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Marijuana Advocate Battles To Clarify Initiative Process

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Hailey's first marijuana election was held almost a year ago, but City Attorney Ned Williamson found himself back in 5th District Court on Monday arguing about the city's procedures for handling citizen-driven ballot initiatives.

He wasn't alone. Ketchum City Attorney Susan Buxton was there also, even though marijuana legalization or reform initiatives have yet to make it to a ballot in that city.

Their opponent was Ryan Davidson, the Garden City man who put marijuana-related issues twice before the electorate of Hailey.

Initiatives to legalize medical use of marijuana, to legalize the use of industrial hemp and to make enforcement of marijuana laws the lowest priority for Hailey police were approved by the voters last November and again in May. However, the city has declined to enforce the new laws and is instead seeking a legal determination in Blaine County 5th District Court.

The voters rejected in both elections initiatives that would have required the city to tax and regulate marijuana use and distribution.

Monday's court hearing stemmed from a lawsuit that Davidson filed more than a year ago and prior to any elections' being held. Though Williamson argued that the lawsuit is now moot, Davidson persisted, explaining in court that he was seeking clarification from Judge Robert J. Elgee on issues regarding not just marijuana but Idaho's initiative process in general. The initiative process gives Idaho citizens the right to propose and vote on laws outside of government's normal framework.

"I could have dropped this one, but I don't like to drop things," Davidson told the Idaho Mountain Express on Tuesday.

Davidson first became known in the Wood River Valley in 2004 when he began circulating petitions to have marijuana legalization or reform initiatives put before the voters in the cities of Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley.

The first step in such a process is to gather 20 signatures on what is referred to as an initiating petition, which is then presented to the respective city clerks for certification. That done, the initiative instigator then needs to gather signatures from registered city voters. Twenty percent of the number that voted in the last city election is required for the initiative to be placed on a ballot.

Though he had collected the required number of signatures, Davidson's initiating petitions were rejected, on constitutional or other grounds, by all three municipalities. In 2006, Davidson won a major victory when the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that the city of Sun Valley did not have the authority to determine the constitutionality of a proposed initiative.

Davidson won a second major victory in 2007 with a federal court ruling that said the city of Hailey could not require that an initiative petition instigator be a resident of the city.

Davidson walked away from Monday's hearing with what he considers two more victories.

One, Elgee ruled that Ketchum's requirement that an initiative instigator be a city resident is also illegal. Davidson said the ruling will help set precedents in striking down residency requirements in other cities in Idaho.

Two, Elgee ruled that city clerks do not have the authority to certify that the 20 signers of initiating petitions be registered city voters. Elgee ruled that clerks can only certify the signatures on final petitions submitted for ballot initiatives.

Elgee ruled against Davidson on a third issue that would allow city officials to adopt proposed initiatives rather than allowing them to go to election. Davidson argued that adoption without an election "invites mischief" because a city could adopt an initiative to stop an election and then later abolish the initiative.


News Hawk: User: 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: The Idaho Mountain Express
Author: Ryan Davidson
Copyright: 2008 Express Publishing Inc.
Contact: mtexpress.com | News, Sports, Arts, Events, Calendar and Classifieds for Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey, Bellevue, Carey and Blaine County, Idaho - Idaho Mountain Express Newspaper - mtexpress.com
Website: Idaho Mountain Express: Pot issues resurface in 5th District Court - October 22, 2008
 
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