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September 23, 2005 - The Evening Telegram (NY)

Advocate For Legalizing Drugs Rides Through Herkimer On Cross-Country Trip

By Jennifer Jones, Telegram Staff Writer

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

HERKIMER - Howard Woolridge rode into Herkimer on his one-eyed horse, Misty. His white T-shirt boldly stating "Cops say legalize drugs. Ask me why."

As part of his campaign, Woolridge rode from Los Angeles to talk to curious citizens and the media about his reasons for legalizing drugs.

His trip ends in New York City. From there, he will travel to Washington D.C., as a lobbyist on Capitol Hill.

He said the "War on Drugs" policy was not working and that it's time for the country to change its policy on illegal drugs.

After three decades of the War of the Drugs, "drugs are now more potent, more available and often cost even less then they did 30 years ago," Woolridge explained. "There's always someone stupid."

"Stop spending $70 billion for no gain," Woolridge said. "Allow some of our poor neighborhoods to stop being a combat zone."

A retired police officer, Woolridge is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), who's advisory board is made up of police chiefs, judges, and even a past governor of New Mexico.

The aim of the organization is to advocate a policy where all drugs are sold in a state regulated store. Drug users would be able to buy "a pure, clean product" and then pay taxes on it.

"It would stop 14-year-old kids from getting killed," he said.

According to Woolridge, adopting his drug policy would cut crime because it would make it cheaper and more accessible to users.

People don't rob stores for cigarettes and alcohol, he said.

There is still debate on whether legalizing drugs would reduce crime and how it will help drug addicts.

"You don't discourage drug use by making it legal and widely available," said Duncan Davie, a spokesman for state Sen. James Seward, R-Millford. "It will broaden our drug problem."

Davie said that there was no evidence that it would reduce the number of addicts in the country and that the social cost is "enormous and tragic at the same time."

Ilion Police Chief Timothy Parisi was against the legalization of drugs. "The impact on people is more serious," Parisi said. "Do we want to accept an impaired population?"

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