would be

playing the White House in softball.

It seemed like high times for NORML. Publicly, Stroup predicted that pot

would be legal in a couple of years. Privately, he and his NORML pals joked

about forming an advocacy group for another drug they’d begun to enjoy — cocaine.

Then Stroup hit a couple of snags. In October 1977, Canadian customs agents

found a joint in Stroup’s pocket and busted him. That wasn’t too bad:

Canada had liberal pot laws and when Stroup returned for trial in 1978, the

judge let him off with a $100 fine.

But at the airport on his way home, Canadian customs agents searched his

bags and found a joint and a vial containing traces of cocaine. Busted

again, he spent the night in jail, was fined $300 and got kicked out of

Canada. The whole absurd episode was like a bad joke:

How can you tell if you might be a little too stoned?

You get busted going through customs with dope after your trial for going

though customs with dope.

That was a dumb blunder. But Stroup was about to make a blunder that was

infinitely dumber.

Back in Washington, he was lobbying for a bill to ban federal funding of a

controversial program that sprayed Mexican marijuana fields with the

herbicide paraquat, shown to cause lung damage in people who smoked the

tainted weed. Stroup asked Bourne, Carter’s drug adviser, to support the

bill. Bourne refused. Stroup was outraged. To him, it was a moral issue:

The feds were deliberately poisoning pot smokers! Seeking revenge, Stroup

leaked a secret to newspaper columnist Jack Anderson in July 1978: Bourne

had snorted cocaine at NORML’s 1977 Christmas party. And Stroup revealed

the names of a couple of witnesses.

When Anderson broke the story, Bourne told reporters he’d only handled

cocaine at the NORML party, he hadn’t actually snorted any. It didn’t

matter. Bourne lost his job.

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