Friday, September 19, 2014

Local Officials Have Their Marijuana Boots On The Ground

 Thought this article  from American City and County on a conference call facilitated by the International City/County Managers Association  would make a good complement to Rob's work on the local option for marijuana.

 The topic of the conference call was "the cultural and logistical issues facing local governments that legalize the use of marijuana." Darin Atteberry, city manager for Fort Collins, Colo.; Jane Brautigam, city manger for Boulder, Colo.; David Timmons city manager for Port Townsend, Wash.; and Bill Kirchhoff, a municipal advisor from Coronado, California commented on their experiences implementing recreational and medical marijuana laws.

Here are some article snippets on the challenges of implementation:

One particular way the balancing act is playing out is with local law enforcement. “It’s a cultural change,” Timmons[from Port Townsend] said. “For many, many years you’ve had this culture, particularly in law enforcement, that this is an illegal activity and an illegal drug. We kind of have to change that whole culture within the police agencies as to how they respond, how they react, how they manage and handle the issues that arise from their interaction with this in the community.”

On the internal side of the equation, local governments must also consider how legalization will affect their employment policies. Federally, marijuana is still considered a schedule one controlled substance, which allows public employers to prohibit employees from using marijuana, regardless of its local legality, said Kirchhoff. However, he predicts this prohibition is on the way out.

If the legal status changes at the federal level, which Kirchhoff said is “right around the corner,” this will be the first time in history where cities and counties will have to shift “almost overnight from treating marijuana as a criminal issue and event to supporting it as a medical opportunity or option for employees in their workforce.” 

And to put the discussion in context [from another article which appeared in the McClatchey Tribune,] a comment from the panel's moderator, Ron Carlee, city manager of Charlotte, North Carolina.

This is all totally fascinating to me, sitting in North Carolina, where our hot issue in Mecklenburg County is banning tobacco use in public places,” he said. “It will be a long time before we have to wrestle with the marijuana issues _ possibly. But who knows?”

Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink


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