Pro-Legalization Cops Plan Big Turnout for Drug War’s 40th Anniversary

By Dirk Hanson 06/13/11

Former Seattle police chief says Obama should “end this war, or at least stop saying he already has.”

Nixon and the King discuss drug policy.
Photo via doinghistory

Norm Stamper, the former chief of police in Seattle has something he would like to say about the upcoming 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs. “This failed policy has led to millions of arrests, a trillion dollars spent and countless lives lost,” Stamper said in a prepared statement. “Yet drugs today are more available than ever. President Obama's drug officials keep saying they've ended the 'drug war.' But our report shows that's just not true, and we'll be hand-delivering a copy to the drug czar in hopes he'll be convinced to actually end this war, or at least stop saying he already has."

That’s a heavy stomp from a retired police chief with some gravitas. And he’s not alone. On Tuesday, the group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (L.E.A.P.) will be holding the floor at the National Press Club for a 10:00 EST media event. Stamper will be attempting to deliver a copy of the report to current drug czar (and also former Seattle chief of police) Gil Kerlikowske, amid a gathering of cops, prison officials, prosecutors, judges, border patrol agents, and other law enforcement workers who support legalization. Should be interesting. Neill Franklin, the group’s executive director, and a former Baltimore narcotics agent, said: "When President Nixon declared the 'drug war' in 1971, we arrested fewer than half a million people for drug offenses that year. Today, the number has skyrocketed to almost two million drug arrests a year. We jail more of our own citizens than any other country in world does, including those run by the worst dictators and totalitarian regimes. Is this is how President Obama thinks we can 'win the future'?"

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]