Prof William Martin of James Baker III Institute + Cops for change to cannabis laws: Betty Aldworth, Tony Rya & Neill Franklin, MJ Borden w/Drug War Facts, T Nelson for LEAP & D McVay Re/Bolivian coca stats
Century of Lies
Sunday, September 23, 2012
James A. Baker Inst. for Public Policy
Sun, 09/23/2012 - 19:42
Century of Lies / September 23, 2012
DEAN BECKER: The failure of Drug War is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more. Now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.
DEAN BECKER: Welcome to this edition of Century of Lies. If things work out we’re going to have a total of 7 guests whose ideas I want to share with you on this program. We’re going to begin now with the Director of the James A. Baker, III Institute for Public Policy, drug reform director, Professor William Martin.
Last month and this month I was on a 32 day journey with the Caravan for Peace and Justice. One of those stops was in Houston at the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy and the gentleman who heads up the drug investigation, if you will, there at the Baker Institute, Professor William Martin is now with us. How are you doing, Bill?
WILLIAM MARTIN: I’m doing fine, Dean. Good to be with you.
DEAN BECKER: Bill, that was quite an event that came through. It shook the trees in Mexico, so to speak. Didn’t do so much here in the U.S. but it was a very important event. Was it not?
WILLIAM MARTIN: Well, I hope it was. You’re right there were a modest number of people in Houston and in most other places where Javier Sicilia went with his march across the country. When it reached Washington I understand that it was just a little over 100 people but it drew a great deal of media attention. If there had been 500 or 1,000 it probably wouldn’t have drawn anymore so at least it got that attention. It called attention to the fact that many Mexicans and Mexico is hurting badly because of the drug wars there.
Sicilia began this because his own son, a college student, was picked up and with several other compadres was murdered and they had nothing to do, as far as anyone can tell, with any kind of drug trade. This is calling attention to the fact that the Mexican claims and the U.S. claims, as well often, that at least 90% of the people killed in the drug violence in Mexico are criminals and that does not appear to be the case. The evidence is coming out more and more against that.
He was calling attention to that and also drawing attention to a number of other things that are problematic about the drug war. In particular how it is hurting Mexico.
DEAN BECKER: This brings to mind that there is an ongoing series right now on the Houston Chronicle where many of those associated with the Baker Institute and otherwise are talking about the potential legalization of marijuana. It’s a good series. Your thoughts on that, sir.
WILLIAM MARTIN: I was very pleased. This was initiated by…we have a new post doc in drug policy, Nathan Jones, who is recently got his doctorate at the University at Irvine, Berkeley graduate, and he’s doing a great job. He’s written…his dissertation was about the Tijuana Cartel but he keeps up with many aspects of drug policy and he got the idea of getting the people who are interested in this subject at the Baker Institute and people he knows otherwise to participate in this daily blog.
They have a series of 7 or 8 people who are participating in this series on marijuana. I started it off and it’s moved off to talk about medical marijuana, about the technicalities that would need to be resolved before we could have a change in marijuana policy. There will be a piece or two which will argue against legalization. I’m told that its gotten more response than any other of the Baker Institute blogs that appear in the Houston Chronicle. My piece was the first one and it has gotten a large number…I would say there were 98% positive because there were 101 people who commented and I think there were only 1 or 2 who were against it.
One of my favorites were, “This old man makes a lot of sense.”
DEAN BECKER: You know that’s the heck of it. If you delve into it…if you just look at the evidence it’s hard to come up with an opinion contrary to what you guys presented.
WILLIAM MARTIN: I’ve been a little reticent, frankly, to participate in blogs because I don’t know who reads them and if you look at the comments they’re often…well, I think, “I don’t know if want to be touched with some of these people.”
This is on any subject. But on this one we’ve already gotten interest in talking with and forming a group with people at the South Texas College of Law to perhaps draw up some model legislation regarding marijuana.
Last night I spent an hour on the phone with a significant call-in show in San Francisco who had found out about these series and had been reading it and wanted to interview me and will probably talk about it more.
It’s getting some attention well beyond just the number of people who read it on the Chronicle Blog.
DEAN BECKER: This brings to mind that on this 32 day Caravan for Peace I talked to literally hundreds of people and it was hard – dang near impossible – to find people who thought the drug war should last forever – that it needed to continue in its same failed path. Things are changing, right?
WILLIAM MARTIN: They are changing. Of course when you were talking to people on that journey it wasn’t exactly a random sample.
It is the case that now, for the first time, at least half of the people in the country think that marijuana ought to be legal. The Washington State initiative which would essentially legalize marijuana in the state of Washington is now polling 57 to 34%. There will doubtless be a push against it at the end as there was in California with Proposition 19 but it’s highly unlikely that any kind of push can overcome a 57-34 margin.
The Colorado initiative is ranging now about 50% to 38%. Both of these have enlarged in the last few weeks. So I think we’re going to have 2 states that will essentially legalize marijuana. The federal government will not…it could come in against the states as they have against the states that have the legalized medical marijuana business in California but it will be much more difficult to take on 2 whole states.
DEAN BECKER: Bill, the fact of the matter is the Caravan for Peace had a lot of people in support of their efforts recognizing the comparable nature of the black community especially being locked up at rates several times of that of the white population…
WILLIAM MARTIN: Approximately 10 times according to some good research.
DEAN BECKER: Yes sir, and in that regard you and I have become friends, followers, fans of Michelle Alexander – the author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of color blindness” and she’s coming to Houston. Let’s talk about that.
WILLIAM MARTIN: I’m very excited about that. She’ll be in Houston on Tuesday, October the 2 nd at 7:30. This is being sponsored by the Progressive Forum. It’s a wonderful thing. I’ve wanted to have Michelle Alexander come to the Baker Institute but, frankly, having her come down to the Progressive Forum which will draw a far larger crowd and more public attention is much better. I’m happy that that is coming and to have had some roll in suggesting to some people what a good person she would be and very delighted that she is coming.
I’m hoping that we can get particularly black and Latino churches to come out for this. Michelle has been appearing at a number of churches trying to mobilize the churches on behalf of protesting this mass incarceration and trying to get them to see that this is the contemporary Civil Rights Movement. This is where black civil rights and minority civil rights are being trampled upon in a very significant way, damaging way to communities.
She is drawing attention to that. This book was the first edition was published with 3,000 copies hoping it would get a little readership. My understanding is now it has been on the best-seller list for 30 weeks. It has sold over 200,000 copies and she speaks just day after day after day. She is a fantastic, powerful speaker.
At a conference we had in March she wasn’t able to come in person but she gave us permission to run a 20 minute speech that she had given at a Martin Luther King Day celebration that she had given before and I would say that of nearly everything we had there people came away talking about that particular video.
DEAN BECKER: It’s hard to ignore the facts and the way she presents them. Her intelligence underscores what she is presenting.
WILLIAM MARTIN: Yes, she’s not just a neophyte. She clerked for Supreme Court Justice Blackman. She taught. She teaches at Ohio State Law School. She has the credentials. When you hear her speak you don’t doubt that.
DEAN BECKER: Once again, tell folks when and where she’s going to be in Houston.
WILLIAM MARTIN: It will be Tuesday night, October 2nd at 7:30 at the Wortham Center downtown.
DEAN BECKER: Folks, once again, I want to remind you that I have some association with this Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. They carry all of my shows there in a permanent archive.
WILLIAM MARTIN: We’re very proud to have that association with you, Dean.
DEAN BECKER: Bill, one more time, if folks want to tune in to what’s going on at the Baker Institute tell them how they can reach that site.
WILLIAM MARTIN: You can go to bakerinstitute.org. Right at the top you’ll see a list of various programs and one of those is drug policy.
MARY JANE BORDEN: Hello drug policy aficionados! I'm Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts.
As a multi-part series on drug control models, the question for this week asks, What is drug decriminalization?
In the last segment, it was noted that decriminalization is often confused with depenalization. They are similar because they reduce the reliance on incarceration in drug control, but they differ according to the involvement of the criminal justice system.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy confirmed that, "decriminalisation is the elimination of a conduct or activity from the sphere of criminal law, while depenalisation is simply the relaxation of the penal sanction provided for by law."
In its 2005 report, the King County Bar Association cited Canadian drug policy expert Mark Haden's definition of decriminalization as, "The removal of criminal sanctions for personal use only. This does not provide for legal options for how to obtain drugs, so there is still unregulated access to drugs of unknown purity and potency."
Haden went to define "defacto decriminalization" as, "Collectively agreeing to ignore existing laws without changing them. For many years the Netherlands have maintained the laws prohibiting the possession and sale of marijuana while allowing both of these in practice."
In 2001, Portugal successfully adopted a system whereby offenses involving the consumption, acquisition and possession of drugs for personal use are referred to a commission instead of the criminal justice system. Recently, Rhode Island made possession of up to one ounce of marijuana a civil violation.
Still, scholars with the Rand Corporation asserted that decriminalization "is not a distinct drug control model ... but rather, a form of low severity prohibition."
Under this logic, the only alternative to drug prohibition is drug legalization, which will be discussed in the next few Drug Truth Network segments.
These Facts concerning decriminalization and others like them can be found under the Drug Control Models section of the Drug War Facts Economics Chapter at www.drugwarfacts.org.
If you have a question for which you need facts, please e-mail it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll try to answer your question in an upcoming show.
So remember when you need facts about drugs and drug policy, you can get the facts at Drug War Facts.
DEAN BECKER: The following segment comes to us out of the state of Colorado.
BETTY ALDWORTH: My name is Betty Aldworth. My title is Advocacy Director and I work for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.
I’ve seen many different kinds of people come up to support Amendment 64 which would replace the wasteful and counterproductive policy of marijuana prohibition with a more sensible approach – regulating marijuana like alcohol.
Parents, political parties, organizations such as the NAACP, ACL of Colorado and the Colorado Defense Bar, as well as 130 college professors, among others have also come out against the needless arrests of about 10,000 Coloradans each year for marijuana offenses - nearly 95% of which are for simple possession.
As if the time spent investigating and arresting these people isn’t enough more resources are wasted when every one of them must appear in court. Today another important constituency is stepping forward to make its voice heard in the public conversation about our failed marijuana laws. Law enforcement officers who have served on the beat and have witnessed the failure of these policies and dealt with the harms that they cause, judges who have seen people in their courtrooms who absolutely did not need to be there taking up time, space and money, prosecutors who have spent hours dealing with non-violent marijuana offenses as opposed to violent and otherwise serious crimes and others. But these people are here to speak for themselves. They’re also here to speak for the many law enforcement officials who support ending marijuana prohibition but are unable to do so out of fear of reprecussions.
Here in Colorado we’ve seen when the head of the medical marijuana enforcement division told voters that forcing marijuana into an underground market would cause more problems than it would solve and make it harder for authorities to control marijuana.
Other law enforcers are speaking out against Amendment 64 we see that …when a law enforcement official who makes a living off of arresting and prosecuting people for marijuana offenses somehow expresses an opinion it somehow becomes perfectly acceptable.
But, as I said, there are many folks who have dedicated their lives to law enforcement who are willing to speak out and we are pleased to have some of them with us today.
First we’ll hear from Lieutenant Tony Ryan who witnessed the failure of marijuana prohibition first-hand during his 36 years at the Denver Police Department.
TONY RYAN: I am a retired Lieutenant from the Denver Police after 36 years. Most of those years I was a street cop, patrolmen, Sargent and Lieutenant. I feel I have seen a lot of what goes on in police work by being constantly on the street for the vast majority of those 36 years usually in a high-incident crime area.
