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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

Bullhorn Talk Show on KRFC 88.9FM Featuring
SAC Jeffrey Sweetin Transcript

ARTHUR: Good evening, and welcome to the Bullhorn Talk Show on 88.9 FM. My name is Eddie Arthur and I'll be your host for the next hour in our discussion of the Drug war and drug laws. Our guests tonight are Jeffery Sweetin, he's the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Denver Field Division for the DEA. That covers Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Montana. Dan Cochran is a local Libertarian. Troy Lepper is a Sociology professor at CSU, and we also have Allen St. Pierre from Washington D.C., who is the NORML Foundation executive director. We will not be taking any phone calls today, however, if you'd like to call in, you could at 221-5075 and our operators will be able to take your questions and we can read them on the air. So I'd like to start by having everybody introduce themselves. Let's start with Allen St. Pierre. Allen, are you there? Allen, are you there?

ST. PIERRE: Yes, I am. Good evening.

ARTHUR: [LAUGHS] Hi. How are you tonight?

ST. PIERRE: A great pleasure.

ARTHUR: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, what brings you to this discussion, and what your stance is, in short, on the Drug war?

ST. PIERRE: Sure. I'm 37 years old, I'm the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law Foundation in Washington D.C., the oldest and largest organization dedicated to reforming marijuana laws for adult use. And for 33 years, NORML's had a three-pronged argument, very simply put, that an adult, when using marijuana responsibly in a way similar to alcohol, should not face serious criminal or civil penalties, that a person who is sick and dying, or since threatened, and has a physician's recommendation and/or prescription should be able to have access to marijuana in the way that the voters of Colorado voted for it, and, lastly, almost all the other countries of the world, particularly Canada and most of Europe and Asia, grow the none psychoactive strain of the plant, known as hemp, for industrial purposes. So our argument is quite simple: we need to change the marijuana laws. We're really one of the last countries to have such extreme laws.

ARTHUR: All right. Thank you very much. Jeffery Sweetin, could we get a brief introduction from you?

SWEETIN: Yes, I just would say that's a lot to take on. Hopefully we're not going to, in the hour, try to take on all that. But what I would say is that this nation is founded on the idea that laws can be changed. There are legitimate ways to change that. My concern is that organizations like NORML, they muddy up the issues with medical marijuana issues and talk about it as medicine and good science, and really it's not only unethical, but it's just wrong. NORML needs to admit what it is that they're after and then try to change those laws.

ARTHUR: All right. Dan Cochran, tell us a little bit about yourself.

COCHRAN: Certainly. I'm with the Libertarian Party and have been active with the Libertarian Party for about ten years. I've served on their State Board of Directors, as well as run for political office, most recently for Lieutenant Governor of Colorado in 1998. The Libertarian view is basically that this is a personal responsibility issue, that government should not be involved in legislating drug laws, and they basically should be legal.

ARTHUR: All right. Troy Lepper.

LEPPER: Yeah, I'm a sociologist, therefore I'm really interested in how the war on drugs is being framed, and not just how the war on drugs is being framed as a social problem, but who is more impacted by this war on drugs. Are there certain groups in the population that feel the weight of the war on drugs? May that population be minorities, Blacks, Latinos, compared to the White population that suffers or does not suffer from these laws? So I'm really interested in understanding how we frame the issues and who exactly is impacted by the war on drugs.

ARTHUR: Let's start with Agent Sweetin. Are we winning the Drug war?

SWEETIN: Well, as we discussed earlier, it's difficult for me to answer a question that's already couched in difficult terms. We talk about a war on drugs. We just went through a war in Iraq, and if you think about what we did in a war, there were a lot of differences than what I do. You know, are we winning or are we not winning? First of all, I believe we're succeeding in our mission, but I also feel like I need to say that we're the only category of law enforcement and criminal enforcement that is couched in terms of a war. That comes from the legalizers that are interested in saying, "OK, we've lost. Let's stop." That's an attitude we don't talk about with homicide or robbery. Nobody asks how the war on homicide's going or the war on child abuse. Drugs are illegal because they're bad. There are laws that exist to protect people and to protect society, and we enforce those laws very simply. A war is an armed aggression against other nations.

ARTHUR: Right. Let me stop you there. Well, then, let me just re-ask it. Is your organization getting somewhere?

SWEETIN: Absolutely we're getting somewhere. Every time an organization that preys on people, that makes money through the pain of other people, violates laws that have been passed by legislators that we've elected, the people of this land have elected, every time we dismantle one of those organizations, we have succeeded. And believe me, we are succeeding.

ARTHUR: What special sort of conditions do you have to deal with here in the Rocky Mountain Region? You've just recently become director of the office in Denver. Is it different in Denver than it would be in California, or...? You know, is there something unique to your job in Denver?

SWEETIN: The things that are unique, the drugs that we deal with differ a little bit regionally. There tends to be more methamphetamine issues here than some of the other areas along the East Coast. There are certainly more club drugs in some of the college environments like here in Fort Collins. Also, what I will say is we have better partners here than we do in a lot of places. The citizens of Colorado and particularly the city of Fort Collins have been great partners in what it is that we're trying to do. So basically, drug enforcement is the same everywhere, but sometimes the drugs change.

ARTHUR: Mm-hmm. And is marijuana, for instance, a problem here, or is it mostly crystal meth? And what's the biggest monster that you have to deal with?

SWEETIN: Well, the biggest monster is that we have to deal with all of them. In terms of marijuana, marijuana is the most abused drug in the United States, so we're certainly not exempt from that. But at the same time you have to deal with methamphetamine and predatory drugs that are being dropped in girls' drinks in bars. So we deal with them all everywhere is the answer.

ARTHUR: Mm-hmm. How would we know...? You know, there's a question: Are we winning the Drug war? Is it doing any good? How will we know that...? You know, the price of drugs hasn't really changed. What kind of things on the street would an average citizen notice to know that their tax money's being used in the right place, or is having an effect?

SWEETIN: Well, there's a couple things. I mean, drug use overall and drug availability overall is down about a third in the last 15 years. The... the outlook...

ARTHUR: And where do you get that information?

SWEETIN: Well, I can get you those statistics, but I think even a caller, everybody will agree that drug use is down. Drug use of cocaine is down more than any of the other compared drugs.

ARTHUR: Is drug use down with high school students and teenagers?

SWEETIN: Oh, I don't know the exact breakdown by age, but there are actual fluctuations in those statistics. They go up and down. As far as I'm concerned, the most obvious sign that, as you call, the Drug war is succeeding is that the group that was out there selling drugs to the people's kids when they were walking home from school... When those groups are in prison after being prosecuted, that's success. You keep coming back to the fact that the goal is, "We've won the war, we can go do something else." We keep couching this in an area that really makes the legalizers very happy. "Oops, we haven't succeeded. Let's scrap it." We don't do that with education, and we still have illiterate people in the United States. So what are the obvious signs? The obvious signs are that there's a lot of people that tried to become millionaires on other people's pain that are now in prison.

