Voters in small-town Hailey, Idaho, Tuesday approved three out four marijuana initiatives placed on the ballot over the objections of town officials. Initiatives to legalize the medical use of marijuana, make marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority, and legalize industrial hemp all passed. A fourth measure, which would have mandated the city to tax and regulate marijuana sales, failed.
Some 1,288 eligible voters went to the polls in Hailey, with medical marijuana gaining the most votes (687), followed by hemp (683) and lowest priority (637). Taxation and regulation lost by a margin of 573-674.
The initiatives were the brainchild of Ryan Davidson, chairman of the Idaho Liberty Lobby, who three years ago began efforts to put marijuana on the ballot in the Wood River Valley towns of Hailey, Sun Valley, and Ketchum. Local authorities in all three communities denied his petitions, and a series of court battles ensued, out of which Davidson emerged victorious. Davidson is working on initiatives for Sun Valley and Ketchum.
The initiatives require the city of Hailey to create a Community Oversight Committee to oversee implementation. They also require the city of Hailey to lobby other branches of government for reform of the marijuana laws.
State and local officials are likely not happy. The Idaho Attorney General's Office issued a statement last week reminding voters that marijuana possession is a crime under both state and federal law, and Hailey City Attorney Ned Williamson predicted before the vote that the city could be the subject of expensive litigation at taxpayer expense if voters approved the measures.
But now the voters have spoken, and it is up to city officials to heed their will.