Legalize drugs, says former cop

Peter Christ will speak at Queen’s thursday about how prohibiting drugs causes more problems

Peter Christ is one of the original co-founders of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and is part of a group advocating for the legalization of all drugs.

Christ, retired police captain and vice-director of LEAP, will be speaking at the University next Thursday on the prohibition of drugs.

As part of LEAP, Christ travels around the world talking to the general public about his views on drug policy.

“I felt for a long time there was a voice in law enforcement about the drug war contrary to the normal things you hear,” he said. I was out there for 20 years. I enforced these laws.”

In 2002, LEAP got its start with a grant from the Marijuana Policy Project and the group now educates the public on drug policy and why the policy is doomed to failure.

“We have a choice in our policies … and we have chosen a policy of prohibition to deal with our drug problem in this society,” he said. “When you prohibit a consensual adult behaviour like buying drugs … all you accomplish is to drive it underground. When you drive it underground, it uses violence to settle its disputes.

“It isn’t about the drugs, its about the policy of prohibition that creates an illegal market place. Once we legalize these drugs, we have to do the hard work of regulating and controlling them. At least it doesn’t bring with it gangsters and thugs who roam our streets…at least that part of the problem goes away.”

In the US, seventy-five per cent of drug related violence is associated with people fighting over the market place, Christ said.

“Ninety-eight per cent of drugs in the US are legal. Only two per cent are prohibited,” he said, adding that he wants to see 100 per cent of drugs legal, naming methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, marijuana and LSD as examples of drugs that are currently banned.

“All these drugs … have so much potential to do harm to individuals and likewise to society that they must be regulated and controlled and right now, by choosing a policy of prohibition, we have given up all our ability to regulate and control these products,” he said.

Christ said the market place must be regulated and controlled to take it away from the underground and deal with the drug problem, which is an educational and health care problem.

“By legalizing it, we shut down the market place and take this money away from gangsters.” Christ used examples such as cigarettes and alcohol to show that legalization is better than prohibition.

“We have greatly reduced the number of people who smoke cigarettes in our society. We simply educated the public about the dangers of the drug,” he said.

By legalizing and controlling drugs, legitimate manufacturers can produce the product.

“We are able to set age limits, we are able to set distribution points. We are able to make sure they’re manufactured properly. We would regulate every aspect of them.” Christ said he felt this way about prohibition before he went into police work.

“I came to a conclusion that this was a failed policy when I was 21 to 22,” he said. “I was on the job five years, I was firmly convinced I was right in the first place.

“I still enforce these laws because I took an oath … but I never thought this was a good idea and I saw the damage it did to my profession.”

When he retired, Christ said he decided he would spend the rest of his life trying to stop this.

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Christ will be speaking next Thursday at 5:30 in Room 1102 of the Bio-Sciences Complex. His talk is titled “Cops say Legalize Drugs. Ask Them Why!”

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