JUNE 20, 2006
Leaders of a notoriously liberal Southern California city have succeeded in legalizing marijuana by utilizing creative language to elude state and federal laws that make its possession illegal.
The West Hollywood City Council unanimously approved a resolution that permits the recreational use of marijuana in the city of about 35,000 and directs law enforcement officials from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to ignore marijuana-related offenses.
Besides federal law that prohibits marijuana possession, the California Health and Safety Code also makes it illegal. This is why West Hollywood officials, who had proposed the marijuana policy change as an ordinance, changed it to a resolution. An ordinance would have contradicted state and federal law whereas a resolution merely sends law enforcement a message to leave potheads alone.
The so-called message to the cops carries quite a punch and city officials have utilized it successfully in the past. West Hollywood has also passed a “resolution” directing officers not to arrest couples engaging in sex acts in cars and the number of such arrests took a big dive.
If law enforcement officers don’t leave potheads alone in West Hollywood, city officials have threatened to look for another agency to patrol its 1.9-square-mile city. Currently, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has a $10 million annual contract to keep West Hollywood safe and the agency clearly doesn’t want to lose the lucrative deal.
This is probably what is causing silence on the part of a usually chatty Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca, who was elected to enforce the law in the nation’s largest county (10 million). He promises on the department’s web site to “honorably perform my duties with respect for the dignity of all people, integrity to do right and fight wrongs, wisdom to apply common sense and fairness in all I do.”
Time will tell if that includes looking the other way as state and federal laws are violated.
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