ARTHUR: If the price isn't going down, then is supply being affected?

SWEETIN: Well, supply is being affected, we believe. There's two answers to that question. One is availability. Availability doesn't seem to fluctuate, because how do you prove what's available when you don't have it, when you don't seize it? Uh, purity of cocaine... I'm sorry, of heroin has reduced. There's a lot of theories on why that is. We like to believe perhaps one theory is the DEA success theory, that there's less available, so the purity's down. The argument of availability is difficult. We're frequently asked, ''How much dope got through in the United States?'' Well, it's impossible to prove. So all we can prove is what we've done, not what we haven't done.

ARTHUR: So what you're saying is that when you call it a drug war, it implies some sort of ending, and you're saying there will be no end. Is that what you're saying?

SWEETIN: Well, I believe there will always be people abusing chemicals. There will always be people that are preying on other people. Just like there's people right now trying to convince medical patients that smoked marijuana is what they're being deprived of and what will heal them or make them feel better. I'm a father of two kids. I would love to see a day where I could go work bank robberies. Is that reality in this nation? Probably no more reality than us saying, ''OK, we no longer have to work child abuse.''

ARTHUR: So the DEA, can you explain exactly what their mandate is?

SWEETIN: DEA's mandate, boiled down, is primarily to enforce Title 21 of the U.S. Code, which is the drug code. So our primary mission is an enforcement mission. There are other missions inside

DEA which include drug education those kinds of things.

ARTHUR: Mm-hmm. OK. Uh, Dan, did you have a comment? And anyone who wants to break in is welcome to.

COCHRAN: Yeah, I'd like to just comment regarding Jeffrey's comment, the DEA's position that they're having success with the drug war. Just to give you a little of my own personal experience. Long before I entered into politics and became active with the Libertarian Party, and really was all that politically aware, President Bush, Sr. was elected to office back in 1988. In '89 he declared a war on drugs and really stepped up the drug war, and I recall that very specifically because I wrestled with the fact, you know, is this really the right thing? And I decided it probably is. If we can eliminate drugs from our society, this is a good measure. And he came out and declared that we would eliminate drugs from our society, and in fact, with billions of dollars being spent, drug availability decreased shortly after that. There was a substantial effect, but it didn't take long, six months or so, before the drug suppliers found a method of getting around all of the new laws and all of the new agents out there enforcing those laws and drug use ended up right back up where it was; the drug problem was right back where it was, and it became very clear to me after about a year that this effort by President Bush, Sr., had failed. And a real good definition of sanity, one that is often attributed to Albert Einstein, but I think it actually pre-dates him, is that if you continue to do something expecting success and it is not producing success, then you're insane. That's a definition of insanity, to continue to do the same thing expecting success, but it's not successful. Clearly, Bush's drug war was not successful, so there had to be some other method, something else that we should be doing rather than infringing on people's rights, rather than going out there and creating a bunch of additional laws, imprisoning people, often times for non-violent offenses. Likewise, when I got involved with the Libertarian Party, I found another possible solution, and I've found that the Libertarian Party was very much aligned with my belief in other areas, and I believe it's a good idea.

ARTHUR: Why don't you tell us exactly what that solution would be, if you could do it.

COCHRAN: Sure, certainly. So, obviously, the drug problem's not going to go away. It doesn't matter whether we spend billions of dollars a year fighting it, or we put our resources in other areas. The Libertarian position is essentially that drugs should be legalized, and this is drugs across the spectrum. I'm not talking just marijuana or cocaine or aerosol paints or...

ARTHUR: Crack and methamphetamine?

COCHRAN: Certainly.

ARTHUR: Mm-hmm.

COCHRAN: Yes. Obviously, we want to treat those drugs very much the same way that we treat other things in our society, and I think Colorado has a very good system, for example, for dealing with alcohol. And this should be a states issue, not a federal issue. If it's different in one state than another state, so be it. Colorado, in dealing with alcohol, you have to be age 21. Go into a liquor store to purchase the alcohol, and if you're under that age, it's not available to you unless somebody over that age is making it illegally available to you. And the emphasis here is then that person is making it illegally available.

ARTHUR: So you're saying crack should be available to anyone over 21?

COCHRAN: I have no problem with that. This is an individual responsibility. Is it my place to say whether they should have access to it or not?

ARTHUR: Sure. Well, let's take it a little bit farther. What do you think would happen? You know, just realistically if that were to occur?

COCHRAN: Sure. Number one, the people who are inclined to use crack, who are going out there and buying it on the black market today, would be buying it over the counter, probably from some pharmaceutical firm, so they would be getting a much better grade of crack, a grade of crack that does not have all the dangerous byproducts associated with it and the unknown manufacturing methods. We would also be eliminating the black market crime that is associated with the drug trade today. And that's probably the most horrible aspect of our so-called war on drugs–the black market crime that's associated with it. That's why we repealed alcohol prohibition, because of the crime associated with alcohol prohibition back in the 20's.

ARTHUR: Many people would just say that if you were to allow people easy access to crack as there is easy access to booze that it would be a nightmare. That people just would not be able to control themselves. It's just too powerful a drug to really allow easy access to. Do you agree or disagree with that?

COCHRAN: I think alcohol's a pretty powerful drug. So is tobacco and obviously if you abuse cold medicine, that's a pretty powerful drug. We have easy access to a whole number of things in this society, and those people that are inclined to abuse this stuff are going to abuse it. I don't care whether they have to find somebody on some dark street corner to purchase it from or if they go down to their local liquor store.

ARTHUR: So your stance is that people should be allowed to kill themselves or do whatever they want as long as it's within their home or only happening to themselves?

COCHRAN: Yeah, if people are crazy enough to kill themselves, I certainly am not going to be able to stop them regardless of what laws I enact. Regardless how we try to legislate morality, and let's face it, if you really have control over your life, then you have control over how your life is lived and how you die. If you don't have control over your life, then we're not in a free society.

ARTHUR: Allen.

ST. PIERRE: Yes, sir.

ARTHUR: How do you think the drug war is going?

ST. PIERRE: Well, I think they certainly can give some pretty mixed results here. Well, I'm right across the street from the White House over at the Department of Treasury, and, of course, there's an agency there called the ATF–Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. All three of those things are really dangerous. Alcohol, of course, we know the whole history of it being made legal, illegal. Of course, it's a very dangerous drug. We have all these restrictions as Dan has aptly talked about. Uh, tobacco: tobacco kills 400,000 Americans each year. It's legal, it's taxed at the local, state, and federal level. And then of course firearms and all the interesting stuff that comes with firearms. But what that division of the Treasury does is not make any of those products illegal. All they do is make sure that those products are properly sold and taxed from the point that they are created to the point that they are sold, and they do that pretty well, and that is exactly the control I think Dan was alluding to–that by putting these things in the legal stream of commerce we give the control to parents, business managers, and, of course, government officials and law enforcement would generally want to have, using the same mores and values, changing as they are, for things like alcohol and tobacco. For everybody on this phone, we've all grown up at a time where tobacco... You used to be able to smoke indoors anywhere, on elevators, on airplane flights, you could drive fairly drunk, you could have open liquor. All those things have changed in our lives, and I think everybody on this phone would agree for the better. So why not bring that same legal and moral control with something like marijuana, which one 1 of 3 people between the ages of 18 and 24 years uses? Between 24 and 65, 1 out of 7 adults use marijuana. Despite it being illegal for 65 years, despite a 23 billion dollar, uh, federal anti-drug program of which at least half of that is marijuana related. Just in the federal dollars, not the 50 states.

