Retired police officer advocates new government drug policies

Nick Walton

Christ says regulation is better than prohibition

When Students for Sensible Drug Policy formed in 1998, Peter Christ was happy.

The retired police officer was glad the organization’s acronym was SSDP instead of SSMP.

“They didn’t name themselves Students for Sensible Marijuana Policy, they call themselves Students for Sensible Drug Policy,” Christ said.

Similar to the organization, Christ believes the only sensible drug policy is regulation.

Christ spoke to an audience of nearly 40 students last night in the Michael Schwartz Center auditorium as a part of Drug War Awareness Week.

Since retiring in 1989, Christ has spoken out against the government’s drug policies. Christ was one of the founding members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition when it was created in 2002. LEAP is an organization that speaks out against current drug policies. Yet while the organization doesn’t have a stance on how drugs should be regulated, Christ said regulation is needed.

During his speech, Christ talked to students about how the government policies used to fight drug use are causing more harm than the actual drugs.

“The drug violence we have in our society is not drug violence, it is drug prohibition violence,” Christ said. “We have decided that rather than having licensed adults (and) businesspeople selling these drugs to adults, it’s much better to have gangsters and thugs hiring 13-year-old children to sell them on their street corners.”

Christ said 25 percent of the drug violence in America is associated with drug use, but 75 percent of the drug violence is caused by disputes in drug markets. Christ said with government regulation, the money that fuels drug sales would disappear.

“There’s too much money in (the industry),” Christ said. “Worldwide, this is a $500- billion-a-year industry – we got a lot of good capitalists in this country. They see an opportunity to make a buck, they’re going to take a shot at it.”

Throughout his speech, Christ referenced women’s rights, segregation and alcohol prohibition as examples of other policies the government has been wrong about.

“Either women were too stupid to vote before 1920, or we had a bad policy in effect that stopped women from voting,” Christ said. “That didn’t become a bad policy in 1920 – it was a bad policy (in) 1776 when it started.”

Angelica Gagliardi, vice president of the Kent State chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said having Christ speak provided a different perspective on the debate over drug policies.

“Having someone like Peter come who has fought this drug war for 20 years and locked up people for nonviolent drug convictions really sends a different message to everyone,” Gagliardi said. “This guy has been there, he’s done it and sees that it’s wrong, so why shouldn’t all of us?”

Christ said his words should be taken seriously because of his experience in the war on drugs.

“When I speak here today and you hear me, you may not agree with what I say,” Christ said. “But you don’t have the audacity to say I don’t understand the problem. I spent 20 years out there on the street doing this stuff. Trust me, we understand the problem.”

Contact health reporter Nick Walton at [email protected].