Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Steve Stockman is still a dope

When Kinky announced for ag commissioner and highlighted the ganja as his primo issue, I predicted that there wouldn't be any Republicans who would ask him not to bogart.  (This definition, not that one.)  My mistake: I overlooked former homeless person -- I prefer this term over 'vagrant' -- and once-jailed-on-a-drug-charge-himself Congressman Steve Stockman.

But even when blind hogs occasionally find acorns, they're still blind... and they remain swine.

Texas Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Friendswood, has recently backed a bill to require federal officials to comply with state marijuana laws, which was introduced in April and has since garnered support from Congressmen on both sides of the aisle.

The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013, introduced by California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican, would bar federal drug enforcement agents from penalizing any person abiding by the marijuana laws in their own state.

The law “shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State laws” — that is, people who are in compliance with their state laws regarding possession, manufacture or use of marijuana will not be subjected to federal penalties.

That's the rub here: Texas is the second worst of these United States in which to get busted for pot.

On an annual basis, no state arrests and criminally prosecutes more of its citizens for pot than does Texas. Marijuana arrests comprise over half of all annual arrests in the Lone Star State. It is easy to see why. In 2009, more than 97 percent of all Texas marijuana arrests — over 77,000 people — were for possession only. Those convicted face up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine, even upon a first conviction.

Despite Texas’ dubious distinction as the #1 pot prosecuting state in America, police and lawmakers have little interest in exploring alternatives. In 2007, Gov. Rick Perry signed legislation (HB 2391) into law granting police the option of issuing a summons in lieu of an arrest in minor marijuana possession cases. Yet aside from police in Austin, long considered to be the state’s lone bastion of liberalism, law enforcement have continued to fervently make arrests in even the most trivial of pot cases.

In 2011, Houston Democrat Harold Dutton introduced House Bill 458, which sought to reduce penalties for the adult possession of one ounce or less of marijuana to a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding $500 and no criminal record. Within weeks, over 2,500 Texans contacted their House members in support of the measure. Nonetheless, House lawmakers refused to even consider bringing the measure to a vote. 

You can guess why, can't you?  One word: it starts with an R and ends with 'douchebags'.

Stockman's signing on to this federal legislation does absolutely nothing to advance the cause of marijuana decriminalization -- not to mention fracturing the prison pipeline -- in Texas.  That's why it's perfect for a duplicitous sack of shit like him to support.

So while it may be perceived in some quarters that grass could be a bipartisan issue, the truth once more is that the only way things like this are ever going to change is if people simply stop voting for Republicans running for statewide office.

And if you're one of those people who likes to get stoned but doesn't like to vote, you might want to be the first on your block to change that habit.

Update: More Grits. And also The Defense Rests.

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