Texas Democrats came together at their state convention earlier this month and agreed to adopt a plank to their party platform calling for the decriminalization of marijuana.
From the party's website:
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 it’s 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.
While the Republican-dominated nature of state politics could prove an obstacle to such an initiative -- both houses are controlled by the GOP and the state's governor, Rick Perry, also is a Republican -- the state party did show last week that it was toning down it's social conservatism somewhat when it ended calls to criminalize gay marriage.
Texas is just the latest state to display an increasingly vocal support for marijuana law reform. Colorado Democrats took the calls a step further earlier this year when they endorsed a plan in their party platform to legalize cannabis altogether. Such efforts proved to have some degree of bipartisan backing in the state, as months earlier, 56 percent of the Denver County Republican Assembly voted in favor of legalized and regulated pot, a question which will be on the November ballot under Amendment 64.
Along with the growing state efforts to relax marijuana laws, nationwide polls have increasingly shown greater tolerance for legal pot. Last month, a survey showed that 56 percent of Americans supported legalizing and regulating marijuana like alcohol and tobacco. That came just days before Connecticut became the 17th state to approve legal medical marijuana. And though local reform efforts by officials such as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel are gaining momentum, the Obama administration continues to buck the apparent national trend.
Last week, Reuters reported that federal prosecutors were increasingly turning the screws on landlords of medical marijuana businesses in states where the substance has been legalized.
Below, where medical marijuana has been legalized in the United States: