Since I am asking you to elect me as your next Governor I thought you should know a little more about me. I have provided below a brief overview of my life as a native Alabamian and my work in drug policy reform.
I grew up on a farm in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in rural Alabama with my mother, sister and grandmother. I can still remember the sun rising over the mountain ridge causing the morning dew to rise again as steam off of the granite outcroppings as the birds sang and the roosters crowed to greet the dawn.
Life was simple then. It consisted of going to school and to church and playing in the goat pasture, the woods or the barn when I wasn't in school or church.
At that time the drug war had not yet blighted rural Alabama.The only "drugs" I held any knowledge of were "beer & liquor" and both were held in very low regard by the matriarchs in my family.
Drankin' (as we say down in the Southland) was a "sin" and "sin" was the last thing the young Loretta Nall wished to encounter because "sin" always led to a switching, and let me tell you, my grandmother was incredibly skilled with a keen hickory switch.
The only thing I knew about "addiction", alcoholism in this case, was the talk I would occasionally hear around the Sunday dinner table about the town drunk who, about once a month, would get up in front of the entire church and confess to getting drunk the night before and being sorry for it now.
The congregation would hug him when he was done and he was always accepted back into the fold.
It was a time when neighbors helped neighbors. If your neighbors were hungry you helped feed them. If the neighbor's kids needed clothes you gave them what your kids had outgrown. And if your neighbor had a substance abuse problem you let him talk about it on Sunday morning and told him you still loved him when he was done.
But times have changed.
Today if your neighbor is poor or has fallen on hard times and can't feed or clothe their children chances are good that child service workers will be called in to take the children away.
Today if your neighbor has a substance abuse problem the police will be called, your neighbors will be arrested and jailed, the family ripped apart, their property seized and instead of being able to confess to their family, neighbors and their god about their problem they are publicly humiliated in their hometown newspapers.
In this article I will share the most important lessons I have learned since becoming involved in drug policy reform and tell you what I think we must do in order to repair the societal damage that is a result of the drug war.
My First Introduction to the Drug War
By the time I entered high school the admonitions of my mother and grandmother about alcohol began to lose their power in favor of the power of wanting to be like my friends. Like most teenagers I began to drink alcohol to be cool and fit in and I discovered pot shortly thereafter.
I liked the way alcohol made me feel but, after many very bad experiences, including blackouts, violent episodes, near poisonings, vicious hangovers and more than one run-in with the police before the age of 13, I decided that my guardians had been right about alcohol after all.
It wasn't my friend and isn't to this day.
Pot was another story though. I could smoke it and not ever lose control of my faculties.
I knew early on that pot was plainly a much safer and more pleasant alternative and I couldn't understand why it was against the law while alcohol was legal.
One day a new program started at school. This program was called D.A.R.E., which stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, and it was taught by local police officers.
Up to that point I never knew that other drugs existed. I had not yet heard of LSD or heroin. Cocaine was something I had only seen on Miami Vice.
The cops held up large bags of "illegal drugs" and described in vivid detail what each one could do to us.
Pot supposedly would make you forget everything you ever knew and lead you to do cocaine which would make you "super human" and LSD which would make you see sounds and taste colors.
You could become addicted to any of them we were told.
However, this wasn't an addiction you could confess before your neighbors and your god on Sunday because if you admitted to having or using any of these drugs you would go to jail.
"By the way kids, there's a box on the wall over here and if any of you know of someone who is using drugs, well kindly drop their name in the box. It'll be our little secret."
Looking back I see D.A.R.E. as my earliest introduction to the drug war.
But, like most kids, while I secretly hoped no one would drop my name in the box I soon forgot about it. I grew up, got married, started a family and remained largely unaffected, in any direct way, by the drug war.
Drug War Comes Knockin'
One sunny September day in 2002 the drug war came knocking on my door out of the blue.
It started with a helicopter flyover looking for marijuana plants. I wasn't growing any. Never have. I figured it would fly over a couple of time as in years past and then be on its way.
But, after an hour it was still circling, the thunderous noise was rattling my windows, blowing dust everywhere and terrifying my geese and chickens who were flying around the yard shitting and squawking. It felt like what I imagine an active war zone feels like.
I grabbed my video camera and began filming the helicopter and shortly thereafter 7 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies roared up the driveway in big black trucks with tinted windows and loaded ATV trailers. Strange men dressed in civilian clothing and carrying large weapons piled out of the trucks and spread out over my property.
I ran out and demanded to know what was happening.
I was met by an undercover officer who said the chopper pilot thought he saw marijuana and could they have a look around?
I asked for a warrant.
They didn't have one.
I said I was going to get my camera and film them conducting a warrantless search.
