Is the War on Drugs About to End? Respected voices speak out

Harry E. Klide is a retired Stark County Common Pleas Court judge in Ohio. Not exactly the sort of person or place that comes to mind when you think about legalizing drugs. But check out this column he just wrote for the Canton Repository (hardly the place you would expect to see sentiments of this sort) under the headline "We have lost the drug war."
I don't know whether America is going to win the war in Iraq, but I do know that we have lost the war against the use of drugs, which we have pursued for the past 30-plus years. The war on drugs has been a dismal failure. It is not truly a war against drugs, but a war against us - our people, our children, ourselves.
I came across this right after reading about another respectable member of society, a former warrior in the war on drugs, who is not just calling for an end to that war, but full legalization of drugs. He is Jerry Cameron, former police chief of Fernandina Beach, Florida. There is an excellent profile of Cameron by Susan Cooper Eastman in the December 19 issue of Folio Weekly, one of the best regional magazines I've come across in a long time (old-fashioned too--they do not post their content online, although they do have a blog).

Cameron is a member of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. This is a great title for an organization dedicated to educating society about the futility of the drug war because "prohibition" is exactly what Nixon's war on drugs has become, and every objective student of American history knows what a disaster the first prohibition was for this country. The LEAP web site is worth a visit. You can't fail to be impressed by the credentials of its endorsers (such as the late Milton Friedman and the thankfully not-late Walter Cronkite). Here is the LEAP mission statement:
Founded on March 16, 2002, LEAP is made up of current and former members of law enforcement who believe the existing drug policies have failed in their intended goals of addressing the problems of crime, drug abuse, addiction, juvenile drug use, stopping the flow of illegal drugs into this country and the internal sale and use of illegal drugs. By fighting a war on drugs the government has increased the problems of society and made them far worse. A system of regulation rather than prohibition is a less harmful, more ethical and a more effective public policy.
And this organization is a lot more than a web site. Checking the speaking schedule--these folks are speaking to Rotary Clubs and business groups around the country. When a guy like Cameron, who has kicked in his fair share of doors making drug busts, stands up and says this war is not winnable, it is hard to argue he has it all wrong. I predict a lot more politicians will poke their heads above the parapet in 2007 and at least question the war on drugs. That will embolden others and at least allow a serious debate without proponents of drug legalization being dismissed as dope fiends and baby killers.

p.s. I'm not running for office myself, but I just made a donation to LEAP, so you know where I stand on this issue.

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