Friday, February 26, 2010

LEAP Testifies for Medical Marijuana Regulations in Washington, D.C.

Retired U.S. marshal Matthew Fogg testified this week in favor of effective regulations for the soon-to-be-enacted medical marijuana law in Washington, D.C.

Here's the video, and below that is a copy of Matthew's written testimony.

Testimony on B18-622: Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative Amendment Act of 2010

Council of the District of Columbia

Committee on Health and Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Submitted By:

Matthew F. Fogg,

Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal, ret.

on behalf of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition


Council members, thank you for allowing me to testify at this joint session of the Committee on Health and the Committee on Public Safety concerning the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative Amendment Act of 2010.

My name is Matthew Fogg. I am a lifelong resident of Washington, D.C. Over the course of my career as a Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal ultimately ending with the title of Chief Deputy, I received the District of Columbia, U.S. Attorney and Federal Bar Association's highest law enforcement awards for tracking down over 300 of America's most-wanted and dangerous fugitives. I was also cross designated as Supervisory Special Agent for the U.S Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Washington, DC - Metropolitan Area Task Force (MATF) and nominated for the Outstanding Contribution to Narcotics Enforcement award by a Tactical Officer or Investigator. To make a long story short, my direct observation of the racist and ineffective nature of our drug laws led me to be here representing Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an organization of current and former members of the law enforcement including judges and prosecutors in criminal justice communities nationwide who are speaking out about the failures of our existing national drug policies. I am here today representing over 16,000 members and supporters of LEAP.

As a member of law enforcement, I am focusing my comments on issues of public safety. This bill does not have provisions for police training and procedures. A lack of structure for police has led to huge problems in other states which passed medical marijuana laws. We should learn from this and institute consistent methods to reach the common goals of using police resources wisely and keeping the citizens of DC, including patients, safe. I recommend that the police department training materials be updated to reflect the passage of the bill within six months after it becomes effective. All Federal, State and Municipal police personnel should have access to these updated materials.

It should be specified in the bill that patients, their caregivers, and medical cannabis dispensing collectives who come into contact with law enforcement will not be cited or arrested, and dried cannabis or cannabis plants in their possession will not be seized, if they are in compliance with the provisions under the law.

If the patient, caregiver, or dispensing collective cannot establish or demonstrate their status as falling into these groups, but are otherwise in compliance with the provisions of the medical cannabis law, then they should be given a chance to provide proof of status before being cited or arrested or having their cannabis seized.

I would recommend that the bill specify that medical cannabis-related activities should be the lowest possible priority of the Police Department, in order to free officers’ time and resources for attention to violent crime.

I would like to also comment on the provision of the bill that excludes anyone with a misdemeanor drug conviction or any felony conviction from owning or working at a dispensary. I strongly disagree with this exclusion as unnecessary and biased. I have personal experience with the very real racial disparities governing just who is targeted by the laws and criminal justice system. I recall specifically during my tenure on the DEA MATF we were persuaded to target inner city area violators who often had less resources and abilities to defend prosecution and turned out to be mainly people of color. Therefore, our narcotics arrest unfairly reflected Black and Brown violators in which statistics today prove that this form of racial profiling in the U.S. led war on drugs has been one of the most racist federal policies since Slavery and has literally destroyed the family hierarchy in communities of color. This provision in the bill would again unfairly target the same groups by preventing them from being employed by a dispensary. Recall also that for the past eleven years, while Initiative 59 was blocked, patients were not protected and many of them may have been convicted for being in possession of their medicine. Why preclude them from employment at a dispensary?

Let me conclude by saying that protecting medical cannabis patients from arrest is a great step in the right direction. But while we spend minutes, months, and years discussing and implementing these small steps of reform, the clock continues to tick and we continue to spend billions of dollars each year on a failed drug war. Putting marijuana users in jail does nothing but create an enormous profit incentive to sell more marijuana to anyone who will pay for it and keep the violence associated with prohibition in place. Ultimately, we need to address this issue positively by controlling drugs, regulating them, and putting the violent cartels out of business once and for all.