I’m here to speak in favor of Amendment 64. Having a lot of law enforcement experience and to say that I’m also a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. I’m a speaker for them and on the Board of Directors.
My experience as far as marijuana is concerned is the only calls I recall getting or hearing my troops get regarding marijuana was because somebody was mad at somebody and they wanted to turn them in for using it. It was not because of something they did while using marijuana per se whereas the other substances we have lots more trouble. In the grand scheme of things marijuana was not a problem in terms of calls for service.
While speaking with a couple of the DAs today as I was doing a presentation they were telling me that things are going to go crazy if we pass Amendment 64. Youths are going to be going nuts and buying and using marijuana and so forth. Apparently they’ve forgotten the report that came out just this year from the Center for Disease Control saying just since Colorado passed the medical marijuana law just a few years ago teen use has steadily decreased.
So I don’t have any faith in that argument because we’ve seen that result not just here in Colorado but clear back when California passed the first medical marijuana law they had the same results as have had other states.
I’m just here to say that we should support this because it is something that will work and the drug situation that we have now is not working and only exacerbates the problem.
BETTY ALDWORTH: Next we will be hearing from Neill Franklin, Major Neill Franklin a 34 year veteran of the Maryland State Police Departments who had the position of Commander of the Education and Training Division and the Bureau of Drug Criminal Enforcement. Neill is the Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and the organization of more than 1,000 police officers, judges, prosecutors, prison wardens and FBI and DEA agents.
We are proud to have their support and proud to have Neill with us today.
NEILL FRANKLIN: I think there are a number of ways that this will increase not just the safety for police officers but the safety for citizens as well.
It is these laws of prohibition for marijuana that have driven a wedge between police and community now. In many of our communities the police are not well respected and when police are not well respected you then have many opportunities for conflict between citizens and police.
Citizens do not trust the police they do not give them information for solving crimes of violence in their communities. In cities like Baltimore they have stop snitching campaigns that have migrated across the country - again, driving a broader wedge between police and community. When we don’t have citizens working with the police to get violent criminals off the street that presents another safety issue not just for police but for our citizens as well.
When you have policies of marijuana prohibition which is by far the largest money maker for organized crime and those violent members of the illicit trade…we already know that the cartel…according to the U.S. government are in over 1,000 communities now within the United States and we know their track record as it related to history.
As long as we continue to have a marketplace where the majority of their money comes from illegal marijuana sales we will continue to have the violence that is perpertrated by the members of the cartel and other organized crime figures and gangs that are in competition with the cartel within our own very neighborhoods.
Another area where we will have improved safety for, again, the police and our citizens are these dynamic SWAT raids that we do on a regular basis. They are very, very dangerous. And we use these military tactics and strategies on just about every raid that we do and it’s been documented, we see it all the time where innocent people are getting hurt.
We are conducting raids on homes and many times when we conduct raids on homes where there might be some illicit activity for marijuana there’s no violence on behalf of those who are being targeted by the police but, yet the raid itself is an act of violence.
I could go on and on but those are just a few ways in which we would have safer communities and it would be much safer for our police and I’ll end with this.
I had a very close friend who was assassinated while working undercover for the police buying drugs. We’ve had many police officers who have been killed or severely injured working undercover buying marijuana and that would come to an end. So, personally, I think that’s a win.
TERRY NELSON: This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Even with the financial situation in this country we continue to waste money on failed foreign drug efforts.
U.S. "drug czar" Gil Kerlikowske is to form a team in Colombia to renew efforts against drug trafficking.
Colombia's police director General Jose Roberto Leon Riaño met with Kerlikowske, the U.S. Director of National Drug Control Policy, to discuss a strategy to combat the drug issue as well as implement a new preventative policy in regards to consumers that are considered addicts, said Radio Santa Fe.
They agreed to confirm the bi-national team which will be work on reviewing the efforts against the cultivation, processing, production and narco-trafficking from Colombia to the exterior. (So another study to go along with the multitude of previous studies is their solution).
According to Caracol Radio, figures from the U.S. Department of State place Colombia as the origin of 95% of the cocaine consumed in the U.S.
This is after we spent over five billion dollars fumigating, investigating traffickers and training their army units. And just a few months ago our drug czar was touting how much success we have had in Colombia. I recently reviewed the drug report and found that while we are still focusing on the eastern pacific and western coast of Central America there has been a major shift in trafficking back to the Caribbean and northern coast of Central America. So the balloon theory is alive and well in the drug business. The more you squeeze in one area the sooner they will return to a previous area that was very successful for them. By the time we spend the millions of dollars amping up our presence back in the Caribbean to counter the newest threat they will only return to the old western routes.
There is a market for drugs and much money to be made selling to that market. Of course it is not a simple as that as there are various drug gangs that will have to shoot it out, many innocent people be killed and more police corrupted before their differences are settled. But one thing that has not changed and will not change...drugs will still be grown, processed and sold to the ready market for them whether in Colombia or elswhere. Instead of spending millions we could legalize these products and be taxing these goods and saving billions of dollars and tens of thousands of people from being killed and millions of people from being arrested and saddled with a drug record the remainder of their lives.
Any business that has failed it’s goals as often as the DEA and ONDCP should not be in business and wasting tax payer dollars. Fourty years of failure and no chance that this will change in the future. Let’s legalize these products and adopt a policy of education and treatment to handle our drug problems. We will have a far greater chance of success. This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, www.leap.cc, signing off. Stay safe.
DOUG McVAY: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has released its report on Bolivian coca production for 2011. According to the UNODC, the area under coca cultivation was down to 27,200 hectares in 2011, significantly less than the 31,000 hectares reported for 2010. Total coca leaf yield was estimated at 48,100 tons in 2011, down from 2010's level of 55,500 tons.
The US government on the other hand estimates that Bolivia cultivated nearly 30,000 hectares of coca in 2011, down from the 34,500 hectares which the US believed that Bolivia cultivated in 2010. In its Memorandum of Justification, released September 14 of this year, the US claims that in spite of the decrease, total cocaine potential production actually increased by 28 percent, from 205 metric tonnes to 265 metric tonnes. This supposed increased is, quote, "due to more efficient processing methods and the growing maturity of existing fields, which contribute to higher yields." end quote.
One could think of this as a simple difference of opinion, or differences in methodology. But then there's this: In the US Government's Memorandum of Justification, our government claims that the UN is estimating that Bolivia cultivated 31,100 hectares in 2011. Yet the UN report which was issued about a week after the US made its decision does not say that. The UNODC is commending Bolivia for its efforts against coca.
So who's right?
Drug crop estimates are political tools. If governments are friendly, we cut them slack. If governments are not friendly, or if relations are less than good such as the US's relationship with Bolivia then we overstate problems and downplay any cooperation. The US has had an unfriendly relationship with Bolivia for quite a while.
In 2008, Bolivia expelled the US Ambassador and US Drug Enforcement Agents from the country. The US in turn expelled the Bolivian ambassador. Agreements were signed in November 2011 to try and start patching up the differences, yet not much progress is being made.
Bolivia has for years been seeking the extradition from the United States of its former president, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, on charges of corruption and complicity in the deaths of 63 protesters in October 2003. On September 7 of this year, Reuters reported that the US had officially rejected the extradition. President Evo Morales as well as Bolivian opposition leaders have criticized the US's decision.
This latest contretemps over cocaine production appears to be yet another attempt by the US to bully Bolivia. How our nation's leaders can consistently be so shortsighted is a mystery to this correspondent. One can only hope that eventually common sense will prevail.
In the meantime, for the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay with Common Sense for Drug Policy.
DEAN BECKER: Once again we’ve run out of time but please remember that the drug war has no nexus with reality. Please do your part to end this madness. Prohibido istac evilesco!
For the Drug Truth Network, this is Dean Becker asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.
The Century of Lies.
This show produced at the Pacifica Studios of KPFT, Houston.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org