11/04/2012 Peter Christ

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Peter Christ co founder of LEAP on WGRZ in NY, Terry Nelson of LEAP, Instute for Justice segment, Ethan Nadelmann + Gavin Newsome + Mary Jane Borden with Drug War Facts

Audio file


Cultural Baggage / November 4, 2012


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: Thank you for joining us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. Today we’re going to feature a long segment from WGRZ TV out of Buffalo, New York. They interviewed one of the founding members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Peter Christ.


FEMALE REPORTER: But there really is a push now nationwide with some calling for the legalization of drugs. Our guest, Peter Christ, is a former police captain. You are in favor of legalizing drugs. Some would be aghast to hear a former cop is actually saying, “Let’s favor the legalization of drugs.” Why do you think it should happen?

PETER CHRIST: One thing real quick, I’m a retired police captain so I spent 20 years and they send me a check every month so I just wanted to point that out.

I’m one of the co-founders of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. We came together as an organization in 2002 because we see the failure of the policy of prohibition in our society.

I was talking earlier today to someone and they said, “You think these gangsters will just become honest people if we legalize drugs?”

My answer to them was, “No, the gangsters will stay gangsters but most of the people that are involved in this illegal trade we really wouldn’t qualify as gangsters. They are more like opportunists.”

To give you a quick example, in 1919 there was a homicide rate in this country. We instituted alcohol prohibition in 1920. The homicide rate in this country climbed every year until it peaked in 1933 when we legalized alcohol. By 1937 the homicide rate in America was back down to the level it was at before alcohol prohibition started.

I want to point out one other thing about 1937. That was the deepest, darkest period of the depression in this country so there was a lot of angry people but they weren’t killing themselves anymore because we took the product away that they were killing themselves over.

Legalization of drugs is not about the drugs. It is about the gangsters and terrorism that is supported by the illegal marketplace in this country.

REPORTER: So where do you begin because some people just out of the gate are just going, “Whoa.” They’re still trying to wrap their head around that a retired police captain wants drugs very criminalized now to be made legal. It just doesn’t make sense.

PETER CHRIST: I can understand that and I think it’s because they think the issue is about the drugs and, as I said before, it isn’t. It’s about the crime and violence.

Law enforcement was designed by a guy by the name of Robert Peele over in London, England in the early 1800s. That’s why they call them “bobbies” by the way – Robert Peele. He designed an organization of law enforcement that would protect people from other people doing them harm.

When you institute a prohibition like we have with drugs in this country what you are doing is not protecting people from other people you are attempting to use law enforcement to protect people from themselves.

Protecting you from yourself is a function of family, church, education and the health care system. It never is and never should have been intended to be a law enforcement function. We are out there enforcing morality when we enforce drug laws and that is not our job. We were not trained to do it. We are not capable of doing it and, if anything else, you see the failure of it. We’ve been doing this for over 40 years since Nixon kicked it off and the drugs are more available, purer quality and cheaper than they’ve ever been before on the streets of America and we’ve had 40,000 deaths in Mexico in the last 5 years fighting over this drug trade. Plus we’ve destroyed more lives than the drugs have by incarcerating people and hanging felony convictions on them, denying them college educations, denying them jobs for no good reason.

One other thing I want to point out just in case people think that if we do it hard enough this is actually going to be doable – to make drugs go away. We have the largest prison system on the planet and I would like to point out one of the most deficient prison systems on the planet. In that huge, deficient prison system we do not have one drug-free prison in America. If you cannot keep drugs out of prison who’s going to be delusional enough to think you can keep them out of a free society.

MALE REPORTER: …or a high school for that matter.

PETER CHRIST: …or a high school.

MALE REPORTER: Peter, this is another classic argument that’s very much like Einstein’s Theory of Insanity. You know, you can think you can do things the same way and get a different result.

I think President Nixon declared war on drugs over 30 years ago. How are we doing on that war?

PETER CHRIST: Well, we’re losing. In fact, I speak to a lot of rotary clubs, Kiwanis clubs and I start off my presentation by asking them a question. The question is, “Do you think we can win the War on Drugs?”

Now let’s define what winning means. We won the second World War. We don’t fight the Germans and the Italians and the Japanese every once in a while. The war is over. We won it. It’s done.

OK, that’s what a won war was. So if we win the War on Drugs that means we’ve taken the word marijuana and heroin out of the dictionary because we’ve defeated the drugs. They’re gone.

I ask people to raise their hands and nobody ever puts their hand up to think that’s possible.

