Peter Christ is the co-founder of the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. He’s also a retired Police Captain.
He joins the show to discuss what the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is. Christ thinks the prohibition of drugs is like the prohibition of alcohol. When Christ was an officer, he faced some things that made him think the war on drugs was a failure. Christ believes it is important for law enforcement officials to understand the harms of prohibition.
Find out more about the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) at www.leap.cc.
Narrator: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show with Jason Hartman. The economic storm brewing around the world is set to spill into all aspects of our lives. Are you prepared? Where are you going to turn for the critical life skills necessary for you to survive and prosper? The Holistic Survival Show is your family’s insurance for a better life. Jason will teach you to think independently, to understand threats and how to create the ultimate action plan. Sudden change or worst case scenario, you’ll be ready. Welcome to Holistic Survival, your key resource for protecting the people, places and profits you care about in uncertain times. Ladies and gentlemen, your host, Jason Hartman.
Jason Hartman: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show. This is your host Jason Hartman, where we talk about protecting the people places and profits you care about in these uncertain times. We have a great interview for you today. And we will be back with that in less than 60 seconds on the Holistic Survival Show. And by the way, be sure to visit our website at HolisticSurvival.com. You can subscribe to our blog, which is totally free, has loads of great information, and there’s just a lot of good content for you on the site, so make sure you take advantage of that at HolisticSurvival.com. We’ll be right back.
Start of Interview with Peter Christ
Jason Hartman: It’s my pleasure to welcome Peter Christ to the show. He is a retired police captain and cofounder of law enforcement against prohibition, otherwise known as LEAP. L E A P. And it’s great to have him here coming to us from Syracuse New York today. Peter, how are you?
Peter Christ: Wonderful, good day today and I want to thank you for sharing your audience with us.
Jason Hartman: Well my pleasure. So what is LEAP, or Law Enforcement Against Prohibition?
Peter Christ: Well we formed LEAP in 2002. It’s a nonprofit educational organization to give a voice to people from law enforcement on the policy of prohibition as a failed policy in society. We started out with 5 of us back in 2002 and the way I like to tell the story very quickly is I, Peter Christ, had the idea for LEAP. And if hadn’t been for a guy by the name of Jack Cole, it would still be an idea. Because Jack Cole is a retired lieutenant from the New Jersey state police. He’s the one that did all the hard work on making it into an organization, filing for the 5013c, the office was in his house for the first couple of years, and we started hiring people and stuff like that. So it’s a group effort but I got to give a lot of kudos to Jack Cole because he made the idea a reality.
We formed it because we know that when you send the police out, particularly armed police out into society, they should be peace officers, not police officers. And what I mean by that is they should be there to keep the peace. They should be there when other people are causing harm to other people’s property or persons, the police should be there to bring peace to that situation and justify it, you know take care of it and do the legal stuff. They are not police officers. By that I mean we’re not sent out there to police people’s personal behavior, their interaction with each other and stuff like that, unless it is being forced.
We define the word prohibition as meaning the prohibiting of consensual adult behavior. Because when you take acts between consenting adults which they wish to do with each other. For instance, I want to sell you drugs, you want to buy them from me. When you make these acts illegal you create crime in your society. And if there’s a monetary aspect to this activity, you create violence in your society. And you don’t do away with the activity. In fact it’s funny even for criminal stuff, with murder against the law that doesn’t stop murders from happening okay.
Jason Hartman: Yeah. It’s funny the definition of criminals is they don’t obey laws, that’s the whole point. It’s funny when you get into the arguments with the gun control people are you suddenly expecting the criminals to obey the law?
Peter Christ: Yeah precisely, precisely. In fact it’s interesting I was at a rotary club a couple of years ago and a guy comes up to me I think he was not happy with what I had to say. And he comes up to me at the end and says, “You know what they do to you in Saudi Arabia if they catch you with drugs”. And I said, “Yeah, they take you down to the middle of the town square and they shop your head off”. And there was people standing around and he says, “Yeah, that’s right”.
And I said let me tell you two things about that. One, call me crazy, but when I think of countries that I want America to be more like, Saudi Arabia is not one of the first ones that pops up on my list. I said and two, you know what they do every year in Saudi Arabia with people they catch with drugs, they take them down to the town square and they chop their head off. And you know why they do it every year? Because it doesn’t work. If it worked everybody else would see that head rolling through the courtyard, whoop, that’s the end of the drug problem. But even with that punishment the problem continues.
You know what’s interesting, we got a drug czar and a president, we’ve got past drug czars and past presidents. And every one of them at some point when they were talking about the drug problem in our society utters these words. Well we understand that this drug problem is fundamentally uneducational and a healthcare problem. And my question that never gets asked by the reporters when they say that is, what other educational and healthcare problem should we spend 80 billion dollars a year on the criminal justice system to deal with. If this is an educational and a healthcare problem why aren’t we spending the money on education and healthcare?
Jason Hartman: Very good question, very good point. Absolutely. So the word drugs to my thinking, and I’m sure yours as well has been a miserable failure. But it seems that there are some many entrenched interests who benefit from these things. They benefit from wars between countries of course, you’ve got the military industrial complex. And that same military industrial, we’ll call law enforcement complex is benefiting from the war on drugs.
I mean look at all the entrenched interests that make all the devices and provide all the services that profits from this stuff. And like you say, as soon as you add the monetary element to it, it just becomes even more of an issue. I mean if you legalize you take the profit motive out. And if these drug dealers, I don’t want to say even criminals offhand, because we’re kind of debating that issue of what should be a crime. But by restricting it they made it profitable, they put them in business.
Peter Christ: Absolutely, and on both sides. Not just the cartels that are selling the drugs, as you referred to the criminal justice system, we now have private profit making prisons in this country. And let me tell you something. . .
Jason Hartman: And by the way, I’m sure you know this, our lobbying for stricter laws so that more people can be imprisoned, and they can make more money and fill their beds in prison, just like a hotel. I mean this is insanity what’s going on.
Peter Christ: Duh. I said. . .
Jason Hartman: Talk about a conflict of interest.
Peter Christ: When I was in police work I said that. . .and it was. I did it for 20 years, I started in 1969, and returned as a captain in 1989. I had a very successful career. I worked at a suburban department outside of Buffalo, we had about 85 thousand residents. We had about 120 officers in the department and it was a great job. Because we got to help people, we got to assist people, we got to correct problems that happened in society. And I used to say that it was a great job. But it would have been a fantastic job if we worked on commission. Imagine if every time I made the rest I got a little piece of the fine. And now we have cops working on commission. With civil forfeiter laws. I’m sure you’ve heard the term forfeiter before.
Jason Hartman: Yeah I sure have, but how are they working on commission? Tell me about that.
Peter Christ: Well there’s two aspects of forfeiter that we have to talk about. First off there’s a thing called criminal forfeiter, and that is if you are arrested for a crime, and you have profits from that crime that we seize when we arrest you. We hold on to that, law enforcement does. And if you are convicted of that crime and you have profits from that crime that we seized when we rushed you, we hold on to that, law enforcement does, and if you’re convicted of that crime, we keep that property because that was proceeds of your criminal activity.
Jason Hartman: Right. I know the state does that, but the actual officer doesn’t do that.
Peter Christ: Oh no right. The officer doesn’t, but his department gets money from that. So now the community he works in schedules their budget on expected forfeiter money. But before I explain to that I just want go a little bit further. By the way, I personally have no problem with criminal forfeiter. I think criminal forfeiter is perfectly okay. But now we have a thing that started off about 30 years ago and it’s called civil forfeiter. And with civil forfeiter I don’t have to arrest you for anything. I just seize your property.
And this is the way I like to give people a little picture of how to see this. You and I grew up in the same city together, we were old friends. You happen to have more melanin your blood than I do, so you have darker skin than I do. But we were good buddies, we played ball together and everything. It’s been around 25 years since we get out of high school. I run into a mutual friend that we both knew at school and we’re talking and I ask about you and I say how’s he doing? And they say oh he’s doing really well. Remember his father used to own an appliance store down in the city, he’s not running the appliance store that his father used to have and he’s doing very well. I go gee that’s cool, I just brought a 10 unit apartment building and I need 10 refrigerators and 10. . .I might as well go visit my old friend and make a purchase and renew old friendships.
So on the way to your store I stop at the bank and I draw 10 grand out in cash, because I like to deal in cash. And I stick it in my pocket, I get back to my car, I head down. I pull up to the building where your father’s store used to be and the building is vacant. Cause my friend forgot to tell me that you moved. There’s a couple of guys hanging around in front of the door. I roll down my passenger side window, I kind of wave to them. One of them walks over to the car. I say, gee, there used to be an appliance store here do you know where they are now? And he says yeah they’re two blocks down one block over. I say okay fine, I pull away, and as I pull around the corner, red lights go on and a police officer pulls me over. He asks me to step out of the car, he asks me to put my hands on the hood, he pats me down, he feels this bulge in my pocket and he pulls this money out of my pocket that I just took out of the bank.
