Report Argues For Decriminalizing Small Amounts Of Marijuana

Barbara Schwarz
April 23, 2019 - 7:30 am



DALLAS (1080 KRLD) - A report from Rice University's Baker Institute contends decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana would, for starters, help with the labor pool.

The Institute's Katharine Neill Harris says 60,000 people were arrested for this last year.  "When they apply for jobs, they have to say they have a criminal record.  And that can have serious negative consequences, not just for employment prospects but also for education and housing and any kind of social assistance and for any kind of professional licenses."

She adds the costs can be prohibitive.

Harris County just moved to decriminalize possession in small amounts. "In Harris County, there's now a misdemeanor marijuana diversion program.  Prior to that, the county was arresting about ten thousand people a year for marijuana possession at an estimated cost of $27 million."

She adds there are risks associated with marijuana use and says, like drinking tobacco and smoking cigarettes, it's a public health issue.  "But I don't think it makes any sense to penalize it to the extent we are now, because we've had several decades of marijuana prohibition and it doesn't deter use and it doesn't make it any less available.  I think what we're doing now is ineffective."