My short bio: I am a Retired Police Captain and 20 year law enforcement veteran of the drug war. I retired in 1989 and have been speaking out against Prohibition ever since.

In 1993 I was among the first members of ReconsiDer – one of the original forums on drug policy, involving speakers from many diverse backgrounds.

In 2002 I co-founded Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an international nonprofit educational organization. The mission of LEAP is to reduce the multitude of harmful consequences resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ending drug prohibition.

This video of me debating prohibition recently went viral:

LEAP's website:

More about me:

Ask me anything! My Proof:

Comments: 1004 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

gonzobon602 karma


CopsSayLegalize217 karma

Thanks, Gonzobon!

elanky342 karma

Hey Peter thanks for standing up for the truth! I'm a veteran of the Coast Guard and was involved in cocaine interdiction. I was wandering if you delve into the connections between the drug war and the process of redistribution by our military, CIA and DEA?

CopsSayLegalize1070 karma

First thing is that as a veteran of the Coast Guard who was involved in drug interdiction, you are eligible to become a LEAP speaker, and we'd love to have you. Second, because of the drug "WAR" we have seen the need to militarize our police departments. Because, after all, we are in a "WAR." I worked with an old timer when I first started in 1969. He had been on the job since just after WWII, where he was a veteran, and he used to say that if in your society you are going to have a military and a police force you should train the military on the East Coast and the police on the West Coast because that's how far apart they should be kept. They are different jobs. The militarization of police is contrary to everything we believe in in this society.

DigitalMindShadow284 karma

What's the most effective way an average civilian U.S. citizen can help to end the drug war?

How about young professional people (lawyers even) who would like to get involved in a professional capacity but feel limited by their large student debt obligations? I.e. is there any way to get an actual paying job with an anti-prohibition organization?

CopsSayLegalize488 karma

If you agree with LEAP's position, I will remind you of an old saying. That is that the reason that bad things happen is because good people remain silent. So in answer to the question of "What can the average citizen do?" my answer is do not remain silent. Speak up at any and every opportunity to change this policy.

CopsSayLegalize295 karma

And support LEAP at!

CopsSayLegalize142 karma

Some concrete ways you can help LEAP are to contribute if you can (, like us on Facebook (CopsSayLegalizeDrugs), follow us on Twitter (@CopsSayLegalize), suggest venues for our speakers (, and recognize that not all law enforcement officers are bad people or that they necessarily believe in the war on drugs. Support the good ones and make a safe space for them to do what they believe is right.

skogster44 karma

I'm a new lawyer who would love to help also, but I feel powerless. How can I help LEAP?

PitaMike70 karma

Get a LEAP speaker into your BAR association for a presentation.

skogster38 karma

GREAT idea! Thank you.

CopsSayLegalize85 karma

TheShittyBeatles131 karma

What impact do you think the US civil forfeiture laws have on the prioritization of pursuing non-violent drug crime vs. violent crime?

What can the public do to decrease the rate at which local and state police press releases announcing small-time cannabis arrests are portrayed in the press as big wins for the public?

CopsSayLegalize350 karma

Great question! First off, let me explain that there are two types of forfeiture. There is criminal forfeiture, which is the seizing of property and then the confiscation of property if the person who the property is seized from is convicted of the crime charged. I am fully in support of criminal forfeiture. Then we have the thing mentioned in this question, which is civil asset forfeiture. In civil forfeiture, I seize your property but do not arrest you or have to find you guilty of anything in order to keep that property. And in fact, you have to prove yourself NOT guilty of the accusation I have made against you as to why I have seized your property. Under civil forfeiture, there is no need for an arrest or a convicton for your property to be taken from you. Civil forfeiture should not exist in a society that calles itself free.

MEGAPHON397 karma

Hi Peter! Thanks so much for doing this!

Question: in your opinion, what is the biggest barrier to broad-scale legalization of drugs in the United States?

CopsSayLegalize314 karma

In my opinion, the biggest obstacle is that right now we are not having that discussion. We're talking about marijuana and when the marijuana conversation ends, then maybe we will get back to the full legalization of drugs. This is larger than just marijuana. The issue is about the policy of prohibition, which has never worked in the history of our species

Facerless60 karma

What kind of support do you receive from different agencies? How have your former colleagues reacted to your activism?