ARTHUR: Allen, why do you personally think the government wouldn't want to legalize it? It seems like there would be a lot of money in it, is that correct?

ST. PIERRE: I certainly agree so. There's a lot of reasons. One could obviously give a dissertation at this point why, but there's a couple of obvious things. Some are just clear self-interest. There are at least 20 federal beaucracies involved with drug prohibition, whether they're something as obvious as the DEA, something like the ONDCP, the Drug Czar's office or the scientific aspects of it, like NAIDA, and so many acronymed organizations nobody has ever heard of, basically here in the Beltway and with all sort of organs at the state level working to basically further the status quo. Then you've got the most obvious of all. You've got alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical companies that give money to the DARE program, to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. I mean, think about that. A drug company or alcohol or pharmaceutical company giving money to something called a Drug-Free America. It's rhetorically and morally absurd. So once we put away that sort of moral aspect of it, one has to ask the question, as you have, why would we have this policy in place? And it's mainly because people have been too apathetic and/or scared to make this the same type of issue like they do over reproductive rights, over gun rights, over environmental rights. They have to get über political. And so with a tiny budget, about a million dollars a year, NORML and a number of other drug policy groups which, in total, have about a thirteen million dollar a year budget, take on this massive goliath. But like the story of Goliath, we know what happened. Goliath fell with this minor stone. And that stone is the Constitution, pragmatism, public health concerns and all of Europe is moving this direction save for Greece, Finland, and France. Canada is right on the doorstep of decriminalizing. Of course, today the AP headline that the Prime Minister acknowledges, they will decriminalize cannabis and move toward a Dutch-like model where it's legally distributed. So it leaves us in the United States in a really difficult position. So I think that at some point, people just have to get really political, get involved with groups like NORML, and certainly commend law enforcement for doing what they need to do to focus on drugs of true and terrific harm and to stop the abuse of those substances, and certainly where they're not taxed and legally controlled. But where adults legally, or should I say responsibly, use these products in the same way that I think that they do with alcohol, that should be the sort of system we have in place because it clearly works much better than prohibition.

ARTHUR: All right, Allen, let me stop you there. Jeffery what do you think about marijuana? Isn't most of the resources, aren't most of the arrests from marijuana and the sale of marijuana in your organization?

SWEETIN: No.

ARTHUR: Oh, OK.

SWEETIN: That's absolutely not correct.

ARTHUR: What are they from?

SWEETIN: First of all, let me... Well, I'll go back to what Allen said.

ARTHUR: Sure. Yep.

SWEETIN: But, you know, the statistics are across the board. A lot of that depends on the regional focus you have. I was a drug agent in south Florida and probably close to 100 percent of the arrests I made there were for cocaine—for cocaine trafficking, smuggling, importation—so the misinformation that the public is getting about how there's all these poor marijuana smokers that are populating the federal prisons, that's bad information. And that's...

ST. PIERRE: But Jeff, it would be really important to note here that you, the good folks in the federal government, make less than 3 percent of all criminal drug arrests. So therefore, you're correct, but you're being very specific here in not letting everybody know that for the state and county, which we all get to fund through our taxes, they in fact do arrest. There were 724,000 marijuana arrests in the last statistical year of 2001, 88 percent of them for simple possession.

SWEETIN: Well, Allen, you're right. I can't defend that. One problem is, I'm one speaker that's trying to uphold the law, and there's three speakers that are against it. So there's no speaker here to uphold the state and local thing, so I'm going to obviously have to focus on the federal side.

ST. PIERRE: Sure.

SWEETIN: But in terms of your numbers on drug use, my numbers on drug use indicate that only 5 percent of Americans use drugs, period. Your numbers seem to indicate that everbody's sitting around getting high all day anyway, so we might as well make it legal. So you and I already differ in our statistics, which we could argue for hours, but you certainly don't agree with Dan. See, this is the problem. You're talking about control the dangerous drugs, Dan is saying, "Give everybody everything they want, just make sure nothing bad happens." So what I'm saying is, my take on it is, I supervise 97 drug agents that work out on the street that we keep talking about. When you go to do that... I mean, Dan would have us... Fortunately, I believe Dan to be in the minority, otherwise people could get crack at the drugstore. I mean, that's something that's so ludicrous it actually scares me, the thought of kids walking into a drugstore and getting crack. Dan might argue that, "Well, we wouldn't sell it to kids." Well, we all know how well that's worked with alcohol and cigarettes. But my argument to you would be that, listen, this country is built... And you said it—you talked about the Constitution and Goliath—this country is built on the idea that laws can change. We elect our own legislature. My concern is misinformation. People need to know that their... You know, whether it's the medical marijuana fallacy, whether it's the issue of everybody's around getting high and we're the last bastion of sobriety in the whole world after Greece and Canada, I think we've got to be honest. Why haven't we changed that? Why haven't you changed that?

ST. PIERRE: Well, I could actually obviously turn it on its head. After 70 years and spending hundreds of billions of dollars, Jeff, hundreds of billions. In 1982, the drug budget for the federal government was just barely 2 billion. It is now 25 billion dollars, which doesn't even include the military or the Bureau of Prisons. That's the federal drug numbers. So here you make this sort of complaint. Well, why is it that there's misinformation out there? You all have the 200 million dollar-a- year anti-drug campaign which everybody here has seen on TV because you get 30 impressions a week before Americans. And we scoff at the idea that if you use marijuana, you support terrorism, that's patently absurd. So you've got that access, you've got the D.A.R.E. program in 70 percent of the schools, you've got this massive budget, so I guess, really, the question Jeff, why is it that your side is losing? Why did the good citizens of Colorado, despite your best efforts, vote in favor of marijuana for medical purposes? You call it a sham. Well, you're insulting the majority of people around you. That's sort of a pejorative thing to do, don't you think?

SWEETIN: Well, I'd like to answer that Allen.

ST. PIERRE: Please.

SWEETIN: You asked me why the good citizens of Colorado did it. My answer is that you lied to them. That's my answer.

