Hawaii: Voters OK pot measure

By enquirewithin · Nov 7, 2008 ·
  1. enquirewithin
    [h1]Hawaii: Voters OK pot measure[/h1]
    by Peter Sur
    Tribune-Herald Staff Writer

    Published: Wednesday, November 5, 2008 9:52 AM HST
    Voters passed a ballot measure that would direct police to take a hands-off approach to the adult personal use of marijuana.

    With all precincts reporting, the measure passed 53.1 percent (35,329 votes) to 38.6 percent (25,658 votes).

    Voters were asked whether the Police Department should regard marijuana as the lowest law enforcement priority.

    The law would put the enforcement of laws against marijuana to each police officer's personal discretion, and would direct the County Council not to accept state or federal funds for marijuana eradication.

    "We look forward to working with the new County Council to set up procedures with the Police Department," said Adam Lehmann, director of Project Peaceful Sky.

    The bill took a circuitous route to appear on Tuesday's ballots. The Project Peaceful Sky petition drive needed the signatures of 4,848 registered voters but only 2,214 were found valid.

    The next month, by a 5-4 vote, the County Council voted to overturn Clerk Casey Jarman's finding of insufficiency and determined that the 2,214 signatures were enough to put it on the ballot.

    Police and prosecutors spoke out against the ballot measure, calling it a bad law that would be superseded by the federal government.

    "I'm opposed to passage of this," Prosecuting Attorney Jay Kimura said, saying that it posed a danger for law enforcement officials.

    "I don't believe it's enforceable as written," Kimura said.

    "I would ask him to really read it (the law) again," Lehmann responded.

    "Obviously, disappointed that (the vote is) not the other way around," Kimura said. "The law enforcement is charged with enforcing the law, and trying to carry out their duties as best they can."

    "Next step will be consulting with the (state) attorney general to see what impact this will have on the law," Kimura said, after being informed that it passed. "We'll continue our efforts to try to reduce the availability of drugs in the community."

    Lehmann has said the law would not legalize marijuana, and that it would save money and allow police to concentrate on hard drugs, like methamphetamines.

    "We're very thankful to everybody that helped us," Lehmann said. "We really feel this is going to reduce crime."

    E-mail Peter Sur at [email protected].

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