CopsSayLegalize105 karma

For agencies involved in the healthcare aspects of this issue, we get some support; from people currently involved in law enforcement, we get less support - many working officers see the failure of this policy, but becuase of their personal vested interest in the profession, they're afraid to speak up. Most people when they begin, they genuinely believe in the drug war and believe they're doing the right thing.

lonewolfandpub57 karma

Right now, which countries do you feel have the most effective methods and policies in place for handling hard drug use/addiction without prohibition?

CopsSayLegalize162 karma

As of this moment, no country has legalized what our society considers illicit drugs (as opposed to deadly drugs such as tobacco and alcohol, which we seem to accept). Many countries, such as Portugal and Switzerland, have tried decriminalization, which ends criminal penalties for possession and use (though in some places it's still an illegal act, like violating the speed limit), but does nothing to change the law surrounding sales, distribution, and production of drugs. So, while decriminalization reduces the harm done to users, it fails to address the serious underlying issues caused by the illegal marketplace itself. For instance, the prohibition of alcohol was decriminalization; the folks going to the speakeasies weren't arrested by the cops, but it still provided huge profits for gangsters, which is why you had the rise of Al Capone and others.

The good news is that Colorado and Washington have both legalized marijuana, and the Uruguayan Senate is expected to pass a bill legalizing marijuana literally any minute now. It's a great first step, and once we realize that the world doesn't end when marijuana is legalized - that in fact legalization improves society in many ways - we can start to implement the same plan with other drugs. But we have to realize that marijuana is not the end of the discussion and keep up the momentum for other drugs because the same logic applies.

CopsSayLegalize294 karma

Update: The Uruguayan Senate just voted to legalize marijuana. Once the president, who introduced the bill, signs it, it will be the first country in the world to end the prohibition of marijuana!

LoveTard52 karma


CopsSayLegalize85 karma

Thanks, LoveTard! Cops were not hired to prosecute drug crimes; they were hired to fight violent crime, so we would need just as many cops, but they'd go back to what the job should be, which is protecting people and property from other people. That's what we were trained to do and what we should go back to doing.

I think a very important thing to understand is that we should not make the police who are on the front lines of this thing the bad guys. We need someone to do that job, but it's particularly important that we have good people to do that job. Change comes from within, and these are positions with a great deal of power and discretion. No one should ever dissuade a good person from becoming or remaining a police officer.

WaiveYourFlag41 karma

Thanks so much for what you're doing. I think drug legalization is hugely important and that the end of prohibition would help alleviate a great deal of issues in American society.

Most people I talk to are pro-marijuana legalization, but when I bring up the subject of legalizing all drugs, people tend to scoff and parrot various Drug War propaganda. Do you have suggestions for talking points when communicating with folks who are steeped in Drug War propaganda, who may have never studied drugs and their actual effects, and who perhaps consider taking drugs to be a moral issue rather than a health issue, thus justifying in their minds their illegality?

Also, what can one do on an individual level to help legalize drugs?

CopsSayLegalize147 karma

My suggestion is to not talk about the drugs. Talk about the fundamental failure of the policy. Talk about how prohibition undermines public safety by funding violent gangs and cartels and distracts police from solving and preventing violent crime. Talk about how keeping the marketplace illegal ensures it's run by criminals, who sell unsafe products and sell to kids.

And before you discuss it at all, ask the people you're talking to if the drug war is winnable. I am a military veteran and if you're going to send me to war, I want to know what victory will look like. If we use WWII as an example of war, we won WWII. That does not mean that every few months or so we have to fight the Axis again. The war is over. The Allies won; the Axis lost. So if we win the war on drugs, that means we've eliminated heroin and meth and everything else. Then ask the person if they think that's possible. No one ever says yes. We know drugs are always going to be around. So the only question is who will control the marketplace: gangs, thugs and terrorists or regulated, licensed professionals?

God_of_Illiteracy34 karma

I am interested in becoming a cop. Do you have any suggestions/tips on what to prepare for?

