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LEAP Spokesman Discusses Drugs in Weber County

In Utah, we have a reputation of being conservative, law abiding and very much pro-police officers. So what to make of a retired narcotics enforcement officer who makes a case to legalize drugs? That was the situation in Weber County when James Mooney spoke.

Mooney represents Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a national organization of current and former members of the criminal justice system (police officers, prosecutors and judges). As reported in the Standard-Examiner, Mooney says the War on Drugs is doing more harm than good and it’s time to consider, if not outright legalization, a serious pull-back on the criminal prosecution and incarceration of drug offenders.

The arguments are familiar to anyone who follows the pro-marijuana movement, although LEAP extends the same principle to include all substances of abuse, including what we think of as “hard” drugs. But the stories are compelling. Even more so because many come from actual interaction between law enforcement and the public. They see, first hand, cases where standard punishments don’t lead to the results we’d like, and in fact can create further tragedy.

One such story presented at the meeting was: ” I was about to arrest these people inside a home … and I ended up hearing this little boy crying. I realized that I was about to take away his parents for 10 years and basically create an orphan. I realized that the basic structure of every civilization is the family, and the war on drugs is decimating our families,” Mooney said.

Critics argue that legalization would only increase the known harms from illegal drugs – introducing them to new segments of the population and creating a slew of addicts in the process. They feel that drug use is a choice and the serious consequences that result aren’t the fault of drug laws, but flow directly from the decision to commit a crime.

If there is a middle ground, it may be some reduction in punishment coupled with a treatment option. Everyone agrees that legal or not, avoiding drugs yields a better outcome than becoming an addict. It may be that this “third path” is a compromise each side can live with.


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