ST. PIERRE: Oh, well, excuse me. You had all of the political apparatus within Colorado keep it off the ballot for a year. You came back, the good citizens voted for it, most of the editorial boards there, which now I guess you would claim were duped by NORML and its little million-dollar budget. So you've got the multi-million- dollar budget there, you've had the access for seven decades to change the minds of Americans and you have failed to do that, Jeff. I think the real burden here is on the status quo. Why is it that all of these failures and infirmities are so readily identified?

SWEETIN: Well, I think the burden is really on the people that want to make the change.

ST. PIERRE: Which they did, and you fought them all the way, didn't you, Jeff?

SWEETIN: Well, first of all, let me clarify something about the legislation, because we...

ARTHUR: I just wanted to just get your personal opinion and everybody else's about marijuana. Is that a dangerous drug that should be illegal, and selling it should bring you huge prison sentences?

COCHRAN: If I may step in, I think marijuana is a dangerous drug, just as some cold medicines are, just as spray paint is, just as a variety of legal things are, and it's no more dangerous than many of the stuff that's legal.

ARTHUR: Troy.

LEPPER: No, I don't believe that marijuana is a dangerous drug. There's no correlation, there's no causes of death due to marijuana. We tend to judge whether a drug is harmful based on the harm that it causes individuals, and there's no correlation between marijuana being a harmful drug to the individuals that use it. Now, the structures and the crime and things along that that go along with the illegal drug trade, sure, there are problems there.

ARTHUR: Jeff, I didn't mean to cut you off.

SWEETIN: That's all right.

ARTHUR: I just want to get people's opinion on that and yours as well. As a drug enforcement official, what do you think about marijuana?

SWEETIN: Well, I believe... I agree with Troy. Well, no, I agree with Dan. I'm sorry, I got Troy and Dan mixed up. I agree that marijuana is a harmful substance. I believe that it's illegal for a reason, that it's a good reason, that it's harmful, that the social cost and medical cost of marijuana warrant its control.

ARTHUR: Well, control or being illegal?

SWEETIN: Well that's what I meant.

ARTHUR: You know, and people would ask, "What about alcohol? What about tobacco?"

SWEETIN: Well, I'm not going to... If you think I'm going to sit here and defend tobacco and alcohol, those are harmful substances, but to say, "You know what? Since those are harmful substances and they're legal, let's make everything legal that's harmful." If you were to ask Dan, "Should hand grenades, anthrax, should those all be legal?" You might be surprised with what his answer is.

ARTHUR: But should people be going to prison for smoking it or possessing it or selling small amounts of it?

SWEETIN: Well, first, let me say that a lot of the information about inmates and what they're in there for is misleading. Many of the people that... And Allen, I'm sure, will admit this as well. Many of the people that are in prison that we constantly say are in—and I'm dealing mostly with the federal population, as Allen said—that says "drug possession," those were plead down from some pretty heinous distribution crimes at times because of the necessity for plea bargaining. So let's... let's be honest enough to say that we're not wholesale, particularly at the federal level, incarcerating drug users.

ST. PIERRE: Well, yeah, if I may, Jeff is absolutely correct regarding in the federal system. Most people are pleading down because the federal government, quite clearly as it should, should only be concentrating on large distribution and syndication, so of course that makes sense. But again, the grist in the millstone is the states and the hundreds of thousands of people that are being arrested at the state level. And I can assure you, if you go into the neighboring state of Idaho and get caught with a marijuana cigarette, you're going to be drawn into the criminal justice system in a very harsh way, and it's going to cost the taxpayers of Idaho a lot of money as juxtaposed say for Colorado where, 20 years ago, the legislature passed a law allowing for a small amount to be decriminalized. So after a quick interface, the government ascertains you're not a bad person, you're not a fleeing felon, you're not a terrorist, that's a good thing, and they take the marijuana off the street. Well, arguably, under Jeff's scheme, that's a good thing. And then they get about a 100 to 200 dollar, I call it a left-handed tax, it's a fine. That seems to be a reasonable middle ground that I'm hoping most of us can agree is better than outright prohibition where young people lose access to their student loans, people in Section 8 housing get thrown out, veterans get thrown out of the Veteran's Affairs stuff, that if you hold a CDL license, a commercial driver's license, that you don't lose that just for a single marijuana cigarette.

ARTHUR: I guess what I'm curious about is, on a day-to-day basis, Jeff, what do your agents see? What kind of destruction? And have you always been...? You know, I get the impression that you fully believe in what you're doing, and was that always the case, or is it what you've seen on the streets that's really changed your mind or really reinforced your feelings?

SWEETIN: Well, first let me say, everybody in this debate believes in what they're saying. I mean, that should go without saying, but what my agency on a daily basis sees are organizations that are really organized crime business organizations that are making money on other people's pain and addiction and inability to stop using drugs. We see large amounts of money generated that we would argue would still be generated whether you tried to control these as some of these guys have said. But has it changed me? I think through the years I've become more convinced, maybe because I'm now a father, and the drugs that I've worked against all my life and the organizations... now it's personal. I will acknowledge to you that I also worry about alcohol, I also worry about cough medicine and everything kids are using. But I also believe that that's a pretty light argument for why we should give kids more access to things. I believe that that legalization would increase use, it would increase access and it would increase what it costs the government to try to deal with the social problems.

ARTHUR: Do you get the impression that, and we were talking about this earlier, that the government is a bit obsessed with drugs in general? You know, why is there not a war on homelessness or hunger? You know, why is so much money being spent to stop people from doing drugs? You know, people drink as well, but there is not a huge war, and you know alcohol is a huge destructive device in society. You know, sometimes it just seems as though... Well it's almost like the red scare, you know? Kind of. There's gloom and doom everywhere. You know, I'm sure you must see it, but I personally don't. I mean, sure I know people who have drug problems, I know many, many more who have alcohol problems. But does it seem all imbalanced, or do you think it's an appropriate amount of force and energy that's being put into the eradication?

SWEETIN: That's another big question with a couple of questions in it. Let me say that, you know, you talk about the red scare and the overreaction, as you would describe it. Let me also say that I'm the only one in this debate that represents, or that serves, the U.S. public. I mean, I know Allen serves his constituents and everybody else here serves people that agree with them, but I basically took an oath, as do my guys, to uphold what the U.S. public wants. And so for me, you know, I don't think it is all gloom and doom. I don't think my guys believe that. I think what I see is, I see that the government is charged with, and the agents of the government are charged with doing everything in their power that they believe to be in the best interest of the public, and that's where we disagree. The disagreement is that we vehemently believe that drugs are dangerous, there's a high social cost, there's a huge financial cost. People die from drugs. We can all agree that abused drugs lead to that. But what we don't agree on is what should our reaction to that be. Well, that's why we have the government we have. So my argument would be, whatever the government's reaction is, we're not in a third world country where the government tells us what to do and we have to take it. Allen acts as if we've got to stop this government that's out of control. Well, we're the government. My argument would be, "Allen, if your method was that acceptable to the people of the United States, we wouldn't be having these debates." But the bottom line is, 95 percent of the people in this country don't use drugs. And state by state, except for where the medical marijuana issue has been used by NORML as a "red herring," to quote the former director of NORML, as a "red herring" to get marijuana back and get some acceptance so that they could move towards smoked marijuana.

ST. PIERRE: Well, you know, I mean, if you don't mind, Jeff, I mean, what a cardinal sin. I mean, think about the people that are listening to you. You're insulting the majority of people who voted for this even though you've had all this opportunity to sway them otherwise.

SWEETIN: Well, I can't legally do that, Allen.

ST. PIERRE: And why do you think [INAUDIBLE] because right now as the polling goes, 36 percent of Americans want marijuana just straight up, legal, sold right next to alcohol. Not a majority, but a near plurality that has gone up 20 percent.

SWEETIN: I don't believe that number, Allen.

ST. PIERRE: Excuse me, in almost ten years, decriminalization, as we discussed earlier, which is just a basic fine, rather than get broadened to the criminal justice system, 70 percent of Americans want that system. And then lastly, medical marijuana. You can't find a poll or focus group or a vote result where you're going to find less than 60 percent, and it usually ranges in the 80 percentile. So, therefore, you are absolutely correct, Jeff. When the people want these things to happen, you and the other agents who work for the federal government, John Walters, should stop going to the states and interfering with the state's ability to pass these laws. Three weeks ago in Missouri, just the little town of Columbia, Missouri, had three agents from the federal government, the Men in Black, show up from the government. We, the taxpayers, paid for them to go down there and showboat, go to editorial boards, go to anti-drug groups, do the whole photo-op thing. That is indi... When you say that you swore to uphold the Constitution, that's exactly what you guys do. But if you want to take your money privately through other private, independent, like the Colorado Narcotics Officers Association or some other private group, that's great! But you cannot say that the federal government does not use federal taxpayer dollars to interfere with local and state initiatives.

SWEETIN: What? I'm not legally permitted to do that, Allen. If I...

ST. PIERRE: Yeah, you're not, but John Walters and his agents do.

SWEETIN: Who are John Walters' agents?

ST. PIERRE: And by the way, the DEA absolutely participates in these press conferences.

SWEETIN: Well, the press I'm allowed to do. That's why I'm here today. But here's why I'm here. The reason I'm here is because you're giving one side of the story, and you talk about your budget as being a lowly budget, but you and I both know that's not true. You've been well funded for 15 years.

ST. PIERRE: Excuse me. Let's be very clear. Anybody can go to the IRS. All of the non-profit organizations such as myself, unlike your organizations do not file public records. We can't find out what you get paid. The public can find out to the dime what I get paid.

SWEETIN: Absolutely incorrect.

ST. PIERRE: Last year's budget was 700,000 dollars. Let's be clear.

SWEETIN: Allen, let me interrupt you. Let me interrupt you. You say you're sitting at the Treasury Department right now. You know as well as I do, you can find out through public record what I make. I do a financial disclosure every year. You can pull it up and tell me exactly what I make.

ST. PIERRE: Then great, we both have transparencies, so why would you accuse me of otherwise?

SWEETIN: What I'm telling you is you're acting like the DEA agents and federal agents are out there trying to stop these initiatives. Here's what we're trying to do, if you can legitimately change that law, then that's the American way.

ST. PIERRE: Excuse me, Jeff. What did the citizens of Colorado do?

SWEETIN: The citizens...

ST. PIERRE: They legitimately voted for it. It's in the State Constitution, is it not?

SWEETIN: Here's my concern. You...

ST. PIERRE: Is it not? Yes or no?

SWEETIN: Uh, yeah, I believe it is.

ST. PIERRE: OK. Because we want the citizens to understand what the law is. We don't want them to mis... have to misinform them, Jeff.

SWEETIN: No, I'm not... I disagree with you on that. I don't think you want them to.

ST. PIERRE: It's not the law?

SWEETIN: Did the former director of NORML not say in a direct quote...?

ST. PIERRE: In 1978 in a two-lane paper. That is wonderful propaganda that you took right out of your own "How to Hold Your Own in a Drug Legalization Debate."

SWEETIN: That's exactly where I took it.

ST. PIERRE: A manual that the DEA pays for and distributes all around the United States, correct Jeff?

SWEETIN: Actually no. This was written by the California Narcotics Officers Association.

ST. PIERRE: Narcotics Office Association, Tom Gorman. I'm aware of the propaganda. That's why I'm so used to listening to DEA agents repeat it over and over again.

ARTHUR: Let me break in. Allen.

ST. PIERRE: But you don't answer the question. Why is it that the majority of Coloradoans, even if it is in your words, "a red herring", why did they vote for it? Why are you wrong and they're...?

ARTHUR: All right, Allen, let him answer and then we'll move on.

SWEETIN: Well, I've taken that as a quote, Allen. I mean, that's exactly the book I took it out of. I mean, you take stuff out of the federal budget. I think it's unreasonable to assume that I'm just going to come here and try and educate the public on the other side of the argument.

ST. PIERRE: We know the playbook. We know the playbook. We've all heard it. So the question is why are the people in Colorado wrong and you're right?

ARTHUR: Wait, wait, wait, wait. Allen, let me... We've just got to refocus here. All right, what I'd like to do is ask about reformation of the drug laws. Troy, do you believe that, you know, things are as they should be? That the drug laws are OK, or are you for any change at all? Or does it seem appropriate to you?

LEPPER: Well, as I said when I started this, I'm concerned with who is actually impacted by the war on drugs. It's my belief that you can't declare a war on drugs. You declare a war on people. And more people, or certain people, are affected by the war on drugs more than others. According to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, at almost every stage of the criminal justice process, Whites fare better than African-Americans and the Latinos. One-third of the White first-offenders had their charges reduced, compared to only one-quarter of African-Americans and Latinos. White offenders received rehabilitative placements in the community at twice the rates of Blacks or Latinos. Latinos went to prison for drug offenses at twice the rate of Whites. African-Americans received prison sentences one-third more frequently than Whites. There's clearly certain populations that are impacted by this war on drugs, quote unquote, "War on Drugs," than others, and I have a major concern with that. If the law is going to be administered, the law should be administered fairly across the board. There should not be certain individuals in a system that gain access to rehabilitative possibilities more so than others. And a lot of that's directly due to how much money you can bring to the table when you're busted. And certain populations find themselves disadvantaged financially, and not just financially, but structurally. And as a sociologist, these are my concerns. I want to know why it is that certain groups are impacted more than others. Not to mention the fact that, you know, I've already mentioned that I believe that marijuana is not a harmful substance and support more what Dan's saying. You know, legalize it, set up clinics, tax it. If you have problems, go to the clinic, take care of your problem, and move on. It's not an incarceration issue. I believe that we find more people that... These petty drug offenders, these marijuana offenders, if they do find themselves in the prison system, one of the concerns is they come out more of a hardened criminal than they were when they went in. And this is a defect, if you will, of the present legislation on the war on drugs. These are the concerns that I have. Not to mention, you know, how we perceive this problem. You know, what is the problem? What is the problem compared to other substances? We've discussed these issues. So I guess that's were I come from. And I don't know if I answered your question, but that's kind of where I'm at.

ARTHUR: Right. Jeff, do you see any of that on the street, or do your agents see that, or does that at all ring true to you that, you know, the majority of the people who suffer from the drug laws are actually Black or Latino, not White, whereas the majority of users are actually White?

SWEETIN: First, I would disagree with the last part that the majority of the users are White. I'm not really comfortable agreeing to that. Are there inequities in the criminal justice system? Sadly there are. It would be like me saying, you know, that because the education system unfairly educates White kids better than it does Black kids or Hispanic kids or illegal immigrants, that perhaps we should scrap the system. I am not going to make a very good case that there isn't discrimination everywhere, in every system, every bureaucracy. If I were to ask Troy, "Is there discrimination at CSU in any form?" Troy would be trapped, he would have to say, "Of course there is." So...

ARTHUR: So are you for reformation of the drug laws that are discriminatory?

SWEETIN: Well, I don't think it's the laws. I don't think laws are discriminatory. I think it's the people that enforce them tend to make mistakes, and at times they can be discriminatory. One of the things about...

ARTHUR: Can you give me an example, or what do you mean by that?

SWEETIN: Well, I mean, how can a law be discriminatory? I mean, there's been allegations that the laws are...

ARTHUR: Well, for instance the law that says when you're caught with crack, it's a huge penalty. You, I believe, must got to jail if you're caught with crack. And that's the only drug where there's a mandatory sentence. Am I wrong about that? I know you're not a lawyer. But in...

SWEETIN: Well, actually you are wrong about that, but what I think... I understand what you're trying to say. You're trying to draw the cocaine, hydrochloride, and crack disparity that's long been argued in this country. The disparity is that crack cocaine... The sentencing guidelines federally generally give more jail time to someone for crack distribution than they do for powder cocaine distribution. That's the way the law...

ARTHUR: Well, and also use, correct? But isn't use of crack mostly among lower-income people, and isn't that discriminatory?

SWEETIN: Well, I don't work use cases. I mean, the... the DEA guys are not out there looking for somebody that's using crack.

ARTHUR: Right.

SWEETIN: We don't have enough guys, we don't have enough time.

ARTHUR: Sure.

SWEETIN: We don't prosecute users. But I will say that that has been a common argument in America for the last few years. The problem with that argument is the law wasn't discriminatory. The law was actually enacted because the dangers and the addictive qualities of crack are more severe than powder cocaine. Crack is merely just one recipe preparation of powder coke. But when you find crack, the cost to society is greater. And I believe the legislators said, "You know what? The societal cost is greater, so let's make the penalty stronger."

ARTHUR: Right, but what do you believe? You know? I'm trying to get your personal opinion. If somebody's caught with less than a gram of mushrooms, should what they're indicted for or charged with be the same as kidnapping? I think it's a class three felony. You know, does that seem fair, you know what I mean? How do you feel personally? I'm just curious.

SWEETIN: Well, personally, I'm not really that familiar with the state laws and how the kidnapping statute lines up with mushroom possession or whatever.

ARTHUR: Well, it's a class three felony.

SWEETIN: Let me use the crack example. Crack... You know, the people that have argued that disparity in crack assert that it's unfair to the people in lower socio-economic areas, in the projects, we mentioned the housing projects earlier, that it's unfair to those people for that sentencing to be higher. I would ask the people, and I would ask these guys, when was the last time you talked to a mother that lived in those projects? I've talked to them. I've talked to those mothers, and you know what they say? "Absolutely. Crack is ruining our lives." Now if you look at the difference to that mother of a money launderer who's laundering 200 million dollars a year and a crack distributor who offers her kid crack every time he walks home from school, what does she want dealt with? Where does she want the severe sentence? Her kid's not going to get kidnapped. She has no ransom to pay. What she wants is serious penalties for the kid that's trying to sell her kid crack.

ST. PIERRE: Well, no doubt every parent would want to have such a thing happen, Jeff, but let me see if I can put this into an analogy that maybe some of us can relate to. You know, going after somebody for crack cocaine in a more severe way than say something like cocaine, which is essentially chemically, save for an addition, the same drug, is like going after somebody and giving them a more enhanced penalty for having malt liquor rather than regular beer. And who drinks malt liquor in society? I lived in one of these neighbourhoods, by the way. I lived in downtown D.C., a place the DEA and the Drug Czar came and had a little press conference declaring that the District of Columbia would be drug free within three or four years. Well, you know, of course that's not the case. But the same could be said regarding this malt liquor and beer analogy in terms of going after individuals who use malt liquor who tend to be, generally speaking, African- Americans who are buying malt liquor, high potency beer in these stores. And to go after them as if they had any greater moral turpitude than somebody who's drinking beer or rot-gut wine, just seems rather absurd.

SWEETIN: Well, you are the one that asserted controls like alcohol. Alcohol is controlled based on its damage capability.

ST. PIERRE: Correct.

SWEETIN: Hard liquor is controlled at a higher level than beer is.

ST. PIERRE: Correct.

SWEETIN: And I still believe alcohol is a terrible example. First of all, what alcohol has cost this nation in terms of resources is phenomenal.

ST. PIERRE: But you would never... Excuse me, but this would be your opportunity... If your argument is to make any sense, Jeff, this is your opportunity to say, because it is so damaging and because almost everybody on this phone has had somebody in their family or close to them totally ill-effected if not killed, like I have in my family people who have abused alcohol, would you make it illegal? Would you make the Adolph Coors family similar to the Cartels?

SWEETIN: Well, as you know, Allen, I'm an executive branch guy. I don't make laws.

ST. PIERRE: Well, I know, but that's the thing. We can have some fun with you here because the average person, I think, thinks about it along these lines and says, "Wait a minute. What really is the difference between these people named Philip Morris and R.J.R. Reynolds, Adolph Coors and Freddy Heineken?"

SWEETIN: Well, I don't believe that the average person does, or I believe we wouldn't have to have...

ST. PIERRE: No, they really do. That's why [INAUDIBLE] that's why you lose at the polls, my friend.

SWEETIN: You know, Allen, what's interesting is the Legislature could change this anytime the U.S. public wanted them to. Yet every time I bring up the fact that if you really have that argument, if the majority really believes that, go change the law. But see every time I say that, Allen, you have to interrupt.

ST. PIERRE: Well, OK, that's true. So a couple of years ago when we were in Colorado trying to simply get a hemp law passed, your office sent out individuals, maybe even yourself, to testify against something as innocuous as hemp. So you do spend your time and effort going before legislators trying to impact the laws that, you're right, you're sworn to uphold. But you also try to change. I mean, the executive cop-out, it's not applicable here.

