Wendy Davis talks to the DMN editorial board and answers some questions about marijuana.
Questions: As you know, both ends of the political spectrum have questioned the nation’s and state’s drug policies and the mass incarceration that has resulted. Even Gov. Perry has said positive things about decriminalization, as he defines it. What changes would you support in Texas law that now allows for jail time for small amounts of marijuana? And, as a separate question, what’s your position on medical marijuana?
Davis: “I do believe that Gov. Perry’s approach is a reasonable approach, that we as a state need to think about the cost of that incarceration and, obviously, the cost to the taxpayers as a consequence of it, and whether we’re really solving any problem for the state by virtue of incarcerations for small amounts of marijuana possession.
“With regard to medical marijuana. I personally believe that medical marijuana should be allowed for. I don’t know where the state is on that, as a population. Certainly as governor I think it’s important to be deferential to whether the state of Texas feels that it’s ready for that.
“We certainly have an opportunity to look at what other states are doing and watch and learn from that. I think Texas is in a position right now of being able to sit back a bit and watch to see how this is playing out in other arenas.”
Follow-up question: Had a bill gone to the Senate to decrease criminal provisions for possession of small amounts of marijuana, would you have voted for it?
Davis: “Yes, I would have.”
Another follow-up: If the Legislature were to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot, to let the people decide marijuana legalization, as they did in Colorado and Washington, how would you vote, as a private citizen?
Davis: “I don’t know yet. I want to wait and see what happens in Colorado. I have a daughter who lives in Denver. I think there are some challenges to that law that are presented to law enforcement. In Denver they’re already talking about that, based on my conversations with my daughter, a week or so ago.
“When you stop someone who’s drunk driving, you can easily do a test to make a determination that that’s the case. When you stop someone you believe is driving under the influence of too much marijuana, what is the ability to conduct that same sort of analysis, and do you accidentally ensnare someone who really isn’t under the influence but yesterday smoked marijuana, and it’s still in their blood stream? These are some unique questions and challenges.
“From a philosophical position, do I have any objections to the fact that citizens might want to legalize marijuana? No, I don’t. But I think watching to see how this experiment plays out in other states is probably advisable before I could tell you for sure.”
Final follow-up question: If you were elected governor and the Legislature sent you a bill that made possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil matter, rather than a minor criminal offense, would you sign it?
Davis: “I would consider it.”
The writers note that Greg Abbott has yet to answer any questions on this subject. In a separate post, editorial writer Tod Robberson declared Davis “thoughtful and extremely well informed”. For those of you who might still be peeved at Davis for her statement about open carry, Robberson also noted that her primary opponent, Rey Madrigal, called himself “unabashedly anti-abortion”. Just thought you might want to know that. Finally, on a related note, Democratic Senate candidate Mike Fjetland came out for legalizing marijuana on Monday. It’s not just a Kinky Friedman issue anymore. Juanita has more.