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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Smart Voter
Santa Cruz County, CA November 7, 2006 Election
Measure K
Marijuana Law Enforcement Priority
City of Santa Cruz


13,969 / 63.88% Yes votes ...... 7,900 / 36.12% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of December 1 10:01am, 100.00%% of Precincts Reporting (44/44)
Information shown below: Official Information | Impartial Analysis |

Shall the Santa Cruz Municipal Code be amended by adding an ordinance that requires Santa Cruz police officers and other law enforcement officers in the City of Santa Cruz to make enforcement of state and federal laws pertaining to the distribution, sale, cultivation or use of marijuana by adults their lowest law enforcement priority?

Official Sources of Information
Impartial Analysis from City Attorney

This initiative, if adopted by City voters, would enact an ordinance that requires the Santa Cruz Police Department to make adult (age 18 or older) criminal marijuana investigations, citations, arrests, property seizures and prosecutions their lowest law enforcement priority and further stipulates that law enforcement activity related to all other criminal offenses shall receive a higher priority.

Federal law lists marijuana as a statutorily prohibited controlled substance. Under California state law, with the exception of certain activities pertaining to medicinal use, it is similarly a crime to possess, cultivate, sell, furnish or transport marijuana. The California Penal Code authorizes police officers to enforce all state and local laws. To this end Santa Cruz Police Department general orders and ethical canons require police officers to take prompt and proper police action relative to violations of all laws observed by them or coming to their attention and to uphold all laws enacted or established pursuant to legally constituted authority.

The ordinance would not apply to crimes entailing: the distribution or sale of marijuana to minors; the distribution, sale, cultivation or use of marijuana on public property; or driving under the influence of marijuana. The ordinance's lowest law enforcement priority mandate would apply to cooperating with state or federal agents engaged in the enforcement of adult criminal marijuana offenses and prohibit the City from accepting federal funding to be used for marijuana law enforcement activity.

The ordinance would require the formation of a voluntary Community Oversight Committee comprised of City residents and would require the Santa Cruz Police Department and the Santa Cruz County District Attorney to each send a non-voting liaison representative to Committee meetings. The Committee would: oversee the ordinance's implementation; receive grievances from individuals who believe they were subjected to law enforcement contrary to the ordinance's lowest law enforcement priority policy; and gather, and report on, marijuana law enforcement activity in the City. The Committee would also be authorized to request marijuana law enforcement information from individual City police officers who would be required to comply with any such request within seven calendar days.

The proposed ordinance makes it a City policy to support the taxation and regulation of marijuana and requires the City Clerk to notify all City representatives in federal and state government of this policy and that adult marijuana crimes are the City's lowest law enforcement priority.

The proposed ordinance specifies that all of its provisions are mandatory. The proposed ordinance further specifies that violation shall not constitute a criminal offense and that the exclusive means of enforcement is a civil writ of mandate court proceeding.

The City Attorney has questioned the legality of several provisions of the ordinance. Two such concerns are noted here. First, the ordinance would limit, or effectively prohibit, police officers from performing functions that state law authorizes them to perform. Second, the ordinance would subject the City and individual police officers to civil litigation for enforcing state marijuana laws in alleged violation of the ordinance.

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Created: January 4, 2007 09:39 PST
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