Smith County sheriff reacts to proposed marijuana bill

Published: Dec. 15, 2014 at 8:56 PM CST
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TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A house bill was announced in Austin on Monday that would reduce the penalty for people caught with small amounts of marijuana. It was authored by a state representative Joe Moody from El Paso, who says the arrest of people in possession of small amounts of marijuana not only unreasonably harms their future, but is a waste of law enforcement's time and money.

If House Bill 507 bill were signed into law, a person found in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana would pay a fine rather than be arrested and have a drug conviction on their record.

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith served on the legislative committee of the Sheriff's Association of Texas, which does not support the bill.

"The stance on reducing the penalty for marijuana, the sheriff's association is opposing that bill."

Smith says it's current laws are good and that gives an officer options.

"It's another tool that can be used in a positive manner in law enforcement by leaving it on the books."

Sheriff Smith says the decision should be left to departments on how they wish to approach the enforcement of marijuana laws.

"We're going to use all of our priorities on the drugs such as methamphetamine, heroine and all of that and not vehemently enforce the marijuana laws the cigarettes here and there. Not go out a looking for that but if we run across it, we get it."

On the effects drug convictions have on people found with a relatively small amount of what many say is a relatively harmless drug, Smith says a law is a law.

"If they knew it was against the law, having a joint or whatever, if they have that or two pounds or five pounds, it's the law so where are they going to stop breaking the law."

Through his years of law enforcement, Smith has found current marijuana laws are effective.\

"The main reason is all of this the laws have been working for all these years, there's no reason that we see to what we see as decriminalizing marijuana to some extent."

The house will take up the bill during their 84th Legislative Session, which starts in January.

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