Portland Police Chief to Ignore Marijuana Legalization Vote

Portland Police Chief to Ignore Marijuana Legalization Vote

PORTLAND, ME — Voters in Maine’s largest city approved a measure Tuesday to legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults 21 and older, but the chief of police says that the vote won’t change anything in regards to how the department handles marijuana offenses.

Portland  Police Chief Michael Sauschuck says the department will continue to enforce state marijuana laws, which Sauschuck said “pre-empt local ordinances,” and officers will issue citations for marijuana possession when necessary.

“This doesn’t change anything for us in terms of enforcement,”  Chief Michael Sauschuck said Wednesday.

Under state law, the possession of 2.5 ounces of marijuana or less has been decriminalized to a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $600.

When Portland’s Question 1, passed by almost 70% of voters on Tuesday, takes effect in 30 days, Sauschuck says officers will continue to “use their discretion” with dealing with minor marijuana possession offenses.

Chief Sauschuck says that the Portland Police Department did not consider small time marijuana possession offenses a high law enforcement priority before the initiative passed.  Since June 2011, police officers in Portland have averaged writing a little over one marijuana possession ticket per week.

An estimated 67 percent of Portland voters decided Tuesday in favor of a citywide ballot initiative, Question 1, eliminating penalties for adults who possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana or paraphernalia within city limits.

Earlier this year, an effort by Maine Rep. Dianne Russell to legalize and regulate retail marijuana sales fell only four votes shy of passing in the House, and similar legislation is being planned to be introduced for 2014.

“With Tuesday’s vote, it’s now clear Mainers are ready to move forward with responsibly regulating all adult marijuana sales,” Rep. Russell said following Portland’s vote Tuesday.

“We are calling on city officials to respect the will of the voters, and state leaders to get ahead of this issue with a Maine approach to taxing and regulating this commodity, much like we do alcohol. It’s time to stop rewarding drug cartels and start rewarding responsible business owners, while funding important state priorities with new tax revenue.”

  • Mike

    Two words sum up the next step.

    Jury nullification.

    The chief can arrest folks, but he’s just going through the motions when the jury pool is 70% in favor of legalization. I know it’s somewhat risky as an individual strategy to insist on a jury trial, but all it takes is one or two cases that go to trial, with the jury refusing to convict, before the chief’s bluster in the face of the will of the people will crumble. I’d almost bet once he finally realizes he’s just wasting his time and the taxpayer’s money, which he is already, he’ll have his force move on to more productive matters. In any case, even if he’s blinded by the bright lights, once people demand jury trials because they know they won’t be convicted, the whole system quickly grinds to a halt.

    And all it takes is one principled citizen on each jury to make sure that happens. It sounds to me like Portland has plenty of principled citizens.

    • thedailychronic

      Well, the good news here is that he can’t actually arrest anyone under state law, but he can write a ticket. Fortunately, possession of 2.5 oz. is decriminalized in Maine.

      • JohnBoy_NYC

        You still can spend the night in jail, or a whole weekend, same as in NYC. Cops use things like it being in a baggy as “intent to sell” or “public view” which are arrestable misdemeanors, even though the DA drops the charges. Its horrible, decrim is not a godsend.

        • jo

          You as a people have indulged too much…….by giving horrendous power to your public
          Servants…….who became your bosses and tyrants…….and address you as you were
          Subhumans……not even respecting the will of the people…….He don’t look smart at all and certainly don’t act as if…….in his career. …….I’ll cost a lot to taxe payers……i bet wake up america….lol

      • Mike

        Yeah, that does change things. JohnBoy is right, though, about the tendency to inflate charges and this could certainly apply to that. And it sounds like the chief has a chip on his shoulder that just might encourage his troops to do so.

        That said, how about getting the fine reduced to $1? Guess that’s a state issue, though.

        That would send a message, too, but not sure whether it’s worth the bother if the hope is to go straight to legalization, if I’m keeping track of things right (which I’m obviously drifting a little today anyway…so it goes.)
        ;)

      • Yo yo yo . who’s the boss now!

