12/19/18 Joseph Ganssle

Roman Catholic priest Joseph Ganssle & Commander Brian Paddick in the UK

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Guest: 
Joseph Ganssle
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CULTURAL BAGGAGE

DECEMBER 19, 2018

DEAN BECKER: Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage. No more drug war! You know, it's not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally un-American.

On this holiday edition, our guests will be Roman Catholic priest Father Joseph Ganssle. 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.

I guess with that, let's do go ahead and bring in our guest, Father Joseph Ganssle.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Good evening, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: Hello, sir, it's good to hear your voice again.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Good to be on your show again.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you, sir. I want to kind of more formally introduce you. He is Father Joseph Ganssle. He founded and ran the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative's predecessor organization, Religious Leaders for a Moral Drug Policy in the early 1990s.

He's a Catholic priest, currently serves on the advisory board of the Action Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, I believe that's still true, right, sir?

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Well, I'm on the advisory board.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. And Father Ganssle also founded a drug treatment program and served as its CEO for 25 years, so he has had his time in the trenches of the drug war, and I want to especially welcome you at this holiday season, sir.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Thanks very much.

DEAN BECKER: Father Ganssle, you're still working, perhaps not full time employed, as a priest. You're semi-retired, is that right?

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Yeah. I'm officially retired, but that means that I can do anything I want, and there's plenty of call for priestly activities, so I'm constantly doing one thing and the other.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. And, if you will, just kind of summarize, I guess, your work as a priest.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Well, for instance, I say mass at the cathedral here on Sundays. And when priests, other priests in the diocese need help, a lot of times they'll call the friary where I live, and ask our superior, can he supply some men for their work. And then he'll call different priests and ask them if we can do it, so I'm constantly, you know, helping out other priests.

DEAN BECKER: And that's wonderful news, sir. I, as I understand it, you have, through your life's experience, through your life's work, been exposed to many people who take drugs, who have problems with drugs, and perhaps seeking treatment for that drug use. Let's talk about that experience, sir.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Yeah, well, that started way back in 1969, when I was in a parish in Denver, and a lot of the parents would bring in their children and say, the person has a drug problem, so I'd recommend the usual drug rehabilitation institutions around town.

And almost all the time the parents would say, well, you know, he's been there, he's been in that one, like Synanon and Cenikor, and Crispus Attucks and all these others. So I soon, I'd say these programs weren't working, so I asked older alcoholics if they thought that the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous would work with drug users. And they'd say oh yes, it certainly will.

So, we -- they had all kinds of contacts, of course, inside Alcoholics Anonymous, so we just got five young guys because we knew the younger fellows take drugs and alcohol interchangeably, and they have no prejudice against even though the alcoholics sometimes have prejudice against drugs and drug users.

So we just started out with a few of the fellows who already knew the program from Alcoholics Anonymous, and that's how we started our first group of NA, Narcotics Abusers Anonymous.

DEAN BECKER: And, I wanted to ask your observation. Many times, we hear the, you know, police invested three months, six months, two years investigating a street corner or, you know, a vending operation for drugs in their city, and they bring down the street corner vendors. They seldom get those at the top.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Yeah.

DEAN BECKER: But, your thoughts, sir, I mean, your observation. Has -- have you noted times when prison time was the answer for those drug users and sellers.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: No.

DEAN BECKER: No, sir?

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: The universal experience of all the fellows we rehabilitated, and there were many, was that the jail didn't do any good at all, because a lot of them had been in jail already before we picked them up.

You know, they got arrested on drug use or drug possession or something like that. But, it was universally bad for them, because it cut off their young life and put them in with criminals, real criminals.

And of course the jails are filled with drugs, because the guards are bringing the drugs for the prisoners, so there's more drugs per square inch in jails than outside, you know, a totally controlled government environment, right?

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: And the whole thing was ridiculous. And so the kids didn't learn anything in there, in jail, except maybe how to try to avoid getting caught. But they only learn criminal behavior, and nothing much else, and it ruined, a lot of times it ruined their life because they come out with a record of being a jailbird, which does not help them get jobs and besides that they're not learning any skills in jail to get jobs, so they're very well handicapped.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: And of course this puts a very bitter attitude they have towards government, and jail.

DEAN BECKER: I think often of the situation being quite the antithesis, the opposite, achieving the opposite goals of what we seek.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Oh, yeah, absolutely, no doubt about that. No doubt about it.

DEAN BECKER: As I understand it, sir, you did spend some time outside the United States. Earlier today we talked about the fact that you had been to Brazil, and I want to talk about the international implications.

Some two decades ago, leading to one decade ago, Colombia had multiple bombings and assassinations, beheadings, and so forth, and they still have thousands of deaths in Colombia each year, don't get me wrong, but that war has now moved up into Mexico, where police chiefs are shot out of the saddle almost on a weekly basis, and again the beheadings and bodies burning in trunks, it's moving closer to our shores, is it not?

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Well, it's, I thought it was always close to our shore. But it might be the publicity is better now. But it always was pretty close to our shore in Mexico.

But actually, the drug trade destroyed a beautiful government in Colombia, because the guys who produced the drugs could make a lot of money, and the United States insisted that Colombia stamp out this trade, which of course it could not do, because there's so much money involved, and the reason there's so much money is because it's illegal.

You know, because the, for instance, cocaine is two thousand times more expensive here than in Colombia. So it's just too much money, and, of course, it didn't stop the flow of drugs at all because the more fellows we arrested and the more drugs we confiscated, well, we're just taking -- their place is taken by other people in the business because it's a very lucrative business.

But in the meantime, it destroyed the government of Colombia, because the bad guys got so strong they could kill judges and intimidate people and murder people right and left. And bribe, of course they have so much money they can bribe anybody. It's horrible what they did to Colombia, and not only Colombia, but this goes for Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.

They destroyed those nations as decent operating nations, because mostly they just subject us, and do exactly what we want, whether they want to or not, and it's completely futile, the battle, because there's just too much money involved.

DEAN BECKER: Absolutely, sir. Now, we also spoke earlier today about the, I don't know, religious morality, how it is used as a bludgeon, perhaps, in this drug war, that those in power tend to say this is done for a moral reason, and yet I can't think of anything more immoral than this drug war. Your thoughts on that, sir.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Well, I hardly hear them say that, you know.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Bill Bennett, for one, John Walters speaks of it.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Oh, yeah. Bennett was a complete loser. What Bennett did, as you probably know, is declare that they confiscated so many million pounds of drugs, and arrested so many drug dealers, the war was over, so that's what they did, and he declared he won.

The whole thing was ridiculous. And of course, he takes a very high moral stand, but there's no morality in it because a person, I mean, from Catholic moral teaching, a person can use drugs if they don't abuse them, just like they can use alcohol without abusing it, and that, you never hear that mentioned, you see, and of course a lot of the non-Catholic Christians don't go for that, you know, they don't believe that you can use drugs or alcohol morally.

But, according to the Catholics, you can, and do, and that's why when they try to take a moral stand, we just have to laugh at them, anybody who knows Catholic doctrine.

DEAN BECKER: Now, Father Ganssle, you know, I think of, you know, I've been at this about ten years. You are what I consider one of the pioneers, those first willing to stand up and boldly speak of the need for change.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Yeah.

DEAN BECKER: And I just wonder -- I wanted to get your perspective, what you've seen over the decades. Are we making progress, sir?

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: The only progress I see, Dean, is that most of the people now who are getting older have either used drugs themselves, or been around people who use them.

And they see that the harmful effects are not as horrible as the government is trying to tell us, you know, they kind of laugh at it. They know there's certain types that are addictive, and those poor people, you know, have real trouble with drugs, but that's because they have an addictive personality.

But they themselves, and their friends, you know, have used drugs without feeling anything particularly harmful about it.

DEAN BECKER: Well, over the years of this drug war, I think perhaps dating back to the beginning, it's been about "for the children," you know, the --

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Yeah, that's the claim.

