08/18/13 Ethan Nadelmann

Ethan Nadelmann, Dir of Drug Policy Alliance re plethora of positive drug war news, Hempfest report, Montel and Dr. Gupta, Netherland report on black market return, George Shultz, Drug Warrant 1972 Vs Now

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Guest: 
Ethan Nadelmann
Organization: 
Drug Policy Alliance
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Transcript

Cultural Baggage / August 18, 2013

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[music]

DEAN BECKER: 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: Hi, this is Dean Becker. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I’m proud of this show. Let’s get to it.

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DEAN BECKER: This past week, this past month has been very exciting in that so much truthful information about the drug war is coming forward and here to talk about it is Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Ethan Nadelmann.

Hey Ethan. How are you doing?

ETHAN NADELMANN: Good, Good to be on, Dean. How are you doing?

DEAN BECKER: I’m good. Ethan, as i said, the amount of information that is coming forward is...well, it’s not astounding but it’s certainly welcome isn’t it?

ETHAN NADELMANN: It’s information and it’s also people moving in their positions. I sent out an email to folks earlier this week. You start off last week with this remarkable investigative reporter at Reuters, John Shiftman, producing these series of exposes about DEA agents systematically lying about the sources of the information they are collecting on people suspected of being involved in drugs including stuff coming from the intelligence community.

I think that story is going to have real legs. It raises issues similar to the issues raised around the NSA’s collection of information on American citizens’ communications. Already people in congress (both Democrats and Republicans) are beginning to express interest. Then you have the defense attorneys beginning to wonder if some cases need to be reopened.

So that was last week. Then you open up Monday and you got Attorney General Holder giving this really historic speech. Whereas on the one hand I and others are very critical of him and the Obama administration for not speaking out sooner and more boldly the bottom line is what Holder did finally say on Monday is of great consequence.

He talked about the problems of over-incarceration. He talked about the growing prison population. He talked about the need to roll back the drug war. He talked not just in fiscal terms and public safety terms but also in moral terms about the need for the country to shift direction in this area.

Already we are seeing that his words are playing out not just in the media but in recitivity of elected officials and law enforcement officials at the non-federal level being more open to talk about reform.

Then you have in New York City where this issue of “Stop and Frisk” where New York City police used the stop and frisk, i don’t know, 50 or 100,000 people per year were now going up to 300,000 people in a year and the number one cause of arrest in New York was marijuana possession arrests resulting from those stop and frisk which were overwhelmingly targeted at young men of color.

You had a federal judge, Judge Scheindlin, come out and say this is unconstitutional. It is clearly racist in its implementation and essentially calling Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Kelly to task for violating the rights of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.

Then you had on Sunday night the Sanjay Gupta special on medical marijuana which was distinctive not just because it was such a high quality production on the issue of medical marijuana and on the benefits and risks of marijuana use but also because Sanjay Gupta, one of the most famous medical correspondents in America, issued a public apology days before in which he apologized for having misled the American public years before and having done so because he did not do the work he needed to do.

Then to top it all off just a couple days ago I get a call from somebody in the office of the Comptroller of New York City government - which is the chief fiscal overseer – they give me a head’s up that they are going to be releasing a report by a few economists looking at the fiscal impact of potentially legalizing marijuana for New York City.

The report comes out. DPA, my colleagues, are at the press conference which suggests they can earn 400 million dollars per year in tax revenue from marijuana, save 30 to 40 million dollars minimally on reduced enforcement expenditure. The Comptroller proposed, “Why don’t we spend that tax revenue to cut tuition to the City University of New York in half?!”

That’s all in the last week. It’s really been an extraordinary week in terms of the progress for drug policy reform coming from the marijuana issue to the sentencing issue to the race issue from the federal level to the local level – you name it. It’s a feeling like things are really beginning to gel for us.

DEAN BECKER: I use a term on the radio “opening up a can of worms and going fishing for truth” and I think they have opened that can of worms and we can now go fishing for truth.

ETHAN NADELMANN: I think it’s not just fishing for truth. I think that’s right, Dean. It is about getting more and more information out there. For so long we would be all about putting the science up and the statistics and being rigorous in showing causal relationships between public policies and drug use and all this stuff but what we knew is that the vast majority of cases it didn’t matter to elected officials. They were on the drug war bandwagon. They were going to do what they were going to do. That if you wanted to pass a reform like to reduce incarceration or legalize needle exchange or pass a 911 Good Samaritan Law to reduce overdoses you were going to have to come up with piles of evidence to show that this innovation would decrease particular problems without increasing drug use.

Meanwhile if what you wanted to do was to double criminal penalties on something or criminalize some new drug no evidence was required whatsoever. That’s how we go to the situation we’re in today with one-half a million people behind bars and a 50 to 100 million drug prohibition enforcement industry and all that.

But that is shifting. It is as if these years and years of putting out the information, making the arguments is really beginning to get through to people. There are people who didn’t get it until now. There’s other people who got it years ago and now feel it’s politically safe to step out and speak out the way Attorney General Holder did on Monday.

DEAN BECKER: I think you are right. The fact of the matter is that if Holder and Gupta and the Comptroller of New York and all these influential people are willing to speak out it does help to motivate others to kind of join forces. Does it not?

ETHAN NADELMANN: It motivates. It legitimizes. It provides space. The Attorney General clearly represents the President on this. Obama said in the interview he gave to Time Magazine in December...he said, “I realize that we have a policy for our criminal justice system now that is destroying the lives of millions of people.”

He actually said that. He goes, “I know we need to find a change.”

But then he said it’s a hot button issue and don’t expect me to provide much leadership on that which is a bit pathetic given how he described the problem.

I believe (and I said it a year ago) that I thought we were going to see some real initiative coming out of the Obama administration in this area in the second term. I think Holder’s speech on Monday was the indication of that.

It was not just the speech it was also issuing a new set of guidelines for federal prosecutors around the country about changing the way they charge low-level offenders so that the low-level couriers and mules and what have you are not getting hit with the same penalties as kingpins simply because federal law allows them to be hit that way.

That is a significant change. State level officials are going to be paying attention. Some of them have been ahead of the federal government on this. Those which have lagged behind other states I think are now going to be opening their eyes and looking at other possibilities as well.

DEAN BECKER: I think a contributing factor or perhaps the predominate factor in making this change has been a recognition of the futility of the horrors that we inflict via this policy. It’s become a moral issue kind of pointed in the other direction. Would you agree?

ETHAN NADELMANN: I think that’s right. Part of what you had happen first in the African-American communities in this country. Remember much of the African-American leadership was gung ho for the drug war in the late 80s and early 90s. They felt that drugs were destroying their community and therefore we needed to crack down and we needed to bring in the government to do so.

I think what happened beginning in the later 90s is that more and more people, African-American leaders began to wake up. Not just leaders but regular people and the leaders following and to recognize that all of the drug war and all of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on it had done nothing to reduce the availability of illicit drugs in poor African-American communities, had done nothing to help invest in those communities to improve their health. All it had done was result in a mass arrest and incarceration of millions of young men and oftentimes women of color.

I think you saw the wake up happening there and then Michelle Alexander’s book, “The New Jim Crow” really came at a great moment a few years ago. Basically putting this stuff together in a way that just made sense both for African-Americans and for non-African-Americans.

So you had that piece. Then you had governors – both Democratic and Republicans – saying this is just costing too much. We can’t keep locking up people at this rate. We got to find some alternatives.

You had people coming from the right wing, the Christian perspective, saying this is getting a little out of hand. We’ve got too many people behind bars. You have not just virtually every African-American person in the country who knows somebody pretty well who has spent time behind bars on a drug charge but as I’ve gone around the country I’ve seen even in white communities are seeing a growing number of people who knows somebody close to them who has been locked up for non-violent drug charges.

Then I think we have to give ourselves some credit. I think that the drug policy reform movement and the criminal justice reform movement have been plugging away at this for 20 years. We’ve done it through our academic studies and through our lobbying of state legislatures and our work on Capitol Hill and our engagement with media and the zillions of speeches and interviews that hundreds if not thousands of activists have done. That stuff has sunk into the public consciousness as well.

You put it all together...I don’t think it means we’re at a tipping point. You know, I’m beginning to be willing to say we may be at a tipping point on the issue of marijuana because we now have a clear majority in favor of legally regulating but when it comes to the problem of mass incarceration what I’d say in that case is it is a bit like trying to turn around an ocean liner.

