07/20/14 James P. Gray

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Judge James P. Gray, 2012 VP candidate for Libertarian party + David Borden, Dir of StopTheDrugWar.org

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Transcript

Cultural Baggage / July 20, 2014

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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.

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DEAN BECKER: Hello, my friends. We are back in studio doing a live show for your today. Here in just a moment we are going to bring on our guest. He was the 2012 Libertarian Vice-President candidate. He is author of a great book which inspired me and he has inspired me over the years. His book “Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It: A judicial indictment of the war on drugs.”

He is, I don’t know how to say this, a man who inspired me over the years to do what I do. When he accepted me as something other than just some kind of “hippy” he saw that what I was saying had a lot of merit.

With that I want to welcome former Superior Court Judge James P. Gray. Hello Judge.

JAMES GRAY: Dean, thank you. It is always good to be with good people and I can tell you that I’ve been involved with trying to change our nation’s drug policy since 1992. As a result I’ve met some of the finest people I’ve ever met. Some have been in prison. Some are still drug addicted and others like us who haven’t used these drugs. You are certainly a part of that. I applaud what you’ve done.

I know now, in fact I have it right in front me, that you’ve written this book “To End the War On Drugs: A Guide for Politicians, the Press and Public” and I know that a program set pretty soon to go back to DC and provide copies of your book to influential people. I just applaud you and I know that all of our listeners do as well so take a bow and I’ll just say thank you.

DEAN BECKER: Wow, thank you, Judge. I think about in the time that I’ve been doing this, basically 15 years, trying to undo the horrors of the drug war it has changed. It has changed considerably. There are now politicians that are on our side who are speaking somewhat boldly at least of that need for change. I think the majority of Americans now see the futility of continuing down this same drug war path. Your thoughts?

JAMES GRAY: I think you are right certainly with regard to marijuana. All the polls show that more than 50% of the high propensity voters see that this is fruitless – not only fruitless but damaging. Certainly with the initiatives passed recently in 2012 in the states of Colorado and Washington the end of drug prohibition is in sight. Thank God for that although the more days it lingers the more misery and ruining of people’s lives we are going to continue to do but the end is in sight and I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again that within 2 or 3 years after this occurs we will all (I don’t care who you are) we will all look back at this failed policy and be aghast that we could have perpetuated it for so long.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, Judge. Speaking of people recognizing the futility of this I have a segment here I want to share with you.

Courtesy NBC this is author and reporter Sonia Nezario:

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SONIA NEZARIO: I first went to Central America to write about civil wars in the early 80s. I focused on unaccompanied children 15 years ago writing the modern day odyssey of one boy, Luis Enrique Motino Pineda, whose mother left him in Honduras when he was just 5-years-old. 11 years later he went in search of her in the US by riding up the length of Mexico on top of freight trains.

Last month I returned for the first time in one decade to Enrique’s home in Nueva Suyapa - a neighborhood of Tegucigalpa. I lived there for one week. I saw a huge change in why children are migrating to the US - a level of violence directed at them that astound me.

I have lived through Argentina’s dirty war and ridden on top of 7 freight trains controlled by gangs through most of Mexico. I am not easily spooked but after one week I thanked God that I got out of Enrique’s neighborhood alive.

Gangs have long ruled parts of Nueva Suyapa but recent control by narco-cartels has brought a new reach and viciousness to the violence. Children, in particular, are being targeted here and throughout the country. Children are kidnapped, found hacked apart, heads cut off, skinned alive.

Sometimes at night men in face masks strafe anyone on the street.

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DEAN BECKER: Alright, Judge Gray, your thought there, sir? We have to face up to this reality do we not?

JAMES GRAY: It’s coincidentally about 20 minutes ago before I’ve been on your show I finished writing an editorial that I am submitting to the New York Times exactly on this subject that the reason for these tens of thousands of unaccompanied children coming up through Mexico to our border is the war on drugs. It is exactly what Ms. Nezario was saying there.

Honestly I think we should control our borders. We can get into that some other time but I think because it is not caused by drugs but caused by drug money - that’s what causes the violence – and it’s our drug money that is doing it I think that gives us at least a moral obligation to assist these people in safety.

My goodness, would you raise your children in a war zone if you could help it? Honestly it is just like in the Nazi time before the 2nd World War a lot of Jewish parents sent their children to England for exactly that reason because they were in danger and their parallel is just finite as to what is happening here.

Shame on us and it is not drugs that are causing these problems it is drug money and it is our money that has caused these huge amounts of damage not only in Mexico, not only in Central America but all around the world. Shame on us, again, we need to change away from this failed policy just like what Sonia Nezario was saying.

DEAN BECKER: The fact of the matter is there are folks in the senate and in the house beginning to speak of this need for change – some surprise names like Rand Paul – sometimes sounds like he’s with our “band of brothers” in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

Shame on us for ignoring us. We have 20/30,000 violent gangs prowling our neighborhoods and why? Because of this drug war. We have to face this fact don’t we?

JAMES GRAY: I devoutly wish that we had never had alcohol prohibition because that allowed the mafia to get a toehold/foothold in our country and, of course, they are still here. The same has happened with regard to these Mexican drug cartels, these other violent gangs all around the country.

Now if and when we repeal drug prohibition these gangs and bloodful people are not going to go away. They will get into extortion and kidnapping and the rest but at least they will not be making their money by the sale of illegal drugs. Fortunately other countries now with the leadership of Colorado and Washington...the country of Uruguay is now selling these drugs themselves. Hooray for that.

The biggest oxymoron in our world today is the term controlled substances. [Dean chuckles] Why? Because as soon we prohibit a substance we give up all of our controls to the bad guys. Things like quality control which is a huge issue...go back to alcohol prohibition and bath tub gin and people were dying because of the impurities in the alcohol. That all went away when we finally repealed alcohol prohibition.

Things like place of sale or the amounts to be charged and certainly age restrictions - all of that we abandoned to juvenile street gangs, mafia-type groups and other real criminals. So, again, we couldn’t do it worse if we tried and you are on the vanguard of this, again, in your book and don’t be modest – “To End the War On Drugs: A Guide for Politicians, the Press and Public”.

It quotes numbers of people on this show and I’m proud to say that you included me. It just is devastating to the current policy because there is so much background and so much rightness and information in your book. I wish everyone would read it.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you, again.

We are speaking with Judge James P. Gray. He is author of “Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It: A judicial indictment of the war on drugs” which, being truthful, was a good inspiration for me writing this book.

Judge, I am proud to say I have 3 books in front of me today. It gives me comfort. I have a copy of mine, “To End the War On Drugs” but I also have one, “Dealing Death and Drugs: The big business of dope in the US and Mexico” and it is written by our host, US Representative Beto O’Rourke out of El Paso, who is hosting us for this press conference.

I don’t know if he is the first of that echelon to have written such a book but it gives me hope that this truth is sneaking out of the cage so to speak and that more politicians will perhaps embrace this recognition of logic. Your thoughts, sir?

JAMES GRAY: It is happening. Politicians are really good at one thing and that is followership. They will follow where the votes are. You have seen now where the House of Representatives, led by Dana Rohrabacher who is actually my representative here, have passed bills saying that the federal government will not interfere with the sale of marijuana as long as it is within the laws of the various states. Hooray for that.

Others are talking as well. You are aware that I was the vice presidential candidate for the Libertarian party along with Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico and even back in 1999 (quite a while ago) Governor Johnson as the sitting governor of New Mexico came out and basically said that he had conducted his audit (as he called it) and found that the war on drugs was a failure and we had to change it.

More and more people are beginning to have that courage but, my goodness, Governor Gary Johnson is just an inspiration as well. More and more people are doing it and, by the way, back in 1994 I went to three seminars at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University that were put together by Joe McNamara (former police chief of San Jose) and Milton Friedman and George Shultz (former Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan) and we invited and many came the chiefs of police from various police departments from all around the country.

When we closed the doors and it was all quiet pretty much two-thirds of them spoke the same way that we did back in 1994. Unfortunately they see this but they have too many “masters” - they can’t say this publically because of the mayors, the city councils, the various editorial boards at the local newspapers. They just need political cover.

You mentioned LEAP a few minutes ago (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) - a speaking group – you are involved with that and so am I. We are all from various phases of law enforcement talking the truth about what we have seen and, of course, that is something the people cannot respond to because no one can call us “soft on crime”. We have just seen it and we are telling the truth and more and more people are coming out and doing the same thing – many on your show. So, again, it’s nice to be with you.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Judge. We have just a couple minutes left. I want to turn it over to you to point folks to your website if they want to get in contract with and what I understand is you will not be able to come to DC with us...What would you relay to those politicians?

