Aug. 24, 2016
State Representative Jason Isaac has come out in support of the decriminalization of marijuana, but clearly stated that does not mean he supports legalization.
“Some people get confused on legalization very quick,” Isaac said. “I don’t support legalization.”
Currently, possession of less than two ounces can result in up to a $2,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail.
Decriminalization of marijuana would simply remove criminal penalties for possessing certain amounts of marijuana and replacing them with a smaller fine. It would also be a civil offense, as opposed to a criminal offense, so it would not go on a person’s criminal record.
Isaac said he believes there are reasons that being caught with small amounts of marijuana should be a lower level misdemeanor.
“I do support people who get caught with small amount of marijuana for personal use that they not be treated as criminals, and that it be a misdemeanor fine similar to public intoxication or a parking ticket,” Isaac said. “…(That way) they are not branded as criminals and ultimately waste economic development and waste tax payer dollars. For me it’s about economic development, and those people who may be hurt by this one mistake they may have made.”
Isaac talked about the difficulty people can have finding a job after a marijuana conviction.
“Texas State University is in my district,” Isaac said. “You have a student that is going to school there, paying tuition and room and board, but the state is still subsidizing part of that (cost of education)… They make a mistake and can’t get a job or have trouble finding a job in the area they have educated for and the state has invested in. We have created these barriers because of antiquated laws.”
Representative Joe Moody, from El Paso, brought up a law last session on the subject that did not pass, and Isaac said if he brings it up again, he would support it.
Isaac also said he would be interested in expanding the use of marijuana medically for “compassionate care.”
Last session, the legislature allowed for cannabis oil that is a non-euphoric derivative of marijuana to be used for children with severe epilepsy.
“It reduced the number of seizures,” Isaac said. “…I think we need to go a bit further and allow these patients and doctors to have more freedom in medicines they prescribe for their patients… There are a number of areas that this can potentially benefit from different types of medicine.”