02/10/21 Roger Goodman

Roger Goodman is a Washington State Representative, Chair of their House Public Safety Committee who seeks to decriminalize all drugs in Washington State.

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Guest: 
Roger Goodman
Organization: 
TVW.org
Roger Goodman
Download: Audio icon FDBCB021021.mp3
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DEAN BECKER: (00:04)
Broadcasting on the drug truth network. This is cultural baggage. [inaudible]. 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 to prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on eternal drug war.

DEAN BECKER: (00:38)
I am Dean Becker, the Reverend most high. This is cultural baggage on Pacifica radio and the drug truth network. I thank you for being with us for this very important show. Things are changing in America, especially on the left coast. About six months ago, we released our claiming the moral high ground video, which featured, uh, 19, uh, uh, people speaking about the need to change our drug laws. And one of the stars of that was a representative from the state of Washington. He heads up there. Uh, he's the chair actually of their, uh, the house is a public safety committee. Um, the criminal justice group, if you will. And with that, I want to welcome back my good friend, Roger Goodman. Hello, Roger.

ROGER GOODMAN: (01:20)
It's good to be back with you, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: (01:22)
Uh, Roger, um, you know, Oregon has, um, I put forward this idea that, uh, drug reformers should organize, you know, to, uh, uh, have a parallel. The course said that, uh, um, you know, Portugal has set and you guys are going to follow on that same path, uh, here soon. Are you not?

ROGER GOODMAN: (01:44)
We may be the very first state to enact a full-scale decriminalization of drug possession, uh, through the legislature. Yes, sir. And, uh, a bill has been introduced and, uh, in my capacity as chair of the committee, I'm holding a hearing on the bill, uh, uh, very soon. And we are gonna get testimony from literally around the world. Uh, the Portuguese drugs are, and the chair of the global commission experts from the Netherlands and Australia and the United Kingdom and Canada drug policy, uh, foundational Canada, as well as our own, uh, local and national experts with clinical experience, uh, lived experience with substance use disorder, um, uh, describing the trauma of criminal justice involvement and how counterproductive it is when people are suffering from a behavioral health disorder. And also, uh, the fact that the state, the police, the criminal justice system should basically leave people alone. Uh, if they're introducing certain substances into their body and not harming anybody else, uh, and the egregious racial disproportionality in the enforcement of our drug laws by decriminalizing possession, uh, we will go a long way to bringing justice back to the justice system.

DEAN BECKER: (03:11)
Well, Roger, I, uh, you know, we had this mantra that was being shared around the country, uh, defund the police. I don't much like the term defund the police, but they are finding in cities like New York where they have, uh, allowed, um, citizens, or I should say doctors, uh, knowledgeable medical people do go out and contact certain, uh, situations that previously folk might have been arrested or had a fight or whatever, but they have been able to mitigate and to diminish the repercussions of those situations. Uh, America is starting to take a new look at criminal justice in many ways. Am I right?

ROGER GOODMAN: (03:53)
Absolutely. It seems to be a partisan matter. And I can tell you on my committee, uh, not just the Democrats, but the Republicans too are very receptive to this notion that the war on drugs has been a tragic failure, uh, corrosive policy, terrible waste of resources. Uh, it's just been all bad and that there are people who need help and there are people who need to be left alone. Uh, and so it's both a public health matter and a libertarian interest, uh, in, you know, protecting our liberties. Uh, I like chocolate cake, uh, and I probably eat too much of it, but you're going to arrest me and punish me for that. Uh, it's probably not too good for me, but, you know, instead of that notion, but I think the key is that if we, and I don't like the defund, the police, uh, uh, uh, meme either, uh, I think that we need to invest in our communities.

ROGER GOODMAN: (04:46)
Uh, there is a role for the police, particularly in, in our urban society, uh, where a lot of people just can't cope and there's a lot of social, social dislocation and, uh, and disorder, but, uh, we need to invest in housing, in education, in healthcare, in job opportunities, uh, financial opportunities, particularly in communities of color, uh, you know, structural racism has basically caused crime. Uh, and so that's the key, you know, we can and should stop arresting and charging and prosecuting and incarcerating people, uh, for a drug-related activity, but we can't leave people languishing in the streets. Uh, if people need help, we need to invest particularly in healthcare and behavioral healthcare in particular. Uh, and that's what the proposal that we're considering would do that would decriminalize the possession of, uh, amounts for personal use, but also make tens of millions of dollars of investments in our public health system, particularly again, behavioral health, mental health, and substance use disorder treatment.

