12/25/11 Special

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

DTN Best of 2011: Froma Harrop, Robert Platshorn, Pamela Constable, DTN Editorial, Steven De Angelo, Sandy Moriarty, Cliff Shaffer, Charles Minn, Dr. Tom O'Connel

Audio file


Cultural Baggage / December 25, 2011



DEAN BECKER: Hello my friends. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. Happy Holidays no matter what you believe in as long as you don’t believe in locking people up because you don’t like what they do to themselves in their own homes.

I am Dean Becker and this is the best of 2011 Cultural Baggage. You’ll hear the 2nd half of the year on the Century of Lies show. But let us begin with January 14t h Froma Harrop.


DEAN BECKER: She’s the nationally syndicated columnist talking about the situation in Mexico.

FROMA HARROP: … and you can’t – you can’t stop it, this is – these are people living in the poor countries and drug trade offers them incredible of amounts of wealth to people.

They will do anything to do this and that’s why you can have these drug cartels killing hundreds of each other and you have new members the day after. The day after one dies, some new guy shows up and you simply cannot stop it.

What you can do is, you can stop the illicit market. You can stop terrorists and thugs and murderous foreign gangs from making money off of the American drug habit, frankly.

Dean Becker: Yeah.

FROMA HARROP: And you can do that by legalizing drugs. It’s interesting there’s drugs – this war on drugs, I was just looking at the statistics.

When it began, the DEA, the Drug Enforcement Administration had 2770 employees and a budget of $65 million and now – let’s see what is the number today – now, it has 10,800 employees and a budget of $2.6 billion dollars. Do you know what we could with $2.6 billion in our society? It’s really stunning.

DEAN BECKER: Well, we wouldn’t have to teachers, close so many libraries; close the health care availability for so many. I think it was New Mexico, they just last week reported that somebody who was on the transplant list for a liver –


DEAN BECKER: Was denied because they were just out of money.


DEAN BECKER: It’s usurping – it’s eating away our ability to do these other more positive things.

FROMA HARROP: That’s true and even if you think drugs are a bad thing. It’s still money. It’s money down drain because it’s doing nothing. It’s doing nothing to the drug supply.

So, whether do you think drug are acceptable, if you’re a Libertarian and you say “that’s not no business of mine what you take” or if you’re a more – if you’re an old fashioned Moralist that says, “Drugs are bad. Drugs are evil.” This money is totally wasted because it’s not stopping the inflow of drugs.


DEAN BECKER: Once again that was Froma Harrop, nationally syndicated columnist.

A little later in January we had Robert Platshorn, author of “The Black Tuna Diaries: True Story of America's Most Notorious Marijuana Smuggle” and we were talking about our smuggling days.


DEAN BECKER: Isn’t that the case, you and I were talking earlier today about the fact that thirty five years ago or so that in Columbia, you said it was more open, more accommodating, if you will, for Americans to come down and get involved in the drug trade but I had my time in Mexico forty years ago as well and they welcomed this they wanted our business but let’s –

ROBERT PLATSHORN: But you were a friend and partner and they considered you their connection and took really care of you.


ROBERT PLATSHORN: And protected you the whole time you were in country.

DEAN BECKER: Now, let’s talk about Black Tuna, where that came from and why it bears its relevance.

ROBERT PLATSHORN: It’s really not – the first time that I saw the name was in the government press releases when we were indicted and then on door of the DEA evidence room and it actually said “Black Tuna War Room.” I didn’t even know that I was in a war.


ROBERT PLATSHORN: They made it up. They had found a picture somewhere of when I had caught a 650 pound blue fin tuna in the tuna tournament. We were all fisherman and we fished together. We were called the “Fishing Fools” and when I caught that fish and won a tournament a few days later, I had gold medallions made for the guys on the boat. It was only a handful of them and it just had a generic fish on it that looked like a salmon or something.

They took that and the picture they had with the tuna and they named us Black Tuna Gang because they have put a great name to something.

DEAN BECKER: Sure. Now, Robert, the fact of the matter is, you guys smuggled, I guess, well over a half a million pounds of marijuana from Columbia to the US, right?

ROBERT PLATSHORN: Well, the government alleged anywhere from a million to three million but it was substantially under a half a million.

DEAN BECKER: (Laughs) Okay, but still…

ROBERT PLATSHORN: But over a hundred thousand…

DEAN BECKER: A sizable amount of weed that would fill most houses a couple of times over I would think.

