Changing the Debate
What makes me optimistic is that the numbers of those speaking up about the damage being done by the drug war is growing - and coming from more and more unexpected places. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is an organization, founded in 2002, of current and former law enforcement officials that now has over 5000 members, including former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper.
The (Seattle based) King County Bar Association commissioned a Drug Policy Project, led by now-State Representative ( WA/Blair) Roger Goodman, that produced a well-researched report calling for an end to drug prohibition and a transition to having government regulate and control currently illegal drugs, instead of simply handing their distribution to criminal gangs who bring violence to our cities to protect their profits. Countries like Switzerland, Portugal, Australia, Canada, Holland, and even Russia, have taken steps to decriminalize drug use.
Recently, the UK drug law reform organization Transform released an impressive document for drug law reformers called Tools for the Debate. It's like a play book for anyone who wants to be successful in breaking down the rhetoric and the propaganda that has kept this massively unsuccessful public policy afloat for so long. One of the major stumbling blocks to getting the message out is described here in the report:
In this political arena a virulent disease known as 'Green Room Syndrome' is epidemic, where strongly held beliefs on reform disappear as soon as the record button is pressed for broadcast. This is something we have experienced again and again: fellow-debaters who privately admit to agreeing with us in the Green Room before a media interview, only to feign shock and outrage at our position once the cameras and microphones are on. There are many in politics and public life who understand intellectually that the prohibition of drugs is unsustainable, but who default in public to moral grandstanding and emotive appeals to the safety of their children.
Lee's blog discusses this in more detail at HorsesAss.Org - http://www.horsesass.org
Eddie Ellison, MP Jeanette Fitzsimonds, Blair Anderson on 2004 MildGreen-Leap tour.
Transform Founder Det Chief Super, Eddie Ellison, MP Tim Barnett, Jack Cole, Leap Director and his wife, and in the right foreground Judge Eleanor Schocket, LEAP Education advisor. (photo: Blair Anderson)