As the midterm election approaches, LEAP representatives are hard at work educating voters about the need for drug policy reform in states with relevant initiatives on the ballot. A pair of police chiefs, Retired Seattle Chief Norm Stamper and sitting Police Chief Larry Kirk are in Alaska, where voters are about to weigh in on an initiative to legalize, regulate and control marijuana (Measure 2). The two went to seven towns between them, from Anchorage to Kodiak, to educate voters on the public safety benefits of legalization. In the meantime, a former prosecutor and a retired lieutenant sheriff are doing a similar tour of Oregon (Measure 91) and a former police officer and former Customs agent are speaking to Florida voters about medical marijuana (Amendment 2). These tours have included meetings with civic clubs, conversations with the media and debates with opponents.
"Unfortunately, mid-term elections historically have low levels of turnout, so their results don't reflect the will of the people as completely as votes in presidential years," said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), LEAP's executive director. "We hope that these initiatives, so vital to public safety, community relations and basic issues of fairness will change that - that we'll see greater participation from both sides of the aisle and important changes in drug policy across the nation."
LEAP also supports Initiative 71 in Washington DC, which would allow residents to possess up to two ounces for marijuana for personal use and to grow up to six plants, and Prop. 47 in California, which would defelonize low-level nonviolent crimes such as drug possession. LEAP will be tweeting, updating our blog, and sending out press releases as results come in Tuesday.
"Marijuana legalization is vital to improving public safety," says Police Chief Larry Kirk. "Under the current system, purchases are not age-restricted, all the profits go to criminals and thousands of people a year are being burdened with arrest records that will haunt them the rest of their lives. Speaking as someone who has never used marijuana, these states can do better."
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is a group of police, prosecutors, judges and other law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs