40 Years of Drug War Failure - LEAP's Neill Franklin

On June 17, 1971 President Richard Nixon launched the modern-day drug war, an effort perpetuated by every one of his successors.

As the reform group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) documents in a new comprehensive study, the drug war has destroyed lives and property, shredded the constitution, and distorted American education, health care, and even foreign policy. That's why, notes LEAP, fully 75 percent of Americans and 69 percent of police chiefs agree that the drug war has failed.

Reason's Nick Gillespie talked with LEAP's Executive Director Neill Franklin, a retired major in the Maryland State Police. As Franklin explains, he was one of the most bellicose drug warriors around until a comrade was killed during an undercover operation. The best way, argues Franklin, we can pay tribute to his fallen friend - and all the other people whose lives have been laid waste by a war on drugs that has caused far more bad than good - is to turn away from prohibition and embrace regulation and control similar to that used for alcohol.

Shot by Jim Epstein and Joshua Swain, who also edited.

For more videos and information about drug policy, go to here.

For more information on LEAP and to read "Ending the Drug War: A Dream Deferred," go to

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  • Ray||

    I'm wondering where the lakc of political will comes from for the legalization effort. Try arguing this issue with a pro-choice progressive (if you can stand the smell) and watch how quickly they change from being supposedly pro-choice.

  • omg||

    They suddenly morph into Mr Mackey.

    "Drugs are bad mmkay!"

  • WTF||

    It's just like the Stimulus - the only reason the war on drugs hasn't worked is because we haven't devoted enough resources to it.

  • ||

    We need to keep doing the same thing, only MORE RETARDEDER!

  • omg||

    I know he doesn't agree with it, and is probably just saying it for political reasons, but Mr. Franklin really shouldn't excuse police chiefs who accept federal money to continue the drug war. If they know the drug war is wrong they should do everything in their power to stop the slaughter. Allowing (or committing) murder because you are worried you might lose some money from the federal government is completely ridiculous.

  • ||

    Is it worse to do something you know is wrong for free, or because you get paid for it?

    Seriously, I don't think "Yeah, I thought it was wrong the whole time, but look at this sack of cash I got!" is really a winning argument.

  • CE||

    Jimmy Carter wrote an op-ed for the NYT today, calling for an end to the global drug war.

  • Otto||


  • cokolol||

    Please help to prevent that another Hitler is borned. Just that. Anythink else doesn't matters. Read this to realize why i'm writting this down: Adolf Hitler

  • Hard On For Liberty||

    How about just legalize it - all drugs over the counter no prescription laws - fuck taxing/regulating/controlling it. The state has no right to regulate drugs. In fact, regulation is what got us here in the first place.

    If you presuppose the state has the right to control substances, well, just look at the Controlled Substances Act and where that's got us. That is the state's idea of "control".

    Legalize everything. Straight up.

  • ||

    Including vancomycin? Thanks for the flesh-eating-bacteria-with-no-cure.

  • Hard On For Liberty||


  • Concerned Citizen||

    The correct term is "re-legalize". I've discussed with people who didn't realize that everything was legal prior to 1914. They can't concieve of mankind advancing for all those years while every drug known to man was legal.

  • Hard On For Liberty||

    Finally, someone with knoledge of actual pharmaceutical history.

    I actually have a bottle of "Bayer Heroin" from the 1800s.

  • ||

    Again, the drug war is a massive success. It is serving it's intended purpose in spades. It is redistributing hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars into the hands of those who are charged with conducting it and has justified giving the government all sorts of new power to intrude on our existences. The point I am trying to make is this: you are never going to win the argument that we need to rethink the drug war because it's not working as intended. It is working just exactly as intended and is serving just exactly the purposes it is intended to serve. Whether or not the drug war is working in the sense most of us mean it and whether or not it can be "won" is beside the point. Just like our many other wars, it is not intended that it be won.

  • Hard On For Liberty||

    Ding ding ding.

    When reason fails to explain something, follow the money.

  • Doubleu||

    I get confused when Nick isn't wearing his ®™ leather jacket. I cried when he had that weasel on his face.

  • Doubleu||

    I would like to end anything that begins with "The War On..."

    The war on crime.
    The war on poverty.
    The war on drugs.
    The war on terror.

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