A leading US anti-prohibitionist, California Superior Court Judge James Gray, has announced that is he running for the US Senate under the banner of the Libertarian Party. If he wins the statewide Libertarian primary on March 2, he will challenge sitting Senator Barbara Boxer (D) and her as yet undecided Republican opponent. His campaign will focus on ending the war on drugs, Gray said as he announced his candidacy November 19 at the Old Courthouse Building in Santa Ana.
"Every single vote I get will legitimately be seen in favor of repealing drug prohibition," he said. "I want to make this clear: If we focus our campaign on the drug war, people who agree with us will not worry about 'throwing away their vote' on a third-party candidate. Our campaign will convince them, because of our anti-war stand, that every vote will rightfully be seen as a vote to end the drug war."
Gray does not expect to defeat Boxer, but does hope to win 15% of the vote, which he said will be enough to redefine the debate about the drug laws and the war on drugs. "If we capture only a third of the votes of people who favor drug reform... that would be enough to make us a political force to be reckoned with and to put the drug war into the nation's political debate," he said.
Gray has drafted a four-part platform that includes reining in federal government spending, returning control of education and health care programs to local governments, requiring the federal government to pay the cost of illegal immigration, and ending the drug war. Gray's drug policy plank reads as follows:
"Repeal the failed and hopeless War on Drugs by restricting the role of the federal government to assisting each state to enforce its chosen laws. Crime was reduced by more than 20% within one year after we pursued this course with the repeal of Alcohol Prohibition, and the same results will be realized when we finally repeal Drug Prohibition. People must be held accountable for their actions, instead of for what they put into their bodies. The War on Drugs has directly created an enormously large and lucrative black market that has corrupted institutions, people in all walks of life, and, most especially, children, here and all around the world. In addition, it has enabled the sale of illicit drugs to provide huge amounts of funding for terrorists. Our policy should be changed for specified drugs like marijuana to be strictly regulated for distribution to adults -- and taxed -- and users of other drugs should be allowed legal access to them under the strict supervision of medical professionals. Medical programs of this kind are successfully reducing crime, drug usage and health problems today in countries like Switzerland and Germany, and we can emulate their success."
A California superior court judge for two decades, Gray went off the reservation in the early 1990s by calling for an end to prohibition, and in 2001 published "Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs," a scathing attack on prohibitionist policies. In that book, Gray argued that the war on drugs has failed to reduce the amount of illegal drugs but has succeeded in eroding the civil liberties of Americans while at the same time making drugs more dangerous. "Drug policy reform is the most important issue facing this great country, and our so-called War on Drugs is our biggest failure," Gray wrote. The answer is realistic drug education, drug treatment, harm reduction programs, decriminalization, and the regulated sale of drugs, Gray concluded.
Since then, Gray has been a prominent speaker against the drug war and an effective advocate for reform. He has also resigned his membership in the Republican Party and registered as a Libertarian. In an article in the Libertarian Party house organ, Liberty, Gray wrote that he joined the party because "I realized that the major parties will never begin the process of ending the War on Drugs. The Republican and Democratic parties are invested in the drug war, committed to it. "It takes another party to do that -- one that holds dear the principles of liberty. The Libertarian Party is my natural home. And it is the Libertarian Party's historic mission to begin the peace process in the War on Drugs."
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