'd say that the system is broken, that we need to come up with a different approach.

And so, in "Chokehold," I recommend some ways that we can be safe and not lock up so many black men. So, again, at the end of the day, I think we have to be proactive, we have to think about ways of not reforming our system, because it's way too broke to reform. So I'm thinking about ways to transform justice as we know it in the United States of America.

DEAN BECKER: And, I heartily concur, sir, that we must, because, I think what's happening right now, more and more people are becoming aware of the reality, of this situation, this chokehold, if you will, but so many people remain frightening, unwilling to discuss it, to bring it up with their elected officials, because it's -- it somehow seems un-American, if you will. What's your thought there, Paul?

PAUL BUTLER: I don't know, I think a lot of people just don't know the facts, and so, what I've done in "Chokehold" is to just present the data, because, as we were saying, if you only watch TV, and that's where you get your information about black people, then I understand why you're concerned.

One of the really revealing data points I have in Chokehold is that, according to surveys, most white folks just have one black friend. They only know one African American person really well. And so, again, a lot of what they think about us is based on stereotypes, but when you know the facts, when you look at the data, that ought to make you understand how urgent it is that we reform, transform, our criminal justice system. You know the elders say when you know better, you do better. So, I'm hoping that with this information, this vital data and these stories that I tell in "Chokehold," we'll know better, and so then we'll do better.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. Well, I tell you what, Paul, I, once again, I want to commend you for this book. I hope you get interviews nationwide, hell, worldwide to discuss this situation. The fact of the matter is, as that banner unfurled at the Red Sox game last night indicates, more and more people are becoming aware that racism is as American as baseball.

And we have to deal with it, don't we, sir?

PAUL BUTLER: We have to, and again, we need to do it for African American men, because what's happening to us is, at the end of the day, unfair, and it's un-American. But we also need to do it for our democracy. One of the lessons of history is that all of the people will be free, or none of them will be. At this moment, the country that African American men live in is not free. It's incumbent on all of us, to save our democracy, that we change that. And the way that we do that is to transform our justice system so that we all enjoy equal justice under the law.

DEAN BECKER: Wonderful thought, sir. Once again, that was Paul Butler. He's author of "Chokehold: A Renegade Prosecutor's Radical Thoughts On How To Disrupt The System -- Policing Black Men." Paul, is there a website, a closing thought you'd like to share.

PAUL BUTLER: Yes, so, I'm on all social media, on Facebook, Professor Paul Butler. On Twitter, I'm @LawProfButler. Also on Instagram @LawProfButler. And folks can check out the book on Amazon, from your local library or independent bookstore. But it's "Chokehold: Policing Black Men." I hope all of your listeners will check it out. Thank you, thanks so much for the interview, Dean. I appreciate it.

DEAN BECKER: It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Works directly on the brain by interfering with neurotransmitters and dopamine levels. Because of drug prohibition, this product is made with over the counter cold medicine, matchbox covers, hydrochloric acid, drain cleaner, battery acid, lye, lantern fuel, and antifreeze. Time's up! The answer: Tina. Chalk. Go-fast. Zip. Kristie. Crank. Speed. Methamphetamine Hydrochloride.

DERRICK ROSENFELD: So, my name's Derrick Rosenfeld, I work at the Drug Policy Alliance. I manage our social media and I'm on our media team, I've bee here for about seven years, and we're the nation's leading organization working to end the war on drugs.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Derrick, I see a release coming from the Drug Policy Alliance, it's talking about Google capitalizing on Philippine president Duterte's horrific drug war. Tell us about that message, and why it was disseminated.

DERRICK ROSENFELD: Yes, so, I happened to see our partners from the UK, and organization called Release, sent out a tweet about one specific game that was being hosted by Google Play that is glorifying the drug war, the ongoing atrocity in the Philippines. For folks who don't know, the president, Rodrigo Duterte, when he was brought into office last year, he ran on a campaign to bring down crime, and specifically to get rid of the quote unquote "drug problem" in his country.

So, he -- and he's been doing so on a campaign full of violence and encouraging citizens and police officers to kill people who use or sell drugs. And it's been an ongoing atrocity where over 12,000 people have been killed, so far, about a third of them by police officers in extrajudicial fashion, without any due process. It's just an awful, awful situation in the Philippines for the last year.

And, when we saw that these games were being hosted on Google's platform, we were pretty outraged about it, and then we saw their policy, which, it was in clear violation of, you know, saying that we don't allow apps that lack reasonable sensitivity towards or capitalize on a natural disaster, atrocity, conflict, death, or other tragic event, and there have been over 12,000 deaths.

And we just thought that this is in clear violation of Google's policy and we wanted to get their attention.

DEAN BECKER: And in that regard, there is a petition where folks can show your objection to these games, right?

DERRICK ROSENFELD: That's right. Today we released the petition and a blog kind of outlining the entire situation there. But if folks go to DrugPolicy.org/blog, they'll see this story with a link to the petition, and they can take action anywhere in the world, not even just people in the US. We want everyone to be letting Google know that these games should be taken down immediately.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Derrick, as horrific as the games are themselves, the truth of the matter is, is that our president has stood in support of Duterte, has sent him money, despite all these extrajudicial killings. Right?

DERRICK ROSENFELD: That's right. It's very, very sad. Even before he came into office officially, but after he was elected, Donald Trump praised Duterte in a phone call for his war on drugs, you know, saying that they're doing it the right way, which was very disappointing. And we had a campaign while, at that time, encouraging then-Secretary of State John Kerry to, you know, denounce the killings and cut off financial aid that was going towards the support of their drug war.

Now, more recently, and they did I believe cut off some money for some time, but now that the new administration's in, Trump has been very vocally supportive of Duterte. There were rumors that he had invited him to the White House a few months ago, and now just as early as, I think, last week or earlier this week, there was a two million dollars pledged to support the drug war in the Philippines.

And we just can't believe that, that our country is supporting this, this horrific, ongoing slaughter of people who use drugs in the Philippines, let alone seeing these games that are rated for everyone, and, you know, cartoon-like and marketed to children over the Google Play Store. We cannot stand by and not say anything, and we're hoping that Google realizes this, and takes action immediately.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Again, we've been speaking with Derrick Rosenfeld of the Drug Policy Alliance. One more time, share that website.

DERRICK ROSENFELD: Sure. Go to DrugPolicy.org, it will be right there on our home page, but if you're on mobile, you want to go to drugpolicy.org/blog, you'll see a story all about the situation there with a link to the petition.

DEAN BECKER: By the way, next month, I'm going to be in Atlanta attending the Drug Policy Alliance's major conference. You ought to attend as well.

Speaking to 60 Minutes about her battle with cancer, this is Olivia Newton-John.

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN: My husband's a plant medicine man, so, he grew cannabis for me and made tinctures for me to take for pain, and inflammation, and so many other things that cannabis can do. I mean, it's been a maligned plant all these years, and it really is a magical miracle plant.

DEAN BECKER: The drug war is a sham, flim flam, it has no nexus with reality. It's up to you and me to stand up to these politicians and demand an end to this eternal war on drugs. For the sake of the children. Prohibido istac evilesco.

It seems that drug war news is just shaking the planet in so many different ways, perspectives being analyzed, and often changed. Situation in Canada speaks to that right now. As of July of 2018, they're going to quote "legalize" cannabis up there. But, is it legalization? Here to talk about that is one of the partners of Cannabis Culture, Miss Jodie Emery. Hello, Jodie.

JODIE EMERY: Hi, Dean, thanks for having me.

DEAN BECKER: What is your thought? The perspectives are changing, but are they really towards cannabis, what's going on up there?

JODIE EMERY: Well, like most governments, they try to find a way to say they're doing the right thing by doing the wrong thing. We have something very Orwellian going on here. Legalization was supposed to mean three different things, basically. One, you stop criminalizing peaceful adults. Two, you legalize the existing industry, so it's no longer criminal and underground. And three, you stop wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on law enforcement for marijuana law enforcement.

However, the Liberal government of canada, in their cannabis act, Bill C45, which is under review at the Health Committee this week, where Marc and I will be testifying, this legislation does not accomplish any of the goals put out for legalization.

One, there's no amnesty or pardons offered. Canadians will still be criminalized and arrested for possessing or growing or selling illegal cannabis. Two, the existing industry will not be allowed to come out from the shadows into the light, because the government will refuse to allow illegal operators the ability to transition into legality. Three, law enforcement isn't receiving any cut in their law enforcement budget. In fact, on Friday last week, the federal government announced a quarter billion dollars extra to law enforcement for legalization law enforcement spending.

This is a huge amount of money in a country like Canada. Maybe in the US they spend that much pretty quick on the drug war, but here, it's substantial. So we're seeing none of the goals of legalization being accomplished by the federal government, and even worse, the biggest province in this country, Ontario, where I'm at right now, in Ottawa, our capitol, introduced legislation on Friday where they intend to create a government pot shop monopoly, and crack down on everybody else who isn't involved in the unionized business model they're going to try and set up, and force taxpayers to fund.

DEAN BECKER: This is, oh gosh, it's scary, to be honest. I mean, look, good folks like you, good folks like those who provided cannabis for Cannabis Culture and all the other quote "illegal" shops at this point, these were the people who invested their lives, their profession, their time, into developing a better product, developing a better means for distribution, on down the line, and these people are now going to be basically excluded.

JODIE EMERY: Well that's --

DEAN BECKER: Go ahead.

JODIE EMERY: -- the most -- it's the most perverse thing they could possibly do. The idea that the government has fought against legalization for decades, and not just fought with words, but with guns, and militarized police. So we've been fought against by government for decades, and now they want to say that they get to do it, and we don't? That they'll lock us out from being able to participate, and lock us up for being unable to participate?

It's perverse, it's disgusting, and it really just demonstrates what government does. They really don't want to give us any freedom or liberty. They still want to call cannabis harmful and dangerous. In fact, that's what all of the testimony is about this week, we're hearing a lot of fear mongering, a lot of lies, and most ironically, you have the police association saying, we need more time before you legalize it, because we have to figure out how we're going to handle legalization.

And, most of us, including our national newspaper's political cartoon yesterday, we say, well, wait a minute. I thought you said it was going to be legal? What does law enforcement have to do with something that's not against the law anymore? Well, when they put a top cop and former narc, named Bill Blair, in charge of the legalization file, of course that's what happens. It's like putting the Ku Klux Klan in charge of dealing with getting rid of the Jim Crow laws, it's insanity, it's insulting, it's dangerous, it's costly, it's very scary to see that Canada is setting this model for the rest of the world to follow, especially given they said they went to find best practices elsewhere, and somehow came back from the depths of drug war and said, here's the best model we could find.

DEAN BECKER: Oh, so true, Jodie. Look, I think I'm looking at one of those memes right now, a guy wearing epaulets on his shoulder, the podium says Association of Canadian Chiefs of Police, and his bubble says, it will be impossible for law enforcement to be ready for legal marijuana by July First, 2018. What, I -- it brings forward the question, what are they preparing for? I mean, it's like reefer madness just will not die, no matter how many stakes you drive through its heart. Your response, there, Jodie Emery.

JODIE EMERY: Well, it seems like the people most addicted to marijuana are the police, the law enforcement, the courts, and the government, the alcohol and pharmaceutical industry, and everybody else who benefits from denying us the access and liberty that we deserve. So, it's, I said recently, I think reefer madness has a new definition, it causes irrationality, paranoia, fear, and reckless behavior in those who don't use cannabis.

DEAN BECKER: Well, it's so true, I -- I am baffled, honestly, that the quote "logic" of the drug war, in particular directed towards marijuana, is able to continue. We have, I think at this point, millions of people benefiting from the medical use of, you know, the kids with epilepsy and PTSD, and on down the line, and we have a lot of folks that, like, I'm an alcoholic, and I find the substitution of cannabis for alcohol works wonders. Thirty two years, had a great career, you know, on down the line, because I quit my drug of destruction, alcohol. And I guess the point I'm wanting to get to is, you know, they need to show us the bodies. Where are the stacks of dead people from using cannabis, where is the rationale, why does this continue? That may be too much to ask.

