'We The People?' — Voters Act To Reduce Municipal Marijuana Penalties, Cops Have Other Ideas

Two municipal election results from yesterday ought to come as no surprise.
In the cities of Kalamazoo, Michigan and Tacoma, Washington, municipal voters overwhelmingly favored local ballot measures to mandate that the criminal enforcement of cannabis possession offenses be law enforcement’s “lowest priority.”
In Tacoma, voters decided in favor of Initiative 1, which states that minor marijuana offenses shall be “the lowest enforcement priority of the City of Tacoma.”
In Kalamazoo, voters approved a similar ‘deprioritization’
by a margin of almost 2 to 1.
Given that one out of two Americans now favor outright legalizing the adult use of the marijuana plant, and given that voters have consistently voted in favor of similar ‘deprioritization’ measures before (e.g., Seattle, 2003; Oakland, 2004; Columbia, Missouri, 2004; Santa Cruz, 2006;Denver, 2007; etc.) last night’s results are hardly surprising.
Equally unsurprising is the response from local law enforcement, whose public comments once again belie the myth that ‘police just enforce the laws; police don’t make the laws.’

Marijuana amendment will have little effect on law enforcement in Kalamazoo, chief says
via The Kalamazoo Gazette
Little, if anything, about how his officers do their job will change, Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley said Wednesday, less than a day after city residents voted to make possession of a small amount of marijuana the lowest priority for police.
“I certainly respect the democratic process,” Hadley said. “It certainly gives you an insight to what some of the voters are thinking in terms of their views on marijuana. However, it really has little to no impact on how we operate at Public Safety.”
The ballot measure, which amends the city charter, was overwhelmingly endorsed by voters Tuesday, with 65 percent giving their approval.
The ballot question voters approved Tuesday was: “Shall the Kalamazoo City Charter be amended such that the use and/or consumption of one ounce or less of usable marijuana by adults 21 years or older is the lowest priority of law enforcement personnel?”
Hadley reiterated Wednesday what he has said previously about the ballot measure, which is that it will have no effect on his agency because the city charter only addresses ordinances and marijuana possession and use are illegal under state and federal law, which will continue to be enforced.
“The charter amendment only has an impact on city ordinances, which we do not have any existing city ordinances relative to the possession or use of marijuana and we still have every obligation to enforce state and federal laws,” the chief said.

For further analysis on law enforcement’s resistance to marijuana law reform, please see NORML Outreach Coordinator Russ Belville’s excellent, archived commentary on The Huffington Post here.

73 thoughts

  1. ” it really has little to no impact on how we operate at Public Safety.” …huh? well then i guess you will not arrest dang near anyone for cannabis possession then will you?

  2. What a shock.. another douche bag cop. But you know, keep playing their game. If they come for me, I will shoot back.

  3. This is exactly why everyone hates cops; they hide behind the guise of “all we do is enforce laws, not make them” just so they can make money for the state. What is wrong with them using their consciences for once and not busting someone who is no threat to “public safety” at all?

  4. In other words what he is saying is “Dear citizens, though you pay our wages, fuck you. You guys are not really our bosses.”

  5. That means its time to drive these worthless cops out of your town .if they dont care about the voters wishes they are just rogue cops .and this notion that local cops must uphold federal law at local level is bullshit. drive this bastard out now.

  6. Frequently, the Mayor of a City appoints a public safety director. With that in mind, here’s Mayor Hopewell’s contact information, and the email I just sent him.
    Mayor Bobby J. Hopewell
    241 W. South Street
    Kalamazoo , MI 49007
    (269) 337-8046
    (269) 337-8182 fax
    Dear Mayor Hopewell,
    My dad was a cop. He taught me that the police are there to serve and protect the people, not to make the laws themselves.
    I write to you today to express my displeasure and dismay with Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley.
    The people of your town have spoken with their ballots, voted to tell you… their Mayor… what they want.
    With (I’m hoping) the best of intentions, Chief Hadley is prepared to ignore their vote and continue to treat marijuana possession as a serious crime.
    Honestly, I’m much rather see the police arresting violent criminals – a rapist is much more of a threat to the Community than people who smoke marijuana. Home invasions, arsonists, child molesters, and drunk drivers seem to be much more dangerous and deserve a higher law enforcement priority. I could go on, but I do think you get the point.
    These are his exact words: “I certainly respect the democratic process,” Hadley said. “It certainly gives you an insight to what some of the voters are thinking in terms of their views on marijuana. However, it really has little to no impact on how we operate at Public Safety.”
    I do not know how he came to hold that position, but if it was an appointment and you have the power to fire him, I strongly suggest you do so. People who hold office do so only with the permission of the people.
    The ballot measure, which amends the city charter, was overwhelmingly endorsed by voters Tuesday, with 65 percent giving their approval. That is a SIGNIFICANT majority, especially considering that National Polls only indicate a 51% approval rating Nationwide.
    I strongly urge you to explain to the Director the error of his ways.
    We are not prisoners, we are free people. That freedom includes the reasonable expectation that municipal officials and politicians respect the voice of the voters.
    I thank you for your time,
    Maggie Ahrens

  7. Hadley & the thousands like him will be the reason people will say, ” enough is enough ” & will rise up against the United States . In turn there will be massive arrests, civil disobediance & those that are arrested will be put into FEMA camps . They are building & have them now because the Government knows it is enevitable .
    While i applaud you in getting sponsors for your site, Liberty Law group is undoubtably another Law firm that supports prohibition .Follow the money ;
    The politicians we are handed to us on a platter so we can vote for them . This is the Government’s way of saying we are a democracy by given our stamp of approval through our vote . They do not work for us . They work for the highest bidder .

  8. The statement of police forces who say “We don’t make the laws, we just enforce them.” seems tantamount to “We don’t think, we just do.” I don’t want people like that “protecting” or “serving” myself or my community.

  9. What a DICK! His sorry commie ass should be taken out and tared & feathered. We live in a democracy and Chief you better look again, it’s not SOME voters it’s 2 to 1. I can’t help it but your a freak’en Idiot!!! Vote his commie ASS out!

  10. The pig chief of Kalamazoo should be fired immediately.Anyone going against the voters wishes is a nazi facist PIG.

  11. Essentially, these Local LEOs are going to ignore Local statutes just because they can, since State & Federal statutes contradict Local ordinances. Nice, regarding observance of their primary obligation to uphold Local statutes — so, why are these Local LEO officials still in office, instead of recalled and / or fired?
    Observation of such miscreant behavior on the part of Local LEOs is hardly surprising. Ask the question, ‘Cui bono?’ or ‘Who benefits?’. This directly applies to civil & criminal asset forfeiture, and the Local LEOs share of that ‘booty’. Local and State LEO organizations, including prison guard unions, have tremendous political influence far beyond their numbers in membership because they invest union funds heavily into Local & State political campaigns to perpetuate Right Wing Authoritarian candidates.
    We the People in California see a similar proprietary interest in undue undemocratic political influence. Pressure must be applied to Local and State politicians and the LEO organizations that support them — through recall referendums and otherwise voting them out of office, permanently. This very same political activism needs to be applied to our Federal elected representatives, regardless of their nominal political affiliation. Both Right Wing Authoritarianism and Fascism are undemocratic, and know no political party boundaries.

  12. How can they be right when the law and truth are seperated? In the real world Aren’t they enforcing genocide? Crimes against humanity. Treason against the Republic by controled competition and free enterprise.
    Their war. War crimes? What’s going on What’s the Truth. How much do we need? ppp

  13. While yes the Chief has a point.
    A city ordinance or resolution has zero bearing on enforcing state/federal law.
    However that being said, I’m not sure why he feels the need to be so arrogant, and unreasonable
    The people of kalimizoo are not asking you to ignore marijuana, just asking you to spend less time on it.
    I would think as a police chief he would be happy being enabled to spend more time on violent crime. Our nations closure rates on violent crime is horrendous.
    But who cares about violent crime? Rape and murders are just an annoyance compared to consenting adults smoking something they grew out of the soil.
    Just keep nabbing those pot-heads and prostitutes on the corner. Its easier than shooting fish in a barrel, its like shooting them in your lawn! Keep creating victims for an otherwise victim-less crime.
    Canada looks better and better by the day

  14. What a bunch of control freaks we have, even in our local government. Vote the bought & paid for crooks out!

  15. We, as a movement, cannot afford to
    lose our momentum. Everyone who wants
    pot-hibition to be repealed should wear an wristband with the image of a cannabis leaf on it.
    If literally, millions of us do
    it the media will not be able to ignore it. The business world will
    regard us as a financially significant demographic. It will also send a
    clear message to the politicians that the time has come to repeal
    prohibition. Local groups could sell these at a minimal price
    and still be raising funds to do their work with. Join in
    getting the word out to as many people as we can. If each of us contacts
    5 people there will be millions of us. Please do what you can
    think of to make sure it’s widely understood that wearing the
    (420Bandz™) only means you want an end to pot-hibition, not necessarily
    that you, yourself, are a consumer.

  16. Every single arrest should never be prosecuted, and everything about be completely disregarded. No fine whatsoever should be levied or collected. The lowest priority means that NO FUCKIN MONEY GETS SPENT ON IT! Any officer, including their supreme commandant, should receive a letter of reprimand in their personnel file for spending money on cannabis prohibition.

  17. “I certainly respect the democratic process”….I just don’t abide by it! This guy has clearly never heard of the notion of the spirit of the law. The voters are telling him they don’t want arrests for marijuana possession. But what do they know they only pay and employ him,

  18. This doesn’t make sense. I thought we were a democracy? So pretty much what this guy is saying, (I’m sure alot more in these states think the same way) is that the majority vote does not matter and so we will just do the opposite of what the people want.