SWEETIN: Well, it's interesting that my argument is a cop-out and your argument is the poor downtrodden low-budget guy.

ST. PIERRE: Yeah, that's why [INAUDIBLE] should be responsible to legally control these

[INAUDIBLE] That is what you're definitely about.

ARTHUR: All right, let me stop you guys. Allen, just, uh, hold on second. I guess I'd like to, uh, hear from Allen. Let's say NORML was allowed to get everything they wanted. What would that be?

ST. PIERRE: Sure, very quickly, how do we control alcohol? Either the state sells the liquor, that's in the case of about 16 to 17 states, or it is sold through private distribution, through ABC control. There's liability, there's control, there's licensing, there's taxation at the local and federal and state level, there's potency control, there's everything a person would want. Is it perfect? Of course not. And, of course, when Jeff's kids get old enough, he'll have to worry about them getting fake ID's to break that system, though few will do it. But the point being here, that you can have a system in place that looks very similar. The protocols, I daresay, that we are developing for tobacco are going to completely comport with that for marijuana. Is an individual going to be able to walk down the street puffing? Not likely. In a home? In a restaurant? No. That seems to be the case where the society is moving towards regarding tobacco. In my lifetime, tobacco has been cut in half. We didn't use the Criminal Justice System, we didn't do racial profiling, we didn't build prisons, we didn't take people's excrement and drug test it, we didn't have all of these things. How did we drive down the use of a highly addictive substance that is legal and taxed? We used the Public Health Service. We used doctors, nurses, and the Public Health Service. We did not use, forgive me, Jeff, narcs and confidential informants and the whole sordid things that are necessary to find out what people are doing in the secret of their homes.

ARTHUR: Right. OK, Allen, let me stop you there. That is a relevant question. If we were able to stop or really curb tobacco use in the United States, although it's moving everywhere else in the world, why couldn't that be done with other drugs that are equally as addictive? Jeff.

SWEETIN: Well, I would just say that we're missing one point that concerns me as a taxpayer, and that's that the estimates are—and I'm sure Allen will have a better stat and probably remind me as I'm saying mine—but that drug abuse, right now, costs the government about 160 to 180 billion dollars a year. Drug abuse. OK? We talk a lot about the enforcement budget. Government budgets are expensive; I'll acknowledge that as much as anyone. But if we legalize drugs, everyone's got to admit... No, they don't have to admit, but doesn't everyone here believe that use will increase? Certainly, Allen believes it.

ARTHUR: Yes, but wait, Allen...

ST. PIERRE: No, I think [INAUDIBLE] to agree. It would, but then what would be the harm measured therein? You could look at things like, "Well, were there greater fatalities on the side of the road? Was there a greater incidence of lung cancer?" But, you know, Jeff, we've had 11 commissioned studies since 1888.

SWEETIN: Wait.

ST. PIERRE: We've had massive, massive government studies.

ARTHUR: Let me... Allen. Allen.

ST. PIERRE: We've had 13,000 studies done by the federal government and state governments on marijuana...

ARTHUR: Allen. [ASIDE: Turn him down.]

ST. PIERRE: And it just doesn't reach that level of harm. [INAUDIBLE]

ARTHUR: Allen, I'm sorry, you've got to kind of hold back here a little bit and let me break in. I'd like to follow up with that. You know, if drugs were legalized—although that's really probably going way too far—if there was some sort of reasonable drug laws, you know, where the sentence fit the crime, isn't it possible that America would be allowed to grow? You know, there would be this... Well, for instance, in Europe, kids can drink at a young age, but it doesn't turn them into alcoholics. I think sometimes the drug war possibly... You know, if you tell a teenager that something is evil, and you should never do it, and it's a huge monster and, worse, it's going to really tick off your parents, isn't that what they want to do? You know, aren't we taunting them to do drugs if we tell them not to? And is there any chance that de-emphasizing that might do more of what we're trying to do at all?

SWEETIN: I assume you're asking me since you're looking at me. I would just say that we need to get out on the table, throughout this alcohol/drug comparison, that the statistics I have indicate that 10 percent of drinkers suffer from alcoholism, eventually, 10 percent. The side of that stat is 75 percent of abusers of illicit drugs become addicted to illicit drugs. So let's go in with our eyes open.

ARTHUR: Wait. Addicted, but then do they quit? Or do they...?

SWEETIN: Well, addiction is stopped through a lot of ways. People can stop their own addictions; I'm not an addiction expert, but that addiction comes with a social cost. So if we're arguing this on the line of alcohol, let's not say that all we're doing is we're opening up another form of alcohol. The other thing I would add is that the three guys—and we haven't let everybody speak very much—but Dan and the NORML organization, they don't even agree. Now we're discussing this legalization. They are pro-legalization, and they don't even agree on what should be legalized. So this debate needs to occur in the full light of day that, OK, the Libertarians are talking about PCP, crack, methamphetamine, club drugs, GHB, GBL. I think, and correct me if I'm wrong, Allen, you guys are just talking about marijuana.

ST. PIERRE: We're one-note johnnies here.

SWEETIN: Right, so if the legalizers can't agree, how can we expect the U.S. public to figure this out?

ARTHUR: Well, that's like saying, you know, if we can't agree, then we shouldn't keep discussing it.

SWEETIN: No, I agree we should discuss it. That's why I'm here.

ARTHUR: Right.

SWEETIN: We should discuss it.

ARTHUR: OK.

SWEETIN: But we should understand that it's not legalizers and non-legalizers and government goliath agents, it's, "Let's decide what we're talking about and see if people want that."

ARTHUR: And what about treatment? Does putting, uh, the drug dealers in jail and...? Is that the right way to go? You know, someone who is selling marijuana or, I don't know, mushrooms or LSD or something like that, is putting them away for a long time the most effective thing you can do?

COCHRAN: If they're creating acts of violence, that's an appropriate thing to do, but if they're not creating acts of violence towards somebody else... In other words they're using drugs for their own detriment or benefit, whichever way they choose to look at it, then it's wrong to be incarcerating these people. It's wrong to be infringing upon their freedom to destroy their life if that's what they choose to do. One thing that I've seen in all the discussion here, and as a Libertarian, I want to just point out that there's some commonality that we're seeing in some of this discussion. Some of the commonality is, we've got some bad laws in this country. I think even Jeff agrees with this, that there are... He's out there enforcing some of these laws that maybe he doesn't like some of them. He can't admit to that, whether he likes them or not, but we're seeing... Certainly Allen has pointed out a number of bad laws. Jeff made an extremely good point that it is we the people who are responsible for changing those laws. As long as the people continue to elect the same politicians that continue to enact these bad laws, federal laws that override state constitutional amendments, these type of things, we're going to have these problems. The voters have got to quit electing Democrats and Republicans that are bringing these bad laws down upon us. And I want to put a name to the drug issue, if I may, and then I'll be done for tonight. Steve Cubby lived in California. Steve Cubby was involved in the legalization of medical marijuana in California. He has adrenal cancer, a rare form of cancer. He believes, whether it's—and ones can argue the point—but he believes the best way for him to maintain a quality of life is through medical marijuana. He signed up for medical marijuana, he took it. He had federal agents, and I can't say right offhand whether it was DEA agents or not, but he had federal agents override the state constitutional amendment and come in and arrest him and charge him with crimes. He has been fighting that, he became active in the Libertarian Party after being charged with these crimes. The most recent thing in Steve Cubby's situation is he has had to move to Canada in order to continue the medical treatment that he believes is right for him, and the Canadian government is currently conducting hearings to determine whether or not Steve Cubby should be allowed political asylum in Canada. Political asylum from the tyranny that exists in the United States. This is something we normally expect other people to come to the United States for, and today it has gotten so bad that people are having to go to other countries to get asylum from the United States government.

