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Retired cop calls for legalization of drugs

Published: Wed, February 6, 2013 @ 12:09 a.m.


Peter Christ, a retired New York police officer and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, explains his reasons to the Rotary Club of Cortland why he favors legalization of marijuana and other drugs. He spoke Tuesday morning at Lake Vista of Cortland retirement community.

By John W. Goodwin Jr.



Imagine a society where a person could walk into a store, present identification and purchase drugs that currently are illegal.

That is the society retired police officer Peter Christ and other members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) envision, and they say we all would be made better off in it.

Christ, who retired from a police department in New York after 20 years’ service, spoke about legalizing drugs Tuesday morning to the Rotary Club at the dining hall of Lake Vista of Cortland retirement community on Mecca Street.

Christ said the legalization and regulation of drugs just makes sense because the long-standing war on drugs just isn’t working.

“I realized during my time with law enforcement that what we are doing is causing more harm than what we are trying to stop,” he said. “When somebody wants to do something, and another adult wants to do it with them, that is not a crime.”

Christ said most people would agree that drugs are bad, but that, he said, is not the issue. He said the central issue is freedom. As an example, he said alcohol did not make Al Capone, the famous gangster, rich; prohibition did.

“If you cannot make the drugs go away, then the question isn’t ‘How do we make drugs go away?’ The question is ‘Who will run the marketplace?,’ because there will always be a marketplace,” he said. “I happen to prefer a well- regulated marketplace.”

With legalization, Christ says, society can regulate the use of drugs just like there are regulations on alcohol and cigarettes. As it stands now, he said, anyone with money can purchase and use drugs in an underground environment.

Christ gave a list of additional reasons why the legalization of drugs, currently described as illegal, would benefit society, including decreasing violence between warring drug factions, selling better- quality products, creating safer environments and spending more money for treatment diverted from funds now used for prisons.

Ken MacPherson, another LEAP member, said the fight to legalize drugs for him and his family is personal. His stepson became addicted to heroin and finally, after taking some bad drugs, died. He said legalization would ease the pain for thousands of families like his own.

“For me, this is personal. ... My story is one of thousands,” he said.

Youngstown Police Chief Rod Foley said he can understand an argument for decriminalization of drug use, but not legalization.

Legalization, he said, would only create more drug users and problems for police and society as a whole.

Foley said with decriminalization of use, police could still go after the sellers but seek help for the users instead of simply locking them up.

Christ said the legalization of these substances is coming, and when it does, we will be able to educate society, especially children, against the use of drugs, going far beyond the “just say no” cries heard for the past several decades.

“It could happen today or it could happen tomorrow, but it will become a reality,” he said.


1Ytownnative(1121 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Really ??? Lets legalize drugs? With heroin mentioned? Ease the burden for thousands and create a burden for millions. I had to make sure I wasn't reading the onion.

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2whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

I can't see the local, State, or feds really giving up their cash cow.

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3JoeDirt35(17 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Yes, by all means lets make guns illegal and legalize heroin and cocaine what a great idea.I am in the mood to party,lets run down to the drug agency and buy some great China White, oh by the way honey-don't forget the syringes and a bag of chips.Thanks

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4kensgirl(1060 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Yeah - let's just be cowards and give up the fight. Just give in to the morons who can't follow society's rules. What we need are judges who throw the book at these druggies and less pampering once they do go to prison. No more t.v. priveleges, no more time in the courtyard dealing and no more coddling. Make prison as hard as you can on these people. They people have it better on the inside than on the out.

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5misterlee(118 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

I'm willing to bet all of you saying that drugs should stay illegal are the same people who say they want the government out of their lives. Guess what, telling people what chemicals they're allowed to put in their bodies is government trying to control people's lives. It hasn't worked so far and it won't work in the future. Legalize it, regulate it, and take the money out of the hands of criminals. Putting people in prison is VERY EXPENSIVE and doesn't get people off drugs. Treatment is much cheaper and more effective. Would you guys really start mainlining smack because it was legalized? We you going to do a couple lines just because now its legal? Legalizing it isn't going to make it easier to get, especially around here. Walk into any bar on South Ave and you'll find someone who's selling coke really quick. I've spent a lot of time studying this subject so I know quite a bit about this subject. What do you know about it other than what you were taut in DARE class?

