The people persecuted by drug laws and social activists aren’t the only ones with something against the war on drugs. A lot of cops don’t like it much either.

As Bunny Colvin once put it on The Wire, when describing how drinking beer out of a paper bag allows cops to save valuable time by not arresting people for public drinking. “That small wrinkled ass paper bag allowed the corner boys to have their drink in piece and gave us permission to go and do police work… There’s never been a paper bag for drugs.”

Or as real life English bobby Chief Constable Mick Barton put it, investigating and charging drug users was a “waste of police time”. Barton is part of a clique of pinko commie police enforcers in County Durham, a region in the North East of England, who just decided to up and decriminalize marijuana for personal use – no vote, no legislation, just an announcement.

Durham County Commissioner Ron Hogg declared this week that in his jurisdiction, “We are not prioritising people who have a small number of cannabis plants for their own use… In these cases the most likely way of dealing with them would be with a caution and by taking the plants away and disposing of them. It is unlikely that a case like that would be brought before a court.”

This announcement is being met with some push back. In fact, it’s meant to. Hogg purposely made a splash with the public statement instead of quietly enacting a new set of priorities in his area in order to, according to The Telegraph, “…open up a debate about drugs and drugs policy.” The Commissioner and former police officer added, “Of course it is up to the government to change the law…”

Those with more conservative attitudes toward drug laws have criticized Boss Hogg, saying that it is not up to a single police force to “lead the debate around the law.” David Raynes of the National Drug Prevention Alliance told the Telegraph that, “Durham Constabulary are out on their own with this and are trying to lead the law on this issue… clearly making this sort of announcement will serve to encourage anyone who so minded.”

While Hogg and Barton have both advocated the disbursement of cocaine and heroin to drug addicts instead of prosecuting them, the two don’t publicly wish to dissolve the drug criminal system. Instead, Hogg advocates an alternate structure in which those busted in possession of a Class B drug (a category which includes cannabis and a variety of relatively low-intensity narcotics like codeine and ketamine) would have the chance to avoid charges by signing up for a crime reduction program. That initiative would involve “fair and measured” treatment including medical help for addicts.

Photo via LondonVandal

Parker Winship