03/10/13 Elizabeth Warren

Sen. Elizabeth Warren chastizes US drug war tactics, Bloomberg report on cannabis use in Silicon Valley, Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn opening cannabis shop in Wash DC, Valerie Corral re cannabis use, death and dignity

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Guest: 
Elizabeth Warren
Organization: 
Senator
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Transcript

Cultural Baggage / March 10, 2013

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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!”

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. The good news is the drug war is ending. The bad news is it’s ending is slow, violent and ugly.

The following is from a recent U.S. Senate Hearing. It features Senator Elizabeth Warren as well as David Cohen and Jerome Powell talking about the HSBC money laundering scandal.

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ELIZABETH WARREN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and thank you all three for being here today.

As Senator Reed just pointed out the United States government takes money laundering very seriously for a very good reason. It puts very strong penalties in place. In addition to monetary penalties it’s possible to shut down a bank that’s been involved in money laundering.

Individuals can be banned from ever participating in financial services again and people can be sent to prison.

In December HSBC admitted to money laundering – to laundering 881 million dollars that we know of for Mexican and Colombian drug cartels. It also admitted to violating our sanctions for Iran, Libya, Cuba, Burma, the Sudan. It didn’t do it just one time. It wasn’t like a mistake.

They did it over and over and over again across a period of years. They were caught doing it, warned not to do it and kept right on doing it and evidently making profits doing it.

HSBC paid a fine but no one individual went to trial. No individual was banned from banking and there was no hearing to consider shutting down HSBC’s activities here in the United States.

What I’d like is you’re the experts on money laundering. I’d like your opinion. What does it take? How many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords and how many economic sanctions do you have to violate before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution like this?

Mr. Cohen, can we start with you?

DAVID COHEN: Certainly, Senator. No question the activity that was the subject of the enforced action against HSBC was egregious both in the money laundering that was going on with HSBC and the sanction violations.

For our part we imposed on HSBC the largest penalties that we had ever imposed on any financial institution. We looked at the facts and determined that the appropriate response there was a very, very significant penalty against the institution.

ELIZABETH WARREN: Let me just move you along here on the point, Mr. Cohen. My question is given that this is what you did what does it take to get you to move toward even a hearing, even considering shutting down banking operations for money laundering.

DAVID COHEN: Senator, we at the Treasury Department don’t have the authority to shut down a financial institution.

ELIZABETH WARREN: I understand that. I’m asking in your opinion, you are the ones who are supposed to be the experts on money laundering. You work with everyone else including the Department of Justice. In your opinion how many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords before somebody says, “We’re shutting you down.”?

DAVID COHEN: I think the authority to pull a license, to pull a charter is an authority that is submitted to the supervisors, the OCC, the fed – whoever the supervisor may be. We take these issues extraordinarily seriously. We aggressively prosecute and impose penalties against financial institutions to the full extent of our authority.

As I said earlier one of the issues…

ELIZABETH WARREN: I’m not hearing …I’m sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt and I just need to move this along but I’m not hearing your opinion on this. You are supposed to be…the Treasury is supposed to be …you are the leaders in how we understand on how to work together to stop money laundering. I’m asking what does it take even to say, “Here’s where the line is. We’re going to draw a line here and if you cross that line you are at risk for having your bank closed.”

DAVID COHEN: So Senator, we’re mindful of what our authorities are and what the authorities of the supervisors are. We will and have and will continue to exercise our authorities to the full extent of the law.

The question of pulling a bank’s license is a question for the regulators.

ELIZABETH WARREN: So you have no opinion on that? You sit in Treasury and you try to enforce these laws and I’ve read all of your testimony. You tell me how vigorously you want to enforce these laws but you have no opinion on when it is that a bank should be shut down for money laundering? Not even an opinion?

DAVID COHEN: Of course we have views on…

ELIZABETH WARREN: That’s what I asked you for – your views.