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6redeye1(5656 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

misterlee What is it? Do you already know something that we all don't know . Or are you ready to get a permit to sell these drugs to the fools. Which? If people went along with you and this crazy cop's ideas,, our cities would not be any safer. Why do I say that once people are hooked they aren't likely to get off the drugs. Before you know it, we would have a whole lot more people like Obammy voters CLUELESS !!!! . LOL

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7lumper(301 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

pot is a gateway drug. a portion of pot smokers will try harder drugs in search of a better high. also, a huge, non-functioning , dependent segment of society will be created.we already have enough of those people.

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8DSquared(1788 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Tell Mr. Christ to ride his "White Horse" back to the "Big (rotten) Apple" and implement it there first!

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9Ytownnative(1121 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Hmmmm how many murders and other violent crimes were committed while they were under the influence of drugs? Now we want them available at the corner market? Yes I'll take a gallon of milk, $50 in heroin, Ounce of pot, throw in a few of those magic mushrooms, also a few painkillers, and some of that moonshine brewed in the back room. I'm gonna need some meth also I have to drive the school bus tomorrow morning and I don't want to be tired.

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10Ytownnative(1121 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Ahhh one of the if you touch liquor you'll be face down in the gutter mainlining heroin posts. I wondered when one of those was going to show up

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11walter_sobchak(2713 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

One can have a glass of wine, a beer or cocktail to be social and it will have little negative effect. In fact, wine can have a positive effect on the digestive system. However, there is only one reason to do drugs and that is to change yor mental state. While decriminalization of pot is just about universal, other drugs are not workable. Would we legalize crack? Legalizing cocaine will make crack more available. You would not want PCP legalized, yet their are people that use it and it is devastating. How about oxy? You want more people on this driving vehicles? While it may seem to have benefits on its face, there are many unintended consequences such as increased traffic fatalitites, joblessness, broken families, abused and neglected kids. Yong kids especially will be harmed the most. I am more in favor of attacking the demand side more by giving drug users a choice when caught. Either treatment or incarceration in a drug prison.

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12misterlee(118 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

I really wish everyone who bashes marijuana would smoke it one time so they could realize how mild a drug it is. Weed has never killed ANYONE in the entire history of mankind. Stoners are the least dangerous people you will ever meet. If you're okay with alcohol being legal you're a fool to say marijuana shouldn't be legal.

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13misterlee(118 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Everything you've said about marijuana being a "window" drug could be said about alcohol or tobacco. Most hard drugs users tried alcohol or tobacco probably before they ever tried weed. The only reason weed could make someone want to try harder drugs is because they were told eir whole lives how horrible marijuana is for them, they try it, realize its not any worse than alcohol, then wonder what else they were lied to about.
I've smoked some really quality weed in my lifetime and it has never messed me up like alcohol can. If we are going to keep alcohol and tobacco legal there is absolutely no reason we should still be locking millions of people up for marijuana possession. The alcoholics are far more dangerous than the stoners. Also, I've never picked up a copy of High Times. I've gotten my information from actual scientific journals and criminal justice professors. Don't stereotype me as some ignorant stoner who tells people weed should be legalized because hemp makes good paper.
Also, Portugal decriminalized all drugs and their abuse rate dropped almost immediately. So according to real world data, decriminalization works, locking users up doesn't.

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14GoJags436(1 comment)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Tobacco, as you say, might not be a mind-altering drug, but nicotine sure as hell is. It's every bit as addictive as cocaine or heroin. So when you talk about cigarettes, you really should be just saying "nicotine". Marijuana has never killed anybody.

