Texas Governor Rick Perry stepped onto the international stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland as a panelist talking about changes in drug laws. Saying he was a 10th amendment supporter, Perry defended the right of every state to determine for themselves their policy on drugs, and then said Texas would never legalize marijuana.
Perry said he supports decriminalization and the use of drug courts, softer penalties and alternative punishment besides jail.
Two Texas lawmakers have taken a firm position on changing the laws in Texas relating to marijuana possession. State Rep. Harold Dutton Jr. has tried three times to get a bill through that would lessen the penalties for minor possession. Rep. Elliott Naishtat has tried six times to get a medical marijuana bill passed. Both vow that will continue the fight.
“This last year Texas NORML put together a legislative education packet and gave it out to the legislators at the capital, and our executive director and director of patient outreach and they were able to give him [Perry] that packet, says Jax Finkel, deputy director of Texas NORML. “I hope that having reviewed all the facts in there, along with all of the news, and the change in public sentiment, he has finally seen the light.”
Finkel says in 2010 there were 78,000 arrests for marijuana possession in Texas, each costing taxpayers about $10,000. In 2012 Texas spent $8,492 dollars per child on education.
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was also a member of the panel with which Perry spoke, and specifically asked Perry if the state spends more on incarceration than education. Perry denied it.
Nathan P. Jones, Ph.D., is the Alfred C. Glassell III Postdoctoral Fellow in Drug Policy at the Baker Institute. Jones says the Texas policy under Perry is about alternative punishment, about putting offenders in a criminal court.