CULTURAL BAGGAGE 10/12/04
Hosted b y Dean Becker
Engineered by Steve Nolin
Guest: Preston Peet, author of Under the Influence Ė The Disinformation
Guide to Drugs
(Audio Track) Intro Ė My name is Dean Becker; Steve Nolin is our engineer. We invite you to join us as we examine the unvarnished truth about the drug war.
Dean: ďSpeaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.Ē Thatís a quote from George Orwell. We have generals and ex-generals, war hawks and neocons on T.V. all the time expounding the need for this war and that war, eternal and everlasting war. Dwight D. Eisenhower forewarned us to beware of the burgeoning military-industrial complex. What if the U.S. had a Department of Peace where we could hear the words of writers, ministers, and doctors about the need and the ability to wage peace on planet Earth? Please support U.S. House Bill 1673. Visit the website of the Department of Peace online at dopcampaign.org. Okay, tonight we have with us Preston Peet. Heís the editor of a great new book Under the Influence Ė The Disinformation Guide to Drugs. But first we are going to do a little bit of news and weíll be back.
President Bush thinks the drug war is the best thing since sliced bread. John Kerry at least has taken note of the fact that the Afghan warlords are making millions from the opium trade. Fred Lark of the Libertarian Party understands that the drug war is a complete fiasco. This is a quote I was able to obtain from Ralph Nader: ďThe drug war has failed. We spend a total of $50 billion annually on the drug war. The problems related to drug abuse continue to worsen. We need to acknowledge that drug abuse is a health problem with social and economic consequences and responses. Therefore, the solutions are: public health, rehabilitation, social services, economic development for more jobs, and support time with addicts, particularly youngsters. They are increasingly depersonalizing society. Law enforcement should be at the edges of drug control, not at the center. For every nonviolent drug offender we imprison, we could send three students to college. The fact that 25% of the worldís prisoners reside in jails in the ďland of the free and home of the braveĒ is a national embarrassment. Corporate prisons have become a public housing project. For all these reasons and more, the Surgeon General, not the Attorney General, should be at the core of the war on drug usage by showing the way for demand reduction and rehabilitation. Itís time to bring some illegal drugs within the law by regulating them, taxing them, and controlling them. Ending the drug war will dramatically reduce street crime, drive-by shootings, violence, and homicides related to underground drug dealing. Leading conservatives and liberals alike believe the time is long overdue for this much-needed reform. Itís time to bring this subject out into the open and right into the center of the presidential campaigns.Ē
Okay, we are going to go next to a look at sports. First up, letís talk about the passing of Ken Caminiti. Forty-one years old, much too young to die. From what I hear, one heck of a guy. And I know that he was very kind to my children and thousands of others when they were learning baseball. There have been some in the corporate media that tried to lay this off on Caminitiís use of cocaine, particularly crack cocaine. Astroís current manager, Phil Garner, said ďHe continually made bad choices. Itís unfortunate that drugs get such a hold on you, and such a hold on you that this is what happens.Ē And you have to remember that anabolic steroids were part of Caminitiís life as well. Quoting Phil Garner again, ďI would think that in Caminitiís story, you have to look at that; and I think that you have to consider that steroids may have been a factor in his death.Ē Caminiti played the game like he meant it. This is from Jeff Bagwell, his good friend: ďOne of the biggest attributes Ken had is his heart. How our relationship developed and all the great things that he has meant to my life, I think if you start with his heart and how great a person he was, that is a good way to remember him.Ē Another sports story regards Ricky Williams. This is part of a discussion I had with Steve Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project.
Dean: So, Steve, of late there have been some news story that Ricky Williams, the NFL running back, may want to try to get back into the league, but whatís your take on that situation?
Fox: Well, our take on that situation is that he never should have been pushed out of the league in the first place. The fact that they drug test their players and will actually suspend them or give them huge fines for the use of marijuana just seems completely irrational. Someone shouldnít have their livelihood taken away because they choose to smoke marijuana instead of alcohol, which is far more dangerous.
Dean: I suggest that you visit the website of the Marijuana Policy Project at mpp.org. To close our look at sports, we need to make note of a couple of things. Every aspect of the drug war is a sham, a staged play, a tragedy. The first eternal war, the first war of terror. Drugs are not the monster. Prohibition is. Oh, yes, sports: On June 12, 1970, Doc Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates threw a no-hitter against the Twins while on acid Ė LSD, lysergic acid diethylamide. We should judge people by their actions, not the contents of their brain. Okay, our guest on tonightís Cultural Baggage, Mr. Preston Peet. Heís the editor of drugwar.com, an editor for High Times magazine, and editor of the great new book Under the Influence Ė The Disinformation Guide to Drugs. Hello, Preston.
Peet: Good evening. How are you, Dean?
Dean: Iím well, sir, good to have you with us.
Peet: Likewise, good to be here.
Dean: Yes, sir, if you will, tell the folks a little bit about your website. I find it to be fascinating and just full of information.
Peet: The drugwar.com is owned by Dan Russell, the author of Drug War: Covert Money, Power & Policy and Shamanism and the Drug Propaganda, two fantastic books giving a real clear picture of whatís happening behind the scenes driving the war on drugs. I took it, expanded it as far as I could, covering every angle of the war on drugs and drugs themselves that I could possibly think of.
Dean: Thank you, Preston, and insofar as your work with High Times, I understand you guys are going back to the single magazine format?
Peet: We are going back to the single High Times format, and I would like to correct you. Iím no longer an editor-at-large. Iím a contributor and columnist at High Times again. They have dropped the ďGrow AmericaĒ format and combined everything back into the one magazine again, like we were doing for years and years. And it looks good. The new issues are really sharp and clear. As always, I think they could use more news, but thatís my own personal opinion.
Dean: Insofar as what brought me, or drew us together, for this discussion was your new book Under the Influence - The Disinformation Guide to Drugs. I was quite surprised and happy to see that many of the guests that have been on Cultural Baggage, their words are included therein.
Peet: Dean, you have an amazing selection of guests on your program. Iím honored to be one of them. Iím always very impressed by the caliber of guests and you are right, there are a lot of people that contributed to Under the Influence that have made appearances on your show. I believe Ethan Nadelmann has been a guest of yours?
Peet: Yeah, and Catherine Austin Fitts, Jack Cole Ė Iím not even sure who else in the book, but quite a few of them, Iím positive. I got as many top-notch drug war reformers as I possibly could to contribute.
Dean: In looking through it, I am truly amazed at the caliber of the writing that you have been able to put together and just the truth that is so evident, as Iím always saying. The truth about the drug war is so evident if people would just study up a bit.
Peet: Well, absolutely. And our mainstream press isnít going to be the one, for the most part, giving us that news. It does take a bit of searching normally. Thatís why a book like Under the Influence is so handy, because there it all is, right there between two covers. Itís right there, anything you want to know about the lies and deceit and propaganda behind the war on drugs, itís all touched on in Under the Influence.
Dean: Well, sure, you discuss the economics, the propaganda, the medicinal uses, etc., etc., and it is practically an encyclopedia from which to find that information.
Peet: Absolutely, thatís a great word for it, ďencyclopedia.Ē Thatís exactly what I was trying to do with it. You know, I wanted to touch as wide a spectrum as possible Ė all the way from first person accounts of being targeted by prohibitionists to the topic of cognitive liberty. The idea that we have the right to alter our consciousness, that it is totally prejudiced to make a distinction between, say alcohol and any other drug Ė any illicit drug today Ė there is no scientific basis for that whatsoever.
Dean: I see you have an article from our good friend, Mr. Cliff Thornton, ďPerceptions of Race, Class, and Americaís War on Drugs.Ē Because thatís the heart of it, isnít it?
Peet: Oh, absolutely. Thatís such a huge part of it, and it touches on so many areas that people donít think about. On a day-to-day basis, the fact that Ė I donít know what it is, some ungodly amount - 13% - of black men arenít allowed to vote. You know it is locking up one in four black men in America. It denies them to choose the people who make the laws. They are putting them in prison Ė you know, it keeps them from getting meaningful employment, it keeps them from getting financial aid for further education, itís basically creating a subclass of people in our country.
Dean: Just a quick quote from his writing, the prison population as of 2003 was a little over Ė 68% were black and Latino males and, of course, their representation in our overall population is about a fourth of that.
Peet: Right, and he also includes a letter from a young man named Reginald Alexander who is an inner city drug dealer whoís now going to be sitting in prison until 2007 for Ė Iím not sure what the actual offense was, but it was something to do with drugs. And he describes in the most gut-wrenching, tear-wringing words, what it is to be somebody living in the inner cities of America today and see that one of the surest ways out of that is to deal drugs. He talks about how the inner cities are being targeted by little things, like the shoe manufacturers are targeting these $180 pair of shoes to inner city youth through all the mass media, and these kids canít afford that in any way except to go and drug deal or, you know, commit some other fast money-making crime. They certainly arenít going to get it at underaged employment; and how many of those kids have an opportunity to get anything but that in our society today? Itís an amazing, amazing letter in Cliffordís article. I was so happy to have the privilege of publishing this kidís letter. I would encourage anybody to even just go to the bookstore and read this kidís letter in Cliffordís article if they donít want to shell out for the book. Itís that meaningful.
Dean: Steve Wozniak, the former High Times reporter, talked about the fact that Ö
Dean: Thank you. Talking about the fact that so many pot smokers are willing to give $350 to get the custom deluxe bong, yet they wonít give the $35 to NORML or another organization to help make that difference. Letís talk about that aspect, if you will.
Peet: Right, he makes the point that marijuana is not going to be legalized or even decriminalized as long as thatís the case. Like you just said, he was at some Boston freedom rally. I think it was a couple of yearís ago, and saw a bust happen, and he saw the people being taken away by the police for smoking or promoting smoking or whatever it was they were arrested for Ė preparing to smoke Ė two long-haired kids walked up to him and instead of asking what happened? or where is the literature? whatís going on here? They were like, ďwhere can we get the bowl? You know, who is selling glass around here?Ē And it just seems like thatís the attitude among so many pot smokers. Say we have over, what Ė over 50 million people in this country who have admitted to at least trying marijuana, and we donít have any change in our political system in this country? It befuddles me. I cannot believe that we donít have more of our compatriots at the voting booth saying this drug war is wrong. I smoke marijuana and Iím not ashamed of it. I like it. Personally, me, I much prefer marijuana to alcohol any day of the week. And yet, my friends who I smoke with arenít helping me to vote out the drug war? No, itís almost like a complacency. And I hate to say that because itís such a stereotypical description of a marijuana smoker Ė ďoh, marijuana smokers have a motivational syndrome.Ē But I know so many who donít. They just donít seem to want to put any effort into actual reform work. They are more content to just hide behind their closed doors and continue their private practices without making any effort to change things. And Iím not sure where that comes from. And thatís not just limited to the marijuana deal in this country. We have that problem all across the board Ė apathy and lack of interest in anything outside of our own apartments and our own doorways.
Dean: Well, Preston, you have this article from Michael Simmons, ďThe Gang Who Couldnít Grow Straight.Ē Weíre going to take a little break, and when we come back, I want to talk about that.
Itís time to play ďName that Drug By Its Side EffectĒ: Weakness, nausea, skin rash, unexpected weight gain, swelling of hands and face, difficulty breathing, flu-like symptoms, sluggishness, double the chance of dying of heart attack or stroke. Timeís up. The answer: Vioxx. Another FDA-approved product making billions of dollars for its manufacturer taken off the shelves because of the inherent dangers of its use and the loss of potential billions from pending lawsuits. Illegal drugs are less dangerous to our society than gasoline, Mr. Plummer, and Tylenol. Against all odds, reformers battle on a daily basis against the salesmen, the thousand-dollar suits who steal billions of dollars from gullible Americans each year using feigned patriotism, scam science, and lies. If you would like to join the efforts to end this hypocrisy please visit drugtruth.net.
Dean: Okay, we are back with Preston Peet, the editor of the great new book Under the Influence Ė The Disinformation Guide to Drugs, and this is the Cultural Baggage show on the Drug Truth Network and Pacifica Radio. Preston, ďThe Gang that Couldnít Grow Straight,Ē tell us a little bit about that story.
Peet: Yes, itís by Michael Simmons, a great article Ė he obtained it and revised it for this edition. Itís a reprint of an older article of his that he fleshed out and filled in for me and our readers. Itís the story of Peter McWilliams and Todd McCormick and their idea that they were going to take the new compassionate use act - Californiaís Compassionate Use Act of 1996, and run with it. They were going to supply the medical marijuana clubs in their area and, to be honest, they were going to make a lot of money. They were going to be in on the front lines of the new legal marijuana thatís now going to be allowed in California and apparently people in California like the Attorney General were going before the voters and saying if this law passes, that it. Marijuana is legal in this state. And they took that at faith, and they rented a mansion. Peter McWilliams was a self-help author and various other topics. He wrote a self computer-user guide back when home computers were just starting out and he made a lot of money self-publishing and was friends of people like William F. Buckley, lots of conservative people. A very outgoing, charming individual who I, unfortunately, never had the honor to meet. I wish I had. But he was also, you know, exuberant. He had a lot of life in him, and he rented a mansion; he gave Todd McCormick a lot of money to rent this place. And they started growing over 4000 very, very good highly potent marijuana plants. And the way they described it Ė particularly Todd Ė they were experimenting with specific strains trying to find out which strain would work for which ailment. What indica was better for this and what sativa was better for that and, you know, could you take this one and it work sufficiently, and could you take this one and do away with your pain. And I donít know how much truth is actually in that, but Iím certainly not going to argue with their reasoning. To make a long story short, they were raided and the police shut them down and Todd McCormick did, I donít know, 3 years?
Dean: I think thatís right.
Peet: I think it was 3 years in prison, and the kidís got a fused spinal cord. I mean, how dare the prohibitionists lock these people up? Iím just so appalled. I donít care what he was doing; if he was growing marijuana, I donít care. You shouldnít be in jail. Itís a flower. We all know my feelings about this topic. Peter McWilliams Ė unfortunately, was told he couldnít use marijuana any more and so he wasnít able to keep down his HIV medications; he wasnít able to keep down food; he wasted away Ė and then died. And there was speculation among the movement about whether he choked to death, or he had a heart attack, or exactly what the cause of death was; but irregardless of all the nuances, the Federal government barred him from using his medicine, and he died. Itís Ė the government has to take some blame in the issue because if he had not been arrested because he smoked marijuana, the chances are a lot better that he would still be alive with us today.
Dean: Letís not forget, there was a third party in that Ė was it the Debellare Cannabis Club? I think it was Ė something to that effect?
Dean: Renee Boje Ė who actually had to go to Canada.
Peet: Yes, she is living in Canada now. Who is she married to? Chris Ö
Dean: Chris with Cannabis Culture Magazine, I canít think of his last name. Bennett, I believe.
Peet: Chris Bennett, exactly.
Dean: And they now have a new baby, and sheís actually being put before the immigration board in Canada to see if she can remain there or be sent back for the automatic 10 years.
Peet: Yeah, which is crazy, crazy. She was ďseenĒ watering a plant, or watering plants. And thatís going to give her 10 years in jail? Thatís nuts, thatís insanity. You know, meanwhile, weíre hearing from the same people who are locking up people and trying to lock up people like Renee Boje, saying itís okay to go and drop bombs on civilians in other countries. The insanity of these people never ceases to amaze. Itís infuriating. Thatís the main reason why I am writing and publishing the things I am doing today. Because people like Renee Boje are being targeted by the prohibitionists. People like Peter McWilliams who, as far as I know, never hurt anybody in his life. Ever. He was growing flowers; and they killed him, basically, by their actions.
Dean: Indeed they did. A guest I had a couple of weeks back was the husband of one of your authors here, Bill Hildebrandt.
Dean: He and Robert Rapplean had come on a couple of weeks back, and talking about parents and educators against prohibition Ė more of a ground-level organization. And Erin wrote about Ė your title is ďMedical Marijuana Mom, Marijuana Patient Tells Her Story.Ē Again, this is an individual situation, much like Peter McWilliams.
Peet: Right, and these people are out there fighting on their own, basically. They have help in the reform movement, but itís individuals like this who are going to make a difference. Because like we discussed earlier, thereís too many people who donít seem to be willing to go out and vote for their conscience and vote for the people who are going to change things. You know, that is a very major and important point now with the elections coming up. I have very controversial feelings about the candidates coming up. I donít personally see much difference between the two of them, and Iím a very single-issue voter. Iím very focused on the war on drugs because it touches so many aspects of our lives, and while I think John Kerry honestly is probably going to be a tad better than Bush in some areas, I donít see much to be optimistic about in terms of the war on drugs. John Edwards just came out today with a new call for increased war on methamphetamines and, you know, meth heads are really drastically berserk and bizarre people, but I donít think we should be locking them up in prison until they are breaking into our house for more meth. It strikes me as an excuse to Ė okay, thereís too many black people in jail, how can we fix that? Letís not release the black people in jail, and the Hispanic people in jail, letís put more white people in. How do we do that? Well, more whites use methamphetamines. Thereís a new way to even out the prison population. Weíre not going to decrease, weíre going to increase it. John Kerry has Rand Beers as one of his top advisors. What is going on here, you know? Iím not really very optimistic about our choices in this presidential election. Itís only the independent candidates, smaller third party candidates, who are even giving any kind of nod to reform. In the major candidates, have you seen any mention of the drug war in the presidential debates?
Dean: None, whatsoever. John Kerry did mention that the rate of Afghan opium growth was rising.
Peet: Right, which is a great point. Iím glad he made that because thatís something Iím personally very focused on, too, is the connection between officialdom and the drug trade. I donít personally feel like I can talk much about reform without pointing out the fact that our government itself works hand-in-hand with drug traffickers around the world on a day-to-day basis. And Afghanistan is such a glaringly perfect example of this. You know, the Taliban had wiped out poppies in 90% of the country. The only 10% of the country where poppies were still growing openly were in the region held by the Northern Alliance. In May of 2001 we gave them $43 million in humanitarian aid, which isnít cash, but it is humanitarian aid which then frees up $43 million in cash they donít have to spend on humanitarian goods. So, what do they spend that $43 million on? I donít know, it could have been something like a September 11 attack again, right? So then we go in and we take over the country, and who do we put in power? The drug lords. And we are even talking about it. We canít focus on the opium trade right now because ďit will debilitate the country, and it will cripple the country, and they wonít be able to do anything, and itís an important part of their system right now. We canít focus on that.Ē All our allies are asking us for help in fighting the opium trade in Afghanistan. And donít get me wrong. I donít personally have anything against trafficking in opium. If people want to traffic in it, thatís fine. I just donít want my government trafficking in it when, at the same time, they are locking me and my friends up for going out and buying the same drugs that they are shipping across the borders by the ton.
Dean: Preston, weíve got about 2 minutes left, and I do want to once again alert folks to this great new book. Itís a bit over 300 pages, Under the Influence Ė The Disinformation Guide to Drugs, edited by Mr. Preston Peet.
Peet: Yes, and we are having a release party for people in the Northeast region in New York City on October 21st from 9pm to 4am. If you are in the area, the information is online at drugwar.com. We would love to have as many of you there as possible.
Dean: Okay, Preston, you were talking a moment ago about that situation in Afghanistan. Iím looking here at one of the articles you have in here from Phil Smith, ďAfghanistan Drug War Yields to Terror War as Rumsfeld Glad-hands Drug-Dealing Warlords.Ē
Peet: Yes, Phil Smith is an incredible writer and reporter, one of the editors for DRCnet Ė he might be the editor, but I know heís at least an editor for DRCnet.
Dean: Another hardworking group out there.
Peet: Absolutely. He does their weekly update, and he wrote the article about glad-handing with the drug lords exactly describing what I just described in Afghanistan. And he also wrote the first article of the book, ďImagining a Post-Prohibition World,Ē as well, where he takes all the arguments from the prohibitionists about ďwell, everybody will start using more drugs and weíll have more addicts and weíll have more crimeĒ and every argument they throw at us to say we canít have reform Ė he takes and just shreds. And I also have people like Peter Gorman and Bill Weinberg discussing the South American angle where we are dumping tons of toxic poisons on the people of Peru and Columbia and Ecuador and Bolivia; and yet, every year we give more money and dump more poisons, more coca and poppies are produced.
Dean: Preston, weíre going to have to kind of wrap it up. Once again, your website for the folks listening out there.
Dean: You bet, Preston. I want to thank you for being with us. For those out there on the network, we didnít have the Poppygate Report, but it will be this Friday on the 4:20 Drug War News and you can always pick it up at drugtruth.net. Our guest next week will be Dr. Tom OíConnell who has conducted a study of hundreds of medical marijuana patients, and weíll hear some startling commonalities within this group of cannabis consumers. And as always, because of drug prohibition, I must remind you, you donít know what is in that bag. Please be careful.
For the Drug Truth Network and on behalf of my technical producer, Steve Nolin, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage, the unvarnished truth. This show is produced at Pacifica Studios of KPFT, Houston. Tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.