Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Stamper Has His Say

[[M E D I A]] * It’s not every day that a former big-city police chief opines that drugs should be legalized in the United States. But that’s precisely what Norm Stamper, who served for half a dozen years as the top cop in Seattle, Washington, did recently in The Seattle Times, writing:
I don’t favor decriminalization. I favor legalization, and not just of pot but of all drugs, including heroin, cocaine, meth, psychotropics, mushrooms and LSD.

Decriminalization, as my colleagues in the drug-reform movement hasten to inform me, takes the crime out of using drugs but continues to classify possession and use as a public offense, punishable by fines.

I’ve never understood why adults shouldn’t enjoy the same right to use verboten drugs as they have to suck on a Marlboro or knock back a scotch and water.

Prohibition of alcohol fell flat on its face. The prohibition of other drugs rests on an equally wobbly foundation. Not until we choose to frame responsible drug use--not an oxymoron in my dictionary--as a civil liberty will we be able to recognize the abuse of drugs, including alcohol, for what it is: a medical, not a criminal, matter.
As a follow-up to that editorial, let me point readers interested in Stamper to an interview I conducted with him, and that has just been published in Washington Law & Politics magazine. In it, the former chief not only damns capital punishment and America’s failed “war on drugs,” but talks about becoming a policeman, racism among cops, his fondness as a rookie for violence, and how what were supposed to have been peaceful demonstrations around the 1999 World Trade Organization (WTO) conference in Seattle went so very wrong. Read more.

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