Pot leaf billboards in Texas turning heads and catching flak
A north Texas attorney is turning some heads and taking some heat for billboards he has put up to advertise his services.
David Sloane, who spends a great deal of time defending drug interdiction cases in the Texas plains and panhandle, put up the billboards after he noticed that state troopers and other law enforcement agencies were arresting a lot of tourists on their way back from Colorado for possession of marijuana and marijuana-infused products.
His billboard boldly sports the words “cannabis defense” with a big green pot leaf right below it. Cannabis is the original and scientific term for marijuana. It also promotes the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, of which he is the public information officer for the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter. Finally it directs people to his website The420Lawyer.org.
He recently put up a billboard in Bellevue, which he say’s has been the scene of several arrests. Sloane states that for this particular stretch of Route 287, “highway patrol lurks as the speed limit rapidly drops from 75 to 55.”
Soon after the billboard went up, Sloane says that City of Bellevue officials called both the billboard company and land owner to complain. Bellevue has a population of 362 people and encompasses 544 acres about 50 miles south of Wichita Falls. Sloane noted, “They have a gas station and an adult bookstore. An adult bookstore is OK but a billboard with a pot leaf on it is not.”
Sloane added that the billboard had been up less than 24 hours before complaints started coming in. No one has contacted him directly about it however.
In all, he has put up six billboards along Route 287, all facing southbound traffic. Locations include the cities of Childress, Vernon, Henrietta, Bowie, and New Fairview.
Sloane has also obtained another billboard which he say’s wasn’t initially available, but is in a prime location right at the northern edge of Bellevue as people make their way into city limits. The billboard currently causing all of the fuss can be seen right as people are leaving town, but has a short read time due to tree obstruction.
Sloane, who has been an attorney for 23 years, say’s that he has a lease agreement on the new billboard for six months. It is scheduled two go up in two weeks.
Each year anywhere between 60,000 to 70,000 people are arrested in Texas for marijuana possession. Possession of two ounces or less can land a person in jail for up to 180 days with a $2,000 fine and a six months driver’s license suspension on a misdemeanor charge. Those who take a plea deal can face several years of probation.
Due to the popularity of marijuana extracts and concentrates, many people are traveling back into Texas from Colorado with more than just the typical marijuana flower. State law considers all concentrates to be a felony, which is a minimum of 180 days in jail, with a maximum of two years, along with a $10,000 fine.
A bill which would have made possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a $250 civil fine passed out of committee in the state legislature earlier this year, however lawmakers scheduled it for a hearing with such late notice that the bill died without being heard by the full Texas House of Representatives.
The next opportunity for Texas to update its marijuana laws will be in 2019 in the legislature convenes again.