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Rick Perry Voices Support for Decriminalizing Marijuana


by: Natalie San Luis

Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 11:00 AM CST


Did Rick Perry make a stop in Amsterdam on the way to Davos last week?

While speaking at the World Economic Forum, the Governor made remarks in support of decriminalizing marijuana in Texas, claiming that harsh drug policies ruin lives—"and that's what we've done over the last decade."

The comments were made soon after President Obama's interview with The New Yorker, in which he claimed that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol.

Will Perry actually spend his last few months in office reforming extremely stringent policies that target poor people and people of color? Or is he simply preparing to start—ahem—blazing the presidential campaign trail? Given that marijuana arrests have tripled between Perry's first year in office and 2010, we're not convinced that he'll follow through.

Read more about Perry's comments after the jump.

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On Thursday, Rick Perry claimed, "After 40 years of the war on drugs, I can't change what happened in the past. What I can do as the governor of the second largest state in the nation is to implement policies that start us toward a decriminalization and keeps people from going to prison and destroying their lives."

But for the hundreds of thousands of Texans who have served time for possession under Perry, the remarks at the very end of his third term are too little, too late. According to the ACLU, Texas spent $40 million jailing people convicted of marijuana-related crimes in 2010 alone.

Perry also touted the success of drug courts, which were created in 2001 through legislation authored and passed by a group of Democrats.

A spokesperson for Perry told My San Antonio that he is still opposed to legalizing marijuana, but favors a disciplinary approach grounded in fines and rehabilitation rather than jail time.

According to My San Antonio, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition executive director was "shocked" that Perry spoke in favor of decriminalization, given that Republicans have killed bills for drug treatment programs, medical marijuana, and penalty reductions in the past.

Natalie tweets from @nsanluis.



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