Why Drug Laws Have Failed

(Staff Photo: Richard Davis) Retired Judge Jim Gray speaks Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010, at the University of Arkansas. His topic? "Why our drug laws have failed us."

Retired Judge Jim Gray has a mantra regarding drug policies in the U.S. that bears repeating:
“We couldn’t do a worse job if we tried.”
Gray spoke Thursday, Oct. 14 on the UA campus. If didn’t hear him (and chances are you didn’t since there were only 50-60 people in the room), you missed out on a rational, open and honest talk on our nation’s drug laws. Gray described the fiasco as the “biggest failed social policy in our history, short of slavery.”
“Prohibition never works as well as regulation and control,” he said.
I hate to keep harping on this subject. I don’t want to be known as the “High Times of NWA” or have people saying “Hey, there’s that drug guy.” Personally, I don’t use illegal substances, and I’ll take a pee test at any time to prove it. But the issue is simply to important to drop.
If the Tea Party hoodlums are serious about saving taxpayer money, they need to get on board with this issue and at least support the legalization of marijuana. Millions of dollars go down the drain every year in the pursuit of drug  interdiction for an extremely low success rate. Gray said the most optimistic estimates suggest that only 10 percent of illegal substances are seized each year with the more realistic figure being 5 percent.
This means that at best for every
1 ton of drugs seized, 9 tons more are out there waiting to be delivered. Mexican authorities recently seized more than 100 tons of marijuana in Tijuana. Do the math: That means there’s like 900 tons more out there ready to go.
That’s a horrible, horrible success rate for a policy. It’s particularly bad when we know that there are better solutions out there.
Want more bang for you tax dollars? Invest the money spent on interdiction and incarceration on prevention and education. Want to keep drugs out of the hands of kids? Take the control out of the hands of drug dealers and put the control in the hands of someone who’ll check their ID.
Unfortunately, to make any progress on this issue, there are going to have to be a lot more people who look like Jim Gray advocating change and a lot fewer goofballs who look like me.
To read about Gray’s logical arguments on why drug laws have failed, visit his website at www.judgejimgray.com.

Categories: Commentary
Tags: featured