10/23/11 Tony Newman

Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance re forthcoming reform conference in Los Angeles Nov 3 to Nov 5, 2011 + former Pres of Mexico, Vicente Fox

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Guest: 
Tony Newman
Organization: 
Drug Policy Alliance
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Transcript

Cultural Baggage / October 23, 2011

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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!”

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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.

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DEAN BECKER: Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. Alright, I’m really happy that our guest for show, Mr. Tony Newman, is joining us. We’re going to get a chance to talk about a forthcoming conference in Los Angeles, California as well as all the Drug War news. It’s getting to be front page every day of the year it seems.

Tony, what’s your take? Is the Drug War news more than ever before?

TONY NEWMAN: Dean, thanks for having me on. As you said – the Drug War is everywhere. Just in the last week some of the stories have made front page news. The Gallup Poll came out and for the first time ever 50% of Americans across the country say it’s time to legalize marijuana. That made huge news.

You know, it’s one thing in pockets here or pockets there or certain age groups – this was 50% across the country…Americans, Democrats, people between 18 and 49, men – all these different categories – 50% saying it’s time to legalize marijuana.

We have the California Medical Association – as mainstream as you can get – saying it’s time to legalize marijuana. We had former President Fox of Mexico coming out and saying it’s time to legalize drugs if we want to deal with the violence that’s taken 50,000 lives in Mexico.

As you say, the news is happening all over the place and, unfortunately, with the good news – there’s a lot of bad news. The Obama administration seems to be stepping up their war on medical marijuana at a whole range of levels. So it’s not all good but this issue is in the news and it’s happening all around us and thank you for continuing to cover this issue week in and week out, year after year.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Tony, we just started our 11th year of the Drug Truth Network. We’re up to, besides the stations I just mentioned, we have 91 other broadcast affiliates in the U.S. and Canada. More and more people are people are joining in this investigation. More and more people are wanting to delve into this matter to find out what’s really the deal and what can be done.

Now, Tony, let’s talk about this forthcoming conference out there in Los Angeles. That’s going to be a pretty big deal, isn’t it?

TONY NEWMAN: It’s very exciting and I’m glad you’re going to be there. You’ll be joined by more than 1,000 people from all over the world. The thing about these conferences is it’s made up of everybody. It’s made up of people who love drugs, people who enjoy marijuana, people who’ve had good experiences…Steve Jobs who just passed away recently talked about one of his most important events in his life was his LSD experience. There’s people who have had good experiences with drugs. They are people in the crowd.

We also have people who hate drugs - people who have had their lives ruined by drugs. People who know what substance abuse can do and have lost everything and maybe have spent years behind bars on a drug offense.

And then we have people who don’t care about drugs…have never tried drugs but know that the War on Drugs is a total failure. That it’s a war on people and a war on families.

So people, you know, if you love drugs, hate drugs, don’t care about drugs but you know that the War on Drugs doesn’t work – you should join us in Los Angeles. More than 1,000 people from around the world. It’s an aspiring event. You will learn more than you’ve ever learned and you’ll meet incredible people. November 2nd through the 5th in Los Angeles. I know Dean will be there. And anyone who’s listening – it’s not too late. Get a ticket. Join us. It’s going to be an amazing experience.

DEAN BECKER: And that website is http://drugpolicy.org, right?

TONY NEWMAN: That’s right or you can go to http://reformconference.org specifically to see the schedule. The people at this event…we have the Lt. Governor of California, Gavin Neusome, used to be the Mayor of San Francisco – he’ll be speaking. We have the former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian – he’ll be speaking.

That’s what’s interesting and that’s what’s nice about our issue. It crossed the spectrum – left to right, Libertarian, progressive – it’s the whole spectrum. It’s people who know the war on drugs isn’t working.

We’ll have the head of the NAACP in California, Alice Huffman, she’ll be there. We’ll have Javier Sicilia who’s the Mexican poet who’s leading a social movement in Mexico. His son was murdered in the Drug War a few months ago in Mexico and he’s one of 50,000 people who have died in the last 5 years because of drug prohibition. His father said, “Enough is enough.” It’s touched the hearts and souls of people in Mexico and has left 50,000 people…he will be there.

It’s going to be an amazing gathering. If you go there not only will you learn so much in the sessions but hanging out in the hotel, the conversations you have…The War on Drugs is a total failure. To all of your listeners – it touches everyone’s life. Everyone knows someone in their family who has substance abuse or has struggled with it themselves or if you haven’t – you’re impacted because there’s no money for schools because we’re pouring all this money into prisons. There’s HIV that’s happening because many states don’t allow clean syringes for use.

This issue touches all of us and this is a moment where people can get involved. Come…you know what? It is time for an exit strategy and we need you to join us. If the people lead – our leaders will follow. We need to end this War on Drugs.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, once again, speaking with Mr. Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance. Tony, just yesterday I think several dozen cities around the country recognized the …a large number of anniversaries of criminal injustice – I don’t have the wording before me – but they had one such event here in Houston. About 100 people gathered – many under the umbrella of the “Occupy Wall Street” banner, if you will. But every one of them recognizes the failure, the futility of this….how it’s led to those police abuses, how it’s led us down the “primrose path” towards oblivion. Your response, Tony Newman.

TONY NEWMAN: It’s encouraging that people are starting to speak out and come together. Dean, I heard that this is your pledge drive. Anyone who is listening…Dean Becker – you’ve been doing this for year after year, pounding away, talking about all the issues, talking about the injustice of locking someone in a cage for 15 years because they have a substance abuse problem. Talking about the violence that happens either in Mexico or in our cities here because of drug prohibition. Talking about people getting HIV or overdose deaths because they’re afraid to call 911 when they’re witnessing overdose deaths because a cop is going to come and arrest everyone.

This is one of the most important issues in our society and Dean Becker you’ve been hammering away at it year after year. People are awakening. It’s like the “Occupy Wall Street”. A lot of times the solution is not necessarily going to come from Washington. It’s going to be people in our local communities…in Houston, in Chicago, in San Francisco and Rhode Island…people speaking out.

I’m encouraged by that and I think that’s what this conference is about. It’s about, you know what, we actually can find solutions to these things. Drugs have been with us for thousands of years. Drugs are going to be with us for a thousand more. They’re not going away. We’re not going to have a “drug-free society”. We have to figure out how to live with these things so they cause the least amount of harm.

We have to stop putting people in cages. We have to use sensible drug policy and that’s what this conference is about. We can figure out how to deal with this and we know the answer is not locking up 500,000 or so in cages. We know the answer is not cops kicking down doors and pointing guns at people’s heads. We know the answer is not this unrealistic drug education where we “Just say No” because that’s not realistic.

We need to come up with some solutions. That’s what this conference is about. That’s what Dean Becker has been doing for years and years with this show. And, Dean, as a compliment to you, this 50% that’s finally saying it’s time to legalize marijuana – they’re not saying that because they like marijuana necessarily. A lot of people have never smoked marijuana or don’t like marijuana but they know it’s totally outrageous to arrest 800,000 people every year for this plant. They know it’s outrageous that we’re spending 50,000 dollars to keep someone in a cage. And, Dean, the work you’ve done over the years…the fruit of your labor is starting to happen.

DEAN BECKER: Tony, I thank you so much for that. You know, you mentioned a while ago that more and more people are speaking up and I do have this…It was actually recorded by the BBC.

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DEAN BECKER: The following comes to us courtesy of the BBC. They’re interviewing the former President of Mexico, Vincente Fox.

REPORTER: You have called for an end to the War on Drugs…because the war is over or because the tactics aren’t working?

VICENTE FOX: I’m trying to bring up my ideas and trying to solve this mammoth problem that we have in Mexico with crime. It’s really eroding the future of Mexico and we have to get out of that trap. So we need new ideas to finish with our war in Mexico and come back to growth and development.

REPORTER: You specifically attacked President Calderon’s policies and you have said that they have failed.

VICENTE FOX: It’s only a one single strategy – violence against violence – and that will never solve the problem. The army on the street only has brought in violations of human rights, violations of due processing so we must come up with new, intelligent, bright ideas.

Like, for instance, withdrawing the army out of the battle. Number 2, legalizing the production, distribution and consumption of drugs – altogether and for all drugs, altogether and all the way.

REPORTER: You’ve been very critical of U.S. policy. You’ve said that America is effectively “tipping” Mexico with a small sum…

VICENTE FOX: 500

REPORTER: …500 million dollars and that Mexico is paying, you said, in blood and dead bodies.

VICENTE FOX: 50,000 dead kids – 15 – 25 year-old…

REPORTER: And you hold America responsible…

VICENTE FOX: Well, of course. Either we legalize consumption and then we can move out of enforcement and dedicate the money, the effort and the public policies to obtaining a health program like this nation.

Back a hundred years ago in Chicago – until the prohibition was eradicated – then the solution came.

REPORTER: But, Mr. Fox, aren’t you being, with respect, unrealistic. America is not going to legalize all drugs.

VICENTE FOX: This nation, country to what you are saying, is about to change. There is a Gallup Poll – national – that just came out two days ago that says now 50% of U.S. citizens accept the legalization of drugs. The one who is blinded is the government. The government is saying, “No, no, no.” But people, public opinion, in California, and now in the whole of the United States is for legalizing.

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DEAN BECKER: We’re speaking with Mr. Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance. My engineer, Philip Guffy, had a comment he’d like to throw into our conversation. Go ahead, Philip.

PHILIP GUFFY: Well, just in regards to that Gallup Poll that says 50% of the people were in favor of legalization of marijuana. That does happen to be 50% of the general population but it’s not necessarily 50% of the people who vote. It’s really important that if you’re part of that 50%, if you’re part of the majority of Americans that do believe that this War on Drugs has failed – particularly the war on marijuana is just an absolutely backwards policy that harms us in much more ways than it helps us – then you need to get out there and vote.

If 50% of the people say this policy has failed but those people don’t actually vote, the politicians aren’t going to pay any attention. So, I just wanted to isolate that point that it’s really important that we get out there, we get active, we contact our politicians and say, “I’m part of that 50% and I vote.”

DEAN BECKER: Thank you for that, Philip.

Tony, I wanted to get your response. Those are some very bold words that President Fox was putting forward, right?

TONY NEWMAN: That was an amazing interview. I actually wrote a piece that’s on the Huffington Post right now about that interview. Who should have more credibility than Vicente Fox who was the president of Mexico. His country – it’s tragic what they have suffered – 50,000 deaths in Mexico over the last 5 years since President Calderon launched his surge against the drug cartels.

It is not the marijuana plant or the coca plant that caused 50,000 deaths and all these heads to roll – it is because these plants are illegal and they are worth more than gold that people will kill each other over the right to sell it and make all that profit.

He was on the money on everything. He talked about alcohol prohibition and hopefully people saw Ken Burns’ series on PBS. Alcohol prohibition did stop drinking but it led to Al Capone and violence and it’s the same thing. I admire Vincente Fox’s words were strong and he was right on the money about this issue is changing and I appreciate Philip’s point.

50% now say it. We have to get to a point…for too long elected officials have thought they could be tough on crime, the Republicans/the Democrats mistakenly thought, “this is how we can show we’re tough.” And they made these mandatory-minimums and these crazy laws. It’s time to start punishing these elected officials. The hypocrisy – all the “Mayor Bloombergs” smokes marijuana and liked it. Every president…Clinton, Bush, Obama – our whole society is using drugs but the only people is poor, brown and black people being sent to jail and going into cages. The hypocrisy of these elected officials…their staff, they themselves have tried it. Their kids try drugs but it’s only other people who end up going to jail for it.

You see all these elected officials now across the country are trying to make people who are getting welfare benefits piss in a cup to get their benefits. You know what?! If you drug tested their offices…it’s scapegoating. It’s going after people who are disenfranchised and we have to tell politicians, “No more! We’re not going to let you have a war on us and our families.”

We need to vote on this. President Fox was very visionary on this and very strong. It was an impressive interview. The thing is he’s actually not alone. The Global Commission on Drug Policy came out a couple months ago. Another former president of Mexico, President Deal, the former president of Colombia, the former president of Brazil, Khafi Annan, the former head of the U.N., Richard Branson of Virgin, Paul Voelker who was in the Obama administration, George Shultz who was the former Secretary of State of everything (President Bush and many republican presidents), all said the War on Drugs has failed and we need to start talking about legalization. We need to start regulating. We need to end marijuana prohibition.

So there’s a grasstops changing, the dialogue in the elite…I mentioned earlier Javier Sicilia in Mexico leading the grassroots and tens of thousands….we’re going to thousand in L.A. We’re having this conversation so there’s momentum but unfortunately with the momentum the Obama administration is continuing to escalate the war on drugs and medical marijuana which is shocking to me.

He has now become worse on medical marijuana than President Bush. We need to let these elected officials know, “No more war on us. No more war on our families. This policy is insane and we need a new direction.”

DEAN BECKER: I spoke yesterday at that gathering here to recognize the injustice and to join with the “Occupy Wall Street” folks and I talked about the fact that….You know you and I have been speaking about all these horrors that we inflict upon ourselves via this policy. All the death, disease, corruption…on down the line.

To me it’s really coming down to one simple question that needs to addressed by the head of the DEA, by the head of the ONDCP and that is…considering all this damage that we inflict on ourselves via this policy, what is the benefit? What have we derived that more than offsets all this horrible blowback?

The Drug War was a pipe dream of men who died a long time ago. But today this second attempt at prohibition is a very real, kind of orgasmic dream fulfilled for the drug lords in Mexico, Afghanistan and a thousand of U.S. cities. And those in office who stand for drug war – they’re really not so ignorant as to not realize that their furver for drug prohibition will ensure eternal profits for the Cente Loa cartel, the Taliban, the Crypts, the Bloods and the million armed, street corner vendors selling contaminated concoctions to our children at a 17,000% markup.

I’d like to say this. The politicians that are in support of drug war are, in nearly every case, the most hard-core, ultra-conservative supporters of wars of every stripe…of rights-snatching, mutual corporate masturbation. They’re servants of Wall Street and, in effect, servants of the cartels. Your response, Tony Newman.

TONY NEWMAN: There is a range of people who will continue to support the War on Drugs and some people are legitimately concerned. They’ve seen the problems of drugs. They’ve maybe had some substance abuse in their family or with themselves and they say, “I have a teenage kid and we just have to …” There’s one level of that and to them I say, “Look, if you care about your kids, your family – the War on Drugs doesn’t help.”

You know, marijuana is going to be tried by half of high school seniors before they graduate and that’s with the War on Drugs. That’s with all this stuff and arresting 800,000 people – mostly young people. For the people who are concerned we need to have honest conversations and let our kids know that we love them. Help them navigate this. There’s going to be experimentation. We have to let them know that we care about them and want to keep them safe. We need to let the people who are concerned about their families that the Drug War does not work for you. We have to be able to say that.

But then there are these opportunistic politicians who know that the War on Drugs is a joke, they know that it doesn’t work and they want to act like they’re doing something. They want to look tough on crime. They want to help support the prison guards’ union who are contributors to them. That’s a sick, cynical thing – those people who know it doesn’t work and they’re doing it anyway.

And then there are people who come with good-hearted intentions but wherever it is – you need to know that the War on Drugs doesn’t work. We’ve been waging this war for 40 years. We’ve locked up more people than anyone in the world. We have more people behind bars on drug charges than anyone in the world. It’s not the answer. It doesn’t work.

We have to treat this issue as a health issue. We can deal with this with our families, our communities but the police, the guns, the tanks, the 50,000 killings in Mexico, the prisons exploding in the United States – that is not the answer. This is a health issue not a criminal justice issue.

DEAN BECKER: Tony, I want to bring up this thought that it was Wachovia bank got caught laundering 300+ billion dollars for the Mexican cartels and when they got caught the government fined them 140 million dollars. So, in essence, one-half of one percent penalty – if I got the math right.

And, the fact of the matter is, that no one went to jail. And this parallels the situation with the banks and all the corporate malfeasants and all these bad actors stealing millions and hundreds of millions, fleecing pension funds and all this stuff and so rarely do any of them get arrested let alone convicted or sent to prison.

The point I’m trying to get at here…if more than 50% of Americans have used marijuana, as has been reported many times, that means that 50% of these congressman and senators (and we know President Obama) has used drugs – the hypocricy is just so thick and slimy. Your response, Tony Newman.

TONY NEWMAN: It’s outrageous. I live in New York. We’ve been hammering away. Mayor Blumberg, the guy who said he smoked marijuana and liked it, has locked up more people on marijuana charges than Mayors Giuliani, Dinkins and Koch combined. 50,000 people per year.

Check this out. Marijuana is decriminalized in New York. Under one ounce of marijuana is supposed to be a ticket unless it’s being smoked in public or in plain view. The NYPD, for years…what they do is they stop mostly poor black and brown kids and say, “What do you got in your pocket?” Trick the young people to pull the marijuana out of their pocket and then they say, “Oh, now it’s in plain view. Now we can arrest you.” Totally entrapment – tricking…50,000 people arrested, 75 million dollars…everyone’s talking about the budget – we have no money for schools and no money for parks and no money for healthcare. We spent 75 million dollars locking up 50,000 mostly black and brown young people for something that has been decriminalized. Totally tricking them by a mayor who said he smoked and liked it.

The good news is that we’ve been hammering him and hammering NYPD, Ray Kelly, over and over, talking about the hypocrisy, talking about the racism, talking about the waste of resources and just a month ago Ray Kelly, the head of the NYPD, said that we are going to stop this process of arresting people when ask them to pull it out. It now only has to be if they’re smoking in public. That was a victory. That’s what we need to do. We need to mobilize. We need to say, “No more of this hypocrisy. No more of this scapegoating. No more of this racist drug war.” And that was just one small victory but we, as we’ve have seen, with the “Occupy Wall Street”, if the people come out and we start mobilizing – the debate will change real quick.

With this War on Drugs, it is not going to be led from our elected officials. Even President Obama who said good things is now doing terrible things with medical marijuana. He’s letting his U.S. Attorneys go and harass people in California. The Justice Department just came out allowing this to happen. The ATF says that you can’t own a gun, even if you live in a state that has medical marijuana, you can’t own a gun. They’re pressuring banks in Colorado not to deal with legitimate medical marijuana businesses.

The answer is not going to come from D.C. We need to come out. The people need to say, “No more!” If the people lead – the leaders will follow. We had a small victory in New York. We’re going to be mobilizing in Los Angeles from around the country. We need to say, “No more Drug War!” And as the people lead – the leaders will follow.

And it is our time. We can come up with solutions but we need people to be active. As Philip said earlier, we need to start voting. We need to get in the streets. We need to say, “No more hypocrisy!” There is a better way to deal with this problem.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, once again, that’s Tony Newman with the Drug Policy Alliance. Now, Tony, I think about…I’ve used the phrase here, quite often, that there is basis in reality to this Drug War. It’s a hope. It’s amoral posturing. It’s just not grounded in science or anything other than hope, I suppose. Your response.

TONY NEWMAN: The irony is that most people in our society are using drugs. The first thing that most people do in the morning is wake up and drink a cup of coffee. There was a story in USA Today last week that said anti-depressants are up 400% in the last 10 years.

We got all these people passing these laws that go home and have their martinis after work. We got people who are taking their sleeping pills. I don’t have judgment on people but the idea that we’re going to be a drug-free society is a total joke.

Our society is swimming in drugs. But the only thing is only certain people…and, imagine putting someone in a cage for 10 or 15 years because they’ve got a substance abuse problem. Other people go to their doctors for their anti-depressants. If you don’t have insurance and get your anti-depressants on the street – you can end up in a cage for 15 years.

It doesn’t make sense. It not only destroys that person’s life – it destroys their kids’ lives, their parents’ lives. This war on people – putting people in cages like that is heartbreaking. That’s how I got into this war. The idea that I’m someone who also uses drugs for pleasure and for pain. That’s in our society – we have good times and we enjoy sitting around and having a glass of wine or smoking a joint. And then there’s people who self-medicate because of the madness in our world.

But the idea that you’ve got to put someone in a cage for10 or 15 years because they have a substance problem is totally inhumane. And then to think about what our policies are doing and the 50,000 deaths in Mexico and all the money that is spent and the demonization and making people on welfare piss in cups…this is not the way to deal with it.

The thing is what our society doesn’t teach us is that countries like Portugal decriminalized drugs – it’s their 10-year anniversary of them decriminalizing all drugs, not only marijuana but heroin, cocaine and everything – and you know what happened?! The sky didn’t fall. They ended up reducing HIV. They reduced overdose deaths. They reduced people behind bars. It was a win-win-win on every level. In the last New Yorker they had a big story about this.

But our own elected officials never talk about the success of Portugal. So everyone is so afraid, “Oh my God, I know the Drug War doesn’t work but what is the alternative?” There is actually an alternative but our media, more or less, is silent on it. Our elected officials never talk about it.

There is another way. There is another way that society can deal with this problem and it’s not the way that we’re dealing with it now. You should come to L.A. and, Dean, thank you for your years and years of doing this. There’s no doubt that the work you have done is helping why the 50% are telling the Gallup Poll that it’s time to legalize marijuana. I appreciate it and I look forward to seeing you in L.A.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, Tony Newman, one more time – those websites.

TONY NEWMAN: http://drugpolicy.org to find out about the Drug Policy Alliance and http://reformconference.org for the conference information.

Dean, I’m going to write you a $100 check for your radio show right now and I hope that everyone who’s listening will also write a check. Thank you for everything you do, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you so much and I am looking forward to seeing you and all of our good friends out there in L.A.

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(Game show music)

DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.

Euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation, sedation, unconsciousness, coma, tolerance, addiction, respiratory arrest and death.

(gong)

Time’s up!

This drug, 80-times stronger than morphine and heroin, is available via Schedule II prescription: Fentanyl, for major pain.

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DEAN BECKER: We must stand. If not for ourselves – for future generations. We must stand for truth and reality itself. You can only do that once you know the truth of this matter. I hope that we have helped to enlighten you. To help you develop that quiver of knowledge that will help you move into the future. As always, I remind you that because of prohibition – you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.

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To the Drug Truth 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