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Milestones in Drug Policy

Milestones in Drug Policy, Judge Says Homegrown Solutions Are Best.

Thirty five years ago today, on July 1, 1973, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was established, based on an executive order signed by President Richard Nixon in March, 1973.

A pivotal part of Nixon's War on Drugs, the DEA was formed by merging the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE) and several other Federal offices. As a United States Department of Justice law enforcement agency, the DEA's primary task was to combat drug smuggling and use within the United States, and coordinate and pursue US drug investigations abroad.

In 1973, the DEA employed 2775 people, 1470 of whom were special agents, and had an annual budget of $74.9 million. By 2005, the DEA boasted 10,894 employees, 5,296 special agents, and an annual budget of $2.141 billion. In 2007, the annual budget was increased again, by $71 million per year, making the total 34 times larger than the original budget, and the agency has expanded to 4 times the personnel. However, the DEA's expansion is not indicative of a successful War on Drugs. In fact, our current drug policies are a dismal failure. Drugs are more potent, less expensive, and more accessible than ever. In 2005, the DEA seized a reported $477 million worth of drugs, but the total value of all drugs sold in the US was estimated at a minimum of $64 billion by the ONDCP, making the DEA's efforts to ebb the flow of drugs into and around the US less than 1% effective.

The recently released New Zealand Drug Harm Index maybe just a testimony to that failure. Fortunately, this year the NZ Law Commission has as a significant task before it. It is commencing a review of the law surrounding illegal drugs and, in respect to international drug policy it would be fair to say 'historicaly' examining the obligations under the UN unti-drug Treaty's and Covenants. The United States and New Zealand share in common amongst the highest uptake of cannabis and a massively disproportionate allocation of interdiction resources.

The BERL Drug Harms report, commissioned by Police, was released quite purposely on International Day against Illegal Drugs and Trafficking. [ Scoop: Enforcement Saves Billions In Reduced *Drug Harm* ]

So too was the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction report examining the scientific, political, legislative, commercial and social developments relating to cannabis. Its core audience thus comprises policymakers, sociologists, historians, journalists and those involved in enforcement. The second volume is targeted at drugs professionals working in the fields of treatment, prevention and health care. see: Report Clears the Air on European Marijuana Use The report also claims to debunk the belief that modern-day cannabis is much stronger now than in the past. The report said that is an "urban myth" based on flawed data. Further it determines the relative harms of cannabis to be less than alcohol describing claims of cannabis related harm to self and society as 'weak'. This is in direct contrast to the BERL/POLICE assertions.

These tensions have not escaped the attention of the UN consultative organisation with the self descriptive name Law Enforcement Against Prohibition [http://LEAP.CC]

LEAP knows the only way to decrease the instances of death, disease, crime, abuse and addiction is to legalize and regulate all drugs. By eliminating the black market drug trade, the multitude of harms caused by drugs would drastically reduce. Continuing the War on Drugs effectively continues the cycle of crime, drug abuse and addiction.

Executive Director of LEAP, Judge Jerry Paradis is visiting New Zealand following the highly successful tour by his Law Enforcement Against Prohibition compatriots, Judge Schockett, Detective Lieutenant Jack Cole and Det. Chief Superintendent Eddie Ellison in April 2004 (see link for tour summary of over 80 engagements, including 28 NZ Rotaries ).

Judge Jerry Paradis brings a unique flavour to the vexing subject of drug policy that is highly relevant to New Zealand. He is from British Columbia, where cannabis is worth more than Forestry. His knowledge and expertise in Human Rights, Jurisprudence and the emerging international debate that now engaging all manner of Civil Society in the UN processes in Vienna this July. With both a South American insight and studied in the role of Media on Drug Policy his public talks promise to be as stimulating as likely, contentious.

However one feels about drug policy, its success or failures, it is rare to hear someone from 'the bench' with such eminent standing even discuss this subject. This is your opportunity to have Judge Jerry engage with your community. There is no 'drug harm' in listening or asking questions. Is your organisation, community or club interested?

dates available

20th-31st Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Wellington districts. 1st-7th Sept. Christchurch and districts Other regional venues including Dunedin, Invercargill, by arrangement

For More Information Contact:

Mike Smithson, LEAP Operations Director mailto:speakers@leap.cc

ENDS

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