JAMES GRAY: The distinction between the harms to be done by drugs and, again, I’m not minimizing them. They can be sometimes addicting. Sometimes they can be harmful. Many people use them without harm but you have to understand that your body will not forget and if you mistreat it it is going to...ask Janis Joplin or people like that – it is going to respond but about (as Governor Johnson said) maybe 10% of all of our drug problems in our country and in the world are caused by the drugs themselves – 90% is caused by drug prohibition, drug money.

If I were back in DC with you (and I’m sorry I can’t go) I would reinforce just that. There is a distinction between drug harm and drug money harm and the drug harm pales in comparison with the drug money harm. For example, I don’t use marijuana and it can be harmful but clearly the biggest harm related to marijuana is jail. People can overcome an addiction. Sometimes it is not easy but they cannot overcome a conviction. You are ruining people’s lives unnecessarily by bringing them into the criminal justice system, bogging all of that down, having us now lead the world in the incarceration of our people both by sheer number as well as per capita – many of whom are there because non-violent drug offences.

The tougher you get with regard to non-violent drug offenses literally the softer you get with the prosecution of everything else – robbery, rape, murder, etc. – because we only have so many resources and if we are spending them on drug sting operations and tracking down non-violent drug offenders we are literally not using those resources to investigate burglaries and homicides and the rest.

Those are the issues that I would directly confront them with – the difference between drug harm and drug money harm as well as just how many resources we have in the criminal justice system that are being misused against non-violent drug offenders instead of people who are causing harm to us. Again I’m sorry I cannot be with you but I think those are very potent messages that should be relayed and should be understood.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, thank you Judge Gray. Your website?

JAMES GRAY: http://www.judgejimgray.com/ If people communicate with me through there I always try to respond to them.

All we need to do and when I endorse my book...and you endorsed yours to me, thank you. When I endorse it I invariably say it’s OK to discuss drug policy and it is. As soon as we legalize, legitimize the discussion the whole battle is over. You are helping us do that, Dean. Thank you for your efforts and the best of luck to you in Washington, D.C. with your press conference. Congratulations on your book “To End the War On Drugs” it is a marvously done book.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you, sir. We got to go.

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(Game show music)

It’s time to play: Name That Drug By Its Side Effects

Empty pockets, theft, lying, withdrawal, nose bleeds, fits of rage, depression, uncontrollable itching and sniffing, prostitution, jail time, heroin use, loss of friends, loss of life...

{{{ gong }}}

Time’s up: The answer...from Purdue Pharma - oxycodone.

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[harmonica]

The DEA’s the joker, the FDA’s the joke.

The joke is on the USA so why not take a toke?!

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DEAN BECKER: As the drug war begins its demise there are many good friends I’ve found along the way working to bring about that demise. Here’s a gentleman joining us now who runs Stop the Drug War (http://stopthedrugwar.org). He’s been doing it for well over one decade – maybe 20 years.

He has some great articles that are appearing in some very prestigious journals as we speak. With that I want to welcome the director of Stop the Drug War, Mr. David Borden. How are you doing, David?

DAVID BORDEN: Good, Dean. Thanks for having me on.

DEAN BECKER: Tell the folks a little bit more about your “day job” before we get into those articles.

DAVID BORDEN: I’m the founder and executive director of Stop the Drug War. We are a drug policy reform organization that’s known for our long time writing – particularly news reporting on the internet. We were the first group to really spearhead internet organizing for drug policy reform when organizing people for drug policy reform was still a new thing to do. It has been more like 2 decades than 1 decade.

We also do advocacy campaigns when we have funding for them. We played a big role in the campaign to repeal a law that takes financial aid away from students because of drug convictions.

We are currently raising resources to do a campaign taking aim at the UN drug control regime which 2 years from now the general assembly will be holding a special session on drugs. I discuss that issue as a secondary topic in one of my papers.

DEAN BECKER: Let’s get to those papers because this is some very classy writing – very professional, well footnoted and very profound. Let’s talk about them one at a time.

DAVID BORDEN: I was invited last year to write papers for two journals. In one of them, the Brown Journal of World Affairs from Brown University, asked me to propose a few topics. They liked the topic that I suggested, “Drug Prohibition and Poverty.”

The second article came out of a symposium where I and a number of other past guests on your show spoke at Cardozo Law School hosted by the Cardozo Public and Ethics Journal that’s at the Yeshiva University of New York. The title of that paper is “If Hard Drugs Were Legalized Would More People Use Them?”

