Retired police Capt. Peter Christ said that his mission to legalize drugs should not be mistaken as an endorsement to use them.
Christ, who retired as a police captain in 1989 after a 20-year career enforcing drug laws, insists that the war on drugs can never be won and is doing more harm than good. Christ wants to see all drugs legalized - and regulated.
"That doesn't mean I condone using them," he said. "They're all terrible, and if I could convince people not to use them, any of them, I would. But I can't. People are going to do what they want, regardless of whether drugs are legal. What we're talking about is making drugs legal, and then regulating them. Prohibition doesn't work. We've already seen that."
Christ, a New York resident, is traveling across the state, with scheduled stops in Warren, Youngstown and Cleveland, to explain his position. On Tuesday, he will address the issue at 7 a.m. at Lake Vista of Cortland, 303 N. Mecca St., Cortland. The free presentation will be in the Park Place Heron Dining Room on the second floor.
"The drug war does more harm than good," Christ said. "We're not winning. We can't get rid of all of the drugs. What we need to do is take the drugs out of the control of the drug lords, gangsters and terrorists, and get them off the streets."
Christ said that as a police officer he saw the effect fighting drug-related crimes had on law enforcement officials. He is a board member and co-founder of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), a group of cops, judges, border officials and other law enforcement officers who advocate for an end to the drug war.
WHO: Retired police Capt. Peter Christ, New York
WHAT: Why drugs should be legalized, regulated
WHEN: 7 a.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Lake Vista of Cortland, 303 N. Mecca St., Cortland
Current laws and policies fail to effectively address the problems of drug abuse, especially among juveniles, addiction and the problems of crime caused by the existence of a criminal black market in drugs, he said.
Similar to the days when alcohol was prohibited, the prohibition of drugs has financed and encouraged the spread of organized crime while doing little to curb consumption, Christ said.
"If we were to regulate drugs rather than outlaw them, we could take them out of the hands of gangs who sell to kids and put them into the hands of professional businesses that pay taxes, check IDs and are accountable for the purity of their product," he said.
Christ speaks of the drug war's impact on police / community relations; the safety of law enforcement officers and suspects; police corruption and misconduct; and the financial and human costs associated with current drug policies.