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Gov. Rick Perry Supports Marijuana Decriminalization (But Not Legalization) For Texas

January 23, 2014

Holy smokes. Looks like conservative Texas Gov. Rick Perry has warmed up to the idea of lax pot laws. During a panel on drug policy at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Perry said states should be given the right to make their own decisions when it comes to marijuana legalization.

via @GovernorPerry

via @GovernorPerry

“As the governor of the second-largest state in the country, what I can do is start us on policies that can start us on the road towards decriminalization,” said Perry.

On the panel alongside Juan Manuel Santos, president of the Republic of Colombia, Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Perry stressed his staunch support of the 10th Amendment saying, “States should be able to set their own policies on abortion, same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization, then people will decide where they want to live.’”

According to the World Economic Forum, Perry said that while the feds should butt out when it comes to pot laws, it was completely constitutional for states like Colorado (which began the sale of recreational marijuana on Jan. 1) to experiment with decriminalization.

But don’t expect to toke up freely on the streets of Texas any time soon.

Perry stopped short of backing full legalization for his own state, saying, “I’m probably the only person who is going to be an anti-legalization person on the stage tonight.” However, he did endorse the idea of using Drug Courts, which offer treatment, reform and less severe punishment for lesser offenses.

Perry’s comments generated praise from national pro-pot folks like the Marijuana Policy Project, an unlikely advocate of the socially conservative right-winger.

“We applaud Gov. Perry for standing up in support of states’ rights to regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana for adult use. Our marijuana prohibition policies have failed, and it is time to adopt a more sensible policy,” said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, in a statement. “Adults should not be punished for using an objectively less harmful substance than alcohol, and as Gov. Perry acknowledged, they certainly should not be put in jail or prison.”

And his remarks stunned criminal justice reform activists, according to national news reports.

“[I am] shocked,” said Ana Yañez-Correa, director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. “The decriminalization of marijuana is not something Perry has historically supported.”

More than 15,000 people are placed behind bars for sole possession of drugs in Texas, said Yañez-Correa.

Possession of two ounces or less of marijuana amounts to a Class B misdemeanor, and is punishable by up to 180 days in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. Having between four ounces and five pounds of marijuana is a state jail felony and can end with a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 days in prison and a max of up to two years in prison and fine not to exceed $10,000.

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  • Devin Marsden

    What? Why would Rick Perry support this? Simple, by supporting states rights to enact policies that go against Federal Law, a legal precedent would be set, that sets up states’ ability to enforce policies against marriage equality and abortion, regardless of Federal law.

  • Margaret

    Texas should legalize it, because it would help the economy I so many ways. Marijuana is the least of our worries. Obama is using his little speech to help keep his democratic party in control, but it is NOT a gateway DRUG. Drugs are Manufactured in a lab somewhere and there is no telling what humans are Ingesting. Really! Marijuana is a natural plant, not a manufactured pill. It grows out of God’s green earth and is all natural. It has many many qualities that some of the public refuses to see. Many people live in pain daily and can’t afford the manufactured pill to help with it. Also the ones who cannot see. Think about it! What would you rather have in your body? Natural or manufactured? Should be a very easy question for MOST of the American population. All the health finatics should jump on it in a heartbeat! The native Americans had the right idea.

  • txmom57

    If he did this before he retired I grantee he have all the support he needed from Texans. Also leave office with a 5 star rating and big bang. The tax income, jobs, farming it would create. This could be his legacy of Texas in independents from federal government. Just might be the push Washington needs to federally decriminalizing marijuana and applying to post conviction. Right now the Federal Judiciary Committee is underway in reduction on non violent drug sentencing, reentry. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is on board to right now. This is perfect storm to pull it off. And stop the bleeding of a 6.2 billion dollar bleeder call. The Federal Prison System that to my surprise over half of the federal prison population is non violent low level drug offenders. I have always thought the federally Prison were for the worst of the worst very violent and international crimes and terrorist. This is insanity to let the Federal Government take all our freedom away bit by bit behind close doors.