When I returned 30 seconds later all of these big scary men with guns were hauling ass in a cloud of dust.
No pot was found.
No charges were filed.
I could have let the whole thing die right then and there.
But, I felt like I had been raped.
My rights and personal property violated, disregarded and trampled upon.
But I am a true Alabamian and "rebel" is in my blood so I embarked on a mission to find out why this had happened. I called Marc Emery and asked for advice. He suggested that I start a political party based on changing the drug laws in America. Thus the United States Marijuana Party was born with the very first chapter established in Alabama.
Who would 'a thunk it, eh?
I announced my intention to run for governor in the next election and thrust myself into the state political scene.
I wrote a letter to the editor of the Birmingham News, Alabama's largest newspaper. In that letter I asked all Alabamians who felt that the marijuana laws were wrong to become involved in the process to change them.
It was my first effort at an LTE and it was printed on November 7, 2002 exactly two days after the gubernatorial election between then Gov. Don Seigelman and Gov. Bob Riley.
It was a very close race.
The results were still in dispute just as the 2000 presidential election results had been.
Ballots were being recounted and all of Alabama was focused on the news. The Birmingham News added a large pot leaf icon to the top of my letter.
This was major publicity and it got about the response you would expect from the hard-charging drug warriors in Alabama.
Police obtained a search warrant based on that letter, and an alleged statement by my then 5-year-old daughter to the school D.A.R.E. officer.
They raided my home military style and called child service workers to try and kidnap my children.
They claim to have found eighty-seven-hundredths (0.87 gm) of a gram of pot in an envelope addressed to me, lying on top of my printer.
I was arrested; strip-searched, fingerprinted, photographed and locked in jail.
The full force of the federally funded drug war apparatus had been brought to bear on my family and me.
This was not the open political process, which I had been assured of by my birthright as an American.
Thus began my counter-attack, what has become a life consuming, all out frontal assault on U.S. drug policy.
Getting Active: The Drug War at Home
I began by learning as much as I could about the domestic drug war. I searched the Internet for information and read as many newspapers as I could gain access to.
One day I came across a story about a young Alabama boy named Webster Alexander.
Webster was a high school senior just a few months away from graduation. He was active in sports and made decent grades. He also, like many kids his age, smoked a little pot.
His principal, a former sheriffs deputy and National Guard reservist, asked the local police for an undercover narcotics agent to pose as a student.
This narc pretended to be Webster's friend even going so far as giving him rides to school and pretending his grandmother was dying of cancer and needed the pot so she could eat. Webster's own grandmother had recently died of cancer and so he sold the narc a little weed.
For doing so he faced 26 years in prison and that was with a plea bargain.
It shocked my conscience that such a thing could even be happening. For God's sake he was just a kid.
I decided to contact the family for an interview to be aired on Pot TV. They consented and as soon as the interview aired the phone began to ring off the hook.
Rolling Stone Magazine got wind of this tragedy and traveled to Alabama to cover the story, as did Cannabis Culture and a host of national and international newspapers.
When Webster went to court in June of 2003, one week after the Rolling Stone article was published, he was sentenced to 1 year in the county jail and was placed on work release after the first 30 days.
He is home now and I hear he is doing fine.
This result showed me how important direct action is and gave me the confidence I would need to take on the police in Goose Creek, South Carolina.
In Goose Creek the police had been called in to ambush the early morning arrivals, mostly black students, at Stratford High School.
The principal of the school, who spent much of his day monitoring some 70 video surveillance cameras, came to the conclusion that drugs were being sold because he saw students entering and leaving the restrooms.
Early one morning as children began to congregate in the main hallway the police swooped down the stairwell and out of the classrooms yelling and screaming, guns drawn, drug dogs barking and snarling. They began to throw children around like rag dolls and point guns, which lacked a safety apparatus, at the kids heads.
Some children were handcuffed and made to kneel on their knees for 45 minutes.
No drugs were found.
I traveled to Goose Creek to see if any of the students or family members would talk to me for Pot TV. Dan Goldman of Students for Sensible Drug Policy joined me there where we organized a protest in front of the Goose Creek Police Department, met with family members and students and stood outside the school for two days handing out literature, t-shirts and other materials that informed kids of their rights.
The parents and students with the help of the ACLU filed lawsuits.
Once again I felt that through my direct action I had empowered people and it was wonderful to see them stand up for their rights.
The Drug War Abroad
What I had seen of the drug war destruction in my own country had shaken the very foundations of what I believed America stood for.
This wasn't what they taught us in Sunday school.
I began to wonder about the US drug war being carried out in other countries and what kinds of things were being done to other people in our name that wasn't reported on the nightly news.
In the summer of 2004 I was presented with the opportunity to travel to Colombia, South America to study the effects of the US funded anti-drug effort known as Plan Colombia.
Under this program aerial crop dusters fly over peasant subsistence farmers in the remote jungles of the Amazon Rainforest and rain down poison chemical hell from the sky, destroying food crops, poisoning water sources, killing children, livestock and everything else it touches all in a vain effort to rid Colombia of the coca plant.
It took me traveling outside the US and witnessing first hand the destruction of US foreign drug policy on an impoverished nation to finally understand why 9/11 happened.
After seeing the pain and suffering of Colombians and hearing their stories of sick and dead children, destroyed livelihoods and ruined lands I now clearly understand why people around the world hate the United States and plot our destruction.
That old adage from the bible "You shall reap what you sow" comes to mind.
The other drug war horror stories I have learned about in the last three years are too numerous to recount in full detail in this article. They are seemingly without end.
Among the more notable things I have accomplished in the last 3 years are
*Being named drug policy advisor to the Dennis Kucinich and Aaron Russo campaigns for President in the 2004 election.
*Writing for LewRockwell.com.
*Organizing 35 state chapters of the US Marijuana Party
*Having a total of 82 letters to editors and articles about my efforts published in newspapers across the US and Canada
*Networking with the Drug Policy Alliance to get a medical marijuana bill introduced in Alabama. That bill passed the House Judiciary Committee on April 27, 2005 and will come to the floor of the Alabama Legislature in early 2006.
*Traveling to Washington D.C. and Montgomery, AL numerous times to lobby my elected officials about the need for drug policy reform.
*Attending a press conference about medical marijuana on the terrace of the Cannon House Building which was hosted by MPP and attended by Montel Williams.
*Protesting outside the DC Superior Court building after a quadriplegic man drown in his own fluids while serving a 10 day jail sentence for medical marijuana.
*Working on prison overcrowding and sentencing reform here in Alabama.
*Co-hosting WAPZ's "The Morning Show" in Wetumpka, AL and being regularly featured on "Cultural Baggage Radio" carried by Pacifica Radio out of Houston, TX and broadcast on over 40 stations nationwide.
*Providing independent media coverage of drug war related news.
Becoming The Change We Wish To See
I've learned that the drug war is a lie, plain and simple. It is, in fact manufactured crime, created by the very laws and policies that were supposed to stop it.
I'm not saying that there aren't drug addicts or that there are no bad consequences associated with using drugs. What I am saying is that back in 1972 when President Richard Nixon declared the War on Drugs more people died that year from tumbles down the stairs or slips in the bathtub than from drugs.
Every year since that time politicians who wanted to appear "tough on crime" have crafted destructive lies to instill the fear in the hearts of parents that children will become drug addicts unless they remain in office.
And every year since 1972 drug use, especially among children, drug-related disease, drug-related crime, drug-related deaths, drug availability and drug purity have trended upward while drug prices have gone down.
It seems to me that Americans have been fooled into paying for their worst nightmare and the bigger the failure of the Drug War the more money we are asked to pump into it.
The drug war has cost America the very freedom that she once stood for.
Things like states rights, the Constitution, the posse comitatus act, fairness in the judicial system, parental rights and plain damn common sense have all been sacrificed upon the drug wars alter of fear and lies.
Popular slang used to include the phrases, “freedom of speech” and “It’s a free country.”
These phrases are no longer a part of the American landscape. They continue to be uttered not in the bold and defiant tones which made them a part of our heritage but in a new hushed and frightened tone.
I've come to believe that the only way we will change drug policy in the United States is by becoming DIRECTLY ENGAGED in the political process and I don't mean just calling and writing your senators and congressmen.
I believe we must begin running for office at every level of government, local, state and federal.
We must gain proportional representation and stop allowing ourselves to be ostracized from the political process which passes laws that directly affect our lives in a very negative way.
We can no longer be duped into thinking that anyone can represent our interests better than we ourselves can.
We can no longer ask our elected officials for change and then sit idly by while they refuse to change the laws that have almost destroyed our great country.
We cannot continue to let them suck our children into the gaping, black maw of the American Gulag nor allow them rain down destruction on foreign lands that will breed hatred and perpetuate eternal war.
As we say down south "It's time to grab this bull by the horns".
By the time this article hits the stands I will have officially announced my candidacy for Governor of Alabama and with your financial help and support I firmly believe the next gubernatorial race headline that graces Alabama newspapers will read,
"Drug Policy Reform Candidate Loretta Nall "SMOKES" opponents in a Surprise Victory to Become Alabama's New Governor."
It'll be one hell of a Victory Party!
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Alexander City, AL 35010
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