By Martin Griffith, Associated Press,
A California Superior Court judge sharply criticized the drug war and renewed his call for the decriminalization of marijuana at a pro-marijuana rally in downtown Reno on Saturday. Judge James Gray of Orange County, Calif., said the drug war has cost billions of dollars and resulted in the United States having the world’s highest incarceration rate — with no end in sight to rampant drug abuse. The former federal prosecutor said he has never smoked marijuana, but supports the strictly controlled distribution of pot to adults. “We have made an illness into a plague.
(This is) a failed and hopeless system,” Gray said. “I believe people should be entitled to do what they want to their bodies, but that they should be held accountable,” he added. Gray, 58, a lifelong Republican until he became a Libertarian earlier this year, has been a judge for 19 years. He’s the author of “Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It.” More than 60 people attended the “Rally for Cannabis Liberation” at Reno’s Idlewild Park. The rally was sponsored by Cures not Wars, a pro-marijuana group that was to hold similar rallies around the country this weekend. Group spokeswoman Michelle Buck of Reno said the purpose of the rally was to raise awareness that tens of thousands of Americans are in prisons for non-violent drug crimes. Of particular concern, she said, are thousands who have been arrested for legally or illegally supplying medical marijuana. Some people held signs that read “Free Ed Rosenthal.” The Oakland, Calif., man’s arrest last year was among a string of federal raids of medical marijuana suppliers in California. A 1970 federal law does not recognize any medical purposes for marijuana. A federal judge refused in January to allow Rosenthal to tell jurors he was operating under state law. Jurors convicted Rosenthal. When they learned the details they were not told during the trial, several jurors said they regretted their verdict. “We’re here to show our support for people like Ed,” Buck said. “Marijuana is not the evil drug the federal government has made it out to be.” In November, Nevada voters rejected a measure to legalize possession of as much as three ounces of marijuana by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent. Gray, appointed by Gov. George Deukmejian to the bench, was the keynote speaker at a Libertarian Party of Nevada dinner Saturday night in Virginia City.