Pubdate: Sat, 22 Jun 2013
Source: Standard-Examiner (UT)
Copyright: 2013 Ogden Publishing Corporation
Author: Mikayla Bayer


OGDEN -- The war on drugs may have been declared over by national 
drug czar Gil Kerlikowske in 2009, but the controversy over the laws 
in place to control drug use continues to incense people on both 
sides of the legal argument. According to LEAP - Law Enforcement 
Against Prohibition - the problems caused by America's drug laws 
warrant enough attention to be kept in the public consciousness.

James Mooney, a former undercover narcotics officer who is now a 
public speaker on behalf of LEAP, spoke about his experience at 
Tuesday's Weber County Commission meeting.

"I was about to arrest these people inside a home ... and I ended up 
hearing this little boy crying. I realized that I was about to take 
away his parents for 10 years and basically create an orphan. I 
realized that the basic structure of every civilization is the 
family, and the war on drugs is decimating our families," Mooney said.

LEAP is made up of former law enforcement officers and criminal 
justice system members who oppose current drug policies. The 
organization sends speakers to various public events to educate 
people about the judicial system's reasons for continuing the war on drugs.

"The only reason this thing has kept on going is because of money. 
The war on drugs is responsible for about 70 percent of all finances 
in the judicial system. It is an excuse to violate people's rights, 
and it is unconstitutional," Mooney said.

Weber County officials involved in the court system, however, do not 
share the opinion of LEAP, pointing out the harmful effects that drug 
abuse can have, not only on users but also on the people around them.

"If we had no drug laws, it would be a complete fiasco of a society. 
Drug use is detrimental to our society, and people that use them are 
victimizing other people to get drugs. They can victimize their 
family members and neglect their own children," said Dean Saunders, a 
deputy Weber County attorney who works in the drug court.

Two states, Washington and Colorado, recently legalized marijuana 
within their state boundaries, for both medical and recreational 
purposes, although most of the laws concerning the drug will not come 
into effect until late 2013. Even though many lawmakers obviously 
still oppose drug legalization, the limits within these states' laws 
may present an example of how a middle ground can be reached on the 
drug issue as a whole.

Kerlikowske has spoken against the legalization of marijuana and 
other drugs, and has supported efforts to produce studies indicating 
a link between marijuana and criminal activity. He also said in a 
2009 KUOW radio interview that legalization is not something the 
Obama administration would consider.

Another deputy Weber County Attorney, Christopher Allred, also feels 
that getting rid of laws against drug use and trafficking would not 
be in the best interest of the general population.

"I think it's foolish. It's amazingly self-evident that all the harm 
done by meth, heroin and other drugs to society is overwhelming, and 
to turn a blind eye to it makes zero sense," Allred said.

Saunders also rebutted the claim that the judicial system might be 
benefiting financially from drug convictions.

"We have a large number of drug cases each year. Paying for the care 
and treatment of these people is not a money-making proposition for 
this community in any way," Saunders said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom