Friday, May 23, 2008

Hailey to vote on pot initiatives—again

Same 4 ballot measures were considered last November


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Ryan Davidson

As Hailey officials prepare to battle about marijuana in court, the city's electorate prepares to go to the polls to vote once again on four pro-pot initiatives.

The latest round in the city's ongoing cannabis dispute will be settled Tuesday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. when the same initiatives voted upon last November will once again be put to the ballot-booth test.

Three passed last time and one failed. Approved were initiatives to legalize medical use of marijuana, to legalize use of industrial hemp and to make enforcement of marijuana laws the lowest priority for the Hailey Police Department.

Not approved was an initiative to require the city to tax and regulate distribution and use of the drug.

So why a second vote?

"Cause I knew that the city would pull something like this," said Ryan Davidson, a former Bellevue resident and the man who got the initiatives on the ballot. He is chairman of The Liberty Lobby of Idaho and is often referred to simply as "the pot guy."

Davidson, who now lives in Garden City, was referring to the lawsuit that the mayor, the police chief and a city councilman filed against the city in Blaine County 5th District Court to have the previously approved initiatives declared illegal.

Davidson described the new vote as "kind of an insurance policy."

"If I hadn't put them on the ballot again, they probably would have killed them all by now," he said. "It makes it politically less viable for them to do something if they pass twice."

The marijuana issue has been relatively quiet as of late in Hailey, with no pro or con groups surfacing publicly to campaign.

Davidson himself has been busy with the Ron Paul presidential campaign in Boise and hasn't had a lot of time to spend on the pot issue. He's hopeful that at least the same three voter-approved initiatives will be approved once again.

"I'd think it's going to be close to the same percentages as last time," he said. "If all four are approved, that would be great."

Last November, 1,288 voters, about 37 percent of the city's registered electorate, showed up at the polls.

The medical marijuana and industrial hemp initiatives were approved by about 53 percent of voters. About 51 percent of the voters approved the lowest-police-priority initiative, while the regulation and taxation measure failed with only 47 percent voter approval.

Following is a brief summary of the initiatives. The complete text can be found at Hailey City Hall or on the city's Web site at www.haileycityhall.org.

· The Hailey Cannabis Regulation and Revenue Ordinance would require the city to regulate sales and use of cannabis, a scientific name for marijuana, and would allow it to tax the substance.

Davidson considers this the most important of the four initiatives. It doesn't explicitly say that marijuana would be legal in the city, but establishes a framework to come up with the details. The framework would be created by a Community Oversight Committee, which would be allowed to deliberate for a year before finalizing legalization specifics.

This and other initiatives would require the city to lobby other levels of government for reform of marijuana laws.

· The Hailey Medical Marijuana Act would legalize medical use of marijuana. Details of legalization would be worked out by the Community Oversight Committee.

· The Hailey Lowest Police Priority Act would make investigation of adult marijuana use the city's lowest law-enforcement priority. Davidson thinks this one has the greatest chance of approval.

· The Hailey Industrial Hemp Act would legalize industrial use of hemp, a different variety of the cannabis plant not usable by marijuana smokers since it's low on THC, the chemical that induces a high.

Pot Vote

The polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 27. Hailey voters can cast their ballots on the marijuana initiatives in Room 903 at the Community Campus (the old high school) on Fox Acres Road.




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