The United Nations estimates that there are 158.8 million cannabis users around the world, or 3.8% of the planet’s population. Thanks to the War on Drugs that figure represents a hell of a lot of people who are criminalized based purely on the fact that they have a passion for a little bit of Mary Jane in their everyday life.
Hands up if you are a law abiding citizen in every other way but, thanks to your love for cannabis, your heart skips a beat every time you walk down the street and see a cop waiting on the corner or catch sight of a cop car on your tail? Not nice to feel unnecessarily criminalized is it?
However, cops are people too (…seriously, they really are!) and an increasing number of them are having doubts about the anti-cannabis laws that they are obligated to enforce. They have become disillusioned with drugs legislation that criminalizes drug users and creates a perfect environment for organized crime to thrive.
LEAP stands for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and was founded in the USA in 2002 by 5 police officers who had become disillusioned with the War on Drugs. In the past 15 years it has grown as an organization and now LEAP is represented in many countries around the world.
The organization’s aim is to show policy makers, the media and the public that current drug policies are failing. It does this by using education, of which a major factor is their own experience of pursuing a war against drugs which they believe cannot be won.
In the process, their long term goal is to restore public respect for law enforcement, which suffers every time someone like you is busted for having a few marijuana plants in a grow tent in your attic or being in the wrong place at the wrong time with a few grams of weed or hash in your possession.
For LEAP members, former ‘drug warriors’ who fought on the front line, the real criminals are the organized gangs that profit from dealing misery and fear.
Good Cop, Bad War
A new book, Good Cop, Bad War, is a first-hand account of a British detective sergeant who went undercover to infiltrate drug gangs in the UK. The author, Neil Woods, is the director of LEAP UK.
He describes how he had an epiphany one day; “Every year the police get better at catching drug gangs, and the gangsters’ most effective way of fighting back is the use of fear and intimidation against potential informants.” The result is an ever decreasing circle of intimidation and violence as organized crime.
Neil Woods claims that the drug war propaganda exaggerates the drug problem, and that research shows that only 10% of users will develop a problem with drugs. In an interview with UK newspaper, The Guardian, he claims that the time is approaching for a change in Government attitudes towards drugs due to changing perceptions in society.
He compares it to changes in attitudes to homosexuality in the USA and UK over the past 20 years; “There was no particular revolution. Society just collectively thought: OK then, some people are gay. And then the laws changed. Well, things are changing rapidly with attitudes to drugs now. This has become a mainstream issue.”
Disclaimer: While there are many police men and women who may disagree with LEAP’s philosophy, it is always best to proceed with caution… unless of course you are magician Calen Morelli who takes things to the limit in his viral Youtube hit video: