Norm Stamper LEAP to Australia.





‘Hosted by ABC Radio National’s Michael Duffy’

The war on drugs has failed. Despite the best efforts of the current and previous governments and the billions of dollars spent in law enforcement, today illicit drugs are cheaper, more potent, and easier to get than they were 35 years ago. Meanwhile, people continue dying in our streets while drug barons and terrorists continue to grow richer than ever before.

There is no medical, scientific, or legal justification for a war on drugs policy. With seventy-percent of cases in the criminal courts being indirectly or directly drug related, we could revolutionize criminal justice and substantially lower the tendency toward repetition of criminal or antisocial behaviour if we simply wiped out the drugs statute book.

Our panellists argue that this scenario must be the very definition of a failed public policy. They agree that all drugs should be legalized and the markets then regulated.

Alex Wodak

Alex Wodak

Dr Alex Wodak is the Director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at St Vincent’s Hospital. He is also President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation and author (with Timothy Moore) of ‘Modernising Australia’s drug policy’ published by UNSW Press.

Greg Barns is a former senior advisor to the Howard Government, New South Wales Premier Nick Greiner and federal Finance Minister John Fahey.  He is the author of What’s Wrong with the Liberal Party? (2003) and Selling the Australian Government: Politics and Propaganda from Whitlam to Howard (2005).

Norm Stamper is a 34-year veteran police officer who retired as Seattle’s chief of police in 2000. He is currently a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (, a 10,000-member organization representing cops, judges, prosecutors, FBI/DEA agents, prison wardens and others who now want to legalize and regulate all drugs after witnessing horrors and injustices fighting on the front lines of the “war on drugs.”

Duration: 60 minutes with no interval.


stamper-datesAustralian Tour – Norm Stamper

LEAP’s Mission Statement

Founded on March 16, 2002, LEAP is made up of current and former members of law enforcement who believe the existing drug policies have failed in their intended goals of addressing the problems of crime, drug abuse, addiction, juvenile drug use, stopping the flow of illegal drugs into this country and the internal sale and use of illegal drugs. By fighting a war on drugs the government has increased the problems of society and made them far worse. A system of regulation rather than prohibition is a less harmful, more ethical and a more effective public policy.


The mission of LEAP is to reduce the multitude of unintended harmful consequences resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ultimately ending drug prohibition.

LEAP’s goals are:

  1. To educate the public, the media, and policy makers, to the failure of current drug policy by presenting a true picture of the history, causes and effects of drug abuse and the crimes related to drug prohibition and
  2. To restore the public’s respect for law enforcement, which has been greatly diminished by its involvement in imposing drug prohibition.

LEAP’s main strategy for accomplishing these goals is to create a constantly enlarging speakers bureau staffed with knowledgeable and articulate former drug-warriors who describe the impact of current drug policies 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.


Norm Stamper

“The major police corruption scandals of the last several decades have had their roots in drug enforcement.”

Norm Stamper

Norm Stamper

Norm Stamper, Ph.D., was a police officer for 34 years. He served as chief of the Seattle Police Department from 1994 to 2000. In his 28 years with SDPD Norm rose quickly through the ranks and as a deputy chief served in each of the agency’s bureaus. He also served as Executive Director of Mayor Pete Wilson’s Crime Control Commission for three years. Norm received numerous awards and citations during his career in San Diego, including the Diogenes Award of the Public Relations Society of America for his leadership in the wake of the Rodney King incident and the subsequent Simi Valley trial verdicts.

As Seattle’s police chief, Norm led a process of major organizational restructuring, creating new bureaus of Professional Responsibility, Community Policing, and Family and Youth Protection. Within months his agency had formed one of the country’s best responses to domestic violence.

As a cop dedicated to protect and serve, Norm believes the war on drugs has done exactly the opposite for people. “Think of this war’s real casualties:” Norm writes in his extraordinary new book, Breaking Rank, “tens of thousands of otherwise innocent Americans incarcerated, many for 20 years, some for life; families ripped apart; drug traffickers and blameless bystanders shot dead on city streets; narcotics officers assassinated here and abroad, with prosecutors, judges, and elected officials in Latin America gunned down for their courageous stands against the cartels; and all those dollars spent on federal, state, and local cops, courts, prosecutors, prisons, probation, parole, and pee-in-the-bottle programs. Even federal aid to bribe distant nations to stop feeding our habit.” The war on drugs costs the United States more than 69 billion dollars each year.

Norm was a member of the National Advisory Counsel on the Violence Against Women Act; Police Executive Research Forum; International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Major Cities Chiefs.

Norm earned his bachelor and master’s degrees in criminal justice administration from San Diego State University and his Ph.D. in leadership and human behavior from United States International University. He is a graduate of the FBI’s National Executive Institute. Over the past three decades he has conducted organizational effectiveness and leadership training and consulting for both public and private organizations throughout North America.

Norm Stamper is the author of Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing, Nation Books, 2005 (see and Removing Managerial Barriers to Effective Police Leadership, Police Executive Research Forum, Washington, D.C., 1992.

(From Norm Stamper’s Room For Debate blog)Any law disobeyed by more than 100 million Americans, the number who’ve tried marijuana at least once, is bad public policy. As a 34-year police veteran, I’ve seen how marijuana prohibition breeds disrespect for the law, and contempt for those who enforce it.

Let’s examine arguments against legalizing marijuana: use and abuse would skyrocket; the increased potency of today’s marijuana would exacerbate social and medical problems; and legalization would send the wrong message to our children.

It’s reasonable to expect a certain percentage of adults, respectful or fearful of the current prohibition, would give pot a first try if it were made legal. But, given that the U.S. is already the world’s leading per capita marijuana consumer (despite our relatively harsh penalties), it’s hard to imagine a large and lasting surge in consumption. Further, under a system of regulated legalization and taxation, the government would be in a position to offer both prevention programs and medical treatment and counseling for those currently abusing the drug. It’s even possible we’d see an actual reduction in use and abuse, just as we’ve halved tobacco consumption through public education — without a single arrest.

Potency? Users, benefiting from the immutable law of supply and demand, have created huge market pressure for “quality” marijuana over the past few decades. Legalization opponents are correct that “today’s weed is not your old man’s weed.” But the fear-mongers miss the point, namely that stronger strains of marijuana are already out there, unregulated by anything other than market forces. It’s good that responsible consumers know to calibrate their consumption; they simply smoke less of the more powerful stuff. But how about a little help from their government? Purchase booze and you have access, by law, to information on the alcoholic content of your beverage, whether it’s .05 percent near-beer or 151-proof Everclear.

Perhaps the biggest objection to legalization is the “message” it would send to our kids. Bulletin: Our children have never had greater access to marijuana; it’s easier for them to score pot than a six-pack of Coors. No system of regulated legalization would be complete without rigorous enforcement of criminal laws banning the furnishing of any drug to a minor.

Let’s make policy that helps, not handcuffs, those who suffer ill effects of marijuana or other drugs, a policy that crushes the illegal market — the cause of so much violence and harm to users and non-users alike.

Norm Stamper was Seattle’s police chief from 1994 to 2000. He is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and the author of “Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing.”

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