Medical marijuana raids by DEA, "arrest everybody" comments by agent Jeff Sweetin prompt Jared Polis letter to U.S. Attorney General - Denver News - The Latest Word

This is something worth reading -

Medical marijuana raids by DEA, "arrest everybody" comments by agent Jeff Sweetin prompt Jared Polis letter to U.S. Attorney General - Denver News - The Latest Word: "Last week, we shared with you a letter medical marijuana advocate Rob Corry sent to the U.S. Inspector General regarding the Drug Enforcement Administration raid on Highlands Ranch medical marijuana grower Chris Bartkowicz.

Now, someone's sent another letter -- this one addressed to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and copied to a certain President Barack Obama -- asking that Corry's complaints and concerns be addressed. That person? Representative Jared Polis.

The missive, originally posted on, finds Polis wading into the conflict between the Colorado constitution and federal drug policy that Bartkowicz attorney Joseph Saint-Veltri discussed at length in this space on Monday. Polis spokeswoman Lara Cottingham explains why he took this unusual step.

'Congressman Polis believes these raids are in contradiction to the will of the voters of Colorado and are an unwarranted federal intervention in the doctor patient relationship,' Cottingham notes via e-mail. 'President Obama has clearly stated his position on respecting states that have voted to allow medical marijuana, and the recent raids are contrary to that policy. Congressman Polis feels these actions strike fear into the hearts of many medical marijuana patients who are already dealing with chronic pain and suffering and must be stopped.'"

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Supporter of Drug Legalization wins CPAC straw poll

At CPAC, an annual gathering of American conservatives in Washington, D.C., Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul won a straw poll as their top choice to run for President in 2012. This is significant for drug reformers as the Texas Congressman has campaigned for years against the drug war.

Paul did not shy away from this issue during his speech to CPAC as witnessed by the first 30 seconds or so of this clip.

LEAP, of course, is non-partisan, but it is encouraging to see that someone who advocates for ending the drug war can find significant support in the conservative movement.

Mexican ex-president calls for free trade, legal drugs

I was happy to read this news report - Pacific Coast Business Times - Mexican ex-president calls for free trade, legal drugs which quoted former Mexican president Vicente Fox saying:

"If it wants to end drug-related violence in Mexico, the United States should consider legalizing drugs"


"We need to end the war . . . It's time to debate legalizing drugs. Then maybe we can separate violence from what is a health problem."

Of course, it would be nice to find more politicians speaking out against the drug war while they are still in office!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 is a great new web site launched recently by some friends of mine. It is a micro-blogging service focused on sharing what you did today to create social change. From their FAQ:
If a wall must be hit with a hammer 1000 times before it is knocked down, which hit knocks down the wall?"

ISU's philosophy is that lasting change happens not through politics or guns or force but through the spreading of ideas through thousands of conversations.

Conversations expose people to new ideas and concepts, turn perceived minority opinions into majority ones and empower others to speak up about what is important to them.

Basically, is here to empower you to make lasting change about those issues that are important to you through speaking up, one conversation at a time. Here you can see what others are up to, converse on best approaches for your favorite topics, gather the courage to speak up about what's important to you and post about it to inspire others and amplify your voice.
You can write about anything - medical marijuana, LEAP, safe injection sites, etc. You can create an account or submit anonymous comments - it only takes a minute or two to try it out.

[Note: this post written in advance.]

Monday, February 15, 2010

Drug War Mistaken

The following post was composed by LEAP speaker Dean Becker and is cross-posted at Huffington Post.

