Pubdate: Fri, 11 Jan 2013
Source: Idaho Mountain Express (ID)
Copyright: 2013 Express Publishing, Inc
Author: Katherine Wutz


Nonbinding Resolution States It Would Eliminate 'Black Market'

The Blaine County Republicans approved a resolution in support of 
legalized marijuana during a meeting Tuesday night, but many area 
Republicans say legalization won't solve the valley's drug problems.

The resolution, introduced by precinct Committeeman Mike Conner, was 
approved with only two votes against during the local party's monthly 
meeting at the Senior Connection in Hailey. However radical it may 
be, the resolution has no legal effect.

Unlike previous pieces of legislation introduced in the Legislature 
over the past two years by Republican Rep. Tom Trail of Moscow, which 
would have legalized marijuana only for medical use, the county GOP's 
resolution is in support of legalizing all use.

Many supporters of the resolution did not return calls from the Idaho 
Mountain Express. However, Randy Patterson, mayor of Carey and Carey 
precinct committeeman, said he supported the resolution because of 
his Libertarian background.

"Marijuana is not a criminal issue, it's a moral issue," he said. "I 
parallel it with alcohol. Prohibition of alcohol didn't work, and 
prohibition of marijuana isn't working."

The resolution states that national enforcement of marijuana laws 
have been largely ineffective, resulting only in the incarceration of users.

"[T]he failed prohibition of marijuana has exhausted billions of 
dollars spent on ineffective or incomplete enforcement," it states. 
"The Blaine County GOP believes that the time has come to amend 
criminal prohibition and replace it with a system of legalization and 

Sun Valley Precinct Committeeman Steven Poindexter said he voted 
against the resolution, but said supporters contended that legalizing 
and regulating marijuana would reduce its use.

Blaine County Sheriff Gene Ramsey said he was strongly against the 
resolution, even though he's a member of the Republican Party.

"This is kind of like saying we can't stop everyone speeding, so 
let's do away with speed limits," he said. "You make a dent where you 
can. Personally and from a law enforcement perspective, I can't 
support legalization."

Ramsey said the valley gets "quite a bit of marijuana," adding that 
much of it comes from California, where medical marijuana is legal.

The resolution states that marijuana sales should be regulated and 
taxed, though it does not specify how those taxes would be carried out.

It also encourages strict penalties for "illegal trafficking" and 
impaired driving. Such penalties would eliminate the "lucrative black 
market" and allow the drug's price to be regulated by the free market, it says.

Patterson said there would be age limits on the purchase of 
marijuana, and that legalizing it would not necessarily cause a rise in use.

"If it's legalized, am I going to go smoke marijuana? No," he said. 
"It's a moral issue."

Poindexter said one of the arguments made at the meeting in favor of 
the resolution was that the federal government has too much power, 
and the states should be able to decide whether to legalize marijuana.

However, he said his brand of Republican politics does not go that 
far regarding states' rights.

"There are [federal] laws in place, and there have to be guidelines, 
otherwise you have a society with no rules and no laws," he said. "If 
you start with pot, where do you go from there?"

Patterson said the resolution would be brought before the state 
Republican Party at its summer meeting in McCall. If it's passed, 
state party leaders would attempt to find legislative sponsorship for 
a bill in the 2014 legislative session.

Joshua Whitworth, executive director of the Idaho Republican Party, 
said the state platform does not include a position on marijuana 
legalization. He added that Blaine County is the only county whose 
party has passed a resolution in support of the issue.

"In the past, that has been something of an issue in the area," he 
said, referring to the city of Hailey's voting in 2009 to allow the 
use of medical marijuana, to legalize industrial hemp and to make 
enforcement of marijuana laws the lowest police priority.

Large portions of all three ordinances were redacted by 5th District 
Judge Robert Elgee, rendering them ineffective-though the third 
remains a city policy.

Whitworth said he's not sure why most marijuana initiatives seem to 
be coming from Republicans, but said the "demographic" of Blaine 
County and recreational nature of the Wood River Valley likely had 
something to do with this particular resolution.

Ramsey said he, too, believes that the recreational aspect of the 
valley encourages valley youth to view drug use more casually.

"They see some people come here on vacation who recreate, and [the 
youth] think, 'Hey, life's a party!'" he said. "People call 
[marijuana] a recreational drug, but it's an introduction to other drugs."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom