Bell County leaders hosting public forum to begin conversation about decriminalizing marijuana

Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 9:16 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - Two Central Texas communities are coming together on Saturday to continue the conversation of decriminalizing marijuana in their area. The move comes after President Biden said he will be pardoning all federal convictions.

Proposition A would apply to Killeen and Harker Heights and it would decriminalize the possession of no more than 4 ounces of marijuana. Those found with the plant on them will not face arrest or conviction. It is a decision that will be in the hands of voters in less than a month, so local leaders on both sides of the issue will be holding a public conversation to engage with the community and answer their questions and concerns.

One of those familiar faces will be Louis Minor, the democratic candidate for Bell County Precinct 4. He will be in attendance to speak on why he thinks this plan would be a fill in the gap measure to keep people from having their lives ruined for being found with a low amount of marijuana on them. He also hopes to put a focus on the racial disparity of marijuana arrests in our community.

“I did the open records request and found that 92% of the marijuana arrests with the city of Killeen are people of color,” Minor explains.

Community advocate Melisa Brown, who will be part of a different public conversation on the topic with voters in North Killeen, opposes of the plan and says it is in direct conflict with our state’s laws.

“It says officers cannot enforce drug laws that are on the books in the state of Texas. Their going to either be disciplined for doing what the city says their job is, or potentially losing their license because of what the state says,” Brown explains.

KWTX spoke with a retired Army Colonel who says that with Fort Hood adjacent to Killeen, it could cause the post to bear some of the consequences.

“I do not believe this is a positive effort and I say that from this perspective, Fort Hood generates 28.9 billion dollars in economic output in Texas. Going forward when the Department of Defense looks at places to station new missions, new units, or any future potential base realignment and closure actions, they evaluate bases on many criteria and one of those is quality-of-life and I don’t think that proposition will have a positive impact on that quality-of-life score,” says Keith Sledd, the executive director at the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance.

He adds that the Department of Defense could hesitate to send resources to Fort Hood if they feel that there is a low quality of life in that area, which partially is determined by the area that surrounds the base.

These different perspectives will be center stage all weekend long, and city leaders are hoping to answer any questions you may have before you head to the polls.

Saturday’s event will be at the Lion’s Club Park senior center at one in the afternoon. And the following day there will be a similar conversation at Green Avenue playground in North Killeen at four in the afternoon.

Early voting will start on Oct. 24, with election day set for Nov. 8th.