12/23/12 Steve Downing

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Steve Downing, Fmr Dep Police Chief of LA, Cory Booker, Seth Rogen on Letterman, Nadelann on O'Reilly, Terry Nelson of LEAP, Texas to legalize?, Pres Carter call to legalize

Audio file


Cultural Baggage / December 23, 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: Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. You know it seems the major media is starting to wake up. Even some of those folks on Fox are talking about the drug war in a different way.

The following segment comes from the Bill O’Reilly show. Laura was filling in. She is interviewing Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance.


LAURA: The George Soros funded Drug Policy Alliance took out this full page ad yesterday in the New York Times and they argued for the legalization of drugs. A lot of people having pot parties, dancing in the streets but they think of heroin and cocaine as something very different.

So what is the point of this full page advertisement and what is the goal here?

ETHAN NADELMANN: First of all in Colorado and Washington those initiatives won with overwhelming majorities – 55% in each state – saying it’s time to legally regulate marijuana like alcohol rather than continuing with the failed prohibitionist policy. Those votes, by the way, were not pro-pot votes. Most of the people who voted for those initiatives don’t smoke pot. They don’t want to have pot parties in the streets and all this sort of stuff.

They want police to focus on real crime. They don’t want the4 criminals making the real money. They don’t want cops arresting a zillion people a year for this stuff. They want to see the tax revenue coming from this stuff. So that’s what’s going on and that’s why half of all Americans ( a little more) say it’s time to legally regulate marijuana. I’d wage that half of all Fox viewers feel the same way.

So it’s about a responsible policy and saying that the drug war has gone too far and that with marijuana we have an opportunity to take it out of the criminal justice system and legally regulate and control it.

LAURA: Well I’d have to do a O’Reilly Factor poll on that to see if your prediction about Fox viewers is correct.

On the issue of the addictive nature of heroin, especially, cocaine as well – the carnage that those drugs leave behind and I know alcohol is a terrible carnage for American families across the board – alcohol abuse. But this leads to other problems and acceptance of drug use among younger people and people who are already at risk.

ETHAN NADELMANN: I should be clear. My organization, the Drug Policy Alliance, we’re the leading one in the country advocating full terms in the drug war but we’re not saying treat heroin or cocaine like alcohol and tobacco.

Tobacco – even heroin addicts say tobacco is the most addictive drug there is. By all rights we could prohibit tobacco. We might reduce the number of smokers, right? But we also know what would happen. We would create a vast black market. We’d have tobacco traffickers. We’d be filling the prisons with tobacco law violators and we’d still have tens of millions of Americans smoking.

The argument essentially is to say to the extent we can treat the issues around heroin and cocaine and methamphetamine as public health issues, to the extent we can get serious about treating addiction not through the criminal justice system but through the public health system – that’s a good idea.


DEAN BECKER: Of course David Letterman has a somewhat liberal attitude towards weed as his discussion with Seth Rogen would indicate.


DAVID LETTERMAN: I want to know a little bit about weed because…

SETH ROGEN: I’m your guy!

DAVID LETTERMAN: They’ve legalized weed in Washington and also in Colorado.

SETH ROGEN: Yes! I was close to moving to Washington when I heard that.

DAVID LETTERMAN: Now if I were to smoke some of the weed now that you buy in Colorado…say you and I go into a weed store and we say, “Seth and I would like a joint.”

SETH ROGEN: Yeah, they would know.

DAVID LETTERMAN: They would know. Would it be so awful powerful that I’d take one hit and you’d have to call the EMT?

SETH ROGEN: Probably, yeah.

DAVID LETTERMAN: Is that what you’re looking for?

SETH ROGEN: That’s what I want. I go, “Give me the best you got. I want to completely numb my brain.”

DAVID LETTERMAN: But how can you do anything when you’re that far looped?

SETH ROGEN: I don’t know. It just kind of happens sometimes.

DAVID LETTERMAN: Now are you weeded now?

SETH ROGEN: Not very. No. I’m never really at 0 I don’t think. There’s a cumulative effect that just kind of…

DAVID LETTERMAN: Yeah. So you have no problem coming out here on a TV show after smoking the weed. That’s fine. See I would have to come out on a gurney because I can remember when I was…years and years and years ago…

SETH ROGEN: When’s the last time you smoked?

