At the second that I write this, the United States Government has spent almost 15.5 billion dollars on the war against drugs so far this year, between federal and state funds. At a rate of 600 dollars per second, our tax money is going toward the war on drugs, according to the drugsense.org, a war that to many, including author Mike Gray, seems futile.
“The drug war is eating us alive,” said Mike Gray, author of Drug Crazy: How We Got Into This Mess and How We Can Get Out. “It’s destroying our police departments through corruption, it’s destroying the inner cities by putting black parents away in prison . . .We put them there for the dumbest of reasons. Prohibition has never worked.”
Allow me to rephrase myself. Mike Gray doesn’t necessarily think the drug war is futile; he believes the drug war is a ridiculous monstrous industry, and he’s lividly pissed off about it. Gray, a former engineer, turned filmmaker, turned writer, turned prominent leader in drug reform, researched the topic of the drug war intensively for six years, eventually leading to his book Drug Crazy.
Perhaps the source of Gray’s anger toward the topic of the Drug War stem from his belief that the drug war has historically been racially motivated.
“The government’s priorities are totally backwards, and the reason that marijuana is prohibited is purely political. It began as a race war. All drug laws had their origin in racial persecution,” Gray said.
The United State’s first prohibited narcotic, Opium, was outlawed in San Francisco in 1875 as a means of “demonizing” the working class Opium smoking Chinese, as they began to threaten and infiltrate the white job market, Gray said. From there, the United States prohibited alcohol, which was repealed after 13 years. In 1937, marijuana was outlawed, again a governmental attempt to keep a racial minority—Mexicans—away from the dire employment opportunities of the Great Depression. However, the racial motivations behind the prohibitory legislation was just a first step; over a century later, we still find ourselves burrowed inside a drug war that is all to often mixed up with a war between races.
“Listen: if we were administering these laws with equal justice, and we were totally color blind, this drug war would have been over years ago,” Gray said. “A black teenager is twice as likely to be arrested as a white teenager, three times as likely to get convicted, and five times as likely to go to prison. And if that’s your idea of justice, then you have a different country in mind than I do.”
Gray is also outraged at the current illegal status of marijuana use; however, he finds hope in the recent legalization of medical marijuana in California, stating that the legalization of medicinal marijuana is, “the lynch pin, and it will ultimately result in the collapse of the drug war.”
Gray sees the first step in changing the Government’s policy on illicit drugs is through education. In fact, Gray has uncovered in his research dramatically surprising facts about marijuana.
“Marijuana is not the devil weed, but may in fact be one of the most beneficial herbs that we have ever discovered,” Gray said.
In fact, Gray found in a study conducted by the United States in 1976 evidence that the active ingredient in Marijuana, THC, may inhibit cancer. The government, however, suppressed the information from the public, until a European study recently uncovered similar information, according to Gray. Still, Gray remains emphatic about the Government’s fallacy involving this whole drug war ordeal.
“Everything we have done has backfired,” he said. “If the general public knew just this information that we’re talking about right now, they would probably be inclined to march to Washington and grab those people by the throat. But that information is bound to come out.”
And Mike Gray is bound to do just that—disseminate this information to as many people as possible.
“As we educate the population, we will force a change, and we will turn this problem back over to the medical profession and get it out of the hands of law enforcement,” Gray said.
Mike Gray will be speaking in the Performing Arts Center Concert Hall on April 26, at 7 p.m. He will be covering the topics approached in his book Drug Crazy: How We Got Into This Mess and How We Can Get Out, as well as presenting a 12 minute self-directed and self-produced short film on the Drug War. The event is free, but students must pick up a free ticket at the box office in the Performing Arts Center.