It happens all the time — whenever he pauses to think of the futility of the war on drugs and the lives he says have been wasted. “We’ve been at this forever,” he said. “It never worked.”
As a broadening coalition pushes to legalize marijuana in Maryland this year, advocates have turned to Franklin to help sell the idea. A top official of the state’s American Civil Liberties Union calls him “the linchpin” of the advocacy campaign.
“When he talks about the drug war, he knows what he’s talking about,” said Sara Love, public policy director with the ACLU of Maryland. “He’s been out on the street, he’s arrested people — and realized at the end that those arrests haven’t helped anybody.”
Fit and trim at 55, Franklin wanders the halls of the State House, looking for lawmakers to catch in casual conversation. He drives more than 90 minutes from his home near the Pennsylvania border, just on the off chance he might connect with someone who could vote to make marijuana available at retail stores.