Saturday, July 16, 2011

"Regulate Marijuana Like Wine"? Yes, Please

Today's Orange County Register has a profile of James Gray. A former federal prosecutor, a lifelong Republican, and a retired Superior Court Judge, Gray is not the sort of person you might expect to see leading an effort to decriminalize marijuana use. Yet he's the co-author of the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act of 2012, a voter initiative that, if successful, would make it legal for Californians over 21 to buy marijuana (its sale would, of course, be subject to licensing requirements and would be taxed).

According to the article, Gray's experience as a federal prosecutor led him to believe that "we weren't winning the war against drugs." He contends that the usual beneficiaries of the War on Drugs will continue to prosper if his initiative isn't passed: drug lords, gangs, law enforcement, politicians, prison guards, and terrorist organizations. Moreover, he believes that the law could bring California governments roughly $1.3 billion in sales taxes, and more than that in law enforcement costs. More generally, he believes that marijuana will be legal within two years. Gray claims to be getting support across the political spectrum, and is preparing a September 1 fundraising event in Newport Beach.

We applaud Judge Gray for his efforts, and certainly hope that the initiative is successful. For what it's worth, we'd have to agree that the public is more than ready to begin realistically discussing an end to marijuana prohibition. What's less clear is whether the political and law enforcement establishments are willing to respect the preferences of voters. The example of medical marijuana, particularly in California, is not encouraging. Between the Obama administration's open war on cultivators and medical dispensaries, the California Legislature's "clarification" of Prop 215 in SB 420, which required dispensaries to operate as ill-defined "collaboratives" (and opened them up to unlimited harassment), and the decisions of many cities and counties to ban the dispensaries altogether, it's not clear that the passage of the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine act would survive the regulations and taxes that California's governments would likely attach to it.

UPDATE: For those interested in learning more, please visit the initiative's website here. Below is one of its Youtube videos.


  1. What's hilarious when these matters come up is how my lefty friends who are sympathetic to marijuana legalization suddenly get religion on states' rights. If the subject changes to, say, abortion, insurance, or medical care, of a sudden the states should have no say in things.

  2. Well, yeah, but the lefties don't actually believe in personal liberty. They want to smoke pot and they're irritated that the government doesn't let them, so they look for means toward implementing the end they want; in this case, states' rights are one such means. The principle that underlies states' rights, on the other hand, is something they detest.

  3. As a executive committee member for RMLW, I'd like to advise supporters to check out our website:

    see videos about the initiative at:

    and DONATE now to help get this smart initiative on the ballot in 2012.

  4. Very cool, Adrian. Wasn't aware you were so involved with this initiative.

  5. >>[T]he Liberals ... pretend — and often quite honestly believe — that they are hot for liberty. They never really are. ... They believe only in the liberty to envy, hate and loot the man who has it.<<

    -- H.L. Mencken