City Seeks Law Lowering Marijuana Priority
Rosanna Mah | Los Angeles Independent | 03/07/06

West Hollywood City Council has unanimously voted to direct City Attorney Mike Jenkins to draft an ordinance that makes the enforcement of marijuana-related offenses its low priority.

The Monday night action was officials' latest step to support the decriminalization of marijuana use and to avoid a potentially costly November ballot initiative pushed by a local marijuana advocacy group.

The proposed ballot initiative backed by the “West Hollywood Civil Liberties Alliance” - which targets personal use - will not apply to cases involving drug-dealing to minors, or sale, distribution, cultivation, or use on public property as well as driving under the influence.

In recent months, supporters of the ballot initiative have likewise called on West Hollywood officials to specify in their contract with law enforcement officials that any investigations, citations, arrests, property seizures and prosecutions for adult marijuana use will be made its lowest priority.

Councilman John Duran, who proposed the council action, argued that the spirit and goals of the ballot initiative are similar to the city's pro-medical marijuana legislation.

He said that his main goal was also to avoid a potentially costly public campaign on marijuana - be it for medicinal or recreational use - a drug which he believes “has the same effect on the human body” as alcohol.

“It seems like it's not a burning issue in West Hollywood,” said Duran, who met with petitioners in January. “I don't know if a sweep of people are being arrested for possession of marijuana. I mean why put on campaigns? This would require both sides to campaign on an issue that doesn't appear to be at issue.”

According to city documents, West Hollywood will “save thousands of dollars that would otherwise have to be spent on the processing of a ballot initiative” by enacting its own laws instead of allowing the alliance to bring the issue to voters for approval.

Last year, West Hollywood became the first city in the Southland to establish guidelines for its medicinal pot clubs such as prohibiting armed security and on-site consumption of marijuana