Last November, voters in Missoula, Montana passed a ballot initiative to give marijuana-related crimes the lowest priority in police work. Police, as we all know, are often overburdened with caseloads and struggle to keep up with the crimes and situations they’re asked to investigate. The voters thought that making pot lower on the list would help the police deal with more “important” crimes.
I don’t have a problem with that– it makes some sense. But this week, two of the three city council members in Missoula decided that the voters didn’t really understand what they’d voted for, so they took the liberty of amending the new rule.
That’s right– several months after the vote was cast, the council changed the wording. They adjusted the law so that only “small” marijuana crimes (those that aren’t felonies) would be pushed to the bottom of the police to-do list.
When asked about why they thought it’s okay in a democratic society to retroactively change laws voted upon by the people, council member Fed Van Valkenburg said:
It’s a gut feeling. I’m very sensitive to what voters in the community believe.
So this is a guy entrusted by the public to manage the laws, and he thinks he gets to change them on a whim because he has “a gut feeling”.
Chalk up another KO against democracy.