At CPAC, a Pitch to End the Drug War: ‘It’s a Parkland, Florida, Every Two Days’

At the top of the escalators in the massive foyer of the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center, Howard Wooldrige is fighting to break the traditional link between conservatives, law enforcement, and the war on drugs. It’s an uphill battle.

At the moment, he’s debating a youngish attendee of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), who argues that the government has a role to play in preventing people from making poor life choices. Drugs ruin lives, the young man argues, and lives lost to drug use never blossom to their fullest potential, robbing society of what those individuals might have achieved. Wooldridge parries. If that’s true, he says, then locking drug users in prison is robbing us of what they might have accomplished too.

Wooldridge is literally inviting such debates. In a sea of business suits and red baseball caps, the retired police detective is wearing a cowboy hat, a


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