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Republican Gov. Rick Perry Calls For More Lenient Drug Punishments

In something of a shocker, the hard-right governor from Texas took a slight turn toward the left in showing support for less punitive punishment for drug offenders.

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By McCarton Ackerman

01/27/14

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Texas Governor Rick Perry is among a growing number of politicians who are calling for less punitive sentences for drug possession. Perry and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos were among those who joined U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan yesterday at the World Economy Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Although the Texas politician made it clear that he does not support decriminalization or marijuana legalization, he wanted to see a greater use of drug courts in a manner similar to which his state has adopted.

In his speech, Perry said marijuana legalization should be left up to the states to decide. “Don’t get confused that we are soft on crime. I am not for legalization of drugs,” he said. “We certainly would never jump out in front of a parade because that’s where the public seems to be going. [But] we don’t spend as much money on incarceration as we do on education in the state of Texas -- and that’s a good thing.”

In recent weeks, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said he would support medical marijuana under strict conditions, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie slammed the war on drugs as a “failure” and called for a greater emphasis on drug treatment and compassion towards addicts.

Meanwhile, Santos called for more research into the issue of legalization, while Annan suggested that the U.N. could revise their current policies which make legalization a violation of international drug control treaties. “Certain heads of state don’t even touch the issue. They touch it after they’re heads of state,” said Santos. “Why? Because it’s so sensitive.”

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