Santa Cruz Voters To Decide Lowest Pot Priority Ordinance

Santa Cruz, CA: Santa Cruz officials this week confirmed that a municipal initiative that seeks to make marijuana law enforcement the city’s “lowest priority” has been certified to appear on the November 2006 ballot.

The measure, sponsored by Santa Cruz Citizens for Responsible Marijuana Policy, directs Santa Cruz police to make activities related to the investigation, citation, and/or arrest of adult cannabis users their lowest priority. It would also appoint a Community Oversight Committee to monitor police activity as it pertains to marijuana law enforcement. Seattle voters passed a similar proposal in 2003, which has led to a 75 percent reduction in citywide marijuana arrests.

According to the results of a November 2005 city poll, 85 percent of Santa Cruz voters oppose criminalizing adults who use cannabis.

If passed, the Santa Cruz initiative would also demand city officials express public support for regulating cannabis as a legally taxed commodity. Oakland voters approved a similar proposal in 2004.

Proponents are gathering signatures in support of similar city initiatives in Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood in hopes of gaining support for a potential statewide measure in 2008.

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