Losing the War On Drugs: A Perspective From the Bench

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For more than two decades I was a soldier in the War on Drugs. In the course of my career, I have helped put drug users and dealers in jail; I have presided over the break-up of families; I have followed the laws of my state and country, and have seen their results.

At one point, I held the record for the largest drug prosecution in the Los Angeles area: 75 kilos of heroin, which was and is a lot of narcotics. But today the record is 18 tons. I have prosecuted some people, and later sentenced others, to long terms in prison for drug offenses, and would do so again. But it has not done any good. I have concluded that we would be in much better shape if we could somehow take the profit out of the drug trade. Truly the drugs are dangerous, but it is the drug money that is turning a disease into a plague.


I saw the heartbreaking results of drug prohibition too many times in my own courtroom. I saw children tempted by adults to become involved in drug trafficking for $50 in cash, a lot of money to a youngster in the inner city, or almost anywhere else. Once the child