        You are dreaming of being so brainwashed and in denial…….You are so wrong….he can do anything he wants……even shoot at you in your face…..don’t you understand……His “union” would make a fool of you and he would get away.
        With payed back wages……and court fees payed by taxpayers……
        Welcome to america………….and when civil unrest pops out………they’ll shout at you and your family. …As terrorists……..(patriot act..what a joke…..you guys are so enslaved…..you just can’t see the shackles anymore.)
        With 1.7 billion hollow bullets…NOW that’s a lot of bullets…you are in a big shit with your “freedom” and ” democracy”
        Good luck america…….the world is watching you….lol

    • ssseth

      Good idea for misdemeanors but because of decriminalization, possession and small sales is not criminal and will never have the opportunity of seeing a jury.

      • The Dwarf

        I’m sure that if someone fought the ticket they get that they will get their day in court.

        • ssseth

          You go to court, but there is no jury for non-criminal trials. That’s how our justice system works.

          • Mike

            Yep,
            Decrim = all the hassle and cost, just not the record

            It sure ain’t freedom. It’s second-class personhood.

        • jiji

          You are the enemy. !!!!!!!!…….lol……..can’t you see….??????

      • JohnBoy_NYC

        Sale or intent to sell is still an arrestable offense, it is not decriminalized.

    • uhuh

      And sue the chief…….who is going to pay a reward to the defendant with taxpayers money
      What a joke…..nonsense….we’re so sick of this imbecile…..

  • Ian Battles

    Is there a process for removing a public servant that wants to ignore the will of the voters and operate on his own agenda?

    • Robert Proctor

      With 58% of citizens across the country in favor of legalizing cannabis, Portland is a microcosm of the United States. The chiefs need an explicit order from the voters to protect the market as another commercial industry. Anything less is political footsie and unworthy of free citizens.

    • Mike

      Generally, that’s called an election.

      Unfortunately, general stupidity and stubbornness are not a disqualification from office.

    • sambacomet

      City law doesn’t over-ride state law. The officer is not operating on his own agenda- he has to follow state law

      • Mike

        No, legally it doesn’t. However, there is a lot of room for adjusting enforcement priorities to meet community needs/desires/directives. The chief is no more bound to a “business as usual” policy than he has to fly to the moon on his own power.

        Look, the whining about the will of the people of Portland is unseemly. It is what it is. No sensible police chief wants to run a department that doesn’t have the good will and support of most of the people in the community.

        Or does he?

    • uhuh

      Very very hard…….Welcome to america……..

  • jimmyt

    police, the real terrorists

    • defmbqwerty

      That is the reality nowadays. This vote passed at 70% and these pig thugs still choose to ignore the wishes of their jurisdiction. Terrifying, really.

  • GodModeMario

    Wasting as much money as they can to violate the rights of the people from whom they get the money.

  • Elhuero

    sounds like tyranny to me. second amendment time.

  • Woodstuck

    Meaning he doesn’t feel he has to follow the law of the land? Yeah, true dedication. He just does not want to lose federal money for marijuana busts and filling prisons. Plus having to catch true criminals is hard work and may interfere with the slack job they have become accustomed to doing. Say goodbye to your job pal. You do not get to choose what laws you follow – Hello? YOU are not making them, you are supposed to be enforcing them – WE THE PEOPLE do not like a lot of laws – but we do not get to choose which ones are enforceable. Grow your own meds – http://www.weedsthatplease.com will teach you for FREE.

  • LeagalizeIT

    It deeply saddens me but this Portland Police Chief needs to follow the laws like everyone else. If he wants to make a difference he should go vote his views as well. Like every voter. We need people to say “No I’m not okay with this, and I’ll vote no.” But at the same time we all have to respect the majority decision. When he takes off his badge and hat, and he goes home at night, when he’s off duty, he has to follow the laws just like everyone else. He’s not a vigilante. And he’s not going to hide behind his badge. His duty is to protect and serve the people. And if voters decide they want to legalize marijuana then he will have to serve those people too.

