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Santa Cruz Ballot Measure Addresses Personal Pot Use


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Marijuana reform is on the November ballot in Santa Cruz -- and proponents of Measure K say it's time to stop arresting or citing people for simple possession and use.

If passed, the measure would direct police officers to make private use of marijuana their lowest priority.

Kate Horner, the Measure K campaign coordinator, told KCBS reporter Dave McQueen that prioritizing police work -- and taxpayer dollars -- is key.

"There is no law on the books currently about the levels at which they're enforced," she said. "And that's really what this (ballot measure) is trying to do -- is save our taxpayer dollars to focus on serious and violent crime, as opposed to non-violent marijuana offenses."

There is no organized campaign opposing Measure K, but the city and the Santa Criz Police Department do have some concerns.

Zach Friend, a spokesman for the city, told KCBS's McQueen that police already properly prioritize -- and private cannabis use is currently on the low end of the enforcement scale.

"Law enforcement already makes those priorities, of what is the best to keep the community safe and a healthy living environment for everybody in that community," he said. "And actually, proponents have specifically said, this is because they want to attack federal drug laws.

"Well that's okay, but this is not the best forum in which to do that."

Measure K's Horner agrees that the proposal does have broader aim.

"It would request that the city clerk to send letters annually to our elected officials at the state and federal level, putting the city on record as supporting reform of marijuana laws," she said.

"A couple of important things about the initiative is that there are exemptions to the policy" -- including, not applying to minors, not applying to sale or use of pot on public land, and not exempting driving under the influence of marijuana.

"All of those would remain at current enforcement levels," Horner said. Therefore, the measure would only apply to private use.

Santa Cruz is only the latest community to grapple with the issue of cannabis.

"The way the ordinance was written is that it does not actually define the acceptable amount of marijuana usage for sale or distribution," Friend said. "I think a lot of people would agree that what people do in their own homes -- medicinal marijuana -- that's not really the question here. But when it comes to large-scale sale and distribution, I think that's a massive unintended consequence of this measure."

Friend said Santa Cruz police are sworn to uphold the California and United States Constitutions.

"If there's a personal crime -- a battery, a rape, or any kind of violent crime -- without question, the police department prioritizes those over marijuana citation," he said.

Newshawk: BluntKilla - 420Magazine.com
Source: KCBS All News 740AM
Pubdate: October 29, 2006
Copyright: 2006 KCBS
Contact: contact
Website: KCBS - KCBS All News 740 AM - Homepage
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