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TV ad touts relative safety of pot compared to alcohol

Ad running in advance of Texas House vote on HB 507

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SAN ANTONIO – A television ad running in advance of the Texas House vote on HB 507, which would reduce penalties for simple marijuana possession in Texas, claims that people under the influence of marijuana are much less problematic than those under the influence of alchohol.

In the ad, Russell Jones, a former narcotics officer in California and current Texas Hill Country resident, says that "law enforcement officials have more important things to do with their time" than arrest people for possessing pot.

"I know of no instance in my entire career where someone was acting out under the influence of marijuana," Jones says. "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 ad is scheduled to air on CNN, ESPN, and Fox News in the state's four biggest media markets, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin, through Thursday at midnight, the deadline by which the Texas House must approved HB 507 for it to advance to the Senate.

HB 507, authored by Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $250.

Under current Texas law, individuals found in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested and given a criminal record, and they face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.