"Our drug laws only serve to drain society by enabling a cycle of crime and violence."
James Kenney spent seven years as a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer. Over the course of his time with the RCMP, he served in a wide variety of positions including school liaison officer and supervising and training officer of new recruits. He focused his investigations on sexual and violent crime and has equal experience with uniform and plain clothes street level drug enforcement.
While serving in the Air Force and attending Dalhousie University, James felt that law enforcement would be the right path for him. The Trenton, Nova Scotia native states, “I entered law enforcement for the same reason as most Canadians who join: to do the right thing and to help people.” He spent the majority of his law enforcement career educating the public or helping children.
After graduating from the RCMP Training Academy, his assignments were detachments known for high crime rates and substance abuse issues, even in a smaller rural area. He routinely faced the dangers associated with policing drug-related crime. James explains, “I’ve witnessed the effects on individuals and their families suffering from drug abuse and the effect of drug-prohibition related violence – usually criminals battling for control of drug selling territories (turf wars) or criminal acts committed by addicts to support their habit.”
His original support for prohibition was shaped by police culture. “During my policing career, I was very anti-drug and supported our drug laws. The nature and culture of policing was such that it would dissuade most officers from showing support toward ending drug prohibition.” However, as he continued to witness the failed war on drugs created in the criminal justice system, his views began to change.
“I’ve handled cases where I’ve arrested people only to see them go through our revolving door justice system,” he says. “Each time they clean up and get their life together, they may slip due to their addiction, consuming drugs and then being sent back to jail for violating their release conditions. To me, this is a medical issue, not a criminal one.”
James joined LEAP to speak out against drug prohibition. James stated he has observed how enforcing drug laws puts both the police and the public at a high level of risk and often times innocent lives are lost. “At the end of the day, we are no closer to winning the drug war than we were thirty years ago,” he says. “Our laws have not made the slightest dent in the drug trade at either the local or international level.”
James currently resides in Winnipeg and is an operations manager for a high-level security company.