Supporters, opponents argue over fate of Proposition A at Harker Heights City Hall

Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 2:45 PM CST
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HARKER HEIGHTS, Texas (KWTX) - Those for and against Proposition A, which decriminalizes possession of low-levels of marijuana, argued over the legality of the voter-approved ordinance on Tuesday.

“They’re violating the law,” one protester shouted.

Ground Game Texas, the organization that helped gather support for Prop A in both Killeen and Harker Heights, hosted a press conference in front of Harker Heights City Hall.

The measure doesn’t make marijuana legal, but would prevent people from being arrested for having up to four ounces of the drug and law enforcement could not stop people just because they smelled the drug.

Harker Heights city manager David Mitchell said in an open letter on Tuesday that “a city ordinance cannot override State law.”

The Texas Local Government Code says that “the governing body of a municipality, the commissioners court of a county, or a sheriff, municipal attorney, county attorney, district attorney, or a criminal district attorney will not fully enforce laws related to drugs.”

This all comes after voters first approved Proposition A on Nov. 8, 2022. Then, the Harker Heights City Council voted to overturn the newly-approved measure because it contradicted existing state law.

Now, Ground Game Texas is collecting signatures for a petition to overturn the city’s decision.

“We need 350 signatures of Harker Heights voters,” Ground Game Texas co-founder Julie Oliver told the crowd.

So far, Oliver and her organization have collected roughly half of the required signatures.

“Once we turn them in and the city clerk verifies them, Prop A will immediately be the law of Harker Heights,” she said.

Harker Heights city councilman Tony Canterino voted to reverse Prop A. “I can’t say that council wasn’t going to uphold, but it’s state law,” he said.

Canterino told KWTX News 10 he has concerns about officers not being able to search a car if they smelled the drug.

“Not being able to search the vehicle or detain the person for questioning,” Canterino said. “Then two minutes later they’re shot by the gun if they had searched the car.”

Harker Heights resident Howard Arey is concerned Prop A goes against state law. According to the Texas State Constitution, it is illegal to possess any amount of marijuana.

“If they really want to change the law, they need to go down to Austin and go to the legislature that starts in 31 days,” Arey said.