Related ›› El Paso law officers oppose marijuana legalization
State Rep. Joe Moody said Friday he will continue working for legislation that decriminalizes possessing small amounts of marijuana so that people are not punished unduly for what should be a minor violation.
Moody, D-El Paso, and others agreed that the legal consequences for possessing marijuana are overly harsh and continue long after convictions. People who acquire a criminal record for drugs may lose out on financial aid for school, jobs, housing and entering the military.
Moody, a former prosecutor, was on a panel to discuss marijuana legalization, decriminalization and alternatives to prosecution as part of the Texas Lyceum Conference titled “Have We Lost the War on Drugs.”
His bill to replace criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana with a $240 civil fine didn’t make it past the calendars committee this session, but he said the serious attention the measure and others like it received during the legislative session encouraged him try again in the future.
“We’ve come a long way in Texas in a very short time,” said Moody, who was on a panel with Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Colt DeMorris, president of the El Paso chapter of NORML, an organization that advocates the responsible use of marijuana.
DeMorris said he doesn’t believe that marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to the inevitable use of stronger and highly addictive drugs.
“We’ve been told lies. We’ve been using marijuana for at least 6,000 years, and it wasn’t until the 1930’s that the government found it was more profitable to make it illegal,” DeMorris said. In 1937, a federal tax went into effect on the sale of marijuana — it was repealed in 1970.
“It’s the black market that’s a gateway drug,” DeMorris said. “(Dealers) who run out of marijuana may offer other drugs to buyers, and that’s how they entice people into trying other drugs. Marijuana can be used an ‘exit drug’ without any harmful side effects.”
An exit drug is one that is used as a substitute for other things, such as alcohol, heroin and harder drugs or prescription drugs.
DeMorris also said that marijuana has medical properties, and as hemp can be used in the manufacture of numerous useful products.
Colorado, which legalized marijuana, raised $700 million in tax revenue in the first year since the law was passed, and a portion of the revenue is being …Read More