Today, retired police officer Russell Jones spoke out as part of a public campaign to decriminalize marijuana in the Lone Star State.
Jones, who served as a police officer for 10 years in the state of California, now resides in central Texas and is speaking out in favor of marijuana decriminalization. In the video, Jones claims,
“I know of no instance in my entire career where someone was acting out under the influence of marijuana.”
The ad is part of a public campaign to support Texas House Bill 507, which would effectively decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. Currently, possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana can result in up to 6 months in jail time and up to $2,000 in fines. The new law would significantly decrease punishments for marijuana possession, making possession of less than one ounce a civil citation with a fine of $250.
Starting today, the TV ad will be airing in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio in an effort to gain public support for the bill. The legislation will be taken to a vote on Thursday by the Texas House of Representatives and if passed, will head to the Senate for another vote.
HB 507 is one of 11 bills that are being considered by Texas lawmakers in the 2015 legislative session. The bills vary in their degree of progress, from reduced sentencing to full-on recreational cannabis. However, it seems that HB 507 is the most pragmatic in terms of measured progress for the conservative political state.
Regardless of the outcome, change seems inevitable for the great state of Texas. In a 2013 poll conducted by the Marijuana Policy Project, 61% of Texas voters said that they would support the decriminalization of marijuana in the state. As Jones says, “Law enforcement official have more important things to do with their time than arresting people for marijuana possession.” Although public opinion agrees with this sentiment, the Texas House and Senate will be be making the final call on the issue.
On Tuesday, a Texas jury found ex-Marine, Eddie Routh, guilty in the killing of his friend and fellow Marine, Chris Kyle. Prosecutors rejected an insanity plea, claiming that Routh was afflicted by marijuana psychosis.
During closing arguments, prosecutors in the widely publicized “American Sniper” case scoffed at the notion that the defendant, Eddie Routh, was legally insane. Routh had previously been committed to psychiatric hospitals before the killing of two of his fellow Marines in Stephenville, Texas. The prosecutors blamed the use of marijuana in the deaths of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield.
After Routh killed both Kyle and Littlefield during a trip to the shooting range, Routh stole Chris Kyle’s truck and proceeded to drive to Taco Bell for a burrito. Rather than viewing this as a clear indicator of his mental state, the prosecution said that this was evidence that Routh was perfectly sane at the time of the murder, and had a case of the the munchies.
During the trial, prosecutor Jane Starnes said,
“You killed two men, and you’re going to go to Taco Bell. But I mean, think about that, too. What does it take to go and order fast food? So you’ve got to go through the right lane; you’ve got to place your order; you’ve got to interact with the clerk; you got to give them the money, get your change, get your food and go. It’s not something that somebody who’s just out of their mind delusional does. What does it sound like? It sounds like somebody who has got the munchies and they got to go get their Taco Bell.”
It would be remiss not to sympathize for the tragic loss of life in this case and the families of those killed. However, throwing out this mentally unstable soldier’s insanity plea to rekindle the use of ‘Refer Madness’ in a court of law seems like the citizens of this small Texas town have just wound the clock back by 80 years.
What is tragic about the trial itself is that our society cannot acknowledge the clear indication of this wore-torn soldier’s mental illness, and has once again senselessly blamed the use of marijuana for an act of violence.
Austin, Texas | Alexis Bortell is your pretty average kid, except for one thing; she is a 9-year-old medical marijuana advocate.
When Alexis first started having seizures in her south Texas home back in July of 2013, her family knew that the course of her life had just changed. Her father Dean, a disabled Navy veteran said describes the first time she had a seizure, “I look over and Alexis has literally gone vertical. She’s stiff as a board and mom’s holding her. We get her down on the couch and she’s shaking.”
The family rushed Alexis to a nearby hospital where doctors informed the family that she suffers from epilepsy. Alexis was prescribed to some prescription drugs which proved ineffective. It’s not that the medications just didn’t work; Alexis’ dad described her use of the prescription Carbatrol as, “like throwing gasoline on a fire.” Her seizures when from nightly to around-the-clock, giving Alexis spasms, tremors, and altering her bubbly personality.
Doctors confirmed that the medications weren’t right for Alexis and the family weaned her off of them; keeping reserves only for emergency situations.
The turning point for the Bortell family was when they caught a CNN special with Dr. Sanjay Gupta talking about some of the uses of medical marijuana. The non-psychoactive oils and tinctures derived from the cannabis plant are widely known to reduce seizures in patients suffering from epilepsy without the harsh side effects of prescription medications.
Soon after, the Bortell family began consulting specialists and visiting Colorado where access to the non-psychoactive CBD oil is legal. Alexis quickly qualified for a medical marijuana card in the state of Colorado and began taking the cannabis derived medication.
The problem now is that the Bortell family still resides in Texas where the CBD oil is illegal and carries harsher penalties than regular pot due to it’s concentrated form. The family is worried that the penalties for possession of the life-saving medicine could lead to legal issues, especially since they would be crossing state lines with the drug.
“I don’t wanna leave Texas. I’m a Texas girl!”
This hasn’t stopped Alexis and her family though. Alexis has taken to the streets and even started and online campaign to make Texans aware of her dilemma. Alexis and her family recently appeared on local TV stations spreading their message and are publishing Youtube videos to get the word out.
Alexis is hoping to convince Texas residents and lawmakers alike that medical marijuana has a place in Texas. On Tuesday she joined a group of activists at the Texas stated capitol to deliver her message to the state.
For the Bortell family, time is of the essence. If lawmakers can’t make a sensible medical marijuana policy that would help Alexis to experience a bright future, the family will be forced to leave the state. Dean Bortell said, “When the gavel falls in May, we’ll know if we have to leave Texas.”
Faith Bodle, of Beaumont, Texas, suffers from multiple debilitating medical conditions that cause her great pain and suffering. She is prescribed to several pharmaceutical medications to treat her degenerative spine disease, congestive heart failure and arthritis. She also has a physician’s recommendation for the use of medical marijuana oil to treat these conditions.
Recently, Beaumont Seventh Day Adventist Church, a congregation of which Faith has been a member for many years, gave her an ultimatum. After seeing her publicly supporting marijuana legalization on a local news segment from KBMT-12, she was forced to choose between remaining a member of the church and continuing medical cannabis oil treatments.
None of the pharmaceuticals ease her suffering as much as the medical marijuana treatments. For this reason Faith likes to share her story with others. She publicly advocates marijuana use as medicine by going to marijuana legalization events, and sharing pro-marijuana posts on her Facebook page.
She attempted to fight the church’s decision by speaking in front of the congregation in an attempt to educate each member on the benefits of marijuana as a medicine. The wise, Mr. Francis Bacon once said, “knowledge is power,” but unfortunately for Faith, that was not the case in this situation.
Six weeks after the ultimatum was given, the church revoked Faith’s membership for refusing to end her use and advocacy of medical marijuana.