Saturday, February 1, 2014

Rick Perry, Marijuana, and our first conversation

[Author's Note: This picture was taken at the 2010 event described below.]

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8

Last week, in Davos, Rick Perry made a comment about marijuana that ignited a media firestorm:
“As governor, I have begun to implement policies that start us toward a decriminalization” by introducing alternative “drug courts” that provide treatment and softer penalties for minor offenses"
The only noteworthy aspect of that statement is the reaction.  Perry was discussing criminal justice reforms Texas has put into place over the past decade.  Perry said nothing new.

In January 2010, during his last campaign for governor, Perry held an event with Andrew Breitbart.  This event was the first time we met the Governor.  In a private conversation on the side of that event, Perry described his administration's policy towards low level drug offenses using language that was nearly identical to what he said in Davos four years later.

At the time, Perry was fending off a primary challenge from Debra Medina (who, in 2014, is running for comptroller).  A long time Ron Paul acolyte, Medina is a well known critic of the war on drugs.  While Perry differentiated himself from Medina's position on drug legalization, he also made clear his belief that incarcerating people over low-level drug offenses is a counterproductive strategy that wastes a lot of money.

On a similar note, in his 2010 book Fed Up Perry wrote:
But perhaps most interesting is a movement I disagree, while appreciating the desire of Californians to decide for themselves -- and this is the issue of marijuana consumption.  A few years ago, Californians legalized the limited medicinal use of marijuana, but the Supreme Court struck this law down in Gonzales v. Raich, claiming that the federal government has the power to regulate activity that would have a substantial effect on interstate commerce.  Now, I am not sure the people of Texas would want to go down this road, but it sure seems to me that Justice Thomas got this one right when he said in dissent:..."Our federalist system, properly understood, allows California and a growing number of other States to decide for themselves how to safeguard the health and welfare of their citizens.  (164/5)
 Rick Perry's policy towards low-level drug offences has always reflected his commitment to the Tenth Amendment and the fiscal lunacy of mass incarceration.  Rick Perry said nothing in Davos that he didn't say to us in 2010.  The real story is that the media belatedly chose to cover a Perry administration policy that has been in place for at least half-a-decade.

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