Retired Cop Rides for Drug Legalization

Retired Cop Rides for Drug Legalization
Posted by CN Staff on October 01, 2003 at 22:41:31 PT
By Jennifer Moody, Albany Democrat-Herald 
Source: Albany Democrat-Herald 
He wears the hat, the bandanna, the jingling spurs. He rides a horse and carries a gun. He's even from Texas. But Howard Wooldridge, 52, doesn't think of himself as a cowboy. Instead, he sees himself as Paul Revere, riding across the country on his noble steed to call a country to action. Like Revere and other early American patriots, Wooldridge has revolution on his mind. He wants to throw an occupying force out of the country: drug dealers. But instead of taking up arms, Wooldridge believes the only way to rid the streets of pushers is to legalize - for adult use only - the very thing they're pushing.
"Today's policy condemns our children to grow up in a world infested with bloodsucking drug dealers and their free samples. That is something society has to eliminate," says Wooldridge, a retired police officer who served 15 years in Lansing, Mich. "And the only way to eliminate the drug dealer is to end prohibition."A member of a 700-member group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Wooldridge is riding across the country on his 9-year-old pinto mare, Misty, to promote his message. He passed through Albany this weekend on his way to Newport.He knows LEAP's approach causes some people, especially other officers, to recoil in disbelief. He's argued with plenty of people during his three-year, nonconsecutive cross-country ride.But he firmly believes the country's current approach to the War on Drugs is not working. Jails are filled, new jails are built and still dealers multiply. Drugs keep getting cheaper, easier to produce and almost embarrassingly easy to buy. Multiple sales points exist: the mall, the arcade, the schoolyard, the swimming pool.All of that, Wooldridge believes, is because illegality drives price. Make drugs legal and regulate their sale like bottles of whiskey, and poof: No profit margin. Tighter controls. Lower prices, cutting down on the number of car clouts and other property crimes caused by addicts desperate for a hit.Wooldridge, who wears a worn homemade T-shirt that says "Cops Say Legalize Pot Ask Me Why," says his message is one conservatives should embrace. People who hurt the community because of their addiction should be punished for that abuse, but not for the drug use itself if no community damage is caused."Prohibition is a liberal's approach to drugs, believing that the government will protect you from bad behavior," he says.Wooldridge is well aware that drugs can wreck futures, end marriages, even kill. So can alcohol, he says. But our forefathers, he says, were wise enough to repeal the 18th Amendment when it became clear that prohibiting alcohol caused more problems than it solved. This is the same approach, he says - and he stresses it's only an approach, not a cure-all."Let a person be as stupid as they want to be, but don't bother taking money out of my pocket because they're doing it with crack instead of whiskey," he says.Wooldridge didn't start out a crusader. Six years ago, he was just dreaming about taking in the scenery on a long-distance ride out west.Then a brother died of pancreatic cancer. Wooldridge figured it was time to act on his dream. So he took early retirement from his police job, moved to Fort Worth, Texas, and started planning his ride.He began in Savannah, Ga., in March 2001. A television station interviewed him as he began the trip. That's when he realized he might attract some attention along the way and figured he'd use it to talk about something he truly believed. LEAP was born mid-ride.Wooldridge has stopped the ride twice to trailer home to Fort Worth, then resumed the following year, picking up where he left off. The first time, it was because he didn't know how to properly prepare himself or Misty for the long haul and ended up causing Misty saddlesores that took weeks to heal. The second time, he needed to deal with problems at home.His longest stretch on the road has been 10 weeks. He covers some 23 miles a day when he's planning a full day's ride. Many days, he's ridden less in order to adjust his schedule or take more time to visit with people.Everywhere, he says, he's been warmly received. A Sweet Home resident offered to stable Misty in her yard one night, and some passersby took it upon themselves to hand-deliver hay and grain."In the 21st century, you can't imagine the trust generated by a cowboy and his horse," Wooldridge marvels. "It opens up every kind of door in America."Source: Albany Democrat-Herald (OR)Author: Jennifer Moody, Albany Democrat-Herald Published: Monday, September 29, 2003Copyright: 2003 Lee EnterprisesWebsite: Articles & Web Site:LEAP Man, a Horse and a Message Rides Horse Across Country for Drug Reform of Drugs Urged Cop Says Legalize Drugs
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment