A retired cop has become an unlikely ally in the push to decriminalize marijuana in Texas.
As the Lone Star State considers a variety of marijuana-related bills, an effort to decriminalize the plant — or, at least, significantly reduce the criminal penalties for its possession — is being championed by a retired police officer, the Huffington Post is reporting.
Russell Jones, a retired narcotics detective from California who now lives in Texas, appears in a 30-second ad aimed at convincing Texas voters that marijuana is, at the very worst, no more dangerous than alcohol.
“I know of no instance in my entire career where someone was acting out under the influence of marijuana. People under the influence of alcohol are much more problematic. Law enforcement officials have more important things to do with their time than arresting people for marijuana possession. They need to be there to protect the public to respond to crimes such as robbery, burglaries, rapes and murders.”
The 30-second ad will air Tuesday through Thursday on ESPN, CNN, and Fox News Channel in Texas’ four largest media markets, according to Bustle: Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston, and Austin.
The retired cop is advocating for one of several bills that will be considered by the Texas legislature in the coming months, in this case, HB 507. The proposed bill would significantly reduce the criminal penalties for marijuana possession in Texas, considered some of the harshest in the nation by AlterNet.
“On an annual basis, no state arrests and criminally prosecutes more of its citizens for pot than does Texas. Marijuana arrests comprise over half of all annual arrests in the Lone Star State. It is easy to see why. In 2009, more than 97 percent of all Texas marijuana arrests — over 77,000 people — were for possession only. Those convicted face up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine, even upon a first conviction.”
The bill supported by the retired cop would reduce those penalties to a simple $250 fine for less than a quarter of an ounce.
Another marijuana-related bill making its way through the Texas legislature goes even further, fully legalizing recreational marijuana in Texas in the same way that it’s now legal in Colorado and Washington. And it has an even more unlikely than a retired cop, according to this Inquisitr report: its sponsor, David Simpson, is a devout religious conservative and a Tea Party favorite in Texas. Writing in the Dallas Morning News in March, Simpson shared his reason for supporting marijuana legalization.
“I don’t believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix.”
Regardless of having a Tea Party heavyweight and a retired cop among their allies, none of the marijuana legalization efforts currently underway in Texas are likely to be passed into law.
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