Legalization advocates in Texas are moving quickly. In hopes of influencing a vote this week in the state house, Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy are airing a 30-second advertisement on TV channels in the state’s four largest media markets through Thursday night.
The ad, above, features a former police officer and narcotics detective talking frankly about his experience enforcing marijuana crimes.
“I know of no instance in my entire career where someone was acting out under the influence of marijuana,” says Russell Jones, who now lives in the Hill Country of Texas, in the ad. “People under the influence of alcohol are much more problematic. Law enforcement officials have more important things to do with their time than arrest people for marijuana possession. They need to be there to protect the public, to respond to crimes such as robbery, burglaries, rape, and murders.”
The particular legislation: Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) authored HB 507, which would reduce penalties for less than an ounce of marijuana to no jail time and a fine ranging from $100-$250 in Texas.
Two other cannabis-related bills are being watched in Texas; One would allow the sale of CBD oil, and another looks to fully legalize marijuana on entirely religious grounds. Texas pot activists point toward a 2013 Public Policy Polling survey that showed 61 percent of voters in the state favoring decriminalization — but onlookers wonder if any of these bills will pass in 2015.
The Marijuana Policy Project’s political director in Texas, Heather Fazio, calls HB 507 “commonsense legislation that is intended to reduce government waste and improve public safety. Voters want law enforcement officials to spend their time and resources addressing serious crimes, not arresting and jailing adults for simple marijuana possession. We hope the House will pass this important legislation before time runs out.”