Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis said she supports medical marijuana use as well easing the state’s legal consequences for possessing small amounts of the drug. Davis’ comments echo those of current Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who said he supports less stringent penalties in Texas for marijuana use. Perry made the comments at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last month, highlighting his work toward decriminalization.
Davis, a state senator, said Perry’s approach is “reasonable,” according to an interview with the Dallas Morning News that was published Tuesday. “I do believe that Governor Perry’s approach is a reasonable approach, that we as a state need to think about the cost of that incarceration and, obviously, the cost to the taxpayers as a consequence of it, and whether we’re really solving any problem for the state by virtue of incarcerations for small amounts of marijuana possession,” she said.
Texas law classifies marijuana possession, even small amounts, as a class B misdemeanor, punishable by fines and jail time. Asked her position on medical marijuana use, Davis said she personally supports it but, ultimately, as governor she’d have to take the temperature of the state on the issue. “With regard to medical marijuana. I personally believe that medical marijuana should be allowed for. I don’t know where the state is on that, as a population,” she said.
“Certainly as governor, I think it’s important to be deferential to whether the state of Texas feels that it’s ready for that,” she said, adding that it’s worth watching other states experimenting with decriminalization. Two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized recreational marijuana use. Another 18 states, along with the District of Columbia, allow some legal pot use, primarily for medicinal purposes. Voters in Colorado and Washington approved constitutional amendments on their state’s respective ballots in November to legalize pot use. Asked by the Dallas Morning News if she would have voted, as a private citizen, for legalization, Davis hesitated.
“From a philosophical position, do I have any objections to the fact that citizens might want to legalize marijuana? No, I don’t. But I think watching to see how this experiment plays out in other states is probably advisable before I could tell you for sure,” she said. Attempts thus far by lawmakers in Texas to lower state’s penalties for people caught possessing small amounts of marijuana, have failed. Davis said she would have supported a bill easing penalties. As governor, Davis said she would “consider” a bill moving marijuana possession from a criminal offense to a civil matter.
A CNN/ORC International poll conducted in January shows a majority of Americans think marijuana use should be legal. The national survey also indicted the number of people who say smoking pot is morally wrong has plunged. In Colorado specifically, a Quinnipiac poll released Monday shows support for the state’s recreational marijuana law has increased from last month. Though support seems to be trending upwards, a majority of Colorado voters also say the new law is bad for the state’s image.
If Davis wins her March 4 primary, she will face likely Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott in the general election last this year. Davis’ office confirmed to CNN the senator’s comments in the Dallas Morning News interview.
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