Thursday, May 26, 2011

A fearful populace

Yesterday, a major gun-battle between rival drug gangs, leaving 28 dead, 17 of whom were wearing military uniforms, again illustrates the lack of control of Mexico’s security forces in many regions of the country (“Balacera deja 28 muertos en Nayarit” 26 de mayo de 2011 Not coincidently, there was also another story reporting on the displacement of citizens fleeing gunbattles around their home (Violencia desplaza a 2,500 michoacanos: Ejército refuerza vigilancia e inhibe ataques armados, según alcalde, such reports are starting to sound more and more like they came from war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Somalia and Sierra Leon, but without the international concern or rhetoric. An even more interesting fact from this same article is that local governments are building, and utilizing, shelters to which the populous can flee (not unlike hurricane shelters or, more aptly, bomb shelters), a recognition that the authorities are otherwise helpless to protect citizens against these constant assaults, almost like a force of nature. And, because of this, Michoácan and Coahuila, like Torreón last year (“Edil de Torreón llama a encerrarse ante inseguridad: Tres facultades de la Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila decidieron suspender clases y desalojar a los alumnos ante el clima de inseguridad”, have suspended classes because of the rising violence and concern for the students’ safety (“Violencia despierta pánico en Saltillo: Mueren siete en enfrentamientos, entre ellos un civil; suspenden clases en todos los niveles” 

Tell me again, Mr. President, why are you engaged in this domestic war?

For a map of the killings: click: Narco-killings
Website: WM Consulting

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Arizona Medical Marijuana is Helping Patients

Last year I started seeing a new pain doctor, Benjamin Venger a former neurosurgeon. I figured if anyone understood pain, it would be a neurosurgeon. The first time I saw Dr Venger, I was up front and told him I used medical marijuana. He was skeptical, but luckily he didn't have the prejudice many doctors have, and said it wasn't a problem.

After Prop 203 passed, Dr Venger asked a few questions about marijuana, but was still skeptical. He knew I was using marijuana for the shooting electrical pain in my legs and feet from neuropathy. Then Dr Venger started noticing my use of narcotic pain medications was going down, while other patients were increasing their use of pain medications.

That's when he started to ask more questions, and do some research. We talked about medical uses of marijuana for several months, then he asked if I would like to help him setup a medical marijuana certification program for his patients.

With the help of medical marijuana, I cut my use of narcotic pain medications by half, and was able to return to work part time for the first time since 1990. I now work four hours a day assisting with the medical marijuana certification process.

Everyday I see patients lowering their narcotic pain medication use. Narcotics, or Opioid pain medications have numerous side effects. I only hope our Arizona Governor will support our new medical marijuana law in the upcoming months.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Video: Eric Holder Says LEAP is Wrong About Saving Lives

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was recently asked about his thoughts on LEAP's efforts to save police officers' lives by legalizing drugs.  Unfortunately, Mr. Holder seems to think, despite the evidence, that cops aren't unnecessarily losing their lives in the "war on drugs."

Check out this video to see the A.G.'s comments as well as LEAP's reaction:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What Mothers Day Means to Me

By Diane Goldstein |  Mother and LEAP Speaker

You might not expect a mom and former police officer to advocate legalizing marijuana but that’s just what I would like our elected officials to think about.

On mother’s day each year I reflect back on my obligation as a mom and what it means to me, my son and to our communities.

Thoreau stated “Aim above morality, be not simply good, be good for something.”

As I have successfully launched my son into the world I realized that my obligation to him continues by making a better society for his future and for his children’s future as well.

I know that those that favor the current drug policy will view this as harmful, but as mothers helped end the devastation of alcohol prohibition, it is now time for mothers to end the drug war as well.

I spent 21 years in law enforcement supporting the goals of trying to achieve a “drug-free America.” During my career I saw the damage of both legal and illicit drug abuse in our communities, but I also saw that the cost of this policy has caused more harm then good.

Our fiscal issues have clearly moved us to a position where we have to ask the question: is what we are doing effective? My experience tells me no.

And although Proposition 19 lost this last election cycle, 47% of the electorate voted yes. This clearly shows that the time to honestly debate legalization of marijuana has come. Our founding fathers created a government that was based on freedom of religion, liberty and personal responsibility.
The dream of a “drug-free America” is unachievable in a free society based on this vision. Those calling for reform are no longer just hippies or other groups that have been marginalized in the past, but also such notable conservatives as Rand and Ron Paul, The Pew Center on States, and the conservative group called “Right on Crime” who believe we have over-criminalized our society resulting in an inefficient use of our fiscal resources.
Since the start of the drug war we have spent one trillion dollars.

Our viewpoint on drugs has helped make the United States the world leader in the incarceration of its own citizens.This has caused the diversion of critical funding from other programs such as education, infrastructure, and job creation.

Our leaders have failed to examine the risks and impact of our current national drug policy on the macro and the micro level. They fail to evaluate alternatives that include legalized regulation and decriminalization based on harm reduction strategies, despite studies that show that treatment reduces drug selling and is more cost-effective than enforcement.

Reports by the RAND Corporation and SAMHSA showed that treatment reduces drug selling and arrests for any crime. After one year, welfare declined while employment increased.  Medical and mental health in-patient visits related to substance abuse decreased by more than one half.  The RAND report analyzed enforcement “source control,” “domestic law enforcement” and “interdiction” as compared to “treatment” to determine what was the best policy for controlling drugs.

The study demonstrated that “treatment is 7 times more cost-effective than domestic law enforcement effort, 10 times more effective than interdiction, and 23 times more effective than ‘source control’ methods.”

Yet we continue to under-fund treatment, devoting only half as many resources to it as we earmark for law enforcement, despite not only these reports, but also other reports through the years that validate the same results.

Instead we fund a $50 billion a year war, not on enemy combatants, but on our families, our neighbors and our friends. It is time to shift the paradigm  from a punitive model to a rehabilitative model where incarceration is the last tool, not the only one.

Diane Goldstein is a 21-year veteran of law enforcement and retired as a Lieutenant from the Redondo Beach Police Department, (CA). During her career she worked and managed a variety of tactical and investigative unit’s including the department’s Gang Enforcement Team (GET), The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), South Bay Platoon and the Crisis Negotiations Team (CNT).

In 1996, as a member of the GET Team, she and other officers received The Herman Goldstein Excellence in Problem Solving Team Award by The Police Executive Research Foundation for their work on combating gang crime in the city. She additionally taught in-service courses for the South Bay Reserve Academy, testified in front of the California Council on Criminal Justice at the request of former Governor Pete Wilson, and is recognized as a subject matter expert and trainer in the area of crisis negotiations and critical incident management.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cops Attend Candlelight Vigil and Say "Legalize Drugs" to Honor Fallen Colleagues (Press Release)

Peace Officers Memorial Day Expected to Draw Tens of Thousands to Washington, DC

WASHINGTON, DC -- In conjunction with Peace Officers Memorial Day, some police are pointing out how too many law enforcers are killed in the line of duty enforcing a senseless and unwinnable "war on drugs."  The group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), is calling for the legalization and regulation off all drugs, and they're telling stories about their fallen friends and colleagues to back up their case.

"When one of my best friends was killed doing an undercover drug purchase, it opened my eyes to the fact that not only are these drug laws ineffective, but they lead to brave and dedicated law enforcers losing their lives," said Neill Franklin, a 34-year veteran of the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department, now LEAP's executive director. "Ed Toatley was one of the best narcotics agents the state of Maryland ever had, but this failed drug war wasn't worth him losing his life over."

See for more information about Ed Toatley's story.

WHO: Former police officers who support legalizing drugs

WHAT: Candlelight vigil in remembrance of fallen colleagues

WHEN: Friday, May 13 @ 7:30 PM EST

WHERE: National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial; on E St. between 4th and 5th Sts., NW, Washington, DC

The candlelight vigil, which officially begins at 8:00 PM, is sponsored by the National Law Enforcers Memorial Fund and is part of National Police Week. 25,000 to 40,000 police officers and family members are expected to attend official events over the course of the week. The group of pro-legalization police officers will be available for on-site press interviews around 7:30 PM, before the start of the vigil.

More information about Police Week can be found at

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison warders, federal 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

#       #       #

NEWS ADVISORY: May 10, 2011
CONTACT: Tom Angell - 202-557-4979 or media//at//leap//dot//cc

Remembering Our Fallen Comrades

Ed Toatley, left, with Neill Franklin

Late in the evening on October 30, 2000, Major Neill Franklin was awaken by the ringing of his telephone. At the time, Neill was the commander of training for the Baltimore Police Department, and late night calls were no unusual occurrence. In answering the phone, he expected to hear news of a recruit experiencing difficulty, but instead the voice awaiting him on the other end of the line said something quite different: “Neill, Ed has been shot and taken to Prince George's County General Hospital, and it doesn’t look good.”

Corporal Edward Toatley was a 15-year veteran and undercover narcotics agent for the Maryland State Police. He was assigned to an FBI drug task force and, on that night, was making his final purchase of cocaine in Washington, DC, from a mid-level drug dealer when the dealer, Kofi Orleans-Lindsay, decided he wanted both the drugs and the money for himself. Orleans-Lindsay returned to the car Ed was driving, paused for a moment as he extinguished his cigarette, then shot Ed at point blank range in the side of the head.

Although it took only minutes, the high-speed 53-mile race to the hospital for Neill and his wife felt like the longest ride of Neill’s life. Arriving at the hospital among the scores of family and friends, Neill was guided to the room where Ed laid with his head bandaged and bloody. Ed was no longer with us, but his body was still warm. Neill thought of how just a few weeks earlier Ed was telling him of the plans to make this final purchase of cocaine, meaning one more case in a long line of many would be closed. Ed used to work such cases under Neill's command and they had many such talks in the past, thinking very little of the inherent dangers.

Back at the hospital, next came the moment of facing Ed’s wife and children. Words were few, but hugs were many -- lasting for what seemed like hours and leaving feelings that still linger today.

When the people are gone and the quiet comes, so does the question: Why? Initially thinking of the covert operation, you rehash the event. How could this happen? What went wrong? What was the protocol, what were the signs that this was about to take a wrong turn, and who missed what? But then Neill realized that the questions he was asking dealt only with the symptoms of a much larger problem, the War on Drugs

Ed wasn’t the only cop Neill knew to pass this way. When Neill was working undercover in the 1980s it was Detective Marty Ward in Baltimore City, shot during a botched drug deal in a Baltimore apartment. Then it was Baltimore officer Billy Martin, killed while responding to a drug dealing related call. Soon after Ed’s death, more Baltimore officers would die. Officer Michael Cowdery was gunned down by a local Baltimore drug dealer as he and his partner approached for a field interview on a neighborhood street corner. Officer Kevon Gavin’s patrol vehicle was intentionally broadsided by a heavily armed drug dealer wearing a ballistic vest. The dealer had just shot someone and was being pursued by other officers.

Law enforcers place their lives on the line every day in a career that is already inherently dangerous. Neill has realized that our drug policies are not only ineffective, but also cause great harm to police to and civilians in our communities alike. Our aggressive policing strategies actually generate violence. Police sweeps create voids within the underground market that are eagerly filled by those waiting in the wings. Violent tactics of those competing for a piece of the vacant market share make communities and law enforcement jobs extremely dangerous, more dangerous than necessary.

Neill has decided that enough is enough, and he has vowed to work toward ending the prohibition of all drugs. Too many police officers and children are dying in our streets and the streets of other countries like Mexico.

That's why Neill has joined with a group of other police officers, prosecutors, judges and corrections officials - under the banner of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) - to send a strong message that criminal justice professionals are fed up with the way the "war on drugs" needlessly leads to the deaths of far too many law enforcers.

Friday, May 6, 2011

GOP Presidential Candidates Debate Drug Legalization

Perhaps it's not surprising to see longtime reform supporters Congressman Ron Paul and Governor Gary Johnson talking about the benefits of legalizing marijuana and other drugs, but it sure is nice to see the discussion take place in the context of last night's Republican presidential debate on Fox News.

Here's the video:

"Dogmatic and unproductive"

Yes, that's how the U.S. ironically describes European nations who pushed to include the term "harm reduction" in a United Nations anti-drug strategy document, according to this recently leaked diplomatic cable.

Negotiations for the UNGA special session have hit an impasse, created by EU insistence on adding the controversial term "harm reduction" to various parts of the draft UNGASS action plan and political declaration. While Canada, an opponent of the term's inclusion, is considering conceding to EU demands, other opponents are standing firm with the U.S. in preventing such a problematic element's inclusion. Mission has engaged counterparts at every level, from experts to ambassadors in an attempt to break the impasse and find compromise language. Mission believes there is increasing pressure within the EU to resolve this gridlock and avoid an embarrassing showdown at the March Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) but some delegations will be inclined to hold this issue hostage up until the opening of the CND, in hopes the US will relent. To facilitate EU compromise, Mission recommends that the Department reach out to various capitals and the European Commission to help underscore the firmness of U.S. resolve-both to our allies and to the EU, before the EU horizontal group meeting in Brussels on February 4. Mission has urged like-minded countries here (Japan, Russia, Colombia) to take similar actions.
By engaging EU member states in a different context, it may help them to reevaluate their dogmatic and unproductive approach.
U.S. officials should take a second to look in the mirror...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Former Mexican President calls for drug legalization

In case you missed it:

U.S. should legalize drugs, says former Mexican president Fox

 Also see from last year:

Latin American Ex-Presidents Sign Anti-Prohibitionist "Vienna Declaration"

There is no shortage of former leaders calling for an end to the drug war. But we need people in power now who are willing to stand against prohibition. 


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