02/16/14 Peter Maguire

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Peter Maguire author of Thai Stick - Surfers, Scammers and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade, reports on changing perspectives on cannabis from Texas, Wisconsin, Kansas and Oklahoma

Audio file


Cultural Baggage / February 16, 2014


Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”

DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.


DEAN BECKER: Hello, my friends, welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I’m glad you could be with us. We’ve got a great show lined up for you. Here in just a moment we’re going to bring in the author of a great new book. It kind of reminded me of my 60s and 70s, some of my 80s – my surfing days. We’re going to bring in Mr. Peter Maguire. He’s co-author of “Thai Stick - Surfers, Scammers and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade”. With that I want to welcome our guest. Peter Maguire, are you there, sir?

PETER MAGUIRE: Yes, sir. Thank you for having me on, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: It’s a privilege. As I said this book kind of took me back to my younger days. It reminded me of trips to Mexico to go surfing and to bring back some kilos.

PETER MAGUIRE: This was story of a much more innocent time. I’m about halfway done with the second book which is 1983 to the early 90s in southeast Asia where the DEA completely destroyed the southeast Asian marijuana trade. It’s one in a series of puric victories where the only thing they really do is drive the industry home to California.

It’s a common theme in my book – one of puric victories – you win the battle and lose the war.

DEAN BECKER: Exactly. You talk about it drove the marijuana industry back to the United States where we figured out how to grow sinsimillia, how to get that high resin. I guess the point is though many of the current DEA and other officials say, “Today’s marijuana is so much more powerful.” When, the truth be told, 40 years ago that Thai Stick was as good as anything around now. Your thought?

PETER MAGUIRE: I’m glad you brought that up because I’ve had this debate often. Being a native Californian there would be the northern California and the home-grown southern California in the fall and winter time. Then it would be all gone by spring time. Come early summer the Thai would fill that void. This was true “one-hit Thai” whatever that means today.

Now we have all these products – you know, I show my age – but wax and this other stuff I really don’t know anything about. In terms of straight marijuana products I would say that, you know, Afghan #1 primo, un-pressed hash and Thai Sticks and Temple Balls were absolutely as strong as anything out there today.

DEAN BECKER: Right and it’s just part of the government bailiwick, the propaganda war that they have been waging for 40 or 100 years.

PETER MAGUIRE: I just am staggered by just as Sanjay Gupta makes his 180 and the adults seem to finally be discussing marijuana like adults this SAM group busts its head into the game and I’m thinking, “Where did these guys come from?!”

Patrick Kennedy, the recovering opiate addict, and the neo-conservative Frahm and the failed drug warrior Sabet (or whatever his name is) ...

DEAN BECKER: Kevin Sabet...

PETER MAGUIRE: Yeah...come on. Then you have the mainstream press like David Brooks running with this stuff like it’s the gospel and it was most shocking to me, frankly.

DEAN BECKER: That’s the case isn’t it. Let’s get back to the book. I envy Mr. Ritter. He’s the one that did the most travel, the most work...

PETER MAGUIRE: Yes, my co-author.

DEAN BECKER: I guess the point I’m getting at is we had 2,3 runs to Mexico, minor amounts, just stuff that we snuck in small packages. But tell about the magnitude of some of these hauls going across the ocean.

PETER MAGUIRE: Probably my favorite voyage is 1975 and it’s a guy named Mike Carter, a commercial fisherman. He takes a 1910 wooden halibut schooner across the Pacific to Thailand, puts 6 tons, roughly, inside kind of tin oil cans that he lines with cardboard, brings it back successfully. That’s one of the first big multi-ton loads to come across. I think he netted about 20 million in cash. Because he was a well-known fisherman that really kind of started the feeding frenzy and many, including himself (Mike Carter), kept chasing that.

The book kind of splits into 2 sections. By 83/4 the hippies, surfers and people that were more kind of lifestyle smugglers, as the DEA and Thai police start picking them off they’re slots get filled with professional criminals and true smugglers and the complexion of the industry completely changes into the mid and late-80s so that the final load that gets taken down is two boats, a total of 72 tons. One of the boats is run by an U.S. former special forces guy and it’s as organized as any military operation you could ever imagine.

