Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's A Gray Area: A chance to support regulating marijuana - Judge Jim Gray

On Sept. 1 you will have a chance to help us make history. On this date there will be an event to support the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Initiative that will be on the November 2012 ballot. Please join us.
The event will be hosted by Richard Moriarty at his Newport Beach Vineyards and Winery, 2128 Mesa Drive, Newport Beach, which overlooks the Back Bay from behind the Newport Beach Golf Course. This truly interesting winery isn't open to the public, and doesn't give public tastings, but Richard is opening his doors for us because he believes in this cause.
The honorary host for the reception will be Assemblyman Chris Norby, and Steve Downing, the former deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, will be joining me as a co-host. The reception will be in the Wine Cave from 6 to 8 p.m. But it will be preceded by a VIP tour led by Richard. This will consist of not only the grounds of the winery, but he will also show us the Lamborghini that he has hanging from the wall of his living room. In addition, he will be "firing up" the Lamborghini's engine, which he has turned into a coffee table in his garage.
And marijuana is also the largest source of revenue for juvenile street gangs, Mexican drug cartels and lots of other thugs. By passing Regulate Marijuana Like Wine, we can take much of that money away from these violent groups. Of course, the additional benefit of being able to tax the sale of marijuana is not the reason to vote for this initiative, but the extra tax revenue won't hurt either.
Of course regulating marijuana like wine will not eliminate these criminal organizations, but today Mexican drug cartels are not planting illegal vineyards in our national forests in competition with Robert Mondavi. In addition, teenagers are not selling Jim Beam to each other on their high school campuses, but they are selling marijuana to each other all the time.
Why? Because it is illegal!
But this new initiative actually will make marijuana less for children than it is now. How is that? Because today under Marijuana Prohibition it is easier for young people to obtain marijuana, if they want to, than it is alcohol, because illegal marijuana sellers today don't ask for ID.
For the exact language of the initiative, visit You will see that the initiative expressly addresses what were perceived to be the defects of Proposition 19, which was on the ballot in November 2010. Thus, it expressly does not change any laws or regulations about driving a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana, people using or being impaired by marijuana in public or in the workplace, furnishing marijuana to anyone younger than 21, or allowing anyone younger than 21 to buy, possess, sell or use marijuana.
In addition, the initiative expressly prohibits any advertising of recreational marijuana. And instead of allowing each of California's cities to establish a regulatory system, it mandates the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control establish a workable system, with the wine industry being used as a model.
Yes, even under this new initiative marijuana will still be illegal under federal law for anyone to buy, use or possess. But does anyone honestly believe that the federal government has all of the answers? To the contrary, don't you agree with me that we in California are adult enough to decide how best to control our health, safety and welfare regarding marijuana and hemp?
Recently the Drug Enforcement Administration released a statement that marijuana has absolutely no accepted medical uses. Note that this pronouncement did not come from the U.S. surgeon general or any other medical professionals. Instead it came from police officers, who are literally attempting to practice medicine without a license, and who are purporting to be more of an authority than either the voters of California who passed Proposition 215, or the hundreds of medical doctors in our state who recommend the use of marijuana to their patients.
As you are probably aware, last June the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes a former United Nations secretary general and United States secretary of state under President Reagan, as well as former presidents of Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, labeled the world's War on Drugs a complete failure, and called for its repeal. This action has already been called for by the United States Conference of Mayors, and just last week the NAACP made the same recommendation.
You and I now have a large opportunity to put those recommendations into practice. Personally I believe that the most effective and patriotic thing I can do for the country I love is to help us repeal the failed policy of Drug Prohibition. But you do not have to go nearly that far to believe that there must be a better way, particularly regarding marijuana.
If you want to help us find that better way, I invite you to support the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Initiative on Sept. 1. Tickets are $150 and $1,500 for the VIP tour. For tickets, contact my friend Jason Pitkin at (949) 232-8882. If you attend, introduce yourself to me as a supporter because I will want personally to shake your hand.
JAMES P. GRAY is a retired judge of the Orange County Superior Court, the author of "Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed And What We Can Do About It: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs" (Temple University Press, 2011), and can be contacted at

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