Even Cops Want to End the War on Drugs

Monday, 19 November 2012 10:27 By Jesse Lava, Beyond Bars | Op-Ed
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The political winds are changing when it comes to legalizing marijuana in America.

Now that voters in Colorado and Washington have decided to legalize marijuana, it’s clear the political winds are changing in the War on Drugs. Politicians have traditionally run scared of anything that could label them “soft on crime.” But Americans are catching onto the fact that criminalizing people is neither a humane nor a cost-effective response to drug use.

Indeed, some of the very law enforcement officials that have prosecuted the War on Drugs want to put a stop to it. SafeKeepers is a new video series profiling cops, judges, prosecutors, and others who realized they were part of a failed system and are now pushing for change. Their stories from the front lines are sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes infuriating.

John Amabile, for instance, a former prosecutor, points out that drug policy is responsible for more deaths than the drugs themselves are:

Amabile’s point that the War on Drugs has failed is not lost on Americans. According to a new Rasmussen poll, just 7% of adults think the United States is winning the war while 82% say it’s losing.

Nevertheless, there’s still much work to do if reformers want the issue to climb to the top of the public agenda. The same Rasmussen survey reveals that while just 23% of Americans think the country should spend more on the drug war, only 34% think it should spend less. So there’s no consensus on what to do about the problem even though virtually everyone recognizes the problem is there.

That’s why the brave testimonies of law enforcement officials are so important. They’re essential to building on the momentum of election day and increasing the sense of public urgency for change. Surely, messengers like this are crucial to driving home fundamental reality that we’ve spent over a trillion dollars on a policy that just doesn’t work.

Check out the rest of the videos at

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Jesse Lava

Jesse Lava runs Beyond Bars, which produces short videos and engages social media to fight mass incarceration. Beyond Bars is a project of Brave New Foundation.

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