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‘We The People?’ — Voters Act To Reduce Municipal Marijuana Penalties, Cops Have Other Ideas

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 9, 2011

    Two municipal election results from yesterday ought to come as no surprise.

    In the cities of Kalamazoo, Michigan and Tacoma, Washington, municipal voters overwhelmingly favored local ballot measures to mandate that the criminal enforcement of cannabis possession offenses be law enforcement’s “lowest priority.”

    In Tacoma, voters decided in favor of Initiative 1, which states that minor marijuana offenses shall be “the lowest enforcement priority of the City of Tacoma.”

    In Kalamazoo, voters approved a similar ‘deprioritization’
    measure
    by a margin of almost 2 to 1.

    Given that one out of two Americans now favor outright legalizing the adult use of the marijuana plant, and given that voters have consistently voted in favor of similar ‘deprioritization’ measures before (e.g., Seattle, 2003; Oakland, 2004; Columbia, Missouri, 2004; Santa Cruz, 2006;Denver, 2007; etc.) last night’s results are hardly surprising.

    Equally unsurprising is the response from local law enforcement, whose public comments once again belie the myth that ‘police just enforce the laws; police don’t make the laws.’

    Marijuana amendment will have little effect on law enforcement in Kalamazoo, chief says
    via The Kalamazoo Gazette

    Little, if anything, about how his officers do their job will change, Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley said Wednesday, less than a day after city residents voted to make possession of a small amount of marijuana the lowest priority for police.

    “I certainly respect the democratic process,” Hadley said. “It certainly gives you an insight to what some of the voters are thinking in terms of their views on marijuana. However, it really has little to no impact on how we operate at Public Safety.”

    The ballot measure, which amends the city charter, was overwhelmingly endorsed by voters Tuesday, with 65 percent giving their approval.

    The ballot question voters approved Tuesday was: “Shall the Kalamazoo City Charter be amended such that the use and/or consumption of one ounce or less of usable marijuana by adults 21 years or older is the lowest priority of law enforcement personnel?”

    Hadley reiterated Wednesday what he has said previously about the ballot measure, which is that it will have no effect on his agency because the city charter only addresses ordinances and marijuana possession and use are illegal under state and federal law, which will continue to be enforced.

    “The charter amendment only has an impact on city ordinances, which we do not have any existing city ordinances relative to the possession or use of marijuana and we still have every obligation to enforce state and federal laws,” the chief said.

    For further analysis on law enforcement’s resistance to marijuana law reform, please see NORML Outreach Coordinator Russ Belville’s excellent, archived commentary on The Huffington Post here.

    73 Responses to “‘We The People?’ — Voters Act To Reduce Municipal Marijuana Penalties, Cops Have Other Ideas”

    1. al kath IV says:

      ” it really has little to no impact on how we operate at Public Safety.” …huh? well then i guess you will not arrest dang near anyone for cannabis possession then will you?

    2. Anonymous says:

      What a shock.. another douche bag cop. But you know, keep playing their game. If they come for me, I will shoot back.

    3. Phill says:

      This is exactly why everyone hates cops; they hide behind the guise of “all we do is enforce laws, not make them” just so they can make money for the state. What is wrong with them using their consciences for once and not busting someone who is no threat to “public safety” at all?

    4. Oscar C says:

      In other words what he is saying is “Dear citizens, though you pay our wages, fuck you. You guys are not really our bosses.”

    5. kevin says:

      That means its time to drive these worthless cops out of your town .if they dont care about the voters wishes they are just rogue cops .and this notion that local cops must uphold federal law at local level is bullshit. drive this bastard out now.

    6. Maggie says:

      Frequently, the Mayor of a City appoints a public safety director. With that in mind, here’s Mayor Hopewell’s contact information, and the email I just sent him.

      Mayor Bobby J. Hopewell
      241 W. South Street
      Kalamazoo , MI 49007
      (269) 337-8046
      (269) 337-8182 fax
      bobbyhopewell@borgess.co

      Dear Mayor Hopewell,

      My dad was a cop. He taught me that the police are there to serve and protect the people, not to make the laws themselves.

      I write to you today to express my displeasure and dismay with Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley.

      The people of your town have spoken with their ballots, voted to tell you… their Mayor… what they want.

      With (I’m hoping) the best of intentions, Chief Hadley is prepared to ignore their vote and continue to treat marijuana possession as a serious crime.

      Honestly, I’m much rather see the police arresting violent criminals – a rapist is much more of a threat to the Community than people who smoke marijuana. Home invasions, arsonists, child molesters, and drunk drivers seem to be much more dangerous and deserve a higher law enforcement priority. I could go on, but I do think you get the point.

      These are his exact words: “I certainly respect the democratic process,” Hadley said. “It certainly gives you an insight to what some of the voters are thinking in terms of their views on marijuana. However, it really has little to no impact on how we operate at Public Safety.”

      I do not know how he came to hold that position, but if it was an appointment and you have the power to fire him, I strongly suggest you do so. People who hold office do so only with the permission of the people.

      The ballot measure, which amends the city charter, was overwhelmingly endorsed by voters Tuesday, with 65 percent giving their approval. That is a SIGNIFICANT majority, especially considering that National Polls only indicate a 51% approval rating Nationwide.

      I strongly urge you to explain to the Director the error of his ways.

      We are not prisoners, we are free people. That freedom includes the reasonable expectation that municipal officials and politicians respect the voice of the voters.

      I thank you for your time,

      Sincerely

      Maggie Ahrens

    7. Hadley & the thousands like him will be the reason people will say, ” enough is enough ” & will rise up against the United States . In turn there will be massive arrests, civil disobediance & those that are arrested will be put into FEMA camps . They are building & have them now because the Government knows it is enevitable .
      http://fight4truth.com/concentrationcamps.htm

      While i applaud you in getting sponsors for your site, Liberty Law group is undoubtably another Law firm that supports prohibition .Follow the money ;
      http://www.followthemoney.org/database/uniquecandidate.phtml?uc=5032&gclid=CLG5-sCwk6wCFQtthwodanFprQ
      The politicians we are handed to us on a platter so we can vote for them . This is the Government’s way of saying we are a democracy by given our stamp of approval through our vote . They do not work for us . They work for the highest bidder .

    8. Spring says:

      It is time to end the MADNESS!

    9. John says:

      The statement of police forces who say “We don’t make the laws, we just enforce them.” seems tantamount to “We don’t think, we just do.” I don’t want people like that “protecting” or “serving” myself or my community.

    10. Bhonze says:

      What a DICK! His sorry commie ass should be taken out and tared & feathered. We live in a democracy and Chief you better look again, it’s not SOME voters it’s 2 to 1. I can’t help it but your a freak’en Idiot!!! Vote his commie ASS out!

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