02/23/14 Phil Smith

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Phil Smith of Stop the Drug War & host digest much of this weeks astounding drug war news about Chapo and massive moves on marijuana

Audio file


Cultural Baggage / February 23, 2014


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: Hello, my friends, welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I’m glad you could be with us. We have a situation in this country where the politicians and the press are beginning to realize the futility of this eternal drug war. Front pages of papers all across the country talking about the capture of Chapo Guzman, the head of the Sinaloa cartel. The fact of the matter is it’s really not going to make any difference. We have a situation where somebody is going to step forward, somebody wants to be a billionaire and this drug war will continue.

We do have with us my good friend, a gentleman who reports for http://stopthedrugwar.org and a couple of other organizations, that I’m certain we’ll want to hear what he has to say about this.

With that I want to welcome Mr. Phil Smith. Are you there, sir?

PHIL SMITH: Good afternoon, Dean.

DEAN BECKER: I heard people talking last year that we are at the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end or something but I think we’re taking another step beyond that here of late. What’s your thought on this drug war?

PHIL SMITH: It’s very exciting. We’re going to have at least one more state legalize this year. That will be Alaska and should happen in August.

It ain’t a done deal until it actually happens but they have qualified for the ballot and they should win.

Also looking at Oregon. They have a little hiccup in Oregon. They have had a challenge to their initiative language so that stopped them from getting signatures but I still think that once that hiccup is dealt with they should be able to qualify for the ballot this year as well.

Also in Oregon the state legislature is working on a bill that would send a legalization initiative to the voters. So there appears to be a lot of momentum in Oregon.

Also in Washington, D.C. the D.C. council is set to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. There’s also a legalization bill pending before the council and if that doesn’t happen there is a legalization initiative waiting in the wings. It has hit a hiccup as well. Late last week the D.C. Attorney General...the top lawyer for the District of Columbia had a problem with some of the language in the initiative. They are meeting with the Board of Elections on Tuesday. Hopefully they can iron that out and start their signature gathering process.

If things work out I think we’ll have 3 jurisdictions legalizing marijuana this year and more getting in line for 2016.

DEAN BECKER: I don’t know if you got to hear my intro. I was talking about they captured Chapo Guzman. I want to play this little segment that was produced by the Washington Post. When we come back I want to get your response.


DEAN BECKER: The following segment courtesy of the Washington Post.


REPORTER: Mexico’s most wanted drug kingpin is under arrest. On Saturday authorities captured Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman after a month’s long operation with help from certain U.S. agencies. The U.S. had placed a 5 million dollar bounty on his head and authorities in Chicago last year dubbed him the city’s first Public Enemy #1 since gangster Al Capone.

Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam...

JESUS KARAM: (via interpreter) Today at 6:40 in the morning the navy detained Joaquin Guzman in the city of Mazatlan along with a collaborator.

REPORTER: Karam says the operation was complicated by the discovery that 7 homes used by Guzman were connected by tunnels.

JESUS KARAM: (via interpreter) Not only connected by several tunnels but he always used the city’s drainage system. The doors to the homes where he was found were reinforced with lead and that caused several minutes of delay in opening them allowing for an escape through the tunnels.

REPORTER: Guzman was captured at a seaside resort in his northwestern home state of Sinaloa. He has been caught before and famously gave his jailers the slip. In 2001 he escaped a Mexican prison reportedly in a laundry cart to become the country’s most high profile trafficker.


DEAN BECKER: Alright, once again that was from the Washington Post. We have with us Mr. Phil Smith of Stop the Drug War. Phil, what’s your response to the bust of Chapo Guzman?

PHIL SMITH: Everyone thinks it’s a big deal and it is a big deal especially for the government of Mexico. This guy has been here for 13 years since he walked out of another Mexican prison with the help of accompliances of the government. Since he has escaped governments have been accused of complicity of allowing him to remain free. President Fox was accused of that. President Calderon was accused of that. Neither one managed to catch him during the entire course of their presidencies.

Now Mr. Pena Nieto has caught him. That’s a big kudo for the Mexican president. However I don’t think it’s going to make any difference whatsoever in the flow of drugs north to the United States or the flow of cash and guns back south to Mexico.

