Decriminalization of MarijuanaThe Texas Democrats now join the growing list of state political parties throwing their support behind marijuana law reform. Earlier this year, the Colorado Democratic Party added marijuana legalization as a plank to their party’s platform and announced support for their state’s legalization ballot initiative, Amendment 64. 56% of Denver Country Republican Assembly also voted in favor of supporting this initiative. The state democratic party in Washington endorsed their legalization initiative, I-502, in late 2011.
This decriminalization of marijuana does not mean we endorse the use of marijuana but it is only a call to wiser use of law enforcement and public health policy. Prohibition of marijuana abdicates the control of marijuana production and distribution to drug cartels and street gangs. Such prohibition promotes disrespect for the law and reinforces ethnic and generational divides between the public and law enforcement.
Every year, hundreds and thousands of Americans are arrested for marijuana possession violations- far more than all those arrested for violent crimes in America. Societal costs dealing with the war on drugs concerning marijuana exceeds 12 billion dollars annually. Since the war on drugs began, 85% of the arrests for marijuana have been for possession only.
Marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Recent polls show over 50% of Americans believe marijuana should be decriminalized. While arrests for marijuana since 1965 have been over 20 million citizens, marijuana is more prevalent than ever before.
There is no evidence that marijuana is a “gateway” drug leading to the use of more lethal drugs. 75% of citizens arrested for marijuana are under 30. Minorities account for a majority of those arrested for marijuana. Criminal conviction permanently scars a young citizen for life.
Texas Democrats urge the President, the Attorney General and the Congress to support the passage of legislation to decriminalize the possession of marijuana and regulate its use, production and sale as is done with tobacco and alcohol.
We further urge the immediate decriminalization of the possession and use of medical marijuana.
Source: Texas Democratic Party 2012 Platform
While the federal government may continue to ignore the will of the people on the marijuana issue, it is comforting to see state level politicians supporting the interests and desires of their constituencies. Considering that pro-reform candidates are winning elections in multiple states, respected party members such as Governor Cuomo (D-NY) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D-Chicago) are endorsing decriminalization, and the continuous flow of marijuana law reform being approved at the state level, one has to wonder just how much longer the federal government and current presidential contenders can ignore the giant green elephant in the room.