TYLER (KYTX)- It's a hot topic these days in Texas. A bill authored by an East Texas legislator would de-regulate marijuana in the state, making it legal to smoke pot at any age.
East Texas representative David Simpson is proposing the bill. Lieutenant Gary Middleton with the Smith County Sheriff's Office thinks that is a bad idea.
“If you make it legal and available it's naturally, certainly going to increase use and anything that increases use of marijuana or any type of drug is going to make our job harder,” Middleton said.
He says sheriff's deputies already deal with issues with people using marijuana and this would only make it worse.
“This understanding, I don't know where it came from that people believe that marijuana doesn't have any effect, it does. We handle disturbances with marijuana, we handle traffic accidents with marijuana,” Middleton said.
This bill is being considered the first of its kind in the nation because of the lax rules. Marijuana would be able to be smoked or sold near a school, or bought by anyone of any age. That worries Brandon Davidson at Next Step Community Solutions. It's an organization dedicated to helping kids with drug and alcohol problems.
“Marijuana is harmful, we can talk about the medical reason for using and that's definitely something we should discuss but to go the other way completely and say we're going to completely de-regulate it, I think that's dangerous because it is harmful,” Davidson said.
Davidson says studies show marijuana use in kids and teens leads to diminished academic performance and fewer brain cells. He wants checks in place preventing the sale to minors.
“We're talking about the complete de-regulation in a way where that it could be brought on a school campus and there's no penalty for that and that's around my kids, your kids and I don't think that's where we want to be,” Davidson said.
Not everyone is against this bill. A rally was held Sunday in Tyler in support of marijuana legalization. On Facebook, Mary Zorn says, “the precedent for the legalization of marijuana has been set by other states so it is just a matter of time. I doubt this session will bring it to a vote but it is already out there and it will eventually be passed in the future.”
Middleton hopes that doesn't happen.
“People that are using marijuana get in more disturbances, more fights, and more trouble so across the board it's not a good thing,” Middleton said.
The bill still needs to be assigned to a committee and heard there, so this bill has a long road ahead of it before it has a chance at becoming law.