HAILEY OFFICIALS NOT SWAYED BY PRO-POT VOTE

June 5, 2008

Marijuana Lawsuit to Continue in 5th District Court

Hailey city officials will continue with their anti-marijuana lawsuit despite an election earlier this week in which the city’s electorate approved three pro-pot initiatives for the second time.

“I have no intention of withdrawing it,” City Councilman Don Keirn said Wednesday. “The whole purpose of the lawsuit is to get this in front of the court. We need a declaratory judgment, maybe now more than ever.

“In theory, the judge will say this whole thing is illegal and that’s the end of it. I’d like to get it behind us.”

Keirn, Mayor Rick Davis and Police Chief Jeff Gunter filed a lawsuit earlier this month in Blaine County 5th District Court seeking a ruling on three marijuana reform initiatives that were approved by the electorate last November.

“I have no intention of withdrawing it either,” Gunter said Thursday. “Just because it passed twice doesn’t mean it’s not in conflict with state law and we need to have it resolved.”

Davis was on vacation and could not be reached for comment.

The three initiatives, one to legalize medical use of marijuana, another to legalize industrial hemp and a third to make enforcement of marijuana laws the city’s lowest police priority, were first approved in November. They were approved by voters once again on Tuesday.

Marijuana advocate Ryan Davidson, the man who initiated petition drives to get the initiatives on the ballots, said Wednesday that Hailey city officials should follow the will of the electorate.

“If they don’t do that, I think they should be recalled,” said Davidson, a former Bellevue resident who now lives in Garden City and is chairman of The Liberty Lobby of Idaho.

In Tuesday’s election, the medical marijuana initiative passed with a 58 percent positive vote, up from the 53 percent it received last November.

Also passed was the industrial hemp measure, which received 56.5 percent voter approval, up from the 53 percent it received in the first election.

The police priority initiative was approved at 53 percent, up from the 51 percent it received in the first vote.

Defeated for a second time was an initiative to require the city to tax and regulate distribution and use of marijuana. Forty-seven percent of the electorate voted for the initiative on Tuesday, the same percentage that voted for it in November.

“I think this is just a great expression on how people feel on the issues and they’re not going to change,” Davidson said. “I was right to do it the first time and I was right to do it again. When the people speak on an issue two times like that, it speaks volumes. I don’t think there was any question that they knew what they were voting for this time.

“Now it’s tough to ignore the mandate from the voters.”

But Councilman Keirn doesn’t see the vote as a mandate at all, pointing out that less than 20 percent of Hailey’s electorate voted in Tuesday’s election.

“We don’t have a huge mandate there,” he said. “You figure all the numbers and it’s not that large.”

References: http://www.mapinc.org

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