Forty years after President Richard Nixon began the War on Drugs, some of those who enforced the policy are crying for its end.
In a rally that hoped to attract the attention of President Barack Obama and his ‘drug czar,’ National Drug Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske, former law enforcement officials called the War On Drugs murderous and wasteful.
The conference came just weeks after the Global Commission on Drugs released a report calling the policy a failed one.
One former narcotics officer said the War on Drugs is the reason some of his comrades and friends are no longer alive.
Neil Franklin, a former Maryland state officer, spoke the names of some fallen police officers during the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition press conference.
Franklin began to tear up as he spoke of his friend, Maryland State Police Officer Edward M. Toatley, who was gunned down and killed in the midst of a drug deal. He continued to chastise Attorney General Eric Holder for his nonchalant attitude towards those who died fighting the War on Drugs.
“… Holder was asked by a reporter, ‘Do you believe that ending the war on drugs would save police officers’ lives?’” Franklin said. “Holder, replies, ‘No, I don’t think so.’ Well I wish to tell Eric Holder, right now, that he’s obviously wrong. Maybe he needs to have a discussion with Ed’s wife and three children.”
Former Seattle Police Chief, Norm Stamper, lamented the War on Drugs has undermined the authority of the police.
“(It’s) contributing to the historically strained relationship between police and the community.”
Franklin said the enormous cost of the War on Drugs, which he referred to as the “worst piece of public policy since slavery,” was a point that should rile all Americans.
“The financial cost to this so called War on Drugs is alarming,” Franklin said.
“$1.3 trillion –- that’s a lot of money. If we legalize, regulate and control drugs today, we could boost our economy by $88 billion,” he said, citing a report released by Harvard economist Jeffery Miron.
The money spent on the War on Drugs has yielded weak results, former Chief Deputy U.S. Federal Marshal Matthew Fogg said.
Fogg said drug addiction rates are currently at 1.3 percent in the U.S., the same ratio as in 1971, when the movement was announced.
Others, like former Baltimore Circuit Judge William Murphy, complained that since the war on drugs mainly impacts “blacks and browns,” the majority of America does not care enough to repeal the ineffective policy.
“The impact on the black community on the war on drugs is mind boggling,” he said. “It’s literally genocidal.”
Franklin ended his comments with a question for Obama, himself:
“President Obama, when criticized for rushing into Libya, you stated that you were ‘not going to wait for the slaughter, it was about saving lives,’” Franklin continued, “Well, Mr. President we’re right in the middle of a massive slaughter right now. What do you intend to do about it?”