    • What a wonderful world

      He is a cop…….he is above the law…….and he knows it…..it’s like it’s the other way around
      you are the public servant…lol

  • Ebert McFartington XIII

    Hey diрshit cop: prepare to have your budget halved, аsshоlе.

  • HONEST MIKE

    Typical cop…doesn’t like it when THEY get bullied for a change….perfect example of the BS antics of ALL law enforcement. Remember when cops were used when needed and NOT going out looking to nail anyone for anything they can think of? Oh…that’s right, anyone remembering those days are DEAD!

  • Art Lowe

    Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck going to find himself sued or out of a job soon enough.

  • Ryan Elson

    I am predicting an impeachment in that cop’s future.

  • arkarian

    cops disobeying the law? why am i not surprised? seems to be their primary goal these days (and consistently throughout the past too).

    i really wish cops would shut up and just do what we tell them to do. that should be their ONLY job and goal.

  • Curtis Mayberry

    So the people he serves voted overwhelming to leave marijuana users alone and his response is, I will do what I want, like a 6yr old! Time to hire or vote in a new chief of police chief! How stupid of a excuse not to follow the will of the citizens he protects, He only arrests one cannabis consumer a week, well thats one too many sir!

  • Ed

    Who pays that cop? Portland or the “State”?

  • Harry Bennett

    It would appear that few of you have actually read and/or understand what the article says.

    “Chief Sauschuck says that the Portland Police Department did not consider small time marijuana possession offenses a high law enforcement priority before the initiative passed.”

    So, it would be easy to state the perspective “This doesn’t change anything for us in terms of enforcement” because, well, they weren’t doing much about it in the first place.

    Of the “little over one marijuana possession ticket per week” issued, it is more than likely either issued with some other offense [aka: stacking] or to someone who doesn’t have sense enough to keep their yak-trap shut when dealing with LEOs or both.

    And while you are all whining about how to deal with the stated position of the chief, when was the last time any of you went to a city council meeting, actually an active participant, in your local governance?

    • Mike

      “Chief Sauschuck says that the Portland Police Department did not
      consider small time marijuana possession offenses a high law enforcement
      priority before the initiative passed.”

      Lots of folks who still lock up lots of folks — or issue them tickets — are saying that these days. It could be an entirely innocent statement, but I really don’t think so in the context he made it. Yes, it means “business as usual” but when people in a democracy vote for change, that just doesn’t cut it. In fact, some may see them as fighting words under the circumstances.

      What such statements are trying to suggest is that all of those — 70% in Portland — who want this law changed are making too big a deal of what we’re doing already…

      That’s fine, chief, if you’re working for yourself, but you’re not.

      In fact, this is part of the SAM strategy, to convince people that marijuana needs to be illegal enough to discourage people from using it. That is an argument whose Sell Buy Date is somewhere in the late 70s. When people vote 70% to legalize, they are not saying this policy just needs a little change or to have a Happy Face drawn on it. No, they are clearly saying End Prohibition Now!

      What part of that does the chief not understand. And if he’s only writing up one person a week for marijuana, then zero sounds like an easily achievable number without anyone getting too bent out of shape. Obviously, one ticket a week does nothing if decades of prohibition haven’t…but it’s stupid logic like that which keeps this war going. Enough!

      • josee

        He should get busy with methamphetamine users.

    • We’re one

      Oops we started a little revolution on our own…….for nothing…haha
      Well nobody likes cops anyway…..

  • Anothercoilgun

    Very simple. Capture this terrorist statement. File charges for conspiracy to “brake the law”. Lock his butt in prison.

    But who would be surprised anyway. Laws are for the slavizens. When the overseers do not like a particular law they will of course ignore it and act autonomously under their own free will while putting on a facade of enforcement.

    When will this disgusting virus of terrorist vanish off the face of the earth.

