12/01/17 Jeff Sessions

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US AG Sessions & DEA Admin Patterson, Former Police Chiefs of Houston Clarence Bradford and Charles McClelland Jr, pot now legal in Mass, Doug McVay DTN reporter re Paradise Papers, Rick Steves re cannabis law, Shanty Owen NY drug counselor

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TRANSCRIPT

CULTURAL BAGGAGE

DECEMBER 1, 2017

TRANSCRIPT

DEAN BECKER: I am Dean Becker, your host. Our goal for this program is to expose the fraud, misdirection, and the liars whose support for drug war empowers our terrorist enemies, enriches barbarous cartels, and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent US gangs who profit by selling contaminated drugs to our children. This is Cultural Baggage.

Hello friends, I am Dean Becker, and this is Cultural Baggage. We've got a great show lined up. Let's get started.

Well, this week, we're trying to discern what brings change to the focus in the drug war, what is it that moves us away from reefer madness, what brings us a little closer to true justice here in these United States. For me, it's an honor to be speaking with a gentleman that I did battle with a bit back in the day, but who also now is beginning to see this in a different light, a gentleman who worked for the city of Houston as our police chief for six or seven years, a gentleman who was part of the city council, just retired about a year ago, and a man who I think I can now can my friend, Clarence Bradford. Hello, sir.

CLARENCE BRADFORD: Dean, I'm doing excellent, thank you for this opportunity. As you've indicated, you and I, we've known each other for a long period of time. I served 24 years as a Houston police officer and seven years as chief of police in Houston. I am a University of Houston attorney for about 24 years also. And it's interesting how attitudes concerning activities have shifted the last 15 or 20 years.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. And I, you know, I used to come before the city council, and I would, I handed out copies of my book, To End The War On Drugs, I tried to open the discussion, and it just wasn't the right time. But the time has come to discuss need for change. Right, sir?

CLARENCE BRADFORD: Yeah, I think it's fair to say that the general public as well as many in law enforcement are looking at the cost, the resources, balanced against the actual objective results.

We've spent billions of dollars over the last decades on primarily enforcement and interdiction type strategies as it relates to drug use and drug activities, and we know now that clearly we must shift drastically and focus on those -- shift those resources to education and prevention. We're simply locking too many people up for offenses when really they need treatment.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Treatment, some advice, some new direction. I agree with you, sir. Now, the fact of the matter is, the city of Houston, the county, Harris County, earlier this year, adopted the misdemeanor marijuana diversion program, which has enabled thousands of people to forego the arrest, having their car towed, hiring the lawyer, going to jail, and having that black mark on their record. It's a good step in the right direction, right, sir?

CLARENCE BRADFORD: Yes, it is. I was at the news conference when District Attorney Kim Ogg made that announcement. I think that there are ways to hold people accountable, and punish people, other than locking everybody up. We have precious limited bed space in Harris County, and in Texas. We need to save that bed space for people who are violent and pose a continuing threat in our neighborhoods.

DEAN BECKER: Through the, I don't know, awakening, if you will, of you, sir, of your, one of your, one of the folks who succeeded you, Charles McClelland, to begin to open the discussion, to begin to look at this differently, to dare to speak of that need for change. Your thought there, sir.

CLARENCE BRADFORD: Yeah, I think you certainly, you know, have to look at everything in context, with regards to the time span that it occurs. As an example, there's been a major shift in the attitude among the public concerning capital punishment, even. I would -- fair to say that, if you were to have a referendum today on capital punishment, I think you would see fewer people support capital punishment. But certainly, the use of marijuana has shifted, not only in Texas, the attitudes regarding -- those attitudes have shifted in Texas as well as across America.

And in many places, our local jurisdiction are relaxing completely enforcement strategies regarding use of marijuana.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. Now, we have another situation in Houston that, well, concerns a lot of folks that get arrested for small amounts of drugs, and that is the bail bond system. We had, at one time our jails were so full we were filling buses, shipping them to Louisiana, all around the state. We've kind of walked away from that overdrive, if you will, but the bail bond situation still remains a problem, does it not?

CLARENCE BRADFORD: Yes, and I would say that the system, the bail bond system, in Harris County is woefully broken, and people have known it for years, and it baffles me, the ongoing fight that continues today, and resistance in changing our bail bond system here.

You should not be confined to jail because you're too poor to pay a bond. We have something in law called a presumption of innocence, so until you are convicted, you have a right to be free and to carry on with your regular life activities. If you pose a continuing threat, if you are a flight risk, then yes, post a bond, I think that's an obligation that we have, and that's the judicial, proper judicial course.

If you're a flight risk, or pose a threat, post a bond, or even confine them with no bond in some instances. But if you're not a flight risk, and you pose no continuing threat, just because you've been charged doesn't mean you should be sanctioned or held in jail. You should be able to sign your name, and return for your court date.

DEAN BECKER: Once again, we're speaking with Mister Clarence Bradford, he's the former police chief of Houston, he's a former city council member. You know, Clarence, I think about, you mentioned 24 years with the Houston Police Department, and I would imagine over that time frame, in the beginning, when you caught folks with heroin back when, it was a one, two, maybe a five percent product, folks would have to shoot enormous amounts of it to kill themselves. And yet now, we have a situation where we've got fentanyl and carfentanyl, ten thousand times stronger than morphine, being circulated. We've got ourselves a mess, don't we, sir?

