By Brian Lasonde
Campus Times Staff
Speaking about the failed war on drugs in the United States, retired police captain Peter Christ compared the drug ban today with Prohibition in the 1920s during his talk in Rush Rhees library on Feb. 26.
“I thought the drug policy in the United States was stupid from the beginning,” Christ said.
He has held these views for a long time but only put them into practice when he founded Law Enforcement Against Prohibition in 2002.
This group was modeled after Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
The sole purpose of this group is to oppose the policy of drug prohibition.
After describing his background and LEAP, Christ addressed policy issues.
He traced prohibition back to the book of Genesis in the Bible .
He focused mainly on 1920s alcohol prohibition.
“Alcohol didn’t create Al Capone – Prohibition created Al Capone,” he said. Christ noted that restricting certain goods creates underground illegal markets where there is more crime and violence than without restrictions.
Christ compared the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s to the illegality of other drugs today, such as marijuana.
“If you want to regulate and control anything, it has to be legal,” he said. “Prohibition not only creates street violence, but it also takes the ability to regulate and control drugs away from the government.”
Continuing, he said, “Prohibition is a type of deregulation because it takes the power away from the government and puts it into the hands of criminals running underground markets and selling the goods that are prohibited by the government.”
Christ proposed alternatives to the current drug policy in the course of his talk.
“First, we need to end this prohibition on drugs,” he said. “Then, we need to establish some sort of regulated and controlled marketplace.”
LEAP does not take a position on what a regulated marketplace would look like, but each member has his own opinion.
Christ emphasized that the United States cannot make drugs go away. Instead, its citizens have to learn how to deal with them.
He recommends a discussion about policy as the first step toward better understanding drugs and eventually establishing a regulated and controlled marketplace.
“Christ’s argument is one that is very convincing,” senior Jesse Victor said. “His view is very interesting. Hearing this from a law enforcement figure is much more convincing than hearing college students talk about this.”
Students for Liberty, the libertarian group on campus, sponsored the speech along with Students for Social Justice and Alpha Delta Phi fraternity.
“If I was king and I could decide for everybody, I would mandate kindergarten-through-eighth-grade drug education in every school in America,” Christ said. “It would be honest and straightforward. I would say, ‘Here’s what the drugs do. This is how they work. This is what is good and this is what is bad. Here’s what sensible use looks like.'”
Lasonde can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.