Getting off the California Ave. exit from the 99 Freeway in Bakersfield, I came across a man in cowboy hat sitting astride a horse and carrying two Vote Yes on Prop 19 signs. I couldn’t resist. I pulled over and talked to him.

The cowboy was named Howard Woolridge; the horse was named Misty. A retired police officer from Lansing, Michigan who now lives in Fort Worth, Texas, Woolridge is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an organization in favor of legalizing marijuana.

Woolridge told me now that he’s retired he can “shout his mouth off” about what he sees as a waste of resources against the use of marijuana when those dollars could be used against serious crime.

The retired officer argued that the reason police departments line up against legalization is because the war on drugs brings money to the departments. He also acknowledged an emotional reason the officers don’t want to end the war on drugs. He said the police don’t want to believe that those officers killed in the line of duty in the drug war died in vain.

Woolridge said he came to California to support Prop 19 and “end the nonsense” about wasting resources.

Woolridge was planning two-day stay in Bakersfield before moving on. He fashioned himself as a modern day Paul Revere, taking the warning message from town to town on horseback.

While we talked a number of car horns blared their approval of his position.

Why the horse? “Everyone likes horses,” he says. “It’s marketing 101.”

I have different opinion about Prop 19 but that’s for another time.