We’re increasing pointing in a new direction but it takes a long time to turn around an ocean liner and it’s going to take a long time to turn around and reverse these forces that have driven mass incarceration and the drug war in America.

DEAN BECKER: Once again, it’s always great to hear your thoughts.

We’ve been speaking with Mr. Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. Closing thoughts, Ethan?

ETHAN NADELMANN: All I can say is you’ve just done a fantastic job putting out all sorts of educated voices on drug policy reform, getting that word out as we speak and also, not incidentally, providing what one day will serve as an incredibly valuable archive of the growing drug policy reform movement.

I think the momentum is on our side. I think it’s not going to go on and on forever. I think there’s going to be other things that will trip us up over time but I think that more and more Americans are basically supporting where we’re at.

If you ask me what’s the next frontier apart from rolling back mass incarceration and apart from trying to take marijuana out of the criminal justice system I think it going to be trying to decriminalize, to end the criminalization of drug possession in the United States – to basically Americanize the Portugal model.

Remember 3/ 4ths of all the drug arrests in America are for nothing more than drug possession. I think that finding a way to make it so nobody is going to jail or losing their freedom simply for possession or using a drug absent harm to others, absent being behind the wheel of a car, that’s where we need to go and that’ll just save us tens of billions of dollars, it will improve the lives of millions of people and, so far as we can tell from the evidence, it will present little to no risk to the broader public health.

DEAN BECKER: The website for the Drug Policy Alliance is http://drugpolicy.org

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[PSA]

It’s made form doorknob handles and covered with mayonnaise. It’s faster than greased lightning and it’ll be your end of days. It’s a slippery slope.

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DEAN BECKER: The Seattle Hempfest with hundreds of thousands of attendees is ongoing as of this broadcast.

MALE: Because now it is at a legal and recreational level people will be coming out and they won’t be paranoid. It’s actually not cannabis and marijuana that create that paranoia it’s the laws that are in place that create that paranoia.

I think it’s going to be a very successful Hempfest 2013.

SPEAKER: We stared Hempfest in 1991. A lot of people thought that we were basically jousting at windmills, that it was never going to happen - words like it’s a pipe dream, we were pissing in the wind, prohibition is here to stay.

What we’ve seen with the historic passage of I-502 and Measure 64 in Colorado is that change is definitely in the wind.

MALE: The next step is national legalization. It will get there eventually.

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DEAN BECKER: Courtesy CNN, this segment features Pierce Morgan as well as Montel Williams and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

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PIERCE MORGAN: Sanjay is a very imminent doctor making such a public U-turn. You must feel pretty non-vindicated by this debate going the way it’s going but also pretty grateful to Sanjay making such a public U-turn on it.

MONTEL WILLIAMS: I’d hug this guy and kiss this guy because what we’ve been waiting for in this movement...I’m not talking about the movement to legalize because that’s not what I’m involved in at all. I’m talking about the fact that I have a relationship with a doctor who can prescribe me any myriad of psychotropic medication to help affect my pain.
I’ve out-used my opiate lifestyle. I can’t do it anymore and opiates don’t work for me. This is a drug that works. If my doctor, if Sanjay was my doctor and he said, “I think I should prescribe this little tablet for you to eat or this for you to smoke each night. Before you didn’t smoke but I want you to do this because I think it’s going to work for you and it will help you work and be a contributing member of society.”

That’s the kind of doctor I want and that’s the kind of relationship I think I should have. The fact that he is such a preeminent doctor and recognized that way not just in the United States but worldwide - I want more doctors to recognize his statement.

Do the research. That’s all we ask.

PIERCE MORGAN: Sanjay, you’ve got enormous ratings for this special on Sunday. Some of the greatest ratings CNN has had outside of breaking news showing that there is vast interest in this subject. America is moving slowly but inextrobly towards at least bringing in the use of medical cannabis in a legalized way and possibly even in a recreational way.

You have been keen, I think, to stress the medical use not straying too far into recreational similar to Montel. You’ve also attracted lots of flack this week from some doctors who say this is dangerous and it shouldn’t be happening. I’ve got one of those doctors coming up after the break but what is your response to the criticism you’ve had this week?

SANJAY GUPTA: First of all you talk to a guy like Montel and he’s been ahead of the curve on this. He’s been talking about this for years because he’s lived this and I wish more people, including myself, would have paid attention to the chorus of legitimate patients with legitimate problems who got legitimate benefit from this.

But, having said that, I think the criticism often stems from the dichotomy that if you do this, “What about the kids?”

I get it. I have kids. I understand that concern but I don’t think either Montel or I are saying this is something we would start advocating for kids to start taking.

If the tradeoff is because of the concern about kids that patients will be denied therapy that works for them like Montel Williams and hundreds of thousands of other patients out there that is not something that I think doctors or frankly any compassionate person should accept.

MONTEL WILLIAMS: Pierce, I got to tell you, honestly, for the last 37 years in the United States of America our federal government already figured out a way to do it. Every single month they send one of these to now 4 patients who are alive – it started out with almost 30 patients – now only 4 of them are alive. They get 500 marijuana cigarettes rolled by the federal government, grown at the University of Mississippi and then sent out to dispensaries every month. This isn’t that hard. All we have to do is have the President of the United States change it from Schedule I to Schedule II and bring it under the controls that we already have and therefor pharmacies could dispense it. They already have safes. We already have it in place. If our government has been testing it, growing it and selling it for 37 years how long is it going to take for them to figure it out?

PIERCE MORGAN: [laughing]

SANJAY GUPTA: There is a hypocrisy here. That is an example of the hypocrisy. The United States government also owns a patent on marijuana as a medical application. Montel has it here.

So we have a patent through our Department of Health and Human Services on marijuana as a therapeutic and we also schedule it as a Schedule I.

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DEAN BECKER: The following piece taken from http://policestateusa.com

The author is Lt. Harry Thomas, retired from the police department of Cincinnati, Ohio. “How to serve a warrant 1972 vs today.”

HOW TO SERVE A WARRANT

1972

1) The warrant officer at your station gives you a warrant for someone who lives on your beat. It’s for an old drug possession beef. The suspect has no criminal history. Ho-hum.

2) You go to the location. You knock on the door. If no one answers, you leave and come back another time. If your man answers the door, you either arrest him or cite him to court. If you know he’s there (TV is on, curtains move as he peeks out the window at you, etc.) but he won’t answer the door, you call another car to watch the back while you go in the front and get him. If he submits, fine. If he resists you thump him (tasers are years in the future). If he goes for a weapon you shoot him.

Fairly simple, no?

PLAN B: THE CRIME IS SERIOUS, OR THE SUSPECT IS KNOWN TO BE DANGEROUS

1) Bring a few more cops.
2) Bring shotguns.*

*The only full-autos that your department owns are a row of 1921 Thompson sub-machine guns with 50 round drum magazines, and, strangely enough, a single M-3 greasegun, that are standing in a rack in the armory at the Criminal Investigation Section (detective bureau). The last time that one of them was deployed was in the late 1950’s at a late-night stakeout inside a closed Kroger grocery store where a gun battle occurred between stakeout officers and a gang of professional burglars and safecrackers. One of your department’s last old cigar-chewing detectives from the gangster era used the chopper to fatally ventilate the bad guys. The old chatterguns have never been fired for effect since, and never will be again. You are not qualified on them, and know no one in your 1000 man department who is. If, through some miracle, you were to be qualified on one of the old warhorses, the thought of taking one to a warrant service would never even occur to you, and the chances of you being able to sign one out for that purpose would be nil anyway. Cops use alley sweepers, not trench brooms.

HOW TO SERVE A WARRANT

TODAY

1. The warrant officer at your station gives you a warrant for someone who lives on your beat. It’s for an old drug possession beef. The suspect has no criminal history. Drug possession! This guy is obviously a degenerate, and threatens the very fabric of civilization! There’s no time to lose!

2. You and your pals put on black ninja outfits. You put black bags over your heads with little slits for your eyes. Now you can do anything you want and no one can identify you afterwards. Hey, it works for the PLO and the IRA, right? You call all of the schools within a fifty mile radius and tell them to go on lockdown.

3. You ride to the scene in an armored personnel carrier (yes, I said an armored personnel carrier!).

4. When you arrive, you jump out and storm the house, bristling with weapons that were, at one time, only used on foreign battlefields to engage implacable enemies of the United States and its interests. Now they’re used against this country’s civilian population.

