Texas Joins States That Say Time Is Better Spent Fighting Crime
In an article from last week we focused on the states to watch for marijuana law reform in 2017. Texas was on that list. They have already started to introduce decriminalization law reform which is a step in the right direction, and they definitely seem to be on their way to legalization. You can read more about that here.
But now Texas law enforcement officers are speaking out about marijuana arrests. Being the biggest state in the south, Texas is a huge stronghold for those opposing marijuana reform. The state is currently bringing in an average of 60,000 arrests for simple possession every year. On February 16, 2017 Texas officers went to speak in favor of House Bill 81, which would decriminalize simple possession charges in Texas. This would make a possession charge basically the same as a traffic violation with a citation and no jail time. Similar bills can be found in Mississippi, Vermont, Nebraska and it really should be the norm in the US since so many states have legalized for adult use(recreational).
In a press release District Court Judge John Delaney was quoted saying:
“Every year we arrest about 60,000 people in Texas for possession of tiny amounts of marijuana,” Judge Delaney said. “Each arrest takes about two hours of police time, not to mention the added burden on jails and courts. This diverts resources that could be spent helping victims of violence and serious property crimes. Issuing citations makes more sense. What’s more, a marijuana conviction affects a person’s ability to work and support a family for the rest of their life. No one wins; all of us lose.”
The biggest issue with the criminal charges related to marijuana possession is that in states all over the south it requires jail time or even up to felony charges over possession of very small amounts. Also most states in the south don’t even distinguish between cultivation, distribution, trafficking, and possession for personal use, so regardless of the reason or “charge” you are looking at the same amount of jail time and fines as someone who is selling and growing marijuana. If this bill is pushed through, which it looks like it will be, I think we will start to see more reform legislation in the south, well as long as Jeff Sessions doesn’t get a say in the matter.