DEAN BECKER: No, no...I always like to use the phrase “who wants to be a billionaire?” and somebody down there is going to want to be a billionaire.

PHIL SMITH: There are two guys who are already lined up to be that. There’s Helblue Saragosa and Ishmail Almia Zombata. Those were Guzman’s chief lieutenants and they are well placed to continue operating the Sinaloa cartel.

By the way it is also called the Federation and that’s important because it’s really a compartmentalized organization and loping off the head of the organization isn’t going to stop the different departments from doing what they’ve been doing all along.

DEAN BECKER: No, no and we shouldn’t fool ourselves in that this is going to make any difference. We’ve had, over the decades, capo after capo after capo busted and it just continues. This won’t make one iota of difference.

I sent you a few chapters from my new book, “To End the War On Drugs: A Guide for Politicians, the Press and Public”. It’s going to be available on Amazon I think this coming week and it has 113 experts – people who have delved into this drug war for years if not decades and have come up empty as far as logic for continuing this.

What did you think of those chapters that I sent to you?

PHIL SMITH: Dean, we’re going to have to talk about your book on another occasion because if you sent it it didn’t show up in my email.


PHIL SMITH: Sorry. I look forward to it. Bring me back on and I’ll be happy to talk about it but today I haven’t had a chance to read it because I didn’t see it.

DEAN BECKER: You know a lot of these people. I’m going to give you an idea of what’s in there. The first chapter after my introduction is Judge Not featuring Michelle Alexander, Jeff Blackburn (the Texas attorney), Clay Conrad (the jury nullification attorney), Judge John Delaney (Chicago prosecutor), James Gierach, Judge James Gray, Brazilian Judge Maria Karam, our own district attorney Pat Lycos, Eugene Oscapella (the Canadian expert), Eleanor Schockett (another judge) and, of course, the illustrious Tony Serra.

My thought, my goal, my hope is that people will read this book and then have plenty of ammunition with which they can contact their elected officials, the local broadcasters and newspaper editors because there is not much left on the other side, not much rationale for continuing down this same road is there?

PHIL SMITH: I gotta tell your listeners, Dean, that I know you’ve been working on this for as long as I have and as a person doing media work in the drug war you’ve had the opportunity to meet all these people who have a whole lot of interesting and very intelligent things to say and I’m totally confident that your book is going to put that all together in an excellent package. I encourage everyone to check it out as soon as it becomes available.

DEAN BECKER: It’s out there at http://endthedrugwar.us You can preorder from me at a discount. It’s going to cost more on Amazon.

Phil, I want to talk about...I don’t know what to call it exactly...the osmosis, the bleeding of ideas and process between our various states...it’s Florida, it’s Georgia, it’s Arkansas and even Texas. People are changing the way they talk about the drug war. Are they not?

PHIL SMITH: When you have guys like Rick Perry talking about decriminalization even though he sort of backed away from that later that’s a real sign that things have changed. You also see that in places like Florida and Louisiana and other states where you don’t expect to see the majorities for marijuana legalization but they’re starting to pop up now.

That’s really exciting but there’s a huge amount of inertia behind not just drug prohibition, in general, but marijuana prohibition in particular. Even though we’re starting to see majorities regularly nationwide and majorities in a lot of states where we wouldn’t even have expected it it’s still going to be a slow, bruising process especially in states where we have to go through the state legislature instead of the initiative process.

From my experience watching medical marijuana bills it could be two, three, four, five years or more before state’s get around to legalizing marijuana through the legislature. That’s why I’m a big fan of the initiative process and I hope the people in the 24 states that have initiatives take full advantage of that process to get marijuana legalized and not wait on their state legislatures.

DEAN BECKER: Exactly. Speaking of that regard we had one report from the Washington Post about Chapo. Here’s another one (a couple of minutes) that when we come back we’ll continue this osmosis.


DEAN BECKER: The following segment comes to us courtesy of the Washington Post. It features the voices of those who have come to understand the truth about marijuana.


DENNIS PERON: My parent’s generation knew nothing about marijuana.

MICHELLE ALDRIDGE: They believed everything that Anslinger told them.


MICHELLE ALDRIDGE: We were the ones that found out by experimenting with it that there is no reason that people should go to jail for it.

MIKE ALDRIDGE: I was a student organizer for Barry Goldwater in college in the mid-1960s. Later on went on to work for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan but I was always a Libertarian-Republican. I believed in limited government and maximum individual freedom. My views over marijuana became inconsistent with what was traditional republican position toward marijuana for many years. That brought about a lot of my own change and transformation.

I am very encouraged by some of the things that President Obama has said recently where he talked a bit more openly about his own marijuana use and talked about it being no more harmful than alcohol. That’s a real sea change compared to what we are used to hearing from American presidents.

The national polls show more and more Americans support legalization. I think the tide has turned and I think irreversibly so.

I’m surprised it actually happened in Colorado and Washington before California. I think the changes of the marijuana laws are going to happen at a pace very similar to the changes that have been taking place as far as gay marriage. What was once viciferoursly opposed by a big segment of the population is now going to be accepted by more and more of the public.

DENNIS PERON: Marijuana will be legal in the United States within 10 years. I first said that in 1967.

[Mrs. Aldridge laughs]

[laughing] and that about sums it up. It has taken longer than we thought.


DEAN BECKER: Alright. I got a chance to look at the credits there on the Washington Post and that was some good friends of ours. That was Michelle and Mike Aldridge as well as Dennis Peron (the guy who opened the first cannabis store in the modern era.)

What’s your thoughts there, Phil?

PHIL SMITH: First of all I got to tell you that on both of these clips I lost audio about halfway through them so I can’t comment too much on what was said. One thing I do want to say is I think one of the reasons that attitudes towards marijuana are changing is that now most people know someone who smokes marijuana. Even if you are an old person and you never did it yourself maybe you know that your children have done it and haven’t gone insane and haven’t gone out raping and looting.

I take my mother as a case in point. She is 83-years-old. She is a straight, old lady. She doesn’t like to go to bars because she doesn’t trust people the way they behave on alcohol. She’s seen enough bad stuff happen with drunk people that she really doesn’t like them. She doesn’t have that problem with people who use marijuana. She said that to me. She also benefits from having me as her son to bother her all these years about changing her attitude.

She is 83-years-old and she has come around. Not because of the propaganda I throw at her but because of what she has seen in her own life. She’s seen how alcohol affects people. She’s seen how other drugs affect people and she’s seen how marijuana affects people and she’s not too worried about it. I think that’s more and more the case across the country.

The other thing I want to say is for the longest time our narrative about drugs has been controlled by claims makers like law enforcement, the judiciary system and folks like that. In the past 20 or 30 years we’ve really seen the rise of people who can credibly challenge the claims those people make. As a result of that those ridiculous claims look sillier and sillier and the “oppose marijuana legalization” are reduced to coming up with whatever new claims they can’t hold...have to be worried about the kids, has to be worried about drugged-driving.

It’s no more talk about smoking reefer and going insane or smoking reefer and growing breasts if you’re a male.

DEAN BECKER: Picking up that ax and going to work.

PHIL SMITH: I guess marijuana prohibition is a policy that has run out of steam but the dinosaur still lives and it can hurt people with twitches of its tail as it dies. We have to continue to work hard with legalize weed and, in the meantime, make sure we’re not doing too much damage to people who get caught up in the grip of prohibition.

DEAN BECKER: Exactly, exactly. I don’t know if you had a chance to see it but the front page of the Washington Post – the top half – had a big (it was actually a male) marijuana plant up there but talking about it’s time for marijuana. We are making great progress.

I do want to apologize. I’m my own engineer these days. It was me that dropped you. I figured out why and it won’t happen again.

You probably get calls from phone banks trying to support politicians and that kind of thing. I keep getting calls from Wendy Davis. She’s running for governor as a democratic candidate. I tell them I can’t go answer the phones or get involved elsewhere. What I want to do is educated Wendy Davis and they are starting to respond. We may actually get a chance to talk to her.

