Monday, November 29, 2010

Willie Nelson Wants Marijuana Legalization "Teapot Party" |

Willie Nelson Wants Marijuana Legalization "Teapot Party" | "After his third pot possession bust in five years, country music legend Willie Nelson has had enough. He told former High Times editor Steve Bloom's CelebStoner web site Sunday it is time for a new, pro-marijuana political party.

'There's the Tea Party. How about the Teapot Party? Our motto: We lean a little to the left,' Nelson said. 'Tax it, regulate it and legalize it, and stop the border wars over drugs. Why should the drug lords make all the money? Thousands of lives will be saved.'"

Good for Willie Nelson. However, he ought to consider the wisdom of legalizing, taxing, and regulating all drugs. Also, I think he would be wiser to include people in his proposed party who lean to the right as well. Many conservatives want to end the drug war too.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Neill Franklin in the Huffington Post

LEAP's executive director, Neill Franklin, has a new article in the Huffington Post. It's about the video "10 Rules for Dealing with Police" from Flex your Rights. This is different from LEAP's usual message but judging by the comments it was well received.

Now, imagine you were making a film for police officers: "10 Rules for Dealing with the Public." What would your rules be?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cops Urge Senate to Reject Obama's DEA Nominee - Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 16, 2010
CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or media//at//leap//dot//cc

Pro-Legalization Police Group Asks Senate to Vote Against Obama's DEA Nominee

Judiciary Committee to Hold Confirmation Hearing on Wednesday

WASHINGTON, DC -- A group of police officers, judges and prosecutors who support legalizing and regulating marijuana and other drugs has sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee opposing President Obama's nominee to head the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The nominee, Michele Leonhart, has overseen numerous DEA raids of medical marijuana clinics operating in accordance with state laws during her tenure as acting DEA administrator. This is in direction violation of President Obama's campaign pledges and a Justice Department directive urging the DEA not to waste scarce law enforcement resources undermining the will of voters who have made medical marijuana legal in their states.

"As a police officer, I made arrests of drug users because I was held accountable for enforcing the law whether I agreed with it or not," wrote Neill Franklin, a former Baltimore narcotics cop, in his testimony on behalf of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), which he leads as executive director.  "Ms. Leonhart should be held similarly accountable for her actions which were inconsistent with guidance from the Department of Justice, as well as President Obama’s clear intentions based on his popular campaign pledges."

The criminal justice professionals of LEAP are also concerned with Leonhart's apparent disregard for the value of human life, having once called the gruesome violence in Mexico's illegal drug market a sign of "success" for U.S. drug policy.

"The tens of thousands of civilian deaths, which have continued to skyrocket since Ms. Leonhart’s statement, should not be measured as a sign of success," Franklin wrote. "Former Mexican president Vicente Fox and at least three additional former Latin American presidents have pointed out the failure of the US-led war on drugs and called for drastic change. The situation is Mexico is grave and escalating rapidly, putting US citizens in danger. Before the spillover violence gets any worse, the DEA needs a director who can engage world leaders in this debate and come to a solution."

Leonhart has served as acting administrator of the DEA for two years.  The hearing to confirm her as administrator takes place before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday at 2:30 PM in 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

#     #     #


Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Statement of
Major Neill Franklin
on behalf of
in opposition to the nomination of
Ms. Michele Leonhart

Mr. Chairman and distinguished Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) in opposition to the nomination of Michele Leonhart for the position of Director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

After a 33-year career as a police officer, I became the executive director of LEAP, an association of current and former law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, and criminal justice professionals at every level of government who are speaking out about the failure of our drug policy.

Our members are deeply concerned about drug abuse and illicit drug market violence, and we have spent our careers fighting the drug war. Several of our members, including Russ Jones of Texas, Matthew Fogg of Washington, D.C., and Richard Amos of Florida, served as DEA agents or on DEA task forces. And as a police officer with the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department, I too made my share of drug arrests in addition to commanding multi-jurisdictional drug task forces.

We oppose Ms. Leonhart’s nomination because her statements and actions demonstrate questionable judgment.  Ms. Leonhart held a press conference regarding Mexican drug prohibition violence last year.  Since 2006, more than 28,000 people have died in Mexico as a result of the illegal drug market violence.  At the press conference, Ms. Leonhart indicated that such violence was a good sign. “Our view is that the violence we have been seeing is a signpost of the success our very courageous Mexican counterparts are having,” she said. “The cartels are acting out like caged animals, because they are caged animals.”

