Tags: Marijuana Legalization | Texas | sheriffs | oppose | pot

Texas Sheriffs to Campaign Against Legalizing Marijuana

By Joel Himelfarb   |   Friday, 02 Jan 2015 06:11 PM

The Texas Sheriffs Association says it will fight hard to block efforts in the coming state legislative session to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The group, which represents law enforcement officials across the state, will "oppose any effort to decriminalize marijuana or legalize medical marijuana or any of the components of marijuana," Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk told WOAI Radio in San Antonio.

Under current law, marijuana possession in Texas is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and six months behind bars, the Daily Caller reports.

A decriminalization bill – which would turn possession of less than an ounce of pot into the functional equivalent of a parking ticket, punishable by a fine of no more than $100 – is being introduced in the legislative session that begins Jan. 13.

While no marijuana legalization bill has been introduced in Texas, Sheriff Kirk says that is the direction in which advocates are determined to go.

He says pot supporters follow similar strategies: first, they advocate medical marijuana; second, they push for removal of criminal penalties; then comes a push for full-blown legalization.

Texas law enforcement officials are not alone in expressing concerns about the effects of legalization.

Last month, attorneys general in Oklahoma and Nebraska filed a lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down key parts of Colorado's 2012 voter-approved measure legalizing marijuana, arguing that it was facilitating the flow of pot into their states, "draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems," The New York Times reported.

Currently, 23 states have "some kind of medical marijuana regime," according to the Daily Caller.

While opposing legalization, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has indicated support for decriminalization of marijuana, the Houston Chronicle reported last January.

Public opinion nationwide has been shifting in the direction of decriminalization or legalization. In November, voters in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia approved legalization referendums, building on victories in 2012, when Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use.

In November, the Pew Research Center reported that "a slim majority" of Americans (52 percent) said marijuana should be made legal, compared to 45 percent who wanted it to be illegal.

"Opinions have changed drastically since 1969, when Gallup first asked the question and found that just 12 percent favored legalizing marijuana use," Pew reported. Pew added that in its latest poll, "while most non-Hispanic whites and blacks say marijuana should be made legal, only 39 percent of Hispanics share that view."

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The Texas Sheriffs Association says it will fight hard to block efforts in the coming state legislative session to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
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2015-11-02
 

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