Slowly but surely over time, cannabis is becoming more and more legalized while also becoming less feared and stigmatized. Many notable states and cities throughout the country are newly implementing various legislation to either decriminalize or legalize marijuana entirely. The noticeable differences between decriminalization and legalization are that in areas where marijuana is only decriminalized, it’s still a minor offence to possess marijuana, on par with a speeding ticket. There are still no dispensaries and in some locations, not even medical access.

 

(National Post)

Last month, the city of Atlanta, Georgia implemented a complete decriminalization act that would lessen the criminal penalty of marijuana possession, a crime that African Americans are on average arrested four times as likely to be arrested for, greatly while also utilizing government resources for more serious crimes. When arresting someone for a small amount of marijuana possession, ample resources and time are used on a usually victimless crime that could be described as “petty” at best. Under the new legislation, criminal punishment for marijuana possession in Atlanta would be no jail time whatsoever and a simple $75 fine.

 

Last week, Dallas approved a “catch and release” measure in an attempt to limit the many police resources needed to enforce current marijuana laws.  As opposed to being arrested, having to be booked and maybe even having your car impounded for a minor marijuana possession, the new measure would instead give an “offender” a jury summons and be ordered to show up for a court date. Still, once at the courthouse, they would be fingerprinted, take a mugshot and have the similar criminal penalties associated with marijuana. While this new measure doesn’t change the criminality of marijuana in Dallas, it’s at least an important step towards legalization and another important step in not incarcerating those who haven’t committed a violent or otherwise very dangerous crime.

 

Previously, almost any attempt to legalize and tax the recreational use or marijuana or even medical marijuana have instantly crashed and burned in the Texas capitol. This failure to get off the ground is for many reasons, but arguably the most important is Governor Greg Abbott. While Abbott isn’t as notoriously anti-legalization as Attorney General and Angry Keebler Elf Jeff Sessions, he’s certainly given his two cents on legalization by stating that marijuana won’t be getting legalized while he’s in office.

 

Although marijuana still remains illegal on both the federal level and the state level in Texas regardless of recreational or medical use, other cities in Texas have implemented similar legislation. For instance, Houston implemented a similar program where offenders would instead take a course instead of facing jail time.

 

If the person has a clean record and wasn’t caught near a school, they can qualify to complete a four hour “Cognitive Decision Making” class within 90 days. Along with the mandatory course, one must be caught with less than four ounces of marijuana in order to be eligible for the program.

 

While this is only a baby step towards full legalization, it’s still a movement in the right direction. Especially with the Compassionate Use Act being passed in Texas giving those with intractable epilepsy access to low THC-containing marijuana, hopefully the Lone Star State will become increasingly more accepting of those who consume cannabis.

 

What are your feelings on marijuana legalization? Tweet me at @CaptainKasoff so we can discuss them.