You’ve got to give a lot of credit to the people at LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). This organization consists of law enforcement officers who have come to the stark realization that the “war on drugs” is more destructive than the drugs themselves. That means that the law enforcement officers now agree with 76% of Americans who “have come to realize that the war on drugs is a failure” (Zogby International (October 2008)). How many law enforcement officers agree that the war on drugs is a failure?
LEAP is made up of current and former police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents, corrections officials, military officers and others who fought on the front lines of the “war on drugs” and who know firsthand that prohibition only worsens drug addiction and illicit drug market violence. Including our civilian supporters, LEAP represents more than 40,000 people in more than 80 countries.
LEAP has now released a short brochure titled “Ending the Drug War: a Dream Deferred.” The focus is the hypocrisy of Barack Obama. Consider this comparison of how the war on drugs was treated by the man who started it, Richard Nixon, with the way it is being treated by Barack Obama (the following quote is from LEAP’s “Ending the Drug War”):
While the Nixon administration’s public messaging carefully stressed punishment, it directed resources primarily toward public health. Today, the Obama administration’s press releases emphasize public health while its funding requests are actually weighted toward punishment.
The LEAP report quite reasonably insists that actions speak louder than words, and follows the budget dollars Mr. Obama has allocated toward the use of illegal drugs versus the number of dollars used for treatment and counseling. When one considers these numbers, one can see that the Obama administration is putting a high priority on punishment, and deemphasizing treatment. When one follows the same budget dollars, one can also see that the United States is pouring gasoline on the drug war fire in Mexico:
One of the ugliest signs of the failure of the war on drugs is the wildly escalating rate of illegal drug trade murders in Mexico. Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug cartels shortly after taking office in late 2006, nearly 40,000 people have been killed in attacks that the media calls “drug violence,” but which are in fact the predictable turf battles that accompany the policy of prohibition. The tally of dead of course includes cartel members themselves, but an alarming number of the fallen are police officers and civilian bystanders as well as some U.S. citizens.
(See page 9 of LEAP’s well-documented report). 40,000 dead people is a lot of blood on the streets to “protect” Americans from drugs that they want to use at a time when most illegal drugs have legal equivalent available with a prescription through your local drugstore (and see here), or available without a prescription at your local tavern.
The source of the hypocrisy of Barack Obama is his admission that criminally prosecuting illegal drug users is not effective and his complementary admission that he thinks of drugs as “more of a public health problem.”
OK, Mr. President. If you feel that way, why have you acted the opposite? Instead of calling it “the war on drugs,” it’s time to call it what it is: Prohibition. And prohibition has been proven to not work.