I will be closely following the results of the Initiative 502 concerning marijuana laws. I urge everyone in the county to study that measure and vote. Even if the measure conflicts with federal law, I will use the results to revise my policies regarding the prosecution of marijuana offenses.
Initiative 502 is a new approach to marijuana. Though it will be legal in some instances, it will be treated much like alcohol. It will remain a crime for youth to possess or use marijuana, it will remain a crime for adults to provide marijuana to youth, it will remain a crime to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana. It will be a civil infraction to consume marijuana in public or advertise marijuana. Only private recreational and medicinal use by adults is allowed.
Is our state at a “tipping point” in the attitudes regarding marijuana use and possession? I think so. I think people are frustrated by the collateral consequences of marijuana violations under federal law and I believe state law alone should fix the penalties for a state law violation.
I recognize that the adoption of Initiative 502 may create a conflict between federal and state laws, which can be problematic for a prosecutor, especially for a border community with the presence of federal law enforcement. While conflicts with federal law should be avoided whenever possible, I will adopt policies that are consistent with the will of the voters and the protection of a safe community.
Randall K. Gaylord
San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney