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So what’s a nice girl like me writing in a place like this? Just as my high school friends were amazed that I became a police officer, my police officer friends were equally as surprised when, in 2010, I started speaking for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and why I chose to do so.
What I have found since then is that there is a large segment of both the public and of criminal justice professionals that are unaware of who and what LEAP is and our role in drug policy reform. LEAP was founded in 2002 by five police officers that realized our national drug policy was an abject failure. We are a non-profit educational foundation with over 80,000 supporters worldwide and over 5,000 current and former criminal justice professionals. We represent the spectrum of professionals tasked with the administration of justice and speak daily to its failure.
LEAP currently has branches across the world including the United Kingdom, Canada, South America, Europe and Australia. Some recent accomplishments include having our speakers represented at the United Nations, testifying in front of federal and state legislatures and helping to achieve the marijuana legalization victories in Colorado and Washington.
No longer is our’s an outlier’s view, but is instead representative of millions of Americans that also have concluded that our drug policy has failed us. Who better than those who have served in America’s longest conflict to address and correct the many failures of the War on Drugs? LEAP’s goal is to end prohibition by using harm reduction strategies that will help reduce death, disease, crime and addiction. It is based on a system of control, regulation and legalization that will enhance public safety, use critical fiscal resources more efficiently and help repair the public’s respect and trust in our peace officers. We believe that our national drug policy should be based on scientific research, compassion and both civil and human rights. These are not unachievable goals, unlike the rhetoric of the Office of National Control and Drug Policy (ONCDP) that was tasked by law in 1988 with achieving a “drug-free America” by 1995.
No longer is our’s an outlier’s view, but is instead representative of millions of Americans that also have concluded that our drug policy has failed us.
Thanks to our partners and public supporters, I recently had the honor to speak at the first Southern Cannabis Reform Conference hosted by Peachtree NORML in Atlanta in mid-March. I was reminded there through a personal encounter that there are more than a “few good cops” out there that have spent a career as I did, doing their job, and having their own epiphany that our national drug policy has not worked. And, like me, they were unaware of who we (LEAP) are, and what we represent.
Steve, a peace office I met at the conference, spent 30 years working in the Atlanta metropolitan area and he and I had similar policing experiences. He had accepted that there are medical uses for cannabis and realized that his troops’ time was better spent going after criminals that victimize others. But he, not unlike others in law enforcement, is still trying to wrap his head around supporting a different policy, but not advocating for drug use.
I met Steve in an unlikely place for a retired cop, at a National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) conference. When I introduced myself as a speaker he stated that he attended the conference as a way to educate himself after engaging in debates with his college-age child over the use of cannabis. He realized that he needed to be fully informed on all the reasons why NORML and other drug policy reform groups support ending not just cannabis prohibition, but also our failed national drug policy. What I found stimulating is that this encounter validated the importance of LEAP as ambassadors for law enforcement that not only bridge the relationship between the police and the communities we have sworn to serve, but also between police who differ greatly in their opinion on the effectiveness of the drug war.
This aspect of LEAP’s mission is one that I have ignored. The role that LEAP plays in creating an environment that allows other criminal justice professionals the ability to voice their concerns over the failures of the drug war is immeasurable in so many ways. For me, this encounter clearly showed that there are more than “a few good cops” out there, but it’s also an indicator that the conversation about ending prohibition is no longer taboo. This chance meeting is indicative of the growing realization for many that work in the criminal justice system that it is time to end America’s longest war.