JODIE EMERY: Oh, it's maddening. But, you know, they don't want to point out the bodies of marijuana victims, because they're trying to hide the bodies of the alcohol and tobacco and pharmaceutical victims, the piles and piles of bodies from the opioid crisis, which the government and the doctors and pharmaceutical industries and health authorities all allowed, and encouraged to happen.

So, as we know, in the United States, there's piles of evidence showing that marijuana and marijuana dispensaries reduce opioid deaths. This is not just some anecdotal story, this is double blind, placebo, peer reviewed, you know, you name it, this is the best possible research available, showing that 25 percent reduction in opioid deaths when you have more cannabis.

So every time our government here says they're going to crack down on dispensaries, like, I kind of want to tell them, why don't you just go down to the street, where all the addicts -- I'm sorry, people who are addicted to drugs -- go down there, go to the overdose prevention site, pull out a gun, and just shoot them in the head, because really, you're sending them to die. You're sending them to die when you deny them safe opioid or replacement substitution drugs. You send them to die when you shut down the dispensaries that provide a safer alternative. You send them to die when they go and use booze, or even mouthwash, or whatever sort of substance they can get their hands on to alleviate their pain, or fill their craving.

So every time they say they're going to crack down on dispensaries and marijuana, I say you have blood on your hands. But, we've always known this drug war, we're not the ones with guns. We're not the ones hurting people and killing people and locking them up. The government is, and that's why they're fighting so hard against cannabis, because not only will it liberate people's health, not only will it make them have a safer choice than alcohol, tobacco, and pills, which the government promotes and profits from, it will liberate our minds. It will make people question authority. It will give them the ability to organize and connect, and be tolerant, but the government depends on people being hateful, ignorant, blinded, divided, hating different groups. That's what the government wants.

They can't possibly have a healthy, happy populace who are able to organize against bad government. So instead, they want people in pain, suffering, struggling, so that they can't get by, and as we all know from even the history before I was born, by decades, in the '60s, cannabis helps people question authority and find personal freedom, and that is one of the biggest threats to government, and that's why they kill people for Falun Gong overseas, not so much you're fighting against the government, you're declaring they have no jurisdiction over your personal freedom and liberty and choice and mind and body, and government hates that. They really hate that. So, that's why they hate pot.

DEAN BECKER: Well, exactly right. I -- your prime minister, Trudeau, got elected and one of the main planks in his platform was to legalize weed. This is not what he promised, is it?

JODIE EMERY: No, and that's why so many people are disappointed. On the one hand, all of the cannabis voters who supported him, and there were millions across Canada, like you said, this was one of the top platform issues in this country, it's why people got out and voted for him, it's why I supported him. But Trudeau and the Liberal government, pot smoking hypocrite Trudeau I should throw in there, this guy who trafficked a joint himself and had his brother get off charges because their father was connected, this prime minister pot smoking hypocrite Trudeau, this government, I mean, they are fighting against our ability to have the freedom and rights that they have.

They are lying about what they were going to do. They said they would offer amnesty and pardons and look at addressing the criminal justice, and the disproportionate enforcement against people of color who are marginalized and the poor, they admit it's a racist drug war, and statistics back it up. Our biggest city, Toronto, they studied all the police data and found yeah, it is a racist war. It is based on profiling people of color who are marginalized, that's -- and they admit it, the government admits this, they admit that it needs to be rectified, and they do nothing to address it.

And so they're lying on cannabis, but, if you're a Canadian voter, and you voted for the Liberals based on electoral reform, or the environment, or jobs, of anything, you're pissed off, because the Liberal government has betrayed every election promise they made. And sadly, it's, that's the nature of government, they lie, and if they don't lie, they just change their position and stay true to their change, you know, or they just betray everybody, or they double speak, and it's -- it can be extremely discouraging, and I know people are very upset and discouraged, and they say, how can we trust any government? And the truth is you can't. You can't trust any government.

