Police Group Petitions Against Pot Ordinance

Police Group Petitions Against Pot Ordinance
Posted by CN Staff on March 17, 2005 at 08:20:21 PT
By Courtney French, Staff Writer
Source: Maneater
After writing a letter last month to city leaders asking for help overturning the city’s new marijuana ordinance, the Columbia Police Officers Association is now circulating a petition to reverse the ordinance that passed with 61 percent of the vote in November. The two-part ordinance reduced penalties for possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana and decriminalized medicinal marijuana.
Columbia Police Chief Randy Boehm said though officers are enforcing the law, he is not happy with the ordinance. “I would be pleased if the ordinance was repealed,” he said. Boehm could not cite specific cases where the ordinance has caused problems, but said the ordinance does not sufficiently punish multiple offenders. “We have to treat third or fourth or fifth offenses the same as we would a first offense,” he said. “When you have subsequent offenses, those need to be dealt with more harshly.” Before the ordinance passed, municipal courts dealt with first-time offenders and state courts handled multiple offenders. City Prosecutor Rose Wibbenmeyer said she doesn’t like being prohibited from sending certain cases to state court when the state requests the transfer. “I don’t think there was a problem before the ordinance was enacted,” she said. Boehm said he did not know how many people have signed the petition. Despite his opposition to the law, he said enforcing still is his duty. “My job is to make sure the officers are enforcing the law as it is,” he said. Eleanore Wickersham, a member of the League of Women Voters, said the police group is late in expressing its opposition to the ordinance. “The people have spoken and this is the law they want for their town,” she said. “We should just see how it works for a while. I think it’s premature to say we need to change it.” Because 52 percent of Columbia voters opposed a similar ordinance in the 2003 election, Boehm said the police group did not focus its energy on speaking out against the proposition before the 2004 election. “I don’t think they thought it would pass,” he said. CPOA President Sterling Infield could not be reached for comment. Wickersham said any discussion of the ordinance should be focused on scientific research. “Science says there is no such thing as a gateway drug,” she said. “We need to review the science, stop talking about things that were initiated in the 1930s and have informed discussions about this issue.” Editorial: Prop. 2 Passed, It’s Time To Let It Stand March 15, 2005While we’re on the topic of constitutionality and democracy, we’d like to remind the Columbia Police Officers Association that once an ordinance is voted on and passed by an overwhelming majority of the population, it is the law of the land. Or, at least the law of Columbia. The ordinance created by Proposition 2 limits the punishment for possessing small amounts of marijuana to a fine in municipal courts and does not strip students of financial aid on their first offense. All the CPOA has to do is get 2 percent of registered voters to sign a petition putting Proposition 2’s reversal on the ballot. But 61 percent of voters passed the ordinance, which is a pretty clear testament as to why it should stand. Although getting the issue back on the ballot is theoretically democratic, the CPOA is entirely too late in trying to push its agenda. Democracy is all about the clash of ideas, active petitions, referendums and protests from all sides of the debate. Like the groups that actively campaigned and lobbied to get Proposition 2 on the ballot and passed in November, the CPOA had ample time to push for the ordinance’s defeat. But once it has the stamp of approval from the majority of Columbia’s voting population, and given that there really hasn’t been a dramatic increase in violent crime as a result of the decreased punishment for possession of small amounts of marijuana, there isn’t a logical reason to overturn it. Source: Maneater, The (Columbia, MO Edu)Author: Kate Schuman, Staff WriterPublished: March 15, 2005Copyright: 2005 The ManeaterContact: forum themaneater.comWebsite: Articles:Marijuana Ticketing Increases Launch Petition Drive Against Pot Law Group Seeks To Alter City’s Pot Law Seeks To Penalize City for Marijuana Laws 
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