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15tjones(1 comment)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

i dont agree with all drugs being legalized,, but i think if you really want your kids or mine to be safe we have to get drugs off the streets,,and in the last 40 years it hasnt worked,,i think if they was a regulated market for certain drugs like marijuana and cocaine it would stop the meth problem and the incense and bath salts problem and kids would be safer !! i dont do drugs and if they was legal im not buying them,,but right now your kids can buy any drug on the street,, and this isnt safe we want to keep kids safe but at the same time nobody wants a alternative,, drugs are here they cant stop them and it want get better,,40 years has went by and it hasnt changed nothing!! drugs are closer than the store and kids can buy them anywhere with out id and you dont know what they're getting out here !! marijuana is nothing ,, cocaine is a harder drug,, but if you are only able to buy small amounts and people who buy cocaine cannot receive no government assistance,, and they want be people out here selling crack cause they want be no money to be made if people can easily buy cocaine ,,its better to know who has the drugs and this way people can get help to get off drugs and lock these meth heads up for 25 yrs first offense even for possession and people will use another drug thats legal and then everybody is safer and it will cost the taxpayers less money,, you might not agree but you think your kids are safe with drugs being illegal,, that would be like making AR 15's illegal and tomorrow they will be selling them on the corner with the drugs for anyone to buy with no id or background check and you really think we are safer or our kids are safer like this,, making stuff illegal doesnt solve the problem it creates more problems,, if you dont believe me ,,marijuana is illegal,, they made fake marijuana incense,, wow this stuff is just great huh,, what about cocaine being illegal,, they made bath salts,and started making meth as a alternative too and 25 years ago i never heard of this crap,, so we havent done nothing but create worse so called drugs and meth is the worse thing today it contaminates the land and the water,,i want this stuff gone and if it meant letting these people buy small amounts of cocaine so what,, at least my kids are safer than they are now ,,and cocaine isnt made here in peoples houses or cars !!! i think it would be alot safer and they wouldnt be as much violence and more people would be trying to get jobs if they cant sell drugs for a living to kids !!!

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16MaineGeezer(1 comment)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

I think people are making a couple of invalid assumptions. First, that drug prohibition is currently keeping a significant number of people from using drugs. Second, that the number of users would increase with a legal regulated sale model. Neither is supported by the facts.

For at least the past 30 years, teens have reported that it is easier for them to get marijuana than it is to get alcohol. The reason is simple: to buy alcohol you need to be of legal age and prove it, and the places you can buy it are limited. To buy marijuana -- or anything else --- you need money, and there is no restriction on anything. Drug prohibition facilitates drug use by turning distribution and sale over to criminals.

Regulated sale would probably lead to a decrease in drug use. In the Netherlands where cannabis sales and use are tolerated in "coffee shops," rates of drug use are about half what ours are. When Portugal decriminalized all drugs a few years ago, rates of use went down.

We're talking about regulated sale, not unrestricted sale. Unrestricted sale is what we have now. And it's a disaster. After 40+ years of Nixon's "war on drugs" costing over a trillion dollars and giving us the highest incarceration rate in the world, drugs are stronger, cheaper, and more readily available than ever.

In 1972, the seizure of 9 pounds of heroin was such a big deal they made a major movie about it -- "The French Connection." These days, seizures of a ton or more of heroin barely warrants a mention on the inside pages of the paper. Drug prohibition doesn't work! It makes our problems worse.

There are really two problems that keep getting talked about as one: our drug USE problem and the drug prohibition crime, violence, and corruption problem.

Drug use is basically a medical and social problem best dealt with by therapists and addiction specialists, not law enforcement. Cops are very good at doing their job, but their job is not to save a drug user from himself.

The crime violence, and corruption problem are the result of prohibition. Drug dealers don't kill each other and other random people because they are high any more than Al Capone killed rival bootleggers because he was drunk. It's the way you run an illegal business. Repealing alcohol prohibition put the bootleggers out of business overnight. We can put the drug dealers out of business the same way.

Watch the videos at http://www.leap.cc for better presentation of the arguments favoring the end of drug prohibition than I can provide.

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