Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Hailey?s wise look to the court

Promoters of last year's Hailey initiatives to legalize marijuana were clever only by half. Hailey voters approved three of their four proposals—but standing in the way are state and federal laws that ban marijuana and could not be overturned in a municipal election.

Wisely, the Hailey City Council has decided to turn to the Idaho 5th District Court for a declaratory decree on the legality of the approved initiatives.

But as even a first-year law school student knows, the issue won't be settled either way by any decision in that court.

An adverse ruling against the pot promoters would probably drive them into state appeals court or federal court, raising further questions. An adverse decision against the city would put the city in the impossible position of defying state and federal marijuana laws and would require further court clarifications.

Promoters of the Hailey initiatives chose the city as a battleground in hopes their artless strategy somehow might lead to easy legalization that likely would be denied on a larger stage, such as a statewide initiative. Why they believed a victory in Hailey would automatically negate state and federal laws suggest they weren't thinking ahead.

No court in this land would dare allow a citizen vote to dictate whether police should virtually eliminate drug enforcement, as one of the Hailey initiatives commands.

The pity of this silly skirmish is that Hailey taxpayers will foot an unreasonable set of legal bills, even as the city scrambles to find funds for services more vital to the well-being of Hailey families.

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