On Tuesday, Tina Wilson, 41, was in the Mighty Mart on Veterans Avenue, which sells bongs, leaf grinders and other marijuana-related items.
She said she regularly smokes marijuana for medicinal purposes and was prescribed the drug in Alabama after suffering from an ulcer. But she has not been successful in obtaining marijuana since moving to Texas.
“It’s hard here. I have been going to Scott & White for over a year and now they are setting me up with a counselor trying to get my prescription filled, but I haven’t been able to get it,” Wilson said. “I have gone from 187 pounds to 135 and can’t eat and have a lot of nausea. I am in a lot of pain and throwing up. I need pot to survive.”
Effective Jan. 1, marijuana sales for recreational use are now legal in Colorado. In a straw poll conducted this week by the Herald, all residents said recreational marijuana use should be legalized. (See Word on the Street, page 2.)
If marijuana is legalized in Texas, law enforcement would perhaps feel the greatest impact. John Vander-Werff of Copperas Cove, a retired law enforcement officer with more then 30 years experience, said the main downside of legalizing marijuana would be an increase in intoxication contacts between police and citizens.
“Legalization of marijuana would neither decrease crime nor lessen jail crowding,” Vander-Werff said. “User-level marijuana arrests would be replaced by user-level intoxication arrests.”
If marijuana was legalized and taxed, the revenue would be added to city, county and state coffers. While the revenue would be welcomed, Vander-Werff doubts all marijuana used would be taxed. He said clandestine sales, untaxed, would flourish.
The cost to taxpayers for misdemeanor marijuana incarceration is approximately $51 per day in the Coryell County jail system. This is the cost Coryell County pays Milam County for housing Coryell County inmates due to overcrowding.
But arrests for marijuana possession have led to arrests on additional charges almost 50 percent of the time, keeping offenders with more serious offenses off the streets, said Sgt. Julie Lehmann of the Copperas Cove Police Department. Of 108 arrests for marijuana possession in 2013, 55 resulted in additional offenses or charges.
Under the new Colorado law, public consumption of the drug is banned as is taking marijuana over state lines, driving under the influence, and providing pot to anyone under 21. Washington, Maine and Michigan have also passed laws legalizing recreational use of marijuana, while 15 other states and the District of Columbia allow some legal use of marijuana, primarily for medicinal purposes.
But in Texas, Cove residents like Wilson will have to wait.