Pubdate: Sun, 16 Oct 2005
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2005 The Decatur Daily
Author: Phillip Rawls, AP Political Writer


MONTGOMERY - Loretta Nall, a 31-year-old mother of two, is running for
governor of Alabama when she's not busy with her other duties: writing for
Cannabis Culture magazine and serving as president of the U.S. Marijuana

Nall says she doesn't want to be seen as the marijuana candidate for

"I want to be seen as a common country girl doing something anybody could do
if they chose to," she said.

Nall's days as a common country girl ended in 2002 when officers raided the
trailer she shares with her husband and two children just outside Alexander
City. Officers found rolling papers, a scale, and a small amount of
marijuana - .87 grams - but it was enough to net Nall misdemeanor
convictions for possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia. She received a
30-day suspended sentence, but she is appealing her case.

The raid and the legal process turned Nall into an advocate for changing
drug policy. She was hired by Marc Emery, the recently jailed publisher of
Cannabis Culture, and she formed the U.S. Marijuana Party, which has active
chapters in seven states.

Now she's seeking the Libertarian Party's nomination for governor because
the party already has a structure in Alabama and because they agree on a
major issue: They want marijuana legalized.

Nall said she still uses marijuana occasionally for pain relief from
osteoporosis. She used to smoke for recreational reasons, but stopped after
her arrest.

"Now there's no enjoyment in it if you think the cops are going to come,"
she said.

If Nall had her way, marijuana would be a regulated product like tobacco and

Nall is already conducting a vigorous Internet campaign, but running for
governor as a Libertarian is not easy. Third parties must collect more than
40,000 signatures from Alabama voters to get listed on the ballot statewide.

Nall calls the number "a monstrous obstacle" designed by Democratic and
Republican state officials to keep out competition, but she plans a walk
across the state to help the party collect the needed number.

Mike Rster, state administrator of the Libertarian Party, is not optimistic
about his party getting on the general election ballot for Nov. 7, 2006.

"It's virtually an impossible task. I don't see any of the third parties
being able to do it," he said.

Nall said she isn't dismayed by the task. She figures collecting the
signatures will allow her to meet thousands of voters and help her campaign.

"I've got this gut feeling that come November of next year, I stand a very
good chance of being governor with the Republicans trying to out-Jesus each
other and the Democrats trying to out-socialist each other," she said.

If Nall comes across Republican incumbent Gov. Bob Riley on the campaign
trail, he won't be a stranger. She grew up in his hometown of Ashland. "I
went to school with Gov. Riley's kids," she said.

Nall and Riley may share the same hometown, but their platforms are very

Nall says Alabama's prisons are jam-packed because the state's drug policy
is shortsighted. She says many of the people in prison for property crimes
were stealing and robbing to support addictions to hard drugs, such as
cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

Prison doesn't address their drug problems, but good drug treatment programs
would. And over time, Alabama could reduce the $305 million appropriation
for prisons, she said.

She envisions programs similar to methadone treatment centers, where addicts
could get drugs in a controlled setting and go through counseling to wean
them off them.

If Alabama did that, expensive drug task forces would no longer be needed,
she said.

Nall also advocates school vouchers and privatizing most of the public
education system.

And she says taxpayers ought to be able to choose which programs they want
their tax dollars to fund. On their annual tax return, "they could say, 'Yes
I want my money to go to education, and no, I don't want it to go to
prisons,' " she said.

What would happen if taxpayers put more tax money into a program than was
needed or didn't fund one the governor and Legislature thought was

"I don't have an answer for that," she said.

Nall is an atheist, but she said that if elected, she wouldn't try to impose
her views on others.

"I'm not anti-religious. It's freedom of or freedom from. I've chosen
freedom from, and you're free to choose of," she said.

The campaign for governor will take Nall away from her children -
13-year-old Alexander and 8-year-old Isabelle - but she said they are
excited about their mother's quest for the Governor's Mansion.

"My daughter is like, 'Do we get to move into the mansion?' We live in a
trailer, so the big mansion idea is exciting to my kids," she said.

On the Net: U.S. Marijuana Party,; campaign,
- ---
MAP posted-by: Josh