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Marijuana ordinance repealed in Harker Heights

Most city council members agreed that the ordinance directly contradicted Texas and federal law.

HARKER HEIGHTS, Texas — The Proposition A ordinance came and went in Harker Heights as the city council decided to repeal the ordinance for a plethora of reasons.

Prop A would allow police in Harker Heights to issue tickets instead of arrests for low-level possessions of marijuana.

Harker Heights City Attorney Charles Olson says one of the big conflicts with the Prop A ordinance is that it hinders police from doing their job.

"Within this ordinance, it requires that all officers actually be disciplined if they act in accordance with their obligation of state law, and that violate this ordinance. I know of no authority, even anywhere that allows a city to punish a police officer for following state law," Olson said.

Many asked the question of how this ordinance was able to get on the ballot, voted for, then removed not long after.

Olson explained in the city council meeting that how they proceeded with this ordinance is no different than the rest.

Any and all ordinances that are voted for and approved can be amended or repealed if the city council sees fit. 

What allowed both Killeen and Harker Heights to put this on the ballot is that both cities are home rule cities. This means the city can pass any regulations or laws it deems necessary unless the state law prohibits it.

Harker Heights city council says that's exactly what Prop A does because marijuana is still in face illegal in Texas and nationwide.

The Ground Game organization helped put the ordinance on the midterm election ballots. Their founder Julie Oliver believes what Harker Heights did will negatively affect voter turn out for the general election.

"I want to remind people who are in elected positions that it doesn't matter what they think, doesn't matter what their personal opinion is. They are there to represent the people, the people in Killeen and Harker Heights. They have spoken very clearly they support Prop A and they did it overwhelmingly. I can tell you on this issue, voters are paying attention," she said.

Killeen hasn't repealed Prop A but did put a pause on it to get a better understanding of it.

Their councilman at large Jose Segarra explained how over the last year, Killeen police made 621 probable cause searches on people who had a marijuana odor in their car, what was found on the drivers was far more than just marijuana.

"Two-hundred-sixty-nine of these drivers were carrying illegal weapons, 183 of them had outstanding arrest warrants when they did this, and 97 of them, the ones that they did this probable cause, were felons, wanted felon or felons that were carrying illegal firearms. This ordinance will hinder police from getting criminals off the street," Segarra shared.

City council's hold on Prop A will be in place until Dec. 6.

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