CLARENCE BRADFORD: Yes, we do. It's a health issue, and we really have to deal with, not only trying to deal with the drug itself, and those that are manufacturing and distributing it, there's the demand. We have to deal with it on the demand side, and until we educate people, make them aware of what's healthy for them and what's not healthy for them, we can't win this battle.

I would say that we are losing constantly the so-called war on drugs, because you can't legislate or police people in certain areas. You have to educate people. I try to tell high school students and college students, when I speak at schools, or universities, I don't want to tell them what to do, I want to expose them to pluses and minuses concerning certain activities, whether that's marijuana use, heroin, or whatever, then let them decide. I think choice is good.

Let people choose what they want to do to the extent that they don't pose risk to others. So, I'm kind of -- I've evolved to that position that you can't police or legislate some of these type activities.

DEAN BECKER: No, sir. Common sense and real application, real life understanding, because we've, we've waged this drug war for 50 years, a hundred years, it doesn't matter, it hasn't ever achieved its stated goals, has it?

CLARENCE BRADFORD: No, it has not. We've lost billions of dollars, and we've lost many public safety personnel, working in different capacities, some killed, some injured, and they are, and were, good men and women, I'm not criticizing their efforts at all, because I've been that also.

DEAN BECKER: Yes sir.

CLARENCE BRADFORD: You know, they're trying to enforce the law. That's the oath of office that we took to do. But I think, you know, at some point you step back and say, are we deploying the most efficient strategy? Are we deploying the strategy that's most likely to succeed? Are we deploying the safest strategy to deal with this issue, and this strict emphasis on enforcement and interdiction efforts, I think, has failed and will continue to fail.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. You were talking about, we need to work on the demand side, because there's always going to be some criminal, some cartel, you know, leader, that's going to produce that stuff, that's going to smuggle it, one way or another, and we're just never going to stop that supply side. It would be better if it was a known product rather than these concoctions they sell. Your thoughts, sir.

CLARENCE BRADFORD: Sure. Yeah, as long as we have human beings, we're going to have misbehavior. That's part of human nature. But we have to focus on the broader side of the equation. Put more resources into education, awareness, prevention, and let people who choose it understand that this is not a good thing. It's just like -- it's just like smoking tobacco cigarettes. Let people choose. Educate people, make them aware, and then let people choose if that's something they want to do.

Alcohol consumption. Is that something people want to do or not do? Now I'm not saying, you know, prohibit certain activities that pose health risks. You do that, but you rely on the fact that most people will comply because it's against the law. But you can't spend all your resources on trying to enforce and interdict those activities. Education, awareness, prevention.

Most of us don't speed on the freeway system, because one it's unsafe to do so, and two it's against the law.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Well folks, once again we've been speaking with Mister Clarence Bradford, former city council member, former police chief of Houston, Texas, Clarence, I understand you're not exactly retired, you're still an attorney, you're still handling a few cases a year. Would you share with us maybe your website, any closing thoughts?

CLARENCE BRADFORD: Well, I think -- you know, I mostly do public safety consulting work or international work, I do that, I enjoy doing that. I want to say a special thanks to you, Dean, because you were the guy out front fifteen, 20 years ago, you were out front on this movement to get America, get Texas, Houston, and policing as a community, to look healthily at how we were confronting this issue of drug activity in America and particularly here in Harris County.

So you kind of read it right. I don't know if you are clairvoyant, or just, is it voodoo, or what, you see the future or what, but it looks like, it looks like we have come to the point in Texas and certainly across America where several years ago, decades back, you were on the right track, Dean, and we've kind of evolved as a nation right where you started this movement as one of the forefront people, back in the day.

DEAN BECKER: Aw, well, I sure thank you for that, that's quite a compliment coming from you, sir. Once again, we're speaking with Clarence Bradford. Thank you, sir.

CLARENCE BRADFORD: Thank you. Be safe and take care.

DEAN BECKER: Earlier this week, the US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, held a press conference in Washington, DC.

JEFFERSON BEAUREGARD SESSIONS III: I thank DEA Administrator Mister Rob Patterson for his leadership on this issue before us today.

Today, we are facing the deadliest drug crisis in American history. We've never, ever seen the death rates that we're having today. 64,000 Americans died last year. Based on our date, the overdose rate continues upward, it would be the highest drug overdose death toll, and the fastest increase in that death toll, in American history. For Americans under the age of 50, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death.

This crisis is driven primarily by opioids, prescription pain medications, heroin, and synthetic drugs like fentanyl.

Fortunately, President Trump has understood the gravity of this situation and has a great passion for this issue. He's taken rare steps, of declaring a public health emergency, and requested more than $1 billion in anti-opioid efforts in this new budget, and has indicated if we need more, and we can do it effectively, he would consider more.

So I want to thank Kellyanne Conway, the president has made this a White House priority. He's asked her to coordinate and lead the effort from the White House. She is exceedingly talented, she understands messaging, and we've got to change the perception in this country and try to reduce through prevention addiction in that regard, she is exceedingly talented, and that has total access to the president, and I think her appointment represents a very significant commitment from the president himself and his White House team.

The day I was sworn in as Attorney General, the president sent me an executive order to go after transnational criminal organizations, including the cartels who exploit the vulnerable and profit off addiction.

I'm convinced that our law enforcement efforts save lives—because they prevent new addictions from starting. By enforcing our laws, we keep illegal drugs out of the country, reduce their availability, drive up their price, and reduce their purity. Those are all tests of how well law enforcement has been working, and over the last several years, the trends have been very bad indeed in each of those categories.

But the Department of Justice has taken a number of steps this year to make these efforts more effective. In this year’s two drug take-back days that DEA organizes and leads, we took more than 900 tons of unused prescription drugs off of our streets, 900 tons, before they could fall into the wrong hands.

In July, the Department announced the largest health care fraud takedown in history. It coordinated efforts of more than 1,000 state and federal law enforcement agents to arrest and charge more than more than 120 defendants for opioid-related crimes. Many of these unfortunately were professionals, doctors, pharmacists, and others.

In August I announced a new data analytics program called the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, We believe it will be very effective, it will help us find the telltale signs of opioid-related health care fraud, it will identify the outliers where extraordinary amounts of drugs may be moving through a physician or through a pharmacist.

I've also assigned experienced prosecutors in the twelve opioid hot-spots across America to focus solely on prosecuting opioid-related health care and fraud. Armed with better data, these prosecutors have already begun to return indictments.

Additionally, the Department has indicted two Chinese nationals for separate schemes to distribute massive quantities of fentanyl, that, the number one killer in America today. The truth is clear, most fentanyl enters the United States from China. There is no doubt about that. I have raised it with a recent Chinese delegation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in a recent visit to China, made it important issue with them, and the recent trip by President Trump to China involved his personal raising of this issue and strongly emphasizing it to our Chinese neighbors. So we're going to need more support from China. Hopefully we will get that.

Earlier this month, the DEA announced its intent to issue emergency restrictions on all forms of illicit fentanyl, which will make it harder for criminals to circumvent the law and easier for prosecutors to prosecute.

DEAN BECKER: Next to speak at this DC press conference was the acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Robert Patterson.

ROBERT PATTERSON: Over the last 15 years, our nation has been increasingly devastated by opioid abuse. It is an insidious epidemic created in large part by the over prescribing of potent opioids. This has resulted in a new generation of opioid abusers, presently estimated at 12 million Americans.

More recently, we've seen a downturn in the overall number of opioid prescriptions, but there remains more work to be done, although that is a positive step. DEA's diversion control division is central in addressing this problem. DEA uses all available means, administrative, civil, and criminal, to ensure that the 1.7 million registrants handling prescription drugs comply with the law.

We will continue to use these tools to protect the public from the very small percentage of registrants who exploit the system, or their customers, for profit. Over the last decade, DEA has levied fines totaling nearly $390 million against opioid distributors nationwide. We have also entered into memorandums of agreement, establishing additional compliance measures, to ensure that they are both detecting and reporting suspicious orders.

Those same distributors and some manufacturers are now also the subject of investigations into potential violations of state law. In November, DEA met with representatives from 44 states, including members of a coalition consisting of 41 states' attorneys general. At that meeting, we made a commitment to work collaboratively with all states by sharing information to support ongoing investigations and providing additional intelligence to generate new cases across the country. I am confident this cooperative effort will be a productive step in ensuring compliance by the pharmaceutical industry.

Since 2010, DEA has augmented many of its criminal investigative groups with tactical diversion squads. We currently have 77 diversion squads nationwide. They're solely dedicated to investigating those involved in the diversion of controlled substances. In addition, we recently deployed a mobile tactical diversion squad to West Virginia to provide support in a region hit hard by the opioid epidemic, and are working to deploy additional resources in other similar hotspots around this country.

While DEA's diversion control program seeks to limit the diversion of prescription opioids from the drug supply chain, DEA continues to attack the illicit supply of opioids, specifically heroin and fentanyl related substances just mentioned by the attorney general. In this vein, we recently announced various investigative efforts attacking criminal groups located in China, Mexico, and on the dark web.

SHANTE OWENS: My name is Shante Owens, I work with the Alliance for Positive Change in the lower part of Manhattan, 25 Allen Street. First, I started out as an outreach worker, handing out condoms, clean syringes, warm jackets, abscess, which is abscess kit, and naloxone, most importantly.

Now, I'm a substance use counselor, which is predominantly now my job, which pretty much is, like, navigating individuals into care, if they wish to get into care.

DEAN BECKER: Right.

SHANTE OWENS: Care can be a number of things, like, somebody might be trying to get on suboxone, make the transition from methadone to suboxone. Well, they would come to see me, and I'll sit with them, like a brief interview, and then from there, we'll see how we can try to get that individual onto suboxone, which we have a doctor on site which offers the suboxone program. So then I will generally make an appointment with the doctor to sit with the individual and see -- of course, he's got to look at his schedule --

DEAN BECKER: Sure.

SHANTE OWENS: -- to see whether he's got time, or if he's got space, and then, yeah, it's pretty much an easy transition.

DEAN BECKER: Well, can I ask you a question here.

SHANTE OWENS: Yeah.

DEAN BECKER: It occurs me, I mean, I know a little bit, that methadone is perhaps harder to get off of than heroin --

SHANTE OWENS: Yes.

DEAN BECKER: -- I've often heard.

SHANTE OWENS: Generally, methadone clinics start their people, their patients off at like 200 milligrams or so. You can't be on suboxone with that high of a dosage. You would have to come down to roughly 30 to 40 milligrams, and then you make the transition onto suboxone.

Now, that requires a lot of -- a lot headaches and a lot of work, because you would also probably want to go into detox. Detox -- because a lot of people have been on methadone for years, and it's not really an easy transition to come from methadone onto suboxone. A lot of people might think that it's just switching one medication for another, but it's actually not. It's, you know, a lot of the -- yeah, there are a lot of mental headaches, anguish, a lot of pain, that you're going to be experiencing.

DEAN BECKER: Exactly.

SHANTE OWENS: And then, and that's just for methadone.

DEAN BECKER: Right.

SHANTE OWENS: And then there's some side effects that's associated with suboxone. If you've never been on suboxone, and you're getting on suboxone, nothing crucial, because suboxone is actually an opiate blocker. Methadone is predominantly opiated based.

DEAN BECKER: Right.

SHANTE OWENS: So --

DEAN BECKER: It's similar.

SHANTE OWENS: Yeah, it's kind of similar. So, with the suboxone, if a person's first prescribed it, when they first take it, they might experience a few side effects, like dizziness, headaches, nausea, incoherence, but, it will pass. It's just the first stage of just starting the medication, which really pretty much happens with any medication that you've just started taking.

I also try to, individuals might need assistance with like applying for Medicaid or something like that.

DEAN BECKER: Sure, sure. And ofttimes, folks that have these substance problems spend so much time tracking down money and or drugs that they forget things like SSI, food stamps, or whatever, they find they don't have time for that, and it puts them in even more desperate straits. Am I right?

SHANTE OWENS: That has happened to a lot of folks. However, it's not so clear cut, and what I mean by that is that, of course if I'm, let's take me for example, let's say I'm using opiates. I'm using more than one bag per day. Of course I don't have a job, so I have to go out and do something to get money so that I can use.

DEAN BECKER: Some kind of scrounge to get a fix.

SHANTE OWENS: Yeah, something. And, usually it entails a lot of illegal activities. One of the easiest things to get money is to get benefits. Because SSI, you get a check every month. And a lot of times, there's, people like, yeah, hey, I owe you, you know, give me today, and you know I'll get my check. And plus, we get -- we give out carfare checks. So, you're not waiting from the beginning of the month to the end of the month until a check a comes.

Of course, within that time, you get things like a carfare check for going to groups, and there's a lot of other groups that has, like, you know, other --

DEAN BECKER: We hear the stories coming out, they're talking about this opioid crisis. Has that actually increased the workload for you guys?

SHANTE OWENS: Yes. It's -- it definitely increased it, because the opiate crisis that, of course, well, first, you've got to understand that it happened -- opiates have been around for decades. All right? It doesn't generally become an epidemic or crisis until it hits, like further up state New York.

DEAN BECKER: Right.

SHANTE OWENS: You know what I'm saying?

DEAN BECKER: The white folks?

SHANTE OWENS: The court cases, I try to not colorize it, because it's -- I don't believe that it's generally associated with color, it's, you know, --

DEAN BECKER: Well, I think people have had this, this concept, that it was the black population that was doing this, and undeserving of respect, is what we had in the past.

SHANTE OWENS: Yes, yes, that is -- that is true, however, a lot of times, like I said, I believe that to be a myth, and this is just my opinion, that it's a misconception. Opiate use has been around for decades. We tend to pay more attention to the blacks and Latino community, so we don't really hear about maybe Billy that is up in Ithaca, New York, and, we don't hear that.

DEAN BECKER: Right.

SHANTE OWENS: When you hear those hardcore stories when you turn your news on, it's pretty dominated in New York City area, and it's pretty much behind the blacks and Latinos. Again, there is a crisis, but what made our workload so extremely hard is the overdose death rate. As soon as fentanyl had been added to the opiate base, and then a lot more people have died, so which -- that increased our workload, to where we would try giving out like a hundred to two hundred naloxone kits, now we're giving out like five hundred to a thousand naloxone kits, and we've been training and training and training and training, and then we have to constantly be on alert.

Because you really -- the trick is, you don't know what a person is actually using. And now we know naloxone is only to reverse an opiate overdose, but no one walks around with a sign that says hey, I'm using opiates.

DEAN BECKER: No.

SHANTE OWENS: So when you see the signs of an overdose, you don't want to be sure, you just -- we always inquire, just go straight up and utilize the kit. Again, it's because of the fentanyl that's been added to the opiates and cocaine, and pills, and other stuff, that's what people were dying of, because as we know, that fentanyl is like fifty to a hundred times more potent than the opiate itself.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah.

SHANTE OWENS: So that's what increases it.

DEAN BECKER: Okeh, well, I'll tell you what, I'm here at this Atlanta drug policy conference, I'm speaking to all the directors and the top dogs, but you're a working man.

SHANTE OWENS: Yeah.

DEAN BECKER: You're in the -- on the street, you're in the trenches.

SHANTE OWENS: Yes.

DEAN BECKER: Would you like to share your website so folks could learn more about the work you guys do?

SHANTE OWENS: Yeah. You can always look us up on LESHRC.org. That is the website. Or you can go into VOCALNY.org.

DEAN BECKER: It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! According to the BBC, this drug has no known side effects. The drug contains a molecule ten thousand times as active as glucose. It goes to the midbrain and makes those nerve cells fire as if you were full, but you have not eaten. Time's up! The answer: P57, hoodia, from a Kalahari Desert cactus, marketed by Pfizer. Look for the ads in your email.

ASHLEY ROWE: Leaders are warning about the dangers of fentanyl and say if you have a loved one who has been affected, you should have with you at all times the proper tools that could save a life. Seven Eyewitness News reporter Josh Bazan joins us now. Josh?

