"If the government stopped creating and supporting the artificially high street price of illegal drugs, the drug-associated crime would disappear."
Leonard Frieling is a former municipal court judge for the city of Lafayette, Colorado, and sat on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Municipal Judges Association for one term. He is a practicing attorney and served as Chair of the Boulder Criminal Defense Bar for eight years. He also has acted as a Special County Attorney for Boulder County. In 2014, he was named Chair of the newly-formed Cannabis Law Committee of the Colorado Bar Association.
In 2007, Leonard announced his resignation as a Lafayette Municipal Court Associate Judge in protest of what he described as an unnecessary and drastic proposal to increase marijuana possession penalties in Lafayette. He declared he could no longer serve as a judge for a city willing to go to such great measures to ensure they have the ability to punish non-violent adult marijuana users more harshly than the state mandates.
In the course of his practice as a judge and a criminal defense attorney, he has witnessed that the prohibition of drugs is the main cause of the violence associated with the use and distribution of drugs. Addicts are driven to desperate measures including robbery by the artificially inflated prices of drugs, while criminal elements are enriched and empowered through their dominance of this lucrative market. Leonard notes, "In over 30 years of criminal defense practice, I have never encountered a turf-war involving coffee."
Along with subsidizing the continued prevalence of the more familiar varieties of organized crime, and thus the violence engendered by competition between rival factions, Leonard observes that by the same mechanism, the War on Drugs funds terrorist groups. He has seen firsthand that the current policy is extremely expensive in law enforcement costs, in human life, and by its effect on anyone unfortunate enough to be convicted for a drug offense. He would like to see drug use treated as a public health issue, thus reducing the risks and costs to both users and society at large.
Leonard obtained his Bachelor of General Studies, cum laude, from Ohio University in 1972, and his JD from Rutgers University Law School in 1975. He currently practices criminal defense law in Boulder, Colorado, where he lives with his wife, Debi.