ROBERT PLATSHORN: I would think so, yes.


ROBERT PLATSHORN: And it was almost all really great Santa Marta Gold and later became the mother strain for almost everything that’s grown for medical today and most of the good strains you’ll find in the legal growing states.


DEAN BECKER: January 28th we had Pamela Constable, a Washington Post reporter. Her beat – Afghanistan.


DEAN BECKER: Now and I’ve also heard it said that the producers of these opium products have stock piles and they really don’t mind if there is shortage because it increases their profits, your thoughts there, please?

PAMELA CONSTABLE: Yes, absolutely, that’s been going on for a very long time. That’s not a new phenomenon. These are very good business people, so to speak, so they know how to manipulate things to their advantage.

It’s not just a question of small families and farmers, then once you get into a very big drug trafficking situation then you get into a lot of – a more sophisticated and more ruthless business people, international business people involved and the government has had a lot of difficulty, keeping track of these people and arresting them and even, you know, convicting them much less.

It’s most of the people that get arrested in this trafficking are small people, people that might just be carrying something in a truck or bus. It’s very difficult for the government there, which is a weak government, to really pursue these traffickers.

DEAN BECKER: This brings up another topic. I understand that corruption is vast. It’s at nearly every level of government, in customs, in border security and oft times high ranking individuals within the government, at least dabble in if not outright involvement in the drug trade, correct?

PAMELA CONSTABLE: There is a lot of corruption in Afghanistan. This is acknowledged by everybody, by the government, by the international agencies. It’s a major, major problem through the society and through the government. It’s hard to say what percent of that involved drugs but a lot of it does and there have been a number of arrests of people and officials who were believed to be involved.

There is also some widespread suspicion of higher-ups, senior officials being involved, but again, as I said before it is very, very hard to get evidence of this, to get prosecution and convictions. So, it’s a hard problem to measure but it’s safe to say that it is very widespread and fairly high.


DEAN BECKER: Once again that was Pamela Constable, a reporter for the Washington Post.



During this time of eternal war
I find it my somber duty
To report the death toll
From the drug formerly known as
Marijuana… is…


DEAN BECKER: It’s a tempest in a tea pot. I hope ya’ll don’t mind those quasi-PSAs but I just can’t help making fun at the blithering idiotic drug war.

Next up from January 30th, a Drug Truth Network editorial.


DEAN BECKER: We must expose the Drug War addicts to force them to explain their horrible, destructive habits. As much as I despise and want to destroy the black market in drugs, to deny the terrorists funding from turning flowers into weapons, to destroy the barbarous cartels in Mexico and elsewhere and especially to eliminate the reason for most of the violent US gangs but more than these bad actors who after all are simply trying make living.

Mostly I blame those in government, in positions of authority, whose ignorance, lack of common sense, of history has given us nigh onto a hundred years of barbarism and overdose deaths, street corner shootouts, children dying and international fiascos.

Millions of lives have been destroyed as a result of these proponents of Drug War. The cheerleaders of prohibition who must bear the blame for this clusterflock. Drug War addicts have developed such horrible and destructive habits, they must be held accountable.

In recent weeks, there has been a call for civility on the airwaves for a new paradigm for discussion. In that the drug war addicts refuse to share their thoughts on the Drug Truth Network and for all the reasons I just listed, I cannot comply.

Those who believe in Drug War are akin to dimwitted hillbillies and fundamentalist freaks. It must be pointed out that chief among those responsible for this Drug War are those whose intellect and knowledge is supposed to lead us in the right direction, scientists and doctors, treatment providers, the people whose knowledge could redirect and absolve the mindset and direction of these elected officials and thus counter the implementation and continuation of laws designed for eternal failure.

Drug war addicts, the very face of stupidity.


DEAN BECKER: Many of you have been watching that new program on the Discovery Program, Weed Wars, with Steve DeAngelo and his brother and friends and Harborside Health Center’s goings on. By the way, if you look at episode 4 at the 23:45 second mark – you get a one second glimpse of me in my white LEAP Tshirt standing there near Steve from February 4, 2011 this is Steve DeAngelo.


STEVEN DeANGELO: We’ve been fortunate to get a lot of recognition for the model that we’ve built, Dean. I’m really grateful for finally having a voice. I’ve been an activist for many, many years and it really feels good to be able to have your words listened to and broadcast to the public.

