"The drug war I fought was not about ending drug use - it was about money and power."
After the "war on drugs" was declared, this dedicated law enforcer enlisted to make drug buys for the police department in his hometown of Spokane, Washington. Over the next 15 years, Jay fought against the burgeoning drug trade in various capacities. He trained undercover narcotics officers in Spokane and hired out to other departments across the Northwest, conducting long-term undercover investigations of murder, drugs and money laundering.
Jay recalls a drug case he worked on in Spokane that led investigators into Texas. The sheriff advised to not pursue because it would cost too much money and their department wouldn't receive credit. In Jay's experience, this wasn't an isolated incident, but rather the status quo. "If you called the DEA, it was the same thing," he says. "Unless it involved a ton of coke or pot, they didn't want anything to do with you."
Jay believes that ultimately drug prohibition isn't about eliminating drugs from society. "The drug war I fought was not about ending drug use; it was about money and power. I have never seen a local drug case followed up the chain to the "big guy." It's about getting the sheriff re-elected. It's about scoring drug arrests so that next year we can get more money to make more drug arrests."
Fleming has made it his mission to speak out and expose the problems he's seen in the futile US policy of a "war on drugs", which unfortunately now includes his search for relief from debilitating, chronic pain. After a suffering a herniated disk in 1984 and a subsequent failed surgery, Jay suffers from numbness and severe shooting pain in his back, legs and foot.
In a twist of fate, the man who used to put drug dealers away now fears the same fate for his physicians. Jay soon learned that asking a doctor to treat pain on this scale carries the very real threat of coming under regulatory scrutiny for the large amounts of narcotics prescribed. He ruefully maintains, "The way pain patients are treated is another side of the war on drugs."