CopsSayLegalize209 karma

The thing that surprised me the most was what it felt like to deprive other human beings of their liberty. And always remember that the power you have is granted to you by the people you work for. It is not your power. Looking at it that way helped me not be as seduced by the power as many of my peers were.

one-pump-chump30 karma

  1. What do you think will be the #1 benefit from legalization of drugs?
  2. Will legalizing marijuana do anything on its own or do we have to legalize across-the-board to defeat the Black Market?
  3. Is there anything that can be done about the real problem of underage drug use? (After all, most people start drinking well before 21)

CopsSayLegalize81 karma

  1. Reduction in violent crime.
  2. Legalizing marijuana will be a start - you'll cut into the profits of violent criminals, ruin fewer people's lives by sending them to jail, etc. but you're not going to confront the underlying, deep-seeded problems caused by the prohibition of drugs, which is larger than just marijuana. My big fear is that once we legalize marijuana, we're going to lose a lot of the momentum of this movement without ending these failed policies.
  3. Bringing all this out in the open is the only way to start to deal with underage drug use.

allgood238628 karma

What advice would you give to officers who might agree with your views on prohibition but don't have much choice in how they enforce the laws due to politics/local and federal laws?

Can you offer any tips to those who might not want to arrest folks but don't have much leeway in enforcement?

CopsSayLegalize105 karma

My advice to all working law enforcement is simply this: You took an oath to enforce those laws. You only have two choices. One is to do what you took an oath to do; the other is to resign. If resigning is not your choice, and it wasn't for me, when you took that oath nothing in it said you would not speak out about your own views when you were not working for the police. When you took that oath you did not give up your right as a citizen of this country. When you are not on the job, you should speak your mind as to what you believe is right.

U_arebetteratdying26 karma

Do you think that as citizens peaceful protesting is an effective tool?

CopsSayLegalize103 karma

I believe that not only is peaceful protesting an effective tool, it should be the only tool.

MayoralCandidate26 karma

I had the pleasure of meeting Neill Franklin at the Students for Liberty Conference in D.C. Ever since then, I have referenced LEAP's videos extensively including your videos, Peter. It amazes me how often LEAP's videos changes someone's opinion on the drug war.

Neill answered all my questions about LEAP, but I just wanted to sincerely thank you for what you do with LEAP and to keep fighting the good fight.

CopsSayLegalize37 karma

That's great to hear. Thanks for the support, and if you really are a mayoral candidate, please be in touch for ways we can help you.

YourWebcamIsOn22 karma

I recommend everybody read Drug Crazy by Mike Gray for an easy to read, yet very intelligent case for legalizing all drugs and ending prohibition.

Forgot my question: Peter, have any of your current LE/LEAP members run into problems for having conflict of interest, etc?

CopsSayLegalize44 karma

Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do by Peter McWilliams is another favorite of mine - not just about the drug issue but about the issue of prohibition generally.

In response to your question, we have had some members who have been threatened, and at least one lost his job but then won a major settlement after a court found that his department had violated his civil rights. It's still difficult for current law enforcement to challenge these policies, but we're working on it.

ninja_at_law12 karma

Did you look like a hippie when you were a cop?

CopsSayLegalize18 karma

Well, I have a ponytail now!

lazyjeenius11 karma

Mr. Christ, I came here simply to say thank you. It's refreshing to have someone with a respectable and professional background leading the fight for common sense, the struggle to legalize marijuana has been plagued by "hippies" that have been little match for our politicians, I think LEAP has much stronger ground from which to lead the movement. Thank you for taking the time to do this AMA! Before I go, what are your thoughts on the militirization of our police forces, including the purchasing of surplus military vehicles and the continued erosion of the 2nd and 4th amendments?

CopsSayLegalize16 karma

Thanks, lazyjeenius! We very much appreciate your support!

WorshipMe10 karma

Thank you for your efforts! My personal feelings towards cops vacillates from annoyance and distrust to admiration for their dutifulness! So thank you for taking a stand on a very important issue in America!

What are your views on drug trafficking? I support universal drug decriminalization/legalization. How would you propose we control the flow of recreational drugs across the border, if at all?

Again, thanks for your dedication to this paramount issue! Our prisons are filled with drug addicts and dealers, and we can no longer afford to throw people away like this. THANK YOU SIR.

CopsSayLegalize27 karma

Legalization goes hand in hand with regulation and control, which are the opposite of prohibition. Smart regulations will eliminate or greatly reduce drug trafficking. LEAP doesn't endorse any particular system of regulation, but we do believe in its value. We regulate beer and cigarettes and prescription drugs and everything else bad for you.

lucipherius6 karma

Do you have any more TV appearances scheduled like daily show, fox news etc?

CopsSayLegalize11 karma

The LEAP website ( or is a great resource to check for my and other speakers' upcoming appearances.

SynonymForTree-9 karma

I thought the title said 'Retarded police captain', I'm disappointed

CopsSayLegalize8 karma

Sorry to disappoint you!