02/23/14 Dean Becker

Big NEWS from Mexico + Tons of drug war news from Atlanta, Utah, Texas, and beyond

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Guest: 
Dean Becker
Organization: 
Drug Truth Network
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Century of Lies February 23, 2014

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DEAN BECKER: The failure of Drug War is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more. Now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.

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DEAN BECKER: Well, the drug war is ending slow, bloody and ugly but the news is starting to reflect the truth more than the propaganda, hysteria and lies.

First up the big news that really means nothing at all...certainly won’t mean anything in the long run. The following segment courtesy of the Washington Post.

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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.

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DEAN BECKER: Although he’s probably going to be behind bars for the rest of his life Chapo Guzman was a billionaire listed on the Fortune 500. For 15 years he rampaged across Mexico stealing women, making billions and running his empire.

This is a quote from Chapo Guzman, “I couldn’t have gotten so stinking rich without George Bush, George Bush, Jr., Ronald Reagan even El Presidente Obama. None of them have the conjones to stand up to all the big money that wants to keep this stuff illegal.

“From the bottom of my heart I want to say Gracias Amigos. I owe my whole empire to you.”

That’s from Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman now former head of the Sinaloa cartel.

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DEAN BECKER: Let’s see who is next to play “Who wants to be a billionaire?”

The following from WHD TV.

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REPORTER: Has the nation’s largest cocaine smuggler been revealed to be the Drug Enforcement Agency? Well, for decades it’s been rumored that the United States government was secretly sponsoring the smuggling of cocaine into the country. Federal officials have long denied such speculation pointing out the billions of dollars spent intercepting drugs. Newly released documents and testimony from Justice Department and DEA officials now show the stories of government running cocaine are, in fact, true.

An investigation conducted in Mexico found the American government allowed that country’s largest drug cartel, Sinaloa, to operate without fear of persecution. That group is estimated to be responsible for 80% of the cocaine coming into the United States through Chicago.

In exchange the leaders of Sinaloa provided the Drug Enforcement Agency in Washington, D.C. with information on their rival gangs. The drug cartel working with the federal government is run by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. He is considered to be the world’s most powerful drug trafficker. In addition to Chicago his group also maintains cocaine operations in several major cities around the nation.

Written statements were provided to a U.S. district court in Chicago confirming the alliance between the DEA and Mexico’s largest cocaine cartel. The written testimony combined with other evidence shows the Drug Enforcement Agency officials met with leaders of the Sinaloa cartel more than 50 times between 2000 and 2012. This would mean DEA authorized drug smuggling goes back to at least the beginning of the George W. Bush administration and continued for one year under Barack Obama.

One of the group’s leaders, Vincente Niebela, claims that the American government also sent military-grade weapons to the Sinaloa cartel. According to the latest revelations it was these weapons which were part of the “Fast and Furious” scandal - automatic firearms which disappeared during that operation led by Eric Holder were used to kill U.S. border agents.

This latest evidence and testimony points towards a massive scandal involving both republican and democratic administrations. At the very best this provides the best evidence so far that the federal government was sponsoring the smuggling of billions of dollars of cocaine into the United States.

Worse, still, weapons purchased for the United States military have been sent to the cartel and used to kill American agents. Those actions transcend any party politics. The jury is still out. We’ll follow the story and bring you the latest.

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DEAN BECKER: This segment courtesy of KUTV, Salt Lake City. They found something new.

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ANCHOR: The drug is called “dab” or “shatter”. Police found it while investigating a burglary at a house of a Salt Lake City employee. James Wesley Robinson is now charged with running a drug lab. Christina Flores is live with more on this story.

Christina, we haven’t heard a whole lot about this drug – dab/shatter – never heard of it before.

CHRISTINA FLORES: Right, haven’t heard much about it here in Utah. In fact the Salt Lake County district attorney says this is one of the first cases of dab that he’s ever prosecuted.

On Tuesday police officers went to the Salt Lake City house to investigate a burglary but say they found much more. Court documents say the home owner, city attorney James Wesley Robinson, let officers in.

SIM GILL: As soon as they came in they smelled a very strong odor of marijuana.

CHRISTINA FLORES: Court papers say officers returned with a search warrant and found several pounds of marijuana, bongs, grinders, pipes, rolling papers and scales and a lot of money.

SIM GILL: $26,000 in cash.

CHRISTINA FLORES: Salt Lake City District Attorney Sim Gill says the investigators also found what appeared like a production house for a drug not seen too often yet in Utah.

It’s called dab or shatter and it’s made by cooking marijuana.

SIM GILL: This is a process by which you are distilling the marijuana.