DEAN BECKER: That’s what’s happened in the last couple of years in particular. There is no longer that “joking aside” contained in the reporting. There is no longer that snickering up their sleeve. It’s been given respect, is it not?

STEVEN DeANGELO: Well, it is but I think it’s due in large part to pioneering efforts, by journalists such as yourself, who took the lead set the example and really have begun to shame the mainstream media into covering this story from the serious point of view and perspective that it deserves.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah Steve, I was real proud. I had another video wee they had busted the Healing Arts Center in Los Angeles. I shot a video of with the DEA standing guard for the – um, excuse me – with the Los Angeles police standing guard for the DEA. Al Roker called me up and wanted to use some of that video on one of those many new television programs that are beginning to speak that same truth, right?

STEVEN DeANGELO: Yeah, well, you know this is how change happens. It happens with each one of us picking up a camera, each one of us writing up our words, putting it out there, speaking truth to power and over time enough of us working together are able to create a movement that’s now grown into something that is unstoppable.

DEAN BECKER: Now Steven, the Harborside was the original store, if you will. You guys, if you’ll pardon the pun, you cloned that for the city of San Jose.

STEVEN DeANGELO: Yes, we have a second location in San Jose. It’s an independent collective but they are our sister collective. They share our name and our approach and many of our team members.

Sure, the website is harboresidehealthcenter.com. Check out the website. There’s lots of good information up there.

I guess, my closing thought, Dean is just that the power belongs to us. We can throw off the repression and the oppression that we’ve been suffering under.

There is a huge momentum that has gathered up now all around the world we see people rising up and we see people rising up in Tunisia. We see people rising up in Egypt. This is the land of the brave and the home of the free but let’s do it. Let’s get it done here.

DEAN BECKER: Alright Steven DeAngelo, thank you so much

STEVEN DeANGELO: You are so welcome. Thank you, Dean.


DEAN BECKER: By the way if you would like to see a very inside look at the Harborside Health Center I urge you to look at my website which is up on YouTube. I was given the first chance to tour that facility with a video camera. Check it out on YouTube. Look for fdbecker or harborside…anything ought to find it. And “in your face” Discovery Channel.

Next up we hear from Sandy Moriarty, the chef and the professor at Oaksterdam University. This from Feburary 4. Sandy Moriarty has written Aunt Sandy’s Medical Marijuana Cookbook. It’s an official course book of Oaksterdam University.


DEAN BECKER: Well would you please give us kind of a brief summery of the process.

SANDY MORIARTY: Well, okay very good. Now, as far as the tinctures goes, this is the mixture when infusing the alcohol. You want to use 151 rum or Everclear vodka. The reason why you want to do that is because the trichomes cling to the lipids that are in the medium that you are working with.

Yes, there are lipids in alcohol lipids are the fat content of the material. Lipids are the Greek word for fat and this is where came up with – that we derived it from the word lipo.

So, the lipids in any material is what the trichomes are going to cling to. So, that is why you want to use strong vodka and the strong rum because they have the greater content lipids.

So, in doing that what you want to do is take a gallon jar, like a mayonnaise jar. Fill that full of vodka and place at least about a half an ounce of buds in there and you can also use the green leaf trim in this process and for a more potent outcome you’ll want to use the buds.

Place it in a dry, dark place for four weeks, going in a shaking and activating that material every day for about a half an hour. In that process, the trichomes will leave the buds and go over and cling to the lipids and therefore you have a very, very, very potent medication because you have – you are starting with such a strong alcohol and you are infusing it with the trichomes.

So this material, you only use a small amount in baking. I’d like to suggest the fun I have had with tincture is making a rum cake and just making the bottom of the cake and even cupcakes and setting into a platter of tincture and having it infused up through the cake and it’s very, very delicious.

People that make tincture they really only use a couple of drops at a time because of the strength. It is oh so very powerful and the dosage for that would be small, very small amounts and then kind grow into adapting a comfort zone for tinctures because you are mixing the two, the alcohol and the trichomes.

DEAN BECKER: Once again that was Sandy Moriarty, author of Aunt Sandy’s Medical Marijuana Cookbook, Comfort food for Body and Mind. Thank you Sandy Moriarty and be sure to keep listening for more recipes from Aunt Sandy’s cookbook.


DEAN BECKER: I haven’t had Sandy on in quite a while. We’ll have to bring her back on the half-hour program.

Next up one of my oldest guest, I don’t know how old he is but he’s been around with the Drug Truth Network for a long time. I urge you to check out his website http://druglibrary.org. Educate yourself and change this stupid drug war.

This is Cliff Schaffer from February 11.


Cliff Shaffer: Well, actually I first read most of the major research on drug policy back in the early 1970s and the research that I read was so entirely clear on the subject that there was just no argument. Then so, I figured that because the research was so clear that eventually everybody would recognize the truth of the matter and things would change for the better.

Then we went through a number of years and we went through the Reagan era where Reagan massively increased the war on drugs basically as a propaganda move and finally by about 1989, I just got tired of watching what were really endless and inconclusive debates on this.

I saw William F. Buckley had one and it was a six hour show with four people on each side. They were supposed to be knowledgeable and they couldn’t come to a conclusion, even after six hours of arguing about it.

I knew at the time that if I could have showed up for the debate with a stack of the books that I had read that the debate would be over in about fifteen minutes. So, that’s when I got the idea to – that what we really had to do was to get the research out of these old dusty university research libraries, where nobody could read it and start converting it to some form where it could be distributed worldwide and everybody could read it and so nobody would have to take my word for what it said.

When you get into the research, of course, the research is just – it’s astonishing. It’s not what you are expected at all for the average person in the US, just about everything they think they know on the subject is probably wrong.

So, I started putting it up and I went to the research libraries and I got the books. I scanned them and I OCRed them – that’s converted them from paper to electronic format and started putting them up.

Once I did that, researchers from around the world starting sending me things that I didn’t have access to that were only found in foreign libraries. After a while the collection got to be pretty massive and the evidence is very conclusive.

I mean, once you read the evidence that is there, there’s just no question about it the drug laws were – they were just nuts.


DEAN BECKER: Since this is the Cultural Baggage show I guess it’s necessary that we run a “Name that drug by its side effects”. Let me go see which one’s best of the year.


(Game show music)

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

Difficulty breathing, swelling of your face, fever, sore throat, vomiting, severe blistering, bruising, tingling, numbness, pain, weakness, bleeding, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice and …


Time’s up!

The answer: Nuvigil, a medication that promotes weightfulness.


DEAN BECKER: OK, you’re listening to Cultural Baggage on the Drug Truth Network and Pacifica Radio. We’re doing the Best of 2011. I think we can squeeze in 2 or 3 more before we’re done here.

From March 13th, this is Charles Minn, producer of a brand new movie, “8 Murders A Day” which tells the story of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. He was recently our guest on the Century of Lies program.


CHARLES MINN: Well, I mean, again we’re – I’ve talked about this ad nauseum but just with so many people but I think you know legalization is drugs is something that, you know, if I had to tell you right now what I think, I would have to say I’m against it.

I don’t just don’t know if this is going to solve the real problem of Mexico. People say this is a Drug War but I believe this is a war on people. I do think there is something else here and I can’t quite measure exactly what that is because due to the lack of investigation, when you have 310,011 murders in a city just of 1.2 million and there is not investigation on just about all crime, it’s hard to gage on whether this is really a war on drugs.


CHARLES MINN: There’s another topic here, it’s not, if you legalize drugs, that sounds easy. Will the violence go away? Well, I personally don’t think it will.

DEAN BECKER: No, it will diminish and over time it will diminish even further because those tens of millions, billions dollars in profits won’t continue flowing the pockets of Mister Shorty Guzman.

We’ve got another little slice from your movie, 8 Murders a Day. We’ll listen to that and we’ll come right back with Mister Charles Minn and former Police Chief of Seattle, Norm Stamper.


CHARLES MINN: Another victim was shot in the house next door. He lived in El Paso and Juarez on the weekends. A loved one also too afraid too show his face on camera, tells me, “Jesus dedicated his life to his family.

In fact, he volunteered to coach his son and a handful of shooting victims. They all suited up for the same baseball team, The Sultans. Coaches, players, fathers, sons, daughters, all victims of the ongoing violence in Juarez.”


DEAN BECKER: Alright Charles, respond to that little clip there, would you?

CHARLES MINN: Well, that was a clip in the beginning of the film about a year ago, January 31st 2010, to be precise, in the soccer parks section of Juarez. Fifteen students were gunned down in a party, in a birthday party that they were having and gunmen came up in three trucks and started shooting up the entire house. As it turned out, it was the wrong house and to no one’s surprise there’s been no arrest made in that.

So, that’s in the beginning of the film. I put that in the beginning if the film to kind of set the tone for 2010, which was a terrible year in Juarez. It was a record breaking year of over 3,100 deaths with led to the title of the film, 8 Murders a Day.

Right after that they built a soccer field as a far as a social program to symbolize peace. they built a soccer field because of that mass shooting at the birthday party that killed fifteen people and believe it or not, about a month ago the soccer field was the site of another tragedy.

They shot seven people in a soccer field, including two teenage girls that were spectators.


DEAN BECKER: The situation in Mexico is beyond horrific. Somewhere around 50,000 dead at this date.

Next up from the Institute for Policy Studies, my old friend, Sanho Tree.

Here I’m asking him about the prevalence, the growth of news about news about drugs and the drug war.


DEAN BECKER: I’m looking at yesterday’s [Houston] Chronicle. There’s a story in here; Most Mass Overdose Victims are released from Hospital. A bunch of kids took a fake drug, 2CE. One of them died and then today the Chronicle it says, From East End thugs to modern-day Mafia, How a group of small time criminals hit the big time on the streets of Houston and again smuggling drugs into the US for those enormous profits that were talking about.

I guess what I’m leading up to Sanho is that it seems to me at some point, it becomes overkill. We become inundated. We become swamped with this and we will have to face it at some point, will we not?

SANHO TREE: Absolutely, the cost of incarceration, not so much at the federal level but at the state level, is really killing a lot of state budgets. So, it’s forcing states all over the country to reexamine how we treat people who violate laws and whether those laws are really necessary or need to be revised.


DEAN BECKER: Here’s Sanho’s response to my question about what’s going on south of our border.


SANHO TREE: So, we have tactics in Mexico. We’re fracturing the drug trafficking organizations. That seems to be the buzz word going around, we’re going to either fracture or break them up into smaller units, etcetera. But that’s not really an end game, it doesn’t get us anywhere.
If you look at the history of this tactic, we’ve been fracturing drug trafficking organizations in Columbia for more than twenty years where has that gotten us?

Today – back when Plan Columbia was still being debated back in 2000 and 2001, more the 90% of our cocaine in the United States came from Columbia. Today, it’s about 97% originating from Columbia.


DEAN BECKER: I asked Sanho how do we end this drug war.


SANHO TREE: I’m a former historian and I’ll tell you, history is made by those who show up. The greatest way to make sure that nothing ever changes is to stay on your couch.

The squeaky wheel gets the oil and that is to say you have to express your views to your elected representatives, otherwise they assume you’re fine with what’s going on. You can’t just shout at your TV. They can’t hear you.


SANHO TREE: It’s not 1984. The TV doesn’t work two ways. (Laughs)


SANHO TREE: So, we have a passive culture. We’re taught to “shut up, shop and behave, take a pill to chill out” or whatever but in fact we need to be much more active consumers of Democracy.


DEAN BECKER: Once again that was Sanho Tree of the Institute for Policy Studies, http://ips-dc.org.

OK, we’re about to run out of space here and I want to include some content from my doctor, Dr. Tom O’Connel, talking about marijuana and my potential use of marijuana.


DEAN BECKER: Alright. Now Tom, I said were going to focus on edibles. I want to come back to – it’s been my experience that edibles are approximately 45 minutes to an hour after eating the cookie, brownie or whatever it might be that you feel those effects. It can stay with you for another three, four – maybe five hours. It seems to linger for some time. What do you think causes that disparity?

Tom O’Connel: Well, there’s a huge difference between duration of effect, how long the high lasts, with the inhaled high it is generally about an hour. When it’s over, we know it but the good feeling that accompanied the high may easily last for another hour— plus if there’s no buzzkill.

Now with an edible, you don’t feel anything for 20-40 minutes and then all of a sudden it comes on. It’s not gradual. It’s all at once.


DEAN BECKER: Well, that’s gonna do it. That wraps up another year of Cultural Baggage. Next week on both the Cultural Baggage and Century of Lies show we’ll be doing a recap of the last 10 years of the Drug Truth Network. I hope you’ll be joining us for that.

This has been a production of Pacifica KPFT Houston and the Drug Truth Network. This is Dean Becker wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year. Stay Safe.