Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Marijuana advocate battles with Ketchum

Davidson accuses city officials of breaking the law

Express Staff Writer

Ryan Davidson

Pro-marijuana advocate Ryan Davidson continues to battle with the city of Ketchum in his attempts to place a pot legalization initiative before the city's electorate.

Davidson's latest clash with Ketchum is a scathing letter of Oct. 8 in which he accuses city officials of being "ignorant, corrupt or cowardly" and of violating the law to keep his marijuana legalization initiative off the ballot.

The letter, addressed to Ketchum City Clerk Sandra Cady, is in response to a notification Davidson received from her on Sept. 17, wherein he was informed that his initiating petition had the signatures of only 13 registered voters rather than 20 as required.

Davidson contends in his letter than Cady does not have the legal authority to validate the signatures, and if she did have the authority she likely used current voter registration lists, whereas his petition was submitted more than three years ago.

Meanwhile, Davidson, chairman of The Liberty Lobby of Idaho, has successfully placed marijuana legalization initiatives on the ballot in Hailey for the Nov. 6 general election.

Hailey's electorate will vote on four different legalization initiatives. The first would mandate that the city tax and regulate sales and use of marijuana and lobby for reform of marijuana laws. The other initiatives would legalize medical use of marijuana, make enforcement of marijuana laws the lowest priority for the Hailey Police Department and legalize industrial use of hemp, a marijuana byproduct consisting of the fibrous plant stems.

Davidson has been embroiled in lawsuits with Ketchum, Hailey and Sun Valley since August 2004 when he submitted legalization petitions to all three municipalities. He has won two major court decisions since that time.

In September 2006, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that Sun Valley did not have the right to determine the constitutionality of proposed initiatives. The second major court victory came last month when U.S. District Court in Boise issued a preliminary injunction that barred the city of Hailey from enforcing its residency requirement against him.

Davidson, a former Bellevue resident, now lives in Garden City.

Davidson said Monday that the strong language in his letter to the city of Ketchum is justified by what he called continual attempts by city officials to thwart his efforts.

"Three years of my life I've been doing this, and they keep pulling this crap over and over," he said. "Yeah, it's a little frustrating. But I'm tired of letting these people break the law."

Davidson contends in his letter that city officials in all three municipalities have "engaged in a pattern of lawless behavior designed to subvert the democratic process. You all sought to prevent your own constituents from voting," he wrote.

He demands that Cady rescind her Sept. 17 letter and certify his petition "according to the law."

"If you fail to do this, you will be the subject of my next lawsuit," Davidson wrote.

Neither Cady nor Ketchum City Attorney Benjamin Worst could be reached for comment.

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