HOUSTON, Tx -- You don't have to look far in Houston to find someone who wants to legalize marijuana. But white-haired Maplewood resident Ann Lee might not be who you would expect to find on the front lines of that fight. She's 85 years old, a staunch Republican and has never smoked weed a day in her life.
She had been part of the "Just Say No" crowd for years until 1990 when her son Richard came to her and her husabnd Bob with the news that marijuana was good for him. A roadie for Aerosmith, Richard had fallen off a lighting rig while setting up for a concert. He ended up paralyzed. After reading up on treatments, he discovered marijuana could ease his painful back spasms.
"So after a lot of prayer, and trust in him, and research, we realized we were wrong," says Ann, "that marijuana had a lot of good benefits.... Of course, I very naively believed, 'Well, I see the facts, once I tell anybody, everybody will know it's good.' It hasn't been that easy."
So two years ago, she and Bob co-founded RAMP (Republicans against marijuana prohibition), an advocacy group meant to spread the message that the drug war is a big waste of money. Ann says it also goes against many basic Republican beliefs, like fiscal responsibility and personal freedom.
Worse than that, she says, "The drug war has produced it's own form of slavery... It has been the biggest incarceration of the minorities ever. Whites do (drugs) just as much, but they're not in the prisons with it."
For more on Ann Lee and her fight to end the pot prohibition, check out this month's issue of Houstonia.