New Zealand - drug war, drug testing; "Stop War On Drugs, Says Ex-Cop"
Drug testing in the workplace and in schools should stop because it does more harm than good.
So says former drug-busting American policeman of 26 years, Jack Cole, who's part of a national speaking tour next month.
Other speakers coming to Auckland, Wellington, Palmerston North or Christchurch include Eleanor Schockett, a retired judge from Florida, and Eddie Ellison, a British officer of 30 years. They are part of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition ( LEAP ), which is trying to stop the war on drugs.
Speaking to the Sunday Star-Times from Boston, Cole, a former New Jersey State undercover policeman who spent 12 years in the narcotics bureau, said he didn't want to tell the government how to run the country but to warn of the consequences its policies might have. He also offers alternatives which he claims will lower drug crime and addiction.
Workplace drug testing - one of Cole's targets - is common in New Zealand, particularly in the forestry, fishing and transport industries. Air New Zealand wants testing for its 10,000-strong workforce, while schools are increasingly testing students for drugs.
Cole said drug testing could convert soft drug users to harder drugs like heroin or ecstasy, which shows up in a person's system only up to four days after use. Cannabis can be detected up to 28 days later, meaning users have more chance of getting caught.
Employers and school heads were 'kidding themselves' if they did not think this switch to harder drugs could happen, said Cole. It was a fact of life that people experimented with drugs.
While he didn't encourage drug use, he said it was a waste of police time prosecuting mostly 'normal people' for taking minor drugs.
He said police should spend more time dealing with violent criminals and clearing the streets of potentially lethal drink drivers.
The millions spent targeting drug offences would be better spent educating the public on the bad effects of drugs, he said.
Cole said a conviction could hinder work, study and other opportunities.
'We should be trying to help these people and bring them back into society and give them hope there is a future. If you give people hope they will leave drugs behind,' he said.
LEAP's more than 50 speakers, based in the US and other countries, are all former 'drug warriors' - police, judges, prosecutors, parole, probation and corrections officials"
Newshawk: LEAP http://www.leap.cc
Pubdate: Sun, 28 Mar 2004
Source: Sunday Star-Times (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2004 Sunday Star-Times
Author: Rachel Grunwell
/ (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition)