Texas Governor Rick Perry recently argued that legalizing marijuana leads to an increased murder rate.
Governor Perry appeared in Switzerland last month as a guest panelist for the World Economic Forum, during which panel moderator Enrique Acevedo asked him to offer comments on the political momentum for marijuana reform in the United States.
Perry began his response by maintaining that regardless of the public’s sentiments, he was not interested in joining the ranks of the American pot “parade.”
“I think the fact is it is very important for science to keep playing a most important role in this before we jump to some conclusion, before we run out and get in the front of a parade that is going somewhere because we think it is where the public opinion is,” he said.
“And I want to share just one thing -- or make a response to [United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan] about Portugal and the legalization of drugs there. In the five years since that has occurred there, 40% increase in the murder rate in that country. Anecdotal, I totally understand that, but the fact is we need to look at all of the data, the science.”
Perry continued by pointing out recent remarks made by former Representative Patrick Kennedy in which he “lectured” President Obama about the dangers associated with the marijuana of today, stating that genetic innovations had transformed the drug into a more potent variation than the pot he smoked as a young man.
“Science needs to be front and center before we make any decisions at the level of the legalization, or even the decriminalization of some of these substances that we’re talking about,” said Perry, adding that while he is a “Staunch supporter of the 10th Amendment,” he is concerned about states giving citizens the “okay” to smoke marijuana.
“The question for me is if the economics of this is what really drives this, and we as a society and government say it is okay for you to smoke marijuana -- we have decriminalized it -- basically say that it is okay for you to use, be thoughtful about it, here are the bad things that come from it, what is that going to cost society? I mean, what is the medical cost to this world when we send that message, when influential men and women stand up in front of these young influenceable young people and say it is okay. Is it more than the cost of that money to the cartel or is it less? I don’t know,” said Perry.
Other panelists argued the overall message to the public is not that smoking marijuana is “okay,” but that they have a right to do it. Yet, Governor Perry argued delivering that message to society was a costly experiment just to decide, in the future, that legalization was a mistake.
Towards the end of the discussion, the Texas governor was asked if he believes the war on drugs has been successful. He responded by offering a failed attempt to shift the conversation towards the war on terror: “How long have we been at the war on terror?”
After being reigned in by the moderator’s request to focus on the war on drugs, Perry replied, “Did we fight the war on drugs correctly every day? No. Has the war on terror been fought correctly every day? No. The point is that after 40 years of the war on drugs, I can’t change what happened in the past. What I can do as the governor of the second largest state in the nation is to implement policies that start us toward a decriminalization and keeps people from going to prison and destroying their lives, and that’s what we’ve done over the last decade. So I think there’s some innovation that goes on in the states that can translate not just to Oklahoma or California or New York, but to Switzerland, to France, to other countries that have this drug issue facing them, that there are some alternatives without going that big full step and decriminalizing and sending a message to people that it’s okay.”
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.