Masters Goes to Washington
by Ari Armstrong
[The following article originally appeared in the April 2002 edition of Colorado Liberty.]
Sheriff Bill Masters traveled to Washington, D.C. March 13-14 to discuss drug policy at the Cato Institute. He also spoke to several media outlets, including The Washington Journal on C-SPAN. Masters, author of the recently published Drug War Addiction, serves as the nation's first Libertarian sheriff.
Masters addressed the Cato Institute in the late afternoon of March 13. Timothy Lynch, who works on criminal justice issues for Cato, described Masters' book as "one of the most effective critiques of the drug war I've seen." Masters' talk is archived at http://cato.org.
Masters argued that drug prohibition is ineffective and creates severe social problems. For instance, prohibition alienates law enforcement from the public and leads to corruption. It is also enforced unequally, depending on class and race. Wealthy people with political connections either get off of drug charges completely or else end up in treatment. Meanwhile, poor people languish in jail. Masters also noted the hypocrisy of running drug war ads between ads for beer, Viagra, and Prozac, even as large numbers of school children are doped up on Ritalin.
William Otis, a former federal prosecutor invited by Cato to respond to the Sheriff, said, "There is much to admire in Masters' book, as there is much to admire in the libertarian philosophy which Masters champions." However, he believes the problem of drug abuse requires the policies of prohibition.
Ron Crickenberger, LP Campaigns Director, said of Masters' talk, "It does me proud that we have somebody with such sincerity and authority speaking up there."
Earlier that day, Masters joined Alan Nathan, whose show "Battle Line" airs on Radio America. George Getz at the national LP office helped arrange that and several other media events. Masters spoke with Jeff Johnson of the Conservative News Service, and later that night he attended an interview at a local television station. The next day, Masters joined Roger Arnold to discuss the eco-nomics of prohibition on Arnold's radio program.
On March 14, Masters joined C-SPAN for a half-hour interview. Masters recapitulated his main reasons for questioning prohibition, then answered callers. One woman called in and said, "I celebrate hearing these words." That night, Masters addressed a crowd at an LP-sponsored banquet.