A few months later, so did Stroup. The folks at NORML didn’t like snitches

and eased him out the door.

‘When I look back on it,’ Stroup says now, ‘it was probably the stupidest

thing I ever did.’

Nobody ‘in their rational mind,’ he adds, would jeopardize a relationship

with a high White House official over a minor policy dispute.

Is it possible that he wasn’t in his ‘rational mind’ because he was too

stoned too often?

‘Yes,’ he says. ‘I think it is possible that my own personal use of cocaine

played into that.’

In those days he, like many people, thought coke was harmless. Now he knows

better. ‘Cocaine is deadly,’ he says. ‘There are probably people who can

use cocaine moderately. But I gotta tell you: Based on me and my friends, I

didn’t see very many of them.’

> The Dude No More

After leaving NORML in 1979, Stroup spent four years as a defense attorney.

‘Every client I had was a drug offender,’ he says. ‘The only people who’d

heard of me had been arrested on drug charges.’

Unfortunately they weren’t the kind of drug offenders he liked — folks

who’d been caught with a little weed. They were mostly cocaine smugglers

and, he soon realized, a lot of them were thugs.

‘So I stepped aside,’ he says, ‘and went back into public-interest work.’

Stroup, who had divorced in the early ’70s, married a television producer

and moved to Boston, where he became a lobbyist for the Massachusetts

Council on the Arts and Humanities.

In 1986 he moved back to Washington to lobby for a family farm

organization. In 1989 he became executive director of the National

Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. In 1994 he became a lobbyist for

the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, an Alexandria-based

prison reform group.

Then in 1995, NORML — split by infighting — asked Stroup to come back and

run the place.


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