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U.S. cop brings campaign to legalize drugs to City Hall

By Hempology | April 13, 2006

A former Seattle police chief who advocates legalizing all drugs, including crystal meth and heroin, has reservations about proposals to provide free booze to chronic alcoholics.
Alcohol clearly causes more damage to the human body than does heroin, said Norm Stamper, a cop for 34 years and author of Breaking Rank: A top cops expose of the dark side of American policing.


Stamper said he had some concerns about focusing on a drug (alcohol) already regulated when he and the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAD) are trying to end prohibition of illegal drugs.
He said he had only just heard of proposals to give alcoholics free booze and needed time to digest the idea, one suggestion being touted in Vancouver by that citys drug-policy coordinator. A federal study has shown participants had less contact with police and emergency officials when given alcohol.
In Victoria wet housing a place where people can live and dont have to stay sober has been suggested for homeless alcoholics.
Stamper, now a spokesman for LEAD, told a lunchtime audience at Victoria City Hall that the so-called war on drugs, declared by former U.S. president Richard Nixon in 1970, is outrageously expensive; has never worked and will never work.
We have spent $1 trillion prosecuting the war on drugs $67 billion to $69 billion a year to wage this unwinnable war. … It is an obscene amount of money and for what?
Drug prohibition, I have come to believe very strongly, doesnt work because it cant work, he said.
Victoria Deputy Police Chief Bill Naughton was one of several Victoria police in the audience. Naughton, who has read Stampers book, met with him before his talk.
Obviously, were all looking for another solution because we live in a narcocentric universe. Clearly, we cant arrest our way out of this problem, Naughton said.
Stamper said governments should regulate drugs, set standards for purity and packaging, and create a free heroin distribution system for addicts.
A heroin addict needs heroin as much as a diabetic needs insulin. Each is an illness. Each out of compassion, out of social policy and sensible economic policy needs to be treated.
People are aghast when they hear him advocate making all drugs legal, including crystal meth, he said. But crystal meth addicts are getting the drug now, and its more problematic because theres no standards for its production or distribution.
Naughton said very little police time is spent on actual drug enforcement, but a huge amount of resources are needed to deal with crime associated with drug use.
Its massive, because its the [breakand-enters. Its the property crime. Its the violent crime. … Drugs are the engine that drive this entire criminal enterprise.

Seattles ex-police chief, Norm Stamper, says the multibillion-dollar war on drugs is unwinnable. Instead, governments should regulate drugs.

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