Pubdate: Tue, 26 Mar 2013
Source: Florida Today (Melbourne, FL)
Copyright: 2013 Florida Today
Author: Malcolm Denemark


Neill Franklin, a former undercover drug investigator from Maryland,
spoke to a group of Cocoa Beach Daybreak Rotarians over breakfast this
morning, advocating for decriminalization of drugs to curb crime and
dangerous addictions.

Franklin is executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition,
a decade-old non-profit that advocates a stop to the so-called "War on
Drugs" based on the belief that current drug policies fail to address
problems of drug abuse. Franklin said legalizing and regulating drugs
will save law enforcement time and money, as well as potentially
create a profit for government.

He said a growing number of law enforcement officers are joining the
movement. That support is not coming from some of the top law
enforcers in Brevard County.

"I have spent almost my entire adult life protecting our citizens and
communities against the harmful effects of illicit drugs," Brevard
County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said. "In the interest of protecting our
citizens we can't stop our war on drugs any more safely than we could
stop our fight against violent crime or terrorism.

"Legalization does not help stop the abuse of drugs, in fact
prescription drugs are the most regulated form of controlled
substances we know, yet today they are the most widely abused.
Prescription medication has caused almost a thousand deaths in Brevard
County alone during the past five years."

Franklin, who spent 34 years working with Maryland State Police and
Baltimore police overseeing education and training as well as drug and
criminal enforcement, is traveling around the Sunshine State asking
people to consider alternatives to the way the nation currently
regulates, and punishes, illegal drug use.

Cocoa Beach Rotarian Jimmy Love knows about the drug trade first hand.
He said while growing up on Merritt Island, many of his family members
were either addicts or dealers. He saw people doing anything they
could to support their addiction, and believes that decriminalization
of drugs would allow more resources to go to treatment instead of 

"With the war on drugs, there was no treatment centers, it was all
about making an arrest," Love said. "As (Franklin) said, those people
are looked at as scumbags by law enforcement officers. Like they're

Franklin said he's seen cases where drug offenders spend more time
behind bars than violent and sex offenders. He said before the "Drug
War" of the 70s, police solved 9 of 10 homicides. In 2011, only about
6 of 10 were solved, according to the FBI's annual Crime in the United
States report.

"The vast majority of people who sell drugs are opportunists. It's so
easy," Franklin said, adding that regulating drugs could drop prices
so it's no longer profitable for street dealers and others engaged in
illegal sales.

"You can buy from a guy on the street corner or the local CVS. Here's
my thought process: At the CVS, I can read and know exactly what I'm
going to get. I know what the purity is. If I buy from the guy on the
street, I know it's dangerous, cut with other stuff, and if I'm caught
buying it from this guy I'm going to go to jail. I'm not going to take
that chance."
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