10/16/11 James P. Gray

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Superior Court Judge James P. Gray (ret), author of "Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It - A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs"

Audio file


Cultural Baggage / October 16, 2011


Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”


DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.


DEAN BECKER: Hello my friends. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. Here in just a moment we’re going to bring in our guest, Superior Court Judge James P. Gray. He’s now retired but he was one of the first elected officials, one of the first high stature individuals to speak for the need to end this drug war. He’s written a great book, “Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs.” It’s been a very strong inspiration for the work I do.

With that let’s go ahead and bring in our guest. Judge Gray, are you with us?

JIM GRAY: Is this the genuine Dean Becker? I will accept no substitutes.

DEAN BECKER: It’s me, sir. How are you doing?

JIM GRAY: I’m just fine, thank you and congratulations for the good work that you are doing. I’m proud of you.

DEAN BECKER: Well, thank you. It was, I’m trying to think back, about 12 years ago that we kind of connected there on the pages of the New York Times Drug Policy forum. I brought you on there to talk to the folks, the regulars there and it began a very long series of similar online forums. I appreciate you for being such a ground breaker.

JIM GRAY: Well, Dean, I’ve been doing this for more than 19 years now. I promised whoever would listen when I held a press conference back in April of 1992 that by the year 2000 we and our country would have a materially different drug policy. I’m afraid I was wrong. It’s been 19 years now and we’re farther away now from sanity than we were then. But, we’re getting there and we’ll talk about it later, of course as go on in our conversation.

DEAN BECKER: Yes sir and I kind of want to talk about some of those highs and lows. Just today the Washington Post featured a major OPED by Mr. Steve Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project talking about the way certain agencies within the U.S. government have quashed efforts to study marijuana for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and that’s not the only instance. They do that on a regular basis, don’t they Judge?

JIM GRAY: You know, Dean, we are seeing much more than hypocrisy here from the federal government. It really is hutzpah. I have debated General McCaffrey when he was the Drug Czar and he would make the statement, “You know there’s no neutral studies in government in the United States that show medicinal marijuana is a viable medicine.” And yet, you know something? He’s right.

Because it’s the federal government that control it and they have lots of reputable organizations pounding on their doors – the Centers for Disease Control, for heaven’s sake, Princeton University, the University of California, it goes on and on – asking to be able to do the studies and the federal government says, “No.”

So not only are they doing some bad things, they are hypocritically saying, “Well, there’s no studies” when they actually keep them from occurring all the while, of course – for years now – they have had ten medical marijuana patients to whom they have provided marijuana. So how could it be right on the one hand, wrong on the other and allow medical doctors to prescribe Marinol which is simply a synthetic marijuana. That seemingly has medicinal value when the genuine article does not.

If you’re looking for truth, or straightforwardness and integrity in the federal government in this area, you’re simply looking in the wrong place.

DEAN BECKER: Yes sir. Your home state – your based in Orange County, right?

JIM GRAY: Yes, in California.

DEAN BECKER: I have been observing over the last few weeks the machinations of the U.S. Attorneys. They’re threatening to bust every dispensary and take the property away from those leasing them to the dispensaries and in every possible way trying to circumvent the legal establishment of marijuana out there, right? Your response, sir.

JIM GRAY: That’s true and they are not busting the medical marijuana dispensaries. If they were to do that at least those people would be entitled to a jury trial. You know, face the judgment of their peers.

What they’re doing is doing it in the back door. They’re doing it administratively so they’re using the IRS saying, “OK, you’re not going to be allowed any business deductions.” They’re using the FBI who sent letters to the landlords saying, “Landlords, unless you get rid of these people within 45 days, administratively we’re going to forfeit your property.”

They’re doing back-handed things like that which, again, underscores the lack of integrity by the federal government in this movement. And, by the way, Sacramento is also with lack of integrity because some states that have passed medical marijuana laws and so they have licensed…They have said, “These are the requirements” and they’ve gone out to the various dispensaries saying, “If you want to do business, you have to do a license and this is what you have to do.” Which I applaud.

California has had 16 years since we passed Proposition 215 and they still do not have a licensing and a regulatory scheme in place. So not only do the medical marijuana dispensaries not know really what they’re supposed to do – neither do the police. And I feel sorry for them. Neither do the customers. It is an indictment against the government of the state of California in Sacramento from my standpoint. Shame on them.