  19. This just shows how dictatorship is taking over the USA!!! The people vote & then the overwhelming results are shot down & overshadowed by the rising police state that “We the People” have no say over. Your community should only be policed as much as it wants to be policed, the election results followed by the remarks made by Hadley should be investigated & Hadley should be charged with a crime himself or made to resign from his position for not honoring the residents request as verified by a public vote. This type of behavior should not be tolerated by “We the People”. Vote this goon out if possible, I live in Louisiana so I’m not sure how this GOON got his job, is it by election if so fire this guy in the next election, if he was appointed to his job, fire the elected official that appointed him in the next election. This also follows in the footsteps of the Obama admin. with all the phony antics being played over legal dispensaries. We need to fire Obama & hire Ron Paul. We need to rise above the establishment, not be held down by the man.
    RON PAUL 2012

  20. This idiot doesn’t get it that the voters who fund him have the right to tell him what priority it gets regardless of where the law comes from.

  21. Jeff can say what he wants. It sounds good from a cop point of view. The fact is, Kalamazoo PSO’s have much better things to do than worry about someone with an ounce or less and they pretty much ignore it from what I have observed (and I’ve lived here for 0ver 30 years).

  22. From WE THE PEOPLE to WE THE FEDS and now WE THE COPS. As long as their is MARIJUANA PROHIBITION, law enforcement will always come up with no brainer statements like marijuana possession and use are illegal under state and FEDERAL law. You don’t have to be a 21ST CENTURY INQUISITOR to know that, look at our prison system of the UNICORNIZATION OF AMERIKA. You can already see what the other ideas are and they sure as hell are not FOR THE PEOPLE but for themselves. Just another segment of the NEW WORLD ORDER and the ORWELLIAN MENTALITY and the aid of BIG BROTHER TECHNOLOGY. THE BARBARIANS ARE AT THE GATE OF MARIJUANA PROHIBITION!

  23. hey ass hole pig, the stoners get stoned and pay to eat at mc donalds, burger king, taco bell, wendys, and other fast food you eat for FREE for being a fat fucking lazy pig…. bight the hand that feeds you and you will face a smashing boycott against these establishments from their primary customers.

  24. What is going on with America? Were spending billions of tax payer money to fight wars not only in other countries but the war on drugs. Which everyone realizes has never acheived any kind of victory or even been productive. Why are we the people allowing these things to occur now a days.
    “We need to stop this its TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS were spending!” – Ron Paul
    “Don’t steal the government hates competition” – Ron Paul
    RON PAUL 2012. Lets “We the people” end this foolishness.

  25. “It certainly gives you an insight to what some of the voters are thinking in terms of their views on marijuana.”? Excuse me? If it passed then it wasn’t “some” of the voters, it was the “MAJORITY” of voters.

  26. The police say, “We don’t care what you say.”
    Nice 🙁 not!
    What is wrong with these people? And they give them guns? What is wrong with the tests given to potential police officers? They clearly don’t work at removing abusive individuals from becoming law enforcement…

  27. One of the reason my Dad went to war (ww2) Was to respect the voters and what they vote on. This Cop has proven there intent and must be stop. The Cops are going to get real mean on us. They have proven they are anti American and must be stop at all available means.

  28. Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley should immediately be fired! He obviously has his own agenda and doesn’t care what his bosses, the people, have clearly stated… Him and others like him think like dictators but they are in fact just stupid little bullies that deserve a serious beatdown!

  29. We truly need a government that is legally obligated to put the PEOPLES interests FIRST,then concern themselves with big businesses.

  30. It’s really too sad to see some cop-douche spouting at the mouth, taking things into his own evil hands.

  31. Hello:
    In Portland, Oregon the voters overwhelmingly approved a law which puts marijuana as low priority for law enforcement. The police do abide by this law as far as I have seen. Local municipal police may inform state and federal officers of state and federal violations, but do municipal officers have the right to enforce state and federal law—I doubt it.
    James Shields

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  33. If God is part of state and government, and marijuana grows naturally, doesn’t this mean God wants us to have it for our personal use? I would say yes. The G-men have way to much sway on our lives and need to be put down as rabid.

  34. What a dick. I’m so glad I finally decided to get a gun. It just seems like we’re creeping closer and closer to the edge of disobedience by the day. I don’t want to see people hurt by police or vice versa, but it just seems like these politicians and other officials are forcing us into unrest.
    [Editor’s note: Guns? Disobedience? The ballot is more powerful than the bullet….people and votes for reform is what is needed, not violence that will beget more state violence, which beget more violence, etc….
    Did it take guns and violence to end Alcohol Prohibition or angry mothers and an organized vote?]

  35. They are doing what THEY want and are NOT listening. Why do we die for democracy when we can’t even get it ourselves?

  36. The local police could choose to stand with the people and let the FBI or DEA come into town and make the minor marijuana arrests…something that would likely never happen.

  37. – Albert Einstein quote on Hemp
    “The illegality of cannabis is
    outrageous, an impediment to full
    utilization of a drug which helps
    produce the serenity and insight,
    sensitivity and fellowship so
    desperately needed in this
    increasingly mad and dangerous world.”
    – Carl Sagan quote on Marijuana

  38. actually Arrogant Officer, you have no obligation or standing in enforcing Federal law, only state and local laws, stupid cop.

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