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The Conservative Case for Decriminalizing Pot

Jennifer Martin/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

From Texas Standard:

Enforcing laws that make possession of small amounts of marijuana a criminal offense are costing taxpayers a lot of money, with little benefit in return. That’s the argument made by State Representative Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs). The bill he co-sponsored with Democrat Joe Moody of El Paso would reduce penalties for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana to a $250 civil fine. 

On what House Bill 81 does:“House Bill 81 is a decriminalization bill, not a legalization bill...for people that just make a mistake. They’re caught up in our justice system now, costing taxpayers millions of dollars every year; hurting economic development opportunities because typically when people are caught with small amounts, they’re prosecuted or charged. And that shows up on their record and people have a tough time getting jobs.”

On whether the Legislature is too conservative to pass the bill:

“Every single person that I talk to they’re saying ‘why are you supporting marijuana bills?’ and when I say let’s talk about his issue...they say that makes perfect sense....thank you for better utilizing the tax dollars that have been entrusted to the government. So to me, this is a conservative issue.”

On how Harris County’s decision to de-emphasize marijuana possession prosecutions relates to House Bill 81:

“There are certain municipal ities that have eased their efforts to...prosecute these low-level small amount possession crimes because they recognize that it’s just not the best use of law enforcement...Unfortunately now the law says they’re supposed to prosecute and charge people and arrest them. And it’s just not a good use of their time...It should be treated like a fine.”

Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Rhonda is the newest member of the KUT News team, joining in late 2013 as producer for KUT's new daily news program, The Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.