ROGER GOODMAN: (05:51)
Uh, and that's what we have to do in Seattle, uh, where I'm from, uh, the prosecutors decided not to charge, uh, drug possession cases or even, uh, dealing in small amounts, uh, because it's just a revolving door. It's not a useful way of using our limited resources. However, in Seattle, we have not made the investment in, uh, the therapeutic care that's necessary for a lot of people who are really suffering on the streets. And so the public doesn't necessarily have a lot of confidence where they S they see basically de facto decriminalization, but a lot of disorder of the streets and people are afraid, you know, to go into the city. Um, and I'm worried about Oregon too. Uh, I, I hope that they make the necessary investments, uh, and we are committed here in Washington state, uh, to make those investments. So that we're, again, not just decriminalizing for the sake of some principle, but taking care of some serious chronic social problems that we have.

DEAN BECKER: (06:53)
Now, this is going to involve a reallocation of, um, taxpayer dollars, uh, in many cases, um, that is going to require convincing. Um, well, you say as many of the Republicans are already going along with this, but there may be a few re recalcitrant folks, uh, that, that might want to stand in a way of this change, because they want to keep those dollars in their side of the aisle, so to speak.

ROGER GOODMAN: (07:19)
Yeah. I mean, you're always going to have the traditional tough on crime law and order, uh, folks they're in the minority though. There's going to be no votes, of course, but there's going to be more, yes. Votes, uh, in the end. Uh, and we just have to make sure that we refine the proposal so that it's, you know, politically, uh, tenable, uh, in the end, we're going to save money, any policy, any policy, whether it's housing or education or healthcare or justice system, uh, that regards the dignity of human beings that is humane saves money, you know, uh, it doesn't, I always say for people who don't care about the homeless or who don't care about all them criminals, I say, well, look, you don't have to care about human dignity, but don't, you want a better return on your tax dollar. Uh, and the fact is that if we are more humane, uh, and dignified in the way we treat people, it saves money. So here, instead of wasting criminal justice resources, we'll take those resources and invest it, uh, in healthcare and supports, uh, which yields a better return. And it actually makes people functional, uh, and reduces disorder in our society. So all in all this will save me

DEAN BECKER: (08:32)
Well, and that's, I think, proven itself, um, with, with the, um, the many harm reduction philosophies that are playing out around America, around the world, in fact that, uh, it saves money, saves lives and saves futures. So to speak, to, uh, to reassess this process of drug war waging, an eternal war. Um, you mentioned earlier that, uh, you, you had heard from, uh, the drugs are a Portugal and the, uh, head of the global commission on drugs. I like to think I had a little bit to do with that. I,

ROGER GOODMAN: (09:07)
He did. And he did absolutely well.

DEAN BECKER: (09:10)
Uh, I, and it brings me around to something I mentioned when we spoke a couple of days ago, and that is claiming the moral high ground, that, that video that I produced a six months ago, there were people lining up wanting to be a part of it, including the executive secretary of the global commission on drugs. The drugs are a Portugal. And, um, uh, just, uh, last week I interviewed the head or the pioneer, the founder of the global commission on drugs, a former president of Switzerland, Ruth Dreyfus. And she called me a hero at the end of our interview. And I guess what I'm saying is we own the moral high ground. We own the, the economic outlook. We, we own all the tools to get this done.

ROGER GOODMAN: (09:58)
We do. And we're way past the tipping point now, in terms of public support for winding down the war on drugs. Now, when I ran for, uh, uh, for public office, 15 years ago, everyone thought this guy can't possibly get elected. He wants to legalize drugs, but you know what, when the public found out about my work, because I've been at drug policy reform or longer than I've been an elected official, my popularity skyrocketed and I won, and I'm not one, I'm just one of my eighth term. I'm a senior member here in the legislature, chairing the committee that used to have jurisdiction over cannabis, because it was illegal. I don't have jurisdiction over anymore. It's in the commerce committee because it's a regulated substance. We need, we need to take a look at the other substances as well. So there were the drug war by no means, uh, is over.

ROGER GOODMAN: (10:47)
Uh, but it, it it's, it's glory days are way past us. Uh, fortunately, uh, but we still have a lot of work to do Ruth drive us. The former president of Switzerland is going to be testifying before my committee, uh, uh, when, when we hold this hearing, uh, it's a house bill 1499. Uh, so any of you who might be interested to go to the Washington state legislature website, check out house bill 1499, and anyone can tune in, uh, to the hearing, uh, everything's remote these days, we're having our legislative businesses, all remote, kind of like this interview. Um, and so we're going to have testimony from literally the world's experts, not just people with opinions and beliefs, uh, but people who have clinical experience, uh, people who could cite the research, uh, that by treating people with health problems, uh, through public health measures and not criminalizing the use or the, or the possession, uh, it's, uh, it makes fiscal sense. Uh, and again, it's, uh, in to the dignity of human beings, the way we should.

DEAN BECKER: (11:56)
Yes. And that's, what's been lacking. And so many cases I have used and still use the phrase that drug users are well in the past have been considered to be unconditionally experimental, uh, better off dead. And that was the law enforcement mantra for decades. If I dare say, um, legislators, uh, belt, the same way that druggies are just unworthy of life and, uh, those days are over. Thanks.

ROGER GOODMAN: (12:23)
Well, no, there, there still is a stigma. I mean, we we've, we've made a lot, we've made it a long way for instance, on mental illness. Uh, it's now fairly much a consensus that people suffering from mental health disorders, uh, are suffering from a health disorder. It's, uh, it's perhaps an organic or a chemical problem in the brain or the body. Uh, there's still a stigma, however, with, uh, use of prohibited substances. Uh, and I say, prohibited substances, uh, I'm not talking about alcohol, right? That's a regulated substance. That's been accepted in our culture for hundreds of years. And so there still is a stigma and a belief that it's a moral failing people making a choice, uh, and, uh, very much sort of a cultural bias against the use of certain substances. And, you know, very well as do I, that the drug war hasn't been about the substances, it's been about the vulnerable and unpopular groups in our society that we've targeted to try to control whether it's the Mexicans with marijuana or the Chinese with opium or the cocaine craze Negro a century ago, uh, or the, uh, you know, the redneck, uh, uh, using meth out in the countryside and all of these vulnerable groups, that's been the purpose of the drug war.

ROGER GOODMAN: (13:37)
And that's why it's been so immoral. Uh, and so I'm happy to be helping to take the lead as a lawmaker, uh, to say goodbye to all that and, and wind it down and treat people with respect and dignity, uh, no matter their station in life.

DEAN BECKER: (13:52)
Well, yeah. To tie in with what you were talking about the, well, I don't know, just the, the bigotry that has been a part of it for a century or more who knows the sign above my head here. Black lives matter is kind of paralleling what has happened with, uh, uh, you know, George Floyd and Brianna, and all of the others that have whose lives whose deaths have been shown to us have been seen and felt by so many millions. And, and is that helping to make this progress that, that you're seeking at this time, or people beginning to realize it's just not working in any fashion?

ROGER GOODMAN: (14:35)
Well, it's not just not working. People are getting killed. I mean, look, look at what happened to Brianna Taylor. That was a no-knock warrant where they, they, they just knocked the door down. There's a rule, a general rule it's called the knock and announce rule where law enforcement are required to announce themselves before they come into private, private residence, private property. Uh, but, uh, in many jurisdictions, most jurisdictions, uh, police are permitted to ask a judge for a no-knock warrant, just suspend that knock and announce rule, uh, and judges are permitted to issue them well, here in Washington state, we have legislation that we're also moving through my committee to prohibit no-knock warrants, because I know not warrant is a legacy of vestige of the war on drugs. It's about knocking the door down so that we can get that math before you flush it down the toilet.

ROGER GOODMAN: (15:25)
And then they knock the door down. It's the wrong door, or there's a shootout and everybody dies. And it's a disaster. Plus of course it's a violation of the fourth amendment, uh, unreasonable search and seizure. And so we are going to prohibit that, you know, if there are exigent circumstances and there's someone who is really in danger in that house, the police can knock the door down because the law, the law protects them under those circumstances. They don't have to get a special warrant for that, but that no-knock warrant just as an example, uh, is one of the awful, uh, legacies of the war on drugs. And we need to get rid of it all.

DEAN BECKER: (15:59)
Well, I don't know if you'd had a chance to hear the situation down here in Houston. We had, uh, uh, another story break, uh, now a week or two ago where the district attorney indicted six more police officers for the Harding street bus. And I don't know if you've heard about it. The cops had a no-knock warrant. They, they shot the man and the woman and the dog. They shot each other through the walls. They, they had a no-knock warrant. They did for a cocaine, um, Oh, for heroin. They were looking for heroin. They found a bag, a little bag of weed. Um, and, uh, to this day, it's been over a year. They still haven't released the ballistics who shot, who, what bullets went, where, um, it's just another example of the sticky wicket that this drug war is. It creates complications and roadblocks everywhere.

ROGER GOODMAN: (16:56)
I mean, those are what you're talking about are the extremes, but on a day to day basis, all across our country, people who are coping with a tough life in urban areas, that'd be smoking crack behind the dumpster just to get a job because they've got nothing else in their lives. Just the residue on that crack pipe is a felony that's possession of a controlled substance, and they're being arrested and jailed and prosecuted just for trying to cope with life. And I think people are really waking up to this, that we need to treat these people with dignity and again, in a much more cost-effective way, give them the help they need and not just punish them for, you know, just basically trying to survive. So I think we're making a lot of progress, uh, and I'm looking forward to hearing this legislation and moving it through, uh, so that we're just, we need to, uh, substance use disorder. We need to decriminalize, uh, mental illness. Uh, and this is an important part of, of getting that done.

DEAN BECKER: (17:58)
Well, Roger, we have seen over the past couple of decades, Washington state, Oregon, California, Colorado, and now I think another 10 or 12 other States have legalized marijuana in one fashion or another. Um, Oregon has made steps towards decrim. You guys are giving us a serious consideration and effort here at this point. Do you think that's the next wave, uh, that, uh, can sweep across these United States?

ROGER GOODMAN: (18:29)
I do. Uh, it depends where you are. So here out in Washington state, you know, we're on the left coast. Well, right next to Washington state is Idaho. Idaho is now moving to amend its constitution to prevent any change in cannabis laws. So the cannabis will always be an illegal substance. And what's so interesting is that cannabis marijuana. I like to call it cannabis cause that's the Latin term. Cannabis is the second largest cash crop in Idaho behind potatoes. It happens, it happens to be an illegal market, but boy, you know, if Idaho were to create a regulated market, they make a whole lot of money and reduce criminal justice expenditures. And the sky's not going to fall because in Washington state, we have a reduced use by young people by eighth graders and 10th graders who cannabis is not a forbidden fruit anymore. It's a, if grandma's using it for cancer, it's not cool.

ROGER GOODMAN: (19:26)
So why, why waste your time? You know, and frankly, people over the age of 65, uh, skyrocketing use of cannabis because it helps them age gracefully. We're bringing in $600 million in revenue every year to pay for healthcare for the poor, who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford it. Uh, deaths are down on the roadways because people aren't drinking so much bad beer anymore. They're smoking pot instead just stay at home. So, uh, the, the regulation rather than prohibition of cannabis, uh, has been all good news, uh, for our state. Uh, and so we have to do the same thing with the other substances, a certain regulatory control undercut the black market. Uh, but the first step really is this possession question. You know, those who possess small amounts, why shouldn't we be punishing them? We need to be compassionate. We need to be helping them or leaving them alone. Uh, and so that's the legislation that we're now considering is decriminalizing the possession of substances for personal use, uh, and offering referrals to healthcare if they need it. And I think that's the right policy move.

DEAN BECKER: (20:29)
Well, I, I would agree with that now, Roger, I, I look at the, uh, you know, you mentioned Ida, um, yeah. Idaho is trying to prevent change to their cannabis laws. Texas did that decades ago. We, we no longer have the ability to have a, uh, uh, you know, the public referendum, whatever you want to it, we can't vote on it. It's all up to the legislature. And that's a whole other story, but I guess the, the point is the, um, I don't know, the, the, the way that is sweeping across America for marijuana, I think is a big positive for all of drug reform. Because when we make progress there, it proves a point that we were way off base that we never had it right in the first place. Am I correct?

ROGER GOODMAN: (21:15)
You have to look at it each substance at a time. Uh, cannabis has been very widely used by probably one of three Americans. Uh, so culturally, politically, it was easier to create regulated markets there. Uh, I believe in local control. Uh, so Texas has 254 counties. The Texas has dry counties, Texas has wet counties. Uh, they could do the same thing with cannabis. Uh, and so, uh, every state can do whatever they wish it's just prohibition really doesn't work. Uh, and so some counties are going to be stupid and, uh, you know, and, and folks from those counties are going to go across the line and pick out whatever they want and then probably bring it back in a paper bag, just like they do today at Texas. You know, if you're in, if you're in Smith County, where Tyler is, is it's a dry County, you go across the line to pick up your, your alcohol and then come back and sit in the town square in the back of your pickup.

ROGER GOODMAN: (22:09)
Uh, you know, I mean, it's just, I I've, I've lived in, worked in Texas myself. So, um, but some of the other substances are a little more challenging because they're not as widely used. Um, uh, psychedelics might not be widely used, but there's a lot of medical evidence of their usefulness for depression and for PTSD and for end of life care, uh, palliative care. Uh, so we could make some progress there. The opiate heroin, as you know, was synthesized by bare pharmaceutical company. Uh, it should be brought back into the, the medical Pharmacopia for pain relief and for cough suppression, uh, the stimulants have the tough one. How do you regulate, uh, the stimulants, uh, where we live in a stimulant society, you go in any seven 11 and we got rockstar and, and, uh, uh, what are the, what are some of these drinks that are totally unregulated?

ROGER GOODMAN: (23:02)
Uh, you know, and so, but the basic notion is that a law is not going to protect people from themselves. The purpose of the law is to protect people from others who intend harm. So if it's consensual activity, whether you're using stimulants or depressants or opiates or, uh, cannabis, uh, the law is not going to prevent you from doing it. And we have unfortunately, a century of evidence of how futile that effort has been. Uh, and so we just need to regulate substances in a different way for each substance, uh, but not prohibit them, that prohibition hasn't worked. And, um, and I'm hoping that we'll close the chapter fairly soon.

DEAN BECKER: (23:46)
Well, one of our associates, um, Oh, Peter, Chris of one of the original leap speakers used to talk about the original prohibition that involved God, Adam and Eve, and it didn't work out even back then. And, um, you know, prohibition just does not work well. Friends we've been speaking with Roger Goodman, he's chair of the house, public safety committee up there in Washington state. He heads up, uh, an effort to, uh, de creme drugs. That's a bill of 1499. Did I get that right?

ROGER GOODMAN: (24:19)
Is house bill 1499, uh, sponsored by representative Lauren Davis? Uh, if, if at some point you could have representative Davis and myself on your program, we can talk about this issue. Uh, representative Davis, uh, is a person who is in recovery from, uh, both the mental health and substance use disorder. She really cares about providing the needed therapeutic support, uh, and sees that decriminalization of drug possession is the first step, uh, because that opens the door to people who have been suffering and quietly crying out for help, but afraid of the criminal consequences. And you take away that traumatic criminal system, and then that the therapeutic help becomes available to them. And that's what we hope will happen in our state.

DEAN BECKER: (25:10)
Roger Goodman for taking time out of his very busy day to visit with us. Uh, he tells me that, uh, this coming Friday of February 12, at 10:00 AM, West coast time, you can tune in to those speakers, including the former president of Switzerland, uh, uh, Ruth Dreifuss, by going to T V w.org.

DEAN BECKER: (25:36)
This is a drug truth network editorial two decades ago. I stumbled upon official government documents, newspaper and other written accounts, which fully described how these drug laws came to be. These documents showed that without any actual data studies or rationale, these laws were instituted. I saw that it was outrageous on abomination, a series of hysterical, uh, accounts based solely on propaganda and racial screeds that were used to frighten the populous and motivate the politicians to continually ratchet up the number of drug laws and the penalties for possession or sales. It worked to alienate drug users in much the same way gays or even witches have been persecuted. In the past. I felt an obligation to alert others, meaning you to what I had learned. I first wrote a screenplay, which was never given a green light called century of lies. Next I joined forces with the New York times to become their liaison for their drug policy.

DEAN BECKER: (26:44)
It was my duty to bring notables to that forum, to include the likes of Milton Friedman, and then governor Gary Johnson. In 2001, I managed to wrangle a weekly broadcast program. This program, cultural baggage on KPMT Houston specific a radio station. We now have more than 60 broadcast affiliates in the U S and Canada. I've interviewed well over a thousand notables to include government officials, scientists, doctors, ministers, cops, wardens prosecutors, and well over 100 authors to fortify. My understanding, I have traveled to more than 100 conferences to learn directly from these doctors, scientists and other experts I have for more than 20 years challenged these high echelon officials, the drugs are as the attorneys general, a CIA FBI to come on this show to clarify the need for an eternal drug war to absolutely no avail. There is no benefit to this drug war. We must bring it to an end. Well, it turns out we do have just enough time to name that drug.

DEAN BECKER: (27:51)
It's time to play name that drug by its side effects, unexpected swelling, joint pain, headaches, dizziness, weakness, unusual bruising, coughing up blood that looks like coffee grounds being red stools look like tar severe uncontrollable bleeding.

DEAN BECKER: (28:05)
Time's up the answer from Boehringer Ingelheim by drunk set

DEAN BECKER: (28:10)
For irregular heartbeat. Again, I want to thank, uh, Roger Goodman. Then if you want to watch that video, T V w.org, uh, you know, folks that drug Wars ending slow, ugly, and bloody, we could sure use your help to bring it to an end. And once again, I remind you that because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful

DEAN BECKER: (28:34)
To the drug truth network listeners around the world. This is Dean Becker for cultural baggage and the unvarnished truth. Cultural baggage is a production of the Pacifica radio network. Archives are permanently stored at the James A. Baker, the third Institute for public policy, and we are all tapped on the edge of an abyss.