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South Texas assistant district attorney supports keeping marijuana illegal

Terry Breen, of Goliad, is Assistant District Attorney with the 24th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
Terry Breen, of Goliad, is Assistant District Attorney with the 24th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

I have wonderful news for Dave McNeely regarding his worries about Texas’ marijuana laws: He is dead wrong.

As presented in McNeely’s column on May 20, “Marijuana decriminalization snuffed out,” he worries about all the people sent to prison for smoking a joint. There is not a single bed in TDC being occupied by someone who was merely a “recreational user” of marijuana. Not one bed. The current law is that you have to have a quarter pound or more of marijuana to be a felony. Recreational users of marijuana never have more than at most half an ounce of marijuana. A half ounce makes 40 joints, and a single joint can get several people high. Anyone with four or more ounces of marijuana is a dealer. In fact, many dealers deal far less than four ounces of marijuana.

Possession of four ounces but less than five pounds of marijuana is a State Jail Felony, effectively a fourth-degree felony. By law, someone charged with such a crime must receive probation. And every probation program in the Texas requires the probationer to attend drug rehab and education classes. Probationers who fall off the wagon and continue to use drugs are typically given multiple chances to get with the program.

McNeely’s idea that Texas should spend money on drug education and rehabilitation instead of incarceration of drug dealers shows how little he knows. Texas spends millions of dollars every year on drug rehabilitation. Most of these programs would have very few takers if marijuana was legal. Their customers are there because they are on probation, and the choice they face is either go to the class or go to prison or jail.

McNeely, like a lot of marijuana advocates, thinks drug dealers are nonviolent sorts who are family men, very much like Ward Cleaver in the “Leave it to Beaver” TV sitcom from the 1960s. Sending these men to prison leaves their families destitute.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Drug dealers enforce their deals through violence. And their drugs encourage violence in their customers. Moreover, in my many years of experience as a prosecutor, including as a narcotics prosecutor, I have yet to meet the man who fits the Ward Cleaver profile so beloved by the marijuana supporters. Most of them are fathers only in the biological sense. Those who are involved in a family scene generally contribute to its dysfunction. Anyone who thinks drug use is a “victimless crime” needs to talk to some Children’s Protective Service social workers. Drugs, including marijuana, are often a big part of the mix that results in child abuse and neglect.

THC, the ingredient in marijuana that causes intoxication, is fat soluble, meaning it accumulates in your fat. Alcohol is water soluble, which means it is expelled in one’s urine, sweat and breath and does not accumulate. If you drank one can of beer a day for a year, you would not be any more intoxicated 365 beers later than when you started. If you smoked a joint a day for a year, the THC will be in your fat, and will continue to increase as you continue to smoke marijuana.

Marijuana is not benign. It lowers one’s IQ, especially in the young, it affects your brain permanently if you smoke it long enough, and it harms your judgment. It makes you unsafe to drive or operate heavy machinery. Moreover, it is closely associated with anti-social behavior.

In probably 90 percent of the felony cases I see, the defendant has a prior conviction for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Michael Brown, the thug who attacked a Ferguson, Mo., police officer, was higher than a Georgia pine from marijuana when he committed his crime. We don’t need more pot heads in this state; we need fewer. The criminal laws on marijuana discourage its use and encourage rehabilitation.

By: Terry Breen

Terry Breen, of Goliad, is Assistant District Attorney with the 24th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. He prosecutes felonies in a rural three county district – DeWitt, Goliad and Refugio – from intake through trial. He may be emailed at tjb1836@gmail.com.

This letter originally appeared at Victoria Advocate.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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8 Comments

  1. July 6, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    Reblogged this on U.S. Marijuana Party.

  2. Darrell Williams
    July 6, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    Obviously he’s a drinker

  3. David
    July 7, 2015 at 12:37 am

    (Marijuana is not benign. It lowers one’s IQ, especially in the young, it affects your brain permanently if you smoke it long enough, and it harms your judgment. It makes you unsafe to drive or operate heavy machinery. Moreover, it is closely associated with anti-social behavior), And Alcohol Doesn’t do this Really Get over yourself Dude, Alcohol Makes People Violent and Aggressive, unable to operate equipment safely or drive, It lowers your IQ. Especially in the young. alcohol is very addictive and if you Drink it long enough and enough of it it Will Kill you and make you look Older then you really are, and it harms your judgment. also the Ethanol it contains produces intoxication because of its depressive effects on various areas of the brain Anyone who Drinks Alcohol often in a family setting generates Discord and Dysfunction! You have no basis in facts! As for Marijuana Causing brain damage, Research shows for the first time that CBD, like THC, can promote the growth of brain cells ( See Link for More Details: http://www.truthonpot.com/2013/07/13/scientists-discover-another-way-marijuana-helps-the-brain-grow/ ) And Stop Spreading Lies and Untruths!

