• Congressman Garrett (VA-R)

  • Gov. Chris Christy (NJ-R)

  • Colorado 2012

  • California Field Work, Prop 19

Salt Lake City Tribune editorial for May 13

Lawman’s blues

Few dare tell the truth about drugs

“You ask any DEA man, he’ll say, ‘There’s nothing we can do.’” — Glenn Frey, “Smuggler’s Blues”

Imagine a world where doctors were the only people who were not allowed to offer their opinions on medicine. Or where what farmers thought about agriculture was left unsaid for fear of public disapproval.

That, more or less, is the situation for law enforcement officers when it comes to any real conversation about how the United States deals with the problems associated with drug abuse. The ones who know from personal, and sometimes heart-breaking, experience just how futile the whole sad enterprise is are the ones who dare not speak out for fear of being seen as soft on crime.

There are, luckily, exceptions. One of them rode through Salt Lake City the other day, on his bicycle and on a lonely mission to show the American people just how wrong we are to continue to insist on taking a law enforcement hammer to a public health nail.

Howard Wooldridge is a retired Michigan police officer and a co-founder of the national organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (www.leap.cc). As he explained to The Salt Lake Tribune the other day — and to many others along his ride from Oregon to Georgia — the problems we associate with drug use are not caused by users.

They are caused by the laws, law enforcement officers, judges and, mostly, craven politicians who dare not see or tell the truth about how the ongoing prohibition of drugs is nearly as destructive and just as futile as was the prohibition of alcohol early in the last century.

LEAP favors the legalization, regulation and taxation of now-illegal drugs, along the same model as alcohol and tobacco. That may be too drastic for our culture to embrace all in one go. But even moving toward a decriminalization approach, which stresses education and treatment over arrest and incarceration, would be a huge improvement.

Alcohol and tobacco, of course, create a long list of serious social and health problems. But heavily armed drug lords and the destruction of civil society in parts of Mexico, clogged courts and packed prisons in the United States and street violence of the kind that claimed the life of an Ogden police officer only a few months ago are not among them..

If we took the undeniably huge problem of drug abuse away from the police and gave it to the doctors, where it by all logic and humanity belongs, we could save billions in law enforcement costs, spend millions on treatment, and take a huge step toward real national sobriety.

Filed under:In the News

Cross-country cyclists, led by ex-cop, ride for pot: Oregon 5-02-2012

By Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Three men riding bicycles across the country, from Newport to Savannah, Ga., Passed through Sweet Home last week on a quest to promote adventure bicycling and the end of prohibition of marijuana. 

Their leader, retired police detective Howard “Cowboy” Wooldridge, has crossed America twice on horseback, from Savannah to Newport in 2003 and Los Angeles to New York City in 2005, a total of 6,400 miles in the saddle. This time he is joined by his brother, Frosty Wooldridge, and friend Wayne Oberding. All are more than 60 years old.

They passed through Sweet Home on April 23. 

“I spent the night in Sweet Home with a state trooper, whose wife I met at the edge of town,” Howard Wooldridge said. She was intrigued by his T-shirt, which said, “Legalize Pot.”

“People reacted well to the horse,” Wooldridge said of his previous trips. He is one of about six people who has traveled coast to coast by horse in the 21st century, while thousands have done it on bicycle; and people invariably opened their doors to a cowboy. He and his horse stayed in barns and corrals. Sometimes, he was invited to stay in a house. 

“The horse being in a corral was good for the horse,” Wooldridge said. Traveling like that with a horse is much more difficult than bicycling because the horse must be fed, and the rider must think about shelter, water, shoes and injury.

“Now I’m doing another Paul Revere ride,” he said, the opposite way, with a bike. 

Why legalize pot?

“We need to do a better job of protecting our children,” he said. “We’re missing pedophiles because they’re flying around in helicopters looking for green plants.”

The black market in drugs gives a job option to youths that is dangerous and kills them, Wooldridge said. That applies across the board. 

“At the end of the day, I would end all drug prohibition,” Wooldridge said. They all provide the dangerous job options to youths, and they take away from public safety. 

