DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – There is a movement in the Texas Democratic Party to decriminalize marijuana. The move has already happened in other states, and the party says that it is time for it to happen in Texas as well. According to the party’s written platform — on page 29 — Democrats in Texas are urging the President, the Attorney General and Congress to support the move.
The platform states that 85 percent of the arrests made related to marijuana have been for possession only, and there is no evidence that marijuana is a gateway drug. Prohibiting marijuana use, the party says, puts the control of marijuana production and distribution in the hands of drug cartels and street gangs.
The Texas Democratic Party would rather see the drug regulated like alcohol and tobacco. “Decrimination of marijuana does not mean we endorse marijuana use, but it is only a call for wiser law enforcement and public health policy,” the platform states. “Recent polls show over 50 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be decriminalized.”
Supporters of the movement said that having a marijuana drug charge on a person’s record scars them for life, and that is wrong. “When you get a job, you always have to be honest about your past,” said Brownsville resident Bill McMillan, “but it’s something you have to live with for the rest of your life.”
“You shouldn’t put a criminal stigma on these young folks for the rest of their lives,” said Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, “and affect their ability to get jobs and their ability to have a meaningful career.”
Opponents argue that marijuana can be abused, and can lead to frequent overuse. Republicans have already killed similar measures in a number of other states, and are expected to do the same in Texas.
The Colorado Democratic Party also added legalizing marijuana to its platform earlier this year.
A study released this week has found legalizing medical marijuana has resulted in a nearly 9% decline in traffic deaths and a 5% reduction in beer sales in states that allow it. The study is the first ever to examine the relationship between medical marijuana and traffic fatalities.
Could marijuana use reduce fatal traffic accidents?
The study, Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption, could be an important intervention in ongoing debates over medical marijuana and marijuana legalization, reformers said. Opponents of loosened marijuana laws use concerns over drugged driving and possible traffic fatalities as one of their most effective arguments against liberalization, and this study could lessen the effectiveness of that argument.
“Our research suggests that the legalization of medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities through reducing alcohol consumption by young adults,” said Daniel Rees, professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver, who coauthored the study with D. Mark Anderson, assistant professor of economics at Montana State University.
The Daily Chronic http://www.thedailychronic.net/2011/7317/new-study-finds-traffic-fatalities-decline-with-medical-marijuana-laws/
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