Thursday, January 27, 2011
Responding to LEAP, Obama Says Legalizing Marijuana and Other Drugs a "Legitimate Topic for Debate" (Press Release)
President Says We Need to Shift to Public Health Focus, But His Budgets Haven't Done That
WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, in response to a video question from a former deputy sheriff about whether it is time to discuss legalizing and regulating drugs in light of the failure of the "war on drugs," President Barack Obama said that it is "an entirely legitimate topic for debate" but that he is not in favor of legalization.
The President then went on to say that he sees drug abuse as a public health issue and that a shifting of resources is required, away from the traditional approach of incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders.
"The president talks a good game about shifting resources and having a balanced, public health-oriented approach, but it doesn't square with the budgets he's submitted to Congress," said Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of cops, judges and prosecutors who support legalizing and regulating drugs. "The Obama administration has maintained the Bush-era two-to-one budget ratio in favor of prisons and prosecution over treatment and prevention. It doesn't add up. Still, it's historic that the president of the United States is finally saying that legalizing and regulating drugs is a topic worthy of discussion. But since the president remains opposed to legalization, it's clear that the people are going to have to lead the way. Police officers and innocent civilians are dying every single day in this drug war; it's not a back-burner issue."
The president's comments today, part of a forum organized by YouTube where people could submit and vote on questions, came in response to a question from MacKenzie Allen, a LEAP member and a retired deputy sheriff who did policing in Los Angeles, CA and King County (Seattle), WA. Allen's question got the most votes in the contest, garnering twice as many as the second most-popular question.
The original question and President Obama's response can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bB7AK76TF-k.
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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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 27, 2010
CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or media//at//leap//dot//cc