Pot Initiative is a Hot Topic

  Pot Initiative is a Hot Topic

Posted by CN Staff on October 19, 2008 at 19:43:46 PT
By Bret Yager, Tribune-Herald Staff Writer 
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald  

HI -- Hawaii County voters will weigh in this November on whether police should back off their pursuit of marijuana users and small growers.The general election ballot will contain a proposed amendment to county code making adult personal use of pot the county's lowest law enforcement priority. This would apply to people with up to 24 plants and 24 ounces of usable marijuana. It would also prohibit the county from accepting federal money to eradicate the drug on the Big Island.
The proposal got its start with an organization called Project Peaceful Sky -- a reference to low-flying helicopters used in marijuana eradication. The group gathered 4,954 signatures of people supporting the lowest priority concept, but the county found only 2,214 to be valid. A total of 4,848 signatures were needed to put the proposal to a vote of the people. The County Council then stepped in and accepted the petition in August for a public vote on a 5-4 vote.Adam Lehmann, Peaceful Sky Board director, said eradication efforts have wasted resources, have never been successful, and have kept marijuana on the black market while driving up the street value of the drug.Lehmann said he objects to taxpayer money being used to mistreat people."It seems to me they do check anyone who has a medical card. It gives them a reason to fly their helicopters. So many people are not happy with the helicopters," he said.Hawaii County prosecutor Jay Kimura said anything that makes drugs more readily available is a bad idea. Kimura also doubted the council has the authority to tell its police chief how to deal with a substance controlled under state laws."In my opinion, this is beyond the scope of what the county has the authority to do. There are some preemption issues," Kimura said. "I don't think it's a practical thing for the council to be directing the chief to pick one drug over another. It isn't workable. Police also take an oath to enforce the law."The pre-emption doctrine prohibits legislative bodies from micromanaging the operations of its individual departments. County Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida said he'll ask the state attorney general to rule on the legality of the proposal, should it pass the voters.Lehmann said the county had 20 days to notify him if there was any problem with the initiative being put to a vote. But he's not worried about conflicts with the preemption doctrine, saying the bill specifies that the provisions can be carried out only to the extend allowed by the Hawaii Constitution and state statutes, and other aspects of the bill that aren't enforceable shall serve as "an advisory of the will of the people."Lehmann said he's optimistic "there's a really good chance this is going to pass. If people read the details and really look at what this is, they'll support it."Kimura said that state Department of Health surveys continue to show alcohol and drugs as problems that students consistently identify. An annual youth summit also identifies marijuana as being readily available on campus and a problem for students, he said.In reference to protections in the measure for up to 24 plants and 24 ounces, Kimura said, "In my estimation, that's a large amount. If someone is growing that much, I don't think it could just be for personal use.""I think this is part of an ongoing effort to legalize use of marijuana. There is a popular culture of marijuana and a national movement to legalize it by calling it medicine," Kimura said. "But if you analyze it from a medical perspective, you see more negatives than positives."The initiative would protect the cultivation, possession and personal use of the drug on private property."I'm primarily an organic farmer, and no one grows marijuana on this property, but the helicopters go back and forth and back and forth. It's so obviously unconstitutional and wrong," Lehmann said. "By making adult personal use their lowest priority, they'll give themselves more time to focus on other crimes -- teen use, public use, driving under the influence, large grower operations and trafficking."Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford said she objected to the contents of the bill but supported the democratic principle of letting the voters decide."When you have 5,000 people sign a petition, it's time to put it on the ballot," Ford said. "I don't like the bill, personally. I don't support the legalization of marijuana. But because this is such a controversial bill, I felt each voter should become their own councilor."Complete Article: Hawaii Tribune Herald (Hilo, HI)Author: Bret Yager, Tribune-Herald Staff WriterPublished: October 19, 2008Copyright: 2008 Hawaii Tribune HeraldContact: letters hawaiitribune-herald.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives

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Comment #1 posted by potpal on October 19, 2008 at 21:28:13 PT

Prosecuters and law enforcement = the guardians of (a failed) prohibition.The prosecuters name is Jay....he he he.Cannabis prohibition is the crime.
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