Program Aired April 25, 2002 with host Bill Maher, Actress Rachel Lee Cook, Issue Strategist/Former White House Drug Policy Public Affairs Director Robert Weiner, Comedian Steve Marmel, and Drug Policy Project Director Sanho Tree

04/24/02 - Transcript for Wednesday, April 24, 2002
(aired 12:05 AM Thursday April 25)

Rachael Leigh Cook
Steve Marmel
Bob Weiner
Sanho Tree

Bill: Good evening.
Welcome to "Politically Incorrect." Let me tell you who's here tonight.
Mr. Steve Marmel, very funny comedian, star of "Pop Across America," CNN, weekdays at midnight.
Robert Weiner, former spokesman for the White House office of national drug policy --
my old job.

[ Light laughter ]

Sanho Tree, you're the director of the drug policy project and a fellow at the institute for policy studies.
And Rachael Leigh Cook, nothing to do with official drug policy, but you were in that cool commercial where you smashed the thing.

Rachael: Yeah.

Bill: And your new movie coming out later this year, "Scorched." So give a hand to our panel here.

[ Cheers and applause ]

And since --
Apparently, most of the people here have something to do with the drug culture.
Let's talk about that tonight.
The drug war --
which I guess you're gonna say we're winning.
I know you feel we're not winning.
A lot of people agree with that.
I never thought we did have a war on drugs.
We have a war on drug users.
But really Colombia, the country in South America, they have a war on drugs.
They're the ones who are getting their crops defoliated.
They're the ones who are having Apache helicopters overhead and so forth.
And, you know, I never really agree when the Arabs say, "We hate you for this reason, this reason and this reason." I think, you know, I'll listen, and you got a point.
We're not perfect.
But I would understand why people in Colombia hate us, because I think they would say, "You know what, you guys can't stop doing cocaine, so our country has to be defoliated." Is that fair?

Robert: No, it's not fair, Bill.
It's not fair at all.
In fact, Colombia is the number-one source of the cocaine that hits our country, and you're wrong on the fact that cocaine hasn't gone down.
Cocaine is down 70% in the last 15 years.
If any other social program like poverty, illiteracy or hunger were chopped by two-thirds, would that be a failure?

Sanho: It's cheaper than ever before.

Steve: He's right.

Sanho: Nobody’s buying it.

Rachael: Nobody's buying it?

Bill: Is that figure correct? Has cocaine use gone down 70% in the last 15 years?

Robert: Yes, it has.

Steve: He's got note cards.
He knows.

Sanho: The surveys they use are government people coming into your homes asking you whether or not you've used drugs in the past.
And the criminal sanctions are going up, mandatory minimums.
If someone comes to your house, and the government asks you, "Have you done drugs lately," what is your answer going to be? "No, I haven't"?
[ Light laughter ]

Rachael: Thank you.

Robert: Crime is at record low numbers.
One of the reasons is because the crack wars are down.

Steve: Come on.
I mean, you're in Hollywood.
You can't walk into somebody without them powdering up like a talcum bottle here.
You can't tell me it's inaccessible, and they're not finding it.

Robert: The reality is that overall drug use has gone down by half in America.
Crack and cocaine are both down by 70%.

Bill: Well, I don't know what drugs you're on reading these statistics.

[ Light laughter ]

But I would like to be as high as you --

[ Laughter ]

When I read --

[ Applause ]

By the way --

Robert: I appreciate that you're master of the acerbic sound bites, but I do hope we're gonna talk some issues here.

Bill: We are talking issues.
I'm just questioning your statistics, and I think you make a good point.
We're talking about people telling the government about their drug use.
People are more honest about their erections.

[ Light laughter ]

Rachael: Why do you think it's gone down that much? I mean, what are you attributing to it?

Robert: It's a real disservice to the parents, the teachers, the community coalitions, 5,000 of them, who've helped succeed in making drug use go down to say that it's a failure.

Bill: That's a lie.
D.A.R.E., the biggest program, D.A.R.E., has actually encouraged kids to do drugs.
More kids who have been in the D.A.R.E. program do drugs.
That's why they discontinued it.
So I guess it's done a disservice to them.
But listen, in March, the CIA --
this is from this week's "Rolling stone." They have an article about Colombia.
It said, in March, the CIA announced that Coke cultivation in Colombia was up nearly 25% since we launched "Plan Colombia."

Robert: I had a letter in "The Washington Post" that disproves that because they base their number on the clouds.
The CIA used incredibly bad intelligence based on cloud covered --

Bill: They based their numbers on clouds?
[ Talking over each other ]

Robert: This is the reality, and they admitted it.

Steve: Have you seen a coca field?

Sanho: I've been out in the coca fields.
I even chewed the leaf.
I didn't swallow.

[ Light laughter ]

Steve: You seem incredibly focused for a man.

[ Applause ]

Sanho: But our policies of trying to eradicate this problem using spray planes, all that does is act as a price support.
We're trying to take our little bit of the coca off the market, and all it does is elevate the profits for the rest of the people.

Bill: Let me broaden this up because we could argue all night about statistics.
We each have our own statistics.
I don't think anyone, just from circumstantial evidence, from anecdotal evidence, from living in America, would ever question the idea that we live in an enormous drug culture.
Would you, Bob? I mean, there are drugs available that are not in your purview because they are not illegal.
We live surrounded by drugs.
Most people here are probably on a drug right now, whether it's caffeine or nicotine or prozac or alcohol or Xanax.
We live in a culture that believes in the quick fix, in taking a pill for everything.
My God, we give it to our kids when they act up.
So how do you expect people to not cross over occasionally that really blurry fine line between what's legal and what's illegal? And isn't the problem bigger? Yeah, go ahead.

Rachael: The question is not, what is the vice? The question is, what is the price? I made a rhyme.

[ Light laughter ]

No, seriously.
Are you addicted to soap operas? Okay, fine.
But, you know, do you decide you have to quit your job at home to watch them?

Bill: People have.

Rachael: That's a problem.
Or is it --
you know, is it pot? No work ethic.
Everything can be a problem.
It can develop into a problem.
It's just how quick is the road to --

Robert: Let's differentiate.
Nobody has died because of a cup of coffee.

Bill: No one has died from marijuana.
But I could name a lots of --

Robert: Car crashes.
Car crashes.

[ Applause ]

Steve: And we're not even talking --

Robert: Let's talk science.
Marijuana is the second-leading cause of car crashes.
At the University of Maryland shock trauma unit, more people were in car crashes with marijuana than alcohol.

Bill: What was the leading --
If I even accepted that, which I don't, 'cause it's stupid --

[ Light laughter ]

What would be the leading cause of car crashes?

Robert: Alcohol.

Bill: Okay.
I didn't --

Steve: Or cars.

[ Laughter ]

Bill: Yeah.
I bet you're putting on makeup while driving or talking on a cell phone is ahead of marijuana.
Okay, but alcohol is the leading cause.
But isn't that legal?

Robert: There's a real politic in America.
People won't tolerate that, but you don't have to create more fires just because one is out there.
And by the way, alcohol is illegal in every state of the union for kids under 21, and as a result, there are 30% fewer car crash deaths because of alcohol.

Steve: And by the way --

Sanho: We choose to regulate alcohol.
We don't regulate marijuana.

Steve: But if you --
I'm sorry.

Sanho: People who regulate this economy are organized crime and criminals.

Steve: But here's the thing.
Kids still get liquor.
Kids still drink liquor under 21, and if pot becomes legal, they're going to be able to get the pot, and they're going to be sleepy and unfocused in high school, and it's hard enough to focus in high school as it is.
I just don't --

[ Laughter ]

I don't want to let that genie out of the bottle.

Bill: Okay.

[ Laughter ]

[ Applause ]

I became a little sleepy and unfocused myself listening to that.

[ Laughter ]

Robert: We can give you the fodder that we know you'll attack which is that you're 80 times more likely to go to cocaine if you've used marijuana.

Bill: That is among the stupid things you've said tonight --
the most stupid thing.

[ Laughter ]

Steve: Why would you throw him that softball?
[ Applause ]

Why would you give him that?

Bill: You have got to be kidding?
[ Talking over each other ]

Sanho: Every alcoholic started out by drinking milk.

[ Laughter ]

[ Applause ]

Bill: But what happened to you to make you have this hard ass --

[ Laughter ]

About this particular --
I mean, why do you want to put people in jail for doing just something that other people are doing with a slightly different substance? I mean, you said before, when I asked you about the alcohol situation, you said, "Well, we don't need to start another fire." But how do you explain it to the person who's in jail for a marijuana offense that he just went home and rolled up a fatty?

Robert: Biggest myth out there.

[ Laughter ]

Even Marion Barry  wasn't arrested for the little bit of marijuana that he had. Tthere's a de facto decriminalization of small quantities of marijuana all across the country.
What people are in jail for is plea bargained down from doing something more serious.

Sanho: Bob, we have 2 million people behind bars in this country.
There are only 8 million prisoners in the entire world, so a quarter of our 2 million people are there for nonviolent drug offenses.
That's more people behind bars than the entire European Union locked up for all offenses, and they have 100 million more citizens than we do.
Are Americans that much more evil than people in the rest of the world, or do we have a screwed up criminal justice system?

Rachael: That's what I was gonna say.

[ Applause ]

Bill: We gotta take a break.
We'll come back.

[ Applause ]

Well, the Vatican sex abuse summit concluded in Rome today.
Two days of very intense discussions among clergy about sex with little boys and homosexuality.
Or as the priests themselves called it, "Loveline."

Bill: Well, Bill Clinton headlined today, playing his saxophone at a voter registration drive at the Apollo Theater.
Also featured on the bill were Michael Jackson, Tony Bennett, K.D. Lang.
One embarrassing moment, though.
Clinton took time out to recognize single moms, and Michael Jackson stood up.

[ Laughter ]

[ Applause ]

All right.
We're talking about drugs today.
Now, I have often said that I think the axis of evil with making any progress and ending the drug war is parents and politicians because politicians, of course, want to pander to the people who vote.
The people who vote are parents.
Kids don't vote.
They don't have to.
They don't care.
But parents want to protect their kids from drugs, and we understand that, and we want to help them protect their kids from drugs.
But, you know, what it turns out to be is jailing Americans like we're saying and confiscating property and corrupting our criminal justice system.
So when something comes along to help parents, I'm all for it, and that includes drug testing kids.
And I know a lot of kids don't like to hear me say that.
That's why you're kids.
You're not adults.
In Oklahoma, there's a high school senior who is suing because they made her pee in a cup because the Supreme Court in 1995 said that if you want to play sports, you gotta pee in a cup.
We gotta see if you're drug clean.
Now they want to see that for all after-school activities.
And I say I don't care what they do to the kids in the high school.
If it keeps away --
if it keeps adults from not having to undergo the kind of silly stuff that we've had to undergo in this country, I think that's fair.

Steve: I totally agree.
If you're there, and you're using Federal Money, and you're taking after-School classes that you're being insured for by that school, and they have to deal with the repercussions of you being high or drunk or coked up, then they should be able to test you for that because they're responsible for you on that.

Sanho: The best way to keep kids --

Rachael: Aren't they responsible for you in school?

Steve: Yes.

Rachael: So why not just test everybody? 'Cause my bet is that more kids do drugs who are, you know, cutting periods here and there and just jumping in.
Do we test people who are late for class?

Bill: That's a good point.
It's probably the kids who aren't in the after-school activities.

Robert: Exactly.

[ Laughter ]

[ Applause ]

That is their after-School activity.

Rachael: Exactly.

Steve: It's not the kid in the marching band.
It's the kid in the grunge band.

Sanho: The best way to keep kids off of drugs is between the hours of 3:00 and 7:00 when the parents are away, and they're left alone.
The best way to keep them off drugs is to keep them occupied in after-school programs.
Get them involved in something besides drugs, because drugs at that age are very much a default activity.
And so if you test kids, and you intimidate them from keeping them from joining these clubs after school, what are they gonna do?

Bill: It's when the parents aren't around, and that's the problem.
The parents want the government to do their job for them, and they are willing to use their fellow citizens as cannon fodder in the war on drugs, to keep their kids away from drugs, and that isn't fair to their fellow citizens.

It's not an either/or.
You test them, and you expand your after-school activities.
Look, there's been so much made out of peeing in a bottle.
It's nothing.
It takes 20 seconds, as long as they don't violate the privacy by having somebody go in with them and monitor, which is done in some extreme cases.

Bill: Talking about the church now?
[ Laughter ]

Robert: With what we're going through now with security at airports, to pee in a bottle is a big deal? It's nothing.

Bill: Well, it is a big deal for an adult.

Sanho: But this is also where we teach kids to be future citizens.
We teach them about democracy, the Bill of Rights.
We teach them about trust and good behavior, and this is what we show them is like you're not to be trusted.
Big brother is fine.
You don't need to observe the Bill of Rights.

Rachael: Yeah, but don't you think any kid, you know, who sort of got steered away, and so they're like, "Okay, we have to test you," and they said no was not standing up so much for their civil rights as they were thinking, "Okay, if we just maybe put this off for a couple weekends, I can expel that grassroots party I attended last weekend."
[ Light laughter ]

You know, it's just --
"Mom, dad, they're violating me." No, no.

Bill: Yes.

Steve: It's the kid who doesn't want to get caught is the one who's going to stand up for his rights and not pee in the cup.

[ Talking over each other ]

Bill: Say it.
That's not the right answer.

Sanho: The young student from Oklahoma who is now going to a college in New England, she was a test case in the Supreme Court.
They're deciding on it now, and she was a, you know, goody two shoes.
I mean, she was a real straight arrow, and she said no on a matter of principle.

Bill: Because the principle --
I mean, that argument that, "Well, why don't you do it if you have nothing to hide," we wouldn't accept that as an adult.
We shouldn't accept that as an adult.
That would be a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
That's why this country is so good because we can do that.
But these are children, and parents and teachers, their job is to keep kids healthy and safe because they're too dumb and young to do it themselves.
That's what it is to be a kid --
dumb and young.

Rachael: Wouldn't the ultimate "Told you so" be, you know, passing the test? Wouldn't it be?

Sanho: They learn how to cheat.
They know that marijuana stays in your body for about a month, so the kids told each other, "Well, we'll do alcohol, do cocaine, do something else."

Steve: So it's an applied learning.

Bill: Right.

[ Laughter ]

Steve: We're sending the wrong message to kids.

[ Applause ]

Bill: I mean, all your statistics about drugs are going down.
Yes, certain drugs go down because drug users are clever, and they do other drugs.
Ecstasy among teenagers is up 71% because they're too lazy to cut lines.

[ Laughter ]

Robert: You're big on science with the Bush Administration with global warming and other things.
The science is that overall drug use has gone down by half in this country in the last 20 years.

Bill: Go to a high school.
Just go to a high school.
Talk to kids.
They're maybe not doing the exact drugs.
You're putting your finger in this --

Robert: That's wrong.

Bill: Then why is ecstasy up exponentially?

Robert: Because the Netherlands have such a free society, and they get it off to us.
We gotta really hammer at them.

[ Light laughter ]

Sanho: Oh, Bob, how do you feel about anorexia? We all agree it's a terrible thing.
We don't we start jailing some anorexics? Aren't we sending the right message to kids?

Steve: 'Cause they'd slide right through the bars.

[ Laughter ]

Sanho: Should we have weight courts instead of drug courts? Shouldn't we monitor people?

Robert: I think the gentleman from the "Cow and Chicken" cartoon show’s got it right that drug testing is a good deterrent, and it's what parents should have as a tool.

Bill: Okay.
We gotta take a break.
We'll be back.

[ Applause ]

Bill: All right, we're talking about drugs in America.
What's legal, what's not.
You might think my big bugaboo is about the alcohol versus the pot one, but I think there's a worse one, which is, if you really want to talk about the drug America loves, it's speed, because it's good for business, because it's good for productivity.
The snack drawer is always for the sugar and the little coffee break, caffeine.
You can always fuel up in America on any kind of speed.
Don't cross that line to real speed, 'cause then you're a criminal --
unless you're rich, then you're a victim.

