Friday, March 30, 2012

Red Cross Calls for Drug Decriminalization

In a little-noticed statement to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has said that drug use should not be a crime.

Here are some key excerpts:
We often ignore the evidence that to be successful in our drug policies, health services must provide a comprehensive package known as harm reduction programmes that combine the measures we have previously mentioned.
Instead, the best people who use drugs can hope for is to be driven underground to live with the addiction in the dark back streets and abandoned buildings of our towns and cities. Or even worse, they are criminalized and jailed with little or no regard for their healthcare rights or the impact of this policy on the health of their communities.
...

Treating drug addicts as criminals, is destined to fuel the rise of HIV and other infections not only among those unfortunate enough to have a serious drug addiction, but also for children born into addicted families and ordinary members of the public who are not normally exposed to HIV risks. Injecting drug use is a health issue. It is an issue of human rights. It cannot be condoned, but neither should it be criminalized.
...

To conclude, the IFRC, on behalf of the most vulnerable people affected by drug use, strongly calls upon key stakeholders and donors to exert all possible efforts to gather knowledge on the scale of the drug use epidemic at country level and decide on the proper response accordingly.
Criminalization, discrimination and stigmatization are not such responses. Laws and prosecutions do not stop people from taking drugs.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Fountainhead of Drug Prohibition

By James E. Gierach

    I recently returned to Chicago from a week in Vienna, Austria, having attending the 55th annual session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND).  Vienna is the home of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).  It was quite an experience to be at the fountainhead of world drug prohibition.  Fog, demons and Al Capone-ghosts circled and crowded the dark skies over the Vienna International Centre (“the VIC”) like something out of a Harry Potter novel but the demons of drug policy were real.

    A month before my UN drug trip, I was a guest speaker, among others, in Mexico City on behalf of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an organization that is anti-drug use but even more anti-drug war.  I had been invited to speak in Mexico City by a group of business and community leaders who were at their wits end over the drug prohibition corruption and violence, a group called Mexico Unido Contra La  Delincuencia.

    Antonio Mazzitelli, the UNODC representative for the region including Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, spoke before me and said, fearfully, we cannot legalize drugs because legalization would make drugs more available and worsen public health.  I spoke immediately after him, and I criticized the “U.N. /Al Capone Drug Policy Paradigm,” because world prohibition history and world news evidenced on a daily basis that prohibition harmed public health more than drugs.

    During my presentation, I asked Mazzitelli how public health was aided by the deaths of 50,000 people killed in Mexico in drug cartel violence since 2006 when Pres. Filipe Calderon accelerated the Mexican war on drugs, funded since 2008 with hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars via the “Merida Initiative.”  I asked what was it about U.N. prohibition policy that amassed 15 tons of methamphetamines that were seized by Mexican authorities in one bust while we speakers were in town.  And I asked him how such a policy helped the public health.  I implored Mr. Mazzitelli to take a message back to the U.N. that Latin America, the U.S., and the world had had it with the failed drug war and the auditorium in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City rocked with applause.  The “End the drug war” message was conveyed but would it be delivered to prohibition headquarters at the UN?

    For me, the importance of the Mexico City trip was my heightened appreciation for the fact that three international UN treaties, called conventions, are at the heart of the world’s war on drugs.  The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 consolidated earlier drug treaties and prohibited the production and supply of narcotic drugs, including opium, coca, heroin, morphine and marijuana, with limited exception for medical use, and empowered the World Health Organization (WHO) to add and remove drugs from the four schedules of substances appended to the treaty.  Two additional international UN treaties expanded the scope and breadth of prohibition: the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

    Wikipedia succinctly notes that the United States and the United Kingdom enacted the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, respectively, to fulfill treaty obligations voluntarily assumed by them.  Other treaty Member States did likewise, all such nations now mutually entangled and cemented in “Just say no” prohibition glue and goo.  I took my new appreciation of the UN as the fountainhead of the world’s drug prohibition crisis to Vienna last week, hoping the Mazzitelli message would be delivered but neither he nor the message was anywhere to be found.

    In preparation for the Vienna trip, I read the UN documents that would provide the foundation and focal point for UN-delegate discourse and action regarding the world drug situation.  My reading included the 30-page reports by the Secretariat that detailed page after page of increased drug use and escalated drug trafficking worldwide.

