Pubdate: Tue, 15 Jan 2013
Source: Alamogordo Daily News (NM)
Copyright: 2013 Alamogordo Daily News
Author: Duane Barbati


Retired Customs and Border Protection pilot Richard Newton spoke last 
week about the "War on Drugs" at the Behavioral Health Local 
Collaborative at the Counseling Center.

Newton is a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

The mission of LEAP is to reduce the multitude of harmful 
consequences resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen 
the incidence of death, disease, crime and addiction by ending drug 
prohibition, according to LEAP's website

According to their website, LEAP's goals are to educate the public, 
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. It also aims to restore the 
public's respect for police, which has been greatly diminished by law 
enforcement's involvement in imposing drug prohibition.

LEAP advocates for the repeal of prohibition and its replacement with 
a tight system of legalized regulation, which will effectively 
cripple the violent cartels and street dealers who control the 
illegal market, the website states.

Newton said he first started looking at the drug policies in the 
United States after he was involved in a drug bust in the 1980s of 
about 1,000 kilos of cocaine in Puerto Rico.

"It had an estimated street value of around $80 million," he said. 
"It didn't effect the price of coke by a penny, ever. We can't keep 
drugs out of prisons much less this whole country. I came to realize 
there are better ways to spend the money than prohibition. I got into 
LEAP about the time I retired."

Newton said he believes people don't realize how long the U.S. has 
been involved in the "War on Drugs."

"Nixon started the Drug Enforcement Administration in 1971," he said. 
"Before he started the DEA, there was a government commission. They 
actually recommended marijuana be legalized, saying the money being 
spent on law enforcement could go better into counseling. The quote 
from the commission basically stated that marijuana usage doesn't 
harm society."

Newton said Nixon totally ignored the recommendation of the committee 
and started DEA.

"We've been in the drug war for over 41 years," he said. "We've spent 
over $1 trillion. In 1971, when Nixon started this, drug addiction 
was 1.3 percent of the population. The United States passed its first 
drug control law in 1904 with 1.3 percent of the population addicted. 
Last year, drug addiction was 1.3 percent of the general population. 
In 1970, a public survey estimated 4 million had admitted to using 
illegal drugs."

Newton said in 1970 the U.S. population was about 210 million people.

"Now its about 340 million with 46 percent of the population," he 
said. "The drug war has made it glamorous. State and federal 
governments spend about $60 to $70 billion. That includes 
enforcement, stuff on the border and a little bit of treatment but 
not very much. If we taxed marijuana at the same rates as cigarettes 
and tobacco, we would generate about $40 billion in tax revenue. It's 
about $110 billion a year."

Newton said the U.S. has 5 percent of the world's population and 25 
percent of the prison population of the world.

"Half of the population in federal prison are there because of just 
smoking marijuana," he said. "We don't know that marijuana 
specifically is harmless, but what we do know is that prohibition 
does not work, which is our present legal basic policy. It didn't 
work in the 1920s with alcohol."

Newton said alcohol prohibition in the 1920s basically gave the 
country gangs, disrespect for authority and organized crime.

"Drug prohibition in the last 40 years has given us basically the 
same thing," he said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom