By Steve Elliott
A former law enforcement officer is helping the push to legalize marijuana in Maryland.
"We've been at this forever," said retired drug cop Neill Franklin of the war on drugs. "It never worked."
"When he talks about the Drug War, he knows what he's talking about," said Sara Love, public policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, who calls Franklin a "linchpin" of the movement, reports Erin Cox at The Baltimore Sun. "He's been out on the street, he's arrested people -- and realized at the end that those arrests haven't helped anybody."
Advocates across Maryland and the nation often turn to Franklin, 55, for an intelligent voice in drug policy reform. Four years ago, he took a $40,000 pay cut to become executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an international organization of former police officers, judges, prosecutors and corrections officers who now advocate drug legalization.
Until this year, most of Franklin's work has been out of state or in Washington, D.C., but with the legalization effort ramping up in Maryland, he's been staying a bit closer to home lately.
In Annapolis, he focuses his message on why Maryland should legalize marijuana: It is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco; the black market fuels violence and finances cartels; unfair enforcement sends twice as many blacks as whites to jail for pot possession.