That’s one of the topics of the paper but more generally it lays out what I see as the most destructive harms of prohibition and the state of the legalization debate in the current times as it takes place among academics and other serious observers.

DEAN BECKER: Your thought about prohibition and poverty – it’s easy to see one nexus there and that is the destruction of family income when the father goes away to prison and how that affects sometimes generations of the family.

DAVID BORDEN: It’s family income, family cohesiveness when you take so many people out of the community under the justice system. It has all kinds of effects on the younger family members - income, as you pointed out – and it goes on and on.

As you listeners probably know there is a best seller by law professor named Michelle Alexander called “The New Jim Crow” about the growth of over- incarceration, mass incarceration in the United States and the impact that has.

On the other hand one could argue and a number of the academics that I cite in this paper do argue that it is not plainly necessary to legalize drugs in order to address mass incarceration. We could simply be less punitive towards those drugs – arrest fewer people and send them to jail and prison for shorter periods of time if or when we use jail or prison – and there are countries that do that.

What I’ve argued in these papers (especially in the second paper) is that most countries including the United States have a poor record in our implementation of prohibition. We have implemented prohibition in a very punitive way. We have a long history of that. It is the case in most countries although particularly extreme here in the US.

Nations that have relatively positive drug policies are the exception and when we achieve good reforms under prohibition they have proven unstable. Congress actually repealed mandatory death sentences in 1970. In 1986 there was a tragedy when an up and coming basketball star, Len Bias, died from a cocaine overdose. Congress passed new mandatory minimums.

It’s been almost 30 years and we are just starting to chip away at them. We don’t know that we will reliably succeed in this country in making drug prohibition less punitive. Beyond that arrest and incarceration is just one of the ways in which the drug laws impact on poverty.

Prohibition creates a great deal of crime and disorder in our cities that affect the quality of life and the business environment. It draws young people into lives of crime. You mentioned you were interviewing Judge Gray this week. He has certainly talked about that.

All the arrests give people criminal records. It’s hard to address that problem fully given the First Amendment concerns on the criminal record side of it. I’ve also argued in the Brown paper (this may be a little controversial) that the types of violence from the drug trade are especially consequential for a community. They have broad impact so when someone gets in a fight in the bar because of being drunk and there is a death that is very tragic. It affects people but it’s a little different when there is a drive by shooting between different gangs and anyone could get hit by a stray bullet. It’s a broader impact. It does more to create fear in a community.

Those are some of the ways that prohibition not just our current drug war drives poverty.

DEAN BECKER: I would like to submit that most of the complications, the spin off, the horrors that are associated around the word “drugs” are, as you say, more rightfully attributable to drug prohibition rather than just somebody being high and going hog wild. Your thoughts, sir?

DAVID BORDEN: That’s very much the case today. Now there’s a question if when we legalize drugs there probably will be some increase in use. There may or may not be an increase in addiction so would the comparative numbers change in that respect? Probably not enough to change that equation as the reason being that alcohol is really the drug that most commonly produces violence. That’s not the case nearly as commonly with the pharmacological effects with the other drugs – even the ones that we are most scared of. They don’t quite compare with alcohol.

The other reason (and this is one of the central topics of the Cardozo paper) is that these drugs excepting marijuana naturally have a smaller customer base than alcohol does or that tobacco does or that marijuana does. For most people other drugs just don’t fit. They are scary to people at least in certain forms so we are not going to see those kinds of numbers of cocaine users. Similarly today with both marijuana and cocaine illegal there are far more marijuana users. We are likely to always have more alcohol users than users of these other drugs. When it comes to prompting violence through use alcohol is a big culprit.

DEAN BECKER: Both of these articles are now available out there on the web. Please point them where they can access them.

DAVID BORDEN: The Brown Journal of World Affairs article is online at http://bjwa.org although they were having a website problem last I checked. The Cardozo article isn’t online yet. Their website is http://cplpej.org. People can also write to me and some private distribution for educational use is possible upon request.

DEAN BECKER: Please give them your website for Stop the Drug War so they can access your weekly information as well as how to access you.

DAVID BORDEN: We’re online at http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/

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DEAN BECKER: Alright, friends, that’s about it. We have just a few seconds left. It is going to be Tuesday, July 29. We are going to be in the Cannon House Building in Washington, D.C. with members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy and others decrying this drug war and demanding that we reexamine this policy.

As always I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.

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DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network 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.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.

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

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