WASHINGTON — Howard Wooldridge, a Washington lobbyist, is a former detective and forever Texan on an important mission — trying to persuade the 535 members of Congress to end the federal war on marijuana.
Liberals tend to be an easier sell than conservatives. With liberals, Wooldridge dwells on the grossly racist way the war on drugs has been prosecuted. "The war on drugs," he tells them, "has been the most immoral policy since slavery and Jim Crow."
Conservatives hear a different argument, but one that Wooldridge holds every bit as dear: "Give it back to the states."
This is a case for states' rights, a doctrine to which conservatives habitually declare their loyalty. It is based on the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says that powers not delegated to the federal government are given to the states or to the people. In fact, states had jurisdiction over marijuana until 1937.
Co-founder of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Wooldridge leaves no doubt where he stands on the war on drugs. End it all. That means no more U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. No more federal SWAT teams invading suburban backyards. No more DEA agents shooting from helicopters.
Today the war on drugs costs taxpayers $12 billion a year just for the enforcement part. Meanwhile, the loss of income for the millions of ordinary Americans made nearly unemployable after being caught with a joint can't be counted. "You could close half the prisons in the country if you ended prohibition," Wooldridge says. He now focuses only on marijuana, which he dismisses as "little green plants." And he doesn't use the L-word — that is, legalization.
If Washington state and Colorado legalize marijuana for recreational use (and they have), that's fine with him. If 21 other states, from Maine to Hawaii, choose to allow marijuana only for medicinal use, that's also okay. And if Alabama and South Dakota want all marijuana kept illegal, again, fine.
"For sure, Utah is smokeless," he added, "and I say God bless."
Liberals have traditionally shunned states'-rights arguments because of their association with the evils of slavery and segregation. So it is notable that the NAACP has endorsed a bill just submitted by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., requiring the federal government to respect state laws on marijuana.
African-Americans do not like the 10th Amendment, Wooldridge notes, "but the racism involved in the prohibition is a billion times worse for black people."
Republicans once presented a united front in supporting the war on drugs. That wall began to crumble with the rise of the Ron Paul libertarians. When the House voted 219 to 189 last year to stop the federal ban on medical marijuana in states making it legal, 10 Republicans joined the "yes" side.
Pushing the "no" votes were police employed by the war and private businesses running prisons. They have an economic interest in keeping prohibition in place. It's about "money and money", Wooldridge says.
But also about "emotion." Nearly every police officer had a colleague killed in the drug war. They don't want to think their friends died for nothing.
Example: In the fall of 2012, two deputies flying over southeast Colorado to locate the marijuana harvest died when their light plane crashed. Two months later, Colorado legalized recreational pot.
The war on drugs, especially marijuana, is clearly entering its twilight phase. The question now is, How many million more American lives are going to be ruined and how many billion more dollars will be poured down the drain before we recognize its futility and move on?
(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 May 2015 08:12
To The Daily Sun,
Late last month I had a major medical problem. During a visit to my local doctor, Dr. Ronald Witkin, I was taken to the emergency room at Lakes Region General Hospital and later transferred to the Senior Services Unit.
During my nearly week-long stay there I received excellent care from the nursing staff at the unit and Dr. Christopher Weinmann who was assigned to my case. I also want to acknowledge the Ambassadors who prepared my meals when I was finally allowed to have food. Thank you to everyone at LRGH for the care you gave me.
Gordon D. King
Last Updated on Monday, 04 May 2015 10:03
To The Daily Sun,
I usually write to The Laconia Daily Sun when the spirit moves me. It has again moved me.
After reading numerous letters criticizing everything from our president on down to the county commissioner and from spending my formative years in Manchester where William Loeb and the Manchester Union Leader were paramount, I wish to submit the following observation on our community in what I feel is part of the essence of our success. It is compliment to the good common people that we have in our midst.
I tend to observe a lot, having been a witness to some truly remarkable dedicated people in our local work force that no mater what menial wage they work for, strive to do their best daily to make our community proud and unique.
I have observed these facets and its just the tip of the iceberg. However; it is part of our sense of community pride.
Those great guys who serve as attendants at the Union Avenue Automotive Center always have a smile on their faces, are always polite, whether working in a heatwave, storm or subzero temperature to meet the needs of the populace. As well as that wonderful gentleman who collects the shopping carts at the Gilford Wal-Mart, he always goes that extra mile to assist anyone, always a kindness extended with sincerity. A hard worker, something I have always admired.
Those incomparable, dedicated and persevering "lunch ladies" who are employed for the Laconia School District and serve so exquisitely he districts' children. Talk about unsung heroes, they are second to none and are the treasure to our community.
The care givers and LNAs in our care facilities are an inspiration to us all. Their daily contributions are magnanimous to those who need assistance. The are they give is genuine. I am proud that I was one for a quarter of a century.
The staff at the Human Society who extend care and love to God's animals, cats and dogs, have given us love, loyalty, and much joy.
The compassionate staff at the Laconia Employment Security Vocational Rehabilitation and Community Action Program, who help all those who seek help. Their common ground endurance helps restore usefulness and dignity in everyone. What a wonderful resource in our community.
This is just a small example of the many positive and wonderful people we have here many others are out there, the waitress, the janitor at McDonald's, the taxi drivers, are all of great value and importance to our community.
As the song goes "Good morning America how are you, say don't you know me, I'm your native son."
Last Updated on Monday, 04 May 2015 10:00
To The Daily Sun,
It is so rewarding to know that our community loves our students at Laconia High School!
On behalf of the Laconia Sachems Band Boosters, we would like to thank all who supported our annual Sweet Walk on March 17 at the district band concert. Thank you to the following businesses who donated sweet goods: Hart's Turkey Farm, Fratello's, Patrick's, Goody Good Donuts, Wicked Sweet New England Treats, Annie's Café, Water Street Café, Vista Foods, as well as from other private supporters of the booster group. All monies raised go directly to help fund the Laconia High School Band, Chorus and Color Guard.
The booster group's monthly meetings are the 1st Wednesday of every month at 5:30 p.m. in the LHS Music Room.
Thank you all again, so very much!
Last Updated on Monday, 04 May 2015 09:57
To The Daily Sun,
Pollution means socializing costs. If you produce something that fouls the water and don't pay to clean it up, you are making everyone else but your company pay the costs of clean-up — not to mention any permanent damage. When the Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969, the companies that dumped the flammable chemicals that polluted it did not put the fire out. The Cleveland Fire Department did. Taxpayers had to pay the cost while the polluters profited.
The Environmental Protection Agency was created shortly after this fire was put out and the Clean Water Act was passed shortly after. The act raised the cost of production for anyone who was making things and polluting water by requiring that they include the cost of preventing that pollution in the cost of their products. Thus, they had to pay the true cost of the product, rather than making the rest of the society ante up for some portion of that true cost. Yes, either their profits took a hit, or the costs were passed on to customers who bought the product.
Clearly, however, the costs associated with the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act and other pollution-control laws did not wreck our economy. Making companies pay the true cost of production is the right thing to do, and since the rules applied to everybody no one had an advantage. In addition, entrepreneurs also saw an opportunity to get rich by making pollution control equipment and by inventing non-polluting production methods.
"Creative Destruction" is the essence of capitalism. It is a term for long-term economic growth that is initiated by innovators who make something new out of the scraps of the old. Think of how transistors rose on top of the vacuum tube industry and computer chips from transistors. Are we better off without tubes and transistors? You bet!
CO2 is said to be a pollutant because of the costs of the extreme climate change it is causing when released into the atmosphere. These costs are socialized instead of being paid by the producers of the gas — taxpayers are and will be paying them. It will work just like the Clean Water Act did if new rules to control CO2 emissions are applied to every producer and product (including those imported from other countries). Entrepreneurs will create whole new industries and get rich, and we will all be better off in the long run.
Those who don't want to protect polluters and who are in favor of making them bear the real costs of their products are not the enemies of capitalism. They are the true believers in free enterprise.
Last Updated on Monday, 04 May 2015 09:52