Judging the drug war

Jim Gray: Libertarian for the US Senate.Jim Gray: Libertarian for the US Senate.CC: How did your feelings and thoughts about the war on drugs crystallize? Was there a crucial moment or event?
Gray: No. It occurred over time. As a federal prosecutor I believed in what I was doing. Once I became a judge, things began falling into place.

In my own courtroom, I would see that we were churning low-level, non-violent drug offenders through the system for no purpose, and that really bad criminals were getting away almost literally with murder because we didn’t have the resources to adequately investigate and prosecute those folks. Getting tough on drugs translates into getting soft on everything else. Every dollar we put into drug prosecutions is a dollar we take away from rape and murder.

What is it that you believe in so strongly that makes it important for you to oppose the war on drugs?

With any policy there are winners and losers. In the war on drugs there are four groups of winners.

Number one, we have filled our prisons with low-level drug offenders, leaving those people who are smarter, more organized and more violent. They are winning.

Number two are government bureaucrats who get big-time tax money. Two sitting congressmen told me that they are addicted to drug money and don’t want to give it up.

Number three are the politicians who talk tough, not smart, but tough on drugs, and they get elected by doing this.

Number four are the people who build and staff prisons, sell burglar alarms, and market newspapers. Because when crime goes up, so does sales.

Who is losing? Everyone else, particularly our children, for whom it is easier to get drugs than alcohol.

What exactly are you proposing?

The centerpiece of my campaign is to get the federal government out of marijuana prohibition and allow each state to address the matter in the manner they deem best appropriate, consistent with liberty and responsibility.

What about users who are concerned about quality?

In any system, one must assure that the quality is the best, as well as the selection. But whether some states allow people to grow their own, or some contract out for good quality to the lowest bidder would be a matter left up to each individual state.

Could you tell us about your plans to relieve California of its debt?

California would save about a billion dollars in tax money that we now spend in a futile attempt to eradicate marijuana and prosecute non-violent marijuana offenders.

We would also generate about two billion dollars a year in income on transactions, either through tax or a government store that sells marijuana.

What do you say to people who claim your program would turn the US into a country full of potheads?

You mean would this program result in increased usage of marijuana for adults? The answer is probably yes, for the first six months, maybe 12.

There are probably lots of people whose drug of choice is marijuana, but who are forced by the law to go up the drug ladder to amphetamines and cocaine. Why? Amphetamines and cocaine are only detectable by urinalysis for three days, while marijuana is detectable for 30. So if you are worried about being detected, the message is to use cocaine instead of marijuana, which is downright stupid.

Eventually, though, we would experience the same effect as in Holland, where they have half the marijuana usage as in the US.

What kind of an international drug-war policy would you support?

Well, take Colombia for example. The brutal truth is that you could bulldoze Colombia, and take it off the face of the earth, and it wouldn’t make a difference to our drug problems here. It is the simple law of supply and demand. The demand is here and if it isn’t met by South America, then it will be met by Thailand, Nigeria or even California.

Meanwhile millions are killed in an insane war.

We go in with pesticides, basically spraying industrial-strength Round-up over legitimate crops, livestock and groundwater, making big sores on the faces of their children.

If you don’t think they hate us for that you’re not looking. We are the biggest tool and recruitment service for the revolutionary groups. We couldn’t have a worse system if we tried.

Why are you against the Patriot Act?

If the US cared about fighting terrorism, the best thing they could do to is end drug prohibition, which provides the golden goose for that. So I conclude that they don’t care about fighting terrorism.

In your work as a judge, have you bumped into many fellow judges who, like yourself, want the drug war to end?

Well? that’s two questions, privately or publicly? Privately a majority of judges say the war on drugs isn’t working and they want it changed. They say that in the elevator or at parties, but in public they are quiet. I and others who want to set up a drug policy debate can’t find someone to take the other side. They just won’t do it.

Have you seen many drug users whose lives have been ruined by prohibition, rather than by their use of euphoric substances?

There is no question at all that the most dangerous thing connected to marijuana is jail. Here the cure is abysmally more dangerous than
the disease itself. Today in California we have something like three times the number of people in prison serving three-strike 25-years-to-life for marijuana than murder, rape and robbery combined. It is the very definition of Draconian.Jim Gray: Libertarian for the US Senate.

? Judge Gray for Senate: PO Box 2440, Costa Mesa, CA 92628