DEAN BECKER: That's the mantra, I supposed, and yet, it is the black market, the world's largest multi-level marketing organization that's out there enticing our children. We insist that black market exist. Your thoughts, sir.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: If it wasn't for the drug war, most of our children would never use drugs. And I'll tell you through personal experience, early on, in the early '70s, there was a fellow in Littleton, Colorado, just when drug use was really increasing down there, and the city council heard about this fellow, who was supposed to know a lot about drugs.

So they called him into the city council, and I was there at the time, they invited me for some reason. And he says to them, well, when I was 13 years old, somebody introduced me to marijuana, and I didn't like it much, but I said to them, how do you pay for this stuff? They said, well, you just split up what you buy and sell it to somebody else.

So this fellow was a free enterpriser, with keen business sense. He just started selling drugs. In no time at all he was making three hundred a week. This is when he was thirteen years old. He kept it up when he went to Littleton High, and even after he graduated.

And the flow of drugs was so heavy in his direction that the Mafia noticed it. Now, I guess, they'd notice the flow of drugs, and then they moved in on him and said, now, from now on, we're going to be your supplier.

Well, that kind of scared him, so he got out of the business, but he, this time he's retired for life, he has so much money, and he told that city council, I myself turned on two thousand kids from Littleton High, and some of them were your children.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: So here he -- you figure, you know, why don't you just multiply this guy, say, by a thousand, you've got too many kids.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: And the motive was money. Money, nothing else.

DEAN BECKER: Well, you know, each year, I've heard it said, we spend somewhere between fifty to 125 billion dollars. Some say it's 69 billion, I'm not certain. But it's a large number.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Yeah.

DEAN BECKER: And, we send our police officers out there, they spend millions of man-hours looking in trunks and under car seats and in ashtrays.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Right.

DEAN BECKER: And in the meantime, the violent crime rate is going up.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Oh yeah, this doesn't have any dent in the crime.

DEAN BECKER: And, I guess my question, sir, we're wasting those millions of our police man-hours --

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: That's right. That's right.

DEAN BECKER: -- looking for High School Harry's bag of pot, and in the meantime, we've wasted the opportunity and those man-hours to go after the real criminals amongst us.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: I know, it's really a corruption of the whole penal system. The whole thing is a waste. It wastes all kinds of money. It's a crime.

I think a lot of them now, the ones especially who've been caught up, say, smoking marijuana and getting caught, they know what a farce this whole thing is, and it's the people who never touched drugs or stayed away from them who don't -- really don't know what a waste of time this whole thing is. You know?

And they change, like I say, ordinary citizens into criminals, you know, just if you possess a little marijuana you're a criminal.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: And most of these fellows are just innocent people, that are, you know, just getting a smoke.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. Now, we've got about a minute left. I wanted to just kind of hand that off to you, as a Roman Catholic priest.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Yeah.

DEAN BECKER: To kind of give us a message for this holiday season, and perhaps a better way to look at this drug war.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Well, they've got -- the problem is really a moral problem, and the one who should take care of the moral problem is the church, and the families. And supposedly the schools, but the public schools are worthless because they're just agents of the government, and they're just as mixed up as government is, and just as tyrannical, and confused.

But, I mean, the private schools should be taking care of this problem. And when they train the children properly, and teach them the value of their soul and the value of their mind, and how drugs can inhibit the powers of the brain, and by doing that, of course, ruin the kid's educational career.

You know, they would teach them that this is a moral problem, and you guys have got to avoid ruining yourselves.

DEAN BECKER: Avoiding that abuse.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Through drugs, yeah, through drugs, and they're the ones who should do it, and they're the ones who have the prestige to tell the kids that. When the law enforcement tells them, they laugh at them, you know? I don't know why, just out of contempt, but ... because I've seen this done. I've seen police over and over giving, come to schools and give a long talk, you know, about this and that, and DARE people.

You know, that DARE program? And the kids are just laughing at them. You know, because they don't have the moral authority, where the church, the family, and the school, especially a private school, would have it, and if they took care of that job, there'd be no -- there'd be no serious problem, actually.

DEAN BECKER: Well, very good. Father Joseph Ganssle, thank you once again for joining us on the Cultural Baggage show.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: Oh, you're welcome. Take care.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Thank you, sir.

FATHER JOSEPH GANSSLE: You're welcome.

