Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hailey police make rare pot bust

Police say arrests not contrary to ‘lowest police priority’ act


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Even though enforcing marijuana laws is officially the lowest police priority in Hailey, people shouldn't kid themselves into thinking they can't get busted for pot.

Two 19-year-olds found that out Saturday night when they were arrested for allegedly possessing pot and the paraphernalia to smoke it with.

Hailey Police Chief Jeff Gunter identified the arrestees as Matthew E. Slane, of Hailey, and Henry C. Jones, of Eden. Both were taken into custody on three misdemeanor charges each—possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and minor consumption of alcohol.

The arrests followed a traffic stop shortly before 10:45 p.m. on south Main Street. Gunter said Slane, driving a green 1992 Jeep Cherokee, was northbound when a patrolling Hailey officer noticed the vehicle lacked a front license plate. Slane pulled the Jeep into the parking area at Valley Car Wash after the officer flipped on his police lights.

When confronting the men, Gunter said the officer detected the smells of alcohol and "burnt marijuana."

Gunter alleged that Slane and Jones both had bags of marijuana in their possession, each weighing about a third of an ounce, and that both men had pipes. There was also beer in the vehicle, Gunter said, and both men were arrested and transported to the Blaine County jail.

Both Slane and Jones were later released from custody after posting $600 bond apiece. By Monday, arraignment dates had not yet been scheduled in Blaine County Magistrate Court.

Gunter said the arrests are not contrary to Hailey's "lowest police priority" ordinance.

"This does not fall under the priority act because it didn't happen at a private residence," the police chief said. "You can't drive down the road smoking pot and drinking beer."

Hailey's lowest-police-priority ordinance was enacted in June at the recommendation of the city's Marijuana Oversight Committee. Formation of the committee was the only surviving component of three controversial marijuana reform initiatives approved by Hailey voters in 2007 and 2008 but quashed in Blaine County 5th District Court in 2009.

The lowest-police-priority ordinance only applies to misdemeanor marijuana offenses committed by adults on private property. It does not apply to use of pot in public, by minors or while driving.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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