Guest Column — Canadian Police Officer To Speak Out Against Drug Prohibition On The Big Island In January

pot_leafBy Charmie Gholson

Canadian Constable David Bratzer loves being a police officer. In fact, this Victoria, British Columbian police officer loves his job and his community so much that he wants to legalize and regulate all illegal drugs. Why? So that he and other law enforcement members can focus on doing police work that will keep society safer.

Bratzer is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and will be visiting Hawaii between January 11 through the 17th, with a trip to the Big Island in the middle of the week, to give presentations and meet with groups interested in learning more about ending drug prohibition.

Founded in 2002, LEAP was organized to voice the growing opposition among law enforcement to the US-style “War on Drugs, ” and is made up of current and former law enforcement and criminal justice professionals—cops, judges, prosecutors, DEA guys — who are convinced that the our drug policy is doing more harm than good, and we need a fundamentally better way of dealing with drugs in our society.

They modeled their organization after Vietnam Veterans Against The War and members of the speakers bureau volunteer their time to give presentations to civic organizations, editorial boards and religious groups. Speakers for LEAP will talk with anyone, really, who is interested in learning why these front line warriors advocate for an end to the 40 year battle to eradicate drugs from society.Bratzer says ending the “War on Drugs” would result in numerous benefits:  safer communities because of the reduction in drug and gang-related violence; a shift in law enforcement priorities into areas that historically were ignored or underfunded and what he terms a “peace dividend” of economic growth, revitalized downtown neighborhoods, decreased healthcare spending, and a better relationship between law enforcement and the public.

Becoming a police officer was self-evident for Bratzer. He wanted a steady job that would both provide for his family and allow him to connect with his community of Victoria, British Columbia. He also already had two brothers working for the police department.

As he immersed himself in his career, this young officer became aware that his love of law enforcement actually conflicts with drug enforcement laws, which he believes do not help his community. In fact, according to David, they’re unrelated to what the police ought to be doing.

The final step on David’s journey to enlisting actively in the fight against the prohibition of drugs came as he followed the 2007 murder trial of Willie Pickton in Vancouver, who to date has been convicted of murdering six women and is awaiting trial for the killings of 20 others. All of Pickton’s victims were drug-addicted prostitutes, and David can’t help thinking that “if this country had sensible drug laws some or all of these women might still be alive. Women should not have to resort to street prostitution—and all of the risk that entails—in order to fund a drug addiction.” That is what comes of criminalizing drug use.

David struggled with the decision to speak out publicly about ending prohibition. He knew as an active duty officer his decision would prompt additional scrutiny at work. So why did David decide to speak out? With a simple elegance he will tell you, “I am saying in public what many of my peers have said to me in private. I have a lot of respect for my fellow officers but I felt it was important to speak up. I feel strongly about this issue and I didn’t want to have any regrets at the end of my career.” By his example, he is confident that other officers who feel likewise will step out of the shadows and help LEAP to end drug prohibition.

Although his schedule is filling up fast, Bratzer still has openings to meet with groups, organizations and newspaper boards. For more information, contact Shaleen Title, Speakers Bureau Director,, cell: (617) 955-9638.

You can watch Bratzer testifying before the Parliamentary Committee against the introduction of Canada’s first federal minimum sentencing laws for drug trafficking here

Visit LEAP on the web at

(Charmie Gholson is a staff writer for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.)

9 replies
  1. Terry Chapman
    Terry Chapman says:

    This is and has been in interesting concept. To legalize drugs, you can then collect a tax for the purchase of each dose…Huge money…who would reap the benefits…who would be identified as the proper seller of the drugs…how would the government regulate the quality of the drugs.

    What then would we do with the people who use drugs and like alcoholics then operate their vehicles and get into accidents, and possibly killing innocent people. You think we have a problem with drunk drivers, you need to add drugged drivers too.

    The argument that people will use these drugs responsibly will not work, because people still have not been able to use alcohol responsibly.

    I agree that the current “War on Drugs” is not working,..I also agree that President Reagan’s “Just Say No” was a joke…there needs to be a solution, and I am not sure if legalizing drugs is the answer.



  2. Thomas
    Thomas says:

    Thanks Tiffany for opening up a subject that has been Taboo. If you dared to even try and talk about any plan other than the war on drugs you are immediately labeled as evil. Talking about one of the biggest problems we have with out name calling and propaganda is the only way to fix it. This is one of the most important discussions we can have, about a huge problem for our community….drugs….We have been doing the same thing for decades and the drugs just keep getting stronger. David makes a lot of sense. Drugs are a health issue the currant policy has not worked and the harm to the community has not been reduced. New and more powerful drugs continue to emerge to take the place of drugs like marijuana. Ice being the latest one. To continue to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result seems illogical. As far as driving on drugs that is already occurring. Regulating them seems like a viable alternative, and possibly a way to get a better handle on it. We already have a law that is being ignored calling for marijuana to be the lowest law enforcement priority. The voters here seem to be ahead of the policy in looking for a solution. Would legalized marijuana lead to less crime and even less hard drug use? I know its shocking to say but, there is a lot of new study’s that claim marijuana is not a gateway drug but is actually very useful in treating alcohol and hard drug addiction. I look forward to a lively debate here. We can all learn form this discussion. I hope people will stick to the facts, there is a lot information available on this subject, and a lot of heartbreak because of drugs, but also because of the way we have dealt with the issue so far. I look forward to hearing David speak and encourage anyone that has questions and concerns to go talk to him. Do your homework and bring it to the discussion. Terry has got us off to a good start.

  3. Thomas
    Thomas says:

    Wow That is a very pleasant surprise, and great news. I apologize for being a little hard on you maybe we aren’t polar opposites after all…….

  4. Charmie
    Charmie says:

    Hi Fellas!
    Drug policy reform is an issue that unites folks from all walks of politics and religions and viewpoints. I’ve found myself agreeing with people I would ordinarily describe as “polar opposite.” I hope you come to see David speak, or invite him to one of your organizations and contemplate the facts put forth by this eloquent police officer.

    Thanks for reading, and commenting


  5. Kim Jordan
    Kim Jordan says:

    Not even Brian and I agree on everything! But we’ve been married 34+ years anyway!
    As long as we respect each others views, disagreement can be a learning tool!

  6. puffguy
    puffguy says:

    Regarding Charmine’s comment about drug reform uniting many different viewpoints, that is very true. There is a great religious organization Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative (, which wants to end the “War on Drugs”…not because they support or want to endorse drug use, but they see the damage caused on communities and how many lives have been ruined. It’s a site worth checking out…they have a powerful message of love and compassion, which seems appropriate for this time of year!

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