    Given the bloody, fertile drug prohibition soil of the world and the Secretariat reports – maybe, just maybe, the Mexico City message and Latin American calls for an end to the drug-prohibition war would be heard and discussed in committee-of-the-whole and plenary sessions of the UN.

    But maybe not.  The United States sponsored a resolution celebrating a 100-year-old opium treaty (The Hague Opium Treaty), the world's first drug treaty and, in the "wherefore" conclusions of the resolution, the US called for the reaffirmation of the three prohibitionist UN-drug treaties, the rope and gallows from which the UN member states swing by the neck.  The resolution would have been fine if it had called for the "repeal" rather than "reaffirmation" of the three UN drug conventions, a course error of only 180-degrees.

    The end of the story is not a happy one, for the status quo prevailed.  Prohibition was reaffirmed miraculously without any dissent and without a single vote.  As encouraged by 55th Session documents to present a “single voice,” the delegates moved commas and periods and labored over word-choice, but reaffirmed prohibition as the drug policy of the world without a hitch.  Countervailing forces, messages, and drug-policy-reform demonstrators could not even gain admission to UN premises and prohibition ground zero.  Admission was limited to those with badges and invitations.  And if there was media present in the VIC “Press Room,” somehow it already knew that nothing happens there.  And nothing did.

    Disturbingly, in Vienna, I watched the fate of the world and its public health, safety, and welfare steered by a roomful, or two, of delegates who effectively acted outside the scrutiny of the world, behind a translucent curtain made of world drug-policy obliviousness, boredom, and disinterest.  With immunity, the process picked the pockets of the world taking peace and quiet, sobriety, freedom, human rights, good health, the Golden Rule, national sovereignty, cultural, historic and (in some cases, e.g. Bolivia) sacred tradition from them, ostensible by consent.

    Delegates only discussed the “safe” drug policy topics – treatment, prevention, education and law enforcement, and the need for more.  But they did not discuss the economics of drug prohibition that made illicit drugs the more valuable than gold.  Drug prohibition economics was the elephant in the room never mentioned.  As I watched the delegates finish their work and seal the world’s prohibition fate for another year, I could hear the loud laugh of Al Capone, the snickers of Mexican drug cartels, and the thunderous applause of the drug-war benefactors, grantees and consultants.  The drug-war gravy-train riders were secure for another year.

    Eerie, ghoulish, chilling – it was to see and hear what the delegates could not.

    Now, back home in Chicago, I again see the price we must pay around the world for our dear beloved drug-prohibition policies.  This week, news that Mexican police found 10 heads severed from their bodies in Acapulco as the search for the bodies continued; news of a six-year-old shot and killed in Chicago gang violence along with six others shooting deaths here with dozens more shot and wounded.  Today, Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy says that the “gang menace is getting worse and the city needs to fight harder” to respond to the “bloodbath of violence.”

    Society continues to choose the hell of drug prohibition over the legalization, control, and regulation of substances, and the price for that delusional choice is steep.

James E. Gierach, a former prosecutor in Cook County, IL, is a board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cops And Judges Ask California Legislator to Withdraw Marijuana DUI Bill

 Law Enforcers Say Bill Will Criminalize Legal Medical Marijuana Patients & Distract Police

  SACRAMENTO, CA -- A group of former California police officers, prosecutors and judges issued a letter today asking Assemblymember Norma Torres to withdraw a bill she has introduced that would criminalize driving with any amount of cannabinoids in the body. The criminal justice professionals, members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), say that the standards created by the bill have nothing to do with actual impairment behind the wheel and will criminalize the state's legal medical marijuana patients.

The letter reads, in part, "Zero tolerance has a nice ring to it, but most all applications of this overused (and clich├ęd)
concept result in harmful unintended consequences. Zero tolerance relieves the decision-maker of the burden of making sound legal judgments and routinely produces more harm than good. It is absolutely conceivable that, if passed, this bill will become the foundation for DUI checkpoint abuses where the answer to the simple question, 'are you a legal medical cannabis patient?' will result in arrest and conviction under circumstances where impaired driving never occurred. And if it happens to the same patient on three occasions, they will face a mandatory ten-year prison sentence, all while still being innocent."

Stephen Downing, a retired deputy chief of police with the Los Angeles Police Department, says, "Keeping impaired drivers off the road is one of law enforcement's most important jobs, but this bill has no basis in science. Enacting this legislation would not only be disastrous for our state's legal medical marijuana patients, but would
impede public safety for all Californians by distracting police from catching actually dangerous drivers. Assemblymember Torres should withdraw this legislation immediately."

Assemblymember Torres's bill, AB 2552, was introduced on February 24 and has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Public Safety, which is chaired by medical marijuana supporter Assemblymember Tom Ammiano. The full text of the bill can be read at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_2551-2600/ab_2552_bill_20120224_introduced.html

The letter urging Assemblymember Torres to withdraw the bill, signed by ten former law enforcement officials, is online at http://www.leap.cc/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/AB2552.pdf

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, federal agents and others who fought on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learned firsthand that punitive prohibitionist policies only serve to worsen addiction and violence. More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 27, 2012
CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or media@leap.cc

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cops and Judges Endorse Washington’s Marijuana Legalization Initiative

 Law Enforcers Say Ending Prohibition Will Improve Public Safety


 SEATTLE, WA -- A group of police officers, prosecutors, judges and other criminal justice professionals – including Seattle’s former chief of police – is endorsing I-502, the Washington initiative to regulate and tax marijuana that voters will decide on this November.

Norm Stamper, the former Seattle chief and a spokesman for the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), said, “Everyone knows that marijuana prohibition has failed. When even those who once worked to enforce these laws are saying this, the only logical next step is to enact a system that legalizes, regulates and controls marijuana. Doing so will not only take money away from the gangs and cartels that sell marijuana now, but will generate new, much-needed revenue that can be used to pay the salaries of police officers and teachers and for substance abuse prevention and education.”

David Nichols, a retired judge in Bellingham, added, “Replacing the criminalization of the marijuana trade with a public health approach grounded in science will allow our criminal justice system to fully focus on stopping and solving violent crimes and crimes against property. We don’t need the backs of our police cars, our courtrooms or our jails filled with people caught on marijuana charges.”

I-502 would strictly regulate the sale of marijuana to adults over 21. The initiative would not change laws regarding medical marijuana or impairment in the workplace. If I-502 is passed, there will be penalties in place to punish driving while impaired or use by persons under 21 years old.

James Doherty, a former prosecutor who lives in Seattle, added, "By regulating and controlling marijuana, we will make it less available to teenagers. Ask any high school student whether it is easier to get marijuana or alcohol. Most will say marijuana, because alcohol is regulated and controlled under the law, and marijuana is controlled by illegal dealers who don't ask for I.D."

Recent statewide polling shows a double-digit margin of support for the initiative. Other high-profile criminal justice professionals who have endorsed I-502 include former FBI special agent in charge Charles Mandigo and former US attorneys John McKay and Katrina C. Pflaumer.

More information about the initiative is online at http://www.newapproachwa.org

Coloradans will also vote on a statewide initiative to legalize and tax marijuana this November.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who support legalization 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.CopsSayLegalizeMarijuana.com.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 21, 2012
CONTACT: Tom Angell – (202) 557-4979 or media@leap.cc

Former Police Officers Testify for Changes to Marijuana Laws in Rhode Island

 Wednesday Hearing on Bills to Decriminalize Possession and to Legalize and Tax Sales

 PROVIDENCE, RI -- A former Providence police officer and a former undercover narcotics detective will testify today before a Rhode Island House committee in favor of bills that would decriminalize and legalize marijuana. The bill to legalize and regulate marijuana sales (H7582/S2367), and the bill to decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of marijuana (H7092/S2253), will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee at the rise of the House (approximately 5 PM) in Room 313.

Beth Comery, who served as a Providence police officer for six years, will be testifying for the bills. "The fact is, the current marijuana laws don't enhance public safety; they threaten it," she said. "F.B.I. statistics indicate that nationally, nearly four of ten murders, six of ten rapes and nine of ten burglaries go unsolved. The criminal justice system should be focusing its limited resources in these areas, rather than on the approximately 800,000 people that police arrest every year for marijuana offenses."

Comery is a speaker for the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an international group of police officers, judges, corrections officials, border agents and other criminal justice professionals who have witnessed the failures of the so-called "war on drugs" firsthand.

The decriminalization bill is co-sponsored by 22 of of the state's 38 senators and 41 of 75 House representatives, including Republican Minority Leader Brian Newberry. A Public Policy Polling survey conducted earlier this year shows that 65 percent of Rhode Islanders support decriminalizing marijuana possession and that a majority (52 percent) support legalizing and taxing marijuana sales. In 2010, the Rhode Island Senate created a special commission to study the state’s marijuana laws. It recommended decriminalizing marijuana possession.