DEAN BECKER: Yes sir and with that thought in mind, you have been involved, very much involved, in an initiative to regulate marijuana like wine - hopefully for the 2012 election cycle, right?

JIM GRAY: Yes, indeed. I think that we have the right initiative. We have the right timing. Just yesterday the California Medical Association endorsed the concept of treating marijuana like cigarettes and like alcohol. So, of course, we’re going to solicit an endorsement for Regulate Marijuana Like Wine.

If your listeners would like to see what the language is, because we’re proud of it, you can go to http://regulatemarijuanalikewine.com. It does not allow the commercial advertising of marijuana although it does make a distinction between marijuana on the one hand and hemp which, of course most people should know, has no value as far as getting high because it’s .3% THC or less. Our marijuana initiative would treat marijuana for adults just like wine but would treat hemp like the cotton industry which makes a lot of similarities.

We’re going to be on the ballot, I’m convinced, but your listeners need to contact anybody that they know that can vote in California and pass along this information that is in http://regulatemarijuanalikewine.com. This is going to be historic and it’s going to be for the good.

DEAN BECKER: It brings to mind that there are good folks who tried over the years, in California over the decades now, to truly regulate the market - to make it less possible for children to gain access, to make it more safe acquiring the medicines, to make sure the quality and the content is appropriate and the government fights these common sense approaches every step of the way.

JIM GRAY: It’s just amazing because they are trying to run companies out of business that are paying their taxes, are employing good people to do the work. What’s going to happen if they do that? Well, it will not reduce the amount of marijuana sold or smoked. It will just force those customers back to the illegal gangsters, back to the Mexican drug cartels and juvenile gangs. It makes no sense.

There are some medical marijuana dispensaries, I acknowledge openly, that are not acting within the law. So what do I say to that? That’s easy. Prosecute them. But prosecute them by the State of California or whatever other state is involved. It’s not a federal problem. It’s a state problem and we just need to address it in that fashion.

DEAN BECKER: Now, Judge, you, as you say, spoke out 19 years ago while you were still on the bench. You just retired a year and one-half ago?

JIM GRAY: Yes, it’s been about 2 years ago now. I retired in 2009 so for 16 years or so I was, as an active judge, speaking as forcefully as I could against our nation’s policy of drug prohibition. And I say, and I mean this Dean, that drug prohibition is the biggest failed policy in the history of our country. Second only to slavery and there are time when I don’t even think it’s number 2.

It has been a disaster from a civil liberties standpoint. It’s been a disaster from an incarceration standpoint. You know, of course, that we lead the world in putting people in prison in our country. We have 5% of the world’s population and 20% of its prisoners. Which, of course, it doesn’t take a sociologist to look and see that most of them are of color vastly over-represented particularly given their involvement with drugs.

It just goes on and on…the corruption. Look at what’s happened in Mexico. That violence, that corruption, homicides have almost nothing to do with drugs. It has almost nothing to do with drugs whatsoever. It has everything to do with drug money. They are not killing each other now and corrupting public officials, etc. because of alcohol because that has been regulated and controlled.

Just like here, in California, we do not have Mexican drug cartels planting illegal vineyards in our national forests in competition with Robert Mondavi. Once you regulate it and control it – then you get rid of the Al Capone’s or the Mexican drug cartels. By making it illegal - which is what now the federal government is proposing to do even more so – you’re subsidizing violent gangs, Mexican drug cartels, juvenile gangs, the Hell’s Angels, all the rest of that.

It absolutely makes no sense. All we need to do is legitimize the discussion, Dean, and people will come around because what we’re doing today in drug prohibition does not stand the light of day.

DEAN BECKER: Judge, you mentioned the situation in Mexico - just unbelievable - the gall of some people. Governor Perry has, of late, talked about how Texas has weathered this economic turmoil calling it the “Texas Miracle”. And then today in the Houston Chronicle there’s a major headline here, “Drug Money Helped to Shape “Texas Miracle”. It goes on to say how all of these folks along the border, there’s a lot of part-timers, there’s a lot of families that serve as mules or even leg-breakers on a part-time basis. The fact of the matter is is it’s helping to pump up the Texas economy as it probably is in Arizona and even in California, I would imagine. Because some say it’s as much as 385 billion dollars or more per year, this black market creates. Your response, Judge Gray.

JIM GRAY: The money involved in illegal drugs is absolutely huge. The estimates are that there’s as much money made in illegal drugs around the world as the textile industry, as the cloth industry – making clothes for everybody. I, by the way, am going to be at a symposium in Laredo on the 26th of October which is a Wednesday. It’s sponsored by Laredo Bar Association so if your good folks are around in the Laredo area – come and see me. We’re going to discuss this matter.

But I’ve also have discussions with…it was actually a symposium in El Paso which is, of course, just across the river from Ciudad Juarez. There were probably half the audience from the Attorney General’s offices in various cantones in Mexico. I looked at them square in the eye and said, “You have to legalize drugs in Mexico. It will not make any difference at all with regard to the availability of drugs in our country.”

For example, the head of the DEA a few years ago estimated that at any one time Mexican drug cartels have warehoused somewhere around 200 tons of cocaine in Mexico within 3 miles of our border simply waiting for there to be a scarcity in Albequrque or Dallas or Eugene or St. Paul or wherever so that they can smuggle it in.

So it won’t make any difference at all regarding the amount of drugs here but at least you can stop or seriously reduce the corruption and the violence and the killings. They were listening to me and they applauded. They should.

DEAN BECKER: Judge, I want to carry that across the ocean here to Afghanistan where they’re now reporting record harvests of the opium poppy. They say that they had squelched the growth in several of the provinces but it now back into, I think, 14 out of the 17 provinces – much like it was in the beginning.

That there are caves full of opium just as you were saying there’s cocaine near the U.S. border and there are caves full of processed opium sitting over there in case there’s a shortage. It’s a preposterous notion that we’re going to wipe it out or do anything about it. Especially given the fact the U.S. troops sometime guard the opium on behalf of the farmers.

JIM GRAY: Well we have given up our opium eradication policy there because it was undercutting the local population because that’s where they get most of their foreign currency. They have something to do with that so we are almost now using our troops to protect the opium growers.

Dean, and I think I’ve done this once before with you but I’d like to again, any policy you can put in always has some winners and some losers, right? And that’s true with health care, education and I assure you it’s true with regard to drug prohibition.

So who is winning today? I’ll just go through my list of 6 groups really quickly. Because the first is transparently big-time drug dealers. They’re winning, making billions of dollars a year – tax free, by the way. The second group are juvenile gangs which gets their primary source of funding from what? From the sale of illegal drugs.

The third group are law enforcement that get additional moneys from their governments to fight against the first two groups. I’m not pointing the finger at law enforcement as they haven’t failed us anymore than Elliot Ness failed us in regards to alcohol prohibition. It’s the system but nevertheless their bureaucracies, their fiefdoms continue to get stronger.

Number four group are the politicians that talk tough with regard to the War on Drugs. No smart but to get elected and re-elected by doing it. And, of course, it’s our fault for electing them but they talk tough and keep winning re-election. They’re winning.

Fifth group are those in the private sector that make money because of increased crime. Who might that be? People that build prisons. People that staff prisons. Probably every state in the country has its longest, strongest political lobby group as the Prison Guards Union. It certainly is true in California. They’re winning. People in security systems, things like that.

And, finally, the ones that are winning are – and this is the reason I’m doing this at this moment – it is the people that are involved with terrorism from around the world. They are winning.

Who is losing? Everybody else - particularly our children. That’s the problem. Why? Because we are putting our children in harm’s way for two extremely important reasons. The first is, don’t just listen to me, ask any teenager you can find and they will tell you that it’s easier for them to get marijuana if they want to than alcohol.

Why? Because the alcohol is regulated and controlled by the government and the illegal drugs are controlled by illegal drug dealers and they don’t ask for ID.

And number 2 is as least as bad and that is we have lots of adult drug dealers out there. And what happens? They go out and recruit children, teenagers to help them with their drug distribution. They use them for go-fors or lookouts or couriers or whatever. And as soon as their reliability is established they will trust these youngsters to go out and sell drugs in their communities. Why? Because it’s more money for the drug dealers, more money for the kids.

Then ask yourself this question which should bring tears to the eyes of anybody who cares. And that is, when you have a 15/16-year-old selling drugs in his or her community – who are those kids going to sell to? People like you and me? Nonsense – they’re going to sell to their 14/15/16-year-old peers thus recruiting more children to this very lifestyle of drug usage and drug selling that we say we’re trying to keep away from them.

It is caused by drug prohibition. You do not see children selling Jim Beam bourbon to their high school campuses today because it is regulated and controlled. But they ‘re selling ecstasy, marijuana or worse all the time. We must repeal drug prohibition to keep our children safer.

DEAN BECKER: Well earlier we were talking about the fact that 19 years ago you began speaking out while you were wearing the robe, while you were a working judge. We’re both members of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. And, truth be told, most of our members wait until they’re retired to speak up. Which brings to mind about two weeks ago Ethan Nadelmann was a debate at the University of Arkansas sponsored by Students for Sensible Drug Policy and he debated, I think, a former opponent of yours in a debate – Asa Hutchinson.

JIM GRAY: Oh yes.

DEAN BECKER: And I want to share this with you. This is kind of after the fact all these drug warriors tend to come walking our direction. This is Asa Hutchinson:

ASA HUTCHINSON: Our policy should be if you have an addiction problem and you’re nonviolent, you’re simply a user, I would agree that you should not go to prison. We are in agreement on that point.

DEAN BECKER: Now, Judge Gray, this kind of echoes what Kerlikowske has said and others have said. They talk the talk but they’re not walking the walk yet, are they sir?

JIM GRAY: No, that’s right. I’ve never heard Asa Hutchinson say that before. I’ve heard him say the absolute opposite but, at least, maybe some sense is creeping in.

But, you know, you do have the head of the DEA and the Drug Czar and all these other folks talking this stuff. In fact Kerlikowske is one of the biggest offenders. Saying, “Oh, we’re going to put the War on Drugs behind us. That’s not what we’re doing. We’re going to spend money for drug treatment.” But when it comes down to earmark the money it still heavily goes to interdiction and law enforcement and just the leftover crumbs for things that will actually help people like drug treatment. It’s really not a good thing.

Do not underestimate what we can do by talking in your show, or at Rotary clubs…I was…it happened on three different occasions where at Hoover Institute where they brought in sitting Chiefs of Police from around the country on three different occasions – anywhere from 60-75 Chiefs. And once the doors were closed and the public microphones were turned off, about half of them spoke the same way that I do or that Ethan Nadelmann does. But then they looked at you and said, “We know the War on Drugs isn’t working but I have a very political job and I have to respond to the mayor and the city council and the editorial board of my local newspapers. I can’t talk the truth.”

And then what they would say, and this is important to hear, “I need political cover. I need the people to give me the ability, the voters to give me the ability to legitimize the discussion – then I can tell the truth.”

So a lot of this problem, particularly at the local level, we need to give our local officials political cover. That is to tell them literally, “If you talk tough on drugs instead of smart on drugs, we’re going to find somebody else who will actually do something smart.”

Once they get this message they will act accordingly because politicians are really good at one thing – they are good at followership. They will follow where the votes are. Our Rotary clubs and your listeners have a lot of power by legitimizing the discussion, giving them that political cover and then a lot of good things will start to happen.

Dean, I’m going to respond to something you’d said earlier because I have never used marijuana. I’m not interested unless maybe a medical doctor would recommend it to me for some form of malady. But I have been on the stage with Tommy Chong one time. They gave us both awards from NORML and I told people – and I’m a pretty conservative judge from a conservative county – never in my life did I expect to be on the stage with Tommy Chong.

His life is different than mine but it’s amazing because so many people from all walks of life have come to the same conclusion but by vastly different avenues. His avenue of understanding that we have to regulate and control marijuana and other drugs is vastly different than mine. But, the outcome is the same.

Your approach, you know, your life and your experiences have been different but we all come to the same conclusion and that is today drug prohibition is probably the biggest evil that we are perpetrating upon ourselves – we must repeal it.

DEAN BECKER: Oh, indeed, sir. I think back to the first day that I met you. I think you were giving a speech here at…two judges and DA candidates or something, I think it was.

JIM GRAY: I think that’s right. Your District Attorney there in Houston whose name escapes me at the moment, very good guy, was a part of that as well - going for the enlightened prosecution and that sort of thing. There are good things happening in this world and a lot of good people.

Norm Stamper, for example, you know him – the former Chief of Police of Seattle, for heaven’s sake. One of my fellow LEAP speakers whom I’ve met, Steve Downing (?) former Chief Deputy of Los Angeles Police Department speaks just the same way I do but from a vastly different experience level. So it’s just amazing. Walter Chronkite, Milton Friedman, George Shultz, … Jimmy Carter has now come out and endorsed the International Program for Drug Policy.

We’re making progress. What we need are the voters who are listening to us right now that don’t think that they have much power and we need to convince them that that’s not true. They have lots of power and they can help us do away with this evil policy.


(Game show music)

DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.

ANNOUNCER: Side effects may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration, erotic lustfulness, loss of odor control, loss of clothing, loss of money, loss of virginity, delusions of grandeur, table dancing, headache, dehydration, dry mouth and a desire to sing karoke and play all night rounds of strip poker, truth or dare and naked twister.

Also may cause you to think you can sing and may lead you to believe that ex-lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at 4 in the morning. It may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people. And it may lead you to think people are laughing with you. May cause pregnancy. And it may also be a major factor in getting your ass kicked.

So what are you waiting for? Stop hiding and start living - with Tequila!

{{{ gong }}}


TERRY NELSON: This is Terry Nelson speaking for LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). Jack Healy of the NYT reports that this week that a report came out showing that poppy production has increased in Afghanistan despite increased efforts to destroy fields of opium poppies and wean Afghan farmers off the country’s biggest cash crop. Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan rose in 2011 and spread into areas once declared “poppy free,” according to a United Nations survey released Tuesday. It was the second year in a row of rising poppy cultivation. There is an estimated 323,000 acres of poppy under cultivation.
Bearing in mind that NATO forces occupy the country and we still cannot control the poppy production I think that it is time to recognize that this effort is being conducted in a manner than is doomed to failure just as the Prohibition of Alcohol failed here in the United States.
And this week, as most of you are aware, a plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador was allegedly discovered. It is reported that in this same plot the Iranians also allegedly offered to provide the Mexican Cartels with all the Opium that could want to sell on the open market. The nexus between international terrorism and the failed drug war just got a little stronger. A couple of weeks ago the DHS reported that the Drugs Cartels are now operating in one thousand cities in the United States.
You have to wonder what it is that our leaders are thinking when they press for continuance of this failed policy. Every indicator shows that the effort is lost yet they keep saying that we are making progress and that “we can’t wave the white flag and surrender now just as we are seeing results.” Perhaps they are smoking stronger stuff than the other 112 million Americans admit to smoking.
The government reaction is to step up attacks against medical cannabis and threaten dispensaries with criminal action. The government admits that our economy is “in the tanks” and that we must do something to create jobs and opportunities. Perhaps it is time for them to quick supporting this failed policy and permit our farmers to grown Hemp. Perhaps they should admit that taxing the sale of cannabis can bring in a huge amount of revenue. Perhaps they should admit that if we stopped prosecuting non-violent drug offenders that we could save approximately 70 Billion dollars in criminal justice costs. Perhaps they should recognize that people can get better jobs and pay more taxes if they do not have a felony conviction on their backs. Perhaps they should realize that kids should be in school instead of Jail.
LEAP does not encourage nor condone illegal actions of any kind but it is time to Stop the Drug War and switch to a policy of Education and treatment to fix our drug problems. This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, www.leap.cc signing off. Stay safe.

[ music ]

DEAN BECKER: Barack Obama – he liked to get high.
Barack Obama – he gave it all a try.

But now he’ll bust you if you try.
Put down that bong – pick up a grenade launcher.

The banks that launder need all the loot.
It’s the silver or the lead – you take the money or you’re dead.

Obama’s best friend – Shorty Guzman.
Barack Obama – he’s no friend of mine.


[ music ]

DEAN BECKER: Can’t never win eternal war
Can’t never end eternal war
No, we can’t never end eternal war
So we support terror because we’ve a mind to.


DEAN BECKER: Well that’s about it for this week. There’s more with Judge Gray on this week’s 420 reports and, as always, I remind you that because of prohibition – you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.


To the Drug Truth listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org