Pubdate: Thu, 26 Feb 2009
Source: Billings Outpost, The (MT)
Copyright: 2009 The Billings Outpost
Author: Roger Clawson
Cited: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Bookmark: (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


A growing legion of cops and ex-cops has declared war, not on drugs, 
but on the war on drugs.

They call themselves LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) and 
they claim a membership of 10,000 ex-or current cops. One of their 
number, a retired Denver policeman, brought LEAP's message to 
Billings last week.

LEAP's pitch is simple and direct:

"As long as marijuana is worth more than gold and heroin more than 
uranium, we will continue to have people willing to kill each other 
to control the market, willing to kill police charged with fighting 
these useless wars, willing to kill children caught in cross fires."

LEAP spokesmen Tony Ryan did the math for a small audience at the 
Mayflower Lutheran Church last week:

"When any drug is prohibited, an underground market is immediately 
created. The risk of producing and distributing that drug 
artificially inflates its value.

"The street value of a drug is 17,000 times higher than the cost of 
producing the drug. When a rapist or robber is arrested, the number 
of rapes and robberies goes down. When a drug dealer is arrested, the 
number of drug sales does not diminish.

"All we are doing is creating job openings for hundreds more 
entrepreneurs willing to take huge risks for the chance of receiving 
even huger profits."

Fighting the war on drugs only stirs the prohibition pot at a cost of 
$69 billion a year, Ryan said.

Comparing the War on Drugs to the unsuccessful attempt to outlaw 
alcohol in the 1930s, he said that we must end drug prohibition.

"When we ended alcohol prohibition in 1933, Al Capone and his 
smuggling buddies were out of business the next day," he said. "The 
same thing would happen to the drug lords and terrorists who, thanks 
to today's prohibition, sell $500 billion worth of illicit drugs each 
year to our children around the world."

LEAP members are often asked, "Won't legalization of hard drugs 
promote more addiction?"

A Zogby International poll asked 1,028 likely voters whether they 
would be more likely to use heroin or cocaine if the drugs were 
legal. Ninety-nine out of 100 said "No." Only 0.6 percent said "Yes."

Drug War advocates have always insisted that addiction would explode 
if drugs were legalized. But that argument comes apart under the 
weight of the evidence. While a poll can't predict actual drug use, 
it clearly shows that most of us avoid hard drugs because of common 
sense -- not fear of arrest.

And that's always been the case. At the beginning of the last century 
when a virtual free market for drugs existed, use rates were lower 
than they are today.

At that time the typical opium user was a silver-haired grandmother 
who kept a bottle of Dr. Kilmer's Swamp Root kidney, liver and 
bladder cure in her medicine cabinet.

Drug use and addiction -- along with crime, violence and corruption 
- -- only began to climb after the advent of drug prohibition in 1914.

Isn't it time to end the War on Drugs? Let's turn addiction problems 
over to the people who dealt with them effectively before 1914 -- 
doctors, nurses and health care professionals.

In 36 years of service as a Denver cop, Ryan was shot at and hit, 
cut, battered and broken. A gash to the head demanded 18 stitches. He 
was shot in the chest, stabbed in the hand and back and suffered 
broken bones in a hand and a foot.

Ryan reckoned the wear and tear went with the turf. What he did find 
distressing was the way the War on Drugs dishonored the "Thin Blue 
Line," creating "a total failure costing billions of dollars while 
making the problem worse and enriching drug dealers.

"Drug-enforcement activities are one of the highest sources of 
complaints against law enforcement. [The War on Drugs] costs 
officers' lives and ruins careers through corruption and a myriad of 
other ills borne on drug-enforcement activity."

During his career, Tony received numerous awards from the Denver 
Police Department, including the Medal of Honor, Purple Heart, the 
Merit Award, and Community Service Awards.

Now retired, he continues to work as a Red Cross volunteer, active 
member and speaker for the Libertarian Party and LEAP.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom