04/10/15 Diane Goldstein

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Diane Goldstein a former cop and current speaker for LEAP, Chris Conrad cannabis expert and Ed Rosenthal the Guru of Ganja

Audio file


APRIL 10, 2015


DEAN BECKER: Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: It is not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally un-American.

CROWD: 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.

Hi, this is Dean Becker, welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. A bit later we'll hear from Mr. Ed Rosenthal, who just returned from India and Nepal. We'll hear from Mr. Chris Conrad. But first up, one of my sisters in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Diane Goldstein. How you doing?

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Really good, Dean, it's great to actually see you in person, and not to just talk to you over the telephone. How's Houston?

DEAN BECKER: My police chief maybe eventually will join LEAP, that's what's happening, that's the best thing in Texas as far as I'm concerned. But, we haven't seen each other since the Caravan for Peace, Justice & Dignity back in 2012, if I'm right.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: You are right, and interesting enough, is LEAP getting very close to being done with the documentary. I've been working with Steve Downing and with Sam, and actually had voiceovers that we needed to finish off, so I'm hoping we're actually going to see a version of it within the next month or two.

DEAN BECKER: Oh, that will be wonderful. It was an astounding story, really, a couple of busloads of Mexicans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, family members of those who had been killed, butchered, south of our border, came to the US trying to educate and embolden us to do something about it. I think most of those people that are sneaking across our borders, they're not necessarily looking for work, they want to get away from the violence. Your thought, Diane.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Oh absolutely. One of the things that is not talked about very often, or recognized, is how the United States drug policy has really opened up the new killing fields. I think that's the best way to describe it, is, you have these immigration stories of mothers who are putting their young children on trains from Central America, trying to get into the United States, and I have a 23 year old son, I can't ever imagine endangering my child's life like that, and so, as a mother you know that that's their last resort, that the issues going on in their country relative to the drug war are so horrific that it's better to send them away and potentially create a new life than it is to risk their death right in your house.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, and for those who may not know what's going on down there, it's not that the cartels are just violent and deadly, they are colluding with, in alignment with, the law enforcement, the government itself, and the corruption extends from just extorting money from vendors, to stealing and children and putting them to work as sexual slaves or otherwise, and the death toll down there is ten and twelve times more than it is in the United States. It is, it's an outrageous situation.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: You know, the last four years, now most five years that I've been with LEAP, is you know, you've seen the Mexican death rate, you know, it's always alluded to, you know. When I first started it was at 40,000. Well, now, in 2015, is I think we can legitimately say that we're over 100,000 American drug war victims in Mexico that have not just been killed by the cartels but have been disappeared by the Mexican government as well, and the most recent example is obviously the 43 students out of Iguala. You know, corruption from the top on down, those kids were killed and kidnapped on the cartel's orders, and law enforcement was part of it.

DEAN BECKER: Did their part.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: And so, you know, the sooner we end the total drug war, not just the war on marijuana, and we know that ending drug prohibition is going to work, all you have to do is take a look at what the legalization in Colorado has done. You know, one of the articles that I read this last year that was so important, and not widely talked about, is how the Mexican growers are now supplanting that they formerly grew with the marijuana coming across our border, and they're now growing opium because legalization has taken the market away from them. So if it works for marijuana, we know ending drug prohibition and controlling and regulating the market will also do exactly what we did to the Mafia during alcohol prohibition.

DEAN BECKER: You know, Diane, over the 15 years I've been investigating the drug war, I've tried to sum it up, you know, I look for that opportunity when I'm on the stage with the drug czar or the attorney general or the head of the DEA, you know, one of these guys that have that bully pulpit, that bluster, how necessary this drug war is, so I get to ask the following question, and that is, it empowers our terrorist enemies, it enriches these barbarous cartels, it has given reason for these gangs to be prowling our neighborhoods, 30,000 of them approximately, and yet we've never stopped one determined child from getting their hands on drugs, and I'd have to ask them, so what is the benefit, Mr. Drug Czar, Mr. Attorney General? What do we derive that even begins to offset the horror we inflict on ourselves by believing in this policy? And I've, I look forward to the day when that question can be asked by anybody of any of these bully pulpit blusterers. Your thought there.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Well, I think that part of the issue is, what we derive is that they ignore the question in furtherance of maintaining the status quo, and they neglect to answer it because they understand the entrenched self-interests that perpetuates the war on drugs. You know, big pharma is when you have things like marijuana that is now being effectively used as an exit drug to opioid addiction, you know, when big pharma is fighting every step of the way to maintain its market share, when you have law enforcement interests that receive and are monetized by our federal government through Byrne JAG Grants, through asset forfeiture, through a variety of different programs that are based on allegedly, you know, solving America's drug war through statistics and metrics that don't work.

I mean, if the drug war worked, we wouldn't have the heroin issue going on in our society right now. One of the things that's happened that's been so interesting, as the DEA has clamped down on OxyContin, as medical providers are afraid to actually give people pain medicine because they don't want the DEA to take away their license, we have taken people and we have forced them into the illicit market, and the Mexican cartels have saturated the market and literally won the market share from big pharma. Heroin right now is, you can get it between $5 to $10 a bag. You know, it used to be called a dime bag, now it's a nickel bag that's what the dime used to be, and the potency level is now somewhere between 60 to 90 percent. It's just exploded.

And the reason because of that is because of our moralistic view. I mean, let's take a look at other countries. What is it about America that refuses to look at how other countries potentially solve their problems. I mean, heroin assisted treatment programs in Switzerland. I have come to the conclusion that one of the most effective things that we could do as a society is to force the federal government to deschedule all schedule one drugs, because science tells us now that 80 to 90 percent of all illicit drug users are not problematic and will quit on their own, that's number one. But the second thing is, is we are seeing private sound scientific research that shows that heroin assisted treatment has medical efficacy, in fact it's safer than methadone.

In Switzerland or in Portugal or in the Netherlands, and even in the United Kingdom before they shut their program down, they never had any overdoses once it became an issue between a patient and a medical provider. We know that psychedelics are having long-lasting efficacy on end of life and the treatment of PTSD, you have marijuana that is now being effectively used to treat depression and PTSD, so there is no longer a need to have a schedule one because there is medical efficacy for all drugs, if we allowed the research into them. What makes drugs dangerous is prohibition.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. You know, it was back about 1900, Bayer discovered aspirin, put it out on the marketplace, and about a year later they invented heroin, and they put them in tablets, and people could go to the drug store and buy them for pennies on the dollar. And there was, actually there was more overdose back then from aspirin than there was from the heroin tablets because people would take too many of them. It's just a preposterous notion that we should outlaw heroin that was safe, and then make it where it's made by untrained chemists in jungle labs and smuggled through deserts and swamps then cut with who knows what and then sold to our children. It's a, it's evil, goddang it.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: And you know what, you're right, it is evil. You know, one of my favorite groups, as, you know Gretchen Bergman and our Moms United group is, I think, is our moms and cops alliance with LEAP. That is my favorite organization because it speaks to the power of women who have lost their children to the ravages of substance abuse and misuse, and they've lost their children either through death or that they've become criminalized. I mean, I have one of my girlfriends whose son has been arrested five times for drugs, and is unemployable. And so she has to take care of him, you know?

And it's not just her child, there's so many different, you know, communities and families that have been ravaged by this, and, you know, I think that part of the issue is that our government knows that the program's a failure but they understand that if they were to end it, and if they were to apologize for it, that it would set them back and that the people would never trust them again. And I think that law enforcement in particular has had a very, very difficult time in the last 40 years recognizing their part of this issue. And law enforcement has been taught not to apologize to people.

And if they would go back and take a look at just simply being able to go back to mom and say, look, I'm so sorry for your son's loss, how can we help you to fix this while we still, you know, keep our communities safe. And one of the safest ways of keeping both officers and our children safe is by ending drug prohibition. We need to implement harm reduction strategies in law enforcement, we need to encourage safe injection sites, we need to encourage syringe exchange programs, we need to encourage that every police officer should be issued naloxone in order to save lives, we should encourage our law enforcement officials to support good samaritan 911 laws so that if someone goes into a heroin overdose or any type of overdose you can safely call 911 and not just kick people to the curb like used to happen.

People are afraid to call the cops or 911 and fire rescue because they think they're going to go to prison. And so I think there's a lot of things law enforcement could do if they would just look back into their heart and ask themselves, how would I want my child treated in this same circumstances.

DEAN BECKER: The cops could once again return to becoming heroes of the neighborhood instead of the bullies, and that would be wonderful, and you brought up a point I want to underscore, and that is, I'm glad I grew up when I did, because I got busted 13 times for drugs and I was able to have a great, successful career as an auditor project analyst for major oil companies. I was beloved everywhere I went, I'm just being honest here, and yet if that knowledge had been there, easily available as it is now, I never would have done any of that.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Well, you know, it's so interesting because one of the things that we do through drug prohibition is we drive people to become criminals because now with the drug, with the extent of our drug laws, is you lose professional licensing, you know, the collateral consequences of a conviction, even after you've paid your dues, okeh, are so much more severe for drug issues that it, it ruins lives and it would place you today, if you were a kid still going through those things, into turning to drug dealing in order to make a living or to criminalizing people or breaking into people's homes or cars, or robbing in order to survive.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. And that has a lot to do with why we have so many homeless people in this nation, because that ability to earn an income is just not there. Well, Diane, we're going to have to wrap it up here. Once again I've been speaking with Ms. Diane Goldstein, one of my sisters in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Folks, you ought to check us out, we are at the point of the spear, we are going to help end this drug war. Our website: LEAP.CC. Thank you, Diane.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Thank you very much, and the only last thing I'll say is, LEAP is going to force law enforcement to make peace with drugs.

DEAN BECKER: It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects. Agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, face chomping, lip eating, heart devouring, brain slurping, ecstasy, suicidality, zombieism. Time’s up! The answer, according to law enforcement, from some crazy-ass chemist somewhere – mephedrone, otherwise known as bath salts.

CHRIS CONRAD: Hi, I'm Chris Conrad, I founded the Business Alliance for Commerce in Hemp in 1988, which was quite a while ago, and it's, this conference I'm at today is like the fruition of a lot of the work that I've been doing for the past 30 years almost.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, and Chris, you've been here at the heart of it all, seeing the advances and the fallbacks and the, ah, just endless discussion over this harmless plant, haven't you?

CHRIS CONRAD: I certainly have. I've actually, one of the goals throughout the past has been to shape the discussion by teaching people how to talk about it, how to understand it, so I've done things like, Ben Dronkers, who won the award for the, uh, lifetime achievement, he founded the, uh, Hash Marijuana Hemp Museum. Well, I curated it, I designed the exhibits and so forth and wrote the story for it. I teach at Oaksterdam University etc. So it's always been a relentless battle.

DEAN BECKER: Just the deception that was put forward, it was replacing the word cannabis with the word marijuana.

CHRIS CONRAD: Yeah, that's one of the reasons that I feel that where we are today is so much better, when people talk about the possibility of a rollback, not that it's a smooth sail from here by any means, we have a lot of hurdles ahead of us, but in terms of where we're positioned compared to where we were in 1980, I don't see any way that any administration could push back to the extent that we once had, there's just too much truth out there. A lot of that is partially because of your work, Dean, as well.

DEAN BECKER: Well, thank you for that, Chris. And, you know, it's not just me, I hope it is those that I've emboldened a bit, you know, the fact of the matter is there's no one who can really defend this drug war at all, is there?

CHRIS CONRAD: Well, only by representing a special interest or by parading fears, you know. But we see the way that different tactics work, with Maureen Dowd, I believe it was, from, you know, she said, oh, this isn't like that marijuana that people are used to, this is a whole new thing. It's always been it's a whole new thing, in fact that's why it ended up in the investigational new drug program instead of being grandfathered in as a traditional medicine, which is how it should have treated under the controlled substances act, it doesn't belong there at all.

One of the things I feel would have liked to hear about more today was the importance of the American herbal professionals publication, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia on cannabis. You know, I didn't really hear that brought up too much, and maybe if I get back down I'll get a chance to get hold of a microphone and say something about it, but I believe it's totally profound. It was one of the factors that played into the testimony I gave before the federal judge in Sacramento regarding the constitutionality of the controlled substances act, which we're still waiting of the results of that.

DEAN BECKER: Right, and even in Texas, that news is spreading, that she's now done with the testimony gathering or whatever you call it, and going to make a decision within the next 30 days.

CHRIS CONRAD: And the exciting thing about this is it's really posed, no matter what she decides, it's going to be appealed, so the real pitch is going toward the Supreme Court, so by grounding this on two recent decisions of voting, one that's overturned the Voting Rights Act, and the one that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, the argument in favor of overturning the Controlled Substances Act is very strong, and having the new Surgeon General come out and say that marijuana does have medical value, it's very hard for the DEA to continue this facade.

You know, the thing that again is a tragedy of Obama is he doesn't hold his people accountable. You know, he said they're going to use scientific data, the scientific data's there, he's allowing them to continue, and you know, at this point it's almost like a mooted issue if he fires the head of the DEA over this, but, really he's one of our last chances to get it in there, I'm not sure the next, it will be much easier for the next president to continue a policy than it will be to enact policy favorable to us, so I hope Obama does use his courage to do something in the last 9 months before the next election.

DEAN BECKER: You know, I don't, I'm out in the halls recording most of the time, I'll get to hear all these great panels next week, you know, edit them for future shows, but I did catch somebody said something to the effect that, we have too much clout, now no, what did he say, that the next administration would not be able to undo much of what we have been doing because we're too big and we do have the science on our side. They can try, but it's just not going to work. Your thought, Chris.

CHRIS CONRAD: Well, I agree with that, uh, unfortunately the government has this way that, with our charging Harborside with being too big is the charge against them, so the thing with we're too big to be stopped is I think maybe not the best way of looking at the picture. The thing is do we have enough clout and we have enough entrenchment and enough social acceptance, we've been acculturated into society in a way that too many people know the truth for the lies to be propagated the way they were. You know, they'll have to come up with another fake name, you know, so if you hear about some new plant that's the insanity plant from someplace.

DEAN BECKER: Herojuana.

CHRIS CONRAD: Yeah, right, exactly. One thing I just, a thought which is not really related to this but is an observation I made is that in the past few years people have been saying to me that they see a very strong similarity in the gains in the gay rights movement and the gains of the cannabis reform movement. It's a common parallel. And one of the things that we both have in common is the coming out of the closet aspect, which I of course encourage all your listeners to do and to come to my wife Mikki Norris's website, CannabisConsumers.org to do that. Also visit TheLeafOnline.com, while I'm mentioning websites.

But, the thing that, the thing is there's this huge difference between us is that whenever gay marriage went before voters, it was I think almost uniformly voted down, almost all the gains have been through the courts, and yet on our issue, we have not completely but nearly uniformly won every vote, with some notable exceptions obviously, and all our problems have been coming from the courts and the legal system, the judges at any time could have ruled that the state of California, the legislature meant what it said when it said that people could sell marijuana for medical use, but for some reason the law enforcement has decided it can't understand that.

But, I just think it's, the difference I think that causes that is that there exists today this huge economic infrastructure that feeds off of the marijuana prohibition. There's not something like that for the gay rights movement. They're not up against the same kind of governmental thing, so the government can look at it and say, well this is an issue of justice, but when it comes to us, because they're using our bodies to feed their budgets, they can't see the justice of it, and we have to always come to the people, and I think it's, it would be more than appropriate if two big things happen now.

The first is, if the Supreme Court, if this motion gets to the Supreme Court and they are consistent with their other rulings that they take on these other areas, which is not a given, but if they are consistent and then they would have to vote to take marijuana out of the Controlled Substances Act. And the other thing, wild card out there right now, is what's going to happen with the Indian tribes.

DEAN BECKER: Growing weed on reservations.

