Pubdate: Tue, 11 May 2004
Source: Ukiah Daily Journal, The (CA)
Copyright: 2004, MediaNews Group, Inc.
Author: Peijean Tsai, The Daily Journal
Bookmark: (Gray, Judge James)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Terrorism)


Gray To Address Supporters Today

Two key Mendocino County law enforcement officials are endorsing a 
Libertarian Congressional candidate whose platform includes federal 
legalization of marijuana.

Both Sheriff Tony Craver and District Attorney Norm Vroman support U.S. 
Senate candidate James P. Gray, the Orange County Superior Court judge 
vying this November for the Congressional seat occupied by Democratic Sen. 
Barbara Boxer.

Gray will address supporters today at a 5:30 p.m. rally outside the Ukiah 
Brewing Company and the Mendocino County Courthouse.

A lifelong Republican, the 59-year-old judge left the party over a year ago 
because he was fed up with the nation's drug policies and how the country's 
two largest political parties are handling the federal war on drugs. 
Specifically, he wants to overthrow the criminal outlawing of marijuana.

The state of California could save about $2.5 billion if marijuana were to 
be made legal and regulated as with alcohol, he said. Those savings would 
be $1 billion now spent on eradicating and prosecuting non-violent crimes 
related to marijuana and $1.5 billion from taxing the sale of marijuana as 
with alcohol.

"It is a failing, failed and hopeless policy," Gray commented in a phone 
interview on marijuana prohibition.

His drug reform proposal also includes checking identification to ensure 
only adults have access to marijuana.

The federal government classifies marijuana as a class-one drug, the same 
category as heroin and LSD. In California, marijuana for medicinal use has 
been allowed since the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996.

"He's got an enlightened, well-reasoned, logical solution to the drug 
problem," District Attorney Vroman said Monday. "He comes by that opinion 
based on empirical knowledge of having been a prosecutor and a judge."

Mendocino County has more important issues threatening public safety than 
drugs, Vroman added.

"Drugs don't cost nearly as much problems in my county as alcohol does," 
Vroman said.

Sheriff Tony Craver said in a press release that the judge makes a lot of 
sense in his approach of using drug courts and treatment to deal with 
low-level, non-violent offenders.

"The dilemma is that the drug war leaves few good alternatives for local 
law enforcement in how we fight crime," said the Sheriff.

Gray said he truly believes California needs representation by a 
third-party candidate who is not Democrat or Republican. Besides a losing 
war against drugs, the country is "off the track" in many different ways, 
including a half-trillion dollar deficit.

"Right now we need some principled leadership in our country that is not in 
sight," Gray said.

He also strongly objects to the 2001 anti-terrorism Patriot Act, which he 
described as "a direct frontal and unnecessary assault upon our civil 
liberties." Under this legislation, he added, government can circumvent the 
entire judicial system on the assumption that a person poses a threat to 
homeland security.

His platform also addresses the county's ban on genetically modified 
organisms. He supports labeling of products to help both consumers and 
farmers with clear information as to the content of foodstuff. Without 
labeling, a panic over whether a product contains GMOs or not, could ensue, 
hurting farmers.

Gray, who is on a one-year unpaid leave of absence, is married with four 
children, including an adopted Vietnamese son. He served on the Peace Corps 
and earned honors for his military service in Vietnam.

Voters this November will decide between the incumbent and former 
California Secretary of State Bill Jones, the Republican legislator who 
wrote the "Three Strikes" law.

Gray beat Libertarian and retired long-time nurse Gail K. Lightfoot in the 
March primary.

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