  • Galloping Libertarian

    First Colorado and now Maine??? Keep voting those chains on you idiots.

    “With Tuesday’s vote, it’s now clear Mainers are ready to move
    forward with responsibly regulating all adult marijuana sales,” Rep.
    Russell said following Portland’s vote Tuesday.

    “We are calling on city officials to respect the will of the voters,
    and state leaders to get ahead of this issue with a Maine approach to
    taxing and regulating this commodity, much like we do alcohol. It’s time
    to stop rewarding drug cartels and start rewarding responsible business
    owners, while funding important state priorities with new tax revenue.”

  • jivedadson

    I googled. The police chief is appointed by the city council.

    • Mike

      There’s the line of pressure then. Someone asked earlier about who pays the police budget. I assume its the city council (or whatever Portland has, commissioners, etc) that has to approve the police budget. I would think it would be easy enough to find an angle there everyone could support, like simply stating no funds will be expended for such enforcement.

      Another angle might be, where do the funds go for the fines paid under decrim? If to the city, well, just have the city return the funds after all is paid. Everyone’s happy and the chief can keep having his troops go through the song-and-dance if he wants to to no effect.

      No, the police should not be pressured about enforcement of every little thing. But the police have been highly politicized and compromised by their own interest in prolonging this war. They’re the last folks to ask about what the next move is, even if they’re squeaky clean and just think they’re doing their job. This is a democracy and when the people’s will is ignored in a democracy, that becomes bigger than everything else involved. That’s the importance of last week’s vote. 70% means it’s end-game time on prohibition. The chief has no reason to believe that it should be business as usual at this point. he needs to adapt or the political process should unfold, with the next step being to remove the obstacles to implementing the will of the people throughout Portland’s government, including within the PD.

  • FreeOregon

    Of course if government ignores the citizens, then the citizens can ignore the government.

    Think about the implications, for government needs citizens or it has no function.

  • adaminoregon

    Your newspaper is called the Daily Chronic. Ah, the irony.

    • adaminoregon

      Nevermind, just realized this is a cannabis paper. I thought it was the city’s newspaper.

  • RoseE

    In 2003 Seattle passed Initiative 75, which requires the Seattle Police Department and the City Attorney’s Office to make the “investigation, arrest and prosecution” of adults for pot possession the city’s “lowest law enforcement priority.” And some cops kept arresting, just like this cop is promising. City Attorney Pete Holmes would not prosecute those cases. The charges would be dropped by his office. That’s what Portland needs – a prosecutor who will use his prosecuting discretion to drop charges when Portland cops keep arresting its citizens. Ten years later in 2013 things have changed. Seattle cops handed out Doritos at Hempest. Here is Seattle Police Department’s guide to legal marijuana, with a surprising video at the end.

    http://spdblotter.seattle.gov/2012/11/09/marijwhatnow-a-guide-to-legal-marijuana-use-in-seattle/

    Congratulations Portland citizens!

  • Christopher Smith

    Well, it’s just a matter of time. The Chief doesn’t sound like a bad guy(For a cop,Hahahaha) . He doesn’t want to burn any bridges as he clearly has ambitions beyond Portland. Hang on folks, it’s coming.

  • shooter348

    “Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck says the department will continue to enforce state marijuana laws, which Sauschuck said “pre-empt local ordinances,” and officers will issue citations for marijuana possession when necessary.”

    I wonder if Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck gives the same reverence to legal preemption when enforcing the second amendment over local laws that are more restrictive on the right to keep and bear arms.

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  • PV Pro

    How can a Police Chief come out publicly and say this and keep his job???

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  • Little Ricky

    Give him a little mustache and you have a little Nazi…

    • alex

      Yes yes and we would be his little public servants…..to take orders….and protect and shut the
      Fuck up…….LIKE HE SHOULD. …….what a jerk. ……

  • uhuh

    The police ” look” like he has been bullied when he was a kid……NOT to be trusted
    what an ass……

  • Little Ricky

    Portland the land of NAZI’s

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