JOSH BAZAN: Ashley, one group here in Buffalo says the state is ahead of the curve, and that proper tool you mentioned is naloxone, a life saving drug used by emergency responders to reverse the effects of an overdose. The state is asking people to learn how to use the drug and to start carrying it. All of this coming as Governor Cuomo warns New Yorkers about fentanyl, a deadly drug often found mixed with heroin or other opioids. A small amount of fentanyl can be deadly, and addiction advocates say it is cropping up more and more often here in western New York.

AVI ISRAEL: I really think the way this addiction is running through our country, I think every public place should have a Narcan kit. We've heard -- how many times do we hear of somebody that overdoses in the bathroom of a restaurant?

JOSH BAZAN: Save The Michaels is starting to train families how to use fentanyl test kits, if a loved one is struggling with addiction. These kits can warn before an accidental use of fentanyl. Israel is clear though, the group does not condone drug use, it supports harm reduction efforts like this to help keep people alive long enough to get treatment. Josh Bazan, 7 Eyewitness News.

DEAN BECKER: The following segment courtesy WHDH out of Boston.

NEWSREADER: There are a lot of nuances to this law, but we'll break it down to the key points for you. First of all, it is now legal for adults 21 and older to smoke marijuana inside their homes. It's still illegal to smoke it in a public space, however.

You can have up to 10 ounces inside your home. Outside of your home, you can carry up to an ounce.

A single adult can grow as many as 6 plants in his or her home. A household with more than one adult can grow up to twelve.

Selling marijuana is still illegal, but, giving under an ounce to another adult free of charge is now allowed.

The law took effect at midnight, making Massachusetts the first state on the east coast to end the prohibition on recreational marijuana. It's still illegal federally, by the way.

Also illegal: driving under the influence of marijuana. If you have it in your car, it must be in a sealed container.

The first retail stores are supposed to open by 2018, however that could be delayed as lawmakers plan on making revisions to the law.

DEAN BECKER: A lot of folks don't realize that besides Cultural Baggage and maybe the 420 Drug War News, the Drug Truth Network also produces a weekly half hour program called Century of Lies. For the last couple of years, it has been produced by my friend, my ally, the editor of Drug War Facts, Mister Doug McVay. Hey, Doug, how are you doing?

DOUG MCVAY: Hello, Dean, good to talk to you, doing well, how are you doing today?

DEAN BECKER: I'm okeh. Things are picking up, I guess, here in the city of Houston. I just did an interview with a couple of the past police chiefs, and they had high praise for the work that we've been doing. That's a sign of progress these days, isn't it?

DOUG MCVAY: I would say so. You've been doing a lot of -- you've been doing a lot of big work. Houston's not exactly, how do I put this gently, it's not really, it doesn't really have that kind of stereotype image of being a progressive place. And, you've managed to get people talking about drug policy and the futility of the drug war, and actually looking at alternatives, because that last part, everybody talks about it, everybody admits, yeah you're right, drug war doesn't work, yeah, shouldn't call it a drug war, and then let's just keep on doing what we're doing.

But you've actually got people talking about and doing some real reform. That's a heck of a thing.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I appreciate that, Doug, and, you know, on a more massive scale, international scale, we had a situation, I forget, six, eight years back, where HSBC Bank was caught laundering over a hundred million dollars for, you know, some of the drug cartels, and yet just more recently, we had the release of the Paradise Papers. Let's talk about that, what it means.

DOUG MCVAY: Sure. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and you can find them by the way online at ICIJ.org, is a tremendous organization, and one of the things that they have been doing has been collecting leaked documents, leaked information.

People may remember a year or two ago, something called the Panama Papers, when documents from a law firm in Panama, Mossack Fonseca, were leaked the public and it revealed that a lot of people, including some high government officials in countries around the world had been using tax loopholes and various kinds of means of tax avoidance using offshore companies, shell companies, and sort of corporate shenanigans, while technically legal, in most circumstances, not actually in all circumstances, but technically legal in most circumstances and at the very least unseemly, especially when you're a government leader.

I mean, you're running this government, you're telling people they need to make sacrifices, you're telling your people that they need to pay their taxes, and your income is sitting somewhere offshore untaxed. It, you know, tax avoidance is technically legal, but there is a point where you have to ask, whether your country's leaders should really be engaging in that kind of thing.

David Cameron, the prime minister of the United Kingdom at the time, it was revealed his father's company had been one of the companies listed in that Panama Papers leak. The embarrassment, that part of the Cameron family fortune, was actually sheltered income from an offshore trust, an untaxed offshore trust, was one of the things that led to David Cameron leaving office. I mean, the Panama Papers also saw the prime minister of Iceland forced out of office, because of days of protest from the country's citizens.

That was a little while ago. There have been a couple of other leaks of documents since then, the offshore leaks and the Bahama leaks, and now, most recently, there's been a new set of papers that have come out, the so-called, the 'Paradise Papers.' A firm called Appleby, which is a law firm that does some work with a lot of these companies, and also a trust, and then registry information from a lot of these tax havens, places like the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands.

Money laundering is a thing that happens when you have lax regulation, or no regulation, and very strong secrecy laws, so that you can't find out who actually owns a company, or actually owns banks, and trusts, and the like. Well, I mean, that's how you do money laundering. And, money laundering, tax avoidance people, they're finding common ground.

In this latest set, the Paradise Papers, you've got a couple of, actually a few of Donald Trump's, our current president, a few of his cabinet members, people like Rex Tillerson, and Wilbur Ross, and Randal Quarles, who are all named as people who have these offshore accounts and these offshore shell companies, that they're using to avoid income tax, and to hide their assets.

As far as anybody knows, that's all technically legal, what these folks have been doing. Probably. No allegations of any law breaking so far. Again, these are people in our government, who are telling -- who, so when we pay our taxes, we just should remember that our leaders put their money offshore where they don't have to pay. It's not fair.

DEAN BECKER: No, it's not, and just this morning, I heard Trump talking about this new tax plan they have, that if it passes, there will be three or four trillion dollars coming from these offshore havens, coming to America. That seems like a preposterous notion. Your thought there, please.

DOUG MCVAY: Oh, it's not going to happen. There's no way they're actually going to close some of these loopholes. We've known about these loopholes for years and unfortunately, the people who take advantage of these loopholes are the rich folks, and the powerful, and frankly, as I say, Rex Tillerson and Wilbur Ross and Randy Quarles are all three in Trump's cabinet, and they are, they're involved in this, and much of his advisers, too, people like Gary Collins and Carl Icahn, and then there are the donors, oh my gosh, when you get to the donors, you've got people like Sheldon Adelson.

Sheldon Adelson, who's name people will remember, of course, because he was one of the big pocket donors to the anti-legalization efforts. Sheldon Adelson, who's a casino owner, so he's making his fortune off of gambling and people with gambling addiction, and also people who have an alcohol addiction, let's face it, because you'll find a lot of alcohol in those casinos, but you won't find marijuana.

So anyway. These are the kinds of people who take advantage of these, and as I say, maybe they're legal, for the most part, as far as we know, at least these documents don't allege any illegality, but then again, we don't really know what their money ends up being used for. You know? I mean, did something get funneled off and used in an illegal way in some other country, or did any of these funds co-mingle? I mean, who knows?

We do know that, like I say, these tax havens and these shell companies and such are used by people to launder money. I mean, that's just how the job gets done. The chance -- the likelihood that any of these are going to be closed off, pretty bloody slim, frankly.

Part of it's how -- in business, shell companies. A shell company that was one of the companies named in this Paradise Papers thing, one of those shell companies is now the company that owns the, what used to be the THC Foundation medical marijuana card clinics.

Our good friend, Paul Stanford, up here in Oregon, founded the THC Foundation years ago. He had a chain of clinics, medical marijuana card clinics, around the country, in various states, starting here in Oregon and then branching out. Wanted to expand. Got some people who were willing to invest and help him expand. Well, they knew more about corporate law and business than he did, so with the merger and a thing, and stock, and options, and suddenly he no longer owns the company, and Empower Health Clinics is now owned by what used to be Adira Energy.

And Adira Energy is a shell company, started out life as Trans New Zealand Oil Company, believe it or not. That company was one of the ones listed in Paradise Papers. Not that -- again, it's just because it's a shell company that was founded so that rich people could avoid taxes and hide their activities.

DEAN BECKER: All right, there you have it, from my friend, the producer of Century of Lies, which you can find on the DrugTruth.net website, on Audioport.org as well, and on stations all around the country, broadcasting the unvarnished truth about the drug war. Doug McVay, I want to thank you, sir.

DOUG MCVAY: Hey, Dean, thank you.

DEAN BECKER: The legislature is considering legalizing cannabis in Illinois. The following segment courtesy of Fox out of Chicago. It features travel guru Rick Steves.

RICK STEVES: Well, it's so nice to travel from Washington state, where we've legalized marijuana, and now have a pretty effective, taxed, and regulated market, to Illinois, which is dealing with the same questions we dealt with a few years ago. You know, I've spent a third of my adult life living out of a nine by 22 by 14 inch carry on, the airplane size suitcase, in Europe, hanging out with people who find a joint about as exciting as a can of beer, and my friends in Europe look at the United States, where we're so quick to legislate morality, and they tell me a society has to make a choice: Tolerate alternative lifestyles, or build more prisons.

And then they always remind me that here in America we lock up ten times as many people per capita as they do in Europe. Either we are an inherently more criminal people, or there's something screwy about our laws. We're learning right now that, by locking up so many people because of marijuana, that needs to be looked at in a critical way.

I want to stress: this is not a pro-pot movement. This is an anti-prohibition movement, and in my state, we've learned that prohibition is just a costly mistake. It's nothing new. Back in the '30s, when Mayor LaGuardia was helping New York get out of the prohibition against alcohol, LaGuardia said, if a society has a law on the books that it does not intend to enforce consistently across the board, the very existence of that law erodes respect for law enforcement in general.

That's what we have here in the United States. There's so many reasons that we can frame this, that it's just smart to get -- to dismantle the United States law -- war on marijuana.

I think one of the ugliest parts of it is just the flat-out racism about our laws about marijuana. I was trailed by law enforcement people in my state for a couple of years as I was giving talks about legalizing marijuana, actually became friends with Sergeant Meehan, who was Gil Kerlikowske's right hand man for this in Washington state.

He wanted to know what the drug policy reform people were all up to, and we got to know each other, and he knew all my lines, and one day we had dinner, and then we were walking out of the restaurant, and he said Rick, it's just amazing to me how you're so passionate about this issue. You're a well set up white guy here in the suburbs, you could smoke pot with impunity with a little discretion all your life and it would never bite you. Why do you care about this?

And that's, I said, that's exactly why I care about it. Seventy thousand people are locked up in our country every year, 700,000 people are arrested, for possession of marijuana, nonviolent crimes. They're not rich white guys, they're poor people, and they're black people. It's amazing that this is going on in our country right now, and there's just a way out of this.

