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Episode #142 – Neill Franklin, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP): MCBA Spotlight

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Episode #142 - Neill Franklin, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP): MCBA Spotlight

Episode #142 – Neill Franklin, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP): MCBA Spotlight

Neill Franklin is now the Executive Director of  LEAP- Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.  And he certainly has Law Enforcement bona fides.  Neill was ultimately a Commander in the Maryland State police working his way up from undercover work on the streets as a foot soldier in the war on drugs.  Neill learned for himself the toll that the war on drugs was taking and he takes us through his epiphany and ultimate conversion in thinking regarding incarceration and drug legality.  Thanks to Neill for his service.

Transcript:

Speaker 2: Neil Franklin is now the executive director of Leap Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and he certainly as law enforcement phone a fee days, Neil was ultimately a commander in the Maryland State police working his way up from undercover work on the streets as a foot soldier in the war on drugs. Welcome to cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on twitter, facebook, instagram, and our new youtube channel with the handle can economy. That's two ends of the word economy. We've got the new cannabis economy APP in itunes. You can get us through the itunes podcast APP and Google play. Neil, learn for himself the toll that the war on drugs was taking and he takes us through his epiphany and ultimate conversion and thinking regarding incarceration and drug legality. Thanking him for his service. Neil Franklin. Now we're cooking with gas. I

Speaker 1: guess that's exactly right. And Neil Franklin Major. Neil Franklin from leap law enforcement against prohibition. Yep. I mean as far as the conversations that I've had, which is over 100 of them with pretty much anybody, everybody in the cannabis industry. We need you. So thank you. It's our pleasure now. My pleasure. It's our pleasure. All of our speakers who volunteered their time. So, so law enforcement against prohibition. You've got obviously got the words right. What does that mean? What, what? What is the organization? Right? So law enforcement against prohibition, typically when people hear that they think of alcohol prohibition and it's a good thing because there's a direct correlation between the two. Right? And we take, when we take a look back at alcohol prohibition in the 19 twenties, we realized that not only did it not work if it's very, very problematic and counterproductive to public safety, and that's what we law enforcement cops were supposed to be about improving public safety, right?

Speaker 1: So the last thing we want is something that's counterproductive to public safety. That makes our streets more dangerous, enable. It's more dangerous. And that's what we saw with alcohol prohibition. That's what the people of the 19 twenties, you know our grandparents saw back then is that Whoa, when we prohibited alcohol, you know, we gave all this power and control to organized crime, to manage the alcohol industry. And how did he do it? They do it with guns and drive by shootings and running gun battles and corruption at all levels of government, including the police. And it was very expensive. And after only 13 years back then in 1933, they repealed the 18th amendment, said enough was enough. Here we are again today. Yeah. But it's, but it's 100 times worse. And the reason it's 100 times worse today is because we, the United States have made the prohibition of drugs a global.

Speaker 1: We took it to the United Nations and made it a global issue. And now we have mayhem, violence, corruption at all levels of government all around the globe. And um, so we in law enforcement against prohibition, say that by ending the prohibition of all drugs, we will reduce crime, disease, death, and addiction. So I should have mentioned, by the way, we're in a coffee house, a nice place, but it was nice enough to make me right outside the train station because as we sit here and talk about mind altering substances, I have my favorite right in front of me. Which, a cup of coffee, I said low caffeine and uh, you know, folks will say that it doesn't do any harm. Right. That's, that's what they said. All right. So, uh, as far as law enforcement, you, you did now just lay out a nice big canvas for us.

Speaker 2: Neil Franklin is now the executive director of Leap Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and he certainly as law enforcement phone a fee days, Neil was ultimately a commander in the Maryland State police working his way up from undercover work on the streets as a foot soldier in the war on drugs. Welcome to cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on twitter, facebook, instagram, and our new youtube channel with the handle can economy. That's two ends of the word economy. We've got the new cannabis economy APP in itunes. You can get us through the itunes podcast APP and Google play. Neil, learn for himself the toll that the war on drugs was taking and he takes us through his epiphany and ultimate conversion and thinking regarding incarceration and drug legality. Thanking him for his service. Neil Franklin. Now we're cooking with gas. I

Speaker 1: guess that's exactly right. And Neil Franklin Major. Neil Franklin from leap law enforcement against prohibition. Yep. I mean as far as the conversations that I've had, which is over 100 of them with pretty much anybody, everybody in the cannabis industry. We need you. So thank you. It's our pleasure now. My pleasure. It's our pleasure. All of our speakers who volunteered their time. So, so law enforcement against prohibition. You've got obviously got the words right. What does that mean? What, what? What is the organization? Right? So law enforcement against prohibition, typically when people hear that they think of alcohol prohibition and it's a good thing because there's a direct correlation between the two. Right? And we take, when we take a look back at alcohol prohibition in the 19 twenties, we realized that not only did it not work if it's very, very problematic and counterproductive to public safety, and that's what we law enforcement cops were supposed to be about improving public safety, right?

Speaker 1: So the last thing we want is something that's counterproductive to public safety. That makes our streets more dangerous, enable. It's more dangerous. And that's what we saw with alcohol prohibition. That's what the people of the 19 twenties, you know our grandparents saw back then is that Whoa, when we prohibited alcohol, you know, we gave all this power and control to organized crime, to manage the alcohol industry. And how did he do it? They do it with guns and drive by shootings and running gun battles and corruption at all levels of government, including the police. And it was very expensive. And after only 13 years back then in 1933, they repealed the 18th amendment, said enough was enough. Here we are again today. Yeah. But it's, but it's 100 times worse. And the reason it's 100 times worse today is because we, the United States have made the prohibition of drugs a global.

Speaker 1: We took it to the United Nations and made it a global issue. And now we have mayhem, violence, corruption at all levels of government all around the globe. And um, so we in law enforcement against prohibition, say that by ending the prohibition of all drugs, we will reduce crime, disease, death, and addiction. So I should have mentioned, by the way, we're in a coffee house, a nice place, but it was nice enough to make me right outside the train station because as we sit here and talk about mind altering substances, I have my favorite right in front of me. Which, a cup of coffee, I said low caffeine and uh, you know, folks will say that it doesn't do any harm. Right. That's, that's what they said. All right. So, uh, as far as law enforcement, you, you did now just lay out a nice big canvas for us.

Speaker 1: Right? You know, I want to go through your 23 years of uh, uh, you know, being a, a major, uh, you know, uh, for Maryland State police. Thank you for your service. I want to go through all of, you know, your kind of, your life and really what has led you to today. But let's talk about the first because you didn't bring it up nicely, the concept of a, of law enforcement and um, what it was originally intended to do and kind of the mistakes that maybe we've made along the way and how we can correct those. So you, uh, going back to the founders, the original documents. So what, what, what was the original intention do you think, of the police force?

Speaker 1: I think the concept is nice. I think the concept is, is good and a bad. The concept being the new concept being, and I'm going to kind of split it here, um, the concept in this country, uh, unfortunately, uh, grew out of a slave patrols back when we had slavery in this country. That's how law enforcement began in the United States of America. Absolutely. That was very key to it, especially in the south. And, and, uh, it was about protecting the property of rich folks, plantation owners. And unfortunately, back then the property was slaves. And so these groups of folks were working literally for plantation owners who go out and round up runaway slaves and so on, and to manage that property as property would transfer from one owner to the other and so on. Um, and I don't think we ever truly escaped from that, right. However, there was a time in this country as we come forward where we have attempted to adopt real modern day policing principles from the United Kingdom, which were, which were derived in the early 18 hundreds by Sir Robert Peel.

Speaker 1: Okay. Now that named Robert Bobby's, you know, that's what they call that Stacy's, right? So literally in, in the UK. Um, so Robert Peele had commissioners who develop nine basic policing principles and that's what we claim to follow today in American policing. And those, you know, and you're quite extensive, so your listeners, I advise you, you know, this wonderful thing called Google, right? Or the Internet wikipedia, you can, you can do that right now. I'm peeling and principles, p e l I a n principles in a non basic policing principles. And then in gravity what they say, number one, which I think is extremely important obviously, is that our police department, not only police according to the permission of the community, you know, the philosophers, the cert we detect answer absolutely serve, but their mere existence is because the community wants the police to exist, not government, the community.

Speaker 1: And then how do you break that down? How does that, uh, hit you the way it hit you? Well, you know, what it says to me is that the police department should be governed by the community and police departments a day in many aspects are separate from the community. You know, the US, we hear it all the time, the US versus them mentality. Or police departments in many of our communities, I've literally isolated themselves from the community. Principle number seven, now this is, this is a very important principle that it's directly related to this. Principle number seven says that public safety is first and foremost a community responsibility. Okay, but just understand something. The community needs to be healthy in order for that to occur and we'll come back to that later, but it's first and foremost a community responsibility. The police or the small group of people who are from the community that we put in charge of public safety and addressing issues, crimes around public safety on a 24 slash seven basis and we'll pay them to do it however they are of the community.

Speaker 1: And the principal says it this way. It says the police are the public and the public are the police one innocent. Okay, so that means that the public, the community decides how you police, what, what you pay attention to, how you do it, right? The respect that you should be given, the citizens, you know, which also means that the community should govern discipline surrounding the police department. The police department, how do you mean? So currently when police officer does something where a citizen complaint, right? Disrespect, maybe curses Adam, maybe police brutality, the disciplinary system, even the fact finding process is completely, completely contained within the police department itself. No, it should be open. It should be of the community. There should be community members who are part of the investigation process as well as deciding what the discipline or what the results will be, what the restitution will be. But that's not the case. Right? And right now in this country we're dealing with, uh, a thing called the police officer's bill of rights, which in many states spells out that well, the police are going to handle this within and among themselves, right? It goes completely against these basic policing principles. Um, and another thing that's interesting is we deal with issues of protest in this country, which is a first amendment right, right. And we've seen the pictures, the militarization of our police departments, the Mr Apps and so on as relates to being used for protest.

Speaker 1: The first principal speaks to the militarization of our police departments. It clearly states that the police is the exception to military force being used within our communities. So that's why we have, we have the police so we don't have the military within our communities, but when you look at our police uniforms and equipment and behavior and actions today, you can't tell the difference in many cases. I always said, don't get me wrong, the police should be prepared behind the scenes for civil one risk, but you don't present that appearance on a daily basis, especially when you're dealing with just a, a protest. And, and when you look at uniforms today, you know, go back a few decades when I first started in policing, I never saw anyone in fatigues would, you know, the bloused into jump boots, you know, and, and a vest. The ballistic vests weren't worn on the outside, wouldn't big words police right across.

Speaker 1: They were worn under the shirt, you know, and, and, and the, you know, in weaponry that we carried just our basic appearance with so much friendlier. But today, uh, just in normal everyday policing, you see cops wearing military gear. You know, Dana Rohrabacher, congressman on this podcast said that he, somewhere along the way, we went from a calling, uh, you know, police peacekeepers, right? And went to law enforcement and that's in the title now. So w, what are your thoughts on that? Well, let's see. That's very, very important. I, I personally do not like the term police officers goes, it means to. Police needs to exert authority over right? Peace officers. That's who we should truly be when we show up. We should bring peace. Not we shouldn't be agitators. We, you know, we shouldn't turn it up a notch or two when we show up to whatever the situation is.

Speaker 1: First Order of business is to deescalate, right? Is to bring calm, is to bring some sort of peaceful resolution. I don't get me wrong, there are times when you aren't successful in doing that. Sure. But how can you show up to a scene of something, a scenario, something, and right off the bat, you know, be, be antagonistic is many times we are, you should be, hey, you should have a smile on your face when and whenever possible. You should be addressing people as sir and Ma'am and you know, and, and, and giving the respect. And it also says in, in, in, in one of the latter principles that I'm talking about, it even speaks to the fact that police should have and go about their job with good humor. Really, it does, it really does, because humor will deescalate the situation quickly. Oh, I know that you have to be.

Speaker 1: I know that tumor and every. I mean, there are some cases where they're very sad scenarios that humor may not be appropriate short before going most of the work that we do. Humor is a very, very good tool to have in your toolbox. So, you know, you coming at this from the perspective of, Hey, maybe we should come in providing good humor. Maybe we should be peacekeepers. This is coming from a man who's a major for 23 years. So, you know, let's kind of get into your personal history and how your approach to this type of thinking. It's not like you, um, have, have not served the community and in this respect you've done so for decades. So, um, well first off, when you were a little kid, did you know you want it to be a peacekeeper, police officer? Law Enforcement? Absolutely not. I grew up in, I grew up in a heart of Baltimore city because matter of fact in the same zip code where Freddie gray out unfortunately lost his life in Baltimore and where we've had the young wrestling arrived.

Speaker 1: So same on zip code and uh, as I think I've mentioned to you before, my mother is still in the same house. He's been in a house for 56 years and so we had decent, a decent relationship with the police back then. Back then the police actually interacted with you on a good humor foundation, right? We, you specifically. So how old are you now? In what decade? We're talking? I am almost 5,857. All right. Oh, thank you. So my childhood, we're talking about in 1967. Got It. Okay. During the civil rights movement and so on, and um, you know, uh, a quick example is that back then the police would, you know, do I round the corner in the car? We had our favorite wall that we sit on as we were acting like kids do, right. Go into nonsense that we do silly stuff sometimes even more than just silly stuff that I won't go.

Speaker 1: There are statute of limitations. I think I'm good. Fair enough. But they would drive down the street and we recognize the police officer because we knew them and instead of any we would actually walk over to the car. He ran the window down and say, Hey, we have a conversation. What's going on? He had even noticed that we're probably doing something we shouldn't be doing it. You know, I know your parents, right? Like, yes sir. We got, we get it. We understand it's for the real law enforcement is by the way. Right? Absolutely. Yeah. But again that was an example of how, you know, things were just handled a different way within a community among families and so on. And the police knew our families and then they roll out and every once in a while he hop out of the car and we had to make Shit basketball hoop on the telephone pole, you know, have a, have a peach basket or something like that.

Speaker 1: We nail up there with some plywood and different things and they jumped out the car and they're out there with us, get some Oscar Robinson and type of thing. Absolutely man. And that would happen on a regular basis. And we respected them for that. But even with that, I still didn't have the desire to go into law enforcement until my brother did. So my older brother, one of my older brothers went into the Maryland state police a few years before I even thought about it. And I just had the, the experience of seeing him in the uniform and uh, you know, interacting with him. And I said, well, you know, I'll give it a try. I wanted to become an architect. I went to a, uh, a, uh, engineering high school, um, and that was my desire to become an architect. But I ended up going into the Maryland State Police Cadet program.

Speaker 1: Okay. And, uh, was it about the uniform? You mentioned this uniform is kind of a specific thing that you know, anything about the Maryland State police man, they are sharp man. I tell you, you know, they just very, very meticulous. We, for instance, we equate as, as you look at folks in uniform, we equate the Maryland State police to like the marines when you're looking at kind of military creases everywhere and the whole works, everything in its place and, and, and, and shiny, perfect crease, perfect group. And uh, so, you know, that was, that was attractive. Um, uh, the respect that I knew that that agency received from the community and which had a lot to do with the training. I mean, that's, that's how we train. And we, we had your attention for six months, you know, you didn't go home at the end of the day, you stayed there on campus for six months.

Speaker 1: Every once in a while we'll let you go more weekend to visit your kids. So. And you got into some training, which we'll get into. That's why you're talking to spective training. The training is very important indeed. And so anyway, so that was my life growing up in Baltimore where we still had, you know, a huge drug problem and issue and so on. And I ended up going in policing. I eventually graduated from the Police Academy in Nineteen 79. Okay. And it wasn't probably about a year after I graduated, I ended up going undercover work. Oh really? Absolutely. So that's, I mean that's elevated that. So obviously you had some, uh, you were good at what you did, they kind of noticed that early on. Is that fair? Yeah. And, and, and in the barracks that I was assigned to and in Prince George's county in the basement of that barrack, which was a shady group of guys that I see coming and going all the time, hours of the day, middle of the night, and driving these cool cars, man, and just wearing anything.

Speaker 1: They wanted to wear beards and all this stuff. And I was like, what did it, what, who are these guys? Not necessarily perfect creases on that. Oh No, not at all. So it is a complete one 80 from what I was used to, but anyway, I started talking to some of the guys and said, well, you know, where the drug unit and, you know, Blah Blah Blah. And they said I should apply, you know, the to come into their unit. Okay. And I did. So, um, uh, there was a lieutenant colonel that I talked to her and he said, do you really want to do that? Right. So, yeah. So he, he actually facilitated the transfer. I went in and I started working undercover in a Washington DC suburbs and this literally starsky and Hutch basically. It was. Absolutely. Yeah. And um, it was, it was, became very interesting.

Speaker 1: Um, you know, the good was exciting and this is one thing that we don't talk about in policing the work that we do as relates to fighting the war on drugs. You know, we talk about the incentive of money, civil forfeiture, you know, the overtime that we give, but we never, we very seldom talk about the excitement that it is for a police officer to do that work. You know. So it's an adrenaline rush, you know, and it's just an excitement to it which, which push and, and, and makes you blind to what's really happening to the community. Yeah. Well how, so I don't know how much you can share with us, but give us a sense of you're talking 79, 80 early eighties here and you are on that beat so and you are seeing what you're seeing. What are you seeing? How much can you tell us?

Speaker 1: It was a lot different than working on the cover today and, and, and, and for instance, safety wise. So let me, let me start there. So my, my typical week or days of the week we had to generate cases. Okay. So what we do by ourselves, man, I would go out and hang out at bars and different places by myself and by drugs from people. Wasn't heart. Right. Okay. Once you hung around long enough and they saw you long enough even though you were in a small community as many times that I was. Okay. Next thing you know, once you buy it from one, then you start buying from others, and I'm not talking about, I'm talking about buying a dime bags of weed, you know, which is typically what you ended buying most of the time. Right? But once you do that, you now got a felony charge on the person that you bought it from.

Speaker 1: Right. You know, and then you'll make multiple buys and, and so on. But understand this, I did this by myself. There was nobody, there was no bath, no partner. It was nobody hanging out in a bar with me know I did it all by myself. And I guess if you didn't show up for a few days, they come looking for you. You, yeah. You hope it's probably too late by then. But we didn't have that sense of danger. A matter of fact. Um, they, when I first went into the unit and now you know, I've been carrying a gun for, oh by then, right? And they said, well, you probably won't put that away because you know, it's, it's not what people do. People don't carry guns even in the drug business culture at that time. During that time. I got Ya. So I carried a knife.

Speaker 1: Right? And only time I really carried a gun is when we're about to do a search warrant or a raid or take somebody down or something like that. For the most part, the gun stayed locked away somewhere because if they. If you, if you were discovered to have a gun on you, then you definitely believe here. Right? So that was an example. Now today you wouldn't think you working undercover. You never even think about going out and doing this work. Number one without a gun, right? Because all drugs, all serious drug dealers today carry guns. We have to protect yourself from others who might want to rob you and you never do it without somebody watching you who's on your side know backup somewhere observing you or you're wired or were they know where you're at, what you're doing? Twenty four slash seven. When did that change do you think?

Speaker 1: Because I have a guest that predominantly changed as we moved into the later years of the eighties. Going into the nineties and that's because we in law enforcement decided we're really going to go after these kingpins. For instance in Baltimore where we had about maybe six or so major drug organizations who had divided up the city. They handled all of the skirmishes and territorial issues among themselves, like businesses, you know, and when someone did something they shouldn't do, they hold court and they'd deal with it in an among themselves. And when we came in as law enforcement and decided we're going to break up these kingpins, we're going to take them down, we're going to institute mandatory minimum sentencing guideline and we're just going to wreak havoc in our communities. And by the way, we're also going to go after everybody who is using drugs and that's when the, you know, the incarceration just skyrocketed.

Speaker 1: But what we did, and you're talking about the height of the war on drugs, the height of the Warren drugs, but what we did, we broke up these few major drug organizations who had divided up the city. And when I say Baltimore, I'm talking about any major city across the country. Sure. Baltimore's an example, right? Yeah, so when we. When we went in and busted all that stuff up, there weren't less drugs being sold. As a matter of fact, we turned six major organizations into 60 then 600 right corner run organizations right by the light of sons and the younger folks who came into the drug business and because there was now no kind of like court system among the drug organizations to handle the problems that they were experienced and now became, this is my corner, this is my crew. You don't encroach on my corner and if you do, I'm going to shoot you.

Speaker 1: So it got worse on a more local level, became more violent. People started carrying guns. More people started carrying guns. We cause on a micro level, on a micro level because in an illegal business, that's the only way you can protect your business, your reputation, because when someone robbed you, you can't go to the police and when someone robs you, you have to send a message. You're not going to rob me. This is what will happen if you robbed me, because if you don't, you're out of business the next day. So did so, so, or debt. Exactly right. So, so here's Neil Franklin and uh, you know, uh, that unit seems cool. I'm going to be in that unit. They're like, yeah, okay, come on in, drop your gun a couple of years, go by, pick up that gun and now here is nailed Francolin realizing that it's getting worse, not better, right?

Speaker 1: Yeah. Eighties, nineties. Now you're in the nineties and it's worse. It's much worse. We're locking up more people. Homicide rates are through the roof and you know, communities like the one that my mother still lives in Baltimore devastated in a number of different ways. Totally turned around, totally turned around the violence. I mean, when I grew up in those communities, every home was occupied, you know, everyone knew everyone. They knew their kids, the families, even though like my father, even though we had to do some shady things to bring enough money into the house because you know, our, our corporate America started sending jobs, manufacturing jobs overseas and it really hurt many of our are populated communities, which is a whole different podcast imagined. But, but there was one business that everybody could go into and that was selling drugs. But back then it was another business that people could go into an S. my father did he, he was a bookie for numbers.

Speaker 1: The numbers racket, right? Ran Numbers. He ran numbers a little Willie Adams control that in Baltimore city. And my father worked for him. But get this, July 20, ninth, 19, 76, the state of Maryland ended my father's parttime job. A book and numbers. Okay. It's called the lotto. That helped. So we took this gambling issues. They legalized a legalize gambling in, in Baltimore, in Maryland, cause numbers back. He's gone right? And now this is huge regulated legal billion dollar industry by government, right? For the state, for the state taxes and all that stuff that comes with it, but that's an example, clear example. So, but there were other people who sold drugs instead of. They weren't in a number but they sold drugs and we didn't legalize that back then we should have, like we did with the numbers racket. Did you realize that at the time that. Oh, absolutely.