ARTHUR: Right. Thank you, Dan. I guess I'd like to... I know it seems like we're ganging up on you here, Jeff, and I guess that we kind of are since there's three to one and you're great for holding your own.
COCHRAN: Seems pretty even so far.

ARTHUR: OK. [LAUGHS] All right, I guess I'd like to end with the question, you know, I've been a human being in the United States here for 34 years, and I haven't seen any difference in the way people use drugs or get them or how much they cost. I guess, how will we ever know that we're doing the right thing if there isn't some...? How do we measure it, you know?

SWEETIN: Well, the simple answer is what we do is we fight crime and we... Interestingly, and I'll end as I started off, what I do for a living, it's different than what I did when I was a uniformed policeman. People aren't asking me everyday for a report card on how do I know you're successful. You know the same argument that Allen would make that the jails are full of drug traffickers, and I paraphrased you there, Allen. But that same argument is what I show as success. I believe that those laws—and let me just correct, there aren't laws I'm out there enforcing that I disagree with—the laws that I enforce are... There aren't actually that many of them in Title 21, but I don't walk around upset that I'm enforcing these laws. But the evidence is what we have done, not what you see. And to put law enforcement into that area, in any form of law enforcement, sets us up for the inability to evaluate. So the argument that comes from the war example: sixteen days it took us to get to Baghdad and we were done.

ARTHUR: How about just a corporate example? You know, OK, so we're selling... I don't know, if you were... How in the DEA do you know that you're getting somewhere? You know, just plain and simply, if the drug cost hasn't gone down, then is there any chance... Let me ask you this, let me put it to you this way. Is there anything that would change your mind about the drug war? You know, could it go too far? Or you know, would you be worn out after 40 years of being a drug crusader? You know, do you have people in your organization who just say, "You know, it just doesn't seem like we're putting a dent in it."

COCHRAN: We can't keep drugs out of prison; we're certainly not going to keep them off the street.

SWEETIN: Well, that was an interesting editorial comment there, but in answer to your question, what would change my mind? I think what would change my mind is if I felt like and my people felt like the majority of Americans totally disagreed with the laws we're enforcing. I do believe that if that were true, we wouldn't be enforcing them; they would no longer be laws. What my concern is, and let me end with this, is that we're not giving true information out. We're using medical marijuana, we're using these other things, and a lot of this is opinion. But we're using that to muddy the issue. Interestingly, the decriminalization effort, where Allen had his three tenets at the beginning, if those are really what NORML wants, that's what NORML needs to tell everybody. And the medical marijuana issue should be left out of it, until the science proves it. You know, we keep talking about this poor guy that's dying of cancer, he believes that's the right medicine for him. But what if he believes in other things as well? What if he believes that anthrax and hand grenades help him heal? Well, the government eventually has to say, "You know, that doesn't work. The science isn't there."

ST. PIERRE: Well, Jeff, that would be great if we were talking about hand grenades and anthrax. We're talking about cannabis here. I mean, come on, bring it back to earth.

ARTHUR: Allen we'll give you a follow-up here, just give me a second. All right, ladies and gentlemen, you've been... That was Jeffrey Sweetin, the Special Agent in Charge of the Denver Field Division of the DEA that covers Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Montana. I'd like to thank you, Jeffrey, for coming in. Even though people may not agree with the drug laws you enforce, I think everybody understands that your job is extremely dangerous, and that's appreciated along with your agents. Allen what were you going to say?

ST. PIERRE: Well, I mean, I just wanted to address Jefferey's concern there, feigned as I think it is, regarding whether or not people use marijuana for medical purposes.

ARTHUR: OK, this is... Can you make this...? Thirty seconds.

ST. PIERRE: Very simply. You asked the question, how do we know? We don't know. You can go to the omb.gov or the NORML web page, norml.org, and read a report that was put out about three weeks ago, from the Office of Management and Budget. It gave the DEA, the Drug Enforcement Administration, a zero. It could not measure whether it was doing good, whether it was doing bad, whether it was pushing the numbers down, whether it was using its resources. That is certainly not an indictment against the field offices, in deference to Jeff. They have the most difficult jobs out there, but back here in La-La Land, inside the Beltway, they got a zero. The worst rating a bureaucracy in the United States has ever received. So I'm sad to say that what we really have, to use a metaphor to end here, is it's like emptying the ocean with a spoon. You can do it, but why would we take such a herculean effort in our lifetime when we could have a much more pragmatic program in place?

ARTHUR: All right thank you very much. That was Allen St. Pierre, who is the Foundation Executive Director of NORML in Washington, D.C. Thank you Allen for being with us. Dan, anything you'd like to end with?

COCHRAN: Well, I'd just like to say for those people that would like to get more information on the Libertarian Party, go out to the website at www.lp.org, or you can go to lpcolorado.org for the Colorado Libertarian site.

ARTHUR: OK. And Jeffrey, the DEA's the web address, is it gov?

SWEETIN: It's dea.gov, that's the website.

ARTHUR: That's right. That's right. And NORML is... Allen, what's NORML's?

ST. PIERRE: norml.org.

ARTHUR: OK, thank you very much. Troy, thank you. Is there anything you'd like to end with?

LEPPER: I don't know. I guess I'd like to say that if you ask me what the first step in drug reform is, it's removing marijuana from a class-one narcotic. I think that as far as the general public is concerned, marijuana is probably their major concern in the inequities in the war on drugs. Why is that thrown as a class-one narcotic? We could debate that for a long time. And the last thing would be, I believe, what I would hope to see happen is for us as theorists and administrators to start taking a critical look at the prison industrial complex, the growth of the prison industrial complex, especially in relation to the war on drugs. Is there a correlation between the two? There could be, and I think that there's a lot of room for studies and just a critical view of what that growth means to the war on drugs. And thanks for having me, Eddie.

ARTHUR: All right, thank you very much. That was Troy Lepper, a sociology professor at CSU. I'd like to thank you for listening to the Bullhorn Talk Show on 88.9 FM, our discussion tonight was about drug laws and the drug war.

[END OF RECORDING]

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