Francis Wilkinson | LEAP | Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

About Francis Wilkinson

Retired Chief Constable
Francis Wilkinson
Chief Constable (Ret.)

"It is the USA that inhibits the UN from changing its drugs conventions, which are the real barrier to global reform of the law"

Francis Wilkinson

Francis Wilkinson held nine different police ranks in England during his 30-year career, ending as chief constable of Gwent with 1,700 personnel beneath him. He joined law enforcement because he wanted to make an active, real difference in the world, but at every level of policing he gained an increasing understanding of the failure of the "War on Drugs" mentality he was charged by statute to enforce. Eventually he came to see that legalization is the most viable option for dealing with drugs - even the ones he feels cause real damage, such as heroin. "The more I understood about the social harm of prohibition," he relates, "the more I favored regulated supply."

Upon retiring from the police force, Francis felt freer to speak his mind on the "War on Drugs." In 2001 he appeared on BBC One Wales's Week In, Week Out, where he advocated legalizing heroin on the Swiss model, noting that not only would this make things safer for addicts and reduce street crime, but that finally it would actually reduce use of the drug itself. His pamphlet, Heroin: the failure of prohibition and what to do now, sets out and justifies these practical proposals.

Francis points to the criminalization of cannabis as the height of prohibitionist absurdity and hypocrisy. "Alcohol is much more serious, much more socially damaging, much more powerful than cannabis," which he notes is "very safe." He has gone as far as to submit a memorandum pushing for cannabis legalization to the Select Committee on Home Affairs, to whom he gave evidence. The subsequent Parliamentary Report took on many of his proposals, and the Liberal Democrat Party has adopted them as party policy. He has published a pamphlet, The Leaf and the Law, with a regime for change in cannabis law.

He has been an active member of Transform, a drug-legalization campaigning organization. He decided to add speaking for LEAP to his activities because "the US is a very important place to have a constant debate about legalization from the perspective of people who know what they are talking about." He wants to see the "War on Drugs" ended in his country and everywhere because "it increases mass crime, it corrupts states, and it causes unnecessary deaths of both users and in those the business of protecting the people."

London, England, UK

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