Washington state passed I-502 in 2012, and it was not a pro-pot law. It was a pro-public safety law, and it was put together not by a bunch of pot smokers, but what we considered the dream team for a state that wants to step away from this failed prohibition. In Washington state, I was one of the co-sponsors and the funders of the law. Standing by me was the Republican appointed federal prosecuting attorney, John McKay, the elected city attorney Pete Holmes, the president of the bar association, legislators like Representative Cassidy and Senator Stains, that had built their careers in Olympia on children's safety issues, and family and health issues, and they were recognizing that the worst thing about marijuana from a kid's point of view is the fact that it is a crime to use it.

We had the endorsement of the NAACP, we had the endorsement of the Children's Alliance in our state, and we had people realizing that we've got to take the crime out of the equation and treat marijuana as a health challenge and an education challenge.

Marijuana is a drug. It's not good for you. It can be abused. And it's here today, and it's going to be here tomorrow. What we need to do is take that black market down, and turn it into a highly regulated and highly taxed legal market, so that we can gain credibility, and focus on the real risk to young people and our society, which is hard drug abuse.

So that's been my message. Every two years I spend a couple of hundred thousand and eight or ten days of my time going on the road to help states legalize. 2012, Washington state, 2014 Oregon, last year Massachusetts and Maine, and this year I'm really excited to be breaking out of the initiative world and into the legislative world, and encouraging states like Illinois to learn from our track record.

In 2012, when we legalized marijuana, it was going on hunches, and I had a lot of good hunches, but people, the opposition, said no, no, the sky's going to fall when we legalize. We have a track record now. You know, the political establishment is still talking like it's 2010. No, it's 2017, we know what happens when we legalize marijuana for adult recreational use.

Use does not go up. Teen use does not go up. DUIs don't go up. Crime doesn't go up. The only thing that goes up is tax revenue. In my state, we have $300 million this year in tax revenue. Over $1.4 billion in sales. That's little Washington state. Illinois is much bigger than that.

You might think, what? Three hundred million dollars in tax revenue for selling marijuana? Hasn't use gone up? No. That was a thriving black market industry before that rivaled apples in my state, and if you know how big apples are in Washington, that's a big industry.

We've taken a black market, which was empowering and enriching organized crimes and gangs, and we've dismantled it. We've turned it into a highly regulated, highly taxed, legal market, employing 26,000 people, especially in rural areas where we can use the employment. We've been able to redirect precious law enforcement resources away from petty pot issues and onto serious crime, and our governor now has $300 million of tax revenue he wouldn't have otherwise to put to very good use, earmarked for health issues, drug prevention issues, and our general fund.

So, I could talk all day long about the importance of legalizing marijuana and taxing it smartly, but I'd like to just stand here and celebrate your leadership here for bringing this issue to bear in your state.

DEAN BECKER: The following is taken from the Canadian program This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

MARK CRITCH: Like a lot of people hoping to cash in on the legalization of marijuana, a Toronto company called Aleafia wants to connect patients with medical pot. Now, I was surprised to learn that Aleafia is headed up by former Toronto police chief and former Conservative cabinet minister Julian Fantino. This is a man who once tweeted, "I am completely opposed to the legalization of marijuana," and "Legalization only puts drugs on the streets."

Now you want us to buy pot from you? Julian, are you high? At one point, he even compared legalizing weed to legalizing murder, so keep your eyes peeled for the grand opening of his next business, Julian Fantino's Murder Hut. Wow. For someone who claims to have never smoked pot, Julian Fantino has a terrible memory.

But we don't. The last thing that Fantino was pushing was anti-weed legislation that put Canadians in jail, and now he wants to be your dealer. That's like if Robin Hood had an offshore tax haven in the Cayman Islands. Buying pot from Julian Fantino is like buying a seal skin coat from Pamela Anderson.

Fantino claims to have had a change of heart since embarking on a fact finding mission about pot. Now, the only fact he found is that people are going to pay a lot of money for marijuana. Fantino's going to make money selling the very thing that he arrested people for and campaigned against as an MP.

This may seem hypocritical, but it's not. Julian Fantino has never wavered from his true belief that Julian Fantino should make money no matter what Julian Fantino needs to say or do to make that money.

In defense of himself, Fantino said, you will never be able to take away my integrity with respect to what I'm doing now and what I've done in the past. That's true, because like a stoner looking for a cookie he forgot he already ate, you can't take something that isn't there.

DEAN BECKER: Over the years he was in office, it was my privilege to have the opportunity to speak to then-police chief of Houston Charles A. McClelland, Junior, and I'd like to think that we carved out a few steps for progress, and I'm proud to say he's joining us now. Charles McClelland, how are you doing, sir?

CHARLES MCCLELLAND, JR: I'm doing good, Dean, how are you doing?

DEAN BECKER: I'm well. Now, as I understand, you have now retired, once you left the position of police chief of Houston. Are you enjoying your free time now, sir?

CHARLES MCCLELLAND, JR.: Very much so, very much so. You know, just spending quality time with my friends and family.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. Now, we're not quite a year with the new administration, new sheriff, police chief, and district attorney, but they have really, in my opinion, rounded the corner, taken a new look at this drug war, and moved towards nullifying some of the harms. Would you concur with that thought, sir?

CHARLES MCCLELLAND, JR.: Yes, I would concur that, you know, that they're on the right track, because I have said, and many times before and a couple of times on your show, that the war on drugs has been a miserable failure, and we just, we've got to find a new way to deal with this situation, and we can't just lock -- lock our way out of this situation.

