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I contacted LEAP asking what I could do to help our cause from Nicaragua and received this response full of good news:
Dear Supporter, My name is Jack Cole. I am the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). I am also a retired detective lieutenant—26 years with the New Jersey State Police and 14 in their Narcotic Bureau, mostly undercover. I bear witness to the abject failure of the U.S. war on drugs and to the horrors produced by its unintended consequences. Thank you for your email, and for your interest in LEAP. LEAP is an international organization, and we would certainly like to reach out in Nicaragua. Are you a law enforcement professional there? I am attaching my bio and the essay from which I draw the talk I have given over 850 times around the world in the last six years. That paper was selected by The International Harm Reduction Association as one of the "50 documents worldwide, which provides the best information on the subject of policing and harm reduction." You might also find it interesting to view the 12-minute LEAP promo at http://www.leap.cc/cms/index.php?name=Content&pid=28, or "Cops Say Legalize Drugs" Part 1 and Part 2. In the videos police, judges, and prosecutors give powerful reasons why prohibition will never work. After looking them over please feel free to contact me at any of the below locations with questions or comments. If you think we are on the right track, please join LEAP and help us in this struggle. LEAP is an international nonprofit educational organization created to give voice to law-enforcers who believe the US war on drugs has failed and who wish to support alternative policies that will lower the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction, without destroying generations of our young by arrest and imprisonment. As our name implies Law Enforcement Against Prohibition wants to end drug prohibition just as we ended alcohol prohibition in the United States in 1933. When we ended that nasty law we put Al Capone and his smuggling buddies out of business overnight and we can do the same to the drug lords and terrorist who today make over 500 billion dollars a year selling illegal drugs around the world. Legalized regulation of drugs will end the violence and property crimes that are a result of prohibition of those drugs. That means drug dealers will no longer be shooting each other to protect their turf, no longer killing cops charged with fighting this useless war, no longer killing children caught in crossfire or drive-by shootings. Legalization will also allow us to provide clean needles for injection drug users, which, in the US, will prevent half of all potential cases of AIDS and Hepatitis. Regulation with standardized measurement of the drugs purity will virtually end unintended overdose deaths. People die because they don’t know how much of the tiny package of powder they purchase on the illegal market is really the drug and how much is the cutting agent. Too much drug and the user is dead. We can then treat drug abuse as a health problem instead of a crime problem and save the lives of our children, which we are now sacrificing at the altar of this terrible war. In five years LEAP increased from the five founding police officers to a membership of over 11,000, across the United States and in 90 other countries, which is fitting since U.S. drug policy has ramifications that affect the entire world. All 65 LEAP speakers are former drug-warriors; police, judges, prosecutors, parole, probation, and corrections officers, DEA and FBI agents. LEAP presents to civic, professional, educational, and religious organizations, as well as at public forums but we target civic groups; Chambers of Commerce, Rotaries, Lions and Kiwanis Clubs, etc. The people in these organizations are conservative folks who mostly agree with the drug-warriors that we must continue the war on drugs at any cost. They are also very solid members of their communities; people who belong to civic organizations because they want the best for their locales. Every one of them will be voting in every election. Many are policy-makers and if they are not, they are the people who can pull the coat tails of policy-makers and say, "We have someone you must hear talk about drug policy." We believe the vast majority of these audience members agree with the goals of LEAP by the end of our presentation. Even more amazing is that we are now attending national and international law-enforcement conventions where we keep track of all those we speak with at our educational exhibit booth; After we talk with them on a one-on-one basis, we find that only 6% want to continue the war on drugs, 14% are undecided, and an astounding 80% agree with LEAP that we must end drug prohibition. The most interesting thing about those who agreed with us is that before LEAP came along only a small number of that 80% realized anyone else in law enforcement felt the same. Officers are so frightened of being labeled "soft on drugs" that are afraid to tell each other their real feelings about the war on drugs. This also holds true for policymakers. LEAP speakers staffed an educational booth at the last three National Conferences for State Legislators in Seattle, Nashville, and Boston. We spoke with 1,942 of the attendees on a one-on-one basis and 83% of them agreed that we should legalize drugs—only 6% wanted to continue the war and the other 11% were undecided. This means, if we can show these legislators that they won’t lose one more vote than they will gain by backing drug policy reform, they will end drug prohibition. The way show them is to create a grassroots organization of a MILLION private citizens who agree ending prohibition is the correct policy. On January 22, 2007 LEAP debated United States Attorney for Kansas, Eric Melgren at Wichita State University (see video at http://mattelrod.org/video/leap/cole-melgren_070123.wmv). With a show of hands at the end of the debate over 80 percent of the audience agreed with us. On April 30, 2007 LEAP debated Thomas Carr, the Director of High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) in the Washington, DC and Baltimore area, an organization funded by the Office of National Drug Policy Control (ONDCP). The LEAP-HIDTA debate on whether prohibition of drugs should continue was held at the Greater Baltimore Leadership Council annual seminar, which had 46 attendees and included upper level law-enforcers, public health workers and others. After the 90-minute debate, the moderator ask for a show of hands to indicate those who think we should legalize all drugs, those who think we should continue the war, and those who wish to abstain. The moderator estimated that 70 percent agreed with ending drug prohibition, about 15 percent wanted to continue prohibition and the other 15 percent abstained. On April 28, 2008 I again debated Thomas Carr in the same setting; this time winning by 80 percent to 10 percent. Mr. Carr told the moderator he doesn’t think he will be back next year.
