Friday, April 3, 2009

Begin discussion on legalizing drugs - Leonard Pitts Jr.

Maybe we should legalize drugs.

I come neither eagerly nor easily to that maybe. Rather, I come by way of spiraling drug violence in Mexico that recently forced Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to acknowledge the role America's insatiable appetite for narcotics plays in the carnage. I come by way of watching Olympian Michael Phelps do the usual public relations song and dance after being outed smoking weed, and knowing the whole thing was a ritualized farce. Most of all, I come by way of personal antipathy: I don't like and have never used illegal drugs.

But yeah, I'm thinking maybe we should legalize them.

Or at the very least, begin the discussion.

I find myself in august -- and unexpected -- company. Ronald Reagan's secretary of state, George Schultz, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the late Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman and the late conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr. have all said much the same thing.

And then, there is Jack A. Cole, who spent 26 years with the New Jersey State Police, 12 of them as an undercover narcotics officer. In 2002, he founded LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (, which now claims 12,000 members -- FBI, DEA, cops, prosecutors and judges united in the belief that the War On Drugs has failed and that the solution to the drug problem is legalization, regulation and taxation.

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