[ Laughter ]

But basically, don't Americans love speed, whether it's in Jolt or Mountain Dew or coffee or Vivarin or No Doz? Whatever it is, don't eat right, take more speed.

Rachael: Absolutely.
That is true.

[ Applause ]

That's real.
I mean, my vice is refined sugar.

Bill: Your vice, yes.
Because it give you energy?

Rachael: No, I just really like it.

[ Laughter ]

I don't know.

[ Applause ]

I'm serious.

Steve: You're absolutely right, but there's gotta be a line somewhere.
No pun intend --

[ Laughter and applause ]

I mean, of course, it's hypocrisy, but it's like porn, good, donkey porn, bad.
There's a line.

[ Laughter ]

You know, it's like --

Bill: But if the government is out to protect our health, how come they can try to hook 3-year-olds on sugar and caffeine and McDonald's, but these illegal drugs that we're talking about, that has to go? No secondhand smoke.

Robert: Again, there's science on this.
60% of arrestees test positive for illegal drugs.
Those are the illegal ones specifically.
Only 6% of the population as a whole has used illegal drugs in the last month.
Crime, violent crime from methamphetamine, murders, those kinds of things, they are associated with illegal drugs.
There's a reason that drugs are illegal.

Bill: But where you do think a person gets a taste to move on up to the illegal speed?
[ Talking over each other ]

Robert: I'm saying that's where the line is.

[ Laughter ]

And your point is right.
You're right on the culture, but you're also not right that the line has to be dropped.

Steve: I've never drank coffee and went, "God, this is great, but coke would be better."
[ Laughter ]

Bill: Well, lots of people have.
You don't think people do that? You don't think people --

Steve: Make that connection? Between, like, a cookie and drugs or sugar and drugs?

Bill: I don't know about sugar, but yes, Eric Clapton said his drug problems began with sugar.
Exactly what he said.

Robert: And he didn't know enough to not go to cocaine from that? Duh!

Bill: It takes years, but what I'm saying is that the root of the problem is that we don't try to fix ourselves in any sort of internal or natural way.
We try to fix ourselves with drugs all the time, and then sometimes, we find out, "Ooh, that one has crossed the line into illegality." But that's not the root of the problem, and it's not gonna solve the problem.
You can bring all the statistics you want.
This is a drug-loving culture, and until we address the real problem, it always will be, and you will never find success in the method you are taking.

[ Applause ]
Robert: There are successes.
[ Talking over each other ]

Sanho: On the one hand, the government is sending us ads saying if you take drugs, you're supporting terrorists.
And the next minute you're running ads for Paxil and Zoloft.
You take these drugs, you're an informed consumer.
And they're both mind-altering drugs.

Bill: Right.

Steve: And if you take Paxil, you're calm about terrorism.

Robert: You know what the number-one heroin (opium) country in the world is? Afghanistan.
The number-one cocaine country in the world? Colombia.
The two most violent terrorist-prone countries in the world.

Sanho: That's because their policies of prohibition elevate these worthless weeds into things that are worth more than Gold.
Marijuana is now worth its weight in solid gold, ounce for ounce.

Robert: I would agree with you that the policy is outrageous in Afghanistan right now.
President Bush has given a pass to growing opium in Afghanistan.

[ Talking over each other ]

Bill: Your position is President Bush is soft on drugs?

Robert: He's soft on opium there --

[ Laughter ]

Bill: That’s how hard you are on this issue.
That drug-loving --
and of course, he was.
George Bush funded a lot of terrorists in his day, didn't he?

Sanho: You can't find a presidential candidate who can claim to be drug-free.

Bill: All right.
We gotta take a break.
We'll be back.

[ Applause ]

Bill: In conclusion, the motto of the Red Bull --
you know that product? "It gives you wings." So they're saying, "Use our product, you'll be flying." That's okay.

[ Applause ]