As a hearing officer with the Maryland Parole Commission, Leo Wayne Dymowski said he sees first hand the consequence of the war on drugs.
Having just left a Maryland Division of Corrections facility in Jessup on Aug. 14, Dymowski said 10 of the 13 hearings he held that day were for nonviolent drug offenders.
“It is just ridiculous,” he said. “If you wanted to keep people using drugs, you’d do what we’ve been doing. It’s very successful if your goal is to keep people on drugs.”
Dymowski, 58, a Libertarian from Dundalk, is running to be Maryland’s next attorney general. He faces Democrat Sen. Brian E. Frosh (Dist. 16) of Somerset and Republican Jeffrey N. Pritzker.
At the heart of Dymowski’s platform is ending the war on drugs.
“I’ve always thought that in a free society the government shouldn’t be able to tell you what you can and cannot do as long as you don’t hurt anybody else,” he said. “To see people separated from society when their only crime is to use a substance that the government doesn’t like, it’s just absurd.”
If elected, Dymowski would combat the war on drugs as attorney general by not having his office handle appeals for nonviolent drug offenders and by investigating what he believes is the over-policing of drugs and the targeting of minorities. He said he also would support efforts to legalize not just marijuana — which lawmakers attempted to do in the 2014 legislative session — but all drugs.
The drug war hits close to home for Dymowski, who said his sister struggled with drug addiction.
“I don’t use drugs,” he said. “But I know the system we have now doesn’t end the cycle, it perpetuates it.”
Dealers, he said, exercise little discretion when selling and prohibition only makes the substance inherently valuable prompting dealers to risk 20 to 30 years in prison just to make good money selling it. Likewise, incarceration for drug offenses disproportionately affects the black community, he said, despite studies that show equal use among whites.
“I don’t want to put dealers in jail. I want them to pay taxes,” he said.
In addition to legalizing drugs, Dymowski supports eliminating controls on firearms. Like with nonviolent drug offenses, if elected, he would not have the attorney general’s office handle appeals of cases where law-abiding citizens were charged with possession of guns, he said.
Dymowski said Maryland’s gun law, championed by Frosh, is not making the state safer.
He also opposes speed cameras and the rain tax.
As a Libertarian, Dymowski said both the Democrats and Republicans have failed the electorate.
“Every vote for me is a vote telling a career politician that their time has come,” he said.
Dymowski said he was not always a Libertarian, having been both a Democrat and Republican in the past.
“Libertarian is the only consistent party,” he said. “It takes the Democratic party’s philosophy on social issues, which is leave us alone, and it takes the Republican party’s philosophy on financial issues, which is fiscal conservatism. I think most people in this country really are libertarians and don’t know it.”
Dymowski is a former paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne, and spent 15 years as a trial attorney before becoming a parole hearing officer. He holds his Juris Doctor from the University of Baltimore, a masters degree from University Maryland College Park, and a bachelor’s degree from UMBC. He lives in Dundalk with his wife, Janice, and is actively involved in animal rescue. Together they have three rescue cats.
“Sometimes with politics you feel like you are completely wasting your time,” he said. “But with animals, I mean, if you rescue one, to that animal, it’s the most important thing in the world.”