Now let’s change the discussion. If instead of talking about things like drug-free and winning the War on Drugs we start saying things like drugs are always going to be in our society, they are always going to be here – which group of people do you want to run the marketplace?

Do you want it run by gangsters, thugs and terrorists who have 13-year-old children selling drugs on street corners or do you think that maybe a licensed, regulated marketplace where we can set age limits and distribution points and control purity of drugs is a better system?

Call me crazy but I’m not a prohibitionist. I think that a better system is a regulated, controlled marketplace. Don’t misunderstand me. Just like when we legalized alcohol in 1933 that didn’t solve our alcohol problem. Alright? This isn’t going to solve our drug problem. We have to deal with our drug problem as an educational and a health care issue.

FEMALE REPORTER: My question would be then some would say…I’m sure some of the people at the rotary clubs…by the way I would like to go the next time you speak to them because I would love to see their faces when you start your opening pitch.

If you are legalizing drugs doesn’t that promote more usage?

PETER CHRIST: I don’t know. Does it? How many people do you think in America are not using cocaine because they can’t get it?

FEMALE REPORTER: Every single person that wants to get it is going to get it.

PETER CHRIST: The law about a drug is not what makes people decide to use it.

MALE REPORTER: It’s all about demand and supply, right Peter? As long as there is a demand there is going to be a supply. That’s just the entrepreneur spirit of capitalism I suspect.

FEMALE REPORTER: So we’re saying we’re going to take this down to its most minoot point and say just like a pack of cigarettes if you choose not to smoke you’re not going to do heroin, you’re not going to do cocaine…

PETER CHRIST: Well if heroin was legalized tomorrow would you go out and do heroin?


MALE REPORTER: If you wanted heroin you can get it just about anywhere in the city.

PETER CHRIST: It’s interesting when you mentioned tobacco because one of the comments I get from people all the time is, “If we legalized drugs what kind of message does that send to our children? It’s condoning. It’s saying that drugs are really OK.”

Well, I like to use tobacco. If you ask any tobacco smoker who has been smoking more than 20 years if they ever felt condoned in this society they’ll tell you, “Oh yeah, ten years ago, fifteen years ago I felt absolutely condoned. Every place I walked into there was an ashtray. I could smoke on an airplane all the way from New York to Los Angeles.”

You ask cigarette smokers today if they feel condoned and they’ll tell you no, they feel barely tolerated by the rest of society. And let’s also point out another victory – we have gotten 50% of adult cigarette smokers to quit smoking in the last ten years without banning one cigarette, without burning or poisoning one tobacco field just by simply making it less easy for people to smoke and also by talking against it and pointing out the errors of it. That’s the things that work.

The Drug Czar said the other day at a press conference…and I wish if you’re ever at this press conference because you people who are in the news would ask the question that I always want asked…He said that this drug issue in America is fundamentally a health care and an educational problem. And nobody asked him what other health care and educational problems do you think we should use the criminal justice system as our main approach to. Because I can’t think of any.

FEMALE REPORTER: Peter Christ is here. We’ve been talking about how alcohol prohibition led to homicide rates increasing so you say do away with all the laws, rules and regulations. Again, you can drink alcohol out in public. I don’t know if I’d want to see someone shooting up some heroin next to me somewhere. That’s where I’m thinking…you know, how do you combat that?

PETER CHRIST: I don’t think that would happen. I think this is a multi-billion dollar illegal industry that’s taking place right now here in America.

FEMALE REPORTER: But how do you combat those because those would be the issues…

PETER CHRIST: You set regulations. We are setting different regulations than we have ever had in this country for tobacco use. We are now preventing people from smoking in the park, in some places from smoking on the street. We don’t allow people to walk down Main Street unless they change the laws since I retired but it used to be illegal to walk down the street with a can of beer.

Those are things we have to do. I just want to remind you. In 1933 when we legalized alcohol the federal government didn’t legalize alcohol and set up a regulatory system for the country for alcohol. They basically got out of the prohibition business and said to the states, “Regulate it any way you want to.”

Mississippi didn’t end their alcohol prohibition until around 1970. You still have dry counties in some areas. Those are local things.

What we’re trying to do is get the federal government out of the prohibition business and let the law enforcement go back to what they are supposed to be doing and that’s protecting people from each other.

You know 20 years of police work working in the town of Tanawana – a community of about 80,000 people – I remember 2 instances. One was a father who found out his son had committed a rape. He turned his son into the police for that rape. Another one was a mother who found out her son was committing burglaries. She turned her son in for committing burglaries. Not once in 20 years did a parent ever turn their child in for drugs. Not once.

I can’t believe that out of 80,000 people some mother or father didn’t find in a sock drawer a little baggie with something in it. But when it was their child the last thought in the world was to turn this over to the police. They found other ways to deal with that problem. We as a society should find other ways.

We have 450,000 deaths a year - it used to be it’s probably down a bit – due to tobacco. 150,000 deaths per year due to alcohol. Now my question is when you look at all the illegal drugs and you only have 30,000 deaths a year from all the illegal drugs combined the question is that prohibition is such a good idea why don’t we bring back alcohol prohibition and prohibit tobacco. If it’s a good idea let’s do it with all the things we don’t like.

The reality is when I say that to people they look at me and say, “Well, that doesn’t work.” And that’s absolutely right. Prohibition doesn’t work.

FEMALE REPORTER: Lydia has a question for you.

LYDIA: There are places in India where people have no drugs. They execute people who sell, use or manufacture drugs – extreme but effective. We have one more comment (we have several comments) but this one I’d like to read.

“Just from the legalization and taxation of marijuana in smoking form only – not paper, clothing, fuel, etc. – the profit after savings from anti-marijuana propaganda, courts and prosecution as well as regulation in the U.S. as a whole would profit in upwards of 2 million annually.”

Can you speak to that?

PETER CHRIST: Absolutely. We are spending 70 billion dollars a year in this country trying to win this drug war. We could revert that to using that in the treatment community. We could spend that money other ways. If we legalize it I’m sure we’re going to tax it. In America we’re not going to tax it?! Of course we’re going to tax it.

We’re going to generate income from it plus we’re going to create jobs. Plus we’ll bring the hemp industry back which was also outlawed in the 1930s when they outlawed marijuana. The hemp industry is a very strong industry.

When you mention other countries…I had a guy come up to me after a rotary meeting a couple years ago and he said, “Well, you know what they do in Saudi Arabia if they catch you with drugs?”

And I said, “Yeah, they take you down to the town square and they chop your head off.”

And he said, “Yeah, that’s right. “

I answered him with two answers. One was call me crazy but when I think of countries I want America to be more like…Saudi Arabia is not one of the first ones that pops into my head. And, two, you know what they do every year in Saudi Arabia when they catch people with drugs? They take them down to the town square and they chop their head off. You know why they do it every year? Because it doesn’t work. If it worked the rest of the people see that head rolling through the courtyard – that’d be the end of the drug problem but even that doesn’t work.

People choose to do this. The first attempt at prohibition we have any historical record of started with these words, “Do not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge.”

The reason why it didn’t work was told to you in Genesis and was told by the creator after creating the two people granted them free will and that’s what we’re trying to outlaw.

FEMALE REPORTER: Lydia has one more quick question.

LYDIA: Pete wrote in and said how much tax revenue would this actually generate if it was legalized people would grow their own presumably employers would still be permitted to drug test employees cutting down job opportunities for those who take advantage of this. The police would require equipment to determine is drivers were under the influence of pot when they were pulled over. There’s also the issue of second hand smoke as it can make those around you high. Can you speak to that, please?

PETER CHRIST: There’s a bunch of stuff there. Obviously we have driving while intoxicated laws now so that’s not a problem. We have the second hand smoke thing. We’re dealing with that with tobacco by regulating where people can use it and so on and so forth so that’s not a problem. What was the first one you said?

LYDIA: If it was legalized people could grow their own and …

PETER CHRIST: That’s right and I know that everybody listening to me today after they get done listening to this show will go outside and tend their tomato garden, right? You can grow your own tomatoes. You don’t have to buy them from anybody but the vast majority of us don’t want to have to do that so we would much rather buy them at the store.

Let’s be honest about this. You can make your own alcohol, too but most people don’t do it. That is not the situation. It will make an economy. It will get law enforcement out of this work and let us focus on pedifiles and people who are robbing other people, people who are harming other people instead of going after people who are doing what they choose to do.

FEMALE REPORTER: Peter Christ, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.


DEAN BECKER: Wow, Peter, you knocked it out of the park buddy. Thank you for that and I hope you enjoyed listening to that.

Be sure to listen to this week’s Century of Lies when you’ll hear yours truly speaking to the Lone Star College up there in Kingwood for LEAP.



He’s the Drug Czar. Wages an eternal war on free will.

He knows all - the Drug Czar knows all.

He’s in charge of the truth so he tells nothing but lies.

He professes such great sorrow for the thousands of his minions who die.

He’s the Drug Czar waging his eternal war on our free will


[game show music]

A stirring in the loins. Women feel genitalia warmth and a desire to have sex. Men feel enhanced libido. They feel younger, stronger and more energetic.

{{{ gong }}}

Times up, the answer: According to Britain’s Guardian newspaper, PT-141. Is this the drug that will save the rhino population.


TERRY NELSON: This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. The drug warriors are out of control and some are participating in a “Theft by Badge scheme” that entails officers confiscating cars and cash under threat of arrest and incarceration. This is what the drug war, now more than four decades long, has caused some of our public servants to stoop too.

In the East Texas town of Tenaha many people that were carrying cash money in their vehicles had the money confiscated (or forfeited under duress) and at times their vehicles seized. Many were possibly in route to Louisiana to visit the legal gambling establishments that are located just across the border.

Danny Robbins of AP reports — Authorities in a Texas county where a drug enforcement program was allegedly used to shake down black and Latino highway travelers are returning more than $100,000 taken during the traffic stops. Asset forfeiture laws provide a civil procedure for authorities to seize property they believe is linked to criminal activity. The laws are designed to take so-called "dirty" money off the streets and allow it to be used to fund law enforcement efforts. But critics believe the laws are too easily abused, and they have frequently pointed to Tenaha, a town of 1,160 near the Louisiana border, as an example.

The stops in Tenaha, Texas which often resulted in people being forced to hand over cash without any charges being filed, have led to multiple lawsuits and two federal criminal investigations.

More than 140 people reluctantly turned over their cash to avoid incarceration from June 2006 to June 2008, according to court records. Among them were a black grandmother from Akron, who surrendered $4,000 in cash after Tenaha police pulled her over, and an interracial couple from Houston, who gave up more than $6,000 after police threatened to seize their children and put them into foster care, the court documents show. Neither the grandmother nor the couple were charged with any crime.
District Attorney Kenneth Florence said Shelby County has dismissed all of its pending forfeiture cases, even those without a connection to Tenaha, in what he described as an effort to turn the page after an agreement was reached in August to settle a class action lawsuit stemming from the stops.

These crazy drug laws, and some unprincipled public officials, have done serious harm to our citizens. This type of action by our elected and appointed officials is absolutely unacceptable. Anyone in public service that supports prohibition by default does not support public safety. Prohibition has caused a majority of our pulbic safety issues that are connected to the drug laws. Just recently a state trooper shot and killed two illegal immigrants riding in the bed of a pickup truck because he thought the truck was transporting drugs.

We must change our drug policy from prohibition, arrest and incarceration to one of education and treatment to deal with our drug problems. This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, www.copssaylegalizedrugs.com signing off. Stay safe.


DEAN BECKER: Because a handful of people were arrested at their hotel an elderly couple has had their motel seized by state and federal officers in an asset forfeiture maneuver.


ATTORNEY: The civil forfeiture laws represent the most serious assaults on private property rights on our nation today. The Motel-Caswell case epitomizes everything that is wrong with our forfeiture laws today.

The Caswell’s stand to lose their entire property. Something they have worked for their entire lives. Even though the police make no allegation that the Caswell’s have done anything wrong and indeed the Caswells have no criminal record whatsoever – under civil forfeiture laws people who have not been convicted or even charged with criminal activity can face the loss of their property.

ROSS CASWELL: I think it’s quite obvious at this point why the federal government has gone after me and not other businesses. We’re a “mom and pop” type operation and we have no mortgage so anything that they get here they get to keep for themselves where the other places – the big corporations and so forth – they have vast resources to fight this sort of thing.

It’s taken a huge financial toll on our family. We just can’t afford to fight it and the Institute for Justice thankfully came along and helped us with this thing when they saw how ridiculous it was.

It’s also taken a huge physical toll on our family. My wife has been physically ill. We had been planning on retiring and then all of the sudden we get hit with this.

ATTORNEY: The week of November 5 th we are going to be going to trial on behalf of the Caswell family. We’re are going to do everything in our power to make sure that the Motel Caswell stays and that Ross and his family’s rights are vindicated.

ROSS CASWELL: I’m fighting this so that younger people that are coming along don’t have to go through similar things that I’m going through at this point. You know, working all your life to get somewhere and then have the government just come along and take it from you.


DEAN BECKER: To learn more please visit the website of the Institute for Justice at http://www.ij.org

The following segment is from the Gavin Newsome Show. Gavin Newsome is the current Lt. Governor of California. He is interviewing the Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Ethan Nadelmann.


GAVIN NEWSOME: So you’ve got states…what, 16+ states that have already adopted what California did many years ago, Prop 215, medical marijuana dispensaries. You’ve got a number of ballot initiatives this year still providing medical marijuana but legalization, the decriminalization movement took a step back. Prop 19 in California but has the opportunity to take a step forward this year…2, 3 …

ETHAN NADELMANN: Well I’ll tell you first of all Prop 19 in California 2 years ago it got 46.5% of the vote.

GAVIN NEWSOME: Better than you thought.

ETHAN NADELMANN: Better than I thought. It did better than either Republican candidates did for Senator or Governor with almost no money behind them. People who a year before were saying “You’ll never legalize marijuana in this state” were saying to me, “How come you didn’t win?”

It actually changed the national dialog so it was a rare case of an initiative winning even though it lost. This year in Colorado and Washington State there’s a real chance. Washington State, Gavin, is amazing. Not only are initiatives polling with more people in favor than against you have in Seattle every member of the city council and the mayor, you have the city attorney, you have the two former U.S. attorneys, the former head of the FBI, you have the leading university researcher on marijuana addiction saying it’s the right thing to do. You have Children’s Alliance, you have the guy that’s running for sheriff, you actually have the chance in Washington State …there’s almost no opposition campaign where this could actually win.

In Colorado not quite as likely but it’s got a shot as well. Colorado has the most extensive state-wide regulation of medical marijuana so people are more marijuana familiar and comfortable. That argument…it’s getting awfully close and I’m eager to see on election day there could be some history made especially in Washington and Colorado.


DEAN BECKER: I’m certain that neither Ethan Nadelmann nor I want to negate the chances for Oregon and here’s Peter Buckley talking about Oregon’s need for change.


PETER BUCKLEY: We have people in the state right now…Oregon can and should be a leader in the research of how marijuana impacts ailments across the board. We have the growers here. We have the medical community here and we obviously have the people in need here. We should put that together, put the people who are suffering ailments together with the people doing research on marijuana and the growers and come up with the data so we can say with great confidence that someone who is suffering with PTSD with this strain of marijuana or that strain of marijuana can expect certain results. The same with chronic pain – with strain of marijuana or that strain of marijuana – used in this way can expect results.

The medical marijuana program, in my opinion, needs to be professionalized and we need to make sure it’s having the best possible outcome.


MARY JANE BORDEN: What are the trends in marijuana arrests?

Hello drug policy aficionados! I’m Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts.

The question for this week asks, what are the trends in marijuana arrests?

The new FBI’s new Crime in the United States report for 2011 contains good news: marijuana arrests are down versus 2010. Arrests for marijuana possession in 2011 dropped to 663,000, or by about 88,000 compared to the 2010 numbers. The 2011 arrests for marijuana sales similarly slipped to roughly 95,000.

More telling details, though, are revealed in year-to-year comparisons.

First, looking at just one or two recent years hides magnitude of the data. Arrests for marijuana sales consistently surpassed 90,000 per year in 2005 and possession arrests eclipsed the 700,000 per year mark in 2006.

What the drop in 2011 marijuana arrests actually shows is a backtracking to rates found a decade ago. In other words, there was roughly the same number of marijuana arrests 2011 as there were in 2003.

The force driving this drop seems to lie in the Western states. Beginning in 2002, the number of those arrested for marijuana possession decreased each year in the West (versus the 2011 levels), while such arrestees in other regions did not. Most of the Western states have medical marijuana laws.

Further, per the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the number of current (monthly) marijuana users has grown by almost 25% over the past decade to 18.1 million in 2011. With possession arrests on the decline, the result is an increase in current users as a proportion possession arrests. While the ratio was 1 arrest per 20 users in 2002, it was 1 per 27 in 2011. In other words, the chance of arrest for current marijuana users has finally declined.

These Facts and others like them can be found under the Drug Use and Marijuana Chapters of the Drug War Facts at www.drugwarfacts.org.

If you have a question for which you need facts, please e-mail it to me at mjborden@drugwarfacts.org. I’ll try to answer your question in an upcoming show.

So remember when you need facts about drugs and drug policy, you can get the facts at Drug War Facts.


DEAN BECKER: And we close it out 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.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org