Pubdate: Sat, 09 May 2015
Source: Buffalo News (NY)
Copyright: 2015 The Buffalo News
Author: Froma Harrop, Creators Syndicate


WASHINGTON - Howard Wooldridge, a Washington lobbyist, is a former 
detective and forever Texan on an important mission - trying to 
persuade the 535 members of Congress to end the federal war on marijuana.

Liberals tend to be an easier sell than conservatives. With liberals, 
Wooldridge dwells on the grossly racist way the war on drugs has been 

"The war on drugs," he tells them, "has been the most immoral policy 
since slavery and Jim Crow."

Conservatives hear a different argument, but one that Wooldridge 
holds every bit as dear: "Give it back to the states."

This is a case for states' rights, a doctrine to which conservatives 
habitually declare their loyalty. It is based on the 10th Amendment 
to the U.S. Constitution, which says that powers not delegated to the 
federal government are given to the states or to the people. In fact, 
states had jurisdiction over marijuana until 1937.

Co-founder of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, 
Wooldridge leaves no doubt where he stands on the war on drugs. End 
it all. That means no more U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. No 
more federal SWAT teams invading suburban backyards. No more DEA 
agents shooting from helicopters.

Today the war on drugs costs taxpayers $12 billion a year just for 
the enforcement part. Meanwhile, the loss of income for the millions 
of ordinary Americans made nearly unemployable after being caught 
with a joint can't be counted.

"You could close half the prisons in the country if you ended 
prohibition," Wooldridge says.

He now focuses only on marijuana, which he dismisses as "little green 
plants." And he doesn't use the L-word  that is, legalization.

If Washington state and Colorado legalize marijuana for recreational 
use (and they have), that's fine with him. If 21 other states, from 
Maine to Hawaii, choose to allow marijuana only for medicinal use, 
that's also OK. And if Alabama and South Dakota want all marijuana 
kept illegal, again, fine.

Liberals have traditionally shunned states'rights arguments because 
of their association with the evils of slavery and segregation. So it 
is notable that the NAACP has endorsed a bill just submitted by Rep. 
Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., requiring the federal government to 
respect state laws on marijuana.

African-Americans do not like the 10th Amendment, Wooldridge notes, 
"but the racism involved in the prohibition is a billion times worse 
for black people."

Republicans once presented a united front in supporting the war on 
drugs. That wall began to crumble with the rise of the Ron Paul libertarians.

The war on drugs, especially marijuana, is clearly entering its 
twilight phase. The question now is: How many million more American 
lives are going to be ruined and how many billion more dollars will 
be poured down the drain before we recognize its futility and move on?
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom