Talk of legalizing marijuana in Copperas Cove, Texas?
There’s a lot going on around Texas when it comes to the marijuana movement, but I was surprised when an article about legalizing marijuana hit my inbox from Cove Herald, a news outlet which services Copperas Cove, Killeen, Temple, Fort Hood, Harker Heights and the other surrounding areas.
The point of the article isn’t quite clear. There’s no group in the area advocating for changes to the law, with the closest organization being in Waco, though it does talk briefly about a local woman’s need for medical marijuana.
According to the article, Tina Wilson, who is 41, regularly smokes marijuana for medicinal purposes and was prescribed the drug in Alabama after suffering from an ulcer, but that she has not been successful in obtaining marijuana since moving to Texas.
She goes on to say, “It’s hard here. I have been going to Scott & White for over a year and now they are setting me up with a counselor trying to get my prescription filled, but I haven’t been able to get it. I have gone from 187 pounds to 135 and can’t eat and have a lot of nausea. I am in a lot of pain and throwing up. I need pot to survive.”
Cannabis, which is the scientific name for marijuana, has long demonstrated medical uses for combating nausea and has been a godsend primarily for cancer patients who regularly experience extreme nausea from chemo treatments. It also helps that recent studies have shown marijuana’s potential to fight cancer cells.
The Cove Herald conducted a straw poll with its readers and all respondents supported legalizing marijuana.
Here are some of the responses from those who participated in the poll:
“When it is in its natural state it is the most organic and safest recreational/medical drug out there. If it was legal in Texas, there would be more regulation to keep it safer — no artificial enhancing — and buyers would know exactly what they are buying.” – Marcie Lowery
“This drug is not as dangerous as alcohol and there are far too many people in jail because of this. It’s time to make it legal, tax it and move on.” – Tim Wood
“I would like to see it legalized in Texas because I have Crohn’s Disease. I don’t care about recreational use. But I would like to see it legalized for medical use.” – Kenyetta Johnson
“Marijuana is not dangerous like alcohol or cigarettes and can be beneficial to people with health issues. Besides, it would generate lots of revenue, so it should be legal. I’ve seen people get busted with less than an ounce and go to prison for many years.” – Kathy Kweiran
“Maybe it would help all this nerve pain I’m still having from my leg stumps and hands from being a dual amputee. You never feel the pain, till it happens to you. You just hear…click, boom.” – Jack Boal
The article cites the cost for misdemeanor marijuana incarceration as approximately $51 per day in the Coryell County jail system, which is the cost Coryell County pays Milam County for housing Coryell County inmates due to overcrowding. While that $51 is better spent elsewhere, it’s hard to believe that is the only cost considering that administrative expenses must be taken into account along with transportation and supervision for inmates, and court costs. The cost is likely much higher. In fact, Each marijuana arrest costs taxpayers an estimated $10,000 according to Texas NORML.
The article mentions John Vander-Werff of Copperas Cove, a retired law enforcement officer with more then 30 years experience, who said the main downside of legalizing marijuana would be an increase in intoxication contacts between police and citizens.
“Legalization of marijuana would neither decrease crime nor lessen jail crowding,” Vander-Werff said. “User-level marijuana arrests would be replaced by user-level intoxication arrests.”
This statement runs contrary to what we’re already experiencing in Colorado though as marijuana case filings are plummeting and police have had very few problems with public intoxication. It’s not as if the law is preventing people from consuming marijuana anyways, so the number of people consuming it would not see a major increase, especially considering the tendency of employers to drug test even after legalization.
Vander-Werff also stated that he doubts all marijuana used would be taxed. He said clandestine sales, untaxed, would flourish.
Of course in a legalized market, prices would trend downwards while quality would increase, which effectively puts the grand majority of black market sellers out of business. As we may see in Colorado though, excessive regulation and taxes could keep the black market thriving by artificially restricting supply and keeping prices too costly to completely wipe out the black market activity.
Those people in Copperas Cove may get legalization sooner than many think though, considering that 58% of Texans support legalization, and we could see as many as 10 new states legalize in 2014.
The end of prohibition is near, Texas lawmakers just have to decide if they want to get in at the tail end of the new booming economic sector, or help lead the way.
By: Stephen Carter
Contact Stephen via email at TXCann@gmail.com