Marijuana legislation signals some hope for Killeen decriminalization effort

Published: Apr. 3, 2022 at 7:23 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - A bill that would legalize marijuana in the United States is headed to the Senate.

It was narrowly passed by the U.S. House on Friday. That is welcome news for one group fighting to try and stop marijuana-related arrests in Killeen.

“I would say nine times out of 10, when we ask a citizen to sign the petition, they sign it,” said Louie Minor, a Killeen resident and county commissioner candidate.

The group putting together the petition is a branch of the Austin-based Ground Game Texas. They want to stop arrests for those found with less than 4 ounces of marijuana and put an end to marijuana testing.

“We’re trying to help protect, especially low-level marijuana arrests from affecting people’s lives,” said Minor.

They are trying to get enough signatures from registered voters to put the petition in front of the city council by June.

In order for the petition to be considered, the number of signees has to be at least 25% of the number of voters who will turn out during the city’s May 7 election.

“Never in history have I ever seen so many young children coming out to sign, to register,” said Shirley Flemming, a Killeen resident and volunteer helping to notarize signatures.

From her perspective, the petition is piquing the interest of a lot of younger people, because they want to see the number of arrest decrease.

“It will help save a lot of young children from going to jail,” said Flemming.

At the beginning of January, Killeen police issued a statement saying they stand against decriminalization.

Part of that official statement read, “We want the community to know that department does not support to decriminalize marijuana and we will continue to follow the statute, Texas Health and Safety Code 481.121 - Possession of Marijuana, which is the Texas State Law.”

State legislation to legalize has failed before. And, the new federal bill does not seem like it would pass through the Senate.

Regardless, organizers in Killeen will keep fighting to try and slow arrest, not fully legalize marijuana.

“We can’t do that, that has to be done at the state,” said Minor. “What we’re just doing is saying the city is not going to be able to arrest or pay for testing for low-level marijuana arrests.”

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