09/20/09 - William Martin

Century of Lies

Professor William Martin, James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies with new column in Texas Monthly "Texas High" + Alison Myrden of Canada with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition & Winston Francis with Official Govt Truth

Audio file

Century of Lies, September 20, 2009

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: We have got a great show for you today. I am actually in El Paso, perhaps in Ciudad, Juarez attending an international drugs conference and we have one of the speakers from that conference with us today. I am going to let him introduce himself.

William Martin: This is William Martin, I am the senior fellow for drug policy at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and I have just written an article for Texas Monthly called Texas High Ways, really about why Texas should be the leader in legalizing marijuana.

Dean Becker: And Bill, this is not the first time you have delved into this subject certainly. Over the years you have been one of those responsible for bringing major drug conferences to the James A. Baker Institute, right?

William Martin: That is correct and we plan to have some more programs this fall, at least, and perhaps beyond that but on November the 19th Ethan Nadelmann is coming along with Mark Clayman and perhaps one or two other people.

Dean Becker: Now, Professor, we have over the years, Texas has been kind of the fore runner. We, according to your column in Texas Monthly, Texas was perhaps the first, certainly El Paso, the first to put forward an anti marijuana law. Talk about the beginning.

William Martin: Well, so it appears. In 1914, well, in the early parts of the twentieth century, there were partly because of the pressures of the Mexican revolution, the turmoil in Mexico and also because of the lure of jobs in the US, was a real flood of Mexican immigrants to this country. And they brought with them not only their desire to work but they brought with them their low cost drugs, cannabis, which they call marijuana.

And there was, as there is now, there was resentment of the Mexican immigrants and any opportunity that stirred that, they would seize on that. And there was argument that or feeling that when they came to town on the weekends and other times they were a little too rowdy and my suspicion is that it was probably cerveza rather than cannabis. But in any case, they began to initiate laws against the drug and along with that I think against the people themselves.

But it appears that El Paso was the first, passed the first ordinance prohibiting marijuana in the United States. And if I found that rather ironic or an interesting circle that this past January the city council of El Paso - councilman Berto O’Rourke, who is a native El Pasoan made a motion, amended a motion and, the upshot of it was they were at and the city council voted in unanimously to have, to urge a discussion of US drug policy with everything on the table including legalization.

And I have talked to Berto O’Rourke and he is very much disturbed about the violence in Ciudad, Juarez which now I think is regarded as the most dangerous city in the western hemisphere and just across the border, of course, from El Paso. And his argument is that if our drug laws were different I guarantee you we would not have had this kind of violence. So now it is coming back around of course.

There California is considering it, legalizing marijuana. The attorney general of Arizona, Terry Goddard, has said we have got to consider what we can do to cut the profits - sixty to seventy percent of profits was he figure he used and others have used the same figure - of the profits going to the drug cartels, comes from marijuana and we have got to figure out what to do about that. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia is calling for a re-look, a new look at the criminal justice system and he says everything has got to be on the table.

Quite importantly I think that UN Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy earlier this year issued a little booklet in which the… and it was lead by the former presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Brazil and a really blue ribbon commission and they urged the United States to not just to tweak our drug policy but to really look at it seriously and see if our prohibition rules, our laws, are not contributing mightily to the problems that not just Mexico but Latin America in general is having.

So it is really bubbling to the surface, the problems that prohibition causes. And I haven’t seen them yet but I am told that the current Fortune magazine and the New Yorker, or New York, not New Yorker, and at least one other magazine all have cover stories this month about the possibility of legalizing marijuana. So I started on this a long time ago but it looks like I am not the only one.

Dean Becker: No, you are not, sir. And even you know major newspapers, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Houston Chronicle. The New York Times certainly has put forward some ideas that it might be a good idea.

William Martin: Yes, and the Economist magazine has been for several years now has taken a pretty strong stance on this actually.

Dean Becker: The war on marijuana was really instigated or escalated by a gentleman name of Harry J. Anslinger. You want to talk about his involvement escalated this?

William Martin: Harry Anslinger was the commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics which was the predecessor of the DEA, the Drug Enforcement Administration from 1930 to 1962. And he ruled that in a way the J. Edgar Hoover ruled the FBI for several decades. And he really belived that, he genuinely hated drugs.

He didn’t think marijuana was as serious as the other drugs but he did throw himself into the efforts to demonize it and he called it an assassin of youth. He claimed it would lead to insanity and made a number of other charges against it.

In a hearing in the US house when they were discussing in 1937 whether to illegalize or to prohibit marijuana, Anslinger testified that one marijuana cigarette in some cases might trigger a homicidal mania that he said probably some people could smoke five before it would take that effect but all the experts agreed that the continued use leads to insanity.

Interestingly, a doctor William Woodward, representing the American Medical Association, opposed the bill on a number of grounds. But one of his grounds was its enforcement would be extraordinarily difficult and he said he didn’t think it was a good thing to have statutes on the books that could not be enforced.

Well, what, and I talked about this some in the article that the amount of time that was given in the US Congress to discussing this bill about marijuana took about two hours in the hearing before the house ways and means committee and then the vote on the house floor took less than five minutes.

Some, one senator, one representative asked what was this about and speaker Sam Rayburn said it has something to do with a thing called marijuana, I think it’s a narcotic of some kind. Another member asked if the AMA supported it and a representative rose to say falsely, their doctor came down here, they support this bill one hundred percent, which was not true and he knew that, there is no question about that.

It passed without a recorded vote. The senate approved it with no debate and Franklin Roosevelt signed in to law a measure that would criminalize the behavior of millions of Americans. And it took - it was given very little attention - it took less than two and a half hours.

Dean Becker: Now this has had grievous ramifications over the decades since. Let’s talk about the number of people who have been arrested and as I recall I think it was gentleman named Caldwell up in Colorado who was the first person busted for marijuana. I think it was for two joints and he got I believe five years.

William Martin: That sounds right. I have read that but I can’t give you a citation that. I didn’t put that in the article. The name Caldwell sounds right on that.

But the law, the laws ranged tremendously. The - in some states for example in… you could go to prison for ninety-nine years in Georgia selling marijuana to a minor could bring the death penalty. But states varied very much on that.

And you probably remember that here in Houston is the 1960s, Leotus Johnson was sentenced to thirty years in prison for passing a joint to an undercover narcotics investigator. And he was, I think the thing there was that he was thought to be a radical. He certainly was an active rights worker, agitator or advocate, is a better word for it.

And it reminds me of when Al Capone was put into prison for evading income tax. It wasn’t really the marijuana that they were so afraid of but they didn’t like Leotus Johnson. So it was used as a weapon against him. But in any case we had very strict laws at that time. They have been lessened considerably but are still, I think they are stricter than they should be.

Dean Becker: Now, we are speaking with Professor William Martin of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Studies, Rice University. He has written a great article in the most recent Texas Monthly: why the unlikeliest of states, ours, meaning Texas, should legalize marijuana. Let’s talk again about why we should lead the way here.

William Martin: Well, my argument here is… well, for example, the states vary greatly in their laws against marijuana still. In Alaska it is legal to possess four ounces of marijuana, which is enough to make close to a hundred joints, and to grow up to twenty five plants. That is completely legal but who knew? Who knew about that? Sarah Palin admitted that she had smoked it but she says, but it was legal so it couldn’t have hurt her.

But my point is that I think the legalization of marijuana is going to come. One of the people I quote in the article who didn’t want to be named but he said, every day somebody turns twenty-one and the same day somebody eighty year old dies and it’s just a demographic thing that is younger people as a demographic change happens more and more people are going to want to legalize marijuana. In fact about fifty percent of the people in the United States now say they believe it should be legal.

But in any case, it is going to happen so I think we should go ahead and press forward and have it happen as quickly as possible to cut down on the harm that is being done. The harm to the individuals who are arrested and certainly the harm that involves in the enormous amounts profits that go to the particularly to the Mexican drug cartels who are fomenting the tremendous violence in Mexico.

But if it’s a small state or a state that doesn’t have too much influence it is just going to be ignored either that or it will be smashed down by the federal government. But if a state like California or Texas or New York were to do this, then I think it is quite likely that certainly would get a great deal of attention and I believe it would be difficult for the federal government to say well you can’t do that.

California is certainly considering it. Texas currently isn’t. If California does it a lot of people will just say well that’s just left coast loony-ness and then gradually they will fall in to line and follow California as we usually do. But it think if Texas were to do it, it would be so unexpected given our conservatism but also because of our independent streak and not wanting the government to tell us what to do, it would be appropriate. But, if Texas were to do it, it would gather, garner attention all over the world and I think it would lead in bringing about very important necessary changes to our national drug policy.

Dean Becker: Well, it would be my hope that we could hold a celebration in the town near by Houston called Hempstead. Again, we are speaking with Professor William Martin, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Studies, Rice University. Article… Author of a great new article in the Texas Monthly. Bill, you and I will be attending next week a major drug conference going on in El Paso, by the way.

William Martin: That’s correct. It’s on the fortieth anniversary of Richard Nixon’s establishment of the war on drugs in September 1969. And forty years later after spending tens of billions of dollars, actually hundreds of billions of dollars, the rates of usage of various drugs are pretty much the same as they were forty years ago.

But millions of lives have been either ruined or deeply harmed by having a criminal record put upon them. So we are hoping… we are going to be looking at a number of things including the tremendous problems that Mexico is having, the border problems, the US Mexico border. But also looking at the whole issue of drug policy and how we can go about changing it to reduce the harms not only of drug abuse but also of drug policy.

Dean Becker: Well, Bill there is some discussion about having one meeting over in Ciudad, Juarez, the most dangerous city in the western hemisphere. I guess I am going to go, kind of my duty as a reporter but it is kind of scary just the thought of going over there, isn’t it?

William Martin: It is and to quite frank with you I have chosen not to go.

Dean Becker: I tell you what, Bill, if you would kind of point folks towards the Texas Monthly, perhaps to where they could pick up a copy and or sample it online.

William Martin: Well, the magazine should be on the newsstands by Friday or Saturday of this week if it is not already. It is scheduled to hit the newsstands by the end of this week and I would be happy for people to pick it up. Of course I am sure the magazine would be much happier for people to go ahead and subscribe.

But you can go online to texasmonthly.com and you can find a little bit of a teaser of the article and then if you care to subscribe, it’s possible to do so right there. Now you can subscribe online to a digital issue which is cheaper than the printed issue, although not that much. I would rather read the whole magazine and have it in my hand but people differ on that of course and that is changing a great deal but anyway. texasmonthly.com or pick up a copy on the newsstand. It has got a picture of the western mountains on the cover. The artwork for the story I think is just great. It is a beautiful two page layout of art that begins the story but I won’t tell you what it is.

Dean Becker: And, Bill, you mentioned that in Novemeber Ethan Nadelmann will be coming to the James A. Baker Institute.

William Martin: That’s right and a UCLA professor, Mark Clayman who is one of the I think one of the most thoughtful drug policy comment analysts in the country will also be there.

Dean Becker: And is this open to the public?

William Martin: Yes, it will be.

Dean Becker: OK and would you like to point folks to where they could learn more about that conference?

William Martin: Well, bakerinstitute.org is our website. I don’t think it is up yet. We haven’t finalized all those things. But since it is November the 19th we have still got time. But it is always good to - I would be happy to invite people to go to the bakerinstitute.org page and to look up the program on drug policy or to look up my name, William Martin, under fellows and scholars and see more about what we are trying to do there.

We had a conference in I believe it was in April 2002, it might have been 2003. But you can go to the archives and go dial back through that. We had a two day international conference of six different countries represent, or more than that. Really a wide representation of some of the world’s leading experts on drug policy.

I remember that you were there and I think you will attest that it was a great conference. And you can go back through the archives and watch that for yourself if you care to. And there are some papers from that as well. Last October we had Judge Jim Gray who I know has been on your show and you can find the – it was in October the 26th I believe. You can find a web cast of that if your listeners would like to listen to it.

Dean Becker: Well, Professor William Martin, I admire you for your commitment, your courage and your intellect and look forward to seeing you in El Paso.

William Martin: Well, thank you, Dean. I look forward to seeing you as well. I’ll hold yr stuff while you go to Juarez.

Dean Becker: [chuckles] Alright, thank you, sir.

William Martin: OK, bye bye.


Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the Abolitionist’s Moment.

It’s so sad that Americans are clinging to the belief that anything is justified if we say it is necessary. Torture? By Americans? That is what the US attorney general is concerned about. I submit that we have been practicing the philosophy for a hundred years of saving one child by destroying the lives of millions of adults who use drugs.

Lot’s of believers buy the idea to this day. Believers think it proper to kick in the door, throw in some flash bang grenades, maybe set the place on fire… Shoot the dog and maybe the kids. Ransack the place to make it look like a tornado aftermath; arrest the parents for possession of plant products. Send the kids to foster care, forfeit the home to state coffers. Take all the worldly goods and cash for the same purpose. Convict and send to prison the parents for sentences longer than for violent crimes.

Then, turn away when the parents and children are raped and beaten by fellow inmates or guards. And then once they are released, we send them forth and demand that they prosper while we deny them housing, education, professional licenses, credit or even a job.

Is that torture or is it just the American way? Please do your part to end the madness of drug war. Visit our website, endprohibition.org. Do it for the children.


Allison Myrden: Hi, my name is Allison Myrden and I am a federal medical marijuana [ ] in Canada, which means I am a legal cannabis patient and am also the leading female speaker for LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, based in the United States.

Dean Becker: Allison, as a speaker for LEAP you know your malady probably prevents you from doing too much speaking to Rotary’s and that sort of thing but you do get a chance to present your thoughts via the airwaves and in other ways, do you not?

Allison Myrden: Yes, I do actually quite frequently. I am sixth string comedian media, Dean. I am in the media every month on a regular basis if not every week so I continually do a lot up here in Canada to keep the issue going. So, but among other things I am also in international media all over the world on a regular basis including Casper Leitch’s show, Time for Hemp.

Dean Becker: Allison, let us talk about what qualifies you for that medical marijuana up in Canada.

Allison Myrden: Dean, I suffer from chronic progressive multiple sclerosis and a violent stabbing pain in my face twenty four hours a day called tic doloureux or trigeminal neuralgia, which is known as the worst pain known to medicine. I have had that for about seventeen years and have been battling MS since the age of thirteen and I’ll be forty-six in January.

Dean Becker: Here in the US they keep talking about there is a pill on the market, you know this synthetic THC if you will, Marinol. And they say that is available and nobody needs to use the whole plant or to smoke it or you know they keep trying to find ways to prevent people from using anything but pills, pharmaceuticals. Your thoughts on that.

Allison Myrden: My thoughts on that are that the pill just doesn’t cut it for people like me. I tried the cannabis pill for many, many months and found that it did nothing to help alleviate the pain that I experience twenty-four hours a day but it did knock me out, it did put me to sleep. So I was sleeping all the time which was kind of a not existing - it was like the pills they were giving me. So I decided it wasn’t the other pills they were giving me hurting me so I decided it wasn’t a good thing to stay on the cannabis pill, not for me.

Dean Becker: We should have that option, should we not?

Allison Myrden: We certainly should. That is what we say. We need to have choice, Dean. We need to be able to choose what form or what route of administration works best for us with cannabis and whether or not we use cannabis at all as medicine.

Dean Becker: With a drug czar in the US that you know is like some high and mighty, knows all, sees all and he can make the determination of what is good for each and every one of us.

Allison Myrden: I don’t agree with that. Obviously, he doesn’t know. He is not first hand, he is not getting first hand information from the medical patients. He is going strictly on what the anecdotal evidence says. He is not seeing what the cannabis patients are saying themselves, that they are actually getting relief from this medicine and that it is stopping some violent and excruciating pain in a lot of people. So I think that is ridiculous that the drug czar steps in at all where it’s not their business.

Dean Becker: Well, the most recent drug czar, John Walters was in Houston last October. He said something to the effect that, well, sure they feel better after smoking a joint. They’d feel better if they did a shot of whiskey or hit some crack cocaine. It’s just not the same, is it?

Allison Myrden: Ridiculous. It is not the same at all, Dean. That is the thing. There are over sixty compounds and over four hundred cannabinoids in marijuana. And the doctors can’t isolate which ones are helping us so there is no way that we can rely on a pill that is isolating one or two cannabinoids out of over four hundred.

Dean Becker: Well, I tell you what, Allison, due to the many hats you wear normally I ask somebody if there is a website they would like to points folks towards but how many would you like to point folks towards?

Allison Myrden: Well, actually I have my on website that has had about twenty million visits all over the world, Dean, called the Medical Marijuana Mission that is a big one all over the world at www.themarijuanamission.com. That one my boyfriend Gary Lynch made for me about thirteen years ago.

And I would also like to point people to LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, where both you and I are speakers for that organization and it is a wonderful, incredible organization involving law enforcement officers from all over the world who speak publicly about the drug war.

Dean Becker: You know, Allison, I speak to folks who you know talk about they don’t have the time or they don’t have the courage or they don’t have the energy to do anything about this drug war but you stand as a classic example of somebody who, though you suffer this debilitating pain, you get your ass out there and you do something about it. And what would you say to those folks sitting there on the couch wondering what they can do?

Allison Myrden: You had better believe I don’t sit around, Dean. And no, I would say to those people please, find the energy from somewhere. Get up! We need your help. This is a joint effort. This whole movement is a joint effort. We cannot do this alone. We need their help and we have to have them on board with us otherwise we cannot move forward. So they have to find the courage from somewhere, Dean. And they have to get that energy and they have to stand up and speak out. Please, everybody, speak out whenever and wherever you can about the drug war because it is wrong.


Dean Becker: Today we are going to feature a re-run of the Official Government Truth by Winston Francis. Having a hell of a time getting him to produce anything new, but I like to put these on the airwaves in support of the drug warriors because they are so cowardly and afraid to come on our show.

Winston Francis: If you think that smoking marijuana doesn’t hurt anybody then you have been hypnotized by the drug legalization advocates nonsense and mumbo jumbo. Let’s break the trance.

In Colombia, the revolutionary armed forces of Colombia, or FARC, is essentially a narco-terrorist organization that enjoys shooting down planes, blowing up buildings and killing innocent people. They fund their activities through the drug trade. On August 22nd, 2008 the Colombian army seized 6.7 tons of marijuana from our friends at FARC. It was enough to cover a parking lot.

So let’s break it down. They give you the marijuana, you give them the money. They take the money and buy a bomb. They use the bomb they bought with you money to kill innocent people. Hmmm. It sounds to me like you are indirectly responsible for an atrocity. So it does hurt someone.

Now, I know what you are thinking. You have to buy it there because you can’t get it anywhere else because it is illegal. Well, that is just an excuse. Would a rapist’s actions be excused if it was shown that rape was the only way he could have sex? Of course not.

There is of course one other option that both he and you have chosen to ignore. And that is to obey the law. The law is not some list of arbitrary rules designed to inconvenience you. Our laws are in place to prevent you from doing things that hurt other people and to prevent other people from doing things that could hurt you.

Remember, the money you use to buy marijuana buys bombs that kill good people; women, children, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. And just because you will never be held accountable for that doesn’t mean that you are not responsible for it. This has been Winston Francis with the official government truth.


Dean Becker: In response, the first thing I am going to suggest is that you buy domestic. Secondarily, help us to end this ridiculous war on drugs against the weeds, the flowers and their extracts: the competition to the pharmaceutical houses.

As I indicated in my discussion with Professor William Martin, I am in El Paso, perhaps in Juarez as this show airs. I’ll be providing reports from interviews from mayors and Mexican officials, Colombian officials and others who are gathering for this international conference for you on next week’s programs.

We will also be in San Francisco later this week attending the NORML conference where I am sure to get additional interviews and contact names for future Drug Truth Network programs. It would sure be nice if you could spend twenty minutes a month trying to end this policy of drug prohibition.

Again, I remind you once that there is no truth, justice, logic, scientific fact, medical data - no reason for this drug war to exist. We have been duped. The drug lords run both sides of this equation. Please visit our website: endprohibition.org. Prohibido esta 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.