CHEYENNE — A Jackson musician says he is receiving support for his plan to get a ballot question before town voters to legalize the use of small amounts of marijuana by adults.
Pete Muldoon said he has collected 100 signatures thus far. He plans to gather 1,000 to be sure he has at least 500 valid signatures from registered voters who live in Jackson.
Muldoon is aiming to get his proposal on the November election ballot.
“I don’t use marijuana,” he said in a telephone interview. “I just don’t think we should be arresting [users] and sending them to jail.”
“I think it’s corrosive to the community,” he added.
He said marijuana use would still be illegal in the state under his proposal, but not in Jackson for people over 21 years of age.
A political blogger, Muldoon, 37, said the response so far has been overwhelmingly in favor of the idea.
Some people, however, have questioned whether a referendum could invalidate state or federal law.
Muldoon said he is on a limited budget and has not consulted an attorney although he has researched the law himself.
Muldoon said he could have petitioned the town council but wants a show of grassroots support through a vote.
A referendum can be used to repeal laws. An initiative can repeal an old law and replace it with a new one.
However, Wyoming law allows the ballot initiative only in municipalities that have the commission form of municipal government, said George Parks, director of the Wyoming Association of Municipalities.
Neither Jackson nor any other community in the state has that form of municipal government today.
Parks said there are other avenues to get issues up for a local vote.
Town Attorney Audrey Cohen-Davis said she cannot comment on the proposal because she hasn’t seen anything about it.
Once the petition has been filed with the town clerk, she said she expects to be asked whether it is certifiable.
Although the movement has been slow in Wyoming, other states and communities have adopted initiatives decriminalizing marijuana — either for all use, medicinal use or to allow law officers to make enforcement their lowest priority.
“There are a number of municipalities, large and small, that have, on their own, broken away from state and federal laws,” said Allen St. Pierre, director of The National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
He mentioned Hailey, Idaho, and Breckenridge, Colo. A proposal will on the ballot in Detroit and on the California state ballot this year, he said.
The ballot issues are popular in ski resorts and college communities in particular, he said.
Posted: Sunday, June 27, 2010
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