07/22/16 Neill Franklin

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Neill Franklin Dir of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition re nexus of drug war & violence + Shane Shackleford helps medical marijuana patients in Texas and around the world

Audio file


JULY 22, 2016


DEAN BECKER: Hello, my friends, welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I'm your host, Dean Becker. A bit later, we'll hear from Shane Shackleford, about the attempts to help those needing medical marijuana in Texas and around the world. But first ...

This election season, certainly the Republican convention is turning out to be very entertaining if not really educational. We have to pause, and hang on to the news of the last few weeks, of the murders of the policemen, of the, some say, murders of innocents out on the city streets by policemen. And here to give us his thoughts in that regard is my boss, the director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a man with decades of experience serving the community in law enforcement, my friend Neill Franklin. Hello, Neill.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Hey, Dean. Thanks for having me on your show.

DEAN BECKER: Neill, am I right? We can't be distracted, we can't lose focus, on what was brought forward over the last few weeks. Am I right?

NEILL FRANKLIN: You're absolutely right, we can't. It's very devastating on all sides of this, with the lives that are lost, and we can't lose sight, you know, there's so much, and, there's one thing that we definitely have to realize, and, I want to say this now, is that the killings of the police officers done by the two individuals are obviously, and I hope people realize this, are not part of the protests, the organized protests that you see going on around the country. Unfortunately, we have people who are suffering from mental illness, because, let me tell you something, Dean, to commit those acts, you'd have to be dealing with mental health challenges.

I mean, this is my opinion, from my perspective, but I don't see how anyone who is sane, and thinking right, in their proper state of mind, could do such a thing, no matter how angry you may be, from the information that you are receiving. So I hope that people understand that they are not connected with these organized protests that we see going on around the country. And, you know, we've got to keep things in the proper frame of mind, proper perspective, so that we can move forward toward solutions, and LEAP has been talking about solutions for what we are dealing with for a very long time. And one of those main solutions that we continue to talk about is this disastrous war on drugs, which we know that you cannot have a war on drugs, you can only have war against people, and that's what, you know, that's what's occurring, you know, with these failed drug policies that we have. So, it's a big part of it. A huge part of it.

DEAN BECKER: Neill, I want to interject this thought, that it's, you addressed it, on the, what was it, a two-hour special on C-SPAN or something a week ago.


DEAN BECKER: But it was only given just a brief mention, it was given applause, it was given nodding heads, it was given recognition, and then it was just kind of skipped over, was never brought back into the conversation. But, I think we need to bring focus to the fact that it is the drug war, that creates these situations where people are arrested, busted, lives diminished, capacity of life destroyed, and it leads to anger, it is ofttimes the reason that people object, that people carry guns, that people try to prevent that arrest from happening.


DEAN BECKER: And, it is, it can be prevented, it can be eliminated from the equation, right?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Absolutely. So, it is that, what you referenced, Dean, about the two-hour town hall on CNN, and the reference made to the war on drugs, and the agreement that I got from the audience, which was quite clear, which we get every time we go out and speak about this, and then, to not focus on it anymore, again.

I want people to understand something. The war on drugs, as you said, Dean, because we, the police, when we go out and we, we're searching for drugs, we're searching for drugs on people, we're searching for drugs in cars, we're searching for drugs on boats, and in trucks, and on trains and planes, in the homes of people. That's, you know, that's, in cities like Baltimore, that's 75 percent of what we do on a daily basis in policing. And that puts us in such frequent and negative contact with the public, that, you know, things are going to go wrong when you're interacting with the public in a negative way so frequently.

But that's not the only thing that's causing the problems between police and community as relates to the war on drugs. The war on drugs also makes our communities so much more violent than what they need to be, because when you have communities where there is very little if any employment, where people need to make money to survive, and you introduce an opportunity for them to sell something that in many cases is worth more than gold, and they can make so much money in such a small amount of time, the competition in that community is going to be fierce, and ferocious, and that's what we see as these gangs and crews arm themselves with handguns and assault rifles and AK-47s, in an effort to maintain their market shares, in an effort to prevent themselves from being robbed by other drug dealers and other people, and it's an all-out war in many of these communities. And now, and who do we send in again to deal with the issue? Of not just finding the drugs, but also to deal with the violence that comes from the illegal drug trade? We send the police in.

