MARIJUANA PROHIBITION AND PUBLIC SAFETY
March 17, 2008
After the first seven interviews with my brother Police Officer and Detective Howard Wooldridge of Lansing, Michigan (retired) concerning the �War on Drugs,� hundreds of readers responded. U.S. taxpayers do not understand the incredible deception perpetrated on them by the Drug War. You might even term it a �racket� by those who stand in the power corridors of Washington, DC.
Officer Wooldridge talked with Senator Biden (D-DE) last month. Senator Biden (D-DE) said at a hearing in February 2008 that drug prohibition touches 60 percent of all crime in America. Wooldridge advised to dramatically reduce crime, death, disease and drug use, the U.S. must end the prohibition approach on the 10 most used drugs.
�My experience agrees with the senator�s statement,� Officer Wooldridge said. �As a police officer, my goal was to keep my community safe, once they left their homes. What are the steps to ending this 94 year running failed policy of prohibition?
�Many experts agree that the first drug to become legal and regulated will be marijuana. As DEA law judge Francis Young concluded after an exhaustive study of cannabis: �Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.� Its use has rarely been a public safety issue. One cannot overdose on it. Moreover, its legalization would be a tremendous boost to improve public safety. Why? Road officers spend million of hours searching cars for a baggie of pot. They could concentrate on the deadly DUI and reckless drivers. They would be re-directed to find and arrest the child predators on line looking for a 13 year old girl. Federal agents could completely focus on Al Qaeda and stop wasting time on medical marijuana gardens in California.�
National marijuana prohibition began in 1937. Since then, local and state police officers spent tens of millions of hours searching for and arresting users and sellers. Did this expenditure improve public safety? No! Has prohibition caused an increase or decrease in use? Can we name any positive returns on the investment of money, prison space and police time? These constitute important questions to ask in the century of 9/11 and a recession.
�Starting my police career in the �70s, I quickly learned that alcohol use caused the vast majority of calls for service,� Officer Wooldridge said. �More teens died from alcohol use than all the illegal drugs combined. DUIs causing injury and death, drunks shooting each other, assaults, spouse and child abuse cases, etc., constituted the majority of my police work after sunset. During my 18 years, the use of marijuana never once caused me to be dispatched to handle a problem. Alcohol use generated about 1200 police calls.�
Marijuana remains an intoxicating and potentially psychologically addictive drug. Millions use it to cop a buzz. Because it can be destructive, Officer Wooldridge supports it being regulated, controlled and taxed by the government. Currently, criminals control all aspects of production, distribution and use � not good! We must maintain the same restrictions and regulations as the two deadliest drugs in America: alcohol and tobacco.
�In a legal environment, marijuana would lose its glamour and rebellion elements,� Officer Wooldridge said. �According to doctors certified in addiction psychology, at least as many teens try marijuana because it is illegal as are deterred by its illegality. The Dutch demonstrated the validity of this expert opinion. Thirty-two years after they legalized and regulated sales to adults, their 15-29 year-olds smoke half as much as American youth. Even better, Dutch youth no longer come in contact with pot dealers who also offer heroin for sale. Thus, far fewer Dutch teens try heroin for the first time; a win-win situation.�
Will underage youth obtain legalized and regulated marijuana? Yes, the same as they now obtain alcohol and tobacco before they reach the legal age! No one expects perfection.
Public safety will be dramatically improved as law enforcement again concentrates on crimes involving victims. Detectives will spend more time arresting child predators on-line and rapists. Road officers will promptly answer your 911 calls, instead of spending an hour on a marijuana possession case. The courts will run smoother without the thousands of possession and sale cases clogging the docket. Prison space will not be wasted on someone selling pot to an adult.
�Marijuana users would like the government to tax them!� Officer Wooldridge said. �Dr. Miron of Harvard University studied the topic. Taxing pot like whiskey would generate some $6.4 billion: not chump change! Better, governments waste $10 billion chasing Willie Nelson and his friends and putting them in jail. As the US slides into a recession or worse, that money will become even more important.�
But what about the �Gateway� theory? Don�t all heroin and meth users start with marijuana? Actually no, they don�t. Federal studies show tobacco as the first illegal drug teens use. Alcohol comes second with marijuana third! The Institute of Medicine in 1999 conducted that study. Less than two percent of marijuana users move on to an abusive relationship with hard drugs.
�After 37 years of �Drug War� and the arrest of 38 million Americans, the majority for marijuana possession, we must accept the reality that the state, through its police department, cannot fix personal stupidity and personal self-destructive behavior,� Officer Wooldridge said. �Only family and friends can help in such a situation.�
Today, my brother Howard Wooldridge heads up a task force in Washington, DC to educate and enlighten congressmen at the highest levels. He works for a better future for all Americans. He can be reached at: Education Specialist, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, www.leap.cc, Washington, DC. He speaks at colleges, political clubs, Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions Clubs across America. LEAP speakers in 36 states address this issue to citizens around the country to bring an end to the Drug War. Check out the web site and join. Book a speaker in your state! Wooldridge also presents at political conferences in Washington. [email protected]
The mission of LEAP is to reduce the multitude of unintended harmful consequences resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ultimately ending drug prohibition.
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a country which employs the principles of personal responsibility,
personal freedom and limited/effective government toward marijuana,�
Officer Wooldridge said. �I see a growing respect for the police,
as they stop intruding into the decisions of adults, made in the privacy
of their castles. Teens find it as hard to buy pot as beer. Fewer
teens use it because it lost its glamour. Imagine a land where the
deadly DUI and reckless drivers kill far fewer, as officers focus
on them, not the next pot bust. Envision detectives arresting more
child predators as they abandon the time spent arresting someone selling
pot to an adult. All this becomes possible, when America becomes wiser
and abandons the prohibition approach to marijuana.