DAVID COHEN: But I’m not going to get into some hypothetical line drawing exercise…

ELIZABETH WARREN: Well, it’s somewhere beyond 881 million dollars of drug money.

DAVID COHEN: Well, Senator, the actions and I’m sure the regulators can address this issue – the actions that we took in the HSBC case we felt were appropriate in that instance.

ELIZABETH WARREN: Governor Powell? Perhaps you can help me out here?

JEROME POWELL: Sure. The authority to shut down an institution or order a hearing, I believe, is triggered by a criminal conviction and that is not something…we don’t do criminal investigation. We don’t do trials or anything like that. We do civil enforcement and in the case of HSBC we gave essentially the statutory mandatory maximum in money penalties and gave very stringent cease and desist orders and we did what we had the legal authority to do.

ELIZABETH WARREN: I appreciate that, Mr. Powell. So you’re saying you have no advice to the Justice Department on whether or not this was an appropriate case for a criminal action?

JEROME POWELL: The way it works is the Justice Department has total authority. This is at the heart of what they do – it is the heart of their jurisdiction to decide who gets prosecuted and for what. It’s not our jurisdiction.

They don’t do monetary policy. They don’t give us advice on that. We collaborate with them and we discuss with them. We collaborated with them on HSBC. They asked us specific questions, “How does this statute apply? What would happen if we did this?”

We answered those questions. That’s what we do.

ELIZABETH WARREN: So, what you’re saying to me is you are responsible for these banks. Again, I read your testimony and you talk about the importance of vigorous enforcement here but you’re telling me you have no view of when it’s appropriate to consider even a hearing to raise the question of whether or not these banks should have to close their operations when they engage in money laundering for drug cartels>

JEROME POWELL: I’ll tell exactly when it’s appropriate. It’s appropriate when there’s a criminal conviction.

ELIZABETH WARREN: So, you have no view on it until after the Justice Department has done it?

JEROME POWELL: Again, the Justice Department makes that decision. We play our role in that. We have a constant dialogue with them. We always have the Justice Department involved but when they make these decisions they make them themselves.

ELIZABETH WARREN: I understand that I’m over my time. I’ll just say here if you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine the changes are good you are going to go to jail. If it happens repeatedly you may go to jail for the rest of your life.

But evidently if you launder nearly one billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night - every single individual associated with this. I think that’s just fundamentally wrong.

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DEAN BECKER: The following is part of the good brought to us from Bloomberg TV.

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DOUGLAS CHLOUPEK: What you have here are the lineup of flowers that members would take home and smoke. We have a pretty large patient base from the high-tech industry seeings how we’re right in heart of the Silicon Valley.

Most of them come because of the long work hours that they put in. They either need some help with the stress from work to relieve them or from the pain that they physically have whether that’s from arthritic hands from typing for 15-20 hours in a 2 day time period and sitting down at their desk for multiple hours on end so that is why we have a number of cannabis products that are topical salves, sprays that you are able to literally spray onto the hand, onto the arm. It is absorbed through the skin and it’s very, very effective.

The other products that we have here are the ingestible capsules for those who need to be more discrete. One of the big, big breakthroughs that we recently acquired was the Beta Chew Line. The Beta Chew Line is high CBD which is the cannabinoid molecule that actually gives the pain relief but is not psychoactive. Because of that those who are coding for 15 hours a day and cramping hands that is a product that allows them to have mental clarity and still pain relief.

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DEAN BECKER: All around the nation politicians are writing or thinking of crafting new marijuana laws. Media is starting to get it and stand forth almost as boldly as we do here in the Drug Truth Network. And in states around the country they’re opening up cannabis dispensaries.

The following from KGW TV, Rhode Island.

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MALE ANCHOR: The state’s first medical marijuana dispensary is getting ready to open. Today we got an inside look at the future compassion center and one of the three planned for Rhode Island.

FEMALE ANCHOR: We also spoke to local residents to find out how they feel about the facility opening in their neighborhood. Eyewitness news reporter Andrew Adamson joined us from the Providence local news room with what he’s learned.

ANDREW ADAMSON: Rhode Island is set the ranks of states with medical marijuana dispensaries when this first one opens up in the near future. To find out what patients can expect we got a behind the scenes tour.

It’s a medical facility unlike anything else in the ocean states. The Thomas Slater Compassion Center in downtown Providence is set to become the first dispensary in Rhode Island to sell medical marijuana to registered patients.

GERALD McGRAW: This is medicine. It helps people. There are people out there can’t get through their day to day life without this medicine. They can’t sleep at night. They can’t eat.

ANDREW ADAMSON: CEO Gerald McGraw knows about those problems firsthand.

GERALD McGRAW: I’ve had a family member that suffered through cancer. She didn’t have access to medicine.

ANDREW ADAMSON: But those people will now have an outlet. Patients will be able to purchase marijuana grown directly at the dispensary. The facility will cultivate up to 99 plants and be able to accept excess medicine from licensed card holders. They’ll even teach growing classes.

GERALD McGRAW: They’re going to feel safe when they come here. They’re not going to have to hide in the shadows.

ANDREW ADAMSON: The Slater Compassion Center is one of three planned in the state. The non-profit dispensary has been in the works since the law was passed 3 years ago allowing medical marijuana facilities to operate in Rhode Island.

After a number of legislative hang ups all that’s left now is a final inspection from the State Department of Health before business can begin.

The local residents we talked to say it’s about time.

FEMALE RESIDENT: I think it’s a good thing for any state. I think that the medical benefits have been proven.

MALE RESIDENT: I don’t see any downside. Society has to move forward.

ANDREW ADAMSON: The Slater Compassion Center is already accepting new patients and they say because their goal is to help people they won’t put a cap on the amount of patients they will accept.

With the Providence Mobile Newsroom, Andrew Adamson, Eyewitness News.

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DEAN BECKER: You’ve seen the news about this drug. It’s no longer on the shelves and soon the only place you’ll be able to see this particular product is in a courtroom near you.

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[game show music]

It’s time to play: "Name That Drug - By Its Side Effects!"

Weakness, nausea, skin rash, unexpected weight gain, swelling of hands and face, difficulty breathing, flu-like symptoms, sluggishness, dark urine or pale stools, double the chance of dying of heart attack or stroke…

(((gong)))

Time’s up! The answer: Vioxx.

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JEFFREY KAHN: Hi. My name is Jeffrey Kahn. I live here in Washington, D.C. I was ordained a rabbi more than 30 years ago and served reformed congregations for 27 years in the U.S. and Australia. My wife is a nurse and a hospital administrator.

3 years ago in February 2010 when D.C. decided to really implement its medical marijuana program we decided that this was something that we not only could do but should do and that we wanted to do. We’ve been pursuing that dream, I guess, for the last 3 years. We’re now just a couple weeks away from opening so I’m very excited.

There’s a giant need as we know. People aren’t able to get their medicine safely, legally, to know that their medicine is safe, to know that it will help them. In this situation now where we have crazy drug laws that are preventing sick people in our country from being able to get their medicine that really helps them and to be able to be part of the process in breaking down that barrier to help those people get their medicine is not only something we feel compelled to do but is a wonderful honor to have that opportunity.

It’s so interesting because the average American on the street if asked the question of “Describe someone who believes in reforming America’s drug laws.” They would probably come up with some kind of character out of “Reefer Madness” from the 1930s but, in fact, the people who are committed to changing America’s drug laws are people like everybody else in this country – good, hard-working, caring, family people who hate to see people suffer for no good reason and can’t stand to see unnecessary and harmful laws harm people. Sometimes people are harmed so much more by marijuana laws than even the sickness that they’re dealing with in order that they are trying to find relief for.

Here in the District of Columbia where we’re not a state but if we were we would be a really small one we’re lucky that we have a mayor and a city council who have been able to understand this issue, get their hands around it and do what’s right for the citizens for this city. We had a unanimous vote by the city council for the District of Columbia twice before the mayor signed this law besides the fact that 69% of the people originally voted for Initiative 59 back in 98 when we started the process.

We are in a unique position. In some places when the feds come to town everybody knows it. Well, the feds live in our neighborhood. We are in the federal capital. I think that’s been an interesting part of the process for us. We’ve been working very hard with our own neighborhood in trying to get people to understand what it is we intend to do – that we live in the neighborhood. We live one-half a block from the dispensary. That we believe in what we’re doing. That we’re actually going to be the people that will be in the dispensary so when people say, “Wow, whoever you have working for you is going to get gunned down on the first day.”

We don’t anticipate anything like that. It’s going to be my wife and I there. Part of the process over the past couple of years of working with the neighborhood was to discover that our neighbors work for the federal government. They work for the DEA. They work for the Justice Department. They work for the FBI.

On the one hand maybe we need to be more on our toes than some people because one of our neighbors may have a very close relationship with the Attorney General for all we know. On the other hand it’s great for our neighbors to see that this can be done safely, without problems because they do work in the Justice Department and they do work in the FBI. For them to really get the experience to see, “Hey, this isn’t an issue. I live in this neighborhood. My kid rides his bike by that place every day. It’s not a problem. It’s actually helping sick people.”

We think that’s really going to be important. We hope that we are going to be able to have a lot of people here in Washington, D.C. see how successful and harmless this program is and they’re going to tell their bosses who are the federal government.

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[country music]

I’ve got 99 bullets in my gun.
I’m going to put those dirty hippies on the run.

Class war they want?
They will get.

I’ll buy a billion more bullets for their heads.

Rich man’s greed will make him dead.
Each poor man’s got a single bullet for his head.

Class war is such a bitch but now it’s payback time for the rich.

And the final score is 99 to 1.

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ANNOUNCER: Our experts are going to give you everything you need.

RUNNER: Yeah, it takes me like 4 hours to make 4,000 dollars.

DEALER: In a year you could be making like 6 figures.

DEALER 2: I don’t want to be like Michael Jordon or Magic Johnson. I want to be like Freeway Rick.

RICK ROSS: My name is Freeway Rick Ross. Pretty much every day I could do a million dollars moving drugs. There was days that I would go through 2 and 3 million dollars.

[police siren]

OFFICER: You got to let these kids know what the rules are.

KID: Oh, come on. It’s marijuana – you’re not going to bust me for this.

RICK ROSS: I’m a grown man. These mother f*ckers can’t tell me what I can and can’t do.

CHRIS ROCK: The government – they don’t want you to use YOUR drugs…they want you to use THEIR drugs.

OFFICER: So what did law enforcement do? We developed the cases. We got the informants. We did the search warrants. We did the wire taps.

We took down these big organizations. We didn’t take the money out of it. So what happened? All the little, wonderful entrepreneurs said, “Now it’s my time!”

ANNOUNCER: In this 90 minute program masters of the trade are going to reveal to you their secrets on how to get paid in this exciting 400 billion dollar global industry.

MAN: I mean look around. This is the environment of post-industrial America. The work has gone away. The only factory that remains is the drug trade and they’re hiring. They’re the only people hiring.

OFFICER: We might as well take out billboards in the inner-city saying…

DRUG DEALER: You want to know how to make money selling drugs?!

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[solemn music]

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 ZERO.

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Valerie Corral: I’m Valerie Corral. I’m the co-founder and director of WAMM – the Women’s Association for Medical Marijuana, the longest running collective in the nation. I’m also the director of Raha Cudo, the design for dying project.

Raha Cudo, the design for dying project is an offshoot, a sister organization to WAMM. It’s really born out of necessity – people facing chronic and serious illness and death and making that journey and a very natural progression in this work is to serve people who are facing death, to listen to their needs and to be certain that their wishes are carried out.

38 of our WAMM members have become homeless since our inception. This is after their diagnosis. We work with homeless people as well, of course. That means retching from your tent or couch surfing, being ill, chemotherapy – all these very critical side effects from illness and surgery not to mention the medications leaving people in this very marginalized condition.

So what we do is offer whatever a person needs and we give them whatever they ask for. It crosses a lot of boundaries. Mostly what it does is it informs me and those of those of us who are fortunate enough to be invited to the bedside of someone who is facing death – it informs us and it’s a great honor and a privilege.

Plus you get to be taught by the masters about a journey we’re all going to be taking sometime soon. I think it’s the most exquisite, divine, great experience.

What happened is most of our members 20 years ago were terminally ill. My father had died prior to our first arrest in 92. My father taught me a great deal about the process – about acceptance and the natural state of aging and dying and how you can engage in it and the dance - the concept of turning away from the grim reaper, the darkness and engaging in the process of dying- loving life so much that when it comes to dying that the acceptance as part of death as part of life that death is a part of life.

Having lived a good life, having lived life gives us the opportunity to have a good death. Healing right up to the moment of death.

I was in a car accident almost 40 years ago and suffered a brain trauma. I was experiencing Grand Mal seizures sometimes as many as 5 a day. I found in the early 70s my then husband and co-founder, Mike Corral, read in a medical journal – a study by Tashkin – that marijuana was successfully used to treat laboratory-induced seizures in rat models.

Interestingly enough and rather quite unbelievably I decided to engage since I could find no relief from the pharmaceuticals I was taking a plethora. I felt like I was very drugged, very stoned – you cannot get as stoned off of marijuana in that very dark way.

The illness necessitated the use of pharmaceuticals and that necessitated this very dark illness and side effects of pharmaceuticals.

So, that said, we had many other friends who were sick and dying including my father and we simply expanded and used and shared what we had. We gave it away and WAMM was born out of an arrest. As many activists are thrust into that place where there is no alternative and you’re faced with a….

It’s easy to be a quiet activist but when you’re arrested and there are no alternatives for the medicine I used – it just was a logical next step.

WAMM then just grew patient by patient. We were arrested and our community supported us. Arrested again and then they just backed down. Then arrested by the DEA and we already had a quite formidable 250 member group of mostly terminally ill people. Our city and county engaged in a lawsuit against the federal government with WAMM and a few of our members – all of which only 2 surviving members from that 2004 lawsuit.

We had success. We have been growing marijuana ever since. We’ve not been stopped since the DEA raid giving away marijuana nor growing it.

Now we’re faced with something very different than pharmaceuticalization – the medicalization of marijuana. We have to really look closely at what is happening abroad. I think that’s interesting. If you note by U.S. convention, by the law of U.S. convention, marijuana will only be accessible, is only accessible through pharmacies.

Now what does that say to the industry, to the future access of patients – it’s troublesome because generally we do not think of government nor pharmacies of relly providing us with the medicines that we need.

In any case, that’s my thought. I was just talking to Rikki. She’s an optimist. You know 20 years in this work there is no other way to be but optimistic. As my mother was saying, “Choice not chance determines destiny.”

We can make our lives richer and the lives of others richer. I doubt that that is the interest of “big pharma” or our federal government – they are synonymous aren’t they?!

Our website is http://wamm.org or http://rahacudo.org - that’s a very minimal website. Mostly what we do is listen and respond with as much love as we can muster because we are learning from the masters aren’t we?

Thanks for your time. I appreciate you, Dean.

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DEAN BECKER: That’s about it for this week. All I can say in closing is that the drug war has shown itself to be a primitive, ugly, violent, superstitious, totally irrational failure. It’s up to you to do something about it.

This is Dean Becker reminding you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please be careful.

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DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

Drug Truth Network archives are stored at the James A. Baker, III Institute for Policy Studies.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org