Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) is a 34-year veteran of both the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department who oversaw 17 separate drug task forces. He has served as an official representative of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (formerly Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) since 2007 + Dana Larsen is one of Canada’s most well-known and respected advocates for cannabis reform and an end to the global war on drugs.
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Wed, 05/20/2020 - 20:22
HOST DEAN BECKER: I am the Reverend Dean Becker Keeper of the moral High Ground in the drug war for the world. And this is Cultural Baggage. Hi folks. This is Dean Becker and boy, do we have a very positive show for you something to kick in the butt and get you going in the second half of our program will hear from Dana Larson the Canadian author and activist extraordinaire. Today, We're going to be speaking with one of my best allies in this drug reform effort. He's the executive director of law enforcement Action Partnership formerly known as law enforcement against prohibition. He's the executive director Neill Franklin is with us. How you doing Neil?
NEILL FRANKLIN: I'm good Dean. How are you today?
DEAN BECKER: I'm well as a lot of folks. Maybe don't know who you are latam a little bit about your work history and law enforcement. Will you please sure?
NEILL FRANKLIN: Sure. So I've got 34 years policing from the state of Maryland my first 23 years of with the Maryland State Police, from which I retired officially and most of my career with them was either working in Narcotics- And that's everything from working undercover all the way to commanding nine drug task force has it one time for half of the state worked a lot in criminal investigation after I retired from the State Police I was recruited by Baltimore City to head up their training and education section.
NEILL FRANKLIN: Which I did for four years and then I have six years after that with Maryland Transit is the head of the detective Bureau and chief of Patrol. So you weren't a novice. You didn't double for a year or two. This was a lifelong commitment. Was it not it certainly was and even though I'm retired Dean.
NEILL FRANKLIN:Still working very hard in this area of Criminal Justice to the law enforcement Action Partnership where I've been for ten years as the executive director still working very hard. They're trying to write this broken criminal justice system that we have and a big part of that is the failed War on Drugs.
DEAN BECKER: Well, that's exactly right. Well, thank you for that again. As I said, he is a learned individual we would do well to pay attention to his words. Now this one you may not have caught too much of just yesterday. The US House passed a banking bill and it's part of the latest covid-19 build which you know, hopefully go through the Senate and get signed by Trump, but who knows but what they want to do is to allow cannabis organizations dispensaries and maybe even The Growers to use Banks and credit card companies to an Essence stop much of the crime that has been associated with these dispensaries.
DEAN BECKER: There's been many cases of extortion robberies. Kidnapping etcetera because these people deal only in cash, but if they were allowed to use Banks, it would change that equation. Would it not
NEILL FRANKLIN: absolutely Dean and actually I'm very familiar with this diesel legislation to save Banking Act leap and I we I was the only law enforcement entity to testify before Congress few months back regarding this piece of legislation, and why would be so important to pass it; you mentioned the Public Safety aspect of you know, right now these dispensaries that have been operating legally in these many states across the country. Many of them, unfortunately are working only with cash. Now, we know what happens when business owners have to operate in cash. They become targets for criminal Enterprises opportunist to to not just break into their facilities but to commit robberies
NEILL FRANKLIN: There's also another aspect that many people don't think about and that is the many employees that work for these businesses what I mean by that when you working totally with cash you pay your employees in cash and it's not very difficult to figure out when payday is, right. So you've created a scenario where opportunist criminals can just be Laying in wait for people to get paid in cash and then just Rob them either on the way home. Once they get home follow them whatever the case may be. So it's very important that we are able to allow for these businesses to use electronic banking systems credit cards debit cards and so on. It’s safer for everyone all around doing it.
DEAN BECKER: well in exactly it is now around the u.s. There are several jails, a few prisons, that are letting out prisoners now because of this covid-19 problem this this virus and this follows closely on the heels of many of them, even before this virus of letting folks out that were unable to post bail. I guess this this just shows A New Perspective perhaps a new Awakening your thought there Neill Franklin
NEILL FRANKLIN: Yeah. It certainly does it's going to give us an opportunity to make some changes that we knew needed. He made you know, when we compare ourselves to other countries around the globe we known for a long time. We over incarcerated our citizens here in the United States. We incarcerate more people than any other country not just by rate but by actual numbers and you know, this will now give us an opportunity to write some of those wrongs part of that is you mentioned is our cash bail system. We incarcerate most of our people in our local jails and in our state institutions, so now, local jails and out of detention centers when someone is arrested and we've gotten to this place where we're now requiring cash Bonds on just about everybody who's arrested. Now. This is very detrimental. We start to remember that we're guilty until proven guilty, right?
NEILL FRANKLIN: So especially for these very low level offenses people should not have to place. It should not be subjected to cash bail if they're not a danger to society if they're not a danger to their neighbors, they should be allowed to go home. And then when it's time for them to show up to explain themselves in court they have that opportunity to do so, but unfortunately this cash bail system has been come in and of itself a huge business with a heavy lobbying arm that you know where our policymakers have kept this, you know system in effect, but now we're advocating to end that we're having some good success across the country because when people cannot Go home, their family suffer economically, they suffer and they go deeper and deeper into Financial Despair and ruin and obviously that can keep someone in a place of criminality. It can actually move someone into a place of criminality if they were never there before but you know, we've got to do something to improve the lives and conditions of their entire families. Not just them.
DEAN BECKER: Hi folks. Just a quick reminder. You are listening to cultural baggage on Pacifica Radio and the drug truth Network. Our Guest is Neil Franklin executive director of leap. This this covid-19 even was it Paul Manford. One of Trump's henchman is has been released to home detention or something because of this this virus and yet those I have a relative who is in a Lansing Prison in Kansas.
DEAN BECKER: He's got a couple more years left on his sentence and hit you know, he was dabbling in methamphetamine provided by the Mexican cartels, but he's not getting let out and I get constant alerts from them that the prison he's in in Kansas is predominantly the one where the staff is being infected and they as they call them residents or the prisoners are being infected dozens of times worse than any of the other prisons in Kansas. It is a hello for this covid virus your thought about that additional punishment where wages here sir,
NEILL FRANKLIN: I don't have a problem. First of all with Paul Manafort being released as long as others have the same opportunity. Okay, because you know, these institutions have become Petri dishes for this virus. It's not just putting these folks who are incarcerated in Jeopardy, but it's putting the communities in Jeopardy as correctional officers go into these institutions every day to work as contractors go into these facilities every day to work, you know, once this this virus starts to grow within this this confined space where people are interacting closely on a daily basis where they can't find separation, especially in these dormitory-style facilities. Then it's only a matter of time before the virus is now moves out of the facilities into the local neighborhoods where the people work where people live who work at these facilities.
NEILL FRANKLIN: So you're putting everyone at Jeopardy, you know, when you have an opportunity to send someone home who's a short time or anyway, Send them home. As you said this this is literally like a double sentence for some folks, especially the elderly and those who are very ill within our institutions. We know what the death rate is for people over 60 years of age. It's very very high. And if you're dealing with some sort of a medical condition it doubles if not triplets your chance if you're affected in fear infected with this virus of dying as a result. It gives us an opportunity to correct a lot of the wrongs within our criminal justice system and the over incarceration of people primarily on the back of the War on Drugs, you know in this country.
Real quick Dean over the past couple of months. We've been making tens of thousands of fewer arrests for low-level offenses across this country. Now public safety is not suffering because of that. So we're sending fewer people to jail. Well, and we're maintaining a certain level of Public Safety. So that demonstrates that we don't have to incarcerate our people to keep our neighborhoods and communities safe. I'm just hoping on the other side of this we can continue that Trend by changing policies, changing laws and just changing the way we go about our justice system rethinking some things like we were talking about with cash bail and others and because the ones who really suffer in this or the poor folks.
NEILL FRANKLIN: Our are black and brown people as we have seen historically affluent folks do not suffer. They had the money to pay to get themselves out of jail. They had the money to survive if they are arrested and charged with the crime but poor folks charged with the same offenses end up in a much dire situation.
DEAN BECKER: Yeah, there are certain cities, you know, always Seattle Oakland and San Francisco that are lessening their focus, that are curtailing the number of arrests as you were indicating for minor charges be they drug related or otherwise not wanting to fill their jails with so many folks and we have situations where some countries like Portugal and now Canada and I think tied in with his covid-19 situation, they're setting up vending machines now and selling drugs to hard drug users. They're giving drugs like heroin and others to those who need it to keep them from mingling and even here in the United States. There are now providing alcohol and tobacco to some of these addicts to keep them constrained curtailed your thought their Neill Franklin.
NEILL :So you're right. So we're we are actually seeing some changes in one of the most powerful law enforcement positions in our country. Is that of the prosecute? All right. I got to give props to the Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby. I call her a prosecutor I call her the people's attorney. And this is why Marilyn Mosby has said that she's not going to she's no longer going to charge people who've been arrested with obviously possession offenses for marijuana, no matter how much the wait she's not going to charge people for possession of marijuana. She's also looking at other offenses these minor offenses, which is no longer than be charging people with these offences. She's also a proponent of safer drug consumption spaces like like we see in Canada like we've seen in Vancouver with on-site- in other parts of Canada and other countries in your this she is definitely the people's attorney really focusing upon Justice for people and their other attorneys District Attorney's across the country who are taking the same platform in this is what we've needed for so long you mentioned some in the state of Illinois in a state of Massachusetts were seeing it.
So we're seeing it happening now all across the country and now we just hope that we can make some similar changes and get some similar movement with our police reform Focus across the country.
DEAN BECKER: All right, the once again folks we've been speaking with mr. Neill Franklin the executive director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, my band of brothers and sisters Neil I got one last question for you here. It's a little lengthy. So bear with me it was about a hundred years ago a gentleman named Harry J Anslinger who became our nation's first quote drugs are and he set out to start an internal drug war. He succeeded quite well here in the United States and in fact around the world now, he did this by using racial screens. I got a couple of them here reefer makes Darkies think they're as good as white men.
He also said marijuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye to step on a white man's shadow and to look at a white woman twice and bear with me. I'm he what he did follows on the US has centuries-long perspectives that started with slavery, went through Jim Crow laws and is now carried forward by this belief in the drug war which punishes blacks and Hispanics by about 4 To One or certainly much more in some areas and it is this continuation that exists that thrives of via this drug war that gave rationale and perspective and it was also boosted by Trump's perspective as well. But gave these two races. Yeah, who's the nerve the temerity to Gun Down Ahmed earlier this year. You're closing thoughts there. Mr. Neal Franklin.
NEILL FRANKLIN: So what we're talking about historically is white supremacy weather in the United States all around the globe and there's always a tool to maintain that use to maintain white supremacy. You mentioned now just talk about a couple of you mentioned racism obviously, very significant. You mentioned racism as relates to slavery. So slavery was one of those initial tools here in the United States to oppress black folks.
NEILL FRANKLIN: There's always something in place to oppress anyone who's other than white. So you mentioned Harry Anslinger and the War on Drugs how he used the prohibition of drugs to do the same thing to oppress people of color. You mentioned some of his quotes which were communicated all across this country and what I refer to as yesterday's internet and that was the newspaper where he had partnered with Randolph Hearst who was a major newspaper conglomerate back then so he was able to communicate these messages at will all across the country many people don't know that one of his very first Target regarding the war on drugs and the use of heroin by people of color was Billie Holiday and who was very famous up and down the East Coast mainly here in Baltimore as a jazz singer. It wasn't ever about drug abuse and curtailing drug abuse.
It was about controlling people mainly people of color and it has been used to do that all the way up to modern day here in the United States now now that's changing. But then again, it's another way to control people of color by placing fear and a white populace so that you can continue to use laws and other things to oppress people of color. Oh you really have to pay attention to this. Because when we do end the war on drugs that will be something else that comes down the pipe.
DEAN BECKER: once again friends. That was Major Neill Franklin my friend, Ally, head of a Law Enforcement Action Partnership. They're out there on the web at L. EA P.cc. Please check it out. It's time to play name that drop by its side effects Welling of the tongue decreased bone marrow fever chills infection nervous system degeneration confusion loss of consciousness fatigue memory loss muscle weakness numbness, tingling, seizure,speech, disturbance cancer and death time's up the answer Le vamos all a dog dewormer that has become America's number one cutting agent for cocaine.
DEAN BECKER: Well folks today, we're going to talk to a gentleman up in Canada going to talk about situation up there that in many ways is better and so far as dealing with drug overdose situations. Mr. Dana Larson is with us. Hello Dana.
DANA LARSON: Hey, hello, thanks for having me what
DEAN BECKER: Dana tell us a little bit about your background your involvement in drug policy.
DANA LARSON: Well, I've been doing this kind of stuff for about 30 years now and I opened a place called The Vancouver Seed Bank. I opened Vancouver's third medical cannabis dispensary been influential and in getting others opened, I've written a couple of books about cannabis history in Canada and a few other things, but I also do work on the harm reduction side and really consider cannabis a set of one part of a bigger puzzle of ending the whole war on drug users and one program I launched a year ago, which is going really well is called get your drugs tested and we've actually become I think the world's biggest repository of drug street drug analysis. Anybody in Canada can come by our place in person or send us a sample in the mail just a tiny little sample of any kind of street drug or pharmaceutical or or pretty much anything like that and we can analyze it with our spectrometer and we'll give them the results for free right away just takes a few minutes and it helps people to know what they're taking not just for trying to find fentanyl. Oh, that's a big part of it as well. But also just knowing what you're taking and what you're putting into your body.
DEAN BECKER: Well, thank you for that. And that's a huge part of harm reduction. A lot of folks try to do that around Raves and other events here in the US and ran around the world. Actually now, we have this covid-19. We have a new situation that's slapping everybody upside the head and in several states in the US and especially in San Francisco. They are now sending homeless folks, locking them in well, putting them in hotels and providing them with Alcohol, Tobacco, and medical marijuana. So they're not out roaming the streets and looking for their next score. That's a good positive. Is it not?
DANA LARSON: I think those are good policies and you know, there's a lot of bad things coming out of this virus obviously, but I think there's some good things coming out as well maybe in terms of prioritizing and recognizing, you know, what's important and what isn't and and I see some cases where people who are in jail for nonviolent crimes or for minor drug offenses and probably shouldn't be there are being released and I think that that's a positive step and I think also set of ideas of socialized Healthcare and guaranteed minimum income and those kind of things suddenly start to look a lot more realistic and then Canada. There's also you know, we in British Columbia my Province for last 20 years or so. We've had every Public Health official calling for a safe drug Supply to stop arresting drug users and deal with this differently and it's all been pretty much ignored and now suddenly they it's becoming a lot more reasonable of an idea and being more accepted. We've actually got this vending machine going in Vancouver. It only serves a couple of dozen people but it's a specialized highly secure vending machine that you could put your palm on it to identify yourself and drug users are able to get access to prescriptions and their opiates through this machine and this kind of stuff I think needs to be expanded and made more available.
DANA LARSON: And we've also done similar things here to with opening up hotels and getting homeless people off the street and into a better situation and so those are all positive steps and you know, everyone's being affected by this but like a lot of these kind of social issues. It's people who are already facing other issues to tend to face the brunt of it right poor people homeless people people who use illegal drugs are the ones who really get the worst of this and need to be taken care of.
DEAN BECKER: Well. Do you mentioned that Canada has had a more open mind to making these changes to providing support to those in need and you've been blessed in that you've had I know of a couple of senators I think one has passed now that stood boldly for that change for that recognition for that need for Change and you've had the ability there to have a more open discussion to put forward these ideas without it being just immediately slammed back down. Whereas in the U.S. We have a hell of a time to even to begin those discussions your response their Dana Larson.
