Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pot legalization vote makes national news

City officials examine ramifications of implementation


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Ryan Davidson

The city of Hailey made national news last week after voters approved three citizen initiatives to reform marijuana laws.

Hailey jointed Denver as two Western cities having passed pro-marijuana measures on election day, Nov. 6.

The Associated Press moved a story on passage of the initiatives early the following day and Hailey's pro-pot vote was featured in the Wall Street Journal, Times magazine online and numerous other publications.

Meanwhile, Hailey city officials are expected to make an announcement later this week on how they plan to deal with the issue.

"I think largely the announcement will say that the city is examining the legal arguments for implementation," said Hailey City Clerk Heather Dawson.

Hailey voters approved initiatives to legalize medical uses of marijuana, to make enforcement of marijuana laws the lowest priority for law enforcement and to legalize industrial use of hemp, a type of marijuana low in THC, the chemical that produces a high.

Voters turned down a fourth initiative that would have required the city to tax and regulate sales and use of marijuana.

All three of the passed initiatives require the city to lobby other government agencies for reform of marijuana laws.

So what happens next?

The approved initiatives require that the city establish a Community Oversight Committee to work out the details of legalization. But the city has another option it may or may not choose to exercise. The City Council can vote to repeal the initiatives.

Ryan Davidson, chairman of Liberty Lobby of Idaho, and the man who got the marijuana initiatives on the ballot, said Tuesday that he's uncertain what he'll do if the city takes that step. If so, he's considering launching new petition drives to put the initiatives to the voters all over again.

Davidson is also working for initiative elections in Sun Valley and Ketchum.

But for the time being, he's enjoying the victory in Hailey.

"Three out of four is pretty good," Davidson said. "I guess it proves my original instincts that Hailey or the other cities in the Wood River Valley would be one of the easier places to pass this."

Davidson is trying to use the initiative process in the valley as part of a grassroots effort to reform marijuana laws statewide.

"It's kind of in the city's court right now," he said.

Meanwhile, local police still consider possession of marijuana in Hailey and elsewhere a crime. As if to emphasize the point, the Blaine County Narcotics Enforcement Team arrested a Hailey couple on election day for allegedly possessing marijuana with intent to deliver.




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