Meeting Minutes from InspireSeattle Social on April 25, 2015

Ending the War on Drugs

For four decades the US has fueled its policy of a “war on drugs” with over a trillion tax dollars and increasingly punitive policies. More than 39 million arrests for nonviolent drug offenses have been made. The incarcerated population quadrupled over a 20-year period, making building prisons the nation’s fastest growing industry. More than 2.3 million US citizens are currently in prison or jail, far more per capita than any country in the world. The US has 4.6 percent of the population of the world but 22.5 percent of the world’s prisoners. Each year this war costs the US another 70 billion dollars. Despite all the lives destroyed and all the money so ill spent, today illicit drugs are cheaper, more potent, and much easier to access than they were at the beginning of the war on drugs, 40 years ago. Meanwhile, people continue dying on the streets while drug barons and terrorists continue to grow richer, more powerful, better armed.

Not one of the stated US drug policy goals of lowering the incidence of crime, addiction, drug availability, or juvenile drug use, has been achieved. Instead, our approach has magnified these problems by creating a self-perpetuating, ever-expanding policy of destruction, yet the US still insists on continuing the war and pressuring other governments to perpetuate these same unworkable policies. The drug war wreaks havoc, funds terrorism, and causes major corruption around the globe. This is the very definition of a failed public policy. This madness must cease!

With this in mind, current and former members of law enforcement have created a drug policy reform group called LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). Supporters of LEAP believe that to save lives and lower the rates of disease, crime and addiction, as well as to conserve tax dollars, we must end drug prohibition. LEAP believes a system of regulation and control is far more effective than one of prohibition.

Guest Speaker: 

Jim Doherty: 

Jim Doherty prosecuted drug users as a chief prosecutor and also helped keep them in jail as a corrections officer. Prior to attending law school, Jim spent a year working as an “alternatives worker” getting criminal defendants into drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs and spent a year as a cell block officer in a large county jail. He later gained experience with the opposite perspective by serving as a public defender. In total, he has been practicing law for over thirty years, including several years as a felony public defender in Oregon, several as a municipal prosecutor for Washington cities, and two years as the Chief Prosecutor in the Attorney General’s office in American Samoa.

Jim describes his criminal legal experience as an exercise in futility when dealing with drug issues. “The legal prohibition of drugs has clogged our courts and jails, and has led to an out-of-control black market that destroys the lives of too many people, both here in America and abroad.”

He is part of the King County Bar Association Drug Policy Project, which was the country’s first county-wide collaboration to look at and work towards alternatives to America’s longest war. He is also a member of the Voluntary Committee of Lawyers.   Since 1993, Jim has served as a full time legal consultant with Municipal Research & Services Center, a non-profit organization providing research assistance to cities and counties in the State of Washington.

Many thanks to our speaker, Gary Moskowitz for arranging this event, Dave Gamrath for emceeing and Toni Merritt for hosting this important discussion.


Previous meeting minutes


Previous IAN Events



Contact Us Copyright 2010 InspireSeattle ©