The tens of thousands of civilian deaths, which have continued to skyrocket since Ms. Leonhart’s statement, should not be measured as a sign of success. Former Mexican president Vicente Fox and at least three additional former Latin American presidents have pointed out the failure of the US-led war on drugs and called for drastic change. The situation is Mexico is grave and escalating rapidly, putting US citizens in danger. Before the spillover violence gets any worse, the DEA needs a director who can engage world leaders in this debate and come to a solution.

Ms. Leonhart’s judgment in allocating resources is questionable. Since her appointment by President Bush, she has overseen more than 200 federal raids in California and other medical marijuana states.  When Ms. Leonhart became interim director, these raids continued even after the issuance of the October 19, 2009 Department of Justice memo which recommended federal officials shift resources away from targeting those individuals and organizations operating in compliance with state laws related to medical marijuana.

As a police officer, I made arrests of drug users because I was held accountable for enforcing the law whether I agreed with it or not.  Ms. Leonhart should be held similarly accountable for her actions which were inconsistent with guidance from the Department of Justice, as well as President Obama’s clear intentions based on his popular campaign pledges. Under her supervision, a DEA agent raiding a marijuana grower who was operating with the support of the sheriff in Mendocino County, CA, said, “I don’t care what the sheriff says.” This attitude is counterproductive. Given the grave problems associated with illegal drug market violence, we feel that conducting raids on individuals and caretakers acting in compliance with state and local law may not be the best use of the DEA’s limited resources.

The DEA needs a director whose decisions are guided by the best interests of our citizens. Despite calls by the American Medical Association, Ms. Leonhart has failed to respond to a petition calling for hearings to review the scheduling of marijuana. Despite the DEA’s own administrative law judge’s ruling that the University of Massachusetts should be able to cultivate marijuana for FDA-approved research, Ms. Leonhart has blocked such research. We encourage the nomination of a director who supports engaging in dialogue and the use of research to shape the best possible policies.

Ultimately, we feel Ms. Leonhart is not ready for the job of DEA director and qualified candidates are available.  In your confirmation hearings, the members of the Judiciary Committee should ask the difficult questions which will determine how she would intend to handle the changing nature of US drug laws. Voters across the country have created a gap between federal policy and state law that is steadily widening. In fifteen states, plus Washington D.C., the medical use of marijuana has been recognized. Several other states may choose to legalize marijuana in the next few years. The director of the DEA must be able to appropriately bridge this divide without wasting resources or causing unnecessary harm.

In the meantime, the criminal justice professionals of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition urge a no vote on Ms. Leonhart’s confirmation as DEA director.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Writing Arizona's Medical Marijuana Program

As soon as the election is certified, the Arizona Department of Health Services has 120 days to write the rules for Arizona's medical marijuana program. We need to get it right like New Mexico, not fall into the problems California has.

Every time I complain about medical marijuana prices, someone jumps me saying their helping patients. But their not, they’re drug dealers and it’s time we say that..

Truth is, it costs very little to grow marijuana. According to the Rand Drug Policy Research Center who says a well-run 5’ x 5’ hydroponic indoor grow producing 4 harvests per year might yield 10.5 pounds per year with tangible costs of $225 per pound--$75 per pound for electricity and the remaining $150 per pound for other factors. That works out to $14.06 an ounce.

When I checked prices at the Kind Connection Collective in Needles California just across the river from where I live. The retail price of medical marijuana was between $5440 and $8960 a pound. This is what we need to prevent in Arizona.

By law in California and Arizona the plants belong to the patients. These so called collectives take plants that belong to the patients, and sell them back to the patients for as much as $8960.00 a pound. I don’t know about you, but I think something is wrong with that.

It’s time we call drug dealers, drug dealers. I’m sorry, but the only people who can afford medical marijuana are people who are working, not the sick and disabled who need it.

The vast majority of patients needing medical marijuana can not afford it, so much for compassion in California’s Compassionate Use Act. It would cost more than people on disability receive for the medical marijuana they need.

Most people on disability only make around $1000 a month. At Needles California prices, the allowable 2.5 ounces every 14 days in Arizona would cost between $1700 and $2800 a month.

We need to look at New Mexico and Canada’s medical marijuana programs. In New Mexico two of the licensed dispensaries are providing medical marijuana to patients at less than $10 per gram, one for $4/gram ($114/ounce) and one for $5/gram ($142.50/ounce).

When I complain about medical marijuana prices, a lot of angry people attack me saying they need to charge these prices because they might get arrested.

True marijuana is still illegal under federal law, but out of the thousands of dispensaries and collectives very few get raided by DEA. Those are the ones making enormous profits, and under California and Arizona law, you can not profit from medical marijuana.

Dispensary prices vs. street prices. The cost of medical marijuana should have nothing to do with the street price of marijuana. The morphine I take costs .50 cents a pill at the pharmacy, yet it’s worth $15-$20 a pill on the street, so my prescription is worth $1800-$2400. Like medical marijuana, the only people who sell morphine to people in pain for $15-$20 a pill, are drug dealers.

The people who complain the most when I write about the enormous profits made by dispensaries and collectives are the people making all the money. Please someone tell me how a simple to grow plant can be worth almost $9000 a pound.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New LEAP Speaker

Here's a new LEAP speaker, John Anderson. And here, perhaps, is a future LEAP speaker.

IdeaWave conference video

My video from the IdeaWave conference is now online. It's a quick ten minute introduction to LEAP and the War on Drugs.

The IdeaWave conference is similar to TED (but more affordable). The first conference took place in July, in Victoria, and the next one is scheduled for February 2011. The conference consists of fifty speakers, ten minutes each, with no limits on subject matter. The only requirement is that the talk must be a unique idea developed or refined by the speaker.I was a speaker at the first conference and I had a blast. I was coming off a night shift so I was tired. My plan was to give my presentation and then go home. However, I stuck around for a couple of presentations and I enjoyed them so much that I ended up staying the whole day. The conference organizer, Kris Constable, is now putting one or two conference videos online each week. I would encourage you to check out to see more videos.

Closely associated with the IdeaWave conferences are the Idea Meetings that take place in several cities around the world. Check out the Wiki and perhaps start an Idea meetup in your city.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New videos on main LEAP web site

There are three new videos on the main LEAP web site. They feature Nate Bradley, Terry Nelson and Carol Ruth Silver. The middle of these three focuses on the outcome of Proposition 19. Also, check out the LEAP calendar for upcoming radio interviews and events with your favourite LEAP speakers.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Guest Post: Where Does the Legalization Movement Go From Here?

I am pleased to share this guest post from Brandon Yu. He is a Managing Editor of AllTreatment is an online rehab center directory and substance abuse information resource.

I don't think we've had any guest posts before on the LEAP blog, so this is something new for us. The initiative shown by Brandon is welcome. Please be kind to him in the comments section!

After much national attention, California Proposition 19 has failed by 8 percent in nearly a 600,000 vote difference. As we all know, the Proposition was supposed to legalize marijuana in the state of California for recreational use. The measure was opposed by elected officials of both parties, including Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic Senators Barabar Boxer and Diane Feinstein.

Proposition 19 did not receive support from the federal government, either. Even if marijuana been legalized after the election, US Attorney General Eric Holder said that Obama’s administration would still “vigorously enforce” federal drug laws vigorously against Californians who would sell or grow marijuana for recreational use. Had it been legalized.

California Proposition 19 is not the only marijuana legislation to be rejected by voters across the country. Ballots in Arizona and South Dakota had measures advocating medical marijuana, but those too were rejected.

Proponents showed many benefits of legalization. In a floundering econonmy, the passing of the proposition would have generated $1.4 billion a year in tax revenue, resulting in significant savings for state and local governments. Some believed it would also reduce drug-related violence and take revenue away from drug lords. However, opponents argued that it would increase the cost of substance abuse programs due to the supposed raise in marijuana use, and that the state’s medical marijuana program would lose business since people would gain the product through other way.

So what does this mean for legalization in California, let alone the status of marijuana in the country’s future?

Marijuana laws in California have grown increasingly more relaxed in the year leading up to the proposition. In one of Schwarzenegger's final moves in his last year as Governor, he signed a bill into law that downgraded marijuana possession from a Misdemeanor to a simple Civil Infraction. Despite this, Schwarzenegger did not say that this was an admission of support for legalization.

Other states, and other countries had been looking to how California would react to legalization. Mexican President Felipe Calderon, whose country had been experiencing a prolonged drug war with the cartels, was considering legalization in order to put less money in the pockets of the opposition. The Mexican drug cartels make anywhere from $20 billion-$30 billion annually off drug trafficking alone, with marijuana comprising of 60 percent of that income. Legalization would have dramatically reduced that number, potentially by $12 billion. Many Mexican officials were hoping California would set an example.