And he says “What’s this?” I said “Are you kidding me? What do you mean what’s this? It’s my money, you just took it out of my pocket.” And he says “Yeah.” Then he grabs his microphone and he says send a tow truck. And I said “A tow truck for what, what are you arresting me for?” and he says nothing. And by the way, here’s a receipt for your money. A receipt for my money, what are you. . .”Well you mean to tell me you didn’t know that those were drug dealers back on the corner you were just talking to. We know why you’re down here. You’re down here to buy drugs and that’s what this money is for. And because there’s proceeds that were going to be used in a drug transaction we’re seizing it and seizing your car.” “But what I’m arrested for?” “Nothing, we’re not arresting you for anything.” “Well how do I get my car and my money back?” “Well you have to hire an attorney, you have to put up a bond and sue the city and then if you win in court and can prove that you weren’t down here to buy drugs, we’ll give you your car and your money back.” Now that should never happen in a free society.
Jason Hartman: Oh yeah. I mean that is really scary. But I still don’t understand I mean you can’t be arrested for no reason. I mean. . .
Peter Christ: You’re not arrested. This is a civil suit. If I sue you for liable you have to defend yourself. You can’t not defend yourself. If I arrest you for doing something, you don’t have to defend yourself I have to prove you did it. But if I sue you for something you have to prove that you’re innocent. And that’s how we’re using civil forfeiture.
Jason Hartman: So the state is suing you in that case?
Peter Christ: Exactly, or the federal government.
Jason Hartman: But what is the state suing you for, because it’s a suspicion of drug dealing?
Peter Christ: Yes, exactly. There was years ago on 60 Minutes they had a thing about some guy who was going through the Dallas airport, and obviously a man of color. And he had a lot of cash on him and they took his money and he had to sue them and everything else to try to get his money back, and I think he lost the case by the way. There’s another thing that I want to mention too. You’re in the word business and you know what I mean when I say how important words are. And the words we use are very important.
Real quickly I have this image of the Nixon White House when they decided that they were gonna divert attention from the criminal president by focusing attention on the drug lord to get people looking at that. So they decided that they’re gonna really start the effort on the drug problem in this society and I had this picture of them all sitting around in the office and saying okay well we got to name this something. And somebody saying well why don’t we call it the new prohibition. And everybody else going oh no, no, no you can’t use that word, everybody knows that doesn’t work.
How about a war on drugs, oh that’s a good term. And I’m sure this has happened to you. If you said to people we have to end the war on drugs, most of the time the response you get back if they disagree with you is, we can’t do that, that’s surrender, that’s giving up. Those are terms that are used in connection with the term war. When you talk about changing bad policy, nobody calls that surrender or giving up. We call that a correction, a change okay. So words are important.
We have two types of illegal market places in this society. One is created by prohibition and one is created by other bad laws, but not prohibitions. But one that’s created by prohibition is called the black market. And that is the distribution of illegal things in an illegal marketplace, okay. So we prohibit this stuff and then people sell it, that’s the black market. Then we have what we call in law enforcement the grey market. And the grey market is the distribution of legal things in an illegal marketplace. In fact right now in New York City they got a huge grey market developing over cigarette sales. Because in the city of New York cigarettes are selling about $12 a pack. So there’s people that are going to other states and buying cigarettes for $5 a pack and then bringing them to New York and selling them to people for $8 or $10 a pack. And that’s a grey market.
Now, there’s two major differences between black markets and grey markets. The first one is black markets are profoundly more violent than grey markets. Because in grey markets you have a lot of time legitimate business people, they don’t really want to be shooting it up on the streets and stuff like that. I’m not saying there’s no violence in the grey markets, but there’s far less than there is in black markets. And secondly when Rush Limbaugh brought his Oxycodone off the grey market he at least has the presumption that when that product was produced it was produced under sanitary conditions, that it was made properly, and he doesn’t wonder if there was any rat poison mixed with the Oxy. When you’re buying heroin on the street you don’t know what you’re getting.
Canada had the [00:16:14] with cigarettes a few years ago when they raised the price up to $10 a pack, and all of a sudden they had smuggling all along the Canadian border. Now the reason I mention these two markets is prohibitions cause black markets, poor law making causes grey markets. You have to be very careful when you regulate these drugs once we move into a legalized marketplace, that you don’t make the regulations so tight that you create a huge grey market. So that’s all part of it. But even if you do create a huge grey market, society is better off if you shut down the black market.
Jason Hartman: No question about it. What’s the drug thing though. It just kind of begs the question. I mean I can see legalizing marijuana, I’m in favor of that. But the more serious things, cocaine and heroin, I mean these are really serious drugs.
Peter Christ: So let’s put it this way, methamphetamine is such a dangerous. . .
Jason Hartman: Well that’s probably the worse one of all.
Peter Christ: Methamphetamine is such a dangerous and horrible drug that if we have it sold in our society you are recommending that it be sold with no regulation and control. . .
Jason Hartman: I guess that’s a good way to argue it.
Peter Christ: The reason I’m saying that is, I have asked this question at over 100 rotary clubs over the last couple of years, and I have never had anybody raise their hand to say that they think this is possible. And I’ll ask you the question. Do you think that we can win the war on drugs.
Jason Hartman: No.
Peter Christ: Now before we go on I wanted to define what winning a war means. And I’ll use the biggest one in our century, or whatever the past century we’re in World War II. We and the allies won World War II. That doesn’t mean that every few months or so we got to fight the Germans and the Italians and the Japanese again. The war is over, we won, it’s done. So we win the war on drugs. That means the drugs are gone, we have taken the word heroin out of the dictionary, it’s over with, it’s done. I asked people if they think that’s possible and nobody ever raises their hand. And then I tell people that okay if we all agree that drugs are always going to be part of our society then here’s the only question. Do you want them sold by 13 year old children on street corners, or in a regulated and controlled marketplace. And in fact the more dangerous the drug is the more reason I believe it needs to be legal, regulated and controlled.
Jason Hartman: Yeah and that’s a great argument and you know look at the example of Portugal, I mean they legalized everything just about.
Peter Christ: They didn’t.
Jason Hartman: Oh I thought they did.
Peter Christ: They decriminalized.
Jason Hartman: Okay explain.
Peter Christ: That’s another word. If something is decriminalized it is still illegal, it is just not a crime. If somebody asks you if you have a criminal record, you only have to tell them if you’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony. Those are criminal acts. If you got a speeding ticket, that’s not a crime that’s just a violation. So Portugal, just like in Copenhagen, they didn’t. . .or in Amsterdam, they didn’t legalize marijuana they decriminalized it. They said we’re just not gonna arrest people for it, we’re gonna make it a very small violation. We’re still going to go after the dealer and you hit the coffee shops and in Portugal. And the reason why nobody has legalized these drugs is because of the UN charter on drug control that mandates that nobody is allowed to legalize those drugs. What they just did in Colorado or Washington in marijuana is contrary to the UN charter. Okay just a little historical note.
Jason Hartman: Right. Very interesting. Well how is it going in Portugal? I mean I’m sure you’ve kept up on that.
Peter Christ: Oh yeah well they did a huge reduction in crime. In fact the drug use is down. They have far less heroin and hard drug users because people could so much easily get at marijuana and alcohol like they always could before. So they’re having all kinds of winners. The Switz, a number of years ago they started supplying heroin to heroin addicts. They’ve almost illuminated the transfer of hepatitis and AIDS because nobody’s sharing needles anymore. They’ve gotten more people into treatment, they don’t force them into treatment, they don’t force them into treatment, you can come in everyday and get your fix and it’s not a problem, you know no problem. But every time you come in they had your little pamphlet and suggest treatment if you want to and stuff. And it’s a healthcare model and it works much better.
I’ll give you a perfect example, the United States of America, let’s talk about two people. First I want to talk about the alcoholic. And by alcoholic I don’t mean somebody in recovery, I mean somebody who’s drinking every day. But this alcoholic I’m talking about never drinks and drives, and never hurts another person or another person’s property. What do we do to them? And the answer is nothing. We leave them alone. What do we do for them? And usually people very quickly say nothing. And I say, woah, let’s think about it for a second. First off we guarantee the alcoholic purity of product don’t we. You don’t wonder if you buy booze from this guy if you’re gonna go blind or not like you used to during prohibition.
Jason Hartman: Right, it’s reliable.
Peter Christ: And we have safe places to purchase and use in as much as possible. Licensed establishments, nice places to take your family for dinner at night, you know stuff like that. They also happen to sell alcohol and stuff. And we provide the alcoholic with treatment on demand. All they got to do is walk into an AA tomorrow morning and they can talk treatment tomorrow morning.
Now let’s talk about another American citizen, the heroin addict. And let’s compare them equally –this heroin addict just like my alcoholic uses every day, but doesn’t use and drive and doesn’t harm other people or other people’s property. What do we do to them? Well if we catch them we arrest them. And I love it when we say that we don’t arrest users. Let me tell you something, every possession arrest, if you’re just charged something with possession, that’s a user arrest. So don’t tell me we don’t. And if you are a heroin addict and they arrest you and there’s a little bit of heroin left in the needle, that’s a felony in every state in the union. So now I’ve hung a felony conviction on you.
