Wednesday, February 22, 2012

U.S. Law Enforcement Officials Call on Canadian Prime Minister to Legalize Marijuana

 Canada Risks Repeating ‘U.S. Mistakes‘ with Mandatory Minimum Sentences in Bill C-10

 WASHINGTON, DC —A high-profile group of current and former law enforcement officials from the United States is calling on the Canadian government to reconsider the mandatory minimum sentences for minor marijuana offenses proposed in Bill C-10, arguing that the taxation and regulation of marijuana is a more effective policy approach to reducing crime.

On Wednesday, the law enforcers released a letter outlining their concerns, addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian senators. It is signed by more than two dozen current and former judges, police officers, special agents, narcotics investigators and other criminal justice professionals, all of whom are members of the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). The letter strongly reinforces the failure of U.S. crime policies that those proposed in the Canadian federal government’s Bill C-10 legislation seem to be modeled on.

“Through our years of service enforcing anti-marijuana laws, we have seen the devastating consequences of these laws,” the letter states. “Among the greatest concerns is the growth in organized crime and gang violence. Just as with alcohol prohibition, gang violence, corruption and social decay have marched in lockstep with marijuana prohibition.”

“We were deeply involved with the war on drugs and have now accepted, due to our own experience and the clear evidence before us, that these policies are a costly failure,” the letter continues. “Marijuana prohibition drives corruption and violence and tougher laws only worsen the problem.”

Bill C-10, titled “The Safe Streets and Communities Act,” is currently being heard by the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Among other proposals, the bill calls for stricter mandatory minimum sentences for minor marijuana offenses, including minimum six-month sentences for growing as few as six marijuana plants.

“The Canadian government believes the answer is to get tougher on criminals,” said Norm Stamper, retired chief of police in Seattle, Washington. “But as we’ve learned with our decades-long failed experiment with the ‘war on drugs,’ the stricter sentencing proposed in the bill will only serve to help fill jails. It will not reduce harms related to the illicit marijuana trade, make Canadian streets safer or diminish gang activity.”

Said retired Washington State Superior Court Judge David Nichols: “Policies similar to those in the U.S. and now under consideration in Canada have been costly failures in the United States, wasting tax dollars and bankrupting state budgets. Following our path presents obvious and significant risks to Canadians.”

Among the 28 signers of the letter are many law enforcement officials working in border areas. They pointed to the illegal cross-border marijuana trade as sustaining gang activity in the region.

“Organized crime groups move marijuana to the U.S. from British Columbia and return with cocaine and guns,” said Stamper. “Prohibition continues to fill the coffers of organized criminals, making communities on both sides of the border less safe.”

Eric Sterling, who helped the U.S. Congress write the federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws, cautions: “As counsel to the U.S.  House Judiciary Committee during the 1980's, I played a major role in writing the mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws which later turned out to not only be ineffective in reducing drug use, but which directly contributed to the disastrous overincarceration problem in this country. I urge policy makers in Canada to learn from our mistakes.”

Canadian Senator Larry Campbell, a member of LEAP’s advisory board and a former member of the RCMP and its drug squad, added: “I am hopeful that my Senate colleagues will listen to the voice of experience, and take into account the advice from leading U.S. law enforcement officials to avoid mandatory minimum sentences. The U.S. and many of its citizens have suffered greatly due to the inflexible and dogmatic nature of mandatory minimum sentences, and Canada would be wise to learn from and avoid that costly and socially destructive mistake.”

U.S. Becoming More Progressive than Canada with Marijuana Policy

While Canada moves towards stricter sentencing with Bill C-10, many states in the U.S. are shifting in the opposite direction, toward control and regulation of the marijuana trade. The law enforcement officials pointed to the 16 U.S. states and the District of Columbia that have already passed laws allowing medical use of cannabis, the 14 states that have taken steps to decriminalize marijuana possession and the initiatives to fully tax and regulate marijuana that are likely to appear on statewide ballots this November in Washington State, Colorado and possibly California.

“We assume this news will not make you consider closing the borders with the United States,” the law enforcement officials write in their letter.

For a copy of the law enforcement letter, please visit

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate marijuana and other 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

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: February 22, 2012
CONTACT: Tom Angell – (202) 557-4979 or
                      Steve Finlay – (604) 315-5635 or


  1. Thank-you for sending that letter to the Canadian Prime Minister and the Senate. Thank-you for your multi-member support to stop the hurt the war on drugs has cost America, and now potentially threatens Canada.

    I know to many politicians, and the general public there is a real fear that talk of "legalizing drugs" is tantamount to this nation imploding with addicts. I empathize with the fear, but it's time to look again.

    This nation is now "imploding" as a direct consequence of the now infamous Drug Control Act, choreographed and won by Pres. Richard Nixon in 1971, against the recommendations of the very Blue Ribbon Committee he put in charge of developing a sound and practical, "drug policy".

    Currently, politics is obsessed with the past... in thinking real devils have taken over, are everywhere - destroying America, threatening our youth, our national security.

    Personal freedom, Constitutional rights must either be forsaken, or amended. The federal govt. must have control of the states, and the people.

    Emphasis on CONTROL... politically, "marijuana" represents that control. If a government controls the use and possession of cannabis, it controls the population... with an, up to, 30-day window to detect previous use in the human body, control of a large segment of the population considered "unconventional" is possible. Having the means to incarcerate and over-tax (through fines) for this segment of the population is an added plus.

    The War on Drugs is a War on humanity. It's a war upon the differences the people within a country possess. It is the exact opposite of a solution... especially considering the origin of the War on Drugs, 1937, "The Marihuana Tax Act".

    Not only was the perceived threat overblown in 1937, it was quite biased, based on hearsay and prejudiced. Ironically, the "Tax Act" was found to be unconstitutional in 1970. Essentially nullifying any laws based on cannabis; unfortunately no one seems to have taken governments to task, in court on this, and then, a year later, Nixon's "War on Drugs" is born.

    What a tragedy!

    Thank-you LEAP for your exemplary efforts and reaching out to our northern neighbors, Canada! I hope they listen to common sense, and your combined experiences.

  2. Yes, thank you LEAP.

    Mandatory minimums and idiotic shouting “softhearted” at judges/parole boards has been going on for 100 years in this Crime Against Humanity [1], this Evil Religion of Hate that at every major step springs from racist hatred [2].

    Consumer Union, Licit & Illicit Drugs
    [1] Chapter 9, “Tightening Up” the Harrison Act
    [2] Chapter 6, Opium smoking is outlawed


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