    (Drugs, including marijuana, are often a big part of the mix that results in child abuse and neglect.) Alcohol is a Drug too! and the exact same thing can be said about it also resulting in child abuse and neglect.

    (THC, the ingredient in marijuana that causes intoxication, is fat soluble, meaning it accumulates in your fat. Alcohol is water soluble, which means it is expelled in one’s urine, sweat and breath and does not accumulate.) This is utter BS! i have met people who looked 90 that where really in their 50’s and all they did was drink Alcohol! It saturates The skin, Poisons your Liver and kidneys leading to kidney failure.

    (The criminal laws on marijuana discourage its use and encourage rehabilitation.) Bull Hocky!!! All they do is make people learn how to hide it better and more effectively! just as was the result when Alcohol Was made Against the Law. Yet in the end it was made legal! So yea Do more research before you go spreading your lies to Others!

    (Nothing could be further from the truth. Drug dealers enforce their deals through violence. And their drugs encourage violence in their customers) This is the only true statement you have posted in this entire Statement! So why keep letting the dealers Sell Marijuana and Make it legal so that The Safe “None-Drug-Dealers Do it instead Then The “Drug Dealers” As you put it Cant Enforce it anymore, it would be taken out of their hands for good its a easy thing ti take out the dealers! DuhhH!!!

    as for Probation and such, Having to pay over 200 per session for classes not counting the amount of money that Probation requires each Month or every time you see them. Most people could never afford to attend them. It Runs their lives over minor things. I have never seen Marijuana kill anyone. EVER! And it doesn’t if its pure and not mixed with something like LSD or Meth! then its the LSD or METH that Kills them not the marijuana, Heck! Alcohol KILLS allot more people every year then marijuana Ever has in a lifetime. also marijuana has Allot of very good and proven Medical uses, Alcohol has None outside of using it to make a medicine Like a tincture.

    People that Smoke To Much Marijuana Get hungry Eat, Then Fall asleep for a while, However people that Drink To much Alcohol Fall Over Get Sick, puke. Sometimes drowning on it. Or Die form Alcohol poisoning. If your going to Keep marijuana Against the law then you may as well try to make Alcohol against the law again and see how far that gets you nowadays. Its only a madder of time before the same thing that happened with alcohol happens with marijuana, and it will not be pretty for those who are trying to keep it from happening when it finally happens of that you can be sure of!

  4. July 7, 2015 at 7:50 am

    Reblogged this on Pahrumpsterdam.

  5. July 7, 2015 at 10:09 am

    What a moron hope he loses his seat he doesn’t need to be a judge !!

  6. Help
    July 7, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    He needs to wake up. No longer do law abiding citizens believe maijuanana has no medicinal use.
    Texas policy needs to widen is medical catagory and include PTSD and other catagories. Our Soldiers fought for this country and shouldnt have to move from the state they love to seek medicine provided by so many other states.

  7. .......
    July 8, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    He looks like a kkklansman.

  8. rickyb
    July 10, 2015 at 5:55 am

    Cannabis is non-toxic. The human body produces a measure of THC/CBD which is useful for lowering blood pressure, relieving anxiety, building up anti-oxidants, re-building brain cells, fighting cancer, diminishing the side effects of chemotherapy, lessening the effects of MD. MS, ALZ, PTSD and epilepsy as well as many other neuro-muscular disorders.

    I could go on, but what I’m saying has been said many times before, and proven by clinical researchers the world over; the real ones, the ones who dedicate themselves to new discoveries and therapies. Not the ones who are driven only by their bottom line.

    Who could imagine that mother nature, in all her glory, already has a plan for the human race that grows wild and free, and doesn’t come with any harmful effects.

    In fact, the healing benefits have been proven time and time again, by those who have experienced its medicinal miracles, and an excellent preventive medicine for those who choose.

    But it’s illegal, and because of that single fact, many people think that it must also be immoral or anti-social. When cannabis clears this last hurdle, everyone will have opportunity to enjoy all the beneficial effects that this life saving herb has to offer.