"Ceasing to arrest people for using small amounts of marijuana is a great step in the right direction. My home state of Massachusetts has been benefiting from such a change since 2008, when 65% of our voters passed an initiative to decriminalize marijuana," said Jack Cole, LEAP's board chairman, a retired state police lieutenant and undercover narcotics detective who is a resident of Medford, Massachusetts. "But unless and until we actually legalize and regulate marijuana sales, we'll continue to see violent gangs and cartels raking in tax-free revenue from the illegal market."

Rhode Island could bolster the state treasury by more than $48 million a year by ceasing to arrest people for marijuana and instead taxing and regulating its sales, according to Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron.

The full text of the House versions of bills being heard today can be found at http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText12/HouseText12/H7582.htm and http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText12/HouseText12/H7092.htm

Polling data on support for marijuana policy reform in Rhode Island can be found at http://www.mpp.org/assets/pdfs/states/Rhode-Island-poll.pdf

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, 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 http://www.CopsSayLegalizeMarijuana.com.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 21, 2012
CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or media@leap.cc

Arizona Medical Marijuana Discrimination by CPS, Worse than Thought

On January 6th 2012, I told you how Arizona's Child Protective Services was discriminating against me as a medical marijuana patient, but it's worst than I thought.

I hoped the voter passed Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, Arizona Child Protective Services, and DCYF's own guidelines on medical marijuana would be enough.

It wasn't, I was told by the Arizona Legislative Office of Family Advocacy that medical marijuana patients would not be given custody of children, when I ask if they could check on the status of the medical marijuana law.

This was their reply, “I can only tell you what the decision is by DES and the Governor regarding medical marijuana--CPS cannot and will not violate the federal CPS law”. “So, it doesn't matter what other state departments or cities or counties are doing but CPS will follow the federal CPS law regarding placing children with people who use marijuana no matter the reasons”.

It made no sense to me, that CPS, and DCYF would go to all the time and expense to write a manual, then, tell CPS case managers to disregard the section.

So I sent a copy of the DCYF manual, there's a whole section on medical marijuana, to the Office of Family Advocacy. See Link https://extranet.azdes.gov/dcyfpolicy/Chapter_02/Chapter_2_Section_1_Interviews_with_the_Child,_Family_and_C.htm (Chapter 2: Section 1 Interviews With The Child, Family And Collateral Contacts)

This was their reply, “Mr. Fleming: It doesn't matter what this says--BUT, every state in the US must follow what the federal law says around CPS AND because marijuana is illegal every state CPS must follow the federal law”. “So, because you use marijuana--even if under a medical prescription--the children cannot be placed with you or AZ CPS is in violation of the federal law”.

I was also told that every judge, in every county were informed of this by DES/DCYF/CPS several months ago. So it appears discrimination against medical marijuana patients is alive an well in Arizona, and people with kids should keep their mouth shut about being a legal medical marijuana patients in Arizona.

While Arizona refuses to give custody of children to medical marijuana patients, it has apparently changed it's policy on the use of Meth by parents.

I was told by a CPS supervisor, and the Arizona Child Abuse Hotline, that using/selling meth, or being involved in prostitution is a “lifestyle choice”, and is NOT a CPS problem, as long as the parents don't do it around the kids, it will not effect custody.

This CPS case is under review at a state level, and I'm hesitant to say to much about all the problems in the case, but be sure, it will be interesting.

One thing I will say, if I was the head of a state agency, and I was aware of a recording where CPS and employees from other agencies were at a minimum being incompetent, and possibly attempting to manipulate the outcome of a placement, I would want to hear the recording, not ignore it.

Please, before recording any conversions, check your state law to see if you live in a one party, or two party, consent state.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Human Rights is a Foreign Concept in the UN’s “War on Drugs”

 Latin American Presidents’ Calls for Legalization Debate Go Unheeded at UN Drug Policy Meeting in Vienna

 VIENNA, AUSTRIA – Even while several Latin American presidents are calling for an outright debate on drug legalization, delegates at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting this week failed to even discuss a change in the global prohibitionist drug treaties, reports a group of judges, prosecutors and jailers who were at the meeting in Vienna to promote reform.

During consideration of a U.S.-sponsored resolution to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first laws banning opium, Norway’s delegation attempted to insert the phrase “while observing human rights,” but even this move encountered resistance from the US delegation, which preferred not to mention human rights.

“Fundamentally, the three UN prohibitionist treaties are incompatible to human rights. We can have human rights or drug war, but not both,” said Maria Lucia Karam, a retired judge from Brazil and a board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

Richard Van Wickler, currently a jail superintendent in New Hampshire, adds, “I suppose it’s not shocking that within the context of a century-long bloody ‘war on drugs’ the idea of human rights is a foreign concept. Our global drug prohibition regime puts handcuffs on millions of people every year while even the harshest of prohibitionist countries say that drug abuse is a health issue. What other medical problems do we try to solve with imprisonment and an abandonment of human rights?”

The UN meeting, the 55th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, comes amidst a rapidly emerging global debate on the appropriateness of continuing drug prohibition and whether legalization and regulation would be a better way to control drugs. In recent weeks, Presidents Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala, Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica and Felipe Calderon of Mexico have added their voices to the call for a serious conversation on alternatives to drug prohibition.

“Unfortunately, none of these powerful Latin American voices were heard during the official sessions of the UN meeting,” says Judge Karam. “In the halls of the UN building in Vienna we did speak to delegates who agree that the drug war isn’t working and that change is needed, but these opinions were not voiced when they counted the most. During the meetings, all the Member States remained voluntarily submissive to the U.N. dictates that required that all speak with a ‘single voice’ that mandated support for prohibition.”

Jim Gierach, a retired Chicago prosecutor, added, “Voters in the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington will be deciding this November on measures to legalize marijuana. Already, 16 states and the District of Columbia allow legal access to medical marijuana. It is pure hypocrisy for the American federal government to hold the rest of the world hostage to its futile desire to continue drug prohibition unquestioned when its own citizens don’t even want to go along for the ride.”

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who support legalization 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: March 16, 2012
CONTACT: Tom Angell – (202) 557-4979 or media@leap.cc

Monday, March 12, 2012

C-10’s Mandatory Minimums Built On Ignorance, Say Cops and Judges

Law Enforcers Say Government Fails To Justify Cannabis Sentences in Bill C-10

 VANCOUVER, BC – Last month, a group of American members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) warned the Canadian government to eliminate sections of Bill C-10 that create mandatory minimum sentences for minor cannabis-related crimes lest the mistakes of the U.S.’s “war on drugs” be repeated here. Now, on the eve of C-10’s being signed in to law, LEAP’s Canadian members are also speaking out.

“The good news is that government was forced to respond to our neighbors to the south who have experience with these harsh laws,” says William Vandergraaf, a member of LEAP Canada’s board and a retired Winnipeg police detective. “But the government’s reasons for these mandatory minimums are fundamentally flawed: Prohibition is a proven failure in the real world.”

John Anderson, LEAP Canada’s vice president, said, “We heard the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice say that Canada has a parole system, while the US federal system doesn’t, which it clearly does. Then the government keeps saying that cannabis should be illegal because organized crime produces and sells a lot of it. Obviously, this is reasoning in the reverse: The only reason why organized crime is in the business of trafficking is because marijuana is illegal. When we legalize cannabis, legal businesses will take over the vast bulk of the market, just as they did when alcohol prohibition ended.”

“Their arguments for mandatory minimums on cannabis are inconsistent with the evidence. Making Canadian taxpayers cough up millions of dollars for new prisons seems to be a solution in search of a problem”.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, 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. For more information, visit http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.

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CONTACT:  Steve Finlay – (778) 554-3267 or steve.finlay@leap.cc
                        Tom Angell – (202) 557-4979 or media@leap.cc

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cops Take Pro-Legalization Message to UN War on Drugs Meeting

 Law Enforcers Say Ending Prohibition Will Improve Global Security & Human Rights


 VIENNA, AUSTRIA – Judges, prosecutors and jailers who support legalizing drugs are bringing their message to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting next week in Vienna. At the U.N. session, which comes just days after the Obama administration stepped-up its attempts to counteract the emerging anti-prohibition sentiment among sitting presidents in Latin America, the pro-legalization law enforcement officials will work to embolden national delegations from around the world to push back against the U.S.-led failed “war on drugs.”

Richard Van Wickler, a currently-serving jail superintendent who will be representing Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) in Vienna, says, “World leaders who believe we could better handle drug problems by replacing criminalization with legal control are becoming less and less afraid of U.S. reprisal for speaking out or reforming their nations’ policies. And for good reason.” Van Wickler, who has was named 2011’s Corrections Superintendent of the Year by the New Hampshire Association of Counties, explains, “Voters in at least two U.S. states will be deciding on measures to legalize marijuana this November. It would be pure hypocrisy for the American federal government to continue forcefully pushing a radical prohibitionist agenda on the rest of the world.”

In recent weeks, Presidents Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala, Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica and Felipe Calderon of Mexico have added their voices to the call for a serious conversation on alternatives to drug prohibition, causing U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to travel to Latin America this week in an unsuccessful attempt to quash the debate.

Former Chicago drug prosecutor James Gierach, recently a featured speaker at a conference in Mexico City last month attended by the first lady of Mexico and the former presidents of Colombia and Brazil, says, “The unending cycle of cartel violence caused by the prohibition market has turned a steady trickle of former elected officials criticizing prohibition into a flood of sitting presidents, business leaders and law enforcement officials calling for an outright discussion about legalization. It’s time for the U.S. and the U.N. to acknowledge that legal control, rather than criminalization, is a much better way to manage our drug problems. The world can have either drug prohibition, violence and corruption or it can have controlled drug legalization with safe streets and moral fabric, but it can't have both.”

The UN meeting in Vienna is an annual opportunity for nations around the world to re-evaluate drug control strategies and treaties. More information about the meeting is at http://www.idpc.net/events/55-session-of-cnd-2012

In recent years, countries like Portugal and Mexico have made moves to significantly transform criminalization-focused drug policies into health approaches by fully decriminalizing possession of small amounts of all drugs. Still, no country has yet to legalize and regulate the sale of any of these drugs. Doing so, the pro-legalization law enforcers point out, would be the only way to prevent violent transnational criminal organizations from profiting in the drug trade.



Also attending the conference on behalf of LEAP will be former Brazilian judge Maria Lucia Karam and former UK MI5 intelligence officer Annie Machon. 



Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who support legalization 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: March 8, 2012
CONTACT: Tom Angell – (202) 557-4979 or media@leap.cc

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pat Robertson Blames Liberals for Drug War and Overincarceration

Pat Robertson created a firestorm when he first called for the decriminalization of marijuana in December 2010, causing even his Christian Broadcasting Network's own publicist to deny that that's what he actually meant.

Well, in a March 1 segment of "The 700 Club" that went largely unnoticed, Dr. Robertson is at it again, reiterating his call for marijuana reform and even blaming liberals for the U.S.'s overincarceration problem.
We here in America make up 5% of the world's population, but we make up 25% of jailed prisoners...

Every time the liberals pass a bill -- I don't care what it involves -- they stick criminal sanctions on it. They don't feel there is any way people are going to keep a law unless they can put them in jail.

I became sort of a hero of the hippie culture, I guess, when I said I think we ought to decriminalize the possession of marijuana.
I just think it's shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of controlled substance. The whole thing is crazy.
Check out Robertson's comments in this video, starting at about 20:40 and going until about 29:25. Robertson's comments begin as part of an introduction to a news story about how the NAACP and tea party activists are teaming up to push for criminal justice reform.



After the news story, Robertson's continues his tirade against overincarceration.
We've said, "we're 'conservative, we're tough on crime." That's baloney. It's costing us billions and billions of dollars.

Think of California. California is spending more money on prisons than it spends on schools. There's something wrong about that equation.

We need to scrub the federal code and the state codes and take away these criminal penalties.

Putting people in jail at huge expense to the population is insanity.

Folks, we've gotta do something about this. We've just got to change the laws. We cannot allow this to continue. It is sapping our vitality. Think of this great land of freedom. We have the highest rate of incarceration of any nation on the face of the Earth. That's a shocking statistic.

What is it we're doing that is different? What we're doing is turning a bunch of liberals loose writing laws -- there's this punitive spirit, the always want to punish people.

It's time for change!

More and more prisons, more and more crime.  It's just shocking, especially this business about drug offenses.  It's time we stop locking up people for possession of marijuana. We just can't do it anymore...You don't lock 'em up for booze unless they kill somebody on the highway.
Will Robertson's comments lead to more conservative politicians and elected officials speaking out for drug policy reform? Will they create room for progressives and Democrats who are sympathetic but are worried about being attacked from the right? What do you think?
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