5. The family’s elderly Labrador, who is now approaching you, tail wagging, is obviously there to guard the drug kingpin’s stash, and presents a grave danger to law enforcement personnel. Hose him with your M-16, or MP5, or whatever squirt gun your agency issues. That way the neighbors will see what a baaaaadass you are.

6. Don’t knock on the door…that’s for sissies. Take it down with a battering ram. Run in and cuss a lot, like they do in those cool movies. Prone everybody out on the floor. When the family’s other dog gets excited and starts barking, blow him away like you did the other one. Do it in front of the kids. That way they’ll learn that this country’s laws must be respected!

7. There are lots of news cameras outside because you called them ahead of time and told them to be there. March your prisoner out and look really grim. Now everyone watching the news can see your armored personnel carrier (yes, I said ARMORED PERSONNEL CARRIER!) and they can see how awesome you are in your Ninja outfit.

8. Make sure your department spokesman is there to give an exciting account of your great victory. That way the pretty girl with too much hair mousse can do a “BREAKING NEWS” story about how you’ve struck a stunning blow to the international drug trade.

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DEAN BECKER: The following segment comes to us from the Netherlands where they tried to make their marijuana laws more restrictive. They felt too many people were having access to their coffee shops.

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MALE: Every day it’s getting worse and the policies by the local government, you know, it’s like it’s fantasyland.

REPORTER: What’s been going on here in the smaller towns other than Amsterdam?

MALE 2: Essentially what happened is the former coalition government which came into power maybe 5 years ago was a coalition of three very nasty parties – Christian Democrats, Free Market Capitalist and Neo-Nazi fascist.

These three came together and one of the things they did not like was in the south of the Netherlands where you have the Belgium and the German border people come, they buy weed and they leave. This creates a lot of flow, a lot of traffic.

Residents down south were not too keen on this. It caused a lot of problems, a lot of nuisances. What they tried to do is impose a national policy whereby coffee shops would have to be closed and to enter a coffee shop you would have to be a paid, registered member and to register you also have to be registered in the city council.

This was opposed by most other cities. The mayor of Amsterdam came out against it. Another mayor originally supported it from the first of May of last year it was implemented in the south of the Netherlands as an experiment and it was due to come to the rest of the country on the first of January 2013.

Within three months the mayor came out and said he wants to do a U-turn. Why? Because all of the dealing and all of the drug sales went onto the streets so what you had there was people on the streets – they don’t care about ages, they don’t care about quality and they also don’t care about selling hard drugs.

This caused such a big problem that crime went up. It’s really quite sad because we all knew it was going to happen but the difference between public opinion and public policy cannot be any more clear than when you look at cannabis because they put in there that it was going to have this effect that really it was going to lower consumption – that if we close coffee shops people just won’t buy weed.

It was obvious it was going to fail but, sadly, we had to have this policy implemented. We had to see the disastrous effects and then we had to reverse on it.

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DEAN BECKER: The following segment courtesy of the Hoover Institute. The speaker is former Secretary of State, George P. Shultz.

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GEORGE SHULTZ: Back around 1970, as director of the budget, I was riding up to Camp David with my friend the late Senator Buchanan, he was Councilor of the White House.

As self-appointed drug czar whose job it was to try to keep drugs out of this country as a way of suppressing use. I’m studying my notes because I have to make a presentation.

He says, “Shultz, don’t you realize we just had the biggest drug bust in history?!”

I said, “Great.”

This was in Marseille. We had broken the French Connection. Then he paused and he said, “Shultz, I suppose you think that as long as there is a large profitable demand for drugs in this country there will be a supply.”

I said to him, “Buchanan, there is hope for you.”

This business of trying to curtail drugs by restricting supply hasn’t worked. We’ve had 40 years. It doesn’t work. It’s also true that the taking of drugs in the United States is high by international standards. So we don’t have a policy that’s gotten that drug use.

I think it’s very important to persuade people not to take drugs from their standpoint and society’s standpoint. What we’re doing now simply hasn’t worked. We’re filling up the jails with people and we create huge profits which then wind up creating violence in places like Mexico and Guatemala making those countries hard to govern.

So there are ways of doing better. We ought to at least be willing to talk about it and not having it a taboo subject for discussion. So I’m trying to break in and say, “Look, let’s at least talk about it.”

There are ideas out there.

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DEAN BECKER: That’s all we could squeeze in.

Remember, 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