It was 30 years ago this coming Friday, April 8, that I held a press conference as a sitting judge just outside the Santa Ana Courthouse and told all who would listen that our nation’s policy of Drug Prohibition had failed us.  And the reason that the 8th of April sticks out so clearly in my memory is that, at that time, I was sitting on a civil litigation calendar and worked up the law and motion matters on Wednesday mornings so I could hear them argued on Wednesday afternoons.   So I decided to prepare for the motions the evening before and take a half-day vacation that morning for the press conference.  And I was ready to go on Wednesday, April 1.  But, in my wisdom, I decided not to hold it on April Fool’s Day.  So I always remember that I did it the following Wednesday, on April 8.

And what have we seen since that time?  The answer is disappointing.  I told people on April 8, 1992 that I was convinced that by the year 2000 we would have a materially different drug policy in our great country – and boy was I ever wrong!  Yes, California passed Proposition 215 in 1996 that provided for the medical use of marijuana, and as of right now 19 states allow for its recreational use for adults and another 18 for its medical use.  But marijuana is still listed federally as a Schedule I drug – which means that it has absolutely no medicinal value whatsoever, just like LSD and heroin.   This is transparently preposterous!  Of course since that time President Clinton himself has admitted he himself has used marijuana, but he didn’t inhale, which has become a national joke.  And President Obama acknowledged in one of his books that he used marijuana regularly while he was in college and law school.  And Presidents Trump and Biden were widely quoted during their initial campaigns for President that our nation’s drug laws weren’t working.  But none of those presidents have done anything to improve the situation federally!  Why?  The answer is politics!

So who is winning in the War on Drugs?  The answer is threefold: local law enforcement agencies, politicians and the prison guard’s unions, and they all use politics to get their ways. The issue with local law enforcement agencies is subtle.  They are bureaucracies, and they often are rated by the percent of crimes in their jurisdictions that they solve.  So the War on Drugs is really helpful, because as soon as a subject is caught using, possessing or selling illicit drugs, the case is opened and immediately closed at the same time.  Basically, without the War on Drugs most local police agencies would have a success rate of less than half of the reported crimes.  But with it, their statistical rates go up to about three in four – and they love it!  And for politicians the issue was hammered home by former Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach of the Lyndon Johnson Administration, who said: “The War on Drugs is an ideal vehicle for political rhetoric.”  In other words, show how tough you are and declare war on something that can’t fight back, like drugs, and that’s what gets you and keeps you elected!  And, of course, the prison guard’s unions get a great deal more job security for their members by having so many more people sentenced to prisons, with the War on Drugs being the biggest supplier.  And that has resulted in the United States of America, with 5 percent of the world’s population having 25 percent of its prisoners!!  Nevertheless, those groups generate big amounts of money to support the policy of Drug Prohibition.

Should “We the People” stand for this?  My view is no.  So if you agree with me, we must do more to call attention to and repeal this biggest failed policy in the history of our country, second only to slavery!

Word to the Wise:  “Never trust an electrician who has no eyebrows.”

And, BTW, if you are interested, please dial in on KFI AM 640 and other I-Heart radio stations around the country this coming April 7 at 10:00 p.m. Pacific to hear me interviewed on George Noory’s Coast to Coast radio show about bringing transparency to jail and prison life and also issues about School Choice.  It should be fun!

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President

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