I want to educate her on how she can become a hero. She can stand forth and declare the failings exactly where this drug war goes wrong and how it has no basis in reality and, in essence, become a hero not just to Texas but to the whole dang world. What’s your thought there?

PHIL SMITH: I think Texans are ready to take that step. All they need is some political leadership. If Wendy Davis stepped up...otherwise we’re going to have to rely on Kinky Friedman I guess.

DEAN BECKER: Kinky is doing his part. They had me on KPFT News here last week which followed him. I was talking about him being a forerunner. He’s going to show us the way because, again, people looking backwards at the history of this tend to believe it possible that we can stop one hundred million drug users and stop 2 million growers from growing and that just cannot, was not, and never will be done, right?

PHIL SMITH: It hasn’t worked so far has it?


PHIL SMITH: Even folks like your police chief down in Houston (I forget the gentleman’s name) but he was making some interesting noises just a few days ago. He wasn’t actually coming out in favor of decriminalization or legalization but he was saying, “Well, if that’s what the people want we’ll enforce the law.”

We’re seeing even the staunchest opponents (law enforcement, in general – Law Enforcement Against Prohibition excluded of course) are starting to realize that they are on the wrong side of things and they better backpedal in a hurry if they want to be able to have any input on policy in this domain.

DEAN BECKER: I got to interrupt here to talk about my book. Chapter 3, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, features interviews with Peter Christ, Jack Cole, Neill Franklin and even has a segment in there with Stan Furce who headed up the High Intensity Drug Trafficking for Houston who just basically shows his butt.

Russ Jones from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Lee Maddox, Joseph McNamara, Norm Stamper, Larry Talley and the current sheriff of King County, Seattle, John Erchart, as well as Howard Wooldridge who heads up Citizens Opposing Prohibition and who tours our nation’s representative’s offices every year.

There is just nobody left except that old Kevin Sabet and Patrick Kennedy willing to broach the subject anymore, right?

PHIL SMITH: That pretty much true and it’s a nice gig for Kevin. He appears to be the sole opponent of marijuana legalization anymore.

I want to say about LEAP when I talked about people being able to make competing claims about drug policy to the law enforcement establishment LEAP has been absolutely critical in that. These are people from the ranks of law enforcement itself who are saying, “Wait a minute. We’re going about this all backwards. We need to change our policies.”

I have my issues with police as experts on drug enforcement. I like to say that police come in and deal with domestic violence disputes but that doesn’t make them an expert on domestic bliss. All you have to do is look at their divorce rates and arrest reports.

DEAN BECKER: ...and...domestic abuse...

PHIL SMITH: Right, likewise, just because police go in and arrest drug users doesn’t make them experts on drugs. That said I’m still happy that LEAP is out there to counter the conventional wisdom that has always come from the law enforcement establishment because a lot of people do believe that law enforcement have credibility there even though I may not. A lot of people do believe what the police say so when we would have folks like LEAP standing up and saying, “Prohibition is a failed policy.” People will listen to that. That’s important.

DEAN BECKER: Well, OK, chapter 6 – Hippocratic or Hippocratic – features Dr. Donald Abrams, Mitch Earleywine, Dr. Jeffrey Guy of the Sativex company, Dr. Carl Hart, Dr. Joel Hawk, Phillipe Lucas (the marijuana expert up in Canada)...I talked to him yesterday. They are going to open a 50,000 square foot grow room. He invited me up there.

Robert Melamede, Dr. Tod Mikuriya, Dr. Tom O’Connell, the psychedelic expert Alexander Shulgin, as well as the National Institute on Drug Abuse Dr. Donald Tashkin.

We’re picking up a sledgehammer and we’re going to work on this drug war.

PHIL SMITH: For the longest time people said, “Well, we don’t really know what marijuana does to you. We need more research.”

Well, we’ve done the research and those people that you mentioned in your chapter there are people with the highest scientific in medical credentials. They are professionals in their fields. They have a lot of credibility. They’ve studied the issue. They can tell you what we should be doing about marijuana policy and it’s not throwing people in jail for it.