DEAN BECKER: You reference this was the old days where honesty was part of it, where sharing was part of it. 66/67, the Summer of Love (if you want to call it that), and then 68/69 we got snitches and guns and meth and it all kind of went to hell didn’t it?

PETER MAGUIRE: Yeah. Ironically the first telltale event is in Viet Nam. In 69 when the use of marijuana is so widespread that the U.S. political government says to the military, “Listen, you got to do something to crack down on this.”

It’s so obvious and so easy to detect so they crack down on pot and they actually make some gains on pot and what happened? Viet Nam is flooded with heroin by 1970. Smugglers look at the cost, benefit analysis<?> and it’s a hell of a lot easier and cheaper to make money on heroin than pot so that’s where that industry went.

Just as in Thailand and Hawaii – places where governments were very successful on cracking down on pot – it was replaced with methamphetamine and that’s the theme of the puric victory that we have throughout the book.

DEAN BECKER: I think about the mindset. I enlisted in the Air Force back in 67. I was 4A – totally draft exempt – I don’t know what I was thinking but even in the Air Force we had the use of cannabis started being...you’d smell on the flight line. We’re out there guarding B52s full of hydrogen bombs and people are smoking weed out there.

PETER MAGUIRE: Also you got to remember that the Air Force plays a key role in our story because they built the bases in northern Thailand. These cities pop up out of the red dirt where pot is grown medicinally and nobody even smokes it. It’s for chicken soup and old people.

I have one Air Force veteran telling me that one bottle of BX vodka would get him bricks and bricks of Thai Stick. The U.S. Air Force actually plays an important role in this story.

DEAN BECKER: We should actually....well, we can’t thank them but it was the hysteria over the use of cannabis which excited a lot of young people and caused them to investigate. Don’t you think?

PETER MAGUIRE: Anytime that respected figures of authority put forward a story and then you or me or any of us who were told horrible things would happen to us and then we actually smoked pot and said, “Gosh, big deal.”

That was the sad story about heroin in Viet Nam. We heard this over and over, “We figured if they were lying to us about pot they were lying about this, too.” Yet they weren’t and because some of the soldiers, especially from the Midwest and other places in Viet Nam, they’d never smoked pot much less heroin and so that number for heroin was 90+% pure. These guys start smoking it and picking up the habit. That was actually a big turning point in the Viet Nam war where so many middle class Americans were coming back junkies that the Nixon administration couldn’t set a blind eye to it.

DEAN BECKER: Exactly. Friends, we are speaking with Mr. Peter Maguire. He’s co-author of this great book, “Thai Stick - Surfers, Scammers and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade.”

We’ve got about one minute left, Peter. Some closing thoughts? This is a book that us old timers may appreciate and the young surfers out there as well.

PETER MAGUIRE: I’m a serious historian. I’ve written books on the Nuremburg Trials. I teach the law and theory of war so I treated this subject with the same seriousness as I would those others.

DEAN BECKER: I do appreciate that. The book is available out there on Amazon and may be at your local bookstore. Once again, we’ve been speaking with Peter Maguire. The book, “Thai Stick - Surfers, Scammers and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade.”

Peter, thank you so much.

PETER MAGUIRE: Thank you, Dean. Anytime.


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REPORTER: Governor Rick Perry says he supports treatment instead of incarceration for marijuana users. Gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis says she supports medical marijuana. Ag Commissioner candidate Kinky Friedman thinks farmers should be able to grow hemp.

Talk of reforming marijuana laws in Texas is heating up and you can join in on the discussion. There will be a “meet and greet” for hemp proponent Kinky Friedman on Monday, February 17th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Midtown Bar and Grill which is located at 415 West Gray. I hope to see you there.


DEAN BECKER: The following segment courtesy of KHOU-TV, Houston, Texas.


DANTE CUCCURULLO: I think we are really seeing a change in public opinion.

In Texas we’re shooting for 2015.

GREG HURST: Could medical marijuana become legal in Texas? Wendy Davis who is running for governor was in Houston today saying she would support it.

LEN CANNON: Doug Miller shows us how things may be shifting in this state.

DOUG MILLER: Wendy Davis brought her campaign for Governor to Houston to talk about education but reporters were more interested in talking about her comment supporting legalized medical marijuana.

WENDY DAVIS: I think these are important decisions to be made by the voters of Texas but if this is an issue that the legislature wants to bring forward for voter consideration I certainly would be supportive.

DOUG MILLER: And this comes just a couple weeks after Governor Rick Perry said this...

RICK PERRY: What I can do as the governor of the second largest state in the nation is to implement policies that start us towards a decriminalization and keep young people from going into prison.

DOUG MILLER: Decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana was once a third rail issue guaranteed to burn any Texas politician who dared touch it. Now it’s in the mainstream of political debate.

DANTE CUCCURULLO: Over the past couple of years we’ve just seen a domino effect. With the president coming out and saying that it’s a safer substance than alcohol, now the Texas state governor is coming out saying that he would be in favor of some sort of decriminalization.

DOUG MILLER: A public policy survey for a pro-marijuana group last September indicated 58% of Texas voters supported legalizing the drug for medical use, 31% opposed it, 11% were unsure.

All of this sets up an interesting political dichotomy. In Texas it may become easier to get marijuana at the same time it becomes harder to get an abortion. Add to that a prominent politicians offhanded remark has put medical marijuana in the spotlight in a long election year.


DEAN BECKER: The following segment courtesy of Fox.


ANCHOR: A Fox 40 special report...the DEA shut her down in 2010. The feds insists she was shipping pot while making a large profit but according to this El Dorado County woman they’ve got it all wrong. Now she could go to prison until she is 82-years-old. Tia Ewing has this story on cannabis confusion.

DAN LUNGREN: We’re going to have a hell of a time in California limiting marijuana use among young people at the very time when marijuana use is skyrocketing in California and around the country.

TIA EWING: That was just days after California passed Prop 215 in 1996. California’s top cop, Dan Lungren, said the state would face an uphill battle dealing with the legalization of the drug. Since then many changes have taken place not just here at home medical marijuana is legal in 19 other states and D.C. Among those Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

But still that hasn’t stopped the feds from busting up medical marijuana grows and dispensaries because it’s still illegal under federal law.

PATRICIA ALBRIGHT: I’m 62 – I’d be 82-years-old...

TIA EWING: Patricia Albright could spend 20 years in a federal prison. The DEA learned she was operating a collective in El Dorado County.

PATRICIA ALBRIGHT: They said, “We’re the feds.” Repeatedly said, “We’re the feds we do what we want.”

TIA EWING: That was in 2010 and since then an ongoing court battle. Albright was indicted along with her son, Jordon Wirtz, both medical marijuana card holders.

[talking to Ms. Albright] Did you do anything illegal?

PATRICIA ALBRIGHT: No. Not in California state law. No, I did not do anything illegal and neither did my son.

TIA EWING: His name was Trevor. This was the son that Albright saw suffer.

PATRICIA ALBRIGHT: There was a time when he was screaming for help because he was in so much pain.

TIA EWING: Losing both eyes during his battle with bone cancer.

PATRICIA ALBRIGHT: She said that I should make him pot butter and I said I don’t know how to do that.

TIA EWING: Albright says that she tried everything to keep her son alive and to stop the pain.

PATRICIA ALBRIGHT: Marijuana butter made a complete difference in his life and I just became a believer.

TIA EWING: That was the mid-80s and that’s how she started believing in the healing power of cannabis. Trevor died at age 8.

PATRICIA ALBRIGHT: I started tearing up. It’s hard to talk about his death.

TIA EWING: That’s what Albright is afraid of – death. Now she fears her life could fade away locked up in a federal prison.

PATRICIA ALBRIGHT: Growing marijuana, manufacturing marijuana, committing a felony while armed with a gun and structuring, which I did not do.

TIA EWING: I had to ask Albright if she didn’t do anything illegal what the indictment was all about.

PATRICIA ALBRIGHT: That I was structuring – which I was not and I can prove that. My opinion is they want my land.

TIA EWING: And I turned to FOX40 legal analyst Rosenfeld to ask him how’s it possible that Patricia Albright followed state laws but the federal government can still pursue a case against her.

KEN ROSENFELD: Let me clear about this right now. Marijuana is an illegal narcotic for the federal government under all circumstances. There are no cards. There are no medical. There are no doctors that can prescribe it. Marijuana is illegal according to the federal government.

TIA EWING: Meaning the federal government has the final say – trumping state laws.

KEN ROSENFELD: If the federal government really wanted to they could shut down every marijuana dispensary if they really wanted to get into that political fight. So far the Obama administration and before that the Bush administration did not want to get into that political fight. There are some legitimate medical purposes for medical marijuana but the federal government is far behind those times.

TIA EWING: And right now it’s hazy. The DEA can come in at any minute and bust up what’s considered to be a legal marijuana business in certain states. The Albright’s sent President Obama this letter. In it she says, “I am writing this to see if you or Attorney General Eric Holder can find it in your heart to help us. I believe in you…we are not criminals…”

The letter also mentions that Albright is losing her home

PATRICIA ALBRIGHT: What are they really after? I’m not a hardened criminal they know that.

TIA EWING: All because of unclear laws causing cannabis confusion.


TORI LASHAPELLAN: I’m Tori Lashapellan. I’m from Wisconsin. I’m a cannabis activist and advocate. I’ve been a nurse for 10 years working in neurology including psychology, psychiatry, developmental disability and epilepsy. I’ve also worked in public health as a school nurse. I’ve been a cannabis activist and advocate for 4 years and I’m also a medical cannabis patient as well.

DEAN BECKER: Tori, like many of the United States, Wisconsin is taking another look at the cannabis plant, the ability to use it as medicine, correct?

TORI LASHAPELLAN: Correct. We have 4 legislative bills on the table right now. We have 2 medical including the Jacki Rickert Medical Cannabis Act which is whole plant and the CBD bill which is allowing CBD preparations to be used to seizure patients as well as the full legalization attempt.

Yesterday we just had a marijuana summit in Milwaukee and even though some people were there for decriminalization, some were there for legalization, some were for medical only everybody was standing together and coming together to get it done in Wisconsin.

We have representative Chris Taylor and John Earlenbach sponsoring our medical bill. We have Melissa Sargent who was brave and brought Wisconsin’s full legalization bill to the table as well.

We are seeing bipartisan support on CBD and hemp bills as well.

DEAN BECKER: This is just such a turnaround say from say even 6 months ago.

TORI LASHAPELLAN: Absolutely. 6 months ago we weren’t even sure when our medical marijuana bill was coming out. We didn’t know what kind of support we’d have. Although sometimes it feels the support isn’t reflected in the bipartisanship support for the medical cannabis act we are seeing republicans change their mind and actually try to help us force hearings so we can actually get our bill heard and voted on. It’s actually been very exciting.

DEAN BECKER: Well it is exciting not only for Wisconsin because, gosh, if you guys can swing that cat perhaps we can do it in Texas and Oklahoma and around the country.

Is there a website you’d like to share with the listeners?

TORI LASHAPELLAN: http://parentsforpot.org is where I work out of for Parents for Pot in Wisconsin. ASA is always an excellent resource as well as Wisconsin NORML.
Find us on Facebook where you can get the best up-to-date information as well as http://immly.org.


DEAN BECKER: The following courtesy WHDT-TV.


REPORTER: Has the nation’s largest cocaine smuggler been revealed to be the Drug Enforcement Agency? Well, for decades it’s been rumored that the United States government was secretly sponsoring the smuggling of cocaine into the country. Federal officials have long denied such speculation pointing out the billions of dollars spent intercepting drugs. Newly released documents and testimony from Justice Department and DEA officials now show the stories of government running cocaine are, in fact, true.

An investigation conducted in Mexico found the American government allowed that country’s largest drug cartel, Sinaloa, to operate without fear of persecution. That group is estimated to be responsible for 80% of the cocaine coming into the United States through Chicago.

