The Texas Sheriff's Association says it will fight hard to block efforts in the upcoming Legislative session to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, demonstrating that the move toward lighter punishments for pot possession are not 'inevitable,' as supporters claim, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
"The Sheriff's Association position is that we are going to oppose any effort to decriminalize marijuana, or legalize medical marijuana or any of the components of marijuana," Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk told News Radio 1200 WOAI. "Of course, we will vigorously oppose any effort to legalize marijuana."
A bill to turn possession of less than an ounce of marijuana into essentially a parking ticket, with a fine of no more than $100, has been introduced in the session that begins January 13th. No marijuana legalization bill has been introduced.
But Sheriff Kirk says that is the direction 'decriminalization bills' are going.
"The next step is to legalize the use of medical marijuana, for medical purposes," he said. "Once all that is done, then they come back and try to legalize marijuana for any purpose."
While some 18 states now allow marijuana use for medical purpose, the effort to expand those laws have stalled.
Supporters of marijuana decriminalization argue that jails and prisons are overflowing with young people, mainly minorities, who have committed no crime other than possessing illegal drugs. They argue that arrest and incarceration for such 'non violent' offenses ruins the lives of these individuals, and essentially forces them to become career criminals.
But Kirk says that is not the true story.
"There are not only social, but criminal justice concerns for the use and abuse of marijuana," he said. "It is illegal in Texas, and we would like it to stay that way."