Bill McMillin of Brownsville recalled Tuesday, his time as a high school student in the late 70s to early 80s.
He said many laws have changed in the past 20 years, especially when it comes to the criminal punishment for possession of marijuana.
"In high school and stuff, if you got caught with a couple joints or half ounce or whatever, they really didn TMt do (anything), they just let it go you know, McMillin said. Things have changed, they're getting so strict on things. They TMre sending people to prison for petty stuff."
The Texas Democratic Party seems to agree with McMillin. One of the issues they are urging the President, Attorney General and Congress to support this year, is the decriminalization of the possession of marijuana, and regulate it's use like alcohol and tobacco.
State Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said the party is not pushing for the legalization of marijuana, but adds that current laws are negatively affecting too many young people that get busted with small amounts of the drug.
"You shouldn TMt put a criminal stigma on these young folks for the rest of their lives, and affect their ability to get jobs and their ability to have a meaningful career for using marijuana when they were young," Hinojosa said.
Jose Valdivia, 35, said he was busted for marijuana possession when he was younger, and it's something that has followed him around since.
"When you get a job you always have to be honest about your past, Valdivia said, but it's something you have to live with for the rest of your life."
Hinojosa and the Democratic Party said the criminalization of marijuana may also be contributing to the selling power of drug cartels and dealers.
"The drug gangs in Mexico are allowed to continue to do business because they are able to transport drugs into the United States illegally," Hinojosa said.
"They sit back and collect the money, while the people who buy a joint or something are going to prison," McMillin added.
Texas Democrats Decriminalization of Marijuana Platform
This decriminalization of marijuana does not mean we endorse the use of marijuana but it is only a call to wiser use of law enforcement and public health policy. Prohibition of marijuana abdicates the control of marijuana production and distribution to drug cartels and street gangs. Such prohibition promotes disrespect for the law and reinforces ethnic and generational divides between the public and law enforcement.
Every year, hundreds and thousands of Americans are arrested for marijuana possession violations- far more than all those arrested for violent crimes in America. Societal costs dealing with the war on drugs concerning marijuana exceeds 12 billion dollars annually. Since the war on drugs began, 85% of the arrests for marijuana have been for possession only.
Marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Recent polls show over 50% of Americans believe marijuana should be decriminalized. While arrests for marijuana since 1965 have been over 20 million citizens, marijuana is more prevalent than ever before.
There is no evidence that marijuana is a gateway drug leading to the use of more lethal drugs. 75% of citizens arrested for marijuana are under 30. Minorities account for a majority of those arrested for marijuana. Criminal conviction permanently scars a young citizen for life.
Texas Democrats urge the President, the Attorney General and the Congress to support the passage of legislation to decriminalize the possession of marijuana and regulate it TMs use, production and sale as is done with tobacco and alcohol.
We further urge the immediate decriminalization and use of medical marijuana.
Source: Texas Democratic Party 2012 Platform