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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA November 7, 2006 Election
Measure Y
Lowest Enforcement Priority for Adult, Personal Use of Marijuana
City of Santa Monica

Initiative Ordinance - Majority Approval Required

Pass: 18,045 / 65.28% Yes votes ...... 9,596 / 34.72% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Dec 3 2:14pm, 100.00% of Precincts Reporting (72/72)
Information shown below: Summary | Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text

Shall the Municipal Code be amended to: state that City police shall make law enforcement related to adult, personal use of marijuana the lowest enforcement priority, unless the use occurs on public property or in conjunction with driving under the influence; require the City Council to effectuate the priority through reporting, grievance and oversight procedures; and require the City Clerk to send annual notice of the priority to federal and state representatives?

Summary Prepared by the City Attorney's Office:
This measure would purport to regulate the work of the Santa Monica Police Department by establishing a "lowest law enforcement priority" for offenses involving the adult, personal use of marijuana. This measure states that the priority would be mandatory but would not apply to using marijuana on public property or driving under the influence. The measure would prohibit the Police Department from working with state or federal agencies to do enforcement work within this lowest priority and from receiving federal funds for such work.

The measure would require City Council oversight to ensure Police Department compliance through various, specified means. For instance, the Police Department would be required to semi-annually report to the City Council statistics involving marijuana enforcement and also to report on individual enforcement activities; and the City Council would be required to receive grievances from individuals who believed that they were subject to law enforcement activity inconsistent with the measure. Additionally, the measure would require the City Clerk to annually send letters to congressman and senators representing Santa Monica voters, to the Governor of California and to the President of the United States requesting that the state and federal governments enact similar laws.

Impartial Analysis from the City Attorney
This measure would amend the Municipal Code by adopting an ordinance declaring that crimes involving adult, personal use of marijuana are the lowest law enforcement priority for the Santa Monica Police Department. This lowest priority status would not apply to marijuana use by persons under 21 years of age or marijuana sales. Additionally, exemptions would make the lowest priority designation inapplicable to marijuana use on public property and to situations involving driving under the influence.

The measure would prohibit Santa Monica police from cooperating with state and federal agents on enforcement activities covered by the lowest priority designation and would prohibit the City from accepting federal funds for such activities.

The measure would require the City Council to take specified implementation actions. These include: designing special report forms for police officers' use in documenting individual enforcement actions; requesting information from individual police officers who appear to have violated the lowest priority designation; and receiving grievances from individuals who believe they were subject to law enforcement efforts contrary to the lowest priority designation (though basing disciplinary action on such grievances would be prohibited). The Council would also be required to generate a report, twice each year, containing specific statistical information on marijuana enforcement and information on deviations from the lowest priority designation. The measure purports to require the County District Attorney, as well as the City Attorney, to cooperate in the preparation of this report.

The measure would also require the City Clerk to send to state and federal officials a statement that Santa Monica has designated marijuana enforcement as its lowest law enforcement priority and request that their jurisdictions do the same. The Clerk would be required to send this every year until state and federal authorities adopt similar laws.

The measure specifies that a violation of its requirements would not be a crime, but any resident of the City could file a civil action to mandate compliance.

Implementation of this measure would entail significant financial costs. The reporting requirements of the measure would likely require the Police Department to hire additional personnel, and funding which the City receives through its participation in multi-agency taskforces might be lost. Additionally, legal challenges could arise. Both state and federal law restrict activities involving controlled substances, including marijuana. Insofar as the measure impinged upon these laws, it would be subject to legal challenge. Legal issues may also arise as to the measure's impact on criminal cases involving possession of marijuana. Moreover, the City Charter establishes a council-manager form of government in which professional staff is separated from the political process. Insofar as this measure would erode that separation by involving the City Council in the work of individual police officers, the measure might conflict with the Charter.

  Official Information

City of Santa Monica

Organizations in Favor

Santa Monicans for Sensible Marijuana Policy

Ballot Measure Forum

  • Tuesday September 19, 4:30-8:30pm - Santa Monica Main Library; 601 Santa Monica Bl; live "taping for broadcast on Santa Monica City TV
News and Analysis

Santa Monica Daily Press

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Arguments For Measure Y Arguments Against Measure Y
President Bush's war on drugs has failed. It has been costly, ineffective, and unjust. Arresting law-abiding citizens for personal marijuana use clogs our courts and wastes our tax dollars and police resources.

Measure Y will make adult marijuana offenses on private property the lowest priority of the Santa Monica Police Department, allowing police to focus their time and our tax dollars on solving serious and violent crime - like rape and theft.

Marijuana is illegal under state and federal law, and this initiative does not change that. Measure Y will reduce local spending on marijuana arrests and send a strong message to our political leaders in Sacramento and Washington that it's time for more common sense marijuana laws. It will also provide another layer of protection for medical marijuana patients, curtail racial profiling and strengthen our civil liberties.

The Bush Administration has made marijuana, medical or otherwise, the number one priority in its failed Drug War. Over 700,000 marijuana arrests are made each year, including medical marijuana patients. Meanwhile, our overcrowded prisons are at nearly twice capacity and taxpayers are now being asked for billions more to build new ones. It makes no sense to continue these ineffective, wasteful policies, which arrest nonviolent marijuana users.

In 2003, Seattle passed a similar measure and reduced marijuana arrests by 75%, saving millions of dollars for city priorities. By passing Measure Y, Santa Monicans will join other forward-thinking cities like West Hollywood, Oakland and Seattle in leading the way to safe and sensible drug policy.

Santa Monica should have policies that are consistent with our values and priorities. That's why community leaders, law enforcement and legal experts agree: Measure Y is the right thing to do for Santa Monica. Please join us in voting YES ON Measure Y.

Daniel Macallair
Executive Director, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

Lt. Jack A Cole (Ret.)
Director, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Vivian Rothstein
Former Executive Director, Ocean Park Community Center

Katherine K. McTaggart, MFT
Adolescent Substance Abuse Specialist

Susanne Griffin, Esq.
Santa Monicans for Sensible Marijuana Policy

The Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Policy Ordinance is both unnecessary and over-broad. This ordinance proclaims a new Santa Monica city policy for "the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of offenses, where marijuana was intended for adult personal use, (is) the City's lowest law enforcement priority." Prosecution of adults for personal possession of small amounts is, for all practical purposes, already near the bottom of law enforcement priorities, given our emphasis on major crimes and quality of life issues. The initiative's broad language seems to include felony marijuana sales and growing operations. We do not agree that growing and selling marijuana should be ignored by Police.

The Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Policy Ordinance wastes resources: The Santa Monica City Council would utilize a community oversight review panel, creating another city commission and consuming more taxpayer resources. This proposed ordinance requires SMPD officers to do additional paperwork -- such as compiling lengthy reports on every marijuana arrest to submit for City Council review within seven days. The City Council will review arrest reports and make recommendations - an additional waste of taxpayer dollars.

The Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Policy Ordinance sends a confusing message to our children. We tell our kids that using drugs is harmful and wrong - a clear and truthful message. This ordinance is illegal and violates California State Law. In addition, it is wrong for our children and our community. As a result, Santa Monica voters should do the sensible thing and reject The Lowest Law Enforcement Priority Policy Ordinance.

SMPOA Chairman Jay Trisler

Chief James T. Butts, Jr.

Mayor Bob Holbrook

Councilman Herb Katz

Full Text of Measure Y
Click here for a 4-page pdf file

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