But, they are the ones who control our lives, and they're the decision makers. So as long as we hammer away, and keep campaigning, and keep that people power out there, you know, it's a slow, very slow process, chipping away at that awful wall, but, the only reason the Liberals had to lie about legalizing it in the first place is because the people demanded legalization, so they did have to capitulate to that. They had to give us that. But, in the meantime, they thought, how do we call it legalization but keep everything the same and cash in ourselves?

Because let's remember, a lot of former prime ministers, premiers, public officials, police officials, police chiefs, military, drug officers, they've bought into these medical marijuana companies, they've started the medical marijuana companies, and they're trying to profit from the sale of marijuana through a government monopoly after fighting against it, and getting paid to fight against it, for decades. And of course, Marc and I are six months out of jail, on bail, we're still facing serious charges right now, so it's very interesting indeed to see ourselves being frozen out from the industry that we helped make possible, while the people who fought against us leap in with guns to shut us out.

DEAN BECKER: Jeezus. Well, Jodie, be sure to pass along my regards to Marc, and to, I don't know, I understand that there is still a little hope on the horizon, that there's testimony and presentations being given this week to hopefully influence the final perspective, roll out of the quote "legal" marijuana. Your thought in that regard, please.

JODIE EMERY: Well, we have this bill, C45, the Cannabis Act. It was introduced earlier this year, and unfortunately, we have a Liberal majority government. That means that they can do whatever they want. It's basically friendly fascism, or, you know, dominion dictatorship, or whatever you want to call it, but, the government controls everything here. So unlike in the US, where you still have at least some debate, and some way to stop legislation, here, it's just the prime minister, if he has majority power, he can do whatever he wants.

So, Bill C45 passed the first reading very quickly, and it goes to committee, so right now the House of Commons Health Committee is reviewing the bill. It should have been sent to the Justice Committee, given that this is a criminal justice reform issue, but, the government is trying to present it as dangerous to your health, therefore it goes to the health committee so we can talk about how it's harmful to health, to protect you from your dangerous marijuana, so that's the angle that they're taking, is marijuana's bad for your health, rather than saying that it's good for your health.

So this government at the health committee is very skewed, but, this is the one point in time where the legislation can be improved, or worsened. It can be made better or worse, and hopefully, with a few of us advocates there, it can be improved for better, but whatever happens, no matter what it goes through as when Parliament resumes next week, they will vote on it at some point.

But, whatever happens, we have to remember that, even when our governments have been fighting against our plant and our people with guns and tanks and militarized officers, even though it's been completely illegal and people have been put in prison for life, and had their kids taken, and everything terrible, even though that's all been the case, we have still continued to overgrow the government, like Marc Emery always said. The seeds of freedom have been planted.

The United States has gone beyond that tipping point. The Berlin Wall is falling, the wall is falling, but the other side keeps trying to build it back up as fast as possible, so as long as our people, our community, and our culture continues promoting cannabis, encouraging people to use it, to sell it, to grow it, to advertise it, brand it, you know, legalize it, and I'll advertise it. You know, so, we have to keep pushing on that, because no matter what the government does to us, they can't really stop us. They can only try really hard to hold us back, but, they'll lose, slowly, over time.

DEAN BECKER: There you go. I have to agree with you, Jodie, this is just a step, a portion of the progress that has to be made. This is not the end all be all, is it?

JODIE EMERY: Exactly. And we have to remember too that, when things are easy, people get soft. So when it starts to get hard, people get tough. So, our movement and our culture, even though we've enjoyed so many gains, and so much progress, and medical marijuana, decrim, CBD is known widely now, you know, Republicans from Utah are endorsing marijuana, I mean, we have so many positive things coming out of all this, so when times get tough, people get tough, and we're uniting together, right? Pressure makes diamonds. It's our time to shine.

DEAN BECKER: Is there a website that you might want to point folks toward?

JODIE EMERY: Oh, please follow me on Twitter, if you use it, I'm at twitter.com/jodieemery. I'm on there all day, every day, sharing cannabis truth, talking about the facts about cannabis, and especially this week, while we're here, I'm trying to respond to the issues they bring up. So stay tuned on there. But of course, CannabisCulture.com for all your news and views and activism and much more.