In the name of all powers that be, let us reconsider our stance regarding the policy of drug prohibition. In this hundred year effort to prevent the use of certain flowers and plant extracts we have empowered criminal elements worldwide to the tune of $400 billion per year. The US has arrested 39 million non-violent drug users at a cost of more than one trillion dollars. Despite the horrors the US inflicts on its own people in the name of drug war, it is the citizens of Mexico that bear the deadliest weight of this prohibition.

Thousands of Mexicans are butchered each year in the name of fighting this first of America's eternal wars; the pipe dream of men who have long since died and whose followers continue their efforts to destroy the law of supply and demand, to stop 100's of millions of users, to prohibit the tens of millions of growers and millions of criminals from seeking their cut of black market profits. America is addicted to drug war.

Some say the fault lies with the American users, that if they were to quit using cocaine, heroin and marijuana that the cartels would wither away. Those who fault the users do not take into account that the US represents only 5% of the earths population so that even if every American quit using these drugs, the Mexican cartels would still have hundreds of millions of customers worldwide and the barbarism would continue to escalate.

Through a willing or silent embrace of prohibition those proponents of eternal drug war are ensuring more death, disease, crime and addiction. Born from racial screeds and amplified by hysteria and propaganda this policy has no basis in science, no medical data to justify its existence and in fact has no relationship with empirical data whatsoever and has no embrace of, nor nexus with, reality itself.

Generations of politicians and law enforcement have prospered from the policy of drug prohibition and dare not allow their stance taken, to be examined in a new light. But for the rest of us, ignorance and superstition may eventually be forgiven, but the horrors the United States has promulgated on this planet in the name of drug war, will never be forgotten.

Those who seek to forestall a reinvestigation of our drug war policy have aligned themselves so as to ensure eternal profits for evil ones who mean to destroy our way of life, our freedoms, our democracy.

Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman once said to drug czar William Bennett: "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken? Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore."

Pray that we open our eyes, our hearts and our minds to the horrors we inflict on ourselves via our fear of flowers. How many Mexicans will have to die, before Americans realize they are .. mistaken?

On Sunday, Feb 14 we will interview El Paso City Coucilman Beto Orourke & Students for Sensible Drug Policy board member Michael Blunt on the Drug Truth Network radio programs. Listen live at 6:30 CENTRAL time at or tune in to one of our 72 affiliate stations in the US and Canada or check it out on Monday morning on our website

Colorado DEA Sweetin Must Be Disciplined Immediately and Publicly - Frieling

Responding to news reports from Colorado regarding the DEA's attempts to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries that are legal under Colorado state law and especially to the comments from Denver's DEA Special Agent in Charge, Jeffrey Sweetin (who appears to have a history of inappropriate actions when it comes to marijuana policy),
Dear Mr. President

Denver DEA Special Agent in Charge, Jeffrey Sweetin says "Technically, every dispensary in the State [Colorado] is in blatant violation of federal law." "The time is coming when we go into a dispensary, we find out what their profit is, we seize the building, and we arrest everybody. They're violating federal law; they're at risk of arrest and imprisonment." [per AP, Denver Post, and the Boulder Daily Camera, pg. 1 , 2/14/2010].

This is in direct contradiction to your campaign promise, your "Holder Memo," and the Colorado State Constitution. This hypocrisy is not the government behavior that we demand of our elected leaders. A bit of consistent honesty should be a reasonable voter expectation.

SAC Sweetin has forgotten for whom he works, and requires an appropriate public reminder, whether that is a transfer, a public reprimand or a firing. His personal, incorrect belief, that "marijuana is not medicine" is ill-informed, and irrelevant to his job description, unless he insists on bringing his personal unscientific bias into his job, blatantly disregarding his office, his chain of command, and the Constitutions of Colorado and of the United States. As a part of the Executive Branch of our government, I believe that he works for you, Sir.

Thank you for your time and happy Valentine's Day.

Leonard I. Frieling

Friday, February 12, 2010

Safe Games 2010

Today marks the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics in Canada. Right now there are huge numbers of athletes, journalists and tourists in Vancouver and Whistler.

In some respects the Olympics is one giant party, and we all know how important it is important to party responsibly. The Safe Games web site aims to help people do that. It is full of information about harm reduction, safer clubbing, HIV / AIDS awareness, alcohol, overdose prevention, and safer sex. From their web site:
SafeGames 2010 seeks to educate people who may not be aware of the risks of their own behaviour, to highlight the Vancouver’s reputation as a global leader in innovative harm reduction policies and practices, and to support the ongoing work of the many organisations working to provide solutions to Vancouver’s public health challenges.
[Note: this post was written in advance.]

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Change of Tactics and a cleansing (again)

President Calderón finally made a visit to Ciudad Juárez and promised funding for schools, infrastructure and social services to support those in need and the youth who are falling prey to the narcos. After nearly 4,000 murders in this city under his presidency, Calderón has finally seen that more soldiers, more police, more guns etc is not the way to combat the scourge of poverty that supports the powerbase of organized crime. The youth need to see hope, they need to see opportunities that are provided by the state government as opposed to the opportunities offered (or forced by) the powerful crime syndicates.

Meanwhile, in Baja California the Attorney General has promised another cleansing of crooked, corrupt cops that have been revealed through the arrests of El Teo and his gang members. Apparently all levels of police are affected by the insidious tentacles of corruption (Federal, State and Municipal police) with some receiving up to 60,000 USD per month to cooperate and protect organized crime.

And what would this posting be without an update on the killing. At least it is a low number “only” 14 were killed yesterday with the total at 1167 for 2010 and the daily average still at 29. Torreón, Coahuila is still in a killing mood with 2 dead and 5 wounded, while a police sub-commander was killed while driving on patrol in the city of Aguascalientes. Tijuana, despite the high profile arrests had 7 killings and Sinaloa 4 more.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Press Release: El Paso City Council Votes on Marijuana Legalization

CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or media //at// leap //dot// cc


Ending Prohibition Would De-Fund Murderous Mexican Cartels

EL PASO, TX -- The El Paso City Council will consider a resolution on Tuesday that calls for the legalization of marijuana as way to strip Mexican drug cartels of the rich profits they make from the illegal market. The resolution is aimed at putting a stop to the cartel violence that has killed almost 10,000 people since the beginning of 2007.

"When I worked to defend the border in El Paso, I witnessed the failure and futility of the war on drugs firsthand," said Richard Newton, a retired Customs and Border Protection agent and a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a global network of pro-legalization cops, judges and prosecutors. "After 40 years of waging the drug war, we've only made the cartels stronger and richer than ever. It's clearly time for a new approach like legalization, which would bankrupt the cartels and put a stop to their killings."

Previously, the El Paso City Council set off a nationwide debate on the merits of legalization in early 2009 when it unanimously passed a resolution that merely called for serious consideration of ending prohibition as one possible option. Mayor John Cook vetoed that resolution and the council refrained from overriding the veto only after receiving threats from Congressman Silvestre Reyes that the city would lose federal stimulus money if it insisted on supporting a discussion of the merits of legalization.

The current resolution that explicitly calls for the legalization of marijuana can be viewed at

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is a 15,000-member organization representing police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others from around the world who want to legalize and regulate all drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info is available at

# # #

Saturday, February 6, 2010

New LEAP speakers

Here are a couple of LEAP speakers who joined the organization within the last year. Their biographies are relatively new on the LEAP web site, so I thought it might be nice to highlight them on the blog:

Annie Machon is a former British Secret Service Intelligence Officer. She has her own blog which you can view here.

Justin Dolan came from a family of law enforcement officers and he wanted to follow in their footsteps. Unfortunately, early in his policing career he was seriously injured while on duty. He now owns his own business and lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Larry Talley was a US Navy Intelligence Specialist who participated in drug interdiction programs in South America. He retired in 2007 and now lives in Texas.