DEAN BECKER: No. I’m going to read one more chapter. I hate being a pitch man but this book is important to me. 15 years I’ve been working on this, my friends. It is a slam dunk winner. I hope ya’ll will get one.

Another chapter...Drug Reform Advocacy which features Tom Angell, Russ Belleville, Jerry Epstein (my mentor here in Texas who helped me get my feet on track with this). We have Amanda Fielding of the Berkeley Foundation in Great Britain, Rob Kampia (head of the Marijuana Policy Project), former Houstonian Richard Lee who got busted by the DEA and then spent a million of his dollars trying to end the war on marijuana, his mother Ann Lee, Ethan Nadelmann (the head of Drug Policy Alliance), Willie Nelson, Steph Sheer of Americans for Safe Access, Eric Sterling of Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, Rick Steeves (the Travel Guy on PBS), Joy Strickland (Mothers Against Teen Violence), Keith Stroup ( the former head of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), Sanjo Tree of the Institute for Policy Studies, Mason Tvert (the guy who helped get marijuana legal in Canada) as well as Kevin Zeese of Criminal Justice Policy Foundation.

Again, a sledgehammer. There is no justification. I urge folks to get this book. I urge stations that do pledge drives to use it. You will sell a lot. I promise you.

We got a couple minutes left. What’s on your mind, Mr. Phil Smith?

PHIL SMITH: The drug war is about a lot more than just marijuana and one thing that’s been on my mind lately is the rising toll of opiate overdose deaths. That’s been on a lot of people’s minds especially since the death of actor Phillipe Seymore Hoffman.

These people don’t have to be dying. There are things that we could be doing to keep these opiate users alive. I occasionally hear people saying, “Well, you’re just coddling them if you do things like give them overdose antagonist, overdose reversal drugs or if you provide safe needles or if you have an opiate maintenance program where people just go to the doctor’s office and shoot up their pharmaceutical grade heroin.”

Coddling addicts is keeping people alive. You can’t rehabilitate a dead addict. I think it’s very important that we focus our efforts on harm reduction moves that we can make to protect the lives of our brothers and sisters, our friends and family members who are using opiates whether they are prescription Oxycontin or Fentanyl or Percocet or black market heroin.

DEAN BECKER: I have a segment in my book that talks about drug users being unconditionally exterminable – better off dead in the ditch than using. That mindset, that perspective has been very real and true for decades for many people has it not, Phil?

PHIL SMITH: And powerful. You have guys like Darryl Gates, the former head of the LAPD, the man who brought us SWAT teams, who said drug users ought to be taken out and shot. He said that in congress and that was the prevailing attitude. I find that really hateful and perverse.

Increasingly we’re seeing people in the federal government and state governments realizing how hateful and perverse that is and that we don’t have to just kill our drug using citizens. We’re seeing bills to allow emergency providers to carry Naloxone. That’s the heroin reversal drug. It also works for any other opiate like prescription opiates. We need to have more access to that.

We’re seeing states pass Good Samaritan/911 laws so if you’re doing drugs with your friend and your friend turns blue you don’t throw him a ditch or toss him out of your automobile in front of the hospital because you are afraid of getting arrested. With these laws you can call for medical assistance and not face the threat of being arrested.

That’s a very simple step we can take that will save lives. I’m very glad to see that happening in more and more states and we need more of that. We also need to be talking seriously about prescribing opiates to people who are strung out on them.

DEAN BECKER: I’m going to have to interrupt you. We are flat out of time. Please share your website with the listeners.

PHIL SMITH: It’s http://www.stopthedrugwar.org I’ll tell your listeners between me and Dean you’ll get a mindful of drug war coverage. I also want to encourage you all to check out Dean’s book. It’s his life’s work. It’s worth it.

DEAN BECKER: I’ll send you those chapters when I get home. Thank you, Phil.

Friends I got to urge you that this drug war has done absolutely done nothing to protect our children, the nation or the world. It is a sham, scam, flim-flam. It has no basis in reality.

I do urge you to get a copy of my book, “To End the War On Drugs: A Guide for Politicians, the Press and Public.”

We’re about out of time. I want to thank you for being with us. I just urge you to do your part to help end the madness of this 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