In spite of this, the legalization movement is stronger than ever. This is not the first time marijuana legalization failed in California. A similar proposition in 1972 – coincidentally titled Proposition 19 – failed when put at the hands of voters. However, that proposition failed by a wider margin, with a 66.5/33.5 No/Yes differential, a much larger difference than the 54/46 resulted from Tuesday. Though the proposition failed, proponents are vowing to get a similar one on a ballot in the near future. Some exit polls have shown that some Voters think that marijuana should be legalized, in a margin of 49%-41% with 10% undecided, suggesting that voters had more issues with the wording of the proposition rather than legalization.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Not a fan...

Occasionally I receive emails from strangers regarding my advocacy for drug policy reform. These are almost always positive. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of negative emails I have received in the past two years. Anyway, today one of those emails arrived my inbox from someone in BC. I've removed his name to protect his privacy, but otherwise here is the full text of his email:

Mr. Bratzer:

I recently heard you on CKNW radio in the Van. area peddling your wares around de-criminalization. I must say that I have never heard such a lame collection of talking points, cliches and drivel. You come from the starting place that drug enforcement has failed. You obviously don't not live in British Columbia: we are living in the midst of de facto de-criminalization of marijuana, both possession and production, thanks entirely to an activist judiciary who refuse to punish criminals for grow ops. In BC, only 3 or 4 people out of 100 get any punishment for having a grow op. The punishment? On average a $ 1,500.00 fine, even though they have stolen on average $ 1,800.00 worth of hydro to run the grow op and receive a mere 15 days in jail, on average. Now I don't want to confuse you with facts but here in BC we are already living in a world of de-criminaliztion. Is it utopia? Hardly. Because marijuana is the gateway drug for all starting out street gangs and is the currency of both street gangs and organized crime, we have experienced unprecedented gang violence: 50 unsolved targeted hits with 5 innocent Canadians murdered in the last 3 years minding their own business. Because of plea bargains, the average number of plants a person has in their "possession" when convicted of just possession in BC is 94 plants. Did you know that?? Are you surprised? Its far worse then you even know. Are you tracking yet? And your worn out cliches are pale against the reality of what needs to be done to re-assert control over public safety. What will all those streets gangs do and all those Angels do when the govt. gets in the business? Do you think they will all go and work in MacDonalds? Or maybe into law enforcement? They could ride along side people like you, for example.....Right! And is the govt. also going to take over all those illegal hand guns, cocaine and heroine coming north in exchange for our BC Bud?
Sadly, your position around de-criminalization raises more questions than answers.

Based on what we see here in BC, you are advocating anarchy, but I am certain that that reality totally escapes you. But I digress. Ignorance is bliss.......
Assuming his statistics are correct, what would you tell this fellow?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Asset forfeiture gone wrong

Police have raided the office in charge of asset forfeiture in Columbia.

"Police became suspicious after drug traffickers were found to be in possession of properties which had officially been seized by the agency."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Update from Canada

LEAP has been almost 100% focused on Proposition 19 these past couple of months.

Although the ballot initiative did not pass, I am proud of all the staff and the speakers who put so much time into California. The blog has paid a price during this time. There haven't been a lot of posts. Many people associated to LEAP were so busy volunteering for Prop 19 that there was not a lot of time for blogging!

LEAP has also been busy in Canada. On Monday, I drove to Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo and gave guest lectures about the War on Drugs to two different criminology classes. What a great group of students - they a lot of interesting questions (including a couple I wasn't able to answer, such as whether the financial amounts shown in my PowerPoint slides were adjusted for inflation).

A journalist from the Nanaimo Daily News, Darrell Bellaart, sat in the back of the class during the first guest lecture. Here is the article he subsequently wrote. Not only that, but the next day he was kind enough to write this wonderful follow-up piece.

In addition, I met two people in Nanaimo who may end up becoming LEAP speakers. I hope to write more about that later. It was a very successful trip and I am thankful to the VIU Criminology Chair, Joanne Simister, for inviting me.

And today I testified by videoconference before the Canadian Senate (Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs) regarding Bill S-10. This is a "tough on crime" drug bill that introduces mandatory minimum sentences in Canada for certain drug offences. It looks like the bill will pass, although perhaps with some amendments. I should be able to post a YouTube video of my presentation soon.

This was my second time testifying before the Senate committee in regards to drug legislation. It was a real privilege and an honour to be invited back to this committee after my first appearance. I have always felt that if your government asks you to do something, you have an obligation to give the request serious consideration. Even though many of the suggestions I provided will not make it into the final version of the bill, I feel as though, in some small way, I served my country today.

As always, the opinions posted by me on this blog are mine alone, and do not represent the viewpoint of my employer.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...