LEAP once again points out the insanity of the “war on drugs”

October 30, 2011 | By | 15 Replies More

The following information is from a mass emailing I was recently sent by LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition):

Late Friday night the White House issued a typical evasive rejection of the several marijuana legalization petitions that collected more signatures than any other issue on its “We the People” website. Even though recent polls show that more voters support marijuana legalization than approve of President Obama’s job performance, the White House categorically dismissed the notion of reforming any laws, focusing its response on the possible harms of marijuana use instead of addressing the many harms of prohibition detailed in the petitions.

One of the popular petitions, submitted by retired Baltimore narcotics cop Neill Franklin, called on the Obama administration to simply stop interfering with states’ efforts to set their own marijuana laws.

It’s maddening that the administration wants to continue failed prohibition polices that do nothing to reduce drug use and succeed only in funneling billions of dollars into the pockets of the cartels and gangs that control the illegal market,” said Franklin, who serves as executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of cops, judges and prosecutors who support legalizing and regulating drugs. “If the president and his advisers think they’re being politically savvy by shying away from much-needed change to our drug policies, they’re wrong. The recent Gallup poll shows that more Americans support legalizing marijuana than support continuing prohibition, so the administration is clearly out of step with the people it claims to represent. President Obama needs to remember his campaign pledge not to waste scarce resources interfering with state marijuana laws and his earlier statement about the ‘utter failure’ of the drug war.

United States spends $52 Billion every year attempting to enforce prohibition, a demonstrably futile endeavor. From a recent article in Esquire Magazine, we get to know the “War on Drugs” by the numbers: “15,223 dead and $52.3 billion spent each year.”  Don’t believe the White House numbers that claim we’re spending more on treatment than law enforcement–those are cooked numbers, and they are shot down by the numbers in the Esquire article. Therefore, the “war on drugs” is, indeed a matter of good versus evil, but not in the way the federal government preaches.  Ken Burns’ recent documentary, “Prohibition,” shines a bright light on every mistake we are now making regarding street drugs. I’ll conclude with a quote by Albert Einstein:  “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

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Category: American Culture, Drug laws, hypocrisy

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (15)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    A bit of history, thanks to Charles Whitebread, a law professor who found and reviewed a transcript of a federal hearing from 1937:

    The other piece of medical testimony came from a man named Dr. William C. Woodward. Dr. Woodward was both a lawyer and a doctor and he was Chief Counsel to the American Medical Association. Dr. Woodward came to testify at the behest of the American Medical Association saying, and I quote, “The American Medical Association knows of no evidence that marihuana is a dangerous drug.”

    What’s amazing is not whether that’s true or not. What’s amazing is what the Congressmen then said to him. Immediately upon his saying, and I quote again, “The American Medical Association knows of no evidence that marihuana is a dangerous drug.”, one of the Congressmen said, “Doctor, if you can’t say something good about what we are trying to do, why don’t you go home?”

    That’s an exact quote. The next Congressman said, “Doctor, if you haven’t got something better to say than that, we are sick of hearing you.”

    Now, the interesting question for us is not about the medical evidence. The most fascinating question is: why was this legal counsel to the most prestigious group of doctors in the United States treated in such a high-handed way?

  2. Mike M. says:

    The Government is not at all interested in Truth, but they are quite interested in Spin and Disinformation. Many citizens are gullible and vulnerable to any and all (dis)information handed down from an Authority on high. The Government is clearly busy crafting “realities” which service their own ends. They want to hear only the “science” which is in accord to their prefabricated wishes, and they are willing to pay, bribe or compromise any “experts” that can be found.
    They KNOW that some of these substances are neither addictive nor harmful (the proof is overwhelming), but it does not service their agenda to officially admit it.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Mike M.: They also know that many other addictive substances, many of them demonstrably dangerous, are legal (alcohol and numerous potent psycho-active prescription pharmaceuticals). How is it that they come down so hard on a relatively harmless drug that people can grow themselves? I suspect that it’s because the brunt of users don’t hold powerful positions in government-industry (that’s become a hyphenated term these days).

      I have never advocated for the use of (nor used) marijuana, but it astounds me that we are spending such incredible amounts of money to keep it from otherwise law-abiding citizens. I’m also convinced that to the extent the government keeps advocating prohibition, it is squandering what smattering of good will it has with millions of users–it is ostracizing citizens by the droves with its short-sighted policy.

  3. Mike M. says:

    The hypocrisy and irony here is stunningly self-evident. It’s an absurdity which goes beyond anything dreamed up by Orwell or Kafka. And we’re actually living in this bizarre political environment. In 2011, vast areas of personal and scientific exploration (of the Self!, of your own mind!) have been declared as Official Heresy, with restrictions enforced by the most severe and disproportionate punishments imaginable. The Inquisition lives on…

    You say, “to the extent the government keeps advocating prohibition, it is squandering what smattering of good will it has with millions of users–it is ostracizing citizens by the droves with its short-sighted policy.” Yes indeed. And think also of how it creates an entire sub-culture of criminal citizens where, without prohibition, there would be none.