DEAN BECKER: Okeh, folks, we just heard from Jodie Emery, the Princess of Pot up there in Canada, talking about how, in her perspective, I think, how draconian this war on marijuana continues to be, with the forthcoming new law. Here's a friend of mine, the gentleman that's updating my website, which we'll have here in a week or three, a man who worked with DrugSense for, well, decades now, I guess. A man who understands the drug war and has his hand on the pulse of this situation in Canada. I want to welcome Mister Matt Elrod. Hey, Matt.

MATT ELROD: Hey, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: Matt, you know, Jodie is really up in arms about the parameters of this forthcoming law. What is your thought, there, what's the Canadian people thinking about it?

MATT ELROD: Well, I think what has Jodie most upset is, Ontario has rolled out their proposed regulations, the first out of the gate of the provinces on how they're going to interpret the new federal law, C45. And they're proposing a government monopoly, much like they've had over alcohol, where it will put cannabis under the auspices of a liquor control board. And, what that means, by definition, is excluding the existing gray market dispensaries, of which Jodie's a participant.

And I can understand why she's upset, because there's a lot of wisdom there, a lot of experience there, and it, in her case, she's made sacrifices to her freedoms to create this market and now it's being taken away, as it were. Further, C45 excludes people from participating in the regulated market if they have a criminal record for cannabis, even possession. And the committee that, the health committee that's currently reviewing C45, has heard testimony from Washington state and Colorado that they went to a sort of point system where, if you have a few minor offenses, you may still be eligible to work in the regulated market, but if you have for example a record of violence, or gangsterism, then you'd be excluded, which I think is the intent of C45, is to exclude the really bad guys.

Unfortunately right now the way it's written it's too broad, so her -- her objections are quite justified. On the other hand, the committee is also hearing from an army of public health experts who are rubbing their hands at the prospect of creating a regulatory model from scratch, the way they would like to see it, from an entirely public health perspective, and the case they're making is that a government monopoly would not be as profit driven and will be more responsible and accountable than a private industry that's regulated by the government. And, you know, they, there's a case to be made there.

DEAN BECKER: Well, there is, but there's also, Jodie and I were talking about the fact that those people who devoted their lives, who developed these strains, who understand the genetics, who, in many cases, like her husband Marc, went to prison for their activism, are now to be excluded, and it just seems contrary to progress. Your thought there, please.

MATT ELROD: Well, indeed, and the committee heard, I've forgotten the witness's name, someone testifying just to that, that there is a very large segment of Canadians involved in the illicit, you know, the black and the gray market right now, and if they're entirely excluded, not only are you sacrificing, or not recognizing the sacrifices these people have made, you're throwing away all of their expertise, you're throwing them all out of work, which is going to have a large economic impact.

I mean, there are many small communities in my province of British Columbia, formerly resource based, that really depend on the cannabis revenue, and if the only people making money from cannabis are big industrial grow houses in Ontario, then, you know, it's the lifeblood of these communities drying up. So, you know, there's that to be thought about. There's also, I mean, the overall objective, ostensibly, of legalizing cannabis is to drive the black market out of the marketplace, and to protect young people.

And that first objective is going to be undermined if the regulatory regime is too restrictive, if it's not competitive, and if it leaves too many very clever people in the black market. Surely the idea, it would be superior to bring as many people from the black and gray markets into the regulated market, rather than shutting them out and taking their industry from them.

I suppose that if the C45 were amended so that people who have prior convictions could apply for a union job, at the government run pot store, that would, to some extent, ameliorate the problem of displacing the black and gray market economy.

DEAN BECKER: Matt, another portion of this that Jodie objected strongly to is the fact that now that it's legal, or to be legal, is that the police are going to need more money to control it, in this new environment. That just seems preposterous to me. Your thought there, please.

MATT ELROD: That is another side effect of their over-regulation. Indeed, Bill C45 still retains criminal penalties for adults possessing, excuse me, over 30 grams, for minors possessing over 5 grams, for growing over the four, the proposed four plant limit, over a meter high, and so forth. So, what it really does is it, well, it doesn't really legalize cannabis per se, it just legalizes small amounts of it, and in so doing, it's just moving the enforcement bar. It's not removing it entirely.

Further to the extent that they micromanage it, you are going to have police officers carrying scales and meter sticks. And, you know, it's not justified by the harm cannabis causes. Again, the public health people seem to have a sort of utopian attitude, that oh boy, we can create the perfect regulatory model, but they have little understanding of economics, of consumer preferences, and as is always the case with drug policy, it seems, you know, in chess, a good chess player looks a move or two ahead, a master might look five or six moves ahead, in drug policy they don't look one move ahead, they never flip the board around and think, well, how are consumers going to react to what we're about to do here.


MATT ELROD: And, so, you know, for example, the four plant limit, people are going to do sea of green, they're going to grow, you know, they're going to find ways to get around it, and the government rarely thinks that far ahead. And they are making a big mess for themselves, really with no justification to do it, because, again, cannabis is so much less harmful than alcohol, for example. Why then have a regulatory model that is more micromanaging, more strict, more hysterical, for cannabis than we have for alcohol.

DEAN BECKER: All right, friends, there you have it, from my good friend Mister Matt Elrod, up there in, is it Victoria, Canada?

MATT ELROD: In Victoria, on Vancouver Island, that's right.

DEAN BECKER: Matt, as we close out here, what website would you like to point folks towards?

MATT ELROD: Well, if they're interested in what's going on in Canada, this aforementioned health committee has all the testimony and briefs submitted to them online. Sorry I don't have their URL in front of me right now, but if you search for HESA, Health Committee Marijuana, it will come up high in your results. And so people interested in the dialogue we're having, including the dialogue we're hearing from, well, for example, Mark Kleiman, Kevin Sabet with Smart Approaches to Marijuana weighed in, it's really quite interesting. And, you know, they can draw their own conclusions.

I have to say that, I do commend our government for doing this. They are trailblazing. I understand why they're being so pussyfoot about it, why they're being so cautious. There's members of the committee, Conservatives particularly, who are reluctant to legally regulate cannabis, and I think part of what we're seeing is an attempt to allay their fears. And hopefully, as it evolves, these over-regulations will fall away.

DEAN BECKER: The following segment comes to us courtesy of KTVU Fox [sic: KTBC-Fox 7].

ASHLEY PARADEZ: Dell Seton Medical Center conducted a study on whether states that have legalized recreational marijuana use are at an increased risk for deadly car crashes. Fox 7's RaeAnn Christensen with the findings.

JAYSON AYDELOTTE, MD: It was a very impassioned argument, and, we just wanted to see if that was true.

RAEANN CHRISTENSEN: Doctor Jayson Aydelotte's part of a team of experts researching deadly auto crashes in Colorado and Washington state, where recreational pot use is legal. He says when states first legalized pot, many believed there would be more deadly wrecks. But working in Austin at a large trauma center and seeing thousands of patients a year, he wasn't sure about that.

So his team took data before and after legalizing weed in both states and compared it to information from states where it's illegal to smoke marijuana recreationally, including here in Texas.

JAYSON AYDELOTTE, MD: Legalizing marijuana in those states did not have a significant increase in traffic related deaths in those states after they did it. Anecdotally, we only see a very few people that have nothing but marijuana in their system when they crashed their car, and have something significant enough to kill them. And so our hypothesis was that we were going to find what we found.

RAEANN CHRISTENSEN: The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health. Advocates for legalizing marijuana say it shows fear related to retail adult use of marijuana is somewhat unfounded.

JAX FINKEL: The actual studies and the science, and the numbers, don't back that up. So we feel like that's just another reason that Texans and Texas legislators need to get on the ball with updating our reform policy here in Texas, because this is something that citizens in Texas very much agree with.

RAEANN CHRISTENSEN: Doctor Aydelotte says while he doesn't have a dog in the marijuana fight, he believes states debating marijuana legalization should take studies like this into consideration.

JAYSON AYDELOTTE, MD: I mean, this is a votable thing. If you're going to cast a vote, you should have all the information you can. Lawmakers, too.

DEAN BECKER: All right. We've flat ran out of time. Please do your part to end the madness of drug war, and again I remind you, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful.