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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.”


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