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Pro-Marijuana Initiative Produces Little Change


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Nearly nine months after Eureka Springs voters approved a measure encouraging police to make arrests for small amounts of marijuana a low priority, officials say little has changed in the tourist town's arrest numbers.

"The misconception here is that everybody thought when this thing passed that it was OK to run around with marijuana it's not," Mayor Dani Wilson said.

The initiative passed in November with 63 percent of voters supporting it.

But Eureka Springs Police Chief Earl Hyatt said his department had enforcement discretion before voters approved the initiative.

"Simple possession of marijuana has always been a low priority for us," he said.

Hyatt said that most of the city's minor pot possession arrests happen when suspects are brought in on other offenses, and happen to have marijuana on them when they are searched.

The initiative began when a student organization at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville gathered signatures to get the measure on the ballot. The chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws or NORML also hoped to pass a similar measure in Fayetteville.

"The sky hasn't fallen there, the sky has not fallen," said Ryan Denham, who worked on last fall's campaign for NORML. "Drug hippies have not infested the town of Eureka Springs, as our opponents might have you believe."

Although nothing major has changed in Eureka Springs, Denham said the measure "sends a very clear message to Eureka Springs and its law enforcement officials that (residents are) fed up with a costly and unjust war on pot."

The mayor said that although she opposed the measure and voted against it, she isn't bothered by its presence.

"I know our police force is going to do what they need to do in any given situation," Wilson said. "I know they are going to uphold the law."

News Mod: CoZmO - 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Pine Bluff Commercial (AR)
Author: The Associated Press
Contact: info@ap.org
Copyright: 2007 The Associated Press
Website: Pine Bluff Commercial Online Edition
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