A law enforcement group claims passage of Prop 19, the marijuana legalization initiative on California's November ballot, would decriminalize an estimated 60,000 drug arrests made in the Golden State each year.
So, who is the face of the nonprofit Law Enforcement Against Prohibition? None other than former prosecutor and Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray.
"I was a drug warrior until I saw what was happening in my own courtroom,'' Gray said at a news conference announcing his group's endorsement of Prop 19 (via the Los Angeles Times' Catherine Saillant.)
As the sometime Libertarian or Republican candidate for political office has been saying for years, he discovered as a judge that the so-called "War on Drugs" was not working.
Indeed, Gray maintains current laws make it easier for children to get pot, not more difficult. That would change if weed was taxed and regulated by the government as tobacco and alcohol are, according to the former jurist.
He was joined by former San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara, who cited White House statistics that show 60% of drug cartel money stems from marijuana sales.
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Using history as a guide, the cartels would disappear if grass was legal, said McNamara, noting that the bootleggers vanished after Prohibition ended.
While Massachusetts-based Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which was founded in 2002, endorses Prop 19, the California Police Chiefs Association has come out against it.
According to Saillant's piece, Gray believes many in law enforcement support legalization but can't say so.
"They have a political job, so they can't tell the truth," he reportedly said. "People are free to speak out honestly only after they are retired."