Law Enforcement Officers Who Support Marijuana Legalization: Badges for Bongs - TheStreet

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization composed of current and former law enforcement officers - and others not in law enforcement - who consider current drug policies a failure. They favor regulation and control.

The organization claims that the nation's war on drugs is an abysmal failure. The policies have failed, the organization says, "to effectively address the problems of drug abuse, especially the problems of juvenile drug use, the problems of addiction, and the problems of crime caused by the existence of a criminal black market in drugs."

LEAP advocates a system of "regulation and control" and envisions a system whereby the government would replace the current black market.

LEAP president and founder Jack Cole, a former member of the New Jersey State Police, became familiar with the ineffectiveness of the drug war dating back to the 1970s when her worked undercover in narcotics.

Cole told MainStreet that the drug problem in the 1970's when the drug war started was not as bad as it later.

"The likelihood of someone dying from drugs in the 1970's was less than falling down the stairs," said Cole. "Heroin was virtually unheard of."

"When the drug war started, overnight the New Jersey State Police increased its narcotic officers by eleven times the number we had before the war—from 7 officers to 76 officers—all paid for by the federal government," Cole said. "Therefore,we were expected to make more drug arrests. We were expected to arrest drug dealers. But there were not that many drug dealers outside of the major cities. So instead of targeting us on drug dealers we were targeting young people - college students, etc. who were experimenting with drugs."

Also See: Does Race Really Influence Marijuana Busts?

He said that about every two months or so he would come in with a hundred cases of mainly young people, who were low-level drug users and traffickers. New Jersey's drug laws 40 years ago made no distinction for the type of drug trafficked or its weight and the law did not mention anything about money being exchanged.

According to Cole, people who simply handed him a marijuana cigarette were being sentenced to seven years in prison just as a person who sold undercover officers a pound of heroin or cocaine.

They usually served one third of their sentences noted Cole. But they were imprisoned in their prime of their lives. Once released from prison they could not resume a normal lifestyle.

"So they returned to the drug culture, the very group we said we were trying to save them from," Cole pointed out. "So that is how this became the self-perpetuating, constantly expanding, policy disaster we have now."

Also See: Marijuana and Punishment -- Debunking Pot Proponents' Prison Myths

Cole believes that the legalization of all drugs will have a positive effect -- that it will lessen drug abuse and all its concomitant problems. He echoes the sentiments of the Cato Institute in this regard.

As LEAP continues its crusade, it certainly has deep pockets to rely on. seems to be well funded. Contributors to the organization, according to public records in 2010, include the Craigslist Charitable Fund, the Drug Policy Alliance, and Nicholas and Susan Pritzker of the Hyatt family fortune (MainStreetreported earlier that a relative, Joby Pritzker, is involved ArcView an angel investor group which funds marijuana businesses).

--Written by Michael P. Tremoglie for MainStreet