The proud community of West Paris has a serious, important article in its town meeting warrant for March 3. It seems insignificant because it is unenforceable, but the details mandate actions with which townspeople may disagree regardless of how they feel about lessening punishments for adult-related marijuana offenses.

At first glance, the ordinance intends to make investigating, citing, seizing, arresting and prosecuting adult marijuana offenses in West Paris the “lowest law enforcement priority.” The fine print contains a more frightening agenda.

West Paris law enforcement includes the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office and the Maine State Police who “shall abide by the lowest law enforcement priority policy.” West Paris would also be prohibited from accepting state or federal funds intended to investigate or enforce existing marijuana laws.

Would paying taxes to support officers enforcing current drug laws be considered noncompliance with the ordinance? The town could not cooperate with state and federal agents. If a neighbor were growing 50 acres of pot, the town would have to inform police that this is of “lowest law enforcement priority.”

This proposal would require notifying state and federal elected officials of the enactment of the ordinance, a persuasive tactic to urge complete legalization of marijuana. The town manager would have to send annual letters to the voters, the governor, state senators and representatives, Maine’s congressional delegation and the president.

The letter must state, “The citizens of West Paris have passed an initiative to de-prioritize the marijuana-related offenses and request the federal and Maine state governments take immediate steps to legally tax and regulate marijuana use, cultivation, and distribution, and to authorize state and local communities to do the same. This duty shall be carried out until state and federal laws are changed accordingly.”

West Paris would be part of a nationwide group of marijuana legalization advocates, attempting to force its ideas on the country by infiltrating small American towns that would, through the ordinance, be spokesmen for them.

The ordinance would mandate the creation of an “oversight committee” to oversee the implementation of the ordinance. It would be composed of one civil liberties advocate, one medical marijuana user, and one substance abuse and drug counselor from West Paris.

If either of the latter positions were unfilled, a civil libertarian would fill it. The committee would collect data, ensure compliance with the ordinance, collect grievances from those cited for disobeying current laws, create a paper form for police to report all information regarding marijuana offenders and citing officers, and require reports from the County District Attorney and any other agency enforcing the current laws.

Each officer would have to report to the committee within five days of any action taken. Where is our right to privacy? How much time would be taken from more important duties to fill out West Paris paperwork and be “grilled” by the committee to justify performing activities defined in officers’ job descriptions?

This ordinance is unenforceable. It simply gives proponents of legal marijuana the use of the town to demand marijuana legalization on the federal level.

The generous and thoughtful people of West Paris support fire victims, the sick, the poor, our military men, veterans, and children. Through cooperation and hard work we have realized things of which other communities can only dream.

I urge each West Paris citizen to vote according to their beliefs. But consider the riders in the ordinance, which could subject West Paris to ridicule, lawsuits, and great expenditures. Does the town want to be required to urge the local and federal governments to legalize pot? This ordinance does not address medicinal use of marijuana.

We would be scrutinized nationwide, cited as one of the first to oppose our country’s laws, and held as an example of a town turning traitor to the laws “we the people” have adopted because we hold them just and right.

America has an existing system for rescinding laws and making new ones. The procedure starts with state legislators. Why would West Paris not follow proper channels?

Why would we want to defy America’s laws?

Sylvia McCann is the spokesman for Citizens Against Article 11. She lives in West Paris.


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