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.