TX Governor Mellows on Pot Penalties

TX Governor Mellows on Pot Penalties

On Sunday, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” with a group of governors, Texas Gov. Rick Perry insinuated that Texas may soon lessen penalties for young people who get caught using marijuana. He said, “Part of it goes back to making thoughtful decisions [about] who you are sending to prison and what for. The idea that a kid has one marijuana cigarette, you send him to prison where they can learn to really be a hardened criminal is not thoughtful public policy.”

Perry argued that intervention programs may be a better option than prison. He said, “Use these drug courts. Put intervention programs into place, shock probation, and keep those young people on a track to be productive citizens rather ending up in our prisons.”

Still, Perry made it clear that marijuana will not be legalized in Texas anytime soon. When CNN host Candy Crowley asked the governors if they would consider legalizing the drug in their state, Perry wasted no time answering “no.”

The Texas governor added that President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have both complimented Texas over its handling of marijuana prosecutions.  He said, “What we’ve done in the state of Texas is we’ve started looking at adjusting the penalties of criminal use of marijuana. We’ve seen our prison populations go down.”

Although his campaigns for lieutenant governor and governor focused on a tough stance on crime, Perry has made several comments recently that suggest he may be rethinking his stance on marijuana. 

In January at the at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he reportedly said, “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, and that’s what we’ve done over the last decade.”

Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said, “Gov. Perry has long supported diversionary and rehabilitative programs, like the drug courts we have in Texas that have proven results.”

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