Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness at The Electric Page

By Paul Lewin, National Campaigns Director, The November Coalition


The call came in a couple of months ago. A businessman in Sacramento, California was fed up with the War on Drugs and wanted to know what he could do to help. I smiled to myself, because this type of call is becoming more and more frequent­­not frequent enough, you understand, but still it seems there is a rising interest among the public about the war on drugs.

After a few minutes on the phone, I found out that Sam Toll owned a printing business called the Electric Page and was more than willing to help us produce signs and banners for the Vigil Project. I enjoyed talking with him so much, I made a point to visit him on my next trip to the Golden State.

Sam is a high-energy guy who is equally passionate about his family, his business and ending the drug war.
After shaking my hand, the first thing Sam tells me is, "We need to get organized - the government is well aligned; they are intent on expanding their budgets and authority, but where is our side?"

"I'm just one guy, but one of the most powerful pictures I have in my head is that picture of the one man who stood in front of the tanks in Tienenman Square. It says to me that one man can make a difference. But you have to have the courage to be that one man and say, 'I'm going to stop those tanks. If I don't, at least people will know that I stood up to them.'"

While he admits that "getting busted is a drag," Sam feels that it has liberated him to become an outspoken opponent of the drug war. "I'm out of the closet," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, I don't have to hide anymore. When the newspapers ran an article about my [marijuana cultivation] arrest, my competitors tried to ruin my business by sending copies of the article to my clients. You know what? I only lost one customer, a Republican political consultant. Yes, I may be a dope smoker, but I'm the best game in town. Why can I out compete our rivals if I'm such a bad drug user?"

Sam begins his day at 4:00 am, and his presses don't quit until midnight.
I asked him about his experience with the justice system and how he managed to keep his business in spite of law enforcement's "seize property first, ask questions later" mentality. Sam replied frankly, "If you have the means to fight for your rights, you're a more difficult target. The quality of justice you receive in this country is directly related the thickness of your wallet. And that was something that absolutely astounded me."

Raised by hippies, Sam is a mixture of liberalism and libertarianism. He points out that the Founding Fathers would be outraged to see how the federal government tries to legislate morality. Yet, he also feels that "The only way to deal with drugs is to put the $50 billion we currently spend on the drug war into the educational system, because a smarter kid will make better decisions in life and will be able to contribute to society more."

Sam feels that fighting the drug war is the most patriotic thing he can do. "I want my children to have freedom, too. Let's face it­­if you can outlaw marijuana users, you can outlaw Jews, Blacks, Muslims, and anyone else that doesn't fit into the master plan."

In the end he said, "I have the means to defend myself, so therefore I have the obligation to speak up for those who cannot do so. I've got 20 families that earn their livelihood from my business, but still I send what money can. I write letters to my Congressmen, I donate printing to the November Coalition. I don't care about anything but beating these drug warriors with honesty and integrity."

The whole afternoon was just music to my ears, and I left wondering "Where are all the other Sam Toll's of the world?" Who knows, maybe that very next phone call...

Our heartfelt thanks to Sam Toll and the Electric Page for helping the fight against the War on Drugs and for his generous contribution and support to the prisoners of America's longest war.