Rick Perry Backs Softer Penalties for Pot Texas tries to keep users out of jail, he says By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Jan 24, 2014 12:41 AM CST 17 comments Comments Gov. Rick Perry responds to questions from reporters during a news conference last summer. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) (Newser) – Rick Perry favors softening penalties for marijuana possession, but don't expect the Lone Star State to turn into a toker's paradise any time soon. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, the Texas governor said he had brought in "policies that start us toward a decriminalization" by creating alternative "drug courts" that offer treatment and alternative penalties that keep marijuana users out of jail, the San Antonio Express-News reports. He did not address medical marijuana use. But Perry made it clear that while he believes states should be able to set their own drug policies, he is not in favor of full decriminalization, let alone legalization, in the state, reports the Austin American-Statesman. "There are some alternatives without going that big full step and decriminalizing and sending a message to people that it’s OK," he said.