Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Marijuana goes to court

Hearing set for Hailey pot initiatives

Express Staff Writer

A day of judgment looms next month for three marijuana reform initiatives that have been passed twice by Hailey voters.

A hearing on the controversial pot laws is scheduled for Feb. 9 at 11 a.m. before Judge Robert J. Elgee in Blaine County 5th District.

A lawsuit seeking to have the three initiatives declared constitutionally illegal was filed in May by three Hailey officials—Mayor Rick Davis, City Councilman Don Keirn and Police Chief Jeff Gunter.

Ironically, on the other side of the issue, is the city of Hailey, which is legally required to defend voter-approved initiatives. The city is represented by City Attorney Ned Williamson, who repeatedly opposed implementation or enforcement of the new laws.

Davis, Keirn and Gunter are represented by Hailey attorney Keith Roark.

The three initiatives were approved by Hailey voters first in November 2007 and again in May 2008.

The lawsuit was filed just a few weeks before the second election. Roark has since amended the complaint to include the three reapproved initiatives.

The three initiatives are to legalize medical use of marijuana, to legalize the use of industrial hemp and to make law enforcement of marijuana laws the lowest priority for Hailey police.

Voters rejected in both elections an initiative that would have required the city to tax and regulate marijuana use and distribution, a law that would have effectively legalized the use of pot in Hailey.

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