Speaker 1: Similarities between the two. You did not. I didn't realize any of this at the time because remember a lot of what we're seeing and experiencing today regarding the need for reform. Yeah. It's because of data. Okay. Okay. The numbers of people we've been locking up, you know, the, the, the, the homicide rates, the drug related murders, the drug related related shootings were doing a really good job compared to yesterday of keeping an analyzing data. Sure. And when you look at those numbers of people that we're putting in prison, which is now today, I mean, we're back then before Richard Nixon in the seventies coined the phrase the war on drugs. We're looking at half a million people in prison today. It's two point 3 million. Right? But you got to understand something, the accumulative effect of, you know, putting, you know, 50 million people in prison during this over these past few decades, you know, role in probation, they got criminal records now they can't get jobs.

Speaker 1: They stay in this place of criminality because they can't get jobs, you know, and so, and that their families are affected, right? So the damage that the criminal justice system has done on the heels of the war on drugs is really a measurable as relates to economics in this country and, and, and family families thriving in this country, mainly black and brown families. Because when you look at the disparity issues here by far, you know, black folks are catching the brunt of this, uh, the criminalization of the war on drugs. Well, and we've talked to Amanda Reiman from the DPA who pointed out a well known fact, which is a sentencing for crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. Yeah, completely different. It's the same drug. Absolutely. And you know, and right now I went from 100 to one, 18 to one. It should be one to one.

Speaker 1: Matter of fact, it shouldn't be no illegal period, but that's it, you know, so, but well let's actually get there. So yeah, so, so in, in, in me now I'm able to see the data, but even when I started to make to change and I want to, I want people to understand something now that I'm advocating for legalizing all drugs, regulating and controlling all drugs. I didn't flip flop only flipped. I'm not flopping back to prohibition. Okay. Only flipped. So don't compare me to one of these politicians out here to flip flop on issues. No, I made a flip and I'm not going back because I now see the data. I see the damage, but not. It was violence. Yeah. That first brought me to displace because when I retired from the Maryland state police, this is after I've commanded drug task forces. I at nine.

Speaker 1: At one time I had been to commando training for the Maryland State police and now I'm the commander of training for Baltimore. Good friend of mine. It totally was working on a drug taskforce with the FBI or years in Washington DC. This is year 2000, right? Right, right at the Toronto Center. Okay. And um, now he's working undercover. You remember how I explained how it was before? Now he's working undercover in a different environment. So he's buying cocaine from the middle of a drug deal. They've got a team watching him. The car is wired with sound and video and this time this drug dealer decides that he wants to keep the money and the drugs, he's going to increase his profits. That's the nature of this illegal business cause he knows number one, ed inkwell Intel, you know, and you know, this is something I can do. I can rob drug dealers and just no big deal.

Speaker 1: Fine. However, you know, I know that in this business, if I robbed a drug dealer, I need to make sure that they don't come back on me. How do you do that? You Kill Them. Right? And that's what this guy did. He shot it totally at point blank range in the side of his head, killed him going that drug transaction. It was the violent, that act that made me stop in my tracks. And, and take a different look at this. And then I started thinking about other cops that I knew who were killed in similar circumstances by drug dealers because you as you set it up, it's all the cars all wired at the teams all watching. And that did not save his life. No guy comes back out, you know, from where he was supposed to go get the drugs, comes back out to the car where Ed's waiting for him and just that quick boom takes off with, you know, with the cash.

Speaker 1: And um, we didn't find a guy days later up in New York, he even got through that dragnet. But then after thinking about the cops that I knew that were killed two years, half dead was killed. So I'm still in this process. For me it didn't, it wasn't a matter of days, months, years as I'm getting information and looking deeper into it. The Dawson family, a family of seven in Baltimore and East Baltimore was doing what we want the police to do. You got a drug dealer in your community. Help us, lock them up, get the goods on them, lock them up, and we'll list together and we'll get that crew out of your community. Right you. All you're doing is making a job opening for the next group that it'd be there next week. Right. And we do it over and over again. But this mother, Angela was working with the police to do that.

Speaker 1: And when this drug deal or found out fire, bombed their house in the middle of the night and killed the entire to send a message that you don't mess with me, my crew and my money, what you're describing to me, who really has no idea at the, uh, uh, local level, uh, you know, what you're talking about, you know, these are stories I see on the news. You know, that. That's what I'm saying. That's, that's how far away I am from it. I'm thinking about, uh, you know, the stuff that we hear about in the Middle East now we're fighting force and it's the same thing over and over and overseas, just not, you know, it's just not the boys in the game. Yeah. You know, who are, who are getting murdered and killed, you know, it was a matter of fact, the mother, Angela, her, her fear, her greatest fear.

Speaker 1: It wasn't that her boys were going to become addicted to this stuff that they were selling. Their greatest fear is that they would be recruited by this crew. Right. And if that happened to her life expectancy probably doesn't go beyond the age of 25 because of the nature of this game. So you have had, you have the family and it's starting to show its noun to violence. And that's when I just have. I said, okay, just got to be other cops out here thinking the same thing, right? Internet jumping. But in united shirts, I'm online and I actually stumbled across America Online at the time, but I go online and I find law enforcement against prohibition. There are brand new website, you know, it was formed by Jack Cole, a New Jersey State police lieutenant and Peter Criss. They would, you know, a captain from New York state police, uh, a town police department and in upstate New York.

Speaker 1: And they had formed the Organization of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and I signed on just as a member, I was a head of training. It was a major for the Baltimore Police Department at this time. And then as time went on and I went to another police department, so I was still active commander in policing. That's when I started officially speaking for leap in the year 2008. And during this time I'm learning more than the issue of violence around the illegal drug trade. Okay. I'm now starting to get data on incarceration problem that we have. See I don't, I don't say mass incarceration anymore. I say we have an incarceration problem in this country. Why do you eliminate? Because when you use mass incarceration, then your next question, the thing that goes through my. So what's a reasonable level? There is no reasonable level for lock. The whole thing is the problem. The whole thing is a problem, right?

Speaker 1: So you know, we have an incarceration problem in this country because it's not just about drug crimes. We lock people up for all kinds of stupid crap and we need to get away from that and we need to get back to community resolutions for this type of stuff, restore restorative justice models and so on that we see working quite well in other countries. So anyway, I'm starting to see that data. Now I'm starting to reflect back one, oh my God, civil forfeiture has gone completely off the rails. You know, it was, it was initially put in place to go after kingpins. Yeah. Now most of the people were taking money from is just a couple hundred dollars that someone may have in their pocket when they get stopped in the and we find a joint, you know, uh, and we seized their cars. We seize their money, we seize whatever we can all in the name of the war on drugs and it's bull crap.

Speaker 1: Um, we're stopping people on highways. If they're carrying large sums of money, maybe they just sold a car or they're going to buy a car and we're taking it, writing them a receipt saying are you can get your attorney and come back to us. Improve that, this money is used. Retained legal. Yeah. Right. So your money is guilty until you prove it innocent and it's all legal, you know. And so then I'm looking at the corruption issues that we're having. I'm looking at the many cops who are, who are beginning because this is all about money. The robbing drug dealers. Some of these cops are selling drugs, you know, and, and that doesn't stop. I mean I used to tweet five stories a week from around the country of corrupt cops. Then we've got the test, the lying issue of cops to make a case by any means necessary.

Speaker 1: They're lying in court, going to stand perjuring themselves. But in its problem after problem at the problem and the most significant problem that I see deals with police and the community, especially in your black, Brown and poor communities, the decoupling of that police. Absolutely because 70 percent of. I'm low balling it by the way, 70 percent of the time, energy and effort in cities like Baltimore with police is about finding drugs on people. Seventy percent. And you're low balling. I'm, I'm low balling. When I say 70 percent, I'm not just talking about going into the neighborhoods and clearing corners and strip searching people in the middle of the neighborhood and I'm talking about the violent crime that comes off of it, the murders, shootings, uh, and then it, and then it leads to this huge addiction epidemic that we're experiencing now. These are the problems of drug prohibition, not the fact that people use mind altering substances.

Speaker 1: It's the, it's the policy that we have adopted to manage drugs. Drugs are here. There's no such thing as a drug free. Any community just isn't right. That's illegal. Some are not legal. We use mind altering substances. We always will be using them. The question is, what's the best policy for managing these substances among our children and within our community? Prohibition is not it. I don't want my kids being recruited by these gangs. I don't want these shootings. I don't. I don't want the police at odds with the community because before you know it, when you call something a war, everybody becomes a warrior, right? And now everybody's your enemy or they look like your enemy, right? So you treat them as such, right and no violence within these communities. And let me say this for, for my police brothers and sisters, it makes many of these communities very, very problematic and difficult and I hate using this word to police, but to be a police officer in these communities because there is fear. So, so you, you said your brothers and sisters and I know that you work with, uh, many folks that are currently serving in law enforcement. Uh, what kinds of reactions do you get? You know, us for those outside of the folks that kind of support and what you're doing. Um, what, what other reactions do you get from, from speaking like this? I used to get the same reaction that I would give someone which was, are you crazy? Have you lost it? What have you been smoking?

Speaker 1: Because that's when your information is limited. That's your response. So why was that your response back then if you could crystallize that, you know, well, there are a number of factors. Number one, my, my base of knowledge was very, very limited as to the reasons for the violence, the reasons for the corruption and the issues that we were having that we saw, but we didn't recognize if you're in the violence, if you're in the corruption, how could you possibly see it? Right? But an important piece here is this, that, you know, like many of us in law enforcement, we really came on with rose colored glasses when we started our policing. Korea's with rose colored glasses wanting to be those people in the community that we're really going to go after. People preying upon other people, you know, and in a mantra of the drug war is that these people selling drugs are preying upon other people.

Speaker 1: They're preying upon the community and we didn't truly understand all the dynamics surrounding it and we what we adopted it. Okay, that's going to be our mantra to them. We're going to go out here and do what we can do to make our communities better is all alive, man, you know, and, but you don't know it at the time. So it took me a while to get the information I needed to analyze it and to make my flip right. And it's taken awhile for most of my brothers and sisters in law enforcement to begin to see it and now they're seeing it. They've heard me, they've heard many speakers from our organization. They're doing their own research. They're no longer accepting what has been told to them and they're getting it. When I first opened my facebook page and started, oh my God, some of the comments that I would get from my brothers and sisters, they would disown me that you're, I, I had my state police card pulled ahead, you know, in theory, right.

Speaker 1: They actually said that we got to pull his card, right. I'm no longer in the circle, you know, whatever. But now the comments that I get on facebook, whose brother I'm with you, I get it, I understand it. I didn't know it before, you know, keep doing what you're doing. So that brings us to kind of the relationship between a society on the whole a and law enforcement and it's kind of at an all time low right now. Um, my sense is that because you have video in everybody's pocket, you're starting to see things that maybe were occurring, uh, that um, you can now see in broad daylight. Um, my sense is that that's a positive thing in that it can provide a platform for, from which to jump off of what are your, what are your thoughts. Yeah, it is. So we're seeing this video, a technology thing from a couple different perspectives.

Speaker 1: Number one, every citizen has got pretty much the capability. They've got a video camera in their pocket with their smartphones and that's one side. The other side is now law enforcement is also finally getting it. Say, well, we're going to equip our men and women with videos also because again, the data clearly shows that when people know they're being videotaped, the activity on both sides, the police and the citizens at Ofac better. We all do all. Wait, hold on Youtube tomorrow. Right? Exactly. So I better be at my best, be be at my best, but there are also times when it and when that can be problematic and we see it mainly like with our young people say like in our schools, you know, so you got a student in a classroom, doesn't want to leave problems or whatever. Fox back against the teacher. Now the kid knows phones are out there videotaping it.

Speaker 1: I got to puff up here and I'm going to put on a show and whatever. So we got to be smart. And this is just an example of being smart. A cleaner classroom, okay, fruit. This is for the teachers that are listening. If you've got an unruly student who's going to cause problems, first thing you need to do is clear the classroom of everybody, but the students. So he or she stays. Everybody else, Leah, she stays, everybody else leaves going to another classroom, send it to the gym under the supervision of another teacher, whatever. Why you and maybe another administrator. Now sit down and chat with the single kid. Now there's no video cameras right from the kids and you deescalate. Same way you deescalate in public with the police, we got to start going into schools. So hopefully with these cameras available now we will see more deescalation on both sides, police and community members when they're interacting.

Speaker 1: So I think it's a good thing. The problems that come with this process are minor compared to the good stuff, you know, that the benefits that will come out of it. Um, you know, and when I say some of the potential problems is that when the police are interviewing someone, maybe it's something like a rape case or a domestic violence case. You go into someone's home, you know, you don't want to be having to release that video to the public when a request, you know, so there's some things that need to be solved, but that's minor compared to the benefits. Like I said, so it, you know, again, that's a really good thing. We, this whole issue of the war on drugs and drug prohibition, you know, hasn't just been a disservice to our communities and people of color and poor people and so on.

Speaker 1: As we go about locking people up, making the arrest, ruining their lives and so on, it's also been a disservice to the policing profession. And, and yes, I call them my brothers and sisters was they are the reason, one of the main reasons I do this work. Yes, because I do it because I want to improve the community and public safety and, and hopefully he'll, some families that have been hurt because of these policies. Um, but one of the other main reasons I do this is to improve the policing profession and the relationship between police and community. I do it because I liked, I loved the profession and I think there's a dire need for the profession when it's being, when it's done right. And we, as we talked earlier about those nine basic plem principles, the, you know, the, the one when I was the commander of the Training Division in New Baltimore Police Department, you know, we'd have all these words on a wall.

Speaker 1: Fairness protects her, this, that, and the other. Real low. I said there's only one word and it's service. And under that umbrella of service comes all that other stuff, all the other stuff, all the other stuff from integrity to fairness, to respect all of that, just to go out there and serve people. You go out there and serve people, you'll be able to do anything you need to do within a community to solve violent crime and to prevent violent crime because the community members will trust you, respect you, and give you the information you need about the people who are committing violent acts in people don't want violent people preying upon them and their communities. And if you had that good proper relationship as a police officer in those communities, people will offer you and give you that information that you need to round those folks up and to do what needs to be done. Um, but again, we have an incarceration problem and if we can, if we can arrest that, no pun intended, we can arrest that, then communities can begin to heal themselves and families will begin to.

Speaker 2: So, so you've been a member leap for 16 years. You're starting to see, as you said, your brothers and sisters kind of come around on this. Obviously there are state laws that have come into effect, which I'm legalize, uh, at least cannabis. Thank you. So how do you think we're doing and how much, uh, more of a journey is there to get to a place where we kind of look back

Speaker 1: and say, oh, you know, hey, we've actually made some headway here. What are your thoughts? I think we're doing quite well. Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and what we're dealing with here in Washington DC, kind of behind a little bit, but eventually make it to a regulated market. Right? I think we're doing very, very well. The data coming out of Colorado, which is kind of like head things up and running longer than any other state. Data's is looking good. Sky did not fall. It's not going to fall, right? We still have a long way to go, you know, this is going to be a very important year as we do work in California. Some of our New England states and otherwise, you know, with our voter referendum to pass more tax and regulate systems across the country. Doing good. We're encouraging other countries such as Uruguay. Yeah. And Canada is now looking at some things so.

Speaker 1: Well their state, they just pulled ahead of us with their new prime minister. But yeah, absolutely. So, you know, so the. Unfortunately our elected officials are still in those seats of decision making, but through voter referendum we were able to move this issue in a few states and now what we're starting to see in the states that do not have voter referendum like my home state of Maryland, our elected officials are now beginning to see. Well, I think it's safe for us to suggest such a system. Right. And so the legislation is being introduced by our state legislators, Dan more Haim who is a state delegate in Maryland. Um, he's an emergency room doctor. Thank goodness not an attorney, you know, but he, he sees this thing from a health perspective. Emergency Room doctor. He and I have been working on and leap has been working with him on these issues for quite awhile now and because their work we've been doing and the fact that we lead, provide backup for him because Dan contacted me almost a year ago.

Speaker 1: He says, Hey, he says I need lead to help me with something. I need backup. I want to introduce some legislation, groundbreaking legislation, so let's see what we can do. So we put together a, a workshop in October in anticipation of this legislative session that we're still in. And from that workshop where we invited all these people into Johns Hopkins on for a day, great policymakers, uh, citizens, healthcare practitioners, even a couple of drug dealers, you know, from every place that we can think of. We came up with four pieces of legislation. One was the decriminalize all drugs, like important for the second was emergency room treatment on demand treatment for folks who are suffering from addiction. You can come into emergency room and you can start the process. Number three was a polymorphic assisted treatment. So it's basically a heroin assistant treatment on a sentence that can be done by an individual doctor, not so much at a center.

Speaker 1: Got It. And, and, and the final piece of legislation was a supervised injection facilities like we see in, in British Columbia, Canada. Absolutely a place called one site and insight and um, so the pilot and we, we knew that they weren't going to pass, but the yacht, the odd objective here was to start a really good conversation around and it's more than what we expected. Excellent. So as far as joining the conversation, how can we support leap? Let's do that before ask you the three final questions. Okay. So, um, first of all leap is, is going through a, a kinda like a rebuilding process right now. You're going to see some good things come from the organization. It's already been a phenomenal organization, but we're going through a somewhat of a rebranding we messaging process right now so that we can clearly talk about all of the pieces of the war on drugs.

Speaker 1: So the incarceration problem, we have civil forfeiture, corruption, the incentives that, you know, keep things in place from corporations as well as policing. Um, from, you know, here we are trying to solve a public health crisis where criminal justice solutions that doesn't work, so shifting the resources to where they need to be in hell. So we're going to be able to talk about all, it's going to be clear, we're going to have a new website and we're going to have a very huge recruitment effort for our law enforcement folks and judges and criminal prosecutors and all those folks in law enforcement, you know, to come join us, you know, to help restore respect and policing to help and our, our incarceration problem and it's going to be done in a very, very good way, a very robust way. And in order for us to do that, we need funding.

Speaker 1: Sure. Okay, I'll do that. That's what I'm asking. Telling me. Funding and I'll tell the website is www.leap.cc. Cc. It's a location outside of the United States. So when it was established, leap.com was taken our and we want to leap and so anyway, that CC [inaudible] dot com. Go there and you can find out how to donate and all. Absolutely, please, please come on board and, and how and you can be. You can become an associate member and if you're a law enforcement folk listening, please sign up as a member of full fledge member and help us do what needs to be done here. How many members and law enforcement to have roughly? Oh uh, close to 6,000 now. Right? We're getting there now. We just opened up a branch in the United Kingdom. We have a branch in Costa Rica. We have branches all around the globe. You got to get to Costa Rican, make sure everything's going all right.

Speaker 1: You know, let's say my wife just got back. She won't let me go. It's all different. So how long have you been married? Oh, why'd you have to ask that question? How old is my guy? How old is my son? Is Thirty two years. Three years. Three years or 30 years? Thirty, 32. Thirty three years. June 24th. How many Great Jeff. I got one. One boy on main. What does he do? He's a personal trainer at a very good club in, uh, in downtown Baltimore. And He loves his work. He keeps people healthy and in shape. Well, maybe I'll have another talk with him about me and not you look at that. Alright. So here's the three final questions. All right, I'll tell you what they are and then I'll ask you them in order. First question is, what has most surprised you in cannabis? Second question is, uh, what has most surprised you in life?

Speaker 1: The third question is on the Neil Franklin soundtrack. What is one song, one track that's got to be on the soundtrack of your life that's either the easiest or the hardest, but what's most surprised you in cannabis? Most surprised me in cannabis is now remember I came from a place of locking people up for possessing it and selling it. Indeed. The only thing I knew about cannabis is that it contained this thing called thc that would get people high in wreck people's lives. That was the truth. As you understood, that was the truth as I understood it. Now I understand number one, that it's false. I understand. I now know that nobody has died from consumption of cannabis effort. It's been quoted. I now understand the health benefit. Let me put it this way, the potential health benefits that we have yet to experience because we had been restricted in research and development.

Speaker 1: The potential for this plant I know is phenomenal and we've only scratched the surface. So I'm really surprised that for decades something has been available to deal with so many. The problem troubling health conditions that people have today and our government has, has caused us to backslide to, to, to be, to be literally dormant in figuring out and finding out how beneficial and lifesaving discipline could be. Yeah, it's amazing. It's absolutely amazing. And um, that was the biggest surprise to me that here I was part of this unwittingly, right? Um, but, but now it's. So that's my, my biggest surprise. We can. And it's, I think it's also the biggest surprise for many of us as we now turn this corner. What about life? What has most surprised you in life? What is most surprised me in life is

Speaker 1: I guess that life is really very simplistic. How so? Um. Well first let me say that we, we've just become masters at complicating it. Sure. All right. But life is very simplistic. Once you have become spiritually grounded, um, and realizing that you're not the, you know what I mean? It's not about you, right? You know, it is about community, right? It is about how you relate to and interact with other people. It is about what you do for other people, but we've just become so good at being self centered and complicating the crap out of life that if we just did a better job of interacting with people. Now I didn't understand this and learn this until I got into my late thirties almost into my forties. So I'm trying to make. I made sure that my son understood this a lot sooner than I did.

Speaker 1: Right? Um, does he get it? He gets it. He, he does get it. So life is simplistic. Folks don't complicate it. You're not the. And I think I know the word that you were going to use. It's hyphenated if I'm not mistaken. Yeah. So, uh, the, the final question, maybe the most difficult could be easy. Oh, is this a song by Stevie wonder? Okay. Is called love's in need of love today. Love is in need of love today. Stevie wonder, man. It's a matter of fact. I sent a tweet, I sent a tweet to, to, to the trump, the donald. Oh, at the time I send a tweet saying, I know it may be difficult for you, but please adopt this song as your campaign theme song. And then maybe, you know, it will start experiencing a little love, you know, in, in his campaign and the people that surround him.

Speaker 1: And then he tweeted your back with a picture of your wife or something like that. Right? I didn't, I didn't, I didn't, I didn't expect the tweet back. But, uh, I just had to do it again. That's a whole different thing. Um, but, uh, we want to keep in touch with you, uh, let us know when the site goes live and all that. I certainly will leap a lap dot CC. Absolutely. Yeah. You're going to know about it. We're going to have a nice push out and marketing piece on it to make sure people know about us and in every household, every kitchen table. There you go. Major. Neil Franklin. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me, Seth. I appreciate it, man. All right, and there you have Neil Franklin,

Speaker 2: so really appreciate Neil's service as well as the service of any members of leap. Very much appreciate his time and hope that the connection between the minority cannabis business association and leap is fruitful for both organizations. Thank you for your time. Very much appreciate you listening.

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Cannabis Economy is a real-time history of legal cannabis. We chronicle how personal and industry histories have combined to provide our current reality.