  4. Tim Hogan says:

    Geo Washington and many others among the “Founding Fathers” raised and praised the virtues of hemp. What do y’all think they were smoking in Philadelphia?

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    “A former NYPD narcotics detective snared in a corruption scandal testified it was common practice to fabricate drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas.”

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/fabricated-drug-charges-innocent-people-meet-arrest-quotas-detective-testifies-article-1.963021#ixzz1czQXUsQ4

  6. Mike M. says:

    You don’t say? I find that so hard to believe. Maybe those narco detectives forgot their White Hats at home that day? Gosh, these are the Good Guys, here to Serve and Protect us right? Boy, I hope they catch and reprimand these bad apples, or at least take away a few of their vacation days. Darn–see how one or two renegade officers can blacken the reputation of a fine upstanding moral group of fellas?

  7. Erich Vieth says:

    “I think the federal war on drugs is a total failure,” said Paul to hearty applause from the audience.

    “The drug war is out of control,” he added. “I fear the drug war, because it undermines our civil liberties, it magnifies our problems on the borders — we spent like over the last 40 years a trillion dollars on this war and, believe me, the kids can still get the drugs. It just hasn’t worked.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/22/republican-debate-gop-debate_n_1108379.html#8_romney-forgets-his-first-name-as-debate-kicks-off

    And see this video of Ron Paul’s condemnation of the “war on drugs.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/22/ron-paul-pot_n_1109102.html

  8. Erich Vieth says:

    From Huffpo, more on our screwed up priorities regarding the “war on drugs”:

    Arresting people for assaults, beatings and robberies doesn’t bring money back to police departments, but drug cases do in a couple of ways. First, police departments across the country compete for a pool of federal anti-drug grants. The more arrests and drug seizures a department can claim, the stronger its application for those grants.

    “The availability of huge federal anti-drug grants incentivizes departments to pay for SWAT team armor and weapons, and leads our police officers to abandon real crime victims in our communities in favor of ratcheting up their drug arrest stats,” said former Los Angeles Deputy Chief of Police Stephen Downing. Downing is now a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an advocacy group of cops and prosecutors who are calling for an end to the drug war.

    “When our cops are focused on executing large-scale, constitutionally questionable raids at the slightest hint that a small-time pot dealer is at work, real police work preventing and investigating crimes like robberies and rapes falls by the wayside,” Downing said.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/21/drug-war-incentives-police-violent-crime_n_1105701.html

  9. Mike M. says:

    Also, in addition to increasing police department budgets and bringing in more toys for the boys in blue to play with, what the escalating “War on Drugs” does is create hostility between officers and the citizens they’re supposed to be “protecting.” Think about this: if the police concentrated their efforts into only stopping real crimes (you know, crimes that have actual victims) then all law-abiding citizens would love the police, and hail them as heroes. Instead, by forcing police to act as morality thugs and the enforcement arm of the Vatican, it creates an antagonistic and disfunctional relationship between the police and the people. Punishing citizens for breaking religious, moral or cultural taboos that hurt no one should not be the function of the police, but a function of the clerics and priestcraft (if they could still get away with it, you know they would!).

  10. Erich Vieth says:

    California is gearing up to get a new law on the ballot: RMLW (Regulate Marijuana Like Wine). Follow this link for an analysis of what went wrong with the previous effort, and why proponents are quite optimistic about RMLW. http://regulatemarijuanalikewine.com/legal-and-political-analysis-of-regulate-marijuana-like-wine/

  11. Erich Vieth says:

    2011’s significant events regarding marijuana can be viewed here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/30/marijuana-policy-top-pot-stories-2011_n_1176744.html#s581464&title=Lawmakers_Propose_Ending

    Once again, more than 800,000 Americans were arrested for possessing marijuana. We apparently can’t think of any better use for law enforcement and our criminal justice system.

  12. Erich Vieth says:

    “At some point in the distant past, the war on drugs might have been popular. But not anymore — the polling is clear, but beyond that, the last three Presidents have used illegal drugs. So why do we still put hundreds of thousands of people in steel cages for pot-related offenses? Well, there are many reasons, but one of them is, of course, money in politics. Corruption. Whatever you want to call it, it’s why you can’t smoke a joint without committing a crime, though of course you can ingest any number of pills or drinks completely within the law.”

    http://www.truth-out.org/why-cant-you-smoke-pot-because-lobbyists-are-getting-rich-war-drugs/1331480883

  13. Erich Vieth says:

    “A group of police officers, prosecutors, judges and other criminal justice professionals – including Seattle’s former chief of police – is endorsing I-502, the Washington initiative to regulate and tax marijuana that voters will decide on this November.” http://digg.com/newsbar/topnews/cops_judges_endorse_washington_i_502_marijuana_legalization

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