Beto O'Rourke discusses Houston's Harding street bust/fiasco, Trump, guns, drug war, rights & more + Debby Goldsberry on growing cannabis industry
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Wednesday, February 5, 2020
Tue, 02/04/2020 - 11:43
FEBRUARY 5, 2020
DEAN BECKER: I am Dean Becker, your host. Our goal for this program is to expose the fraud, misdirection, and the liars who support the drug war which empowers our terrorist enemies, enriches barbarous cartels, and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent U.S. gangs who profit by selling contaminated drugs to our children. This is Cultural Baggage.
Hi folks, I am Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High. Thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. A bit later we will hear from Debbie Goldsberry who is looking for a job in the cannabis industry, but first up…
MALE VOICE: Hey, Dean. It’s Beto. How are you?
DEAN BECKER: Oh, I am good. It is good to hear your voice, Sir. How are you?
BETO O’ROURKE: Likewise. I am good.
DEAN BECKER: Well friends it has been about nine or ten months since I have had the chance to speak with my friend, Beto O’Rourke, he is a retired congressman but I think there is more to come from this gentleman. He recently ran for U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Ted Cruz, and of course you know he was one of the major candidates running for President of these United States. From El Paso, Texas, my friend, Beto O’Rourke. How are you, Sir?
BETO O’ROURKE: I am doing great. I am back in El Paso and I am talking to you again which is a good thing. I always appreciate you and the work that you have been doing, as well as your ability to bring more people in to a really important conversation for the country. Thank you for having me on your show.
DEAN BECKER: Well, thank you, Beto. I know you have been here in Texas in and around the Houston area quite a bit over the last several weeks knocking on doors and motivating Texans to get out and vote, correct?
BETO O’ROURKE: That’s right. There are a bunch of really important State House seats that are being contested right now and as you probably know, Democrats are only nine seats down from commanding a majority in the State House for the first time since 2001. What that means is that not only did we stop the bad stuff such as the racist gerrymandering that is in effect in Texas, or the permissive gun laws that have led to Texas being one of the deadliest states when it comes to gun violence. It means that we can make progress on the things that we are excited about including when it comes to our laws about drug policy and incarceration as well as use of force in our communities. These elections are critically important and we have been out knocking on doors with a group called Powered by People, and essentially we bring volunteers together from all over the state to knock on doors in important State House races, including those in the Metro Houston area, Metro Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and all over the state. That is what I am focused on right now and I am really enjoying the work.
DEAN BECKER: Beto, in regards to your thought about guns, as a security policeman back in the day I was a marksman, 500 out of 500 with an M16 and I am a gun owner, but I agree with you, Sir in that we have to do something. In the past couple of days there have been these masked citizens roaming the Virginia State House in full military regalia with M16s and multiple clips, and body armor. It is running off the rails! There is something that needs fixing. Is there not?
BETO O’ROURKE: There really is and when you combine that with this strain of white nationalism that has emerged during the Trump presidency. White nationalism has always been a part of America for as long as there has been an America, but this new strain that has people in these outfits that you just described, and many of whom do not have any military service yet are dressed as though they are in the military including with these face masks, body armor as you mentioned and weapons of war. These AR15s, AK47s are variants of what service members have carried in to battle going all the way back to Viet Nam. I think this is something that we have to squarely confront or just accept and be consumed by it. My hometown of El Paso saw someone who drove 600 miles from Allen, Texas with an AK47 and walked in to a Walmart in this community and opened fire on people and killing 22. He told police afterwards that he came to kill Mexicans and he posted a manifesto before the massacre saying that he was going to stop this invasion of Hispanics who are coming to this country. In many ways he was parroting the style and the content of President Trump’s speeches and Tweets. So we are up against armed racism in America and not just with shotguns and hand guns but armed with weapons of war. You are right, we have got to do something about it.
DEAN BECKER: The gentleman that you speak of there, he was able to legally carry his weapon across the parking lot and in to that Walmart because of these new allowances for open carry and so forth, but the moment that he pulled the trigger he became a criminal. We have got to find a better means to prevent that situation from just instantly turning from harmless to deadly.
BETO O’ROURKE: That is right. I think on the remedies for this you really have a lot of concurrence between Democrats and Republicans, gun owners and non-gun owners. Most people think you should have a universal background check and there should not be exemptions or loopholes. Most people believe there should be some kind of extreme risk protection order. In fact, the killer that we are talking about that massacred 22 people in El Paso, Texas’ mother called the police in Allen, Texas wondering why her son needed this weapon of war and the police told her there was nothing they could do about it. If she felt that he was going to be a danger to himself or someone else there should have been some mechanism she could have employed to stop him. These extreme risk protection orders would do that. I think there is now a majority in this country, and maybe a majority in Texas that agrees that weapons of war should not be sold to civilians. Those should be kept on the battlefield because they are intended solely to kill people in devastatingly high numbers as quickly as possible. We may not agree on every point, no two people ever will but I think there is consensus on the big steps that we can take so we have to stay focused on that and not throw up our hands or just assume that this is our fate. There is some control that we have over our future.
DEAN BECKER: Beto, this is a bit of conjecture, but it is based on a lifetime of experience and analysis. In the 60s when I was a kid in high school kids would drive their daddy’s truck to school and park it out in the school parking lot with a shotgun and a rifle in the rack. I guess what I am saying is that it is not just the guns. It is a perspective. I want to submit this and then I will get your response, Sir. The drug war has driven a lot of violence and has created a situation where more people are in danger because of drugs where cops are carrying more deadly guns, SWAT teams are raiding, etc., etc. We have escalated the perspectives, the violence, the possibilities and a lot of it hinges on our thought that the drug war is necessary. What is your thought there, Beto O’Rourke?
BETO O’ROURKE: I think you are right on the money. You have roughly 327 million people living in this country and you have 390 million guns – you don’t see that anywhere else in the world. What you also don’t see in almost any other country in the world is the kind of extreme prohibition policies that we have employed since the 1930s in this country when it comes to a war on drugs. It was a war that was certainly accelerated by President Nixon who gave it that name. It was made even worse under President Reagan, but it was also a war that was supported by democrats and republicans alike. As we know, in a black market where you have no recourse to the court system, or law enforcement to adjudicate a difference, you have to do that on your own if you are involved in the black market of selling drugs so very often that is resolved at the end of a gun and with violence. When you add to that these evermore heavily armed police officers and the kind of no-knock raids that we are seeing throughout the United States – you have been sharing with your listeners information about the Harding Street raid last year that ended in the death of a couple and their dog with very light if nonexistent evidence that there was any crime being committed within the house – you begin to understand why in addition to having more guns than any other country per capita, we also have more gun deaths than any other country in the world. So you are right. There are a number of factors but the dominant one is this war on drugs and the prohibitionary policies that we employ and the need for those who are involved in the black market to arm themselves and resolve differences through violence and the police were enforcing these drug laws to use extreme violence and extreme, almost military like tactics in order to enforce the law.
DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Beto. It just goes on and on. In today’s Houston Chronicle there is another story that Kim Ogg who is our district attorney here in Houston is reversing the conviction of another person who was sent to prison by the lies of this Officer Goins who headed up that Harding Street raid. The full disclosure has not been brought forward yet. The house was shot up – who shot who – they were shooting through the walls. There are a of details that are missing and I often like to point out that every day of the drug war is training day because there is always this thought that drug users are less than sterling citizens and there are a lot of short circuits taken in their treatment. Your thought there, please.
BETO O’ROURKE: I agree with you. We put police officers in a really terrible, and many cases untenable position. I respect them as they have a really tough job. They are the ones who step up in order to keep us safe and who are willing to put their lives on the line for us and now we have asked them to do the impossible and to stop the consumption of illegal drugs, including marijuana which as you know, Dean, is legal in more than half the states in the country and yet in our state of Texas, you are still asking police officers to arrest people, raid homes, and put their lives on the line or potentially take the lives of others in the name of an unwinnable war that is doing nothing to reduce the availability of marijuana or its consumption in this state or the rest of the county. It is doing nothing to divert the profits that are going to those who are selling marijuana. The intended goals of the war on drugs have been completely unmet and who is paying the price? Every day Americans, primarily black and brown Americans who are disproportionately stopped, disproportionately frisked, disproportionately arrested and incarcerated and the police and the entire mechanism of our criminal justice system that facilitates this is immoral on so many different levels and hurts so many different people in our communities and throughout our country.
DEAN BECKER: Thank you for that, Beto. I noticed during your run for the Presidency that every Democratic candidate has come forward calling for the end of marijuana prohibition. Some have talked about ending the drug war, though I haven’t heard many details on stopping the funding to terrorists growing the flowers, or the cartels bringing the powders, or the gangs selling the contaminated crap to our kids on the street corner but the idea is growing. The possibility that someone will take that big leap is hopefully around the corner. Your thought, Beto.
BETO O’ROURKE: Yes, I think so. I think it will really matter when you have somebody in a position of public trust and in power such as the next President of the United States who can through their Department of Justice begin to implement a far more humane policy when it comes to the use of drugs in this country and the way that the criminal justice system is used to address some of these challenges. There are so many families that I have met whose sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers have succumbed to illegal drug use and that could be prescription drug use that they have abused, it can be opioids whether prescribed or whether it’s bought on the street like heroin. It can be other drugs and one of the things that has really hit home for me is that all of those are opportunities for compassion, opportunities to expand the way that our public health system meets that challenge. Almost none of them qualify for time spent behind bars or involvement in the criminal justice system and yet that is precisely what we do to them right now which almost compounds their misery and their suffering. I am confident that when we have a President who employs a far more humane, rational, logical policy when it comes to this that we will to your point, Dean, be able to focus limited resources on those who are helping to create some of the chaos and havoc and the harm that we are seeing in our communities such as those who would traffic in fentanyl or in heroin, or frankly let’s call it out for what it is – those pharmaceutical corporations that have been able to market the opioids to prescribers and doctors with complete impunity though they have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of our fellow Americans. Let’s train our law enforcement focus on them and make sure that there is true accountability and that they serve some time. That is what’s necessary to stop this kind of behavior. So you are right, I think we have an opportunity to completely rethink and reorient our drug policy in this country and the outcome could be many more lives saved, many fewer billions of dollars spent, and better outcomes in general for all concerned. That is what I would like to see and that is what I am going to continue to advocate for.
DEAN BECKER: Friends, I remind you once again that we are speaking with Congressman Beto O’Rourke. Beto, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the hot topic, if you will. What is going on in the United States Senate and how they are addressing this impeachment effort and what it means now and for the future?
BETO O’ROURKE: Well I am really concerned, Dean, that this is a complete abdication of the Senate’s responsibilities to this country and to their sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution; the rule of law in the United States. What we are seeing happen in real time is the transition from a republic to a monarchy or a dictatorship where you no longer have coequal branches of government that are able to check untrammeled power and you have a concentration of that power in the hands of a chief executive who is completely shameless in using it to further his own advantage and the advantage of his political party so this bodes ill for the future of this country. I think our last best hope is really the 2020 elections and that’s elections all up and down the ballot from the Presidential election, of course but also the U.S. Senate elections given the fact that the Senate so horribly failed in the task before it and the State House elections, including the State House here in Texas. We have a lot of work to do, but his work has never been more important or more critical and I have never been more grateful to be engaged. That is the challenge we have. We just have to see if this country is up to that challenge.
DEAN BECKER: It’s an oligarchy, if I have pronounced that correctly. It is trying to parallel Russia and Putin’s plan, isn’t it? It is just crazy!
BETO O’ROURKE: It is the worst that we have seen our government in our lifetimes. You would have to go back to Andrew Johnson or some of the really horrible Presidents before the Civil War to see this level of malfeasance and betrayal of the ideas and the ideals of America as well as the rule of law in our Constitution. It is bad and I hope that we are up to it.
DEAN BECKER: Beto, I know that we have just a little bit more time and I have two more points I would like to make. First off, I was proud to see you running for Senate and I am sad that Cruz had his day and in so far as the Presidency, you made a big splash. I know your time in the sun is nowhere near over. What is in the future for Congressman Beto O’Rourke?
BETO O’ROURKE: I am going to continue to focus on this group that we just started this year called Powered by People and try to help thoughtful, progressive Texans win office, especially in these State House races where so much that we care about will be decided whether it is on gun violence, drug policy, access to healthcare, or any number of issues. Being able to win these races is critical to our ability to make progress in this state. That is where my focus will be. I love the fact that I get to spend more time in El Paso, Texas, which is where I was born and raised and where Amy and I are raising our kids now.
I want to work with you and others to continue to speak out on and hope to add to the conversation about issues like drug policy and our criminal justice system and speak up for those who typically have not had a voice in our democracy such as those who have been impacted disproportionately by these policies.
DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Beto. Is there a website, or a Facebook page you might want to point folks toward?
BETO O’ROURKE: Yes. The website is: www.poweredxpeople.org, and if you want to learn more about what we are doing or sign up to join us, you can do so at that website.
DEAN BECKER: Beto, one last favor, if you can. We have been on air over 18 years now and I currently have a pledge drive going on. I think my show is important. What do you think? What would you like to tell my listeners, Sir?
BETO O’ROURKE: I will tell you this, Dean, and I have said this on your show before – you have been consistently and forcefully advocating for a far more humane policy when it comes to drugs and especially marijuana in the United States. When I first became aware of this issue and Ciudad Juarez became the deadliest city on the planet in part due to our prohibitionary policies here in the U.S. to the point that kids are willing to kill or be killed for the privilege of trafficking marijuana in to a state like ours and in a country like ours. When I began to really understand the consequence of the war on drugs and started to look for voices and leaders on this issue is when I first found you so I have certainly benefited from our conversations and from getting to listen to your show. I know that thousands of other people have as well – so I hope that people will continue to support your work and your ability to reach listeners all over the country.
DEAN BECKER: Once again, friends that is Beto O’Rourke who is an ally to each and every one of us. Beto, thank you for being with us. I hope to see you soon.
BETO O’ROURKE: Likewise. Good talking with you, Dean. Thanks for having me on.
