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Marijuana: Idaho Balks at Town's Pot Initiatives

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #516)
Politics & Advocacy

Last month, voters in tiny Hailey, Idaho, approved three municipal initiatives that legalized medical marijuana, cultivation of industrial hemp, and ordered the city to make enforcement of state and federal marijuana laws the lowest law enforcement priority. Now, city officials have delayed acting on the initiatives, and Idaho's attorney general says the first two initiatives conflict with state law and are invalid and the third "is likely not an allowable subject for an initiative, and therefore invalid."

In the brief written by Deputy Attorney General Mitchell Toryanski, Toryanski said that in addition to conflicting with state law, the initiatives were also problematic on free speech grounds and because they affected the constitutional division of powers between the state and municipalities.

In the brief, Toryanski wrote that: "The Idaho Constitution guarantees that 'every person may freely speak, write and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty. The right to free speech includes the right not to speak.'"

Toryanski also cited Idaho case law on the division of powers to invalidate the lowest law enforcement priority initiative, noting that "while subjects of a legislative nature were allowable for local initiatives, subjects of an administrative nature were not."

"None of this surprises me in the least," Hailey city attorney Ned Williamson told Sun Valley Online. "There are at least three issues, three problems with the initiatives."

"The provision in the initiatives that require you guys to advocate for changes in law violate your freedom of speech and freedom of political discretion," Williamson said, referring to the requirement imposed on city officials to attempt to persuade officials in other cities, the county and anyone else to promote legal use of marijuana.

"The bottom line is that major provisions of the initiatives are illegal and are invalid," Williamson said. "It coincides with what I said in the past, and we have to decide how to proceed." Williamson said the city can choose between litigating, repealing or amending the initiatives.

Now, city officials have put off any decisions even on whether to move ahead with the oversight committees mandated by the initiatives. No word yet from the Idaho Liberty Lobby, the group that sponsored the initiatives.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Giordano (not verified)

City officials In Idaho should be made to realize that if enough votes exist to pass a marijuana decriminalization initiative in their own communities, then there are also enough potential votes to knock them out of office should they fail to act as true representatives of the people. Certainly the marijuana issue is an excellent opportunity for a few marijuana friendly citizens to run for public office in Hailey and other local towns where city officials are proving recalcitrant.

Economically, the Sun Valley ski resorts that sustain Hailey and other small, nearby communities would benefit greatly from a pot friendly environment. Ski fans are likely to forgo Utah and other nutbag fascist enclaves in favor of tourist accommodating resorts that see no point in ruining their customers’ good time.

Another thing that might help the Idaho political situation is if the proponents of the marijuana measure can somehow manage to focus more outside attention on the anti-democratic activities of Idaho state and municipal prosecutors trying to quash the initiatives. It really doesn’t matter that the issue is marijuana decriminalization. Nothing embarrasses Idahoans more than being depicted as dumb hicks and fascists by the national and international media.


Fri, 12/28/2007 - 3:35pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

we Iowans legalized medical pot, but don't have the guts to finish the job so it could protect me to grow my own pot so i don't have to send hard currency to foreign countries for dope. It is so false to have passed a law and then stalled its installation into effect. No wonder we are known as a hick state. Idahoans? is that what you want for yourselves, too?

Sat, 12/29/2007 - 11:35am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

There are so many of us sick & dying here in Idaho who use and need Cannabis for our Pain, I lived in Wa. State and have a Doctors Med. Cannabis papper, but it is useless here in Idaho.I like so many others have to live in fear, and after useing all the othe D.E.A. approved pain meds. That Do Not Work, I can have a Qulity of Life Now, Thanks To Cannabis.If all the Cannabis users would make a stand and get of of hidding, We could stop worrying about going to jail, just to have a pain free qulity of life.Get Real Get Out.

Sun, 12/30/2007 - 2:33am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)


Thu, 01/10/2008 - 10:44am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Most people seem to believe in freedom- in many cases- just not outside of their own personal choices.


Port Hadlock, WA

Fri, 01/25/2008 - 12:39am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Everyone should just write the Idaho congress and senant let them know how you feel and get active lets have 10,000 people smoke outs. they can't bust large crowds. lets all organize a smoke out at ISU or in Pocatello Idaho. Everyone who likes pot should show up and toke up. Lets see who is all talk here. Get active stand together.

Sun, 06/01/2008 - 3:12am Permalink

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