Joint Resolution

Joint Resolution
Posted by CN Staff on January 25, 2005 at 07:33:01 PT
By Mark McCaig 
Source: Battalion
Every once in awhile, an idea will come across the Texas Legislature that will solve more problems than it creates and actually promotes individual freedom rather than taking it away. State Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, has one of these ideas.House Bill 254, filed on Dec. 20, will amend the state's drug laws to decrease the penalty of possession of one ounce or less of marijuana to a Class C misdemeanor. Such an offense is comparable to a traffic ticket, carrying a fine of up to $500.
Possession of two ounces or less of marijuana is currently a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $2,000 with the possibility of up to 180 days in jail. Additionally, HB 254 would exempt those convicted of possessing one ounce or less of marijuana from a provision in state law that mandates that those convicted of a drug offense have their driver license suspended. This bill does not legalize marijuana. All it does is prevent individuals from going to jail for making a personal choice that does not endanger others. Yet, this bill has a very slim chance of being seriously considered in the legislature, let alone becoming a law. Sadly, the war on drugs has also, in many ways, become a war on common sense. The average marijuana user - as long as he isn't driving while high - poses absolutely no threat to others. While it can be argued that the government should prevent people from engaging in harmful behavior, marijuana is no more harmful than many other substances that are legal. Regardless, citizens must immediately question any action taken by the government that seeks to tell an individual how to live his life, as long as he is not interfering in the lives of others.Fortunately, several states have come to the conclusion that there are more important things to worry about than recreational marijuana users. According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), 12 states have laws in place that have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana to some extent or another. For example, possession of one ounce or less of marijuana in Colorado is a petty offense that carries a fine of up to $100. Similar penalties exist in states such as California, Ohio and Oregon. In these states, where penalties for marijuana possession are relatively minor, there has not been any significant rise in crime or other pernicious activity as argued by anti-drug advocates in support of America's war on drugs.There is also no proof that the decriminalization of marijuana will result in an increase of marijuana use, especially by youths. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, marijuana use by teens in the Netherlands - where marijuana is regulated much like alcohol and tobacco are in the United States - is less than it is in the United States. There is also no data showing significant increases in marijuana use in states with lax penalties for possession compared to states where the penalties are more severe.Marijuana decriminalization also frees up the resources of our police, courts and jails to deal with criminals who are committing offenses that actually harm society. By allowing the police to catch thieves instead of pot smokers, these scarce resources can be used for the benefit of society. We are not any safer or better off because a marijuana smoker is locked up behind bars.The state of Texas needs to take a page from the 12 states that have decriminalized marijuana and consider Dutton's bill. It is time to use logic in the war on drugs instead of emotion. Source: Battalion, The (TX Edu)Author: Mark McCaig Published: January 25, 2005Copyright: 2005 The BattalionContact: mailcall thebatt.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:NORML Policy Project Advocates Need Lobby Finds 75% of Texans Support Med Marijuana
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Comment #3 posted by Taylor121 on January 26, 2005 at 08:21:30 PT
Do what you can
Don't just send a letter, but tell your friends and family about this and get them to send theirs as well. Gotta spread this by word of mouth. Mark Step. isn't here this go around to have a 50,000 dollar lobbiest in Austin.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on January 25, 2005 at 11:21:17 PT
Related Article That I Just Found
Lawyer's Plea on Pot Penalty: Article:
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on January 25, 2005 at 09:02:38 PT
NORML Alert: Willie Nelson: NORML Advisory Board 
  Take Action Now! Friend and NORML Supporter:For over 30 years, I have been a supporter of NORML's efforts to end marijuana prohibition. As someone who has enjoyed marijuana responsibly
for many years, I appreciate that NORML serves as the voice for marijuana smokers like myself.Today I am writing you on behalf of NORML with exciting news from my home state of Texas. Recently, Rep. Harold Dutton (D - Houston) introduced a bill in the Texas State Legislature to decriminalize the possession of marijuana for personal use.This bill recommends that minor marijuana offenders in Texas face a ticket and a small fine in lieu of criminal arrest and prosecution. This is a
step in the right direction, but it will only receive serious consideration if our elected officials hear an unmistakable message of support from their constituents.Please take two minutes to write your state legislators and tell them how important it is that they support marijuana decriminalization. NORML 
has created pre-written letters that you can send to your legislators by visiting: have already contacted my state representative and asked for their support of this bill. Won't you do the same?As a responsible marijuana smoker myself, I take pride in the fact that NORML has always spoken for the interests of everyday marijuana smokers. NORML is working hard in Texas and across the United States to protect your right to smoke marijuana without fear of arrest or prosecution. Will you join in me supporting these efforts by donating to NORML today? You can make a donation, buy a NORML product, or become a NORML member at: appreciate your efforts to help NORML decriminalize marijuana in Texas. Please be sure to contact your elected officials today, and tell 'emWillie sent you!Best Wishes,Willie Nelson, 
NORML Advisory Board 
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