CHRIS CONRAD: Exactly, And so, as the states are making their progress, I've always said that, what I'm hoping that the tribes will do will say that we understand that with the farm bill that we can grow industrial hemp on our reservations and move forward with that, because I've always felt like it, the greatest ironic justice to this would be if it ends up with cannabis ending up, that the Indian nations that were so horribly destroyed by, you know, the worst social injustice of our society is what we've been, what we've done to the native peoples of this country, secondarily the African-Americans, I mean I'm sorry if anybody takes offense at that, but I think that, basically extincting the society, taking all their land and holding them captive in reservations is another step from slavery.

But, however you look at it, these are the people who gain because the United States government is suppressing cannabis in the other states, and therefore they have this opportunity to get the foothold on hemp right now, use that to build their nations and really build the Indian nations, build their housing from the ground, start their own industries, have us going to them for this, rebuilding the earth, using patents as an opportunity to use the agricultural and horticultural uses of hemp to restore the environments of these lands. We pushed them onto the worst of the land, and if we can use hemp to bring that back, that would be just a wonderful irony, to see that happen in our lifetime.

DEAN BECKER: All right, folks, I'm very excited, my good friend Mr. Ed Rosenthal, the guru of ganja, the author of too many books to recount at this time, just returned from India. Ed, tell us about this trip, what were you up to?

ED ROSENTHAL: I went there on vacation. So, I was on to both India and Nepal. I didn't see, expect to see what I saw, especially in Nepal, where there's a wave of repression against marijuana users, and it's been going on for perhaps 5 to 10 years. Before 1973, marijuana was legal and so was sold in government regulated stores. Now, it's a criminal offense, and even the religious people, the sadhus, the followers of Shiva who use marijuana for religious purposes, even they're scared and have been harassed by the police. There are people in prison for growing and selling cannabis. There's a lot of propaganda against it and it was demonized, and so there are actually two generations of people who are unfamiliar with the history of ganja in Nepal and with the culture of ganja.

DEAN BECKER: The fact is, here in the United States, we're starting to see, even in my home state of Texas, they had a session in the legislature today where they talked logically about the use of cannabis. But we can kind of lay all this on the, the blame of the, the instigators, Harry Anslinger and his pressure on the UN that helped to bring all this or put all this in place, right?

ED ROSENTHAL: I don't know whether it's just Anslinger, I think there was a whole west European as well, I think there was some pressure from west Europe, in the 40s and 50s and 60s, so it, well, anyway, up in, when India signed the treaty, it said that for 25 years it didn't have to enforce the law, so that meant that the law became enforceable in 1986. And there, too, marijuana is a very underground thing.

DEAN BECKER: And are the prices exceedingly high as well?

ED ROSENTHAL: Well, not by our standards, because, first of all, the quality of anything that I was able to get for the most part was pretty low, with the exception of one piece of hashish that I picked up in New Delhi, but most of it, material had, was pretty low quality. It was full of seeds. It wasn't anything that you would think, oh, this is going to be a great thing to smoke.


ED ROSENTHAL: So. Well, I just right now, I think that I'm still digesting it, but I think that at some point we owe it to our brothers and sisters in these countries to start a campaign so, to just let people know about the history. One of the things that Nepal depends upon is tourism, it's one of its main industries, and I think that with many of those people, maybe even more attracted to Nepal, and many more people would be if cannabis were part of the culture. Now, the ironic thing about it is that, as marijuana is being harassed and subjected to penalties, there is a large industry in finish -- in both the growing and finished goods in hemp, and so if you go to Kathmandu or any of the other tourist cities, you'll see any number of establishments selling hemp goods: clothing, backpacks, outerwear, and so the, they're encouraging a hemp industry but not a marijuana industry.

DEAN BECKER: Friends, once again we've been speaking with Mr. Ed Rosenthal, you know the man, the guru of ganja, the author of countless books. Ed, some closing thoughts.

ED ROSENTHAL: Given the choice of freedom or profit, I choose freedom every time.

DEAN BECKER: Just enough time to remind you that because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag, please be careful.

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

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.