by David Downs
We at Legalization Nation personally know a handful of cops who are going to be voting for Tax Cannabis 2010 initiative this November, but they wouldn't dare speak out about it. Questioning the war on drugs is a great way for a cop, judge, or prosecutor to get their ass fired. So much for a free country. Countering this chilling trend, the national drug reform group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition announced they will be speaking across Northern California in the coming weeks. The unassailable reformers know from personal experience the drug war has been a war on friends, family, and neighbors. It isn't working and they're coming to talk about it in the fear-hardened suburbs of Diablo Valley, Pleasanton, and beyond. These bold boys in blue will try to convince soccer moms and closeted-toker Dads that regulation is safer than a black market. Dates and details after the jump.
April 30th: Pleasanton Rotary
May 1st: Cabrillo College Social Justice Conference
May 2nd: Unitarian Universalist of Los Gatos
May 3rd: Palo Alto Rotary & Hayward Sunset Rotary
May 4th: San Jose East Evergreen Rotary & Los Altos Rotary
May 5th: Castro Valley Breakfast Lions & East Oakland Rotary
May 18th: Gilroy Sunrise Rotary & Rotary Club of Sunnyvale
May 19th: San Lorenzo Valley Rotary, San Jose Rotary & Diablo Valley
Speaker: Russ Jones, a former San Jose undercover narcotics officer.
Russ Jones has been involved in the “War on Drugs” on various fronts for 30 years. For 10 of those years Russ worked as a San Jose, California narcotics detective. Later he was assigned to a DEA-run task force. As a government intelligence agent, Russ worked in Latin America observing narcotics trafficking during the Nicaragua-Contra conflict. In academia, he conducted studies of the impact of drug abuse on the crime index, wrote training programs for identifying the psychological and physiological symptoms of narcotics use, and developed rehabilitation programs designed specifically for the court-mandated client. He has traveled throughout the former Soviet Union and China to study their drug problems and policies. In the field of drug rehabilitation, Russ implemented and taught courses for various California and Texas counties, as well as for privately run programs.
Russ is a court-recognized expert (on both the federal and state levels) in the field of narcotics enforcement. His journey to the Soviet Union made it clear to Russ that the “War on Drugs” cannot be won. “Drugs were prevalent even behind the Iron Curtain,” he reports. “If a country, as controlling of its citizens as the Soviet Union was, still had such a large a problem—drug-dealing on Moscow street corners, meth labs in Leningrad—how could a free society such as ours handle the problem from a law-enforcement perspective?”
Russ rightly attests that from the advent of drug prohibition in 1914 to the declaration of “War on Drugs” in 1972, to our present-day policies and tactics, the US government has not significantly reduced the use and abuse of drugs.
Instead we have incarcerated millions, destroyed the lives of countless youths, while corrupting police, judges, and politicians.
“We are taxing our population at over 69 billion dollars a year to support this ‘War on Drugs,’” he notes, “and the result is the enrichment of drug lords, foreign government officials, and our own government agencies that are involved in this folly.”
Russ champions a three-pronged approach to reform:
1) treat addiction as a health problem—not a crime,
2) remove the profit motive from the drug trade, and
3) redirect a portion of the billions of dollars in enforcement costs that ending prohibition would save toward real, honest education about drugs.
Education programs cut the use of nicotine, the most addictive drug known to humans, in half in a 20-year period and we didn’t have to arrest or imprison anyone to achieve that success.
To book a speaker, contact:
Shaleen Title, Speakers Bureau Coordinator
During nearly four decades the U.S. has fueled its policy of a war on drugs with over a trillion tax dollars and increasingly punitive policies.
We have made more than 38 million arrests for nonviolent drug offenses.
Our incarcerated population quadrupled over a 20-year period making building prisons this nation's fastest growing industry.
More than 2.3 million of our citizens are currently in prison or jail—far more per capita than any country in the world.
The United States has 4.6 percent of the population of the world but 22.5 percent of the world’s prisoners.
Every year we choose to continue this war will cost the United States another 69 billion dollars.
Despite all the lives we have destroyed and all the money so ill spent, today illicit drugs are cheaper, more potent, and much easier to access than they were 37 years ago at the beginning of the war on drugs. Meanwhile, people continue dying in our streets while drug barons and terrorists continue to grow richer than ever before. Not one of the stated U.S. drug policy goals of lessening the incidents of crime, drug addiction, and juvenile drug use, while stemming the flow of illegal drugs into this country, has been achieved. Fighting a war on drugs has magnified our problems many fold creating a self-perpetuating, ever-expanding policy of destruction but the U.S. still insists on continuing the war and pressuring other governments to perpetuate these same unworkable policies. This scenario is the very definition of a failed public policy. This madness must cease!
With this in mind, current and former members of law enforcement have created a drug-policy-reform group called LEAP. The membership of LEAP believe that to save lives and lower the rates of disease, crime and addiction, as well as to conserve tax dollars, we must end drug prohibition. LEAP believes a system of regulation and control is far more effective than one of prohibition. The mission of LEAP is to reduce the multitude of harms resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ultimately ending drug prohibition.
LEAP’s goals are: (1) To educate the public, the media, and policy makers about the failure of current drug policy by presenting a true picture of the history, causes and effects of drug use and the elevated crime rates—more properly related to drug prohibition than to drug pharmacology—and (2) To restore the public’s respect for police, which has been greatly diminished by law enforcement’s involvement in imposing drug prohibition.
LEAP’s main strategy for accomplishing these goals is to create a constantly growing speakers bureau staffed with knowledgeable and articulate former drug-warriors who describe the impact of current drug policies on: police/community relations; the safety of law enforcement officers and suspects; police corruption and misconduct; and the excessive financial and human costs associated with current drug policies.
LEAP is a tax-exempt , international, nonprofit, educational entity based in the United States that was modeled on Vietnam Veterans Against the War. They had an unassailable credibility when speaking out to end that terrible war and LEAP has the same credibility when its current and former drug-warriors speak out about the horrors of the “War on Drugs.”
LEAP’s message both catches the attention of the media and rings true with many other drug warriors who are questioning current U.S. drug policies. LEAP’s Board of Directors, headed by Jack Cole, has more than 170 years of experience in the criminal justice system, ranging from enforcement, prosecution and corrections. The LEAP Advisory Board is composed of the esteemed and respected, current and former members of law enforcement listed on the LEAP masthead. Membership in LEAP is open to anyone but only current or former members of law enforcement can be board members or public speakers for LEAP. In seven years we went from five founding police officers to a membership of 13,000 people. We are no longer just police. LEAP is now made up of police, judges, prosecutors, prison wardens, FBI and DEA agents and others. LEAP has a bureau of 85 speakers and membership in 86 other countries.
LEAP presents to civic, professional, educational, and religious organizations, as well as at public forums, but we target civic groups; Chambers of Commerce, Rotaries, Lions and Kiwanis Clubs, etc. The people in these organizations are conservative folks who mostly agree with the drug-warriors that we must continue the war on drugs at any cost. They are also very solid members of their communities; people who belong to civic organizations because they want the best for their locales. Every one of them will be voting in every election. Many are policy-makers and if they are not, they are the people who can pull the coat tails of policy-makers and say, “We have someone you must hear talk about drug policy.”
After making more than 4,500 presentations where LEAP calls for the government to “end prohibition and legalize all drugs—legalize them so we can control and regulate them and keep them out of the hands of our children,” we have discovered that the vast majority of participants in those audiences agree with us. Even more amazing is that we are now attending national and international law-enforcement conventions where we keep track of all those we speak with at our exhibit booth. After we talk with them, only 6% want to continue the war on drugs, 14% are undecided, and an astounding 80% agree with LEAP that we must end drug prohibition. The most interesting thing about this statistic is that only a small number of that 80% realized any others in law enforcement felt the same. This also holds true for policymakers. LEAP speakers staffed educational booths at four national conferences for state legislators. We spoke with 2751 of the attendees on a one-on-one basis and 83% of them agreed that we should legalize drugs—only 6% wanted to continue the war and the other 11% were undecided. If we can show these legislators that they won’t lose one more vote than they will gain by backing drug policy reform, they will end drug prohibition. The way to do that is to show them LEAP has a huge membership, so, as a goal, we are working towards a membership of ten thousand law-enforcers calling for an end to drug prohibition and a MILLION private citizens who agree this is the correct policy.
LEAP does not release names or contact information except for board members, speakers, staff or public volunteers helping with the administration of the organization. Anonymity is guaranteed to anyone who chooses to be a stealth member. If you wish to participate actively and publicly in drug policy reform, we are in need of people around the globe who will spread our message and help recruit more members. If you choose to be a LEAP local representative, your name and assigned LEAP email address may appear on our website and publications. There is strength in numbers. By publicly declaring your advocacy for using common sense in formulating drug policy, you will encourage others to do the same. Before long, people who share our desire for change will be contacting you to form local networks and alliances.