Drug Policy

Who Benefits from the Drug War? Judge Jim Gray Has Answers, Dammit!


Note: On March 8, 2010, Reason.tv released this interview of Judge Jim Gray about the various groups that benefit from the drug war. The video is back among the most-viewed articles at Reason.com, so we decided to let all of you see just what this persuasive critic of drug prohibition was talking about. Here's the original text for the release.

In 1992, Jim Gray, a conservative judge in conservative Orange County, California, held a press conference during which he recommended that we rethink our drug laws. Back then, it took a great deal of courage to suggest that the war on drugs was a failed policy.

Today, more and more Americans are coming to the realization that prohibition's costs—whether measured in lives and liberties lost or dollars wasted—far exceed any possible or claimed benefits. Reason.tv's Paul Feine interviewed Gray about drug policy and the prospects for reform.  The interview was shot by Alex Manning and edited by Hawk Jensen.

Judge Jim Gray is the author of Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs.

Approximately 8.30 minutes.

Go to Reason.tv for downloadable iPod, HD, and audio versions.

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NEXT: Mitch Daniels' Pot Luck

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  1. I find it suspicious that one glaring example is missing from that list. Reason gets an awful lot of mileage out of America’s War on Drugs, and no doubt moves a significant amount of paper based on the coverage. Hell, Sullum would have to be let go if they legalized the reefer.

  2. Awesome interview. Someone like Judge Gray has a lot more gravitas than Joe Blow.

  3. ‘Conservative” judge? I thought he was a Libertarian and mentioned as a possible replacement for the late great David Nolan on the Libertarian National Committee?

    1. Napolitano was a “conservative” judge.

      (Andrew, not Janet)

  4. Not sure he should be labeled “conservative”. He’s a very conservative guy in his personal life, but he was a Libertarian candidate. Just hate to see reason perpetuating the liberal smear of calling libertarians conservatives.

    1. IMO, the media refers to conservatives as libertarians more than they refer to libertarians as conservatives.

    2. “Conservatives” support the drug war. Conservatives do not, even the ones who aren’t also libertarians.

      What’s properly conservative about a massive social-engineering project to intended to create some kind of utopia of sobriety, something unprecedented in all of history, and pursued by establishing a system by entirely novel positive law and which can only be sustained by aggressively militarizing law enforcement? Especially when the only practical effect of the program is to utterly corrupt traditional institutions, undermine their moral authority, and lessen the dignity of the law itself?

      There are plenty of points of disconnect between libertarianism and non-libertarian conservatism, but this isn’t one of them. People who support the drug war are better described as “fascists”.

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  7. Many people still hold onto the delusion that the drug war is a well intentioned program with some unfortunate unintended consequences. It is not well intentioned and the consequences are not unintended. There are not informed, legitimate, well intended differences of opinion with respect to the drug war. There are not two equally valid, but opposed view points with respect to the drug war. There are evil people who use the power of government to enrich and empower themselves at the expense of others. We need to stop pretending that there are good guys on both sides of the drug war issue. There are those who believe in liberty and self ownership and there are those who do not. The people who promote the drug war and use it to further their personal ambitions and to enrich themselves are evil people. We need to stop pretending otherwise.

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