What about purity of product? Who the hell knows what you’re buying out there on the street. What about a safe place to purchase and use in? I mentioned before taking your family out for dinner to a tavern, might be a good idea. I’d like to suggest that maybe taking them to a crack house isn’t such a good idea. Not really a safe place. And why do we do this as a society?
And this is what we say. If you ask us why you are doing this to people, we say we’re only trying to help them. And if I’m the heroin addict I’m gonna say if you’re really want to help me, help me like you’re helping the alcoholic. If I’m not harming other people or other people’s property leave me alone. Guarantee me a purity of product. Give me a safe place to purchase and use and give me treatment on demand where I don’t have to walk in first and say I’m a criminal and an addict. I could just be an addict. Provide that for me and then if you want to look at me and judge me and call me scum, fine. But don’t create this huge uneven playing field like we did for people of color for decades in this country, and then we called them stupid and ignorant on top of it. That’s not fair.
Jason Hartman: Excellent, excellent argument Peter. I couldn’t agree more. That’s a very good point. Well here is my question before you go. What can we do as individuals about this to create the change? Of course talking about it, debating it, getting the word out, very important, but beyond that, writing your congressman, what?
Peter Christ: Get a hold of LEAP.cc, CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.
Jason Hartman: Let me just give the website out. It’s LEAP.cc. Now why .cc and not .com or .org?
Peter Christ: Because in 2002 when we set up the organization LEAP.org and LEAP.com, all that stuff was taken and the only one I could find that would seem like it would be easy would be cc.
Jason Hartman: Okay so I want to make sure everybody knows where to get you. So it’s LEAP.cc – okay go ahead.
Peter Christ: And also because this came along later, but it’ll take you to us, if you type in CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com. I’ll tell you even an easier way. If you just type the word LEAP into Google we’re either the first or the second thing that pops up. We used to be the first thing for a long time but now there’s some communication called LEAP Motion and they pop up ahead of us. But we’re always the first or second thing that pops up on the Google search. We’re a nonprofit organization, we’re a 5013c, that means that any donation made to us is a tax deductible donation.
None of our speakers are paid. We have speakers all over the country, in fact we have chapters in Brazil, and Europe and Canada organizations. None of our speakers are paid, but our staff is paid, and when our speakers have to travel, we cover their expenses when they travel and pay their hotels. But they don’t get paid, they’re all volunteers.
And we could have a speaker at any event that you want to have, just get a hold of LEAP and we’ll get you a speaker and we’ll talk. Donations keep us moving, keep us growing, keep us becoming an organization that people listen to. You mentioned at the beginning and I just want to go back to it, because there’s an old phrase that says, and I’m paraphrasing it, but that bad things happen because good people stay silent. And the biggest thing you can do is adopt the Peter Christ 5 minute rule. I have a rule that if I talk to another human being for 5 minutes we talk about drug policy.
Jason Hartman: Great, yeah, good.
Peter Christ: So talk about it, don’t be quiet about it. Get involved. You’ll be amazed once you start talking about it. And it’s interesting, the things that I talked about today, in no way did I defend any of these drugs. I didn’t even defend marijuana or the medical use of it.
Jason Hartman: I agree. Can we defend alcohol? I mean look at all the terrible things that alcohol does to people. You can’t defend that and it’s completely legal. You can’t defend cigarettes, you can’t defend cheese and dairy products. Don’t even get me started on prescription drugs, that’s legalized murder frankly with a lot of these prescription drugs. I’ve done sows on that. It’s ridiculous.
Peter Christ: Exactly, exactly. But the fact is that at least we don’t have, with the prescription drug problem, we don’t have cartels, gangs and shoot it out on the streets. Because as bad as that problem is there’s better ways to deal with it than a legal regulated marketplace than there is in a prohibitionary marketplace.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, very good points. Well Peter Christ, thank you so much for joining us today and we will definitely help you get the word out. The website is LEAP.cc. And Peter Christ thanks for joining us.
Peter Christ: Well I appreciate you sharing your audience with me, thank you very much.
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Narrator: Thank you for joining us today for the Holistic Survival Show. Protecting the people, places and profits you care about in uncertain times. Be sure to listen to our Creating Wealth Show, which focuses on exploiting the financial and wealth creation opportunities in today’s economy. Learn more at www.JasonHartman.com or search “Jason Hartman” on iTunes. This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company, offering very general guidelines and information. Opinions of guests are their own, and none of the content should be considered individual advice. If you require personalized advice, please consult an appropriate professional. Information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.
Transcribed by Ralph
Guest: Peter Christ
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