“I emphasize police should be involved with public safety not personal safety,” Wooldridge said. Like shopping or gambling problems, “if you have personal issues, that should be handled by family and friends.”

As a lobbyist with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition in Washington, D.C., for the past six years, that’s a message he repeats constantly, and he insists that drugs should be a 10th Amendment issue, meaning individual states should decide how to handle drugs rather than the federal government – “Let Oregon run Oregon.”

“We’re going to start with marijuana,” he said. “It is demonstrably less dangerous than alcohol.

“In 2003, the message was well-received with exceptions. So far, in Oregon, it’s 100-percent positive.”

National polls passed the 50-percent mark supporting legalization last year, he said. It’s time to do it.

Filed under:In the News

Pedaling for pot: Albany Democrat Herald: April 24, 2012

 By Steve Lathrop, Albany Democrat-Herald

The route is familiar. The message the same. Only the mode of transportation has been changed.

In 2003, Howard Wooldridge rode horseback from Savannah, Ga., across the country to Newport on the Oregon Coast to promote his belief that marijuana should be treated like alcohol. Now 60, Wooldridge is retracing the trip in reverse, this time on a bicycle.

“I was in your paper nine years ago when I came through on a horse,” said Wooldridge, who stopped at the Democrat-Herald on Monday. “It was a Paul Revere-like ride to inform America.”

He and his brother Frosty, 65, and friend Wayne Oberding, 70, set out Sunday from Newport expecting to reach their Georgia destination in about two months. He still sees himself in the Paul Revere role alerting people to his cause.

“There is a need to put an end to marijuana prohibition,” he said. “I don’t use the word legalize. I just want to get police back to the business of protecting the public.”

Wooldridge says marijuana is an individual choice and not something that the government can control. He said law enforcement efforts should be focused on public safety and protecting the innocent, especially children.

“The government can’t fix stupid,” said Wooldridge, a retired detective from Michigan. “Marijuana should be treated like alcohol.”

The trio, decked out in T-shirts promoting their trek, will be peddling up to 60 miles a day, camping most of the time. They will visit parts of 10 states.

“The hospitality on my last trip was amazing, but part of that may have been because of Misty,” Wooldridge said, referring to his horse. “I’m not expecting the same thing this time.”

Motels will likely be used every few days in order to shower and clean up. Wooldridge has no public appearances planned. He is counting on the ride alone to draw attention to the cause.

Wooldridge has been touting his cause for 15 years and is currently a lobbyist against what he calls drug prohibition in Washington, D.C.

“I’m trying to make something happen on the federal level,” he said. “I want people in each state to make their own determination about it. Let Oregon run Oregon.”


Filed under:In the News

PUBLISHED – The Frederick News Post (circulation circa 50,000 daily): March 7, 2012


Speaking as a retired detective, I hope and trust my colleague Narco and his handler, Deputy Caliskan (“Surprise, surprise,” March 3), were also looking for the drug that kills and injures the most students — namely alcohol. We in law enforcement know that the use and abuse of alcohol will hurt and kill more high school students than all the prohibited drugs combined.

Twenty-three million people in this country have a drug abuse problem. For 19 million, their primary drug of abuse is alcohol.

We need to reduce that horrific number. Get ’em, Narco!

Howard Wooldridge

Adamstown, MD

Filed under:In the News

LEGALIZE POT AND GET RID OF BLACK MARKET : published LTE -Feb 08, 2012 – Glenwood Springs Post


Writing from my perspective as a retired street cop, the Feb.  5 article by Rebecca Jones, “Valley teen: Marijuana is widely available,” demonstrated the need to treat marijuana like alcohol, that is, legal, regulated and taxed.  Kids are not selling beer and cigarettes in school, just an illegal drug like marijuana.

Drug policies modeled after alcohol prohibition have given rise to a youth-oriented black market.  Illegal drug dealers don’t ask for identification for age, but they do recruit minors immune to adult sentences.  So much for protecting the children.

No teen should have the job option to sell drugs.  To help our kids, we should repeal this marijuana prohibition today.

Howard Wooldridge


Filed under:In the News