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Hailey Forms Pot Committee

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
The city of Hailey will soon have a seven-member committee to oversee all things cannabis. Whether the committee succeeds in reforming marijuana laws will depend on who is on the committee and how motivated they are to push for change.

Hailey voters approved three marijuana and industrial hemp initiatives in 2007 and again in 2008. The initiatives were titled the Hailey Medical Marijuana Act, the Hailey Lowest Police Priority Act and the Hailey Industrial Hemp Act.

The city delayed implementing the initiatives, and instead Mayor Rick Davis, City Councilman Don Keirn and Hailey Police Chief Jeff Gunter filed a lawsuit last May against the city seeking judicial review of their legality. Blaine County 5th District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee ruled in March that most of the initiatives' provisions were either contrary to Idaho law, in conflict with "free speech" guarantees of the U.S. Constitution or illegal because they address administrative functions of local government.

But remnants of those ordinances still exist, including a call to form a community oversight committee.

"The people voted for this and they are getting the committee as required," City Attorney Ned Williamson said. "I'm not sure what will come out of them. They were never designed to make laws or implement policy."

The committee will instead make recommendations to the City Council in keeping with the remaining provisions in the three ordinances, which only have portions of the original language approved by voters. The most significant declares the city in support of the legalization of industrial hemp.

Seven committee members will be appointed—one by the mayor, one by the police chief and four by the City Council. The seventh will be appointed by the Liberty Lobby, which began the city's marijuana initiative process in 2007.

"What the committee achieves will depend on who sits on it and how active they are," said Mayor Davis, who is required to hear any recommendations formulated by the committee. "The council will decide if they are worth pursuing or not."

Dan Bernath, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C., a lobbying and funding group for the reform of marijuana laws, said the initiatives passed by Hailey voters will serve as a "wake-up call" for local leaders.

"Local officials are sometimes the last to find out just how far public attitudes about marijuana reform have progressed," he said.

Montana and Nevada have medical marijuana laws allowing for the cultivation and use of the marijuana plant with doctor's orders.

Seattle and Denver have lowest police priority laws, enforced by committees like the one forming this month in Hailey.

News Hawk: User: 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: The Idaho Mountain Express
Author: Tony Evans
Copyright: 2009 Express Publishing Inc.
Contact: tevans@mtexpress.com
Website: Idaho Mountain Express: Hailey forms pot committee - May 6, 2009
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