And it's very dangerous for them to go in and to deal with these issues. So again, you end, we begin to unravel the disastrous war on drugs, and you know what? We unravel the violence and we unravel the negative police citizen interaction at great levels.

DEAN BECKER: And, among the other things we would reap from changing direction is, we would no longer have these gangs enticing our children to get involved, to become addicted, or to sell the drugs at the high school. It's a preposterous notion, this prohibition, is it not?

NEILL FRANKLIN: It is, it's, I call it nonsensical. It is very, very much a bunch of nonsense, and unfortunately, it's nonsense that is causing people to die at alarming rates in this country, and it is causing alarming rates of addiction.

DEAN BECKER: You know, I think it was just yesterday, Hillary Clinton was speaking just before the Republican Convention began, and she included a few thoughts within her speech in regards to, it's time to totally revamp our criminal justice system. And I certainly like the sound of that. Your response, Neill Franklin.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Well, speaking about the criminal justice system, we're already starting to see a ton of work as it relates to incarceration, mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, and so on. We're seeing a lot of work on the back end, you know, dealing with sentencing and so on, and recidivism, how do we reduce recidivism for those people coming home, what are the services that they need and the support that they need? But we are -- we still have a long way to go on the front end, with the numbers of people that we still continue to put into prison, and that, here we're talking about the police-citizen interaction. And, Dean, we need an entirely new policing paradigm. This part of our criminal justice system, dealing with policing, it's no longer -- well, let me back up just a second.

As you know, the president had his 21st century policing task force, where they came up with a list of best practices, recommendations for US law enforcement, to adopt. And when you look at that, when you really -- when you open the cover and you start looking at these things, you just see it, it's the same old things that we've always been doing, as relates to community policing, as it relates to training, as it relates to hiring, mental health, and so on. And, you know, so now it's in this nice, neat little booklet. But it's, we're taking law enforcement and we're just tweaking the edges, again, we're just, we're all around the edges of this thing when we need a completely new policing paradigm.

We need to rebuild policing in this country from the foundation up. We even need a new foundation, because we've never, in this country, had a real foundation of what policing is and should be, like in the UK, for instance, as in Scotland, for instance, when that foundation there is the nine basic policing principles, the Peelian Principles. That's what we need here, and in order to do that, we have to completely disassemble and reconstruct policing so that it is a community process. Because right now, whenever someone talks about police and community, they talk about them as though they're two separate entities, and they're not supposed to be.

The police are supposed to be a small section of the community, not separate from the community. Even when we use that term "partnership," oh, the police need to be in partnership with the community, that says to me that they're two separate things trying to work together, when in fact they need to be one and the same, and the police just being a small piece of the overall community, therefore, dedicated to truly protecting and serving their community. Not a community, their community.

DEAN BECKER: Neill, I want to ask, I don't think it's a touchy question for you, but, you know, my law enforcement experience was not nearly as broad and lengthy as yours, but I see these videos, I saw one today, two Los Angeles police officers stopping a gentleman for going through a traffic light on his bicycle, and they wind up wrestling with him. One of the officers pulls his gun, accidentally shoots the other officer, and then, both officers shoot the gentleman they're wrestling to the ground, and blame it on him, even though no gun was ever found on him. And yet they hide this, it's been over a year, he's been back on the beat. And, but, I guess what I'm asking, sir, the silence of the other officers who don't come forward. Why, why does that continue, sir?

NEILL FRANKLIN: Well, it's the culture. It's the other part of the thin blue line, you know, the thin blue line that is this line of protection, you know, supposedly surrounding the community, protecting the people within the community. This is the part of the blue line that you don't cross as a police officer.

And an example of that, in Baltimore City, there was a detective by the name of Joseph Crystal, who witnessed two members of the department, one being a sergeant, beating a handcuffed prisoner, which is an assault, it's a crime. He reports it, and literally, he is run out of town, he comes out of his house one day to go to work, and on his personal car is a dead rat. As time goes on, he's beginning to receive heavy scrutiny, he's being heavily scrutinized by his sergeant, he's being, you know, harassed over every little thing. He goes to the police commissioner, commissioner doesn't support him the way he needs to be supported, providing protection.

At the end of the day, he started fearing for the safety of himself and his family, and he actually had to -- he ended up not just quitting but leaving the state of Maryland. This is a good detective, this was a really good, young officer who had the best of intentions, but without the proper whistleblower protection, and without the proper protection and support from command within the agency, these men and women who want to bring this stuff forward are literally left out to dry. Hung out to dry all by themselves. And until we start doing something to make it safe for these officers to come forward, you know, so, all those police officers that saw what happened to Detective Joseph Crystal, all those police officers who were thinking about coming forward, they will never come forward now.

DEAN BECKER: It occurs to me then that all this hoopla over the focus on the use of the words #BlackLivesMatter, we have had for way too long too much focus then on blue lives matter. I don't know how else to say it, necessarily.

NEILL FRANKLIN: A couple things to say about this whole, how're you going to say, conflict that we're seeing regarding the #BlackLivesMatter versus blue lives matter, and all the friction in between, when both sides are experiencing a lot of the same things, the same feelings, about the value of their lives, but, I want to say that there's a lot of talking, but there's no communication among the two sides. And again I hate the fact that it's two sides.

One of the things that many people do not understand, or are not willing to understand about the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and partly because the #BlackLivesMatter movement is not communicating it the way it needs to be done. What they're not understanding is, number one, it's not just about black lives being physically lost at the hands of the police. At every turn, when you look at the data regarding not just the deaths at the hands of the police, but the interaction, just the basic interaction with police and black citizens every day in this country. We know the data clearly indicates for the same crimes committed by both blacks and whites, that blacks are arrested at higher rates, they are charged at higher rates, and they receive longer sentences at higher rates than their white counterparts.

In addition to that, when you look at communities, black communities versus some of the white communities, when you look at health, those conditions are worse. When you look at housing, when you look at education, and the money, and the resources that are available to kids. You know, when you look at a lot of the data that would indicate whether or not a community is thriving or not thriving, or dying in a sense, in many cases, it's clear, at least it indicates to the black community that, wow, I guess black lives aren't as important as white lives.

The phrase #BlackLivesMatter does not mean, they are not saying that white lives don't matter, they are not saying that blue lives don't matter. What they're saying is, the data clearly shows that white lives matter. The data shows that blue lives matter. But the data doesn't show that black lives matter as much. That's what they're saying.

And, you know, unfortunately, I've experienced a number of friends in law enforcement who had died while performing their duties, and you know what? Blue lives do matter. All you have to do is look at what we do for the families of our fallen heroes, unfortunately we have to do that, but what we do for them, how we support them, look at how the community comes out in support of a fallen hero. The funerals that they have, and how the community, they come and they line the roadways, and they're in the, on the bridges and overpasses, showing their respect, and mourning for the officers who have died.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I, look, I'm with you 100 percent there, and I didn't mean to disparage law enforcement. I'm just thinking that, maybe blue careers matter too much, I don't know.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Well, we, at the end of the day, Dean, what we need to do is to communicate with each other, and I'm hoping at least here in Baltimore to do some work to bring law enforcement and those members of the #BlackLivesMatter movement in Baltimore together, with law enforcement and some other leaders, to let them communicate with one another, and stop screaming and yelling and talking at one another, and begin with first acknowledging the pain that's being felt on both sides, and then truly work to improving the conditions and relationships between both sides. I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to do that, but I have some ideas, and we'll see what happens.

DEAN BECKER: I'm working on a similar law enforcement assisted diversion here, with the local community, hopefully some ministers, churches, et cetera, to just bring focus to bear and open that discussion, as you indicate. There you have it, friends, we've been speaking with Mister Neill Franklin, the Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. These men and women have served in the trenches of the drug war as prosecutors, judges, cops, guards, and wardens. They have seen firsthand the utter futility of our policy, and now work together to end drug prohibition. Please visit LEAP.CC.

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SHANE SHACKLEFORD: My name is Shane Shackleford, and I'm the director of Green Cooperative on Resource Education, which is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. We are based in Katy, Texas, and our goal is to educate the public on cannabis as a resource, and that is as an industrial, medical, and even economic resource. What we are concentrating on right now, because it's an emergency, is the medical aspect of it, and in particular, children with certain ailments such as epilepsy, autism, we've helped kids with even psoriatic arthritis because of the anti-inflammatory properties that cannabis can offer. And this is CBD, and in a lot of the cases, low amounts of THC. So whole-plant therapy.