DEAN BECKER: No, sir, that's so true. Now, I, as I understand it, the misdemeanor marijuana diversion program has enabled, or prevented, however you want to say it, several thousand, and I think they're mostly kids, from having a record, from having that permanent black mark. That's a very bold step they took, right sir?

CHARLES MCCLELLAND, JR.: Yes, it is. I mean, you don't want to criminalize young people for making a mistake, and, you know, and with, not only, you know, marijuana, but, you know, we've got a much higher priority, the opioid crisis, that's going around the country, that's killing people. We've just got to find another way, put more money into rehabilitation, and not criminalizing everyone that, in this drug scene.

DEAN BECKER: Yes sir, I agree with you. The last couple of weeks, I've been focusing on what they're doing up in Vancouver, they have the safe consumption, safe injection sites, there's cities around the country that have needle exchange, and are looking to have safe injection sites, and I think, what, Seattle, San Francisco, a couple of other cities. What's your thought in that regard, sir? I mean, we haven't stopped the flow, and it seems to just be getting worse, the drugs are getting deadlier. What's your thought in that area, sir?

CHARLES MCCLELLAND, JR.: I don't know what the particulars are about that, that particular program, but I still say, and I have told you many times before, Dean, the federal government has to take the lead in this. Otherwise, you know, each state, all these municipalities, are trying to carve out their own niche and how to deal with it, especially marijuana. You know?

And it just, it's a problem, because the federal government hasn't moved from their position, it's still illegal, although they may not be enforcing it, but it creates a problem. Creates a problem from, you know, a financial standpoint, a banking standpoint, and so I just think the federal government has to say, once and for all, are we going to legalize marijuana or are we not?

DEAN BECKER: There's a major concern out in California, they're fixing to go legal come January First.

CHARLES MCCLELLAND, JR.: Right.

DEAN BECKER: And they're talking about, there's going to be billions of dollars in cash in these stores, which could lead to robberies and on down the line, and more complications.

CHARLES MCCLELLAND, JR.: Right.

DEAN BECKER: And until, as you say, until the federal government legalizes it, the banks will not take that money. It's just --

CHARLES MCCLELLAND, JR.: No. No, they can't.

DEAN BECKER: Just continues to multiply the problem.

CHARLES MCCLELLAND, JR.: You know, back in the summer, I traveled extensively throughout Europe, and one of the cities that, you know, I went to, because I've always heard a lot about it, and, had never visited, was Amsterdam.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir.

CHARLES MCCLELLAND, JR.: And, I saw people walking down the street, openly smoking marijuana, you could go in a store and buy it, and it was a very eclectic city, but I didn't feel unsafe. I didn't hear about, read about, or see any violent crimes being committed, while I was there, so, you know, I don't know how their experiment has worked for them, but clearly it seemed that it worked for that city.

DEAN BECKER: Yes sir. Yeah, they've been doing it many decades now, if I understand right. You know, I have friends and relatives that have gone up to Denver, and other cities, and witnessed much the same thing, that, you know, there's a little bit of marijuana smoke in the air, but it doesn't seem to increase the rate of crime.

CHARLES MCCLELLAND, JR.: Right. Matter of fact, there's many other cities, you know, San Francisco, you can walk around there and, you know, smell marijuana smoke, but it doesn't seem to increase crime. And, I think Las Vegas now has legalized marijuana, and people are standing in lines, you know, to get it, but it's the banking system, you know, and when people are afraid, you know, the producers, the distributors are afraid that the federal government could come in at any time and take their cash, take their product, put them in jail, you know, the banks not going to touch it. And that's a problem.

I just think that we need to, from a federal level, decide one way or the other, and give the states some directions.

DEAN BECKER: Well, from your mouth to god's ear, sir, is all I can say. I'll tell you what, Chief, we had a casual agreement that we would talk every few months, and I hope we can do this again sometime next year. I appreciate, and don't take this wrong, or do take this right, I guess, is the best way to put it. I'm so proud of you for the courage you had to say right here in Harris County that the drug war is a miserable failure, I feel that has given license to other law enforcement officials to concur, that you already broke the ice and you helped to break up this logjam, and I want to thank you.

CHARLES MCCLELLAND, JR.: Well, thank you very much, Dean, but I realized many, many years ago, that, you know, when you're making, you're criminalizing folks that are nineteen, 20, 23 years old, and, you know, hanging a felony around their neck, you know, for, you know, marijuana, or other small amounts of drugs, and you're making them unemployable for the rest of their lives, what have you done?

DEAN BECKER: Yeah.

CHARLES MCCLELLAND, JR.: I mean, you know, we just can't do that, it's too expensive, and it's not the right thing to do for society. It's not.

DEAN BECKER: No, sir. Well, I certainly agree with that. Once again, we've been speaking with Charles A. McClelland, Jr., the now former police chief of Houston, Texas. Thank you, sir.

CHARLES MCCLELLAND, JR.: All right, well thank you very much, Dean, for having me. And I think it's just a matter of time before, you know, Texas comes around.

DEAN BECKER: When we've got two former police chiefs of Houston, Texas, standing tall for the Drug Truth Network, it's time for you to stand tall, and talk to these working police chiefs and district attorneys around the country. You can certainly learn more about what to talk about and how to say it by visiting our website, which is DrugTruth.net, and again I remind you, once again, because of prohibition, and as is so well indicated, you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please be careful.

To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the unvarnished truth. 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.

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