DAVID LETTERMAN: Oh God, it’s been 30 years when I was in California and it was like somebody…like Robin Williams said, “Uh, I’m hungry.” And that was it.

SETH ROGEN: It’s not like that now.

DAVID LETTERMAN: It’s not like that now. What is it like?

SETH ROGEN: I have to warn people. I’m used to it but I’ve actually had to start warning people at parties, “It’s really strong.” Because I’ve seen a lot of people that go home early and then I feel bad for them.

DAVID LETTERMAN: What happens to them when they don’t know that it’s going to be that strong?

SETH ROGEN: I don’t know. They kind of just stop talking and I assume they are thrust into deep mental conundrum and they…some people just lock themselves in the bathroom. I don’t know what they’re doing in there.

DAVID LETTERMAN: But it could be frightening because you feel like, “Oh no, I’m no longer in control of my factors.”

SETH ROGEN: Yeah, and they think it might never end….which I’m looking for, again.

DAVID LETTERMAN: Let’s just say for recreational purposes we go into the weed store.

“Hi, I’m Dave. This is my friend Seth. We’d like a joint.”

And you would say, “I’d like a double.” Or whatever you’d say.

SETH ROGEN: …make it a double – exactly.

DAVID LETTERMAN: Where do you go smoke the damn thing?

SETH ROGEN: At your home.

DAVID LETTERMAN: OK. You take it home. You sit down. You light up the joint. You smoke the whole thing right there.

SETH ROGEN: Sometimes. It depends on how many video games I’m about to play.

DAVID LETTERMAN: Now you can actually play video games with that kind of fog in your brain?

SETH ROGEN: I think my generation is very accustomed to being stoned and playing video games.

DAVID LETTERMAN: The future of America ladies and gentlemen.


DEAN BECKER: Here to close out our review of recent media reporting about the drug war are the words of one Bill O’Reilly. This was recorded the day before Ethan Nadelmann came on his show.


SPEAKER: I know professional people, doctors lawyers – things like that, who smoke marijuana every day. That’s what they do when they come home. They don’t drink anymore – they smoke pot.

They can function. They function. I’m going to get lots of letters from people, “I smoke pot. I do this. It doesn’t hurt me. It doesn’t hurt me.” And this is what the kids are hearing that it is a drug with no unintended consequences but there are adults that can do it on a daily basis and they don’t seem to be paying a price.”


DEAN BECKER: Perhaps he was talking about folks like me and Ethan Nadelmann and the heads of all the drug reform organizations who continue to thrive and create and accomplish things despite there occasional use of recreational drugs.

Another group that’s getting a lot of attention is Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Here to talk about progress for the year 2012 is board member and former Deputy Police Chief of Los Angeles, Mr. Stephen Downing.


DEAN BECKER: 2012 is coming to an end. We have a very positive 2013 to look forward to I think. But today we’re talking about the occurrences in 2012. One of the main players in the Caravan for Peace, Justice and Dignity, former Deputy Police Chief of Los Angeles, a man who’s on the TV almost every day now speaking for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, I’m proud to welcome Mr. Stephen Downing.

How are you doing, Steve?

STEVE DOWNING: Fine, doing great, Dean. How are you?

DEAN BECKER: I’m feeling positive these days. A little more upbeat because there is a chance for some change to these dreadful drug laws on the horizon. Am I right?

STEVE DOWNING: I think you’re right. I think we’re at a tipping point. I think that the federal government is making their choices in a very, very careful fashion. What is most interesting to me is that since Colorado and Washington have legalized with the alcohol model the silence from Washington has been deafening and it’s been encouraging.

Another thing that I’ve noticed is that in prior times when legalization of marijuana was put on the ballot we would always seem to hear from the former DEA heads when they write to the DOJ and the Whitehouse. They have not done that this time. They have not written a public letter yet representing all of them.

However I did come across an email where Peter Bensinger is a lone wolf who is a business that profits by drug war. He sent an email to the Federal Narcotics Officers Association asking that they flood the DOJ, the Whitehouse and congress with letters to support this supremacy of federal law and oppose what has happened in Colorado.

I have not heard much from his singular effort but, again, it’s a good sign. I think the others have said, “OK, enough is enough. The will of the people needs to be respected in those states and let’s see what this laboratory of democracy produces.”

Because they certainly haven’t produced anything that has contributed to public safety. The people of those two states have said, “Enough is enough. Let’s make our states safer. Let’s legalize, regulate and control marijuana.”

I think we’re at the tipping point and I think it’s a real good sign. I think that America is going to wake up that the War on Drugs as a whole is a disaster and this is just the beginning.

DEAN BECKER: You were talking about former Drug Czar Bensinger and he and Robert DuPont, former Drug Czar, had a letter talking about that need to invigorate the call for continuing this drug war published in the Washington Post. These guys make their money, their millions from testing the urine of our children for these same said drugs. You’re response?

STEVE DOWNING: That is an example of he being left alone by the other heads this time around. He has not garnered their support. I would love to see that letter. But, absolutely, that’s what he is in support of continuing the drug war because it supports the business that he runs. That includes drug tests of urine for children and for employees. It supports drug dogs by armored police going into our grammar schools and shaking down lockers and upsetting the very fabric of our communities.

We need to expose people like Bensinger. I wrote him a long letter and I copied that letter to the other heads of the DEA and I got a very nice reply from Asa Hutchinson who thanked me for my letter and the insights that I provided in that letter. The one thing he didn’t do is that he did not defend the War on Drugs.

In the past when I’ve communicated with other heads of the DEA they always defend what is going on. This time I’m not getting that so that’s another good sign and Bensinger we’re just going to have to try to marginalize him and expose him as one of the profiteers of the War on Drugs.

DEAN BECKER: Steve, I still every day have echoes of the voices I heard when we were on that Caravan for Peace where we would stop every evening and the families of the victims would tell their stories. I swear in the first week I cried a river. It is an astounding, outrageous situation we have created in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. Am I right?

STEVE DOWNING: You’re absolutely right. Finally we see Latin America stepping up and saying it’s time to end this. We’re seeing leaders across Latin America. To me that’s another signal of the tipping point that we’re there we just need to push it over.

That caravan was one of most profound experiences that I’ve had in my life. I know you did the whole 27 cities. I didn’t quite do that many. I was out there for about 15 days. It was a profound experience.

The pain that those 110 people that Javier Sicilia brought across the border and expressed to the people of the United States I frankly believe had something to do with what occurred in Washington and Colorado. We need to continue delivering their message, continue delivering and giving the American people the opportunity to understand the deep pain that these people experience and the violence they’ve been exposed to.

If we don’t that violence is going to continue to spill across the border and the conditions in Mexico are going to become the conditions in the United States. The cartels occupy and control drug trafficking in 1,000 American cities today. There is nothing that says their level of violence in Mexico is not going to transfer to those 1,000 American cities just as you see it in Chicago today. Chicago is a battleground and that’s because of the War on Drugs.

DEAN BECKER: Steve, we’re going to have to wrap it up here. I mentioned earlier on that you and other LEAP speakers have been called upon by broadcasters around the country – heck, around the world – for your expertise and understanding. I guess what I want to say here is folks can call upon us to come speak to their Rotary club, their Elks club, any organization with enough members to warrant our appearance. We will be there. We will bring this truth to them personally. Will we not?

STEVE DOWNING: Absolutely. That’s the reason for our organization’s existence. We are an organization of thousands and thousands and thousands of criminal justice professionals and their supporters. Those criminal justice professionals make up an incredible speakers bureau. We’re ready to go anytime we get the call. We’re ready to educate the American public on the law enforcement perspective as to the harm that the War on Drugs has brought to our country and our communities.

DEAN BECKER: Steve, as always, good talking with you. Good knowing that you’re out there beating the bushes and finding those interviews and alerting the public to this danger which we can get rid of if we just take a good look at it.

I just want to say thank you to you, Steve Downing, and to all my band of brothers in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. By the way our website is http://leap.cc


DEAN BECKER: Here to help us set the mood right for this Christmas is Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong.

CHEECH MARIN: On Donner! On, Blitzen! On Chewy! On Tavo! C'mon, Becto!" And then, the reindeers used ta take off into da sky and fly across da sky, man!

TOMMY CHONG: Wow, man! That's far out, man!

CHEECH MARIN: Yeah! And then, when they flied across da sky, they used ta come down to places like, oh, Chicago, L.A., Nueva York and Pacoima and all those places, y'know, and then land on top of people's roofs and then 'ol Santa Claus would make himself real small, y'know, like, a real small guy, and he'd come down da chimney and then he would give you all da stuff that he made, man. And...dig this, man...he did it all in one night, man!

TOMMY CHONG: Hey, just a minute, man. Now, how'd he do that, man?

CHEECH MARIN: Oh, well, man, he took da freeway. How else, man?

TOMMY CHONG: No, man. No, man, how'd he do all that other stuff, man? Like, how'd he make himself small, man. And, how'd he, like, how'd he get the reindeer off the ground, man?

CHEECH MARIN: Oh, well, man, he had some magic dust, man.

TOMMY CHONG: Some magic dust?

CHEECH MARIN: Yeah, magic dust, y'know? He used ta give a little bit to da reindeer, a little bit to Santa Claus, a little bit more for Santa Claus, a little bit more...

TOMMY CHONG: And this would get the reindeer off, man?

CHEECH MARIN: Aw, got 'em off, man? Are you kidding, man? They flew all da way around da world, man!


Opening up a can of worms and going fishing for truth this is the Drug Truth Network, drugtruth.net


DEAN BECKER: The following segment features the current Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker.


Cory Booker: Medical marijuana? Heck, yes. I do not understand that there are drug more toxic, more dangerous, more challenging in drug stores all over my city and all over my state but yet we single out this one drug and say you can’t even have it in a medical fashion at a time where I see prescription drugs from Adderall to you name it being used widely across our nation that we should be having conversations about in ways that we’ve somehow banned pot.

The reason why I said I want to go on beyond that with you is because of the drug war. There’s a great documentary out. You can get it on YouTube by the head of Virgin Airlines son that I just had on a panel with talking about the failure of the drug war.

We have seen so much of our national treasure being spent on the drug war and now we just, in my opinion, have churned human life into incarceration, trapping into poverty. I’m not saying people don’t need to take a personal responsibility for their lawlessness but what I’ve seen in Newark is there is a massive trap in this drug war and it’s not just a trap for the individuals being arrested. It’s a trap for tax payers, communities and towns.

We’re not making our nation safer with this assault on the drug war. We’re not making our self less addicted to substances. We need to radically change national conversation and begin to talk about drugs, especially drugs like pot, in a different way. I think there may be solutions out of this trap that can actually massively lower government expenses in ways that can better strongly empower human beings to succeed to deal with drug addiction and the like and allow us to turn our attention and energies in investment in areas that actually celebrate human liberty, actually celebrate human success and accomplishment.

This is a conversation that no matter what I do as mayor, governor, senator I want to be one of the people, hopefully, trying to lead the national conversation away from this insanity that we have right now which the massive percentage of our prison population, where we spend hundreds of billions of dollars, where people are arrested for non-violent drug offenses and they get re-arrested and re-arrested and re-arrested to no real result and making our neighborhoods no more safe and no more strong.


DEAN BECKER: The following courtesy of KVUE news out of Austin, Texas.


ANCHOR: Our top story at 6 is should Texas ease restrictions on medical marijuana?

Many argue it is safer and more effective than prescription drugs. Others say a drug is all it is.

REPORTER: At 40-years-old Vincent Lopez has spent most of his life in a wheelchair dealing with the pain of Muscular Dystrophy since the age of 17.

VINCENT LOPEZ: Chronic back pain, joint pain. I have trouble eating and sleeping.

REPORTER: After trying countless drugs that Lopez says only made him sicker and took away his appetite he turned to marijuana as medicine.

VINCENT LOPEZ: It seems to stimulate appetite. It seems to alleviate my spasms, alleviate my muscle stiffness, alleviate the pain throughout my back that I feel daily.

REPORTER: From patient to advocate Lopez volunteers as Director of Patient Outreach for Texas NORML.

VINCENT LOPEZ: When we see an answer that can alleviate the pain of that trial then it’s pretty much worth our effort to fight for it.

REPORTER: While citizens in Washington and Colorado have celebrated newly-passed laws decriminalizing marijuana at least 17 states allow some form of medical marijuana.

ELLIOT NAISHTAT: I think it does reflect a changing attitude.

REPORTER: An attitude Texas State Rep Elliot Naishtat hopes will finally convince state law makers to consider his bill loosening restrictions focused on the medical use of marijuana.

ELLIOT NAISHTAT: We’re trying to create a situation where a person with a bona fide medical condition (AIDS, cancer, MS, Parkinsons) following a recommendation from a doc could use marijuana for medicinal purposes and if arrested could go before a judge and say, “Look at me, your honor, I’m not a criminal. I’m sick. This helps me.”

And the judge could say, “Go home.”


TERRY NELSON: This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Drugs don’t cause crime, Prohibition does.

According to Fox news Lation During Calderon’s tenure, the government captured 25 of México's 37 most-wanted drug lords in a strategy supported by the U.S. government.

Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said earlier this week that Calderon’s king pin approach to the drug war —i.e. killing or arresting cartel leaders and other high value targets— has only splintered the cartels and spawned many more, smaller gangs who vie for power and access to the lucrative smuggling routes. Murillo Karam estimates that there are between 60 and 80 drug trafficking organizations operating in México today, many more than in 2006 when Calderon declared war on the cartels.

"It led to the seconds-in-command –generally the most violent, the most capable of killing– starting to be empowered and generating their own groups, generating another type of crime, spawning kidnapping, extortion and protection rackets,"

The argument is that despite financial resources to fight cartels under Calderon the cartels doubled, crime has increased and the drug gangs have become more violent.
And according to the FBI criminal drug cartels now have a strong presence in over 1000 American cities up from less than four hundred three years ago.

So as LEAP as proclaimed repeatedly; Drugs don’t cause crime, the prohibition of these drugs cause crime. And the more successful your prohibition policy the more crime it causes. Such as, if you reduce the supply of cocaine or heroin on the streets the remaining supply will be more expensive and thus the more lucrative that street corner becomes. And, those that can’t readily get the drugs they need will resort to theft or violence to get them. The hamster wheel just keeps turning.

The War on Drugs is arguably the most harmful public policy that has been implemented in the past one hundred years. Anyone that supports the policy of prohibition by default cannot support public safety. The drug war has turned some of our police into bullies and thugs and corrupted many more. Cops will sometimes go to great lengths to stretch suspicion into probable cause so that they can search a vehicle or house to find small amounts of drugs or money. The drug war policy destroys the trust bond between police and citizens. And makes theft by badge a growing menace to our liberties. Just look at the video of the two state cops stopping a car with two females in it for allegedly throwing a cigarette out the window. The ensuing search of the vehicle revealed no drugs and the intrusive body search of the two female occupants revealed no drugs. These cops were trying to manufacture cause to seize the cash money the women had on them. They were going to Oklahoma to visit the gambling facility just across the border.

A policy of legalized regulation and control of these substances if way overdue. Let’s try education and treatment since arrest and incarceration has not worked. This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, www.leap.cc, signing off. Stay safe.


DEAN BECKER: The following segment from December 11th featuring former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is courtesy CNN.


JIMMY CARTER: When I was President in 1979 I made my definitive speech about drugs and I called for the decriminalization of marijuana. This was in 1979. Not for the legalization but for the decriminalization to keep people from being put in prison just because they were smoking a marijuana cigarette.

I pointed out that nobody should be punished worse for smoking a cigarette than the cigarette would be to them if they smoked it. Now we have for every person who is in prison when I went out of office in 1981 there are 8 Americans now in prison. Most of those Americans who are in prison and most of those Americans who are executed with a death penalty are African-American, Hispanic or other minorities and also people who have a mental problem.

You cannot imagine a white, male man who has money being executed. The death penalty in America and putting everybody in prison because they have marijuana is a major step backward and it ought to be reversed not only in America but around the world.

REPORTER: What do you make of the legalization of marijuana and the states that have legalized marijuana?

JIMMY CARTER: I’m in favor of it. I think it is OK. I don’t think it’s going to happen in Georgia yet but I think we can wait and see what happens in the state of Washington around Seattle and let the American government and the American people see if it causes a serious problem or not.


DEAN BECKER: Thank you President Carter. I think we should also ascertain which is the more serious problem – drugs or drug war.

I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and that you would do your part to end the madness of drug war.

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.

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