[Note - this post was written in advance, as I don't have easy access to the Internet right now.]

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Are Drug Courts the answer?

AP News | The Columbia Daily Tribune: "JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri wastes considerable money by putting nonviolent offenders in prison and mishandling those convicted of drug and alcohol crimes, Chief Justice William Ray Price told state lawmakers Wednesday while urging for a new crime-fighting strategy.

Price told a joint legislative session during his State of the Judiciary speech that Missouri officials have spent years to get tough on crime by putting more people in prison and that the state has spent billions of dollars while crime has not been reduced. He said that requires a new technique that uses special drug and drunken-driving courts and rehabilitation efforts to cut down on recidivism of nonviolent offenders."

They have drug courts in Maryland. They are useful at keeping people out of prison, but I still don't like them. What about a policy of freedom? Why is it so hard to allow adults to make their own decisions, their own mistakes, and to hold them accountable if those mistakes infringe on the rights of others? Drug Courts are just the softer side of prohibition, a nicer fascism. And they still keep the criminal gangs in business.

LEAP Featured in Wall Street Journal Article!

Former undercover narcotics detective and current LEAP executive director Jack Cole was featured in the Wall Street Journal today.

Mr. Cole traveled to Providence recently to help Mr. Miller craft a strategy. He often wears a badge that reads: "Cops Say Legalize Drugs. Ask Me Why."

In his standard speech, he describes the epiphany he experienced early in his career as an undercover narcotics investigator. "I learned firsthand of the family-destroying consequences of sending drug users [often mothers and fathers] to jail. I can't think of a better policy for creating the next generation of drug addicts than to remove parents from children," he said. "I also realized that when police arrested a robber or rapist they made the community safer for everyone but when I arrested a drug pusher, I simply created a job opening for someone in a long line of people willing to take his place."

The piece, by Joel Millman, focuses on the state of Rhode Island's ongoing review and revision of its marijuana laws as an example of how the nation as a whole is reconsidering the decades-old "drug war" approach.

Please, if you have a Digg account (or even just a Facebook one), make sure to Digg this piece so that more people get the opportunity to read it and learn about LEAP's drug-legalizing cops.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A "Balanced Approach" to Drug Control?

Despite trumpeting a "balanced and comprehensive drug strategy," President Obama's White House Drug Czar's office announced this week that it is continuing the nearly two-to-one budget disparity that heavily favors spending on law enforcement and punishment over public health strategies like treatment and prevention.

Page 13 of this PDF has all the details.

And, in continuing with a shady practice first instituted by the Bush administration, it looks like Obama's ONDCP isn't even including many of the costs of waging the drug war in the budget breakdown, meaning that the supply vs. demand ratio even more heavily favors punishment over public health in reality than it does on paper (which is bad enough, if you ask us).

It sure was an encouraging signal when Drug Czar Kerlikowske declared that the "war on drugs" was over shortly after he took the job last year. But until the budget numbers match up with rhetoric, it looks like the war is still being waged.

Monday, February 1, 2010

YouTube Shields President Obama from Marijuana Questions

President Obama took some time today to answer questions that people submitted and voted on through YouTube.

Unfortunately, although questions about marijuana and drug policy were among the top vote-getters in many categories, YouTube officials opted not to ask the president about the topic.

It is of course disappointing that, despite the obvious interest many voters have in hearing the president talk about drug policy, that none of the high-scoring questions about it got through. But if the president does sit down more regularly to answer questions from voters, as he suggested today that he would like to do, citizens are sure to keep submitting drug policy questions that they want answered and YouTube will probably feel increasingly pressured to actually bring the subject up with the president.

Still, if YouTube does eventually present President Obama with a marijuana or drug policy question one of these days, let's just hope that he doesn't laugh it off like he did last few times he was asked about the issue.

After all, polls are increasingly showing that the public takes this issue very seriously. Our elected officials should, too.
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