Texas Gov. Rick Perry mulls softer punishments for marijuana users

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he’s moving in the direction of decriminalizing marijuana — but not so far as to favor outright legalization of the drug.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr. Perry said he’s started moving toward lighter sentences for marijuana offense, the Houston Chronicle reported.

“As governor, I have begun to implement policies that start us toward a decriminalization,” Mr. Perry said, explaining his “drug courts” system that were created by state law in 2001 as a counter to traditional criminal courts, Politico reported.

These “drug courts,” he said, would emphasize rehabilitation over jail.

A spokesman for Mr. Perry said the governor still opposes an open legalization of the drug, but wants to basically focus on reduced sentences for those with nonviolent pasts.

“Legalization is no penalty at all,” said Lucy Nashed, Politico reported. “Decriminalization doesn’t necessarily mean jail time for minor possession offenses. It means more of a fine or counseling or some sort of program where you don’t end up in jail but in a rehabilitative program. The goal is to keep people out of jails and reduce recidivism, that kind of thing.”

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