The San Antonio Express-News reports that Governor Rick Perry, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland), threw his support behind the decriminalization of cannabis. However, he stopped clear of full legalization, and even remained tepid about any and all medicinal benefits that may be derived from the substance. Perry took on the new positions as part of his greater position on State’s Rights, though he did offer his personal support for proposals to lessen the penalty in Texas.
Perry also touted the success of the State’s drug courts, first created in 2001, which may sometimes offer treatment or other penalties in lieu of incarceration for non-violent drug offenses. Counseling, rehab or fines were also suggestions of a Perry spokesperson, all with the overarching theme of reducing costs for the State. Additionally, there appeared to be at least some inkling of clemency for the bad deal people get when they go to jail for something that only “harms” themselves (except, you know, it doesn’t even harm them). Once again, if any violence was a component of the crime, or if distributing/selling occurred, Perry would not support less/no jail time for those individuals.
This all comes at an interesting time, both for Perry and for the national consensus on cannabis. First, for the Governor, one can not help but to ponder how this will affect his inevitable second run for the White House. I always thought that Ross Ramsey’s deft column on Perry “moving to the middle” had legs, particularly with his contemporaries such as Abbott, Cruz and Dewhurst reaching further and further right to placate their base. I suppose in that case, it is less that he is actively moving towards the middle, but that goalposts have been moved so drastically that his coordinates are now considering moderate in comparison. Perry has —and I can’t believe I am saying this either— taken the role of an elder statesman, untethered from any passing fancies of public opinion.
The second question is just how significant Perry’s revelation is in the grand scheme of things. Forbes Magazine pondered the question of if Perry is ‘More Liberal’ than Obama on the issue. Obama, for his part, has begun to enter the 21st century on the issue as well, in turn garnering the rebuke of some figures closer to home. However, anyone has has followed my ramblings for any discernible amount of time would be able to attest that I cannot stand Obama, Congress and everything else inside the Beltway with a burning passion. I, of course, am interested in what the Texans have to say.
Historically, Attorney General Greg Abbott has been pretty tough on crime, cannabis being no exception. I cannot imagine him switching his views now, but I have certainly been wrong countless other times before. Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte are who I am most curious about. What do you think?
The Houston New Post has more, including a rather odd tangent by me on the topic. Scroll to the end.