DEAN BECKER: It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Flying projectiles, flu-like symptoms, itching, pain, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, low blood pressure, may affect heart function and immune response, should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women or by children under the age of twelve.

Time's up! The answer: Mistletoe. The American mistletoe is poisonous, deadly in fact. The European mistletoe is undergoing clinical trials because it has been shown to kill cancer cells.

GAME SHOW HOST: Welcome to the National Drug Abuse Quiz! Today's question: which drug is least addictive: alcohol, marijuana, or cigarettes? [ding] Tom!

TOM: Alcohol.

GAME SHOW HOST: Nope. [ding] Beth!

BETH: Cigarettes?

GAME SHOW HOST: Wrong. Government funded research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse says the least addictive drug is marijuana.

VOICEOVER: Surprised? Find out what else the government is hiding. Visit the Marijuana Policy Project Foundation at JoinMPP.org, or call 1-877-JOIN-MPP.

DEAN BECKER: If you'll recall, last week's guest, JS Rafaeli, the co-author of Drug Wars, spoke about the early days, the changes that went on in Great Britain. Well, here's an interview I did with Commander Brian Paddick at that very time, back in 2003.

Brian Paddick, a London police commander who was responsible for the softly-softly approach taken towards cannabis consumers in the London suburb of Brixton. His policy of no longer arresting cannabis consumers for possession is to become the policy this January for all the United Kingdom.

I'm speaking with Officer [sic: Deputy Assistant Commissioner] Brian Paddick. How are you today, sir?

BRIAN PADDICK: I'm very well, thank you.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. I've followed the exploits, if you will, the situations that developed in Great Britain as best I could through The Guardian newspaper, and I'm wondering if you might explain to my listeners your interpretation of what went on over the past couple of years, and your situation with the police department over there, sir.

BRIAN PADDICK: Yeah, I was in charge of a precinct in London with about a thousand police officers under my command, and we were having real problems, we had high levels of street robbery, high levels of burglary, we had people shoot -- drug dealers shooting each other, we had high levels of crack cocaine and heroin being openly dealt on the street.

All of a sudden, my officers decided that what they were going to concentrate on was arresting people for small amounts of marijuana. This arose out of a sting operation by our internal investigations department, where they suspected a patrol officer to be taking the marijuana and taking it home with him, and so what they did, they planted some marijuana in a car, and when he took it and threw it away, they arrested him for not doing his duty, for not taking it to the police station and booking it in as he should have done.

And he went on trial at the central criminal court in London, charged with misfeasance in a public office, which carries life imprisonment as a maximum penalty. And the other patrol officers said, look, you know, we have been dealing with marijuana informally, unofficially, by taking it off people and throwing it away. We're not going to do that anymore because we don't want to end up in the same position that he was in.

And so we're going to arrest every person that we find in possession of small amounts of, even if they're in possession of a small amount of marijuana.

So, according to the official police policy across the UK, you weren't, police officers were not allowed to do that. They had to arrest on every occasion, and they were effectively saying we're going to work according to the rule book.

So I decided that we needed to change the rule book, and we needed to introduce a system that allowed police officers to seize small amounts of marijuana and give a warning to the individual on the street, and no further action taken against them.

I decided, maybe wrongly, that my bosses would not agree with such a scheme, so we floated it in the newspapers as an idea, and the reaction of the media at that time was mainly positive.

My boss came in behind me and agreed to carry out, initially, a six month pilot, which was extended to twelve months, and during that twelve months in my part of London officers did not arrest anybody for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Instead they just seized the drug and issued a warning, and that warning had no legal status. We seized the drug and no further action was taken.

DEAN BECKER: Now, there were other ramifications. If you would, explain some of the fall out that came forward from that scenario.

BRIAN PADDICK: Well, for the first six months, everything went well, and then some conservative elements within the police force itself decided that this wasn't a good idea. A senior officer at Scotland Yard wrote an article where he said that he expected drugs tourists, people coming from other parts of London, into my area because we were more relaxed about marijuana in that particular part of London.

And he also, listening to some local people, again on the conservative wing, they were telling him stories about school children turning up at school stoned. And he repeated these anecdotes in this article.

And that began a very sort of negative campaign in the media against what was happening. What actually happened, well, when you look at the police statistics, the percentage of people being arrested in my area who came from outside that area went down during the period of the pilot compared with the period beforehand.

So there was no drugs tourism going on at all. And we surveyed every head teacher of every school in the area, and they said that there were less [sic: fewer] instances of their kids either caught in possession of marijuana or smoking marijuana at school than there had been before the pilot started.

And, eventually, that police chief conceded that in fact he had been wrong to listen to these isolated stories, and to pre-judge actually what the statistics showed. So, there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, but eventually, a tabloid newspaper, a very rightwing tabloid newspaper called The Mail On Sunday had gotten hold of a former partner of mine.

And it was a sort of, I was somebody who they really didn't like at all. One, that I appeared to be taking a softer line on drugs, and two, I was openly gay. And they found a former partner of mine who was very bitter about the way that we had broken up our relationship, and he was paid a hundred and seventy thousand dollars to accuse me of smoking marijuana with him whilst we were in the relationship, amongst other things.

He talked all about our private life, he talked about what sex was like between us in our own home, in our own relationship, and this was plastered all over the tabloid newspapers. As a result, the police decided even though there was no other evidence other than what he said, despite the fact that he'd been paid large amounts of money, the police decided that there should be a full criminal investigation.

I was removed from my post, and put into a holding job for eight months while they investigated these allegations. And even though at the end of those eight months they took no action at all against me, because there was no evidence to support the allegations that he had made, there was no criminal action, there was no discipline, police disciplinary action taken against me whatsoever, I was not allowed to go back and take up my job again.

I was kept in back office jobs for about another six months before they gave me a decent job. When I say a decent job, the jobs that they gave me for the period when I was under investigation and for six months afterwards were jobs that nobody had before. They were invented for me to keep me out of the way.

And it's only in the last three or four months that I've actually had a job that somebody was doing before, so I know that it was a real job because somebody was doing it before.

DEAN BECKER: You know, Brian, I -- here in the US, particularly in my home state, and even more particularly in my city of Houston, it has become a huge industry. We, my city of Houston, sends more people to prison for possession of less than a gram of drugs than, you know, any other city in the world, and we just recently had a scandal where the crime lab, who controls the analysis of drugs taken in, was shown to be totally inept, that the supervisor didn't even know how to run the machines that do the analysis.

What -- you've been here in America, I guess, before, but what is your take on the American system? I'm not asking you to make a judgment. What have you perceived?

BRIAN PADDICK: I mean, my view, which I openly shared with the world on an internet website called Urban75.com, was that drug addicts, those people who are actually addicted to these drugs, which is a very tiny proportion of those that take illegal drugs anyway, but those who are addicted should be treated as victims of crime, not perpetrators of crime.

At the end of the day, they need medical help. They need medical intervention. They don't need prison. I mean, there are stories in the UK, and I hear it's more or less the same in the US, where you get people going into prison who are not addicted to anything, and they come out heroin addicts.

When I went and saw the governor of the local prison, because we had a prison inside the precinct, he said that drugs were more readily available inside the prison than they were on the streets.

Now, you know, if people think that locking people up, drug addicts, locking drug addicts up, or even locking other people up who are not addicts but are caught in possession of small amounts of drugs, and putting them in prison is going to be a safe place for them to come off drugs, then that's not the reality.

Locking people up for possession of small amounts of drugs does nobody any good at all, and it costs the taxpayer thousands and thousands of dollars.

DEAN BECKER: Here's where we usually take a short little break, and we'll be right back.

For centuries, marijuana has been known for its ability to spark up a little romance.

It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Weakness, blurred vision, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, drowsiness, confusion, hallucinations, disorientation, and convulsions. Time's up! The answer: mistletoe. Oh wait, that's not FDA approved.

MARK GREER: This is Mark Greer, executive director of DrugSense. You're listening to Cultural Baggage. To end the drug war, visit MAPINC.org, that's MAPINC.org. Get active, stay aware, stay informed, and let's bring an end to this nonsense.

DEAN BECKER: As we close out this Christmas show, I remind you once again that because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful.