08/28/11 John Delaney
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
John Delany a working Texas judge speaks for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition + Dale Jones of Oaksterdam Univ re forthcoming marijuana street fair & Tim Beck re supreme court ruling and busts in Michigan
Cultural Baggage / August 28, 2011
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: Oh yes, my friends, it is so good to speak with you. I feel we are drawing ever nearer to the end of madness, to recognizing the futility and desperation of this drug war.
Glad to have with us today a judge, a working, Texas judge. He also works as a mediator these days but he still sits the bench, still wheels the gavel and right here in Texas an and he thinks this drug war is pretty preposterous too. With that I want to welcome Judge John Delany. How are you, sir?
JOHN DELANY: I’m great. Thank you, Dean.
DEAN BECKER: This past week I spoke to a rotary club in the Houston area and I found universal acceptance of changing our ways. There was still some fear and trepidation, “What about the children” and we should always worry about the children but what we’re doing does not protect the children, does it?
JOHN DELANY: Well that seems to be the universal consensus that what we’re doing right now is not working. There’s a good deal of fear about replacing it with anything that would send the wrong message to our children so people are a little afraid to even start talking about making changes.
DEAN BECKER: Yes sir. Now you work with the Drug Policy Forum of Texas, I think, if not the first one of the first state drug policy organizations and you speak on their behalf as well, do you not?
JOHN DELANY: On behalf of DPFT and another organization, a nation-wide group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition with thousands of former sheriffs, chiefs of police, prison officials and judges,
DEAN BECKER: Yes sir and the fact of the matter is here in Texas we’re running out of money, we’re firing teachers, we’re shutting libraries, we’re doing all kinds of things but we’re not focusing on the fact that the expenditures involving most of these drug busts is a waste of our resources. Your response.
JOHN DELANY: Yes. We spend too much money chasing people for low-level crimes that involve possession of marijuana and even other drugs. We should be focusing our efforts on other criminal activities that impacts humans more directly and this is a hard concept for people to get their arms around but the argument really is all about harm reduction.
Where is the least harm created? Nobody in their right mind advocates the world getting stoned on drugs on a regular basis. I’m not in favor of drug abuse either. Don’t use, don’t intend to. Do drink coffee so I guess I use caffeine. But, the question is not whether drugs are bad or good. The question is are we creating greater harm by trying to combat drug abuse through the use of criminal law. And the resounding answer is we are.
We’ve created a black market because a certain percentage of people (always has been, always will be) who want to use mind altering substances. When we make those substances criminal, that drives up the cost for them on the black market which causes criminal activity. So now drugs are still out there they just happen to be regulated by criminals instead of by government.
DEAN BECKER: Judge Delany, one of the things that I brought forward at that rotary club that I spoke at is that it’s now been, I don’t know, five years back that there was a situation here in the Houston area where a bunch of cocaine users went on Thursday to pick up their weekend supply of cocaine from their distributors. Took it home, did their usual dose and did not wake up the next morning. 14 young people, I think age 18 to about 35…turns out the cocaine they bought was not cocaine at all – it was 85% heroin. Another example of the failure of controlling these drugs, right?
JOHN DELANY: Drive drugs underground and you put their production, distribution and sales in the hands of the criminals who don’t care how old you are, only that you’ve got the money. Don’t have a license to lose like a liquor store does and, yeah, they’re likely to peddle anything that they happen to have on hand. They don’t analyze it. So it’s not surprising that we get people overdosing and dying. It’s part of the insanity.
Let me jump in here, I’ve got to make an apology / disclaimer. I’m state judge that still sits. I’m subject to prudent judicial ethics and I’m subject to being sanctioned for misbehavior as a judge and I promise you that I took the oath to enforce laws and I still do that every day. My feeling about the laws being wrong-headed doesn’t mean I don’t have the stomach and will to enforce them. So I needed to make that disclaimer. I’m allowed to speak out about needed changes to the laws and legal system and that’s what I’m doing. I’m exercising my right to do that.
