Pubdate: Sun, 21 Oct 2007
Source: Star-Banner, The (Ocala, FL)
Copyright: 2007 The Star-Banner
Author: Jerry Cameron, Special to the Star-Banner
Note: Jerry Cameron, a retired police chief who lives in St. 
Augustine, is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or 
LEAP, a Medford, Mass.-based organization of criminal justice 
professionals who advocate some form of legalization of all drugs.


There are many tragedies in our War On Drugs, and I have long 
considered the case of pain patient Richard Paey to be one of the 
most egregious. While his case is unfortunately not uncommon, it is 
extremely rare when a tragedy like Paey's turns back on itself and 
becomes a victory.

With the full pardon of Paey, Gov. Charlie Crist and Florida Cabinet 
members Attorney General Bill McCollum, Chief Financial Officer Alex 
Sink and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson have "voted their 
conscience" and made a brave statement.

As a former chief of police and literally, all the way back to my 
beginnings as a rookie cop, I've witnessed many drug-related 
incidents that made me shake my head in disbelief.

Drunks and stoners and people high on methamphetamine can do some 
strange things. However, I have never witnessed a patient, confined 
to a wheelchair and burdened with constant and aggravating pain, 
behave in a felonious manner.

As much as I was in disbelief with some of the antics of drug 
abusers, as much as I was infuriated by the wrongs committed by drug 
dealers, nothing was as disturbing as watching the persecution of 
Richard Paey in Pasco County.

The inhumanity exhibited by prosecutors in Paey's case was 
astounding. It took three tries for Paey to be "successfully" 
prosecuted, processes I see as another condemnation of our bullheaded 
and failed drug policies.

The disastrous results of these policies can be found all across our 
nation. From the case of Richard Paey to the Atlanta death of Kathryn 
Johnston, or the deaths of Veronica Bowers and her infant daughter 
Charity, shot down over the skies of Peru in April 2001 by 
interdiction forces, the disasters of the drug war have a very human face.

Perhaps this move of granting a complete pardon to Mr. Paey portend a 
coming epiphany of consciousness on behalf of those who have long 
been supporters of our 21st century version of Prohibition.

I believe the time has come for us to consider ending this disastrous 
and un-American policy. Prohibition, and all the evidence against it, 
is a shameful legacy that I do not wish to hand future generations. 
The laws and policies dictating drug policy have failed to 
demonstrate any notable success.

I applaud the absolute sanity and humanity demonstrated by Gov. Crist 
and the Florida Cabinet members who have returned Richard Paey to his family.

In the words of Attorney General Bill McCollum, who once advocated 
using a dangerous mycoherbicide against Florida's illicit marijuana 
crops, "I think our laws fundamentally are very much to blame for 
this. Justice would truly have to have a blind eye not to grant a pardon."
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