In exchange the leaders of Sinaloa provided the Drug Enforcement Agency in Washington, D.C. with information on their rival gangs. The drug cartel working with the federal government is run by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. He is considered to be the world’s most powerful drug trafficker. In addition to Chicago his group also maintains cocaine operations in several major cities around the nation.

Written statements were provided to a U.S. district court in Chicago confirming the alliance between the DEA and Mexico’s largest cocaine cartel. The written testimony combined with other evidence shows the Drug Enforcement Agency officials met with leaders of the Sinaloa cartel more than 50 times between 2000 and 2012. This would mean DEA authorized drug smuggling goes back to at least the beginning of the George W. Bush administration and continued for one year under Barack Obama.

One of the group’s leaders, Vincente Niebela, claims that the American government also sent military-grade weapons to the Sinaloa cartel. According to the latest revelations it was these weapons which were part of the “Fast and Furious” scandal - automatic firearms which disappeared during that operation led by Eric Holder were used to kill U.S. border agents.

This latest evidence and testimony points towards a massive scandal involving both republican and democratic administrations. At the very best this provides the best evidence so far that the federal government was sponsoring the smuggling of billions of dollars of cocaine into the United States.

Worse, still, weapons purchased for the United States military have been sent to the cartel and used to kill American agents.


DEAN BECKER: Citizens all around the United States are sick of this drug war. The following segment comes to us from Kansas state house.


MALE: Today we’re in Topeka, Kansas to rally so that our legislatures know that we are in support of Senate Bill 9 and House Bill 2198. Currently Mary Pilcher Cook and Susan Wagle have taken upon themselves to stop or not allow this bill to be brought up for discussion or even a hearing. We believe that that is wrong. We believe that legislators in Kansas need to do their due diligence and they need to do the work for the people and that means bringing up and discussing issues that they may not personally care for.

There has been several patients who have had everything from MS to Terret’s syndrome to PTSD. There’s a lot of people in this country that currently use marijuana illegally and the only thing that we are doing is simply asking our legislators to remove the penalties of incarceration which costs Kansas taxpayers 20,000 dollars per year for each individual, non-violent offender that we decide to put into a prison because of a public health issue which is drug use.

I earlier talked to a legislator who said, “It’s the gateway drug.” I had to remind him that sugar is a gateway drug. We have an obesity epidemic in America and we’re not incarcerating those people. If you’re concerned about people’s drug use you should deal with it the way that we have with smoking. You should reduce and you should put out campaigns to reduce use and make people be responsible but putting people in prison and trying to legislate your particular brand of morality is not what the people of Kansas have asked for and that’s now what we are going to stand for.

I would like to very openly and very publically ask our legislators to show some compassion. I know that you go to church every Sunday and you care about the people in your communities. I think that it’s time that we show that compassion on a legislative level and not continue to act like we care and give lip service to the people.

We’re here – where are our legislators?


DEAN BECKER: The following segment comes to us out of Oklahoma from ABC News.


ANCHOR: Marijuana advocates are applauding a move by the Obama administration not to interfere with new laws in Washington and Colorado permitting the limited use of pot. The justice department says, however, weed must be kept away from children, the black market and federal property. For now people in Washington and Colorado can use pot and they can get licensed to grow it.

REPORTER: The Attorney General basically gave me two fundamental messages today. Number one that the federal government would not act to preempt the implementation of the voter approved initiative in the state of Washington regarding marijuana.

ANCHOR: The poll by the justice department could set the stage for more states to legalize marijuana. Alaska is considering a vote next year and several more states plan to find similar action in 2016.


DEAN BECKER: Alright, my friends, I hope you have enjoyed today’s show. As all those segments indicate people all across America are starting to realize the utter futility of this drug war. They are starting to realize that it’s never going to work out. It has never stopped even one determined child from getting their hands on drugs and we’re starting to see politicians even more and more walk away from this issue because there is so few people left willing to defend this policy.

We’ve got Kevin Sabet, Patrick Kennedy and that guy, Chabo and they sound like they are back in the 1920s talking about addiction and leading to hard substances and all that. Truth is you can find the truth in my new book, “To End the War On Drugs: A Guide for Politicians, the Press and Public.”

As always I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.


DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica Studios of KPFT Houston.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.

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