DEAN BECKER: Take care of yourself and let’s talk again soon, okay?
BETO O’ROURKE: Let’s do it! All right, man. Adios.
DEAN BECKER: Thank you and adios.
It’s time to play Name That Drug by its Side Effects. Dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration, erotic lustfulness, loss of motor control, loss of clothing, loss of money, loss of virginity, delusions of grandeur, table dancing, headache, dehydration, dry mouth, and a desire to sing karaoke and play all night rounds of strip poker, truth or dare, and naked Twister. Also may cause you to think you can sing and may lead you to believe that ex-lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at four in the morning. It may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster, and better looking than most people and it may lead you to think people are laughing with you. May cause pregnancy and may also be a major factor in getting your ass kicked. So what are you waiting for? Stop hiding and start living with tequila.
DEAN BECKER: You know folks, typically I don’t help folks look for a job as there are plenty of avenues and means whereby they can do it for themselves, but there is a fairly new industry without a lot means of approach or outreach. An old friend who has worked in the cannabis industry for over 25 years now and has a huge history of involvement with setting up businesses and organizations seeking the truth for the cannabis plant. She has also written a great idiot’s guide book called Starting and Running a Marijuana Business and has been a frequent guest on Cultural Baggage radio programs and with that I want to bring in my guest, Debby Goldsberry. Hey, Debby. How are you?
DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Really good. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.
DEAN BECKER: If you would, give folks a quick summary of your history because it is a long history of involvement.
DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: That is true. I got involved in the cannabis legalization effort back in 1986. I worked very hard and opened my first dispensary in 1999, so I have been doing dispensaries for 20 years now and working for cannabis law reform for 30.
DEAN BECKER: As I indicated, your book, Starting and Running a Marijuana Business is not exactly for idiots. There is some complexity to doing it, is there not?
DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: It is definitely hard and it is competitive. I think it is probably one of the most competitive, difficult, with the most complicated regulations industry to get in to right now. Although we are right at the beginning of a brand new era so this is the time to get in. We are going to build businesses that last a hundred years right now and create intergenerational wealth by getting people in to entrepreneurial positions where they can own their own businesses. That is what it is all about, helping people get a leg up so that we can get our businesses and include small mom and pop regular people who want to get in to the cannabis industry, which has unfortunately become dominated by large, multistate and multinational operators scooping up the permits so that people like me who have been involved for 30 years, 20 years, 10 years it is so hard to get one of these permits for a cannabis business.
DEAN BECKER: Especially in California, as I understand it. It is perhaps the highest fee amount there as compared to Oklahoma. Right?
DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: The thing that we got saddled with in our regulations is this super high tax rate so it is built in to the legislation. Several different levels of cultivators pay a huge tax, retailers pay a huge tax on top of sales tax, annual fees, and licensing costs so it is extremely burdensome.
DEAN BECKER: Of course the world’s largest multilevel marketing organization otherwise known as the black market just loves those taxes because it keeps them in business. If you could, please list a few job titles you might be looking for work under?
DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: The best way that I can help people in the cannabis industry get a leg up is on their application. I help companies with their pre-application where they are putting together a marijuana application at the state or at the city level and create an application that is going to win because as I said, it is so competitive. The interesting thing is that municipal and state governments have already baked the taxes in to the regulations. When they are passing the laws they already know how much money they want to make from the operators within their state so helping small businesses create business plans and businesses that can actually meet the expectations of municipal and state governments as it is not an easy task. I bring to the tables standard operating procedures, a history of retail experience, a history of successful applications, and I really help small businesses figure out how to maximize their application in order to compete with these big companies and really stand out when the regulators are looking at them.
DEAN BECKER: Real good. Again folks we are speaking with Debby Goldsberry, she cofounded the Berkeley Patient’s Group back in the late 90s and she currently is the owner of Magnolia Wellness in Oakland, California as well as one of the very first dab bars in existence and probably has her hands in a couple of other organizations as well. Any closing thoughts there, Debby?
DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Now is the time to get involved in the industry. People should look at local regulations, help create the local laws and regulations. This is dream building time so figure it out and create the cannabis business of your dreams.
DEAN BECKER: How would they get in touch with you, Debby?
DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: They can find me on any of the social media’s at Debby Goldsberry. I am on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and I am very active on all of the sites.
DEAN BECKER: We are wrapping it up. I want to thank Debby Goldsberry for her commitment to the marijuana industry. I wish her well. I want to thank Beto O’Rourke for getting back in touch with me. I was getting kind of aggravated with him and cussed him out a little bit in a text and he wrote back something to the effect of who knew that running for President would be such a bear!
Once again I want to remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what is 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. Cultural Baggage is a production of the Pacifica Radio Network, archives are permanently stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, and we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.