Cannabis News Students for Sensible Drug Policy
  Santa Cruz Marijuana Measure Could Face Challenges
Posted by CN Staff on July 20, 2006 at 06:46:51 PT
By Shanna McCord, Sentinel Staff Writer  
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel 

cannabis Santa Cruz -- A Santa Cruz police officer would be forced to crack down on littering before arresting someone for selling pot to an adult in a private parking lot if a ballot measure to make marijuana crimes the lowest priority for police becomes law.

The littering scenario was cited in a letter from City Attorney John Barisone to the City Council this month that warns of possible legal tangles the city could face if an ordinance is adopted that eases up on adult marijuana offenses.

Santa Cruz voters will vote on the marijuana ordinance Nov. 7, if the City Council decides Tuesday to put the measure on the ballot, which it is expected to do.

Proponents say the measure will give police more time and resources to fight serious crimes, like the recent surge in violence in the Beach Flats and on the Westside. The measure is not meant to allow "potheads to smoke on every corner," supporter Andrea Tischler said.

Barisone's letter points out that state law in which marijuana is considered an illegal drug except in some medical cases would override the proposed city ordinance, and police officers are sworn to enforce all state and federal laws.

Police officers could also run into problems with the proposed cannabis ordinance when subpoenaed by the county District Attorney's Office to testify in criminal prosecutions of adult marijuana offenses. According to Barisone, officers would be in violation of the ordinance if they testified in marijuana cases; however, disobeying a district attorney's subpoena would conflict with state law.

The ordinance also prohibits police officers from cooperating with state and federal agents investigating marijuana crimes. But Barisone said the state attorney general is authorized to appoint local officers to assist with regional criminal marijuana-related operations a violation of the proposed city ordinance.

"This would put an undue burden on officers for simply doing what they're sworn to do," police spokesman Zach Friend said. "The usage of marijuana is prolific throughout the city, but someone taken to jail for having marijuana is rare."

Police records show 254 citations in 2005 for possession or use of marijuana in amounts less than an ounce, though Friend said "the vast majority" of those cases resulted in the person being released at the scene.

Not everyone agrees the proposed ordinance would be a problem.

Gerald Uelmen, a law professor at Santa Clara University, said the measure is legal.

"Every community can say where they want their police resources allocated," Uelmen said. "I don't read it as police should close their eyes to marijuana. All they're saying is they don't want their police department to allocate a lot of resources to it."

Exceptions in the proposed marijuana initiative include minors, sale or use on public property and driving under the influence.

Similar ballot measures are being considered in Santa Monica and Santa Barbara.

Barisone's letter is a "conservative interpretation" of the measure, said proponent Craig Reinarman, a sociology professor at UC Santa Cruz.

If the council chooses not to put the marijuana question on the ballot, proponents could sue the city.

"Marijuana is already the lowest priority in Santa Cruz," Councilman Mike Rotkin said. "We either have to adopt the measure or put it on the ballot, otherwise they could take us to court."

Complete Title: Santa Cruz Marijuana Ballot Measure Could Face Legal Challenges

Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)
Author: Shanna McCord, Sentinel Staff Writer
Published: July 20, 2006
Copyright: 2006 Santa Cruz Sentinel
Contact: editorial@santa-cruz.com
Website: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/

Related Articles & Web Site:

SC Citizens for Sensible Marijuana Policy
http://www.taxandregulate.org/sc06/index.htm

Initiative To Relax Pot Rules Headed To Ballot
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread21757.shtml

S.C. Should Not Stand For 'Stoner City'
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread21691.shtml


Home    Comment    Email    Register    Recent Comments    Help


  Post Comment
Name:        Password:
E-Mail:

Subject:

Comment:   [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]

Link URL:
Link Title:


Return to Main Menu


So everyone may enjoy this service and to keep it running, here are some guidelines: NO spamming, NO commercial advertising, NO flamming, NO illegal activity, and NO sexually explicit materials. Lastly, we reserve the right to remove any message for any reason!

This web page and related elements are for informative purposes only and thus the use of any of this information is at your risk! We do not own nor are responsible for visitor comments. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 and The Berne Convention on Literary and Artistic Works, Article 10, news clippings on this site are made available without profit for research and educational purposes. Any trademarks, trade names, service marks, or service names used on this site are the property of their respective owners. Page updated on July 20, 2006 at 06:46:51