By Paul Rogers
“When I was 8 years old, I could recite the Miranda Rights,” says Jeff Studdard.
See, Studdard’s family is steeped in law enforcement. His dad is a former career cop who founded Los Angeles County’s Drug Recognition Expert program (DRE) in the 1970s. Both he and his twin brother became police officers and they have a nephew on the force.
“I grew up learning about how drugs affected people, because my dad was bringing his work home,” says Studdard. “I actually became an expert before I was ever in law enforcement.”
Studdard served for a decade as a school district police officer and reserve L.A. County deputy sheriff. He graduated from his dad’s DRE program, which teaches police how to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Yet Studdard’s work in Walnut Valley Unified School District (covering Walnut, Diamond Bar and portions of the City of Industry) only convinced him of the futility of drug prohibition.
“I would respond to drug calls,” Studdard recalls. “I’d hear the whole story about problems with a kid and I would arrest him. But the drugs never went away. I never saw the consumption diminish.”
When he broke his back in a roofing accident in 2003, Studdard’s life took a turn that went well beyond the physical impact of the injury. Now living in Marin County, he’s a medical marijuana patient; a graduate of Oaksterdam University; a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP); and a co-owner of Medi-Cone, a Bay Area company producing prerolls.
“My last resort was to become a patient,” says Studdard. “I had to because I was in a wheelchair; I had spinal surgery; I was addicted to narcotic painkillers and I was also an alcoholic. My father came in and saw me at that point–the lowest point in my life–and said that if I continued I’d be dead in six months.”
“I have good moments and bad moments,” he says. “I still sustain constant pain, but the cannabis makes me tolerate the pain more often and makes me able to eat.”
What makes Studdard so compelling as an anti-prohibition advocate is the breadth of his experience with marijuana, as a law enforcement officer, an MMJ patient and now cannabusinessman.
“I’m educated in the field of law enforcement and I know what the effects are and how law enforcement looks at it,” says Studdard. “I went to Oaksterdam University, so I got the other aspect as far as the other side: not the law enforcement side–the street side.”
It was through Oaksterdam that Studdard became involved with LEAP as a speaker. He was even featured in a pro-Prop. 19 radio ad last year.
“I do as much campaigning as I can as far as the legalization of marijuana because I know the benefits and aspects of it . . . it only helps people,” Studdard explains. “It’s a crime that the government allows patients to suffer.”
Studdard says he detects a shift in attitudes towards marijuana from within the law enforcement community, with which he retains close ties (his brother is a decorated police officer in Southern California).
“It’s going to be legal–it’s only a matter of time.”
From the fine folks at freeculturemag.com