Pubdate: Tue, 11 Jun 2013
Source: Times Argus (Barre, VT)
Copyright: 2013 Times Argus


BARRE - As the ink dries on Vermont's newly signed marijuana 
decriminalization law, a retired police captain has been traveling 
around the state talking to rotary clubs and media outlets about his 
groups opposition to the country's drug policy.

- -- Peter Christ worked for the Tonawanda, N.Y., police department for 
20 years. After he retired he co-founded a group called Law 
Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). The organization is composed 
of those who previously worked in the criminal justice field and now 
are speaking out against the so called "drug war." Christ said his 
organization offers something that other organizations can't in terms 
of who is presenting the message. When there is a drug debate and 
those in law enforcement present a police chief or state trooper to 
argue for maintaining current drug policy, LEAP can send its own 
former police chief or former state trooper to argue for change. -

- -- Christ said going after drug users and dealers was the only aspect 
of his job that, no matter how vigorously he did it, it didn't make 
any difference. By comparison, he said, if there was a string of 
burglaries in a neighborhood, they caught the burglar and the 
burglaries stopped. With drugs, they could arrest all the people they 
wanted, and it didn't stop anything, according to the former policeman.

- -- "All there was was new faces to arrest," he said. ---- Christ 
admits drugs like marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine are 
bad and no one should use them, but the policy the country uses to 
combat the abuse of these drugs does more harm than good. ---- "I 
don't want to legalize them because I don't think the drugs are bad, 
I want to legalize it because the prohibition creates more problems 
than the drugs do. ... We at LEAP support a policy of regulation and 
control so we have control over the marketplace. We can set age 
limits, purity standards and distribution points," he said, as 
opposed to a system where gangsters, thugs and terrorists profit off 
the drug market and use 14-year-olds to sell their products on street corners.

- -- Christ compared current drug policy to alcohol prohibition enacted 
in 1920, and later repealed in 1933. He said the two are basically 
the same with the only difference being the drug.

- -- "If that was a stupid idea, why is this a good idea?" Christ said. 
- ---- Christ said during the Prohibition era, bootleggers and those 
dealing in illegal alcohol would use children to sell their product 
and there would also be violence and killings just as there is today 
with drugs. After Prohibition was repealed, that deadly market dried 
up. ---- "We don't have kids running booze for Budweiser do we? We 
don't have Budweiser and Miller fighting it out. That isn't caused by 
alcohol, that's caused by the policy choice," he said.

- -- Christ talked about alcoholics compared to other drug addicts, 
saying even though they are both addicted to a substance, they are 
treated very differently.

- -- "If you are an alcoholic and you don't drink and drive, what do we 
do to you? Nothing. When you buy a bottle of booze, do you wonder if 
there's rat poison in it? No. Why? Because we regulate and control 
the marketplace," Christ said.

- -- But for heroin or cocaine addicts, Christ said, "What do we do to 
you? If we catch you, we hang a felony on you. Purity of product? You 
have no idea what you are buying. Safe place to purchase or use in? A 
crack house is not a good place to take the family out on a Friday 
night, but a tavern may be OK."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom