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Bell County set to sue Killeen over marijuana ordinance

Marijuana Pregnancy
Posted at 10:02 PM, Jan 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-11 23:31:36-05

KILLEEN, Texas — Bell County attorneys are set to take legal action on the City of Killeen in an attempt to block its "Proposition A" marijuana ordinance.

On Tuesday, the Killeen City Council received a briefing on the litigation during a closed session.

In a unanimous vote at the end of the year, Bell County commissioners voted to move forward with a lawsuit, contending that the ordinance is in violation of state law.

"None of us at the county want to sue any of the cities, but some of the city leadership in Killeen is encouraging us to do so because there's nothing else they can do and their hands are tied," Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Whitson told 25 News on Tuesday.

Since the commissioner's court vote, a new precinct four commissioner, Louie Minor, has taken office. Minor is an outspoken advocate for Proposition A in both Killeen and Harker Heights.

"It passed by almost 70 percent in the city of Killeen, so those are my constituents and I'm gonna stand by my constituents," Minor said, while admitting that ultimately, his vote would not have had enough power to overrule the other four commissioners.

Propostion A officially passed in the November general election, effectively stopping Killeen Police Department from taking action against low-level marijuana offenses.

In December, the Killeen City Council approved an amended ordinance, removing one controversial section.

In a 4-3 vote, the council chose to remove language from the ordinance that would prohibit police officers from using the smell of marijuana as probable cause for search and seizure.

While the City of Killeen declined to comment on the impending lawsuit, Council Member Jose Segarra said a legal challenge could help clarify the legality of the ordinance.

"Not because we want to get sued, but because we want to figure out some kind of outcome and close this loophole here," Segarra said.

Segarra criticized the current ability for constituents to put propositions to a vote, even if they do not align with state law. He said he anticipated the legal process to be a lengthy process.

"Whatever the outcome is, I'm sure it will be challenged an it'll be something that may even go higher to our state supreme court," he said.

A Bell County spokesperson said the lawsuit has not yet been filed and is still moving through the county attorney's office.