LEAP’s Neill Franklin underscores parallel between prohibition of alcohol and prohibition of pot, highlights same patterns of ending it and same methods to regulate marijuana like alcohol

By Kristen Gwynne  |  Published in AlterNet.org

After traveling across the country on the Caravan For Peace, LEAP’s Neill Franklin explains how states can regulate cannabis as they see fit like they do with alcohol. Police can then go back to being peace officers for the community.

The Rachel Maddow Show, former Baltimore cop and 32-year law enforcement veteran Neill Franklin spoke to Maddow about drug policy, but rather than defend the drug war, he  said it is time for President Barack Obama to lead in drug policy reform.

Franklin, Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), said marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington was a ‘win’ not just for drug users, but for cops, too.

“It’s a win-win because it has been drug prohibition like with marijuana that has driven a wedge in between police and community,” said Franklin, “Number one, police can get back to the business that they want to do and that is to protect people from violent people — rape, robbery, murder, crimes against our children, domestic violence. We can get back to the business of that.”

While police are often considered “tough-on-crime” and therefore tough on drugs, for obvious reasons, some walk away from the force with a complex understanding of the drug war’s effects on public safety.

“Most of us didn’t sign on this job to arrest people for smoking pot,” Franklin said, adding that legalization “gives us an opportunity to repair the damage that has been done between police and community. You know, racial profiling, the foundation for racial profiling today in this country is the drug war.”

As Franklin put it, “The drug war just doesn’t work anymore. There’s not one piece of it that works. We have more drugs in our community than ever before. It’s very costly, four decades, $1.3 trillion. Our prisons are bursting at the seams with black and brown people. We need a change, and it’s time for the president to lead on this one.”