What's He Smokin'?

What's He Smokin'?
Posted by CN Staff on May 23, 2002 at 23:23:48 PT
Cover Story
Source: Willamette Week 
More than a quarter-century ago, a Republican governor got national notice when he signed a bill making his small western state the first to decriminalize possession of marijuana.Many people predicted that Tom McCall's pen would prod other states to follow Oregon's lead in taking a serious look at the nation's drug laws. For a while, it seemed they were right, as nearly a dozen states passed similar laws during the '70s. 
Even President Jimmy Carter once raised the notion of decriminalizing pot during a speech. But the ascension of Ronald Reagan and the War on Drugs ended any momentum that was building.Over the past two decades, this nation has spent billions of dollars locking up drug users, with no proof that it's had any effect on their habits or made anyone safer. To see the folly of the nation's drug laws, take a look at Damon Stoudamire. The hometown star guard for the Trailblazers could face up to 10 years in prison, not because he assaulted anyone, not because he cheated on his taxes, but because some cops in Clackamas County found a pound of pot in his former residence.There's no way Stoudamire would do that much time, but don't expect any serious politician in this state to wonder aloud whether locking Stoudamire up at all would be good policy. Earlier this month, at a gubernatorial debate sponsored by X-PAC, Republican Ron Saxton and Dems Bev Stein, Jim Hill and Ted Kulongoski spent more than an hour jostling to highlight their differences. Then, inevitably, an audience member asked a question about the state's drug laws. Suddenly, they raced for the identical patch of safe ground: "Oregon's existing laws are sufficient...[blah, blah, blah]."Luckily, one politician is taking on this issue--but he lives 1,400 miles away. This week, Portlanders have the chance to hear another Republican governor from a small western state make the case for not just decriminalizing marijuana, but legalizing it. Gary Johnson, the governor of New Mexico, is will be speaking Thursday about why it's time to admit the War on Drugs can't be won following the current strategy.To mark Johnson's visit, we're running an interview with him, in which he recounts his own recreational drug use (you bet he inhaled) and debunks several of the myths about drug abuse. We've also included a story about what really happens when you get busted for drugs in Oregon, as well as a rant from a guy who wants to legalize drugs for far more selfish reasons. Jointly, these stories could bring new meaning to President Bush's stirring call, "Let's roll!"Source: Willamette Week (OR)Published: Wednesday, May 22, 2002 Copyright: 2002 Willamette WeekContact: mzusman wweek.comWebsite: Articles in Series:Pot Culture: Legalize It -- and Kill It Crime & Punishment War Mutineer 
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