LEAP COPS’ LATEST REPORT

On November
25, 2007, at a Presidential Campaign stop at Franklin
Pierce College

in Ringe , New Hampshire ,
LEAP speaker Bradley Jardis, a working police officer from New Hampshire
confronted Senator John McCain about the Senator’s support for the
US
policy of a war on drugs. McCain, like all but three of the presidential
campaigners* usually brushes off questions about drug policy with a curt answer
but he did not dare treat a working police officer in that manner. The result
was the below Transcript of the 5 minute 49 second discussion that ensued. The
video of that discussion can be viewed at
http://www.leap.cc/cms/index.php?name=Web_Links&l_op=visit&lid=124.

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Bradley
Jardis:
I
have served here in my state as a law enforcement officer for going on nine
years now. And after nine years of working the street, I have come to the
conclusion that the war on drugs is a terrible failure. I saw first hand that
the war on drugs causes crime. It causes children to have access to drugs easier
and it does nothing to curb the problem of drug trafficking or use—just
as alcohol prohibition after the 18th amendment passed. Then we
wised up and passed the 21st amendment, which curbed the violence
problem within this country greatly. What is it going to take for powerful
politicians, such as yourself, to realize that the war on drugs is a failure
and we need to get smart about drugs? Not tough, we need to be smart about
drugs.

John
McCain:

“Thank you sir. It is going to take a lot before I adopt your viewpoint,
although I must say, (Applause) express my respect and appreciation for keeping
our families and our neighborhoods in the state of New Hampshire safe and I am
grateful for your service. But I’ve heard your comparison between drugs
and alcohol. I think most experts would say in moderation one or two drinks of
alcohol does not have the affect on one’s judgment or manual acuity or
physical abilities. I think most experts will say that the first ingestion of
drugs leads to mind-altering and other experiences and effects that can lead
over time to serious problems. Now I will agree with you to this extent, that
too often we put first time drug users in prison. (Applause) In my home state
of Arizona we
a program that puts first time drug offenders, not dealers but first time drug
offenders, that they have the eligibility on rehab program that is associated
with very significant testing procedures. And if they successfully complete
that rehabilitation course, then they are allowed to move forward with their
lives. We have too many first time drug offenders in prison. I think we all
know that. But I will do everything I can to help you with your work. I will do
whatever I can do to help you combat these drug dealers, these terrible people
that prey on America but there have been experiments in Europe; some places
there where basically the use of drugs is freely and openly used and some of
those places they have had to shut down those places because of the terrible
effects of not restricting the use of drugs from those places. So I would like
to refer you to those places where they have done that. And I don’t in
any way diminish the magnitude of your job and terrible affect that drugs have
on Americans. And a lot of it, as you know, comes across our southern borders.
And I’m happy to tell you that we seem to have a president of
Mexico
now who is very serious about enforcing the border and cooperating with us
against drug dealers. Now I think in full disclosure, with drug cartels there
is such problems that I don’t think he is going to be able to do it. But
my friends, I want to help him and I want to help him clean it up but that also
is a big problem. Now I just want to ask one other thing, do you think
methamphetamine ought to be legal?

Bradley
Jardis:
I think
what we need to look at is the drug policy.

John
McCain:
Yea
but you know it’s one thing to talk about policy; it’s another
thing to talk about specific comments. With all due respect, do you think
methamphetamine should be made legal?

Bradley
Jardis:
I
don’t think if someone is caught with methamphetamine we should put them in
prison, period. We should be helping them. We should help people who are
addicted to drugs (Applause) and not spend 69 billion dollars a year to
imprison them. (Continuing applause) If you arrest somebody, it does not solve
the problem. You just said there are drug cartels. There would not be drug
cartels if we were to regulate drugs. In
Switzerland they have public heroin
clinics where people can come and get help with clean needles and to get off
drugs. There is no doubt that drugs are dangerous but our policy does not do
anything to help people who are addicted. If you arrest a sixteen year old for
marijuana and they get a criminal conviction, you can get over an addiction but
you will never get over a conviction. They loose their funding to go to college
and no one can ever say, that keeping a kid from going to college because of
prohibition sounds good. Not at all. Thank you very much. (Applause)

John
McCain:

“I’m sorry he didn’t have a position on methamphetamine but I
do agree with you. I do agree with you strongly. As I said, we have this
program in Arizona
which I would like to see adopted nation wide: the first time offender is given
an opportunity to rehabilitate themselves and to have clean record. I thank you
for your service and I appreciate the discussion and I look forward to
continuing this dialogue because I in no way mean to diminish the magnitude of
this problem and the terrible tragedies it inflicts on
America everyday. Thank you and
thank you for your service.

At
the end of Senator McCain’s presentation, Bradley Jardis approached the
Senator, shook hands and handed him a copy of the 12-minute LEAP Promo DVD
explaining why prohibition should be ended.

Bradley generated a much more
productive discussion than whether we should legalize a specific drug by moving
on to the policy question of ending drug prohibition. Bradley should be
applauded by all reformers because to date this has been the most significant
confrontation of a Presidential Campaigner on a drug policy issues.

* Three campaigners
for the 2008 Presidential race, former Senator Mike Gravel (D-Alaska),
Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), and Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas)
have called for an end to the war on drugs; something never before done by any
one running for the presidency of the United States.

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