DEAN BECKER: This brings to mind there was a situation about 4 or 5 years ago where the federal mandatory-minimums were handcuffing the judges. That no matter what situation, no matter how it came about, people with these minor amounts of drugs (5 grams of crack) and the judges were forced to sentence these people to prison for long terms. Many of the judges started objecting though they did sentence them, as you say – doing their duty, but I wanted to ask you, as a working judge, is there ever any back room discussions about how stupid these laws are?
JOHN DELANY: Well, I don’t deal in the federal system. I deal in the state system. We don’t have near as many of those restrictions on us. Every once in a while the legislature will nip around at the margins and try to get tough on drugs again but that trend has kind of diminished in the state of Texas.
The federal system still has it and, of course when you have mandatory-minimums what you really have is the discretion about how to sanction a drug dealer, user, possessor that shifts into the hands of the prosecutor. Prosecutors now decide what kind of charge they’re going to lay on the guy to fit within the punishment range that they think is accurate instead of letting the judge have discretion.
It’s a wrong-headed system. There’s no question about it.
DEAN BECKER: Judge Delany, all too often don’t the plea bargains really control all this? I understand that more than 95% of drug cases are handled through plea bargaining.
JOHN DELANY: More than 95% of all criminal cases are handled through plea bargaining.
DEAN BECKER: Is that right?
JOHN DELANY: Absolutely.
DEAN BECKER: OK, well, it’s still shows the clout of the prosecution, does it not?
JOHN DELANY: Dean, I don’t really know what your audience consists of here. We may all be preaching to the choir – I don’t know that. But, at some point, people ask me when I talk to a rotary club or lions club like I did a couple weeks ago, “What can I, as an individual, do to make a difference?”
These people are not people who use drugs, they just have relatives dying from overdoses are upset. I say, “Well, you can make a noise. You can make the noise repeatedly. One noise is not good. It doesn’t help a lot. We need to have a consistent noise-making effort made.”
For example, we’ve got a thing in the U.S. House of Representatives called House Bill 2306 introduced by our congressman Ron Paul and congressman Barney Frank and about 13 other co-signers. You can write every congressman that you can think of an express support for that. Now the only ones that will listen to you are the ones that represent you. People in other districts don’t care about you.
But if you vote for them, you’re in their congressional district – they will listen to that. That does not mean they will change their mind overnight but Rome wasn’t built in a day. You can bite at their ankles repeatedly and lend your voice to the effort.
This is a movement that has got wind in its sail. Just 10 days ago a Chicago jury in a federal trial awarded a young man named Russell and his family over 300,000 dollars in money damages for the loss of his dog. His 9-year-old Labrador Retriever, named Lady, came walking into the room, wagging her tail, when the police broke into young Russell’s apartment while executing a drug warrant. As the police sadly often do, they shot the dog to death. That was in 2009. That case finally came before a jury and incredibly, with a resounding shout, they said that dog is worth 300,000 dollars. They were so outraged by the police conduct.
So the sentiments out there. It’s just a matter of tweaking the power brokers to make them tow the line behind the people.
DEAN BECKER: Yes sir. Now you mentioned that we’re probably speaking to the choir and I would imagine the majority of our listeners are, indeed, part of said choir but I think your job and my job is to teach the choir to sing solos.
Because it’s up to them to, again…polls looking at the legality of drugs or legalizing marijuana – it’s up there, 75 / 77% and people need to realize that their neighbor, chances are, agree with them. And it’s time to open this discussion. It’s time to contact your legislatures. It’s time to write that letter to the editor. It’s time to be a part of that change. Because sadly if you are not part of the change – you are part of the problem.
Friends, we’re speaking with Judge John Delany, a working Texas judge. And you are listening here to the Cultural Baggage show on the Drug Truth Network.
Judge, I wanted to go back to the thought that you have decades of experience now as a judge, right?
JOHN DELANY: Yeah. It just occurred to me that I never said what 2306 would do. House Bill 2306 gets the federal government out of the business of criminalizing marijuana and it defers it to the state. That’s what so good about it.
DEAN BECKER: And, again, everybody, every family, every person in America knows somebody who smokes pot who’s not really a threat to society and it’s time to show your support for your neighbors and your sons and your fathers by doing your part.
JOHN DELANY: They have children and grandchildren who have gone to jail and have come out much worse than when they went in. Covered in tattoos, not able to get a job, got a drug conviction now…you may get over addiction but you can’t get over a conviction.
DEAN BECKER: No and that’s proven on a daily basis and especially in these economic times. You know the only employer with their arms open is the black market in drugs. They will always hire you, won’t they Judge?
JOHN DELANY: Absolutely.
DEAN BECKER: Judge, as a speaker for the Drug Policy Forum for Texas and for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, tell us again some of your experiences talking to the rotaries or the lions clubs. What are their concerns and how have you been able to allay(?) their fears.
JOHN DELANY: The most prominent concern that I’ve seen expressed is that by even beginning to discuss the legalization of certain drugs or the decriminalization (whatever you want to call it), we would be sending an unhealthy message to the younger generation.
A woman came up to me at a lion’s club meeting about 2 weeks ago and said, “I have 2 teenage sons. I could not stand it if they suddenly thought that drug use was OK when I’ve been preaching against drug use all my life.”
And my response to her was, “Madam, trust in your children. Trust that you can convince them that drug use is not OK. Just like smoking is not a healthy pursuit. The debate is not between “drugs OK” and “drugs not OK”, the debate is how you combat drug abuse. And you can explain that to your children. They’re not so clueless.”
DEAN BECKER: Right and I think that’s it that we’ve been led to believe by the Drug Czar by pronouncements by the ONDCP and Partnership for a Drug Free America and all of these, I’m not going to call them lies, they are distortions that are put forward on a continual basis and led us into this realm of fear. Your response, Judge Delany.
JOHN DELANY: Well, I don’t have the knowledge and the evidence to really address the notion that there is some sort of conspiracy at work here. All I know is what appears to not work. And, simple logic tells me that there’s a better way.
We know what happened during alcohol prohibition. We know how that all changed. As soon as we decriminalized alcohol…and I know…I know for a fact that we’re not alone in this idea. Every time I talk to a rotary club, a lions club, I ask them three questions to start out. “Have we won the War on Drugs?” That’s the first question…no hands.
Second question, “Do you think the Drug War is working?” No hands. Third question, the hardest one, “Do you think if we keep doing the same thing we’re doing in the Drug War for say the next two years, we will have begun to have won the Drug War? Will the tide change?” Again, no hands.
So the most conservative members of our community have already made up their mind that this drug war is senseless and needs to be changed somehow. What they’re not convinced about exactly is how to go about changing. So, again, they say, “What shall I do?” And I say, “Write your congressman. Write your state legislature.”
Here’s an interesting antedote. I was at the National Convention for State Legislatures in San Antonio a week ago manning a booth along with another member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and these state legislatures kept coming by and looking at our display and engaging us in some talk. One very interesting woman from a western state said, “You know, if the medical marijuana people and the legalize and control people would quit fighting with each other, I might be able to get something done.”
I said, “Explain that.” She said, “The medical people want to keep it and control it…doctors and like that. And the legalize and regulate say ‘let anybody have it under state regulations.’ They’re in conflict with each other. I can’t invest my political capitol if the proponents of drug liberalization won’t get on the same page.”
DEAN BECKER: Judge Delany, we’re going to have to hold it right there. I want to bring you back real soon. We’ve been speaking with Judge John Delany, a member of Drug Policy Forum of Texas and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Those two websites are - http://www.dpft.org and http://leap.cc.
Judge Delany, thank you so much.
(Game show music)
DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.
Itching, difficulty breathing, bone pain, chest pain, dark urine, irregular heartbeat, fever, chills, red blisters, peeling skin, seizures, severe diarrhea, stomach cramps, swelling of the hands and feet, unusual bruising and bleeding
The answer: from Schering-Plough Health Care Products, Inc., a subsidiary of Merck and Company, Inc., - Zegerid for heartburn.
DALE JONES: This is Dale Jones from Oaksterdam, California, Oakland, California. I’m going to talk to you about entering the International Cannabis and Hemp Expo – the first of its kind in the area. It’s actually an outdoor cannabis expo - almost a street fair quality with music and food.
Simultaneously we’re taking Oaksterdam across the country, east of the Mississippi.
DEAN BECKER: Oaksterdam University was the very first instructional cannabis college, if you will, and the fact is that you guys have expanded around the country. What will you be teaching there in Ann Arbor?
DALE JONES: When we go to Michigan we’re actually trying to bring a program that’s good for just about any state. So whether your state already has a medical cannabis program or you’re trying to figure out how to work with your local government to establish on – you can learn about the best practices and how to work within the spirit of the state law that you live in.
Once you learn the politics and history of the prohibition of cannabis and the legality of the state vs. federal conflict – then we start to get into the fun stuff. We’ll teach you horticulture and alternative methods of ingestion like cooking with cannabis extracts and the science of cannabis.
DEAN BECKER: You mentioned two kind of simultaneous events going on. Is there a place where folks can learn more about what’s going on there in Michigan?
DALE JONES: Certainly. If you go to http://oaksterdamuniversity.com or just http://oaksterdam.com, you’ll find all the information about Ann Arbor, Michigan and that’s right over Labor Day weekend. So this coming Saturday, Sunday and Monday. That’s Saturday the 3rd, 4th and 5th and also in Oakland we have on the 3rd and 4th (Saturday and Sunday) a simultaneous street fair going on.
DEAN BECKER: Yeah, and that’s the one I will be attending. I’ll be in Oakland to get some interviews and just kind of absorb the street fair and what’s going on and so forth. I’m looking at the website here, it’s talking about a patient consumption area, a VIP lounge, stages with exhibitor speakers, community leaders, activists…all kinds of informative stuff and a lot of fun probably, right?
DALE JONES: Yeah, it’s very exciting, Dean, to just have the street fair quality. To have Oakland embrace the cannabis industry movement like this is phenomenal. The city of Oakland is supporting us and we’ve got food trucks and vendors out and we’ll also have quite a bit of music and entertainment going on as well as the educational. It’s really something that if you’re anywhere within a few hour’s drive, it’s definitely something worth hitting - Oakland, California on the 3rd and 4th.
And if you’re east of the Mississippi, I hope you’ll visit Ann Arbor, Michigan.
DEAN BECKER: The city of Oakland was going to open up four enormous warehouses to lower the price but threats from the federal government kind of put the kibox on that, didn’t it?
DALE JONES: Indeed. The Feds threw a wet blanket on Oakland’s plans. At this point they’ve reestablished a desire to open new dispensaries instead and with those dispensaries will come attached growth facilities but not the giant growth facility that they talked about last year.
Oakland is one of the first cities to regulate medical cannabis dispensaries and Oakland enjoys one million dollars a year in tax revenue. That million dollars per year pays for a lot that’s really important to Oakland residents – our schools, our streets and to keep law enforcement officers focused on the crimes that really matter, the violent crimes.
And so Oakland has figured out how to do it right and it’s definitely a shining example of how to take what is perceived as the danger of cannabis and actually control it. Take it out of the hands of the violent cartels and make our communities safer by really taking our priorities and putting them where they belong.
DEAN BECKER: Dale, thank you so much. I look forward to seeing you and Richard Lee, the former Houstonian who heads up Oaksterdam University, next weekend. And folks, I hope to see you there. One more time, that website…
DALE JONES: Yes, please go to http://oaksterdam.com to learn more information about the Michigan seminar over Labor Day weekend and that’s for anyone east of the Mississippi. You can come to Ann Arbor, Michigan on the 3rd, 4th and 5th and learn a lot about the medical cannabis industry. And, if you’re anywhere in California I hope you’ll come and visit Oaksterdam, California and look up the International Cannabis and Hemp Expo.
TIM BECK: I’m Tim Beck. I’m the Political Director of the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers and for that I was kind of the person who got the ball started in getting medical marijuana legal here in the state of Michigan.
We really got slammed when the Republican Party had a massive victory in November and they got control of all state offices. And an opponent of medical marijuana who led the fight in 2001 against the ballot proposal was elected Attorney General. This man is just obsessed with destroying this law.
The legislature requires a two-thirds super majority to change any voter initiated act so, as a result, the Attorney General and others have pursued the matter in the courts, using the courts to shut down the law. Unfortunately they succeeded to some degree because they got a case favorable binding ruling from the Michigan Court of Appeals on Wednesday of this week. Basically saying that any form of dispensary or sales, except between a patient and a caregiver, are illegal. We’ve got like 400 or 500 dispensaries, so to speak, we call them Compassionate Clubs here in Michigan that are in operation providing jobs and a good living for a lot of folks and a lot of them are out of business now.
What’s happened is…and then, coincidentally, we cannot prove the Attorney General is behind this but two raids that were conducted in the city of Ann Arbor…they claim that these were ongoing investigations but the coincident is very interesting because it happened exactly two days after…or a day after the court decision came down.
.Ann Arbor has its own rules, they’re legal under Ann Arbor law. Some people believe that given the social conservative values of the Attorney General he considers the so-called liberal city of Ann Arbor the equivalent of Soddam and Gommora. This is his way some believe, in sending a message.
However, many places….it’s been very interesting…this news has not yet been shared with the general public too much…Certain profiteers in certain counties (we call them green zones) are refusing to obey the court order which is very interesting. So they’re not going to use their resources. They say, “OK, if the state police wants to come in and shut these places down, we can’t stop them.” But, they are not enforcing the law themselves. That’s Genesee County, Grand Traverse County, the city of Detroit, Wayne County.
Oakland County, the officials there absolutely hate medical marijuana. They are rejoicing and every dispensary shut down immediately as a result at the risk of instant prosecution. So that’s what’s been going on.
The court made a very narrow interpretation that the only source of legal medicine was through a caregiver and that caregiver can be compensated for expenses. Now whether that’s an elephant or an aardvark – who really know what - it’s a distinction without a difference.
But what it did, in essence, they said that that is the only legitimate means. We were also concerned the Attorney General is he did not get his way in one instance in that court ruling. He said that any transfer at all between patients - you could pass a marijuana cigarette to another patient and that in itself would be illegal. His premise was that it’s illegal to transfer Vicodin…you know, you have to go to the pharmacy to get it. Or, if you run out of Valium, Dean, and you come to me and say, “Well, Tim, can you give me a Valium? I can’t make it to pharmacy.” Well, that would be a crime. So that’s what he tried to twist the law into that even if you pass a joint to somebody that’s a criminal act even if it’s another patient. So, he didn’t win on that one and the court refused to deal with that particular scenario – they didn’t make a ruling one way or another.
DEAN BECKER: We’ve been speaking with Mr. Tim Beck about the situation in Michigan. Tim, is there a website where folks could learn more about this situation?
TIM BECK: http://www.bigmacc.com and that’s the official website for the Michigan Center of Compassionate Centers.
DEAN BECKER: Alright, be sure to check out this week’s Century of Lies show. Our guest will be Florence Coaxum talking about a seminar at Texas Southern University. We’ll have more during that show. 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.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org
Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.