Texas Governor Rick Perry Is Still a Long Way From Legalizing Pot

RickPerryDavos.jpg
@TexGov
It's not often that Texas Governor Rick Perry has occasion to wax at length about his views on drug policy, but when you find yourself in Davos, Switzerland, on a World Economic Forum panel devoted to the "drug dilemma," there isn't much else to talk about.

This morning's discussion (it was late evening in Switzerland) focused on narcotics as a intractable global ill that stretches from the poppy fields of Afghanistan to the Latin American cartels to street-level pushers everywhere, and it featured insights from former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth.

Perry's expertise, and the apparent reason he was included on the panel, stems from the fact that he leads a U.S. state, and that states, particularly post-weed legalization in Colorado and Washington state, have established themselves as laboratories of drug policy.

See also: Sean Hannity Might Move to Texas, and Governor Rick Perry is Wooing Him Hard

Texas, of course, is neither Colorado nor Washington, but Perry pointed to criminal justice reforms in the state that have reduced the number of people going to prison on minor drug charges.

Texas' move "toward decriminalization and keeping young people from going into prison" should continue, he said.

But that's where he stopped. Full or partial legalization, he said in his opening statement to the panel, is a non-starter.

"The question for me is, if the economics of this is what really drives this, and we as a society, and we as a government say it is OK for you to smoke marijuana -- [when it's] decriminalized, it's basically saying it's OK for you to use -- what is that going to cost society?"

He harkened back to his days as a kid when he watched movie stars happily puffing away on cigarettes, worrying that more drastic steps toward decriminalization would send the same message for marijuana.

"I'm not sure as a society we want to start down that path and realize 30 years later that we made a mistake," he says.

Roth, the most libertarian-minded panelist, challenged Perry on the assumption that legalization necessarily implies official endorsement of a drug's use. The government goes to extensive lengths to scare people off of cigarettes, for example, while maintaining that people have a legal right to smoke them.

Perry and Roth quibbled on another point, the notion that the war on drugs, now 40 years old, has failed. He likened it to the war on terror. "Did we fight the war on drugs correctly every day? Has the war on terror been fought correctly every day?" he asked. "No."

But that, he suggested, doesn't mean it's not worth fighting.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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32 comments
rusknative
rusknative

ONE MIGHT ASK, what is the VALUE of mind altering substances both as a "business", as a health hazard, and as a method of cultural corruption.  So a lot of money is in the "business"...just like prostitution....but what VALUE does it actually give the buyer other than some little short lived moment of neurological escape from reality.


not against it morally...just fail to see any VALUE to drugs.

plainsman1
plainsman1

Decriminalization (writing tickets rather than jailing) deprives the state of potential tax revenue, but saves the state some money on the prison system, and still allows the police the all-important discretion to disproportionately hassle brown people and anyone else they find suspicious.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

He's saying that having pot won't be a crime, but that people will still be arrested, tried and sentenced for it.
That's not just insane; it's downright un-American.



johnnyconcierge
johnnyconcierge

Sorry Governor Perry but the actors these days aren't waiting on you to decriminalize the drug to glorify it on TV and Film screens. Already happening. 

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

over at Reaon blog, they've found Perry more sensible and liberal on weed than Obama.

Although, Obama's positions tend to "evolve" when polls dictate,.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

A true conservative would look at the financial facts.


- Texas spends more to prosecute a marijuana possession case than it spends on a year of primary education.


Currently, U.S. taxpayers spend more than $51 billion annually in the war on drugs. Of this amount, about $7 billion is spent annually to prosecute marijuana cases, which amounts to a cost of about $10,400 for every marijuana arrest. You must then figure in general court costs of $853 million and prison costs of $3.1 billion annually in taxpayer money that goes to prosecute marijuana cases. The gross amount of arrests made in the war on drugs means that U.S. taxpayers now spend more money on state prisons than we do on our public universities. However, it is estimated that if illegal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those currently placed on alcohol and tobacco, drug legalization would yield tax revenue of $46.7 billion annually. These estimates are backed by history: according to California's Department of Justice, the state saved nearly $1 billion during the time it decriminalized personal possession of an ounce or less of marijuana from 1976 to 1985. 


malcolmkyle16
malcolmkyle16 topcommenter

The damage done by prohibition is far worse than the damage caused by all of the illegal drugs combined.


If you support prohibition, then you are guilty of demagoguery, sadomoralism, greed, deception, self-deception, despotism, racism, willful ignorance, fraud, murder, oppression, torture, espionage, corruption, theft, money laundering, illegal arms transfers, militarizing domestic police forces, political intrigue, bigotry, class warfare, hate crimes, human rights crimes, erosion of national/international constitutional rights, invasions of privacy, extortion, environmental pollution, obstruction of justice, corruption of the scientific method, infanticide, genocide, trespassing, bribery, illegal restraint of trade, illegal surveillance, religious intolerance, thuggery…this list may actually be endless.


Everything we have been told by the government about drugs is a lie; the two most dangerous and addictive, gateway drugs are already legal: alcohol and nicotine.


The only thing that has proven to reduce use and demand is legalized regulation combined with treatment and education.

James080
James080 topcommenter

Perry will support legalization of pot the day he figures out a way to enrich himself and his supporters from legalization.

Daniel
Daniel

Love this quote:


"I'm not sure as a society we want to start down that path and realize 30 years later that we made a mistake," {Perry] says. 

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

Texas will be among the last to legalize, because it's against Texas community standards.

So it is with states rights.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Perry is still a long way from entering the 21st century. 

jmckee3
jmckee3

Maybe I good first step would be to see more progressive cities like the city of Dallas and Dallas County decriminalize pot and see just how serious Texas is about fighting the drug war on pot.


As for actors and drug glorification, why does everyone just ignore alcohol? Alcohol is a drug, an highly addictive and very dangerous drug but I don't see Perry complaining about the dangers of actors sipping on cocktails. 

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@rusknative

There are too many false assumptions in that idiotic statement to address them all.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@plainsman1

Decriminalization means it would no longer be a crime.

Cops can't write tickets for something that's not a crime.


TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@Sotiredofitall 

Perry is not a "true conservative". He is an opportunistic, Bible thumping crony-capitalist of the highest order and damn proud of it.

I'll bet that a good many of his friends, associates and benefactors stand to lose big with the advent of legal weed, therefore, he's walking a delicate line here - how to appear politically relevant while still serving your corporate masters is tricky.

gregmarcydagama
gregmarcydagama

@malcolmkyle16 I shared your comment on FB page; getting lots of likes and two shares already in first five minutes. TY. ~ / ~ OM

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@Daniel 

It is rich when you consider the fact that this is the ONE issue on which Perry and his ilk are concerned about long-term consequences.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@jmckee3 

Dallas and Dallas County cannot "decriminalize" pot.  The police chief may decide not to enforce certain state laws governing pot, but that is a different story.

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

Maybe not. Legal marijuana is a conservative position, has been for a long time.

Next generation of Texas conservatives Is taking up right now, I say it'll be legal here within 10 years.

Just like that immoral lottery, money talks everywhere.

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

@scottsmerkin

That should be prefaced

"Dear MADD,"

plainsman1
plainsman1

@bvckvs- Define "crime". If time runs out on your parking meter, most sane persons would not label you a criminal nor will it garner you a criminal record, yet you WILL get a ticket nonetheless and it will put money in the pocket of the state, Einstein.

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@plainsman1@bvckvs

You said decriminalization does not mean it's not a crime - a self contradictory statement.

Then you referenced an article that says it's not a crime, as proof that it is - which is another self-contradictory statement.

If you want to prove a point, contradicting yourself is a dumbass way to do it.

plainsman1
plainsman1

@bvckvs@plainsman1- So what is there about "...though perhaps regulated permits or fines might still apply..." that you don't get?

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

@plainsman1@bvckvs

From the referenced article...  "While decriminalized acts are no longer crimes,..."


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