CHRISTINA FLORES: The byproduct is a waxy, brown substance. These internet videos show people using dab or shatter. It is more expensive and stronger than pot.

SIM GILL: This something new in our community. That is something different that you don’t typically see but it’s a much more potent, much more powerful form.

CHRISTINA FLORES: James Wesley Robinson, a Salt Lake City attorney assigned to work with police on civil cases, was charged with making and distributing dab. His two sons who live with him were also charged.

SIM GILL: It was being processed. It was being possessed with distribution. It was being sold and it was being pedaled out there.

CHRISTINA FLORES: James Robinson was arrested but he bailed out of jail before the formal charges were filed. Now that they have been filed, Shauna, a warrant has been issued for his arrest. Back to you.

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DEAN BECKER: The following segment courtesy of Inside Edition.

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ANCHOR: On January 1st of this year marijuana became legal in the state of Colorado. If you go skiing there this year you might smell the distinctive scent of weed. But those guys getting stoned on the slopes maybe breaking the law and putting other people at risk at the same time. Paul Boy explains why.

PAUL BOY: We hit the slopes at the world famous resorts at Vail, Colorado. After bouncing down these moguls and gliding through these trees we came across this hidden shack. Inside it’s a pot smoker’s haven where we found these skiers sharing a joint.

But that’s nothing compared to what we found at the popular Breckenridge Ski Resort. This is the granddaddy of smoke shacks. It’s called Leo’s and to get there you ski through this steep trail through the trees.

We placed hidden cameras inside and just look at what we found – people streaming in and out all day. Almost every one of them for one reason only – to get high.

Watch the guy on the left take puff after puff after puff. Our producer caught up with him before he took off down the mountain.

PRODUCER: You were smoking non-stop up there. Do you think you are safe skiing down the mountain?

SMOKER: Oh, yeah – 100%.

PAUL BOY: His friend who also got stoned wasn’t as talkative.

SMOKER’S FRIEND: Want to get that microphone out of my face or you guys might not get that camera.

PAUL BOY: This guy was proud to tell us just how high he was.

PRODUCER: Are you high right now?

SMOKER2: I am. I was high this morning when I got here. I was high last night when I went to bed.

PAUL BOY: But if you think these pot puffers aren’t breaking the law think again. Nearly every ski resort in Colorado is actually on federal land where possessing marijuana is still a crime and it’s strictly forbidden for safety reason by Vail Resorts which also operates Breckenridge.

And pot is easy to get. In the ski village at the base of the mountain people can load up legally here at the Breckenridge Cannabis Club.

CUSTOMER: Do you have any pre-rolled Indica?

PAUL BOY: This snowboarder said he plans to smoke his pre-rolled joint that day on the mountain.

CUSTOMER: We usually smoke a little bit before the mountain, sometimes in the gondola, sometimes on the walk over. Usually every couple runs we’ll stop in to the woods. They have some smoke shacks up here on the mountain.

PAUL BOY: Even the manager admitted she often likes to mix snowboarding and weed.

MANAGER: I like to smoke a little bit sometimes before I snowboard but I don’t like to be too high either.

PAUL BOY: But perhaps the most brazen stoners were these two who proudly lit up right in front of our open cameras. They wanted to prove they could snowboard safely while high but instead they wiped out again and again and again. They even smoked pot right on the lift.

SMOKER3: Pretty high – I’d say we are pretty high.

PAUL BOY: Just moments later this guy nearly slammed into that snowboarder and that pole. At the bottom of the run their ski day nearly came to an end with this terrifying collision.

Nearly everyone we spoke with claimed they can ski stoned safely but trauma surgeon, Dr. Terrell Joseph, frequently sees the consequences of skiing while high.

TERREL JOSEPH: We regularly have patients say that they were high this morning when they had their injury.

PAUL BOY: So while buying weed in Colorado might be as easy as going to the store experts say skiing stoned is dangerous, illegal and just plain stupid.

ANCHOR: Skiing stoned is dangerous because it can change your perception according to medical experts, distort your vision and lead people to take excessive risks on the slope.

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DEAN BECKER: Here’s our first report from WSB Atlanta about marijuana.

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JOVITA MOORE: The push to legalize medical marijuana in Georgia may have hit a snag. Families who support the bill are far from giving up. Channel 2’s Lori Geary joins us live from the capitol where she’s been following this issue for weeks now. Lori?

LORI GEARY: Jovita, one of the powerful critics of the current medical marijuana bill says she has some real concerns about the safety of the cannabis oil that we’re talking about because it’s not FDA approved and she says it could actually hurt kids over time.

Still supporters of the bill say they remain hopeful that it will move forward.

KATIE HARRISON: ...that are having seizures, like my son Hawk, don’t have other options.

LORI GEARY: Katie and John Harrison wheeled their 15-month-old son, Hawk, through the halls of the State Capitol hoping to win over legislators who still have concerns about a medical marijuana bill stalled in a House committee.

SHARON COOPER: What you have is science versus emotion. There is no proof...

LORI GEARY: Republican State Rep. Sharon Cooper chairs the committee that is hearing the bill. She says that although the cannabis oil, known as Charlotte's Web in Colorado, where it's legal, is showing promise in kids with severe seizure disorders, there's been no FDA clinical trials.

She says hospitals in Georgia wouldn't touch it for fear of losing their federal funding.

SHARON COOPER: And there’s a reason for animal trials. Otherwise, you're using children as guinea pigs.

LORI GEARY: Cooper said she's passionate on the issue because she used to teach pediatric nursing. She said there's a British company already producing medical marijuana approved for clinical trials.

SHARON COOPER: I'm hoping we will be able to get what is already FDA-approved and start that into clinical trials and try to help these families.

LORI GEARY: But the families say they may not be able to wait that long, wondering what happens if their child gets the placebo.

KATIE HARRISON: We won't stay here and watch nothing work and if it doesn't, we have to move.

JOHN HARRISON: It doesn't matter if it's a seizure disorder or they scrape their knee. You're going to fight for them, especially as a dad. All men know we want to fix things, this is one thing I can't fix, but this is a way I can fight for him.

LORI GEARY: Supporters of the bill gained some national ammunition Thursday.

The Epilepsy Foundation came out in favor of medical marijuana, saying if patients and doctors feel the benefits outweigh the risks, and that families need to have that legal option now.

Reporting live from the State Capitol this is Lori Geary, Channel 2 Action News.

JOVITA MOORE: So, Lori, when do you think we could see some movement on this bill?

LORI GEARY: Sources are telling me there could be some movement tomorrow possibly out of committee or perhaps next week but time is running out. Crossover day is that following Monday.

The big issue then will be access – how to get the medical marijuana if this bill passes to Georgia. That will probably be worked out on the Senate side if it comes to pass over there.

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DEAN BECKER: The following is courtesy WSB-TV.

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JOVITA MOORE: New at 6 says state lawmaker’s visit to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Eggleston might have given supporters of legalizing medical marijuana new hope. Channel 2’s Lori Geary is live at the State Capitol. She caught up with a lawmaker who says he’ll do everything he can to get a bill passed this session after visiting a 4-year-old girl we introduced you to last week. Lori?

LORI GEARY: Jovita, what a difference a day makes. When it first got word that state representative Allen Peake was looking into this issue he told me that he did not want to be the one to sponsor a medical marijuana bill. Then he met Haleigh Cox yesterday afternoon.

We first introduced you to Haleigh Cox last week. Less than 24 hours later her mom called to tell me the 4-year-old had stopped breathing and was rushed to the hospital fighting for her life.

ALLEN PEAKE: When you see that little girl, the precious little angel...

LORI GEARY: One week later and after a trip to the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston Republican State Rep. Allen Peake is fighting for Haleigh’s life and the lives of thousands of other Georgians who could benefit from medical marijuana.

ALLEN PEAKE: has been a huge shift for me. I want to be very clear. We don't want to go down the slippery slope of legalizing marijuana in our state.

BLAINE CLOUD: It can be grown to a certain strain which is high CBD, which is the medicine, and low THC, which is what gets you high.

LORI GEARY: Blaine Cloud may sound like a scientist but we caught up with him and his wife at the capitol moments after they met with Peake. Their 8-year-old daughter, Alana, suffers from severe seizure disorder and are fighting to get medical marijuana legal here telling Peake and the others their child wouldn’t be smoking it or getting high.

BLAINE CLOUD: It comes in an oil format, just like the Tylenol you take today. It comes out of a dropper.

SHARON CLOUD: We’ve seen the success that the cannabis plant has in other states where it is legal and we really want to have that for our children here Georgia as well.

BLAINE CLOUD: Over 100,000 people with epilepsy in Georgia and this could help thousands of people in Georgia as well.

ALLEN PEAKE: Why can't we as a state be compassionate enough to look at what makes sense? If it was my child I'd be crawling over broken glass to get legislation passed, as would any legislator who's here. So that’s the way we need to look at it – that’s somebody’s child.

It’s touched me deep, deep in my soul so I’m going to do everything I can to see what we can do for these families.

LORI GEARY: Down here at the capitol I’ve heard a lot of talk about study commissions on this issue but Representative Peake says there’s momentum now and he would like to see a very restrictive bill passed this year so that these families can stay in Georgia and not have to move to another state where medical marijuana is legal.

Reporting live from the state capitol Lori Geary, Channel 2 Action News.

JOVITA MOORE Lori, how many other states is medical marijuana legal in?

LORI GEARY: There are 20 other states right now. New York could become the next state and, who knows, perhaps Georgia as well.

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DEAN BECKER: The following from KTRK-TV ABC, Houston.

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FEMALE ANCHOR: Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland said today that marijuana possession cases are on the rise. Someone is arrested in Harris County every 50 minutes for the misdemeanor.

MALE ANCHOR: The ACLU estimates it cost Texas $250 million a year to enforce marijuana possession laws. Reporter Ted Oberg is investigating the true cost of pot.

TED OBERG: Let’s be honest the easiest way to lower the cost of pot prosecution is for users to stop using but that’s not likely so as 20 states across our country have gotten more lenient on marijuana use we wanted to know why Texas hasn’t.

In fact pot prosecution in Harris County has more than doubled since 1995.

Cops caught this 68-year-old grandfather with less than half a gram of pot in November. This 19-year-old is making his fifth trip to court on a marijuana possession case. He pleaded guilty months ago and is still on probation.

YOUNG MAN: I got caught, you know. You can’t say not guilty.

TED OBERG: If you look at statistics you’d think this is an epidemic in Harris County. One of every six cases in misdemeanor court here are for pot possession – more than 11,000 case a year in Harris County.

60% of them plead guilty before trial – many within days of the arrest – creating thousands of convicted drug offenders every year.

SHERMAN ROSS: They're not only not King Pins, they're social users.

TED OBERG: By the time a simple case like this goes through the system it’s touched by a police officer or jailer, at least two prosecutors, a judge, a clerk, a defense lawyer (many times at your cost), a probation officer and likely days of missed work for the person charged.

GRANDFATHER: It's a waste of taxpayers' money. It's a joke and the joke's on us because we're paying for it.

TED OBERG: But the total cost is not just in dollars but in real life consequences. Consequences the average 24-year-old defendant doesn’t think much of but their loved ones can’t ignore.

SHERMAN ROSS: It is considered a drug offense and what the individual might consider an inconvenience -- a costly inconvenience -- could turn out to be quite a headache.

DEVON ANDERSON: When you have two people up for a job, and one has a conviction and the other doesn't, guess who gets the job. Convictions have a real consequence on someone's life.

TED OBERG: But what can be done? Attempts to change state law in Texas have gone nowhere for years making Governor Perry’s recent consideration of decriminalization unlikely. Legalization (as a pun intended) is a pipe dream but there is a push to do something.

DA Devon Anderson started talking with Sheriff Adrian Garcia about a “Cite and Release” program that would give summons to court instead of arresting suspected pot users and booking them into jail but that could still result in thousands of convictions.

DEVON ANDERSON: I also don’t think the problem is solved without education or counseling.

TED OBERG: The DA will soon push her prosecutors to treat and educate instead of getting young users to accept fast guilty pleas.

YOUNG MAN: I was ready to get it over with because I’m tired of coming. I honestly am tired of coming here. I messed up.

TED OBERG: As to why the numbers are on the rise in Harris County it’s unclear why. One expert suggested the social stigma of getting caught is getting less and so there is less nervousness to youth.

Ted Oberg, News 13.

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DEAN BECKER: The following courtesy of KENS-TV, San Antonio.

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MALE ANCHOR: Also new this morning is San Antonio ready to be the next city to legalize marijuana?

FEMALE ANCHOR: And that is a good question there. Julian Castro now says he looks forward to analyzing that issue. Marvin Hurst is live with more on the possibility of this. Marvin?

MARVIN HURST: Obviously Mayor Julian Castro is not standing behind me with any kind of signs for or against this issue. He hasn’t initially come out for it and he hasn’t brushed it off.

We did catch up with him at Lanier High School dawning those blond locks that we saw him with the other day and we asked him about legalizing marijuana in San Antonio. According to our research there are about 20 states in the United States that have made some portion of marijuana legal for medicinal purposes. There are some cities that have decriminalized marijuana but not the entire state.

Those 14 states are Alaska, Colorado, California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

We asked the mayor could San Antonio be next. What did he think about it?

JULIAN CASTRO: I think what you see across the country is a consideration about the science and what states should do whether they should, for instance, add medical marijuana or fully legalizing it. I haven’t looked at the science yet about addiction and what it means but it certainly something that deserves much scrutiny and more analysis.
MARVIN HURST: So we asked him, “Bottom line – that’s a great answer. Do you support it or do you not?”

He says that he could not either support it or deny it at this point but he did look forward to the analysis.

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DEAN BECKER: The following courtesy CNN. It features junior drug czar wannabe Kevin Sabet.

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FEMALE ANCHOR: You were saying there had been a big pickup, by the way, in Colorado vs. other states in the west. Canada’s a point on that map in terms of people going ...

FEMALE: Hey, if you’re a group of guys and you’re going to go skiing and you have a choice between Utah and Colorado maybe you’re going to choose Colorado for obvious reasons...

KEVIN SABET: Not if you’re a parent. If you’re a parent you’re going to go to Utah.

FEMALE: You brought up some interesting points, Kevin, and I think bottom line here is what you’re trying to do here is take the criminal element out of this industry. There is no more profitable drug in the world right now than marijuana. It’s the reason why you have drug cartels coming up from Latin America growing in northern California on park land there. It’s because it’s an opportunity for them and so...

KEVIN SABET: Actually the drug cartels make money from cocaine and heroin and other drugs...

FEMALE: No, no, no. Marijuana is the number one drug and it’s because ...

KEVIN SABET: I have to call you out and you need to look at the Rand report that shows that basically 15 to 25% maximum revenue from marijuana gotten by cartels. The last time I checked the cartels were not wiped away when they could only sell to 21 and over.

FEMALE: The issue here at the end of the day is you are trying to take an industry and take the criminal element out of it so I’ll tell you one thing. I’ve got 3 kids. I am absolutely not an advocate for drug use or marijuana use. I’ve never even tried it but I’m for legalization and the reason is you have the opportunity to tax and regulate it.

I’ve spent enough time around this subject and reported on it so much that at the end of the day you say to yourself, “If someone has the opportunity to buy this in a criminal setting or from a drug dealer aren’t you running the risk that then it can transfer into something more.”

But if it’s just down the street at your local dispensary then you’re taxing and regulating it.

KEVIN SABET: And for every dollar in alcohol and tax revenue it’s costing us 10 in social costs so the idea that we’re going to give money to the government...well, yeah, you are but you’re going to spending it ...what about the highway accidents? What about the health care costs? The second-hand smoke costs?

FEMALE ANCHOR: Kevin, OK, but let me just say something. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has come out on this (which shocked a lot of people) when he said, “I used to be against pot and now I’m not.”

88,000 deaths in this country due to alcohol abuse – 0 from marijuana – and that’s what changed his mind and made him support legalization.

KEVIN SABET: So, hold on...last time I checked was a month ago with Dr. Gupta and he told me personally that what he’s talking about was medical not legalization so maybe we should have him on the program to clear up the subject because he’s been saying one thing and then another. I’m going to take him at his word but he’s not in favor of legalization it was more the medical aspects of components of marijuana which I agree with... and...

FEMALE: Think about what we went through with the alcohol industry back in the days of prohibition and all the crime that was attached to that industry. Now alcohol which you could also say is a drug and people do have problems with it but at least we’ve taken the criminal aspect out of the alcohol industry and that’s...

KEVIN SABET: Alcohol was legal for our history and then illegal for about 10 years. It’s a very different...

FEMALE ANCHOR: But during that time we didn’t try to stop people from drinking. They were drinking out of bathtubs...

KEVIN SABET: Overall alcohol use and psoriasis of the liver dramatically reduced. That doesn’t mean I’m in favor of alcohol prohibition. Alcohol although deadly has a totally different history than marijuana.

What we are doing now is creating the next big tobacco of our time.

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DEAN BECKER: Alright, I started the show by saying the drug war is ending slow, bloody and ugly and that’s still true but it is ending.

My new book will be on the shelves in March, “To End the War on Drugs: A Guide for Politicians, the Press and Public.” It features the words of congressman, scientists, doctors, lawyers, authors, prosecutors, patients, providers and prisoners. It is a means whereby we can educate ourselves as to how we bring about the end of this madness, how we influence those same politicians and the press and the priests.

We need to end this madness for the sake of our children. Chapter titles include Incrementalism is a killer, Judge not – Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Slamming the cell door, The number one success of the drug war, Hippocratic or hypocritical?, Medical Cannabis, Parents against prohibition, Money for nothing, Drug reform advocacy, Journalism or Jingoism, Plata or Plomo, Fear is what they preach and What is benefit of drug war?

Prohibido istac evilesco!

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For the Drug Truth Network, this is Dean Becker asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.

The Century of Lies.

This show produced at Pacifica Studios at KPFT, Houston.

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