Overview: This was an extra, extraordinary week on my DC journey to repeal federal prohibition. I have to believe, you tell me, that after some 40 months on the Hill and in Washington in general, my fruit tree has begun to yield a serious crop.
Am I properly dressed?: MPP’s Marsha Wallen hit a home run with this Christmas card.
Picture a Santa with a little boy on his knee. While holding a gun to Santa’s head the boy tells Santa what he wants for Christmas: “All I want is more marijuana prohibition. It is good for business.” The little boys t-shirt says: ‘Mexican Drug Cartels.’
I took her idea and added on the inside of the card:
“Thank you for all your support in 2009
The Association of Mexican Drug Cartels
my new employer – they pay much better
best – Howard”
I cranked out* 540 copies and hand delivered them to the staffers with whom I have a relationship on Capitol Hill. On Wednesday between presentations to Senate staffers, I delivered the first 100. On Thursday I dressed in jeans and COPS SAY LEGALIZE POT – ASK ME WHY t-shirt to deliver the House’s 435. NOTE: had I played mailman in my coat & tie, I would have been in a sweat all day. In a senior Dem office they were having a Christmas party. They loved the shirt and one young staffer insisted on being photographed with me, DESPITE the warning from colleagues that it might end up on YouTube.
An hour later I had finished my lunch and about to start the Longworth building, when a gentleman rich in melanin* walked up to me, said he liked the shirt and began a two minute chat. I recognized him as Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia** to whom I had addressed a question 16 months ago at a CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) conference. Mr. Johnson & I had a very serious chat about drug policy & agreed on all points regarding drugs should be a medical not criminal problem. I promised to drop off a summary of the Swiss program (after I had informed him of going to a heroin clinic in Switzerland on my honeymoon last year — & of the Swiss offer to send a 3 person team to Congress to explain their program, if Congress would request it). BTW, Congressman Johnson serves on the House judiciary committee.
**NOTE: in a departure from normal protocol, I have mentioned the Member’s name. This only because some 100 saw us in the cafeteria.
After we departed, I was completely flabbergasted* that a Congressman would take the initiative to start a conversation with me in the T-shirt!!! (see bottom of letter) What the heck is going on? Should I wear it more often, perhaps over a shirt and tie? I am wondering.
The next day I dropped off a Misty story to the staffer who had her foto taken. She had expressed a great interest in our horse ride. She handed me her business card upon leaving. She is the chief of staff – easily the youngest I have ever met. Again I was flabbergasted.
Force Multiplier: Besides the Congress, MPP gave me a 100 cards to drop off to those who attend the Grover Norquist brunch. There I met a new reporter for the Washington Examiner, a daily with 300,000 circulation. I gave her a copy of the MPP card and she really liked it. The cartoon ran in the paper later in the week. Since everyone loves cartoons, I am confident that many of the 300,000 read the card & got the message.
Mr. Steele, I presume: About a month ago I made the acquaintance of a man at the Grover Brunch who is a member of the Republican National Committee. He agrees with the COP position, BTW. This week he invited me to a lunch gathering at the Republican National Committee HQ. He directed me to the head of the Republican Party, Michael Steele and introduced us. Mr. Steele & I had a 45 second, serious conversation about the failure of drug prohibition, my police voice in opposition & the need to legalize/regulate.
I have been in the same room as Mr. Steele a half dozen times this year. From now on, when he sees the cowboy hat, he will like most of the others, have this train of thought – cowboy, retired cop, legalize drugs. Small steps, maybe a medium step.
Understanding the adversary: * My very last presentation of the year was with the chief legal advisor to Senator Grassley whose infamous amendment I described a few weeks ago (a prohibition on discussing prohibition of drugs). We had an excellent 45 minute chat & l learned of the Senator’s reasons for opposing the Webb Initiative. This information is being sent to Mr. Webb’s office & others in drug reform. BTW: just before the meeting, I chanced to chat for 3 minutes with Mr. Webb’s point man on S-714. He was eager to learn of why Grassley is in opposition.
End of the year request for support: COPs has given the IRS the form 1023, applying for non-profit status. We have raised 9,000 so far which exceeds the budget of 5,000 for expenses. We are building a fund to provide me with a salary. Since its inception* in August, 231 presentations have been made to Hill Staffers and other VIPs in DC. The money invested the past 3 years by a good woman in New Mexico and the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation brought me and COPs to this point. Please consider a tax-deductible donation to COPs and help bring this mess to an end. Via this newsletter, you know exactly where the money goes & the service delivered.
Consider being a member of COP at $30.00 or more per year. Add your voice to those who agree that Modern Prohibition/War on Drugs is the most destructive, dysfunctional and immoral policy since slavery & Jim Crow.
Wishing for you and yours the Merriest Christmas & best of the holiday season.
*cranked out = habe produziert
*melanin = er war schwarzer
*flabbergasted = ich war platt, umhauen, verblüffen
*inception = Anfang
*adversary = Feinde
Officer Howard Wooldridge (retired)
Drug Policy Specialist, COP – www.CitizensOpposingProhibition.org
Citizens Opposing Prohibition – Become a Member
PO Box 772
Buckeystown, MD 21717-0772
Modern Prohibition/The War on Drugs is the most destructive, dysfunctional & immoral domestic policy since slavery & Jim Crow.