Friday, November 6, 2015


Contact: Mikayla Hellwich


Temecula, CA – On October 21st, the lawsuit filed by the family of Jesse Snodgrass against Temecula Valley Unified School District administrators for the teen’s manipulation and entrapment in a 2012 undercover drug sting was dismissed. The Snodgrass family previously filed a lawsuit against Director of Child Welfare and Attendance Michael Hubbard and Director of Special Education Kimberly Velez for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and other charges. The judge dropped the case on the grounds that the defendants could not be proven as knowing participants in targeting and entrapping Jesse Snodgrass, but the primary issue of entrapping those with special needs at school remains a significant point of concern.

Since the time of Jesse's arrest and subsequent publicity surrounding the lawsuit, school drug stings in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties have stopped and not one child has been perp-walked in handcuffs out of their classroom,” said LADP Deputy Chief Stephen Downing (Ret.), a board member for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a criminal justice group working to end the War on Drugs. “But there's nothing to stand in the way of drug warriors and their school board abettors victimizing more unsuspecting kids in the future. As a society, we have to decide that the law needs to protect children from being manipulated and lied to by authorities. It further deepens the mistrust between citizens and law enforcement and endangers and harms children and their families. 

Jesse, who has autism, and has difficulty making friends and interpreting everyday social cues, was falsely befriended by an undercover police officer who repeatedly insisted that Jesse find marijuana for him. After being harassed for nearly three weeks via 60 text messages, Jesse was able to buy half a joint from a homeless man to give to the officer. Jesse bought marijuana for his “friend” once more before refusing to do it again, at which point the officer ceased all communication with Jesse. Shortly thereafter, Jesse was arrested in front of his classmates along with 21 additional students, many of whom have special needs.

School drug stings, particularly those in which children with special needs are targeted, are yet another egregious manifestation of the drug war’s “tough on crime” mentality. This has long pervaded law enforcement operations and has resulted in numerous examples of dehumanizing otherwise law-abiding students. One example of this problematic attitude is found in a 1988 Drug Free School Zone implementation manual created by the Chiefs of Police National Drug Task Force in which the Chiefs refer to the process of arresting students as “taking out the garbage.”

The LAPD ceased undercover sting operations in schools in 2005, after school district officials noticed that many of the students caught in these stings had special needs and disabilities, that mostly small amounts of marijuana were involved , and that the operations were unsuccessful at reducing drug availability. The Justice Department would later confirm the findings of the report. 
The Snodgrass family intends to appeal their case.
LEAP is dedicated to ending decades of failed policy that have wreaked havoc on public safety, diverted valuable resources away from fighting violent crimes, and have ultimately ignored the public health crisis of addiction.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sen. Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill to End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

  Bill Would Remove Drug from Controlled Substances Act, Lets States Set Own Policies

Washington, D.C. – Today, Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), submitted a bill to the Senate that would end marijuana prohibition on the federal level and allow states to decide their own marijuana policies. This is the first bill of its kind to propose removing mention of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. Marijuana is currently a Schedule I drug, meaning the federal government claims it has no medical or therapeutic uses, is extremely dangerous and addictive, and cannot be used safely, even in a clinical setting. Under the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015, it would still be illegal to transport marijuana from a state where it is legal into another state where it is not. More than 700,000 people were arrested for marijuana offenses in the U.S. last year, amounting to significant money, time, and human resources wasted damaging the lives of nonviolent offenders.

“Many legislators and citizens are still hesitant to move forward with marijuana legalization initiatives in their home states because of the federal ban, which may contradict state law, making both laws difficult to follow or enforce, and making banking transactions all but impossible.” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a criminal justice group working to legalize marijuana.

The introduction comes shortly after a Gallup poll showed 58% of Americans support marijuana legalization, regulation, and taxation, and after Senator Sanders’s announcement of his own support of legalization, the first major-party presidential candidate to do so. Three other bills to reform marijuana policy have been introduced at the federal level this year. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the CARERS Act, a comprehensive medical marijuana legalization bill. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill to address the tax status of marijuana businesses, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced a measure that would allow state-legal marijuana businesses access to banking services.  

Marijuana is legal for adults to possess and grow in Washington, D.C., and regulated in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon for adults 21 and older.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

LEAP Supports Ohio Issue 3 to Legalize Marijuana


New Law Will Improve Public Safety, Reduce Justice System Burden

Today, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of police, prosecutors, judges, and other law enforcement professionals working to end marijuana prohibition, declared their support for Ohio’s Issue 3, the proposed constitutional amendment to tax and regulate marijuana in the state. The law would legalize the production, sale, and adult consumption of marijuana products in the state and permit licenses for specific distribution companies. If passed, the law would permit home cultivation of up to four flowering plants and possession and sharing of up to eight ounces by adults 21 and older with a valid state license. The new law also protects patients of any age with a doctor-certified debilitating condition by allowing safe access to regulated marijuana products.  

“Legalization will take money away from the cartels, provide funding for public safety and health services, and reduce the violence associated with the illegal drug market. Passage of  Issue Three puts us in charge, not the dealers,” said Cincinnati Police Captain Howard Rahtz (Ret.).

Ohio arrested nearly 12,000 adults for marijuana possession and distribution in 2012. Almost all of those arrests were for possession alone. While most individuals don’t serve jail time for possession alone, an arrest is a costly, damaging, and time-consuming ordeal. Marijuana arrests can cost steep fines, require defendants take time off work for court appearances, limit job and educational opportunities, and even take away rights from stable and nurturing parents. The process of an arrest is even more damaging to those in impoverished communities who often have less freedom with taking time off work, less cash for unplanned expenses, and fewer opportunities for economic mobility.

“Regulating marijuana is the only way we can be sure to keep it out of the hands of criminals, and ultimately, keep our kids and streets safer,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for LEAP. “Controlling the drug has always been the goal – we’ve just been going about it the wrong way for a very long time.”

LEAP joins Issue 3 supporters that include former Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Ohio voters will make a decision on November 3rd, 2015. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Press Release: LEAP ED Neill Franklin Part of Law Enforcement Leaders, Top Cops and Prosecutors for Criminal Justice Reform


Top Police and Prosecutors Declare Need for Criminal Justice Reform

Washington D.C. – Today, more than 130 top police and prosecutors from all 50 U.S. states, including LEAP executive director Major Neill Franklin (Ret.) are holding a conference to launch a new group, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration (LELRCI). The group is releasing a report explaining their mission: to reduce crime and improve public safety by reducing needless incarceration and harmful mandatory minimum sentences, and improving access to rehabilitation services for those with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders. They propose de-felonizing minor crimes as California has done with Prop. 47, and ultimately, strengthening community-police relations.

"As our nation's top police and prosecutors reflect back on their careers, we have come to understand that many of the so-called tough-on-crime principles to which many of us gave our lives are flat-out wrong," said Major Franklin. "We can reduce crime and incarceration at the same time, but to do that we need alternatives to arrest, balance in our laws, and continued improvement in community relations. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is honored to be a part of distinguished group."  

Unnecessary incarceration taxes public coffers and law enforcement resources as well as furthering economic and racial inequality and lessening life opportunities for millions, who become more likely to re-offend in the future. $80 billion is spent on incarceration in the U.S. every year; a cost reform advocates say would be better spent on rehabilitation, job training, and education. Drug laws continue to be a root cause of mass incarceration and places severe social and economic consequences on individuals and communities, particularly those of color. Overly punitive drug enforcement and the prioritization of drug cases over violent crimes since the drug war began in 1971 has contributed to the U.S. holding more prisoners per capita than any other nation.

Please contact Darby Beck at for a special access code to view the launch event being held at the National Press Club Wednesday from 12:30-2pm ET.

LEAP is committed to ending decades of failed policy that have wreaked havoc on public safety, damaged community relations with police, fostered corruption and racism, and largely ignored the public health crisis of addiction. The War on Drugs has cost more than $1 trillion dollars, yielded no positive outcomes, and has ultimately diverted the penal system’s attention away from more important crimes.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Press Release: Bipartisan Criminal Justice Bill Introduced in Senate

For Immediate Release:                                                            
Thursday, October 1, 2015                                                                                


New Legislation Focuses on Reducing Recidivism and Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drug Offenses, New Early Release Programs, Increasing Judicial Discretion
Washington D.C. – Today, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate announced a sweeping criminal justice reform bill to address mass incarceration. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) led the cooperative effort that, if passed, would reduce mandatory minimum sentences, limit “Three Strikes” convictions and other determinate sentences, and expand judicial discretion. It would also increase education and job training programs, potentially reducing recidivism, among other improvements. The bill was constructed and co-sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mike Lee (R-UT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), John Cornyn (R-TX), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
“In an age of intense partisan conflict, it’s heartening to see lawmakers across the spectrum working together on restoring justice in this country,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of criminal justice professionals working to end the drug war. “We could reduce the impact that drug prohibition has on people of color and for so many others who have been victims of unreasonable and ineffective drug prohibition laws. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but this is a considerable step in the right direction.”
The new bill would also retroactively apply the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 to offenders currently serving unduly long sentences for crack cocaine. Through the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, harsh federal mandatory minimum sentences were instituted to deter drug use in an era of “tough on crime” mentality, but have recently come under fire by both the left and right for being excessively punitive, ballooning the American prison population, costing taxpayers billions, ignoring real solutions to drug abuse, and fostering racially biased enforcement practices. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act imposed a penalty for crack cocaine possession and distribution one hundred times more severe than the punishment for powder cocaine, despite the drugs being essentially identical. The ratio was reduced to 18:1 through the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010, but evidence points to a racially biased sentencing disparity that has contributed to putting African American men in prison at a rate five times higher than that of white men and resulted in the U.S. housing more prisoners than any other nation. The new bill should offer hope for many who have continued to be unfairly treated by the justice system through arbitrary mandatory minimum laws even after the reforms of 2010.

Mandatory minimum laws have also severely limited discretion judges have when deciding punishment for drug cases. The new bill would offer more leeway in determining appropriate sentences based on a defendant’s individual circumstances. Other provisions in the bill include limiting solitary confinement for juveniles in federal facilities and expanding mandatory minimum categories to include cases such as interstate domestic violence.

LEAP is committed to ending decades of failed policy that have wreaked havoc on public safety, wasted significant law enforcement resources, and largely ignored the public health crisis of addiction. The drug war has cost nearly two trillion dollars, yielded only disastrous outcomes, and has ultimately distracted the justice system from focusing on more important crimes.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Press Release: Marijuana Sales Begin in Oregon Thursday

For Immediate Release:                                              Contact:
Wednesday, September 30, 2015                               415.823.5496                             


Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Given Head Start Before Other Stores

Oregon Becomes First State to Expunge Prior Nonviolent Marijuana Records

Oregon, which legalized marijuana in 2014 with Measure 91, is beginning sales tomorrow, Thursday October 1st. Existing medical marijuana dispensaries were permitted to get a head start on sales before other, non-medical stores, which are expected to open in Fall 2016. This will ensure existing medical marijuana retailers have an opportunity to fairly compete in the new market as it emerges in the next several years. About 200 of the 345 medical shops have registered to expand their sales to all adults and expect a significant increase in profit margins.

“Tomorrow Oregon becomes the third state to be able to control, regulate and tax marijuana by making sales of the drug legal,” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs. “If we were to apply this same logic to heroin and other drugs so that people with addictions knew what they were getting, we’d not only see the public safety improvements we’ve seen in Colorado and Washington, we’d see thousands of lives saved every year.”

On June 30th, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law HB 3400, which not only created specific regulations for tracking plants from seed to sale to ensure consumer safety and vendor accountability, but it will also expunge thousands of prior marijuana records for nonviolent offenders.

“Millions of Americans face lessened life opportunities because of arrest and conviction records,” said Major Franklin. “Oregonians should be proud of the strides they have made to restore justice to those who should never have been arrested or incarcerated for marijuana in the first place.”

As of July 1st of this year, adult possession and home cultivation were permitted. The law permits adults 21 and older to grow four plants and keep eight ounces at home, and to possess one ounce. Public consumption and sales will continue to remain illegal. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the agency charged with regulating marijuana in the state, will begin to accept applications for cultivation, processing, testing, and retail business licenses starting January 4th, 2016, and recreational retailers are expected to be operational later the same year.

Four states have thus far legalized and regulated adult use. Oregon’s regulatory model has been developed with Washington and Colorado’s successes and failures in mind. Alaska has not yet begun legal sales. Among the marijuana regulation priorities for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission are preventing accidental ingestion by children with the use of appropriate childproof packaging, and ensuring that extracts, concentrates, and edibles are carefully regulated, tested, and labeled.

LEAP is committed to ending decades of failed policy that have created dangerous underground markets and gang violence, fostered corruption and racism, and largely ignored the public health crisis of addiction.

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