Things are already changing
LEAP has created an atmosphere legitimizing the discussion of legalized regulation of drugs nationally to where some politicians feel it is safe to raise the issue. In New York State the prosecutor for Albany County and the Executive for Erie County both said the failed war on drugs must be replaced. On Good Friday in April 2006, Sister Karen Klimczak was murdered in Buffalo, New York by a self-confessed crack-addict who said he killed the nun to get her cell phone which he wanted to sell to buy more crack. The next morning reporters descended on Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra demanding to know what he was going to do about the drug problem that was wreaking havoc on the county. Mr. Giambra took a deep breath and replied, "It’s time to start talking about legalizing drugs." The amazed reporters immediately set out to demonize him; how could someone with views such as this have ever been elected to office? The following Monday Mr. Giambra called another press conference, where he was joined at the podium by Peter Christ, founding Board member and speaker for LEAP, who explained to the media why Mr. Giambra was correct in his assessment. Peter then appeared on many talk-radio and television shows in the Buffalo area supporting Giambra’s call for legalized regulation of drugs. Within two weeks the Buffalo News decided to allow Mr. Giambra to publish an Op Ed titled "DRUG LAWS DON'T WORK; IT'S TIME TO TRY LEGALIZING THEM." The next day the paper published its own article, "GIAMBRA A PIONEER ON DRUGS?" suggesting in the lead paragraph, "Years from now, they may look at him in the same way we see Susan B. Anthony and other pioneers for women's rights." This amazing media turnaround was a direct result of the credibility that LEAP brought to Mr. Giambra’s courageous statement. In November 2006, the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators passed a resolution condemning the failed war on drugs and calling for treatment rather than incarceration. That resolution was echoed by a similar resolution passed unanimously by the 225 Mayors attending the National Mayors Conference in June 2007. That month Newark, New Jersey’s Mayor Cory Booker said the war on drugs is destroying his city and he intends to stop it if it means taking the issue to the streets and going to jail, as was done by civil rights protestors. Three campaigners for the 2008 Presidential race, former Senator Mike Gravel (D-Alaska), Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), and Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) have called for an end to the war on drugs; something never before done. The very conservative The McLaughlin Group television talk show has even broached the subject by discussing Dr. Ethan Nadelmann’s article in Foreign Policy, "Legalize It." On October 4, 2007, San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom told television reporters, "If you want to get serious, if you want to reduce crime by 70% in this country overnight, end this war on drugs. You want to get serious, seriously serious about crime and violence end this war on drugs."
LEAP has a worldwide impact
In addition to the 4,000 presentations we have made in the United States, LEAP is also affecting policies in other countries. LEAP started its international work in 2003 with a presentation at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. Since then we have made hundreds of presentations in Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand and the United Kingdom. For each of the last three years LEAP presented in Cambridge, England to 900 law-enforcers and bankers from 90 countries, who participate in the International Symposium on Economic Crime. When they learned that legalized regulation of drugs would mean the 500 billion dollars spent on illegal drugs each year would no longer be laundered by investing in corporations, with which honest business people cannot possibly compete, the majority of attendees agreed that we should end drug prohibition. In July 2008 LEAP was one of the 300 NGOs from around the world to participate in the event the UN conference Beyond 2008 in Vienna. The product of that conference was a declaration presented to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March 2009, which suggested policy for world drug control over the next ten years. The suggestions included: • Recognizing "the human rights abuses against people who use drugs" • "Evidence-based" drug policy focused on "mitigation of short-term and long-term harms" and "full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms" • The U.N. to report on the collateral consequences of the current criminal justice-based approach to drugs and to provide an "analysis of the unintended consequences of the drug control system" • Comprehensive "reviews of the application of criminal sanctions as a drug control measure" • Recognizing harm reduction as a necessary and worthwhile response to drug abuse (harm reduction is a set of practical strategies that reduce negative consequences of drug use, incorporating a spectrum of strategies from safer use, to managed use, to abstinence; harm reduction strategies meet drug users "where they’re at," addressing conditions of use along with the use itself) • A shift in primary emphasis from interdiction to treatment and prevention • Alternatives to incarceration • Provision of development aid to farmers before eradication of coca or opium crops
On December 5, 2009, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of alcohol prohibition, LEAP released a report by Harvard Economist Jeffrey Myron, which concluded by legalizing and regulating all drugs the United States treasury could realize an additional 76.8 Billion dollars each year. For the report see www.WeCanDoItAgain.com. With the US economy tanking and prohibition’s causalities in Mexico now numbering more than 7,500 since the beginning of last year, many policymakers are willing to talk about legalizing drugs. In February 2009 the Latin American commission headed by former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, Ernest Zedillo of Mexico and Cesar Gaviria of Colombia condemned harsh U.S. drug prohibition policies that are based, in Gaviria’s words, "on prejudices and fears and not on results." They charge, the drug war is imperiling Latin America’s democratic institutions and corrupting "judicial systems, governments, the political system and especially the police forces." If you, your family, friends, or associates want to be involved creating positive change around the entire world, click on www.leap.cc and join us now. Membership is open to anyone and there is no membership fee. The more members we get the sooner we will end this self-perpetuating and ever-expanding disastrous policy of a war on drugs. We are looking forward to working with you to end the agonies created by the war on drugs and to renew and deepen respect for the honorable profession of policing that has been severely weakened by the role police have been required to play in enforcing drug prohibition laws. Together we can make a better and safer society by serving it in a more efficient and ethical manner.
“Cops Say Legalize Drugs” Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEdzZaXwf8o, and Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E48guWoQGa4&mode=related&search=.
Contact me or contact Jack Cole for his bio and the essay from which he draws the talk he has given over 850 times around the world in the last six years.