FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Despite the Federal Government’s position on marijuana  many states, including Texas, are moving closer advancing legislation or have even voted to change the laws regarding the personal use of  marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes.

With voter approval to legalize – Colorado and Washington are now seeking to regulate the newly legal drug and keep it away from children, without being so strict that weed stays in the black market.

The DFW chapter of NORML, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, held it’s first ever conference in downtown Fort Worth over the weekend to share the message with fellow Texans that support removing criminal penalties for the private possession and responsible use of marijuana by adults.

“We want to minimize abuse and prevent it’s availability to kids by implementing age controls” says NORML founder and attorney Keith Stroup. In fact the group wants marijuana to be treated just like cigarettes and alcohol – to tax it properly and to have age controls in place to govern it’s purchase.

Stroup was one of many high-powered speakers at the event that included local attorneys, activists, law enforcement officials and a former California Superior Court judge.

Some of the topics featured  in the 2-day conference ranged from the failure of the drug war, the cost benefits of legalization, and compassionate care (medicinal use of marijuana).

“The idea that marijuana is a Schedule I drug, that it has no medicinal use, is ludicrous” said Judge Jim Gray citing drugs like Marinol, a synthetically produced drug that mimics the same chemicals in marijuana, that were created by the pharmaceutical industry and are classified as Schedule II drug (available by prescription).

Gray served on the Orange County Superior Court from 1989 – 2009 and spent most of his legal career dealing with drug-related issues. Gray, who admits to never using an illicit drug, is an outspoken critic of drug laws and the War on Drugs. He was recently the VP candidate for the Libertarian Party in 2012.

“Eighty-five percent of illegal drug users in the US, use only marijuana”, said Gray. He feels if the Federal Government will regulate and control marijuana “they will not be able to justify the colossal bureaucracy, the expensive bureaucracy to fight the war on drugs.”

It is estimated that Marijuana prohibition costs U.S. taxpayers $41.8 billion per year in government spending and  loss of  tax revenues according to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

According to Mason Tvert, with MPP, investigators are wasting millions of dollars going after casual users. “There is no logical reason why law enforcement officials should be spending their time arresting and prosecuting adults simply for possessing a product that is objectively less harmful than alcohol,” he said.

Setting up a structure would allow states to spend less on enforcement, jails, trials and more and it would increase revenue due to it being taxed — a figure that has been supported by the MPP.

Recently there has been a movement in the Texas Democratic Party to decriminalize marijuana. The move has already happened in other states, and the party says that it is time for it to happen in Texas as well.

According to the party’s written platform, Democrats in Texas are urging the President, the Attorney General and Congress to support the move.

Prohibiting marijuana use puts the control of marijuana production and distribution in the hands of drug cartels and street gangs. “On the black market no body asks for your ID,” says Keith Stroup. DFWNORML wants to change that.

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