Tuesday, December 28, 2010

LEAP in the UK

Check out this quick intro video of LEAP speaker Annie Machon, a former MI-5 officer from Britain:

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

I would like to take a moment to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. In addition, I would like to thank three groups of people: our donors, our volunteers and our staff. You have all made an enormous contribution to Law Enforcement Against Prohibition throughout 2010.
With our passion for drug policy reform it is sometimes easy to forget that law enforcement officers do a lot of great work in our communities, both on and off the job. For example, here is a great story from the city of Logan in Utah:
The Logan City Police Department is declaring their Coats for Christmas drive a success. The department started the program seven years ago to assist children in elementary schools who did not have adequate winter clothing while traveling to and from school.
Here is another wonderful Christmas story from Victoria, British Columbia:
A pair of Victoria police officers played Good Samaritans to a 95-year-old man who was discovered living alone in an apartment without heat or lighting, despite having thousands of dollars in uncashed pension cheques.
These acts of kindness remind us of the words of a famous Anglo-American novelist, Taylor Caldwell, who said, "This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone." And as we take a break at the end of this year, and pause in our efforts to change laws that we know are harmful, we can also reflect on the thoughts of Albert Einstein:
"Nothing that I can do will change the structure of the universe. But maybe, by raising my voice I can help the greatest of all causes - goodwill among men and peace on earth."
All the best to you and your family during the holidays.

LEAP blog now cell phone friendly

The LEAP blog is now serving a custom page when it detects someone visiting the page with a cell phone. This is a beta feature from Draft in Blogger. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

Blogger has come a long way in the past year. They have added a lot of good features. When I first started this blog I used to hand code all of the posts in HTML because I didn't like the WYSIWIG editor they provided. It used to be faster for me to write the HTML myself, but now I use the Compose window almost all the time. In addition, Blogger has added better templates, improved the spam detection on their comment system and they now have a great visitor statistics page as well.

At one point I was thinking about moving this blog to WordPress, but now I'm going to stick with Blogger.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Google Ngram Viewer

Check out this chart by the Google Ngram Viewer. It shows the frequency of the phrase "drug war" rom 1800 to 2008. (Hat tip to Strayan who left a comment about this on Pete Guither's Drug WarRant blog.)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A bus trip in Mexico

One of our blog readers, Garth Kiser, sent me an article he wrote about a trip he took in Mexico. He's posted it to iReport on CNN.com. He was traveling from Chetumal to Tijuana by bus. Early in the trip, the bus goes through the occasional checkpoint:
Come morning we roll into a military checkpoint, officers armed with assault rifles behind sandbag bunkers. All passengers are ordered to exit the bus as the luggage compartments are searched. The soldiers attempt to coax drug sniffing dogs into the compartments with tennis balls on strings but get no K9 compliance. The next stop comes barely 10 miles later. An officer in a pressed white shirt bearing a large gold police star requests to see my Mexican entry card.
This was interesting for me because I've had the opportunity to watch some outstanding K9 dogs at work in Canada and the United States. It takes a lot of good instruction and training for both the dog and handler to get to the point where they can work effectively together. Now there could be any number of reasons why these dogs did not perform on this particular occasion (fatigue, heat, etc). However, I also wonder what kind of ongoing training and practise the handlers and their dogs are receiving.

As he gets closer to Tijuana, there is an increase in the number and severity of the checkpoints:
Fifteen hours north of Mexico City. The intensity of the checkpoints increases dramatically. The bus is boarded one or twice per hour by gangs of unidentified men carrying pockets full of tools. Highway 24, marker 127. A group of 4 surround my seat at the rear of the bus, asking questions and sizing me up with sinister expressions. These people have the look and feel of thugs, not cops. They move back outside but the bus can't yet depart because another group of cop-thugs is dismantling parts of the vehicle's exterior with power drills, looking behind panels and inside the engine compartment.
Garth concludes his article by asking an important question:
Busses are the main form of transportation in Mexico. How can the government allow their infrastructure to suffer so severely? The drugs searched for in Mexico are bound for the USA, not Mexico, so again, why would the Mexican government be willing to cripple a vital transportation infrastructure?

Friday, December 17, 2010

James Gierach in the SouthtownStar

Here's a great article about LEAP board member James Gierach. The SouthtownStar is a newspaper for the south side of Chicago. Here's my favourite quote:
“We’re running out of money,” he said. “That’s why the drug war will end. We just can’t fund it any more.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

All drugs should be legalised to beat dealers, says former minister - UK Politics, UK - The Independent

Former Defense Minister, former Drug Policy minister, current Labour Member of Parliament calls for all drugs to be legalized and regulated.

British Conservatives respond with the usual irrational response about the need to keep the current policy in order to protect the children.

Just kidding. According to the Independent:
Peter Lilley, the former Tory deputy leader, said he favoured legalising cannabis, while continuing the ban on hard drugs. But he added: "I support Bob Ainsworth's sensible call for a proper, evidence-based review, comparing the pros and cons of the current prohibitionist approach, with all the alternatives, including wider decriminalisation, and legal regulation."

Read the article here.

Picture of Health: Teens smoking more marijuana, taking more drugs - Health care, wellness, food nutrition, exercise, medical research news by reporters Kelly Brewington, Meredith Cohn and Andrea K. Walker - baltimoresun.com

Picture of Health: Teens smoking more marijuana, taking more drugs - Health care, wellness, food nutrition, exercise, medical research news by reporters Kelly Brewington, Meredith Cohn and Andrea K. Walker - baltimoresun.com: "Teenagers are smoking marijuana more than cigarettes, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health."

What? How can this be? I thought we had drug prohibition to protect the children.

Don't worry, however, we are still to blame, according to the article:
The survey also found that fewer teenagers find marijuana use unacceptable. The researchers wondered if talk about legalizing the drug could be influencing its perception as being okay.
The comment section in the article above would be a good place to explain why this conclusion is wrong.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ch ch ch changes...

Some people may have noticed their comments have been disappearing. Don't worry - I'm not censoring posts! Blogger has a new anti-spam feature that seems to err on the side of caution. Behind the scenes there is a spam box where I can check the comments that have been flagged as spam. Once I select "not spam" for your comment, this is supposed to help Blogger learn that you are not a spammer.

So, don't worry, with my help Blogger will eventually figure out who is a genuine human being vs. a lowly robot spammer. For now, one of the best options may be to not include links in your comments and then try adding them back again in a few weeks.

On another note, this morning I was playing around with the Blogger template designer. I've tweaked the blog a little. More tweaks will follow!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

LEAP Brazil

One of LEAP's international projects is to set up branches in various countries around the world. Walter McKay is organizing a branch in Mexico. Myself and several other volunteers have been laying the groundwork for LEAP Canada.

Retired Judge and LEAP board member Maria Lucia Karam has been working on LEAP Brazil. The branch recently launched a new web site. This is a great site - congratulations to Maria and all the LEAP Brazil volunteers. I know many of the readers on this blog don't speak Portuguese. However, you can still check out the web site and admire how professional it looks. :-)

Why Don't Conservatives Oppose the War on Drugs? by Laurence M. Vance

Why Don't Conservatives Oppose the War on Drugs? by Laurence M. Vance

The Federal war on drugs violates the US Constitution. Why do so many conservatives support it?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

U.S. House Passes Bill on Drug Cartels Growing Marijuana in National Parks (Press Release)

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 7, 2010
CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or media//at//leap//dot//cc

U.S. House Passes Bill on Drug Cartels Growing Marijuana in National Parks

Cops and Border Patrol Agents Say the Only Real Solution is Marijuana Legalization

WASHINGTON, DC --  The U.S. House passed a bill today directing the White House drug czar's office to develop a plan for stopping Mexican drug cartels from growing marijuana in U.S. national parks.  A group of police officers and judges who fought on the front lines of the "war on drugs" is pointing out that the only way to actually end the violence and environmental destruction associated with these illicit grows is to legalize and regulate the marijuana trade.

"No matter how many grow operations are eradicated or cartel leaders are arrested, there will always be more people willing to take the risk to earn huge profits in the black market for marijuana," said Richard Newton, a former U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent who is now a speaker for the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. "My years of experience in federal drug enforcement tell me that only when we legalize and regulate marijuana will we put a stop to this madness.  After all, you don't see too many Mexican wine cartels growing grapes in our national parks, and that's because alcohol is legal."

The bill
, H. Res. 1540, which was passed by the House via voice vote, points out many of the harms of the current prohibition policy that leads to drug cartels growing marijuana in U.S. national parks, including that

* drug traffickers spray considerable quantities of unregulated chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers;

* drug traffickers divert streams and other waterways to construct complex irrigation systems;

* it costs the Federal Government $11,000 to restore one acre of forest on which marijuana is being cultivated

* drug traffickers place booby traps that contain live shotgun shells on marijuana plantations;

* on October 8, 2000, an 8-year-old boy and his father were shot by drug traffickers while hunting in El Dorado National Forest;

* on June 16, 2009, law enforcement officers with the Lassen County Sheriff's Department were wounded by gunfire from drug traffickers during the investigation of a marijuana plantation on Bureau of Land Management property; and

* Mexican drug traffickers use the revenue generated from marijuana production on Federal lands to support criminal activities, including human trafficking and illicit weapons smuggling, and to foster political unrest in Mexico.

The bill points out that law enforcement efforts to date have only brought about "short-lived successes in combating marijuana production on Federal lands" but offers no suggestions for solutions that would actually hurt the cartels in the long-term.  The law enforcement officials at LEAP believe that legalization is the only long-term solution, and if the bill is enacted into law they will be working to make sure that the White House drug czar's office seriously weighs ending prohibition as part of the strategy called for by the legislation.

The full text of the bill can be found at:

Speaking on the floor today, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) said the bill "serves to perpetuate this failed policy of prohibition which has led to rise of criminal production of marijuana on federal lands."

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who want to legalize and regulate 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 at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.

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Happy Belated Repeal Day!

LEAP speaker Peter Moskos has a good post up on his blog about Prohibition Repeal Day.
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