Thursday, January 23, 2020

Demagoguery vs. pot decrim focused on pretending violent crime will spike

The Austin City Council this afternoon will consider a proposal to forbid spending money for lab testing in user-level marijuana cases. Such testing is required to prosecute cases after the legislature legalized hemp, not realizing Texas crime labs were unable to distinguish hemp from marijuana. As a result, marijuana prosecutions around the state have plummeted. The Austin City Council essentially wants to make that situation permanent in the capital city.

In response, law enforcement has pretended such a move would spur anarchy in the streets, even though these cases haven't been prosecuted for half a year and it's been no big deal. Doubling down on District Attorney Margaret Moore's declaration that failing to prosecute these people would increase violent crime, police brass in Austin are making similar, baseless declarations
Austin police Assistant Chief Joe Chacon said ... the department is concerned about potential ripple effects to violent crime that police fear could come from such a move.
“If we start making it harder for our officers to really take that enforcement action, that emboldens the dealers and people to kind of move into this space to deal narcotics or to deal marijuana,” Chacon said. “When people kind of crowd into that space, we can anticipate that there’s going to be violence that’s going to come along with that. We’ve seen it happen in other areas, and that’s what we’re concerned about for Austin.”
This is silliness. Many states have decriminalized marijuana and 11 have legalized it outright. All of the Chicken Little predictions in those places turned out to be false, and Grits doesn't believe for a moment that Austin will be the exception to the experience of dozens of similarly situated jurisdictions.

Since the Texas Legislature revised hemp laws last year, making it impossible to prosecute marijuana cases without specialized lab testing, pot prosecutions declined by 2/3 across the state, not just in Austin, and the crime wave these demagogues are predicting simply never materialized. Codifying this change into a formal policy won't change that.

No comments: