10/22/08 - Keith Stroup

NORML & Pledge Drive Special: Keith Stoup, former Dir of NORML, Dale Geringer of CA NORML, Mason Tvert of SAFER, Los Marijuano's, Phil Jackson with Black Perspective on the Drug War & Winston Francis with the "Official Government Truth"

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Keith Stroup


Cultural Baggage, 10-22-08

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’

My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drug, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on eternal drug war.

(Reefer Madness song)

Dean Becker: I think they found the antidote for Reefer Madness. It seems to be dissipating at a rapid rate though it’s still running rampant in many parts of the USA, it’s on it’s way out. The overwhelming majority of people realize that it has been a scam and they understand that it’s time to go in a new direction.

Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage today. We’ll be hearing many voices from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws conference which was held just a couple of days ago in Berkley, California.

It was really nice to get out there and meet many of these leaders and beginners in drug reform and to witness what it’s like for a state where marijuana is legal.

There were hundreds of people using the very best products they could grow or find or refine, themselves. It was held at a very fine hotel, The Hilton there on the marina in Berkley. It kind of underlines the fact that marijuana is not a threat or a menace as it was originally framed by the first drug warriors.

I want to share a quick story with you. A couple of years ago I was at one of these conferences and people were gathering in the bar and you know, having a few drinks and telling jokes and what have you and I joined the discussion. I don’t drink and I really don’t joke that much, some of my psa’s would indicate otherwise but, I started talking drug war you know. Started talking about how we could change things. One of the leaders of a, perhaps the major, reform organization stopped me to say, ’Hey, I don’t talk drug war when I’m not at the office.’ and it dawned on me, I never stop. I never stop. You know, this is my mission in life.

I grew up in the hell-hole town of Houston, what I use to call the ‘gulag filling station’ of planet Earth, and I saw the abuses against black and white. I saw the circumventing of the Constitution and of our state laws on a daily bases and I can’t stop. I work on your behalf, on behalf of your children and your children’s children, that we might have a better future; a more just and truthfully humane state, society to live in.

This is the ‘pledge drive’ season. This is when you show your support for what we do.

You know, he doesn’t work any longer as the director. I think he’s probably on the board of directors, but a gentleman who has spent decades working for saner, safer marijuana laws is their one time director, Mr. Keith Stroup.

Dean Becker: I’m out back here looking out at the marina with ‘the man‘. The guy who’s not exactly running things, but he’s here involved in things…..

Mr. Keith Stroup: It's the worlds oldest marijuana smoker's what it is.

Dean Becker: He get around on his own folks. But I’m here with Mr. Keith Stroup. Keith, once again you guys have outdone yourselves. It’s been a wonderful conference and the spirit is powerful. Let’s talk about that.

Mr. Keith Stroup: Well, I agree by the way. When you set a conference up, you can’t really determine what the spirit’s going to be ‘cause that has to do with who attends. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a meeting of ours that I thought was better than this one here.

For a lot of people we, you know, those of us who live in other parts of the state, the chance to spend three days when, in a situation where frankly marijuana is legal in California. That doesn’t mean that it’s totally legal but it damn legal and you can get it, you can smoke it and nobody’s gonna bother you much in the state of California. So, it’s inspiring to spend time here and to see the progress that we have made on the west coast. Much of the rest of the country we can’t claim that but we can on the west coast.

Dean Becker: You know Keith, I as a Texan, I come here and it is truly a different world. The only concern they have for all these people smoking every kind of high grade marijuana and tincture and component and extract, is that they not do it too close to the doors or the windows, just like they would with tobacco smoke.

Mr. Keith Stroup: I was just going to say you know, the thing, there is a fairly strong anti smoking bias in this state. But it’s cigarettes as well as marijuana, it’s not anti-marijuana. So again, all the hotel says is just, ‘If you’re going to smoke, go on your balcony in the room, don’t smoke in the room or, to come out here in the court yard. They gave us wonderful space to smoke and frankly as I say, this hotel has been very accommodating about that. There hasn’t been a single complaint and I dare say that about all four or five hundred of our folks have probably been smoking.

Dean Becker: Despite this ingestion of every potential type of marijuana, there’s not been one fight; one altercation: one argument; one inebriated, incapacitated or otherwise disturbed individual. Your thoughts on that.

Mr. Keith Stroup: No, I agree completely. If this were primarily alcohol and we had this same group of people, I’d suspect we’d have a riot by the third day, you know. There’s so many disconnects and the aggressiveness and all of that. I’ve enjoyed it and I think every single person who’s been here has felt that same way. So, it’s been successful, that’s what these meetings are supposed to do.

Dean Becker: And, it certainly puts the lie to the drug czars propaganda.

Mr. Keith Stroup: Oh yeah, yeah, I mean, come on. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with responsible use of marijuana and most people in this country that drink alcohol, would be far better off if they smoked marijuana and gave up the alcohol. It’s a form of harm reduction so yeah, let’s put the light to the drug czar.

Hi Dean, Dale Geringer here with California NORML at canormal.org

Dean Becker: Dale you are deeply involved in what’s going on here in this state. But here at this conference we get a chance to kind of get the pulse of the rest of the nation. There’s change afoot. Am I right?

Dale Geringer: Yes, I think so. You can feel the wave of change about to descend on us in the next couple weeks I think with this election. It’s going to be a real turn around in American politics and culture which we’re looking forward to ‘cause we certainly need a change in Washington D.C. We’ve taken it about as far as we can here in California and we’re ready to go farther but we really do need a new regime in the federal government.

Dean Becker: You know, there is no mayhem, there is no emanate threat because of this new stance taken, in regards to medical marijuana. It just hasn’t come to fruition, all the warnings of the federal government. Correct?

Dale Geringer: Well, I mean, we’ve had over a hundred federal arrests for medical marijuana in California since the Bush regime came in and they haven’t stopped their raids. But the fact that they have been raiding has really I think, discouraged the development of a fully legal production and distribution system that we would like to see in California.

As you may have seen at this conference, there’s a lot of work on the part of people involved in the medical cannabis industry to introduce really professional standards and to improve product quality and provide for testing and labeling and all sorts of quality assurance standards.

This is happening voluntarily but we do have a problem in the continued failure of the federal government to acknowledge any legal production. Which has stopped our state legislature from really going the next step in fully establishing a legal distribution system.

So things have been very gray market and tenuous for a long time here and we’ve been you know, Mr. Obama said on repeated occasions he wants to get the DEA out of medical marijuana here. That would really advance things tremendously from our standpoint.

Yo, what’s up? This is Ponyboy.
Yeah, this is Mr. Fuzzy. And we’re Los Marijuanos.
You’re listening to Drug Truth Network. All up in your ear. Recognize.

(Los Marijuanos’ song)

Dean Becker: Oh yeah, Los Marijuanos. They’re pretty big on the west coast. I don’t know how they’re doing in the rest of the nation. I don’t really keep up with music that much and they’re pretty dang good and they were kind enough to do that little introduction to their song for me.

You know I also got a chance to speak to Ray Manserick, keyboard player for the Doors, got some audio with him. I will be getting it on in the next week or two.

I don’t even know how to say this. As the seven years plus now of The Drug Truth Network have unfolded and gone by, we’ve gone from a place of being afraid to being embolden and it is the information. It is the unvarnished truth of the drug war that has made that possible and The Drug Truth Network was made possible by you.

You know, as I go to these conferences whether it’s California or east coast or wherever, it’s always amazing that the people you meet. I’m going to call them the ‘little guys’, they’re not heads of major drug reform organizations.
They’re people who saw a problem in their town; who saw a solution to that problem and who did by hook or by crook or anyway possible find a way to change the situation. One such man is Mr. Mason Tvert.

Dean Becker: I’m here with Mr. Tvert of SAFER and a couple of other fine organizations based in Colorado. Hello Mason.

Mason Tvert: Hi. How are you doing Dean?

Dean Becker: Mason, what’s your take? I keep asking everybody, it seems to be change afoot. What’s your perception?

Mason Tvert: Well, this election will certainly be very telling depending on what happens. Because we could see the country going in one of two directions and obviously, if Barrack Obama elected president, we might see a different country in the next few years. So there’s certainly a lot to be excited for, if that happens, but that obviously remains to be seen.

Dean Becker: Now, your organization, your state, your city; your state, have all made some inroads toward more rational, if you will, regulations and laws and enforcement of those laws. Tell us about the transition say, over the last five years. What has happened?

Mason Tvert: Sure. Well we’ve really been working to educate the people of Colorado about the very simple fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. Not only to people who use it but to society in general and as people hear this message, they come to accept the fact that this is insane that we spend so much time and money punishing people really for using a less harmful drug than drinking. As more and more people hear this their voting in favor of change.

That’s what we’ve seen in Denver, where people have voted to remove all penalties for adult marijuana possession as well as to make it the cities lowest law enforcement priority. Things are now moving forward there. There’s a panel in the city appointed by the major that’s calling for changes. They’ve called for an end to prosecutions. It looks like the city is going to no longer require court dates, they’re going to lower the fines you know, to the point that it’s going to be a $50 mail in citation. Which is certainly a step in the right direction but we still don’t think people should be punished at all for using marijuana. So we’ll keep working towards that.

Around the state we’re also getting people organized and pushing for this in their areas. We ran a statewide initiative a couple of years ago that obviously got a lot of attention. A lot of people talking about this back then. While it didn’t pass it, you know it, thirteen counties around the state vote to remove all penalties for marijuana possession and we’re still going to be working in those areas to formalize those votes and raise you know, support and awareness and continue to push toward changing state law.

Dean Becker: Is there a website you’d like to share with the folks?

Mason Tvert: Yeah, absolutely. We encourage people to check out saferchoice.org. They can find out more about the organization and the work we’re doing both in Colorado as well as around the country.

The state legislators; the federal representatives, they cannot speak because they have made their bones. To speak now against this policy is to say, ’Oh, I was wrong. Thirty-five million people didn’t need to go to prison; We didn’t need to fund Osama Bin Laden; We didn’t need to feed the cartels and the paramilitary; We didn’t need to give reason for existence to the gangs and the street corner vendors.’

It’s a hopeless, horrible failure and to admit it now is going to require your involvement; your support of programs like this, your…and I've asked you a hundred times, write a fifty word paragraph.

‘What is the war drug war? What has it meant to you; your family; your community?’ Send it off to your state reps. Send it to your federal rep; the senators. Send it to the governor. Send it to the mayor, the police chief, the sheriff, the district attorney and send it to the local newspaper.

That’s all I ask. If you did that much, how long does it take to write fifty words? Five minutes? How long does it take to email that to all the people there involved? Maybe another ten or fifteen? You’re done. I’m through with you. You have participated. You have done what is necessary to end this drug war. Please show your support for the work we do here. Give us a call.

If you appreciate the caliber of what we bring to you, think about this. There are now fifty-four other stations, U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand who carry The Drug Truth Network programs and why? Because you, our dear listeners, have supported us for seven plus years now. You have been there when we needed you; when we called upon you. We are calling upon you now.

You know it’s been, gosh I hate to say it, over a year now when we lost the involvement of our fine reporter man who was, just had praise heaped on him from all over America, up into Canada and in fact around the world, for his work. I’m going to bring back one of his reports right now to share with you and hopefully he hears this and knows that we miss him. Mr. Phil Jackson.

Mr. Phil Jackson: And now, another Black Perspective on the drug war.

At a friends house the other day, I was treated to a video called, Crack-heads Gone Wild. The documentary styled program showed the cold, crazy reality of crack addiction. It was made it New York City but could have been made in almost any major American city. Crack-heads have replaced the town drunk as the objects of public ridicule and disgust. Their demented antics now available at video stores for our amusement.

Crack-heads gone wild gets pretty graphic and gritty at times and is definitely not for children. But it is an excellent, cautionary tale and I strongly recommend it to anyone contemplating taking up the habit. Even the ones so far gone, that they spend their days jabbering away incoherently to invisible companions, still manage to use the last shreds of their vanishing sanity to warn viewers not to follow them down the snowy road to hell.

One flaw though, in the video, is the distorted picture it creates by concentrating solely on black crack-heads. In truth, for every black cocaine addict in America, there are about seven others who are white. Personally, I’m more concerned about the powder in the sweets than the crack in the streets.

Cocaine severely warps peoples’ judgment and coke slaves take insane risks and make foolish deals. A junkie in an alley can only do so much damage but a junkie in a suit, at his desk, your doctor; your lawyer; your dentist; these cokeheads can do real harm. Frank Zappa did a song about it, Cocaine Decisions.

The cocaine decision you and I need to make is, ‘Do we continue an expensive; punitive; ineffective war on coke slaves? Or do we attack the drug lords head on?’ By ending the prohibition that funds their filthy empires, seize control of the drug and provide compassionate treatment for it’s victims. Rather than filming their suffering, let us fund their salvation and rejoice at the release of a new film, Crack-heads Set Free.

For The Drug Truth Network, this is Phil Jackson.

Dean Becker: Thank you once again Phil. We do indeed miss you.

You know, Phil brings up something here that I’ve talked about it before and I want to just say this. When I was in Bolivia, the Justice minister; the Christian minister; the prison guards and the prisoners, all chewed coca. Cocaine was not much of a problem, except for the exporting out of Santa Cruz.

But it isn’t in use, you know. Not even like in Mexico where it’s now… the cocaine stays for too long in the neighborhoods and winds up in the streets and in the homes and in the veins and nostrils of the children of Mexico.

But what I want to see is a big pile of leaf, you know? A hundred pound stack of coca leaf at the Kroger store. I think that would help people stay away from cocaine or get away from cocaine and you can’t even kill yourself with coca leaf I mean, I guess, if you wanted to. I don’t know how you’d do it exactly. It’d be crazy.

The stuff doesn’t go down. You can’t swallow it, it’s big, leafy, you know. It’d be like, I don’t know, eating a shrub. Nobody really wants to do that. You just put a little packet of it in between your cheek and gum. Kind of like Skoal or chewing tobacco I suppose. It just kind of percolates into your system but it doesn’t give you a rush, doesn’t make you woozy or wobbly. It just, it helps to, especially at high altitudes, to put more oxygen into your system; allows you to work a little harder; it allows you to go a little longer without food. It’s just not a threat.

It’s when we prohibit it that they then take it and they compact it and stomp it with feet and gasoline, you know just pulverize it best they can, run it through toilet paper as a filter and then wind up with something that’s about 92% cocaine and ship it North. There’s still tennis shoe debris in there I suppose, there’s still gasoline. There’s still bits of cement and toilet paper in that crap.

We’ve got to stop and think about it. Who do we want making this? Some untrained chemist down in the Amazon or do we want Merck or Pfizer to make it? Or do we want it to be pure, less likely to create problems?

Many people have said, doctors and scientists we’ve had on the airway here, that it is the cut, particularly in heroin, that leads to kidney failure; liver failure. That truthfully heroin, taken properly is one of the safest drugs there is. When taken improperly, is one of the more deadly drugs there is. The problem really lies with the policy of prohibition.

I’ll get off my soap box here…

Voice in studio: Stay on the soap box Dean, stay on the soap box.

Dean Becker: The point I guess I’m trying to say here is, even with opium. I would rather see big gobs of opium sitting on the Walgreen’s or the CVS shelf, behind the counter. Adults could buy it at a reasonable price, not at the 17,000 percent markup we currently have going.

But again opium. It’s pretty near impossible it kill yourself with that unless you just eat that whole ball and nobody wants to do that, I don’t think. And if they did, well it wouldn’t really be an OD, it’d be a suicide, wouldn’t it? Because I can’t see choking down a ball of opium about the size of a tennis ball. I mean that’s about how much you’d have to take to kill yourself. Anything short of that you know could be use; could be abuse.

I’m not saying we will never, that we will get rid of our drug problem. I promise you we will always have a drug problem. But we could lessen the severity; the complication; the blowback; the spin-off. We could quit feeding Osama’s cash cow and destroy the cartels, paramilitary cartels and the gangs.

We don’t have to keep doing this. We can stop. The politicians, as I’ve said, have boxed themselves in, painted themselves into this corner. They need you to tell them, ‘It’s o.k.’

It’s time to play, Name that Drug by it’s Side Effects. Physical stimulation, appetite suppression, the prevention of altitude sickness through increased oxygen supply. ’gong’ Time’s up. The answer, as is so obvious in the lives of millions of Bolivians: Coca, mother coca.

I have invested more than twenty thousand hours of my life, investigating this policy of drug prohibition. I’ve spend more than a thousand hours talking to cops and wardens and scientists and authors and other people who’s opinions we should value in this regard. I have no doubt whatsoever that we must end prohibition.

Yesterday would be fine; today ok: tomorrow, I’m angry. We need to do it now. We have wasted well over a trillion ($1,000.000,000,000) of our tax dollars to stop the flow of drugs over the last 93 years. Sad thing is, over the same time frame we have given more than 10 trillion dollars to the terrorist; the cartels; the paramilitary; the gangs; the street corner venders.

We have arrested 35 million of our fellow citizens for plant products in their pocket. We have increased the number of AIDS and Hep. C cases because we have refused to allow free needle exchange or just needle exchange, for cost.

We have denied ourselves that same hundreds of billions of dollars that could have been used for education, drug treatment, health insurance, roads, bridges, housing, you name it. It is flushed down this drug war toilet. It is never coming back and yet, drugs are cheaper; they’re purer; they’re more freely available to our children then ever before.

I search the world, looking for one person who will justify that. One person who can explain to me how this is of benefit….. And no one can. No one ever will. It is a sham. It is a scam, flimflam. It is (fist pounds on table) wrong. We must stand for truth. We must speak the truth. We must demand the truth from these politicians and other people in position’s of power.

Now, I’m sorry I’m flying off the handle here, but it, there is no basis to this policy. There is no rational explanation. It is a quasi religion that has built up for nye unto a hundred years now, with no basis in reality but faith, that these lying, thieving bastards will find a way, ‘Give us five more years and a hundred billion. We’ll get it done.’ and they’ve been saying that for 93 years…. And the American people, have remained silent.

They want to believe that these people will protect little Johnny and little Janie. That these people will make a difference; that they’ll destroy the cartels; that they’ll ’get it done’; that they’ll be able to overcome and destroy the law of supply and demand. They can overcome the laws of nature; that they will…. succeed; that the drug war will be won and we continue to believe. Too many, continue to believe.

I talk about the fact that I invite people to come on here and other than the two DA candidates it still stands true that these people in positions of power whether it be at the federal, state or local level, they refuse to speak about it so we produce the following segment on their behalf.

"Let me ask you a question. Who are you going to cast your ballot for this November? Now, what’s his stance on drug legalization? It doesn’t matter who you chose. The answer is not only, ‘no’, but ‘hell no’ and there’s a good reason for this. There isn’t wide spread demand for drug legalization. Most of the people think that the drug war is just dandy.

Look out your window. Now, I don’t know what you see but, no matter where you are, I can tell you what you do not see. You do not see thousands of expecting mothers marching down the street holding up signs demanding that the government legalize smack so they can dose their unborn babies. You do not see protesters chanting, ‘crack, smack, meth, or you don’t get my vote’. If you did, drug legalization would at least be on the table, which it isn’t.

The people know better. No body wants to see their child’s homeroom teacher turning tricks in a back alley for a $10 rock. This sort of thing would not make America a better place.

So this November, as you cast your vote, remember this. Nobody is talking about legalizing drugs because nobody wants drugs legalized.

This has been Winston Francis with the Official Government Truth.

Dean Becker: I got to admit, Winston you know, he can lay it out there just like the Washington D.C. fat cats, you know. Just take it to the extreme, ‘your teacher turning tricks for at $10 rock of crack.’ (laughter)

We got lots of good stuff lined up for you from California in the coming weeks. I love you guys. Please show your support right now, I need to hear from you.

I leave you with a closing thought that, because of prohibition, you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.

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 on an abyss.

Submitted by: C. Assenberg of www.marijuanafactorfiction.org