The state's immoral war on drugs is now bipartisanly opposed
Austin, Texas – In a bold piece of legislation, Rep. David Simpson (R) filed a bill that would delete any mention of marijuana from state law. It would completely deregulate it and treat it as any common crop.
In a press release, Simpson said he supported regulating marijuana like the state regulates "tomatoes, jalapeños or coffee."
"Everything that God made is good, even marijuana" said state Rep. Simpson. "The conservative thought is that government doesn't need to fix something that God made good."
A recent poll by Pew Research has shown that 63 percent of Republicans under the age of 34 support legalization of marijuana (vs. 77 percent of Democrats of the same age.)
This information indicates that both major parties are coming around to the realization that the drug war has done significant damage to the social fabric of U.S. society, and a systemic change is necessary.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Simpson said that may of his Republican colleagues were in support of repealing prohibition and also considered the War on Drugs to be an “abysmal failure.”
Currently, the U.S. has more non-violent drug offenders incarcerated than any other country on earth. A staggering 25 percent of all people incarcerated worldwide, are being held in a U.S. jail or prison. This fact becomes even more disturbing when combined with the knowledge that the U.S. represents only 5 percent of the world population.
In a break from the approach of taxation and regulation, taken in all of the numerous other states that have reformed their marijuana laws, the Texas bill would offer no regulation or taxation.
Simpson told KETK that he would like to “reframe the current marijuana discussion” by focusing on prohibition repeal in terms of conservative values such as deregulation and less government.
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The issue was hotly contested at the Texas Republican Party convention in Fort Worth. Numerous delegates supported legalization but ultimately voted to oppose legalization in the official party platform.
"It's the official party position that we don't favor legalization of marijuana, however it should be noted that a sizable minority voted in favor of allowing medical marijuana usage," Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, told the Houston Chronicle. "It was hotly contested by a sizable number of delegates on both sides."
In typical police state fashion, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Association of Texas, AJ Lauderback said, "we'll oppose [Simpson's] bill and any bill that wishes to legalize marijuana in the State of Texas.” He said that marijuana is a “gateway drug,” and that society bore high costs such as drug rehab programs and users driving under the influence.
These statements are simply outright lies, as the true cost to society is locking up non-violent drug offenders and criminalizing citizens that committed a crime against no one.
"The conservative approach, the liberty approach, is to recognize force and violence is not a good way to deal with drug abuse," Simpson said. "Putting people in prison and teaching them a whole lot about crime, separating them from the family, taking away the breadwinners simply for possessing a plant that God made—that's wrong."
Rather than treating people suffering from addiction as criminals, with enormous associated costs of incarceration, addiction should instead be regarded as a public health issue. This approach could be done so at a fraction of the cost of incarceration.
For his part, Simpson believes in a small government that plays a very limited role.
"We should use our resources in law enforcement to deal with murder, with rape, with theft, but just possessing a substance that God made is not wrong," he said.
Almost half of states in the U.S. have legal medical marijuana and four states have legalized recreation marijuana. There are two bills in Congress that would completely legalize and regulate federally. The winds of change in the drug policy debate are blowing strongly in favor of ending prohibition.
The approach outlined in this bill should be used as a model for all marijuana legislation going forward.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay's work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.