Texas Sheriff’s Association Says They Will Fight All Marijuana Bills
The Texas Sheriff’s Association has positioned itself as the primary opponent of marijuana law reform in the Lone Star State.
After voting in July of 2014 to officially oppose marijuana legalization, the Texas Sheriff’s Association has now come out against pending legislation for both medical marijuana and penalty reductions for small amounts.
“The Sheriff’s Association position is that we are going to oppose any effort to decriminalize marijuana, or legalize medical marijuana or any of the components of marijuana,” Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk told News Radio 1200 WOAI. “Of course, we will vigorously oppose any effort to legalize marijuana.”
While no bills are currently being considered which would fully legalize cannabis, there has already been a bill filed which would decrease the penalty for possession of less than an ounce to a $100 fine. There is also a bill in the works which would bring medical marijuana to Texas as well.
Authorities say that this will all ultimately lead to full legalization though.
“The next step is to legalize the use of medical marijuana, for medical purposes,” Kirk stated in response to the penalty reduction bill. “Once all that is done, then they come back and try to legalize marijuana for any purpose.”
Local and state authorities in Texas spent an estimated $746 million combined on arresting marijuana offenders in 2013, over 71,000 arrests in all. Many argue that the costs of prohibition far outweigh any possible negatives of penalty reduction or legalization. A conservative estimate shows a net-gain of over $900 million from cannabis legalization.
“There are not only social, but criminal justice concerns for the use and abuse of marijuana,” Kirk said. “It is illegal in Texas, and we would like it to stay that way.”
Some in the judicial system have come out in support of penalty reduction though, with Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz saying he supports the bill, and Houston Chief of Police Charles McClelland stating that prohibition has been a failure.