The campaign to legalize marijuana received a valuable endorsement this weekend from a California Superior Court Judge.

Judge Jim Gray spoke in favor of decriminalizing the drug to a crowd of over 100 listeners at the Santa Barbara Central Public Library on Saturday, Oct. 17. Hosted by the Humanist Society of Santa Barbara, Gray’s lecture focused on the positive benefits of drug decriminalization and was followed by an informal question-and-answer session with the audience.

In his main arguments, Gray said the decriminalization and taxation of marijuana would generate $1.3 billion dollars in revenue for the state of California, in addition to making the drug less available to children.

“A drug-free America is so idealistic and unrealistic,” Gray, who recently authored a book titled Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs, said. “Thousands of people in California are in jail today because they did nothing but smoke marijuana. Thirty percent of people in California state prisons should not be there, and that’s not a popular thing to say.”

The winners of the drug war, Gray said, are criminals such as drug lords or juvenile gangs using the sale of drugs as recruiting tools and international terrorist organizations. These individuals and organizations, he said, profit because drugs are illegal.

“Big time drug lords are making hundreds of millions of dollars tax-free and they’re laughing at us,” Gray said. “These issues aren’t caused by drugs at all, folks. It’s about drug money.”

Gray said Americans should understand drug prohibition in the same terms as alcohol prohibition, which was repealed in 1933 in the United States.

“Alcohol is regulated and controlled by the government, but the regulation of drugs is controlled by drug dealers, and they don’t ask for I.D.,” Gray said. “We already repealed alcohol prohibition and now we’re living in drug prohibition … Nobody is giving our kids free samples of Jim Bean in school, but it’s happening with marijuana because of prohibition.” 

Gray was appointed to the Santa Ana Municipal Court in 1983 by then Governor George Deukmejian and was elevated to a Superior Court post in 1989.