This is history by about 8 years now, but back in 2001 the little town of 400 people in Utah named “Big Water” passed an ordinance that decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana to a $10 fine (under 1 oz), and possession of paraphernalia a $5 fine.
The motive behind this says mayor Willie Marshall “Our ordinance made justice affordable for everybody,” said Marshall. “Let the punishment fit the crime.”
Under Utah law, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, as well as a six-month drivers license suspension. Under state law, paraphernalia possession nets the same maximum six months and $1,000. According to a newspaper article about this situation that can be found at this link: http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle-old/215/bigwater.shtml
I agree with Mayor Willie Marshall, and even though I think a $10 fine is too much for a victimless crime, I believe his intentions were in the right place, and I think you will find the city of Denver Colorado agrees, where it is legal (no fines) for adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana.
Ruining people’s life forever, putting a misdemeanor on their record which denies them the ability for scholarships, military service, working at certain jobs, etc.. for a victimless crime is insane. A $1000 fine for possessing a plant that has never killed anyone in all of history?
This would be like making drinking from a drinking fountain a misdemeanor punishable with jail time and a $1000 fine. Based on harm, and social impact, marijuana is no more of a threat than drinking water!
Bravo to this courageous mayor and this courageous city council. It’s only too bad that these ordinances were later repealed, and that at least one officer is recorded and reprimended for threatening the city council members.
Utah Highway Patrol Officer Nathan Giles blew up at local officials, Marshall said, in an account whose broad contours were confirmed by regional Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Lynn McAfee. “Once the police heard about this, they hit the ceiling, the Kane County sheriff and the Highway Patrol were just enraged,” said Marshall. “They do a lot of intimidating people into letting them search their cars. But Officer Nathan Giles was especially bent out of shape. He came in and yelled at the town clerk. ‘Who’s the dope-smoking son of a bitch who wrote this ordinance?’ Giles yelled. And then he made threats. ‘All hell is going to break loose in Big Water,’ he told her,” Marshall said.
Two weeks after the ordinance passed, UHP started harassing members of the entire town of Big Water:
“ On December 7, two weeks after the ordinance was passed, the town was hit with an “enforcement blitz” by Highway Patrol and Kane County Sheriff’s officers. “They were ticketing everyone for anything,” said Marshall. “They had a half dozen Highway Patrol cars out there pulling people over for no seat belt, failure to signal, anything they could think of.”
Which was confirmed by Lt. McAfee of the Utah Highway Patrol.
But this wasn’t the end of it, and as you guessed, this all has to do with police funding and getting revenue from these so-called crimes.
But Giles wasn’t done. “Then he went over to the water board office, where one of the council members works, while on-duty and in uniform and started arguing with her,” Marshall said, “telling her the ordinance was unconstitutional, that we had to repeal it, that the Highway Patrol could just stop writing tickets in our town, basically threatening to cut off a source of town funding. Not that we’re a speed trap,” Marshall quickly added. “Giles was very threatening and his behavior was very inappropriate.”
This is Utah life under a huge microscope in relation to the ‘drug war’. No drug war equals no police funding. It’s not about harm reduction, it’s about revenue!
This isn’t a war on drugs, this is a war on the American people!
Another Reference from a local newspaper: http://archive.deseretnews.com/archive/880574/Big-Water-axes-controversial-laws.html