The following article appeared on CBC News Montreal website:
Police in favour of legalization of drugs gather in Montreal Last updated May 8 2006 08:54 PM EDT
While police officers from more than 80 countries are in Montreal for a conference on drug-enforcement policy, a smaller group is touting the legalization of all drugs.
Terry Nelson, a Texas police officer for more than 30 years, says he arrested drug dealers along the U.S.-Mexico border. Now, he feels much of that work was for nothing.
"The only thing we're accomplishing is filling our jails because we're not keeping the drugs off the street," Nelson said. "The war on drugs is not working. It's broken and it needs to be fixed."
The best way to fix the problem is to legalize everything from marijuana up to hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin, Nelson said.
He says legalization would stop criminal gangs from marketing drugs.
Nelson wants the government to regulate drugs, tax them and keep them out of the hands of children.
"In the United States, kids claim it's easier to buy narcotics than it is to buy alcohol or cigarettes, because they're buying them from criminal gangs instead of regulated state stores," Nelson insists.
Not many police officers share Nelson's views, but there is growing support.
He's part of a group of 5,000 current and former officers advocating legalization. Most are in the United States, but a handful of Canadian chapters have opened recently.
John Gayder, a 17-year veteran of the Ontario Provincial Police, agrees that making recreational drugs illegal is not the answer. "It's like a hamster on an exercise wheel. We go around and around and around," Gayder said. "We arrest low, mid- and upper-level dealers, and they're replaced within a matter of weeks."
Gayder is with the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Many of the officers taking part in the alternative conference say drug problems won't be solved until politicians stop talking about enforcement and start talking about legalization.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration is holding its annual conference in Montreal from May 8 to 11. The International Drug Enforcement Conference is open only to DEA agents and senior narcotics officers.
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