Whitewright mayor's stance on marijuana leads to city staff shake up

Published: May. 20, 2016 at 6:41 PM CDT
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WHITEWRIGHT, Texas -- Newly elected mayor of Whitewright Jeremiah Looney was sworn in to office this week, and since then, the Police Chief, City Secretary, Municipal Judge, Court Clerk and the Utility Clerk have all resigned.

Former City Secretary Beth Woodson says she is resigning because she morally and ethically can't work for the new mayor because of his stance on marijuana. Friday was her last day.

Looney, a U.S. Army veteran who served two tours in Iraq, said the voters who elected him knew about his stance on cannabis from the start of his campaign.

Looney, a Whitewright native, said he gave them the opportunity to stay with the city. "My vision for how it should run is just everybody getting along," Looney said. He said he never planned on firing city employees.

Former Mayor Allen West put to rest any embezzlement rumors. "Our audits have always come back clean," West said. "I was on the council for 13 (years), mayor for two. If that's what they want, well then that's what they've got, and I wish the city the best."

Looney explained his stance on marijuana. "I think that the Veterans Administration should be allowed to treat veterans with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and traumatic brain injuries with medical cannabis," Looney said, "and I do fight that fight here in Texas to try to bring medical cannabis to the veterans that went over and fought for us."

Looney said he does not support recreational marijuana use.

Whitewright citizens voted overwhelmingly for Looney. Of the 310 votes cast, Looney received 175 votes. Rock Magers was second with 101 votes and West received 34 votes.

"I don't see where there's studies that are showing that it effects how somebody works, or how much they care about their city," Margarette Martin, a Whitewright resident said.

Said Ryan Murphy: "I've never regarded marijuana as a dangerous street drug."

Kae Box said that marijuana use was an individual thing. "It's up to the individual," she said, "But, I personally object."

Looney said he would continue his quest to help his fellow veterans. "I fight for the veterans everyday, and I will always fight for the veterans no matter what the issue is," he said.

Congress warming to idea of medical marijuana for veterans

DENVER (AP) -- Congress is showing an increasing willingness to let VA doctors talk to veterans about medical marijuana in states where it's legal, although final approval is far from certain.
The House approved a measure this week that would let Veterans Affairs Department doctors help veterans sign up for state medical marijuana programs, something the VA now prohibits.
A Senate committee approved a similar measure last month, but the full Senate hasn't voted.
Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican from pot-friendly Colorado and a former Marine, said Friday he's open to the idea.
Coffman says that if medical marijuana helps veterans deal with post-traumatic stress, it could also reduce the use of prescription drugs and save taxpayers money.
Coffman says the measure wouldn't permit the VA to provide patients with marijuana.