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Bell County suing City of Killeen over controversial marijuana ordinance

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Posted at 5:56 PM, Apr 13, 2023

BELL COUNTY, Texas — Bell County is officially suing the City of Killeen over Proposition A, saying it directly conflicts with state law.

Prop A prohibits Killeen police officers from arresting people for low level marijuana possession.

A move in which Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols says violates the State Constitution.

”Taking away the possibility of being arrested in a criminal case in effect, suspends the law,” Nichols said.

“The Texas Constitution says that only the legislature can suspend a law.”

Former Mayor and Current City Council Member Jose Segarra says he thinks the lawsuit might actually be a good thing for the city and the state.

”It’s probably going to be a long process,” Segarra said.

“I’m sure there will be decisions and appeals that come out of this no matter what they decide on this level. Hopefully the goal is to get something done. If not through the courts, then through our legislature.”

Folks like retired Army veteran and founder of Texas Veterans for Medical Marijuana, David Bass, say the county commissioners do a great job but the county should stay out of city business.

”The City Council thought this through very deliberately,” Bass said.

“The people of Killeen thought this through very deliberately and 70% of the voters in Killeen decided that this is what we want to do in our city.”

He also says that if the county believes that state law is being violated then the state should bring the lawsuit and not the county.

”They’re not our overlords,” Bass said.

“They want the city councils of the municipalities in Bell County to set aside a chair for the Bell County commissioners to attend city council meetings and say thumbs up and thumbs down.”

Nichols says the ordinance is also making it harder for his office to enforce state laws involving marijuana.

”We're going to have to find somebody to issue an arrest warrant and then, in my opinion, we’re going to have to find someone, other than then the Killeen Police Department, arrest someone on the warrant,” Nichols said.

“The reading of their ordinance, Killeen PD, cannot arrest anybody for Class A or B amount of marijuana.”

Nichols also says that this case is being watched very closely by other counties across the state, waiting to see how the judge rules, in case they need to file a similar lawsuit in the future.