Calilfornia marijuana Legalization debate gets interesting

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VicPD Officer Ordered to Stay Quiet

Cop Says Drug Prohibition Places All the Power in the Hands of Criminals

David Bratzer enforces the law, but he doesn’t necessary agree with it when it comes to illegal drugs.

“One of the sad things about the prohibition of drugs in our society is that despite more than four decades of heavy drug enforcement, we see today that drugs are cheaper, more available and more pure than ever before,” said Bratzer, an active officer with the Victoria Police Department who sees the war on drugs as a failure.

“Drug enforcement now dominates what police officers do, so every day in my job I find myself trying to manage the consequences of drug prohibition.

“All of these issues are more related to the prohibition of drugs than drug-use itself.”

Which is why Bratzer decided that in his off-duty hours, he’d work independently with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
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LEAP’s Cops and Clergy Initiative

We are pleased to officially announce Law Enforcement Against Prohibition‘s latest project, the Cops and Clergy Initiative.  The initiative features an unstoppable alliance of representatives of the faith and law enforcement communities collaborating to make speaking appearances at places of worship and in the media across the country.  Earlier this month in California, prohibitionist police and religious groups came out in force attempting to impede the progress of legislation that would legalize marijuana.  While the bill did pass the Assembly’s public safety committee, such public opposition to legalization and regulation from cops and clergy who perpetuate the failed war on drugs emphasizes the need for LEAP’s Cops and Clergy Initiative. Combining the experience, expertise and credibility of these two professions, the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative and the Ordinary People Society join LEAP in the effort to counter the prohibitionist’s standard use of those communities to thwart drug policy reform.

Please view our video, “Cops and Clergy Talk About the War on Drugs,” by clicking here.  If you are able to host a Cops and Clergy speaker at your place of worship or are interested in showing our video on your local public access station, please contact us at CopsAndClergy@leap.cc . Please visit www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com/Donate to support this project and all LEAP’s work.

Walter McKay on Police Accountability and Reform

I’m pleased to share a new blog with LEAP supporters. Walter McKay‘s blog is titled Police Accountability and Reform. It’s been around for a while, but recently he started posting on it more regularly. He lives in Mexico and so much of his writing focuses on the violence of the drug cartels in that country. He keeps a close tab on the latest developments, especially in terms of the daily killings, the weaponry used, the police corruption, the methods of intimidation, etc.

I was first introduced to McKay’s work sometime around 2004 when I watched a documentary called Through a Blue Lens. This movie is certainly one of most powerful films I have ever watched about the horrors of drug abuse. It was produced by a group of Vancouver police officers who were part of a non-profit society called Odd Squad Productions. McKay was one of the founding members of this group. And I didn’t know it at the time – I wasn’t even a police officer back then – but we would eventually end up working together as members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

After twelve years in policing, McKay left the Vancouver Police Department to pursue his interests in criminal justice reform. He received an M.A. from Simon Fraser University and then began his PhD studies with a focus on police ethics. He now lives in Mexico City where he is project director for the Instituto para la Seguridad y la Democracia (INSYDE), a non-profit organization focused on police reform.

I’m reasonably certain that Walt is qualified to talk about the War on Drugs. Please take a moment to visit his blog and say hello.

Drug investigations and police pursuits

Two people are dead in North Bay, Ontario, after a police pursuit. The vehicle was stopped at a drinking and driving road block. Officers initiated a drug investigation and attempted to arrest the occupants. However, they fled in the car, causing minor injuries to one of the officers. During the ensuing pursuit the suspect vehicle drove over a spike belt, continued driving and collided with an oncoming car. Both drivers were killed.

We’ve mentioned these pursuits before on the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition blog. And we’ll surely do it again.

It will be interesting to find out the amount of drugs involved, since that wasn’t provided in the initial press release. As Dave Dale notes in his column, “My only hope is that the initial arrest wasn’t over a relatively minor infraction. Someone please tell me two people didn’t die over a joint of pot.”
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Former Police Chief Norm Stamper: ‘Let’s Not Stop at Marijuana Legalization’

A new poll shows that most Americans are ready to legalize marijuana, but not drugs like cocaine or heroin. A 34-year police vet says it’s time to legalize them all.

This article is by former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, Ph.D. Read about him here and here.

These days, it seems like everyone is talking in earnest about marijuana legalization, once dismissed as little more than a Cheech and Chong pipe dream. Indeed, a new poll reveals that 53 percent of Americans now support ending marijuana prohibition.

Bolstered by increasing public support for something once considered to be a political third rail, lawmakers from Rhode Island to Washington State have put the issue on the table for consideration. And citizen initiatives (particularly in California) are cropping up faster than ditch weed.

These are welcome developments to a retired police chief like me who oversaw the arrests of countless people for marijuana and other drugs, but saw no positive impact from all the blood, sweat and tears (and money) put into the effort. Soon, it seems, cops may no longer have to waste time and risk lives enforcing pot laws that don’t actually prevent anyone from using marijuana.

Yet, I’m alarmed that the above-mentioned poll showing majority support for marijuana legalization also found that fewer than one in 10 people agree that it’s time to end the prohibition of other drugs.

This no doubt makes sense to some readers at first glance, since more people are familiar with marijuana than other drugs like cocaine, heroin or meth. However, even a cursory study of our drug war policies will reveal that legalizing pot but not other drugs will leave huge social harms unresolved.

Legalizing marijuana only will not:

• Stop gangs from selling other drugs to our kids (since illegal drug dealers rarely check for ID);

• Stop drug dealers from brutally murdering rival traffickers for the purpose of controlling the remaining criminal market for other drugs;

• Stop drug dealers from firing on cops charged with fighting the senseless war on other illicit drugs;

• Stop drug dealers from killing kids caught in crossfire and drive-by shootings;

• Stop overdose deaths of drug users who refrain from calling 911 out of fear of legal repercussions;

• Reduce the spread of infectious diseases like AIDS and hepatitis, since marijuana users don’t inject their drug like heroin users (who sometimes share dirty needles and syringes because prohibition makes it hard to secure clean ones);

• Stop the bloody cartel battles in Mexico that are rapidly expanding over the border into the U.S;

• Stop the Taliban from raking in massive profits from illegal opium cultivation in Afghanistan.

Of course, none of this means that our rapidly growing marijuana legalization movement should slow down.

On the contrary, as the polls show, a majority of Americans understand that legalizing marijuana will produce many benefits. No longer will 800,000 people a year be arrested on pot charges, their lives damaged if not ruined; governments will be able to tax the popular commodity; regulation and revenues will help forge and finance effective programs of drug abuse prevention and treatment; and those vicious cartels will lose as much as half their illicit profits when they can no longer sell marijuana.

Further, once people get used to the idea of allowing legal sales of the previously banned drug we’ll be able to point to successful regulation as a model for similar treatment of all other currently illicit substances.

Marijuana legalization is a great step in the direction of sane and sensible drug policy. But we reformers must remember that we’re working to legalize drugs not because we think they are safe, but because prohibition is far more dangerous to users and nonusers alike.