Shades of Gray On The Drug War 

Shades of Gray On The Drug War 
Posted by FoM on April 29, 2001 at 08:35:50 PT
By Thom Marshall 
Source: Houston Chronicle
Further evidence that the winds of war are changing directions was the presence of several local judges at a luncheon where the speaker lambasted our current drug laws and called for reform. They had to know ahead of time that such would be the tenor of the talk because the man at the rostrum was James Gray, author of a new book, Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It, and because the Thursday noontime event was produced by the Drug Policy Forum of Texas, which promotes open discussion about options to our current drug policies. 
Gray, who also is a judge, pointed out that his state of California ranks second in the nation in putting people in prison and Texas ranks first. He stopped short of saying Houston leads Texas, and therefore is a top contender for the title of Lock-'em-up Capital of the World, but at least one audience member couldn't help thinking that. Impressive Figures:When others in the room applauded Gray's comments, I glanced over at a tableful of guys who have played key roles in getting us so high on that list. Such as when Gray said it makes as much sense to put Robert Downey Jr. in prison for drug abuse as it would have to put Betty Ford in prison for alcoholism. Or when he asked, since we can't keep drugs out of our prisons, how can we expect to keep them off the streets of Houston? Hands remained mostly still and quiet at that table of judges, who wore the unreadable facial expressions of practiced poker players. All across This Great Land judges must be feeling increasingly unsteady. Sitting on the bench must be like riding in a little sailboat with those drug war winds changing directions at gale force. How does his honor avoid being capsized by the boom? How will he survive the tempest? Gray works in Orange County, which many consider the most politically unusual part of California, which many consider the most politically unusual state of the union. Elsewhere, he might not have held onto his job after going public, back in April 1992, with his opinion that the drug war is a tragic failure. "Most judges have strong views about how to improve our drug policies," Gray wrote in his book, "and some of them are quite advanced. I have had many private conversations on this subject with other judges, who know that the war on drugs has failed, i.e., that `The Emperor has no clothes.' But just like many politicians and law enforcement officers, judges are also concerned about undermining their effectiveness or exposing themselves to an electoral challenge by addressing this issue publicly." Letter of Appreciation:In his speech, Gray told of the topmost appellate court judge in a Southern state who wrote him a long letter about how he agreed the drug war is a failure, and how he appreciated Gray's efforts to spread the word. Then he concluded by explaining he could not join Gray in going public with those opinions because it would be too complicated to explain to voters. This luncheon was even better attended than the DPFT luncheon several months ago when New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson was speaker. Smiling organizers said the event's success is yet another indication of how rapidly public demand for drug law reform is growing. But even when reform voters outnumber drug war supporters, judges won't have smooth sailing. They work in a system that has grown very big and very strong and very rich. The drug war "isn't winnable," said Gray, "but it is imminently fundable." Thus it is not logical to expect the warriors and the prison-industrial complex to stand quietly by, watching their powers and profits evaporate as the drug war is dismantled. They can be expected to fight changes in drug laws, prosecution and punishment. It is good that a few Houston judges went to hear Gray's talk and demonstrate support of open dialogue about our drug policy, regardless of opinions. And it is understandable that they appeared uncomfortable at times, no doubt a bit seasick from the way the gathering storm is rocking the boat. Source: Houston Chronicle (TX) Author: Thom MarshallPublished: April 27, 2001Copyright: 2001 Houston Chronicle Contact: viewpoints Website: Related Articles & Web Sites:Drug Policy Forum of Texas Policy Forum of Texas - Austin Laws Criticized in Speech Declines To Welcome Judge
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Comment #2 posted by lookinside on April 29, 2001 at 10:04:15 PT:
bad times acomin..
agreed kap...i appreciate you, and others here, doing theresearch so that others(me) can keep abreast of what isgoing on...i'm lucky if i can read everything FoM posts hereeach day...but i try because MMJ and the constitution areVERY important to me...thanks again...
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on April 29, 2001 at 09:22:35 PT:
Never mind the rinky-dink sailboat; think nuclear
As in reactor. As in what happens when more and more control rods are inserted. As in critical mass. As in danger.As in explosion.At the risk of seeming melodramatic, the DrugWar is the single greatest internal threat to civil liberties since the Cold War. Under the aegis of the Cold War, government agencies committed unGodly acts such as giving unknowing, non-consenting civilian 'test' subjects LSD, sprayed dangerous bacteria in subway tunnels and from ships offshore onto major West Coast cities, released carcinogenic cesium-137 from reactors at Hanford Nuclear Facility in Washington State down wind onto nearby communities (who were as in the dark about it as the LSD recipients) to gauge how many cancer deaths a community might expect after a nuclear war - all without anyone's knowledge or consent.In short, your government has demonstrated over and over again that it doesn't really care a rat's backside about the commonweal of the people it is purportedly subservient to.And now we have the DrugWar...which has eroded civil liberties to such an extent, that if one of the Founders showed up and heard us talk about the Federal government, he might be tempted to think that the Great Struggle was lost after all, and we were once again subjects of a foreign occupying power intent upon oppression.No-knock warrants. Wiretaps. Thermal imaging cameras. Military shooting civilians. Cops killing 11-year-old children. Our government aiding and abetting the murders of Americans missionaries abroad. Intelligence agencies with a past history of collusion with organized crime almost certainly having maintained those links and the highly profitable trade that accompanies it.Things are indeed approaching a time of crises...plural. And those judges had better bne up to it.
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