Retired Scottish police inspector James Duffy, a veteran officer of 32 years, says two things made him realize the War on Drugs was lost.
The first was a report on the high number of drug-related deaths in Scotland. "My initial reaction was that we needed to work harder to arrest these 'dealers in death'". But suddenly, he realized that the number of people killed in Scottish road accidents-not to mention deaths from alcohol abuse, cigarettes, and other lawful substances-was much higher. "Yet the resources put into reducing these deaths were dwarfed by the amount of money, time, and resources spent fighting drugs," Duffy said.
The second was the realization that after more than three decades of the so-called "Drug War", drugs were cheaper and more easily obtained than before.
"What more proof is needed that what we are doing is not working," he said. "I am convinced that legalization and control of ALL illegal drugs is the only way we will actually make a difference."
Duffy continued his self-education on drugs and their history and was "amazed" to learn, for example, of the Opium Wars with China and how the British Government used gunboats to protect its lucrative trade selling opium illegally to the Chinese.
He decided to speak out, criticizing the modern War on Drugs at the Police Federation Conference in April 2006. Following that conference and the publicity generated by the debate that took place, Duffy became aware of LEAP and other like-minded organizations. "Becoming a LEAP speaker will help take the legalization debate to the larger society." Informing people and raising the debate "has to be the first step," he said.
The tax-paying public needs to know that the "we are filling our jails and clogging our courts with drug cases" and the reality that "we criminalizing many young people for non-violent drug offenses and making some bad people very, very rich. It's just not right and it's time for a change."
Duffy retired from the Strathclyde police force in May 2007 and served for five years as Chairman of the Strathclyde Police Federation, Scotland's largest police union with 7,700 officers. He also served for three of his years on the force at the Scottish Police College, a part of the Scottish Police Services Authority, which provides training, forensics, communications, and data and information technology to Scotland's eight police forces and criminal justice community.
Duffy grew up with five siblings in the west Scotland town of Dumbarton. Policing was always a large part of his life, following in his older brother's footsteps by joining the force two years after him; his wife Gael was a police officer before they were married. Duffy and Gael have three grown children and reside in Glasgow, Scotland.