DANA LARSON: Well, I think that's true. Although I think Canada also varies from place. The place just like the U.S. Does you know, I mean you're in Texas and that's going to have a different attitude towards some of these things and you know, Oregon and Washington might and here in British Columbia. I mean, it's not perfect by any means but I think there's a broader recognition that Canada should be legal of the War on Drugs is a failure and drug use or human beings and say supplies needed but you know on our neighbouring province of Alberta, I'd say they're their attitude their and their politicians anyways are much more hostile they want to shut down the few supervised injection sites. They have they kind of mock harm reduction and these ideas and and so there, you know, there's still a lot of debate going on in Canada at a lot of challenges and but you know having that because of our smaller country with a smaller population. I think it lets us get things done a little more easily and and certainly, you know, we have complaints about how cannabis has been legalized in Canada and what the details are, but at the same time, I think that many American states that happy to see Up their cannabis laws with Canada's given the opportunity but you know, this war on drug users is still supported by a lot of people despite a hundred years of failure and overdoses and deaths and criminalization all just getting worse decade after decade there still seems to be a lot of people who just want to continue this failed War instead of following, you know, what every study and every health professional really says that the criminalizing drug users creating a safe drug Supply is what's needed and will help us with homelessness with overdoses reducing addiction, ironically, you know a safer more accessible drug Supply actually reduces addiction and reduces drug use. So there's a lot of these things that people need to recognize but we are making progress of Canada. That's for sure
DEAN BECKER: now coming back to your that your thought learned that there are these vending machines that provide opiates for you said a few dozen people and it brings to mind that I think in Canada, and I know it’s happening the U.S. That doctors are now doctors are now allowing or writing prescriptions or making available take-home drugs. Whereas many times people had to you know, come into the facility to get their drugs, but they're due to this covid-19. They're allowing people to take home these more addictive opiate drugs treating them more as adults your thoughts there Dana.
DANA LARSON: Well, that's absolutely correct. And you know, like all these programs I think it needs to be expanded further, but but absolutely people who are taking methadone.
They have to go down to the pharmacy every single day. They have to drink it in front of the person who have to then open their mouths and make sure that I'm holding it anywhere and really treating people like children which doesn't help the situation at all. Those are very expensive very time consuming for somebody to have to go down to the system where multiple times a day and stand in line and get their dose. So this take-home thing is really I think a good idea it's going to help people to be safe from covid but also just gives you more time and freedom in your life as well and not have to be treated like a child.
So these are positive steps, you know to me. I always say the compared compared to the way things really should be where we've certainly got a long way to go. But you know, it compared with the way they are many other places and the way maybe they have been in the past. I think we're making a lot of progress and these are all definitely step. steps forward to treating drug users like human beings.
DEAN BECKER: exactly right. Well Dana, I want to thank you for your time. I want to give you a few seconds here to close this out some points. I might have missed or website. You might want to share.
DANA LARSON: Well, I mean my stuff's more relevant for Canadians, but certainly if you go to get your drugs tested.com, we actually have an amazing Archive of over 4,000 street drug tests that we've done and if you can search it all by substance or by City And you know for Canadians who might live in a different city, they've got a pill or a substance in and they can go to our website to see if it's been tested by somebody else and get some information. You know. I also opened Canada's first above-ground medicinal mushroom dispensary we focus on micro doses right now, but mushroomdispensary.com and I was just about to launch a storefront at the provide those as well as a program people can come and to our space and take mushrooms and a larger doses in a therapeutic setting that's been put on hold now because of the virus, but hopefully in a couple of months we'll be able to open that up as well and have Canada's people are doing this already but no one's doing it, you know publicly with their name on it and in a big way, so I'm really pushing forward on all these areas, you know cannabis is the world's greatest plant, but it's really time to end the war on all these plants and drugs and substances and the people who use them.
DEAN BECKER: I'm going to close it out with a song that's sweeping the nation. It's called dump that Trump by Rick Estrin and the nightcaps. I remind you because the prohibition You don't know what's in that bad. Be careful. Here's a pretty good slide.
Got to Dump that Trump, You got to Dump that Trump
Dump that Trump, You have got to Dump that Trump.
Ah, Dump that Trump, You have got to Dump that Trump.
Look at that creeper, he aint qualified
You know that, you know that.
You got treason, fraud and larceny,
Man how much more you got to see?
I’m talking blue or red, right or left,
Open your eyes we got to save ourselves!
Ohh you got to dump that Trump,
Dump that Trump- Dump that Trump!
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Think he cares about you, youre a first class chump,
You got to dump that Trump, Dump that Trump
Dump that Trump, Dump that Trump! Dump that Trump.
Man, Lose that loser, he aint qualified.
Dump that Trump, Dump that Trump! Dump that Trump.
Dump that Trump, Dump that Trump! Dump that Trump.