And what we do is, we -- there are parents out there who have exhausted all resources in the state or in the country that they live, and it's not working, the treatments aren't working, it's basically, they're putting these children on hard pharmaceutical drugs, benzodiazepines, and barbituates, and these kids are getting addicted to these drugs, it puts them into a comatose state so that they can't interact with the world, and the treatments really don't work, either. So the parents are at the end of their rope, and they would like to take their children to a place where alternative treatments are available. And the big place for that is Colorado.

So all of the families we've moved have gone to Colorado. That's what we do, is we assist with the moving costs, and that would be moving trucks, gas, of course. What we like to do is we like to send the mother up there two weeks to a month prior to the relocation, so that they can scout out the area, find housing, and hopefully sign a lease on that preliminary trip. And then we take care of all expenses with the actual move up to Colorado.

DEAN BECKER: Now, Shane, as far as I'm concerned you guys are doing god's work. The fact of the matter is, the US government should have done the studies decades, should have begun the process of allowing these kids with epilepsy and, as you say, autism and other degenerative diseases, cheap or free access. And yet, here we are, people having to move 800, a thousand miles just to access the medicine that they may need, and if I dare say, the same holds true for seniors with their arthritis, with their mental situations, deteriorating faculties and all that, that cannabis could help, and I guess what I really want to say here is that rather than provide this safe medicine, that doesn't really incapacitate a person much if at all --

SHANE SHACKLEFORD: Well, certainly not as much as the hard drugs that they put them on already.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, and, for the kids, and for the seniors, too many of them pass their lives in a near-comatose, near vegetative state, when they could be awake and alive and enjoying their time on this earth. Your thoughts, there, Shane.

SHANE SHACKLEFORD: Well, yes, the ultimate goal is that these treatments are available to anybody who they can help, anybody who wants them. And that, with the laws being changed, obviously, all the adults who need these treatments are going to benefit from that as well, it's just that in the case of these children, especially with the kids with severe intractable epilepsy, brain damage is being done with every seizure, and their brains are developing, so this is an emergency state. We can't wait, and these treatments aren't to improve the quality of life, they're to improve the entire life of the child. We have a twenty percent death rate with Dravet, which is a form of epilepsy, a severe form, and any of the kids who do make it to their teenage years need 24 hour health care, you know, even help going to the restroom because of all of the brain damage that's being done right now.

And as we speak, there are children across this country that are in life-threatening epileptic seizure, right now, and we want to stop this, because it's ridiculous that we have the cure. We're not looking for the cure. In many of these cases we have the cure, and it's not available to everyone. So that's what we're trying to change, we're trying to educate the public on this and it -- so that outrage happens, and things change, basically.

DEAN BECKER: I have seen people firsthand, I've seen many video scenarios which show these kids that are comatose and can barely move, walk, talk, or feed themselves, through the use of cannabis wind up being able to walk, talk, maybe skip, jump, and have a hell of a day. And it's just outrageous that we're stopping that here in Texas.

SHANE SHACKLEFORD: Yes, and I've seen it with my own eyes, through the children we've helped. So far we've moved eight kids up to Colorado, and that's mostly from Texas, but we have kids out of Kansas and even one of the children is from Iowa, the first child we moved. He came over, landed in Denver in December, he was two and a half years old, he had not walked or spoken, so he was behind development for his age. And a little over a month after landing in Denver, he spoke his first words, and he walked, and was even trying to run, that quickly. That child has gone now six months without a seizure, and he's able to do things like go to the park, whereas before, he was in a helmet and sunlight would throw him into a life-threatening seizure. So now, he's able to interact with the world, go to museums, it's really wonderful what's going on.

DEAN BECKER: You know, Shane, it's, it feels good to be on the right side of this issue, and I think many of the people out there listening might like to get on the right side of this issue as well. Please share your website, and some closing thoughts.

SHANE SHACKLEFORD: Oh, sure. So, the website is GreenCorePAC.com, and if you would like to like us on Facebook, you can, actually, the project on Facebook you can find it by looking up SafeHaven911, and that's all one word, and we have events, here, locally that we do, we serve catfish, and some of the best catfish in the world. If you'd like to know where the events are going to happen, then just go to that Facebook page and we post that up. The quicker that we can change this, the more kids we'll be able to save, because, as I said, there's damage being done right now. And we're getting tax deductible donations so that we can educate the public on cannabis as a medical resource.

DEAN BECKER: In closing, I ask you to send program ideas to Dean@DrugTruth.net. And again, I remind you that because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful.