Pubdate: Wed, 05 Mar 2014
Source: Bermuda Sun (Bermuda)
Copyright: 2005 Bermuda Sun
Author: Danny McDonald


'Marijuana never killed anyone'

Jack A. Cole thinks marijuana should be legalized.

In fact, Mr Cole thinks all drugs should be legalized.

The retired American police officer has been in Bermuda advocating
significant reform to drug laws. Mr Cole, the co-founder and board
chairman of the Massachusetts-based Law Enforcement Against
Prohibition (LEAP), says the so-called War on Drugs is a misguided
policy rooted in racism that corrupts police and causes much more harm
than good.

He brought that message to multiple Bermudian organizations, including
the Cannabis Reform Collaborative, which is charged with making
recommendations to the government concerning prospective marijuana
reform on the island.

"Prohibition doesn't work," Mr. Cole told us. "Prohibition makes
everything worse.

"If we legalize it we take it out of the hands of the criminals and we
end this violence, which is a lot of violence."

Ideally, he said, Bermuda should legalize marijuana. But there is a

"The problem is called the United States of America," he said. "We are
the big bully on the block."

No one is quite sure how the US would react to other jurisdictions
liberalizing their drug laws, he said.

"We don't have a track record for legalizing any drug in the

Coincidentally, Mr Cole visited Bermuda last week - at the same time
as Dr Andrea Barthwell, a drug addiction specialist and a former
deputy drug czar under US President George W. Bush. Dr Barthwell says
the medical benefits of marijuana are overblown and that the current
drug laws are important in the reduction of illicit drug abuse.

Mr Cole disagrees with Dr Barthwell's take. He says the current laws
are inefficient.

Huge drug seizures have no effect on drug use in the US, he said. Drug
users will still find their fix. Purity levels have risen since the
so-called War on Drugs was implemented. He added that marijuana is a
substance "that has not killed a single person in recorded history".

Racist drug laws

Additionally, there is an inherent racism in the institutions that
enforce American drug laws, said Mr Cole.

The statistics come streaming out of Mr. Cole: in the States, African
Americans comprise only 13 per cent of those who use or sell drugs.
Studies show that blacks in the US are slightly less likely to use
illicit drugs than whites."But now, who gets arrested?" he asked, before
quickly answering his own question.

About 37 per cent of those who get arrested for drug violations are
black, whereas 60 per cent of those incarcerated in state prisons for
drug violations are black, he said.

On the federal level, the number is even higher, as more than 80 per
cent of those imprisoned for drug violations are black. In some
instances, says Mr Cole, blacks are now serving six years for exactly
the same drug crimes for which whites are serving four years.
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