Criminal Justice

Lid on Pot Police Upheld

Posted Jul 11, 2007 1:23 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Santa Barbara, Calif., judge has upheld a local ordinance that discourages enforcement of marijuana possession laws.

Enacted by initiative, the ordinance directs police to make marijuana enforcement their lowest priority, the Los Angeles Times reports. Sixty-five percent of the voters approved the proposal, known as Measure P.

The law sets up a commission to monitor police compliance and requires additional paperwork for marijuana arrests. At least 10 other cities have similar laws.

Santa Barbara challenged Measure P by suing its chief proponent. Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderle dismissed the suit yesterday, saying the proponent had done nothing wrong, and the ordinance did not conflict with drug laws.

"Police officers can still arrest those who violate drug possession laws in their presence," Anderle wrote. "The voters have simply instructed them that they have higher-priority work to do."

ACLU attorney Adam Wolf called the ruling “a resounding victory for free speech and the democratic process."

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