Houston police chief calls Drug War ‘miserable failure’

“Most of us understand, we do believe, those of us that are law enforcement executives, that the war on drugs, the 1980 drug policies, was a miserable failure, there’s no doubt about that.” -Chief Charles McClelland

Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland

Dean Becker hosts Cultural Baggage, a weekly half-hour interview show on the Drug Truth Network. His recent guests have included Marc Emery, Ethan Nadelmann and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, but he’s had trouble booking active high-level law enforcement officials to defend their drug policies on his show.

His most recent guest, Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland (pictured right), gave one possible reason: They know the Drug War is a failure.

McClelland provided that answer in an interview with Becker recorded on Nov. 29. The interview aired Friday evening on Pacifica Radio. During the 29-minute discussion, the chief also talked about Houston’s pilot program to decriminalize marijuana, America’s dependence on drug cartels and rampant asset forfeiture abuse.

“You don’t give up any rights,” McClelland said.

The chief explained that Houston doesn’t run asset forfeiture for profit — he and Becker agreed some cities and states do. In his city, they follow due process requirements. The city considers asset forfeiture after a person is charged, tried and convicted, “but not before,” he said.

Marijuana decriminalization came to Houston on Oct. 6 — sort of — and the chief is proud of his role in making that happen. Some advocates have criticized the plan since it still requires arrest. First-time non-violent offenders, however, can do eight hours of community service or a drug course to avoid criminal charges. The pilot program ends after six months, but McClelland is hopeful that the results will help shape policy going forward.

McClelland compared drug cartels to oil-producing nations — perhaps inadvertently, though it’s unclear who that would offend more.

The Texas cop said the reason that both succeed is because of high demand in America. He told Becker that’s why they will do anything necessary to bring their product into to the country.

Cultural Baggage Host Dean Becker

The full audio version of the interview and transcript are available on DrugTruth.Net.

This article was originally published by Marijuana.com.

Published by P. Aiden Hunt

Aiden Hunt is a creative writer and freelance journalist covering marijuana policy and other related issues. He has been published in print and online by outlets such as The Denver Post (The Cannabist), Marijuana.com, The Hemp Connoisseur Magazine and Cronic Magazine. He is currently focused on literary creative nonfiction.

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