Pubdate: Wed, 15 Jan 2003
Source: Standard-Times (MA)
Page: A3
Copyright: 2003 The Standard-Times
Author: John Doherty, Standard-Times staff writer
Cited: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)
Bookmarks: (Massachusetts)


New Jersey Detective Now Pushing for Legalized Narcotics

FAIRHAVEN -- After fighting the war on drugs for nearly 30 years, Lt.
Jack Cole is ready to admit defeat.

The retired New Jersey State Police detective -- who spent 12 years as
an undercover narcotics officer -- spearheads a movement to legalize
all narcotics as a way of ending the bloody, expensive war.

"The war on drugs was, is and always will be a dismal failure," said
Mr. Cole yesterday to a meeting of the Fairhaven Rotary Club.

Mr. Cole is one of the founders of an international nonprofit group
called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition -- LEAP.

That group, which includes current and former police officers, judges
and others, is proposing nothing short of legalizing all narcotics --
including heroin, cocaine and marijuana -- and having the federal
government regulate them.

While that might sound radical for a detective who spent the better
part of his career looking to jail both users and sellers of drugs,
Mr. Cole said it is the only rational viewpoint after a career on the
front lines of the war on drugs.

While spending what Mr. Cole estimates to be $69 billion per year in
law enforcement and prison costs for drug offenders, Americans have
seen drug supplies become more plentiful and the drugs themselves more
powerful and cheaper.

Mr. Cole acknowledged to the dozen Rotarians yesterday that the idea
of legalizing narcotics -- similar to policies in Amsterdam -- sounds

The first question many people ask is whether drug decriminalization
will increase drug use, especially among the young.

Mr. Cole pointed to studies in which young Americans said it was
easier to obtain marijuana and other drugs than it was to purchase
government-regulated alcohol and tobacco products.

Holland sees a lower rate of marijuana use among its young people, in
part because decriminalization has made the drug boring, Mr. Cole said.

"We at LEAP are asking you to listen and to think about these ideas,"
said Mr. Cole, who is pursuing a doctorate in public policy at UMass
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