Feature

The narc who switched sides

Barry Cooper, the former head of a drug task force, now makes his living as an expert witness in drug-search cases, and has produced a series of DVDs that offer tips on evading searches and hiding your stash.

Barry Cooper used to bust pot smokers, but now he is one, says Melba Newsome in Maxim. As an officer with the Texas Department of Public Safety and head of a 15-county drug task force, Cooper made hundreds of drug arrests in his day. Then, in 1995, he says he tried smoking pot. He liked it—a lot—and, not surprisingly, his police career soon began to unravel. “I absolutely loved what marijuana did to me,” says Cooper, who has been smoking steadily ever since. “It made me laugh so hard I felt my ribs were going to break.” Within three years, Cooper not only had left the force, he began proselytizing against anti-pot laws and carving out a career as the ex-narc who switched sides in the war on drugs. “Prohibition doesn’t work,” he argues. “The war on drugs is really a war on people.” Cooper, 40, now makes his living as an expert witness in drug-search cases, and has produced a series of DVDs that offer tips on evading searches and hiding your stash. Sometimes, to remind himself of what he considers his wayward years, he plays old news footage of himself boasting of his drug busts. “I’m always embarrassed when I see those clips. What an ass!”

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