By a vote of eight to three, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors yesterday gave initial approval to an ordinance instructing police to make marijuana possession by adults their lowest law enforcement priority. The Drug Policy Alliance notes that a number of other cities, including Oakland, West Hollywood, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Missoula, and Eureka Springs, Arkansas, have similar policies (a few of them approved by voters in this month's elections). No doubt this is progress of a sort, but it's hard for me to get excited about it. Even without the new ordinance, how big a law enforcement priority would marijuana possession be in San Francisco? Judging from the fact that the police department supported the ordinance, I'd say not very.
Nor am I optimistic that gestures like these will have much of an impact in places where pot possession is treated as a big deal. It seems to me the ordinances mainly tend to confirm that cities like West Hollywood, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco are licentious places that do not share the values of Middle America. It does not help that, at the same meeting where San Francisco's supervisors voted to leave pot smokers alone, they approved a $100 fine for the newly invented crime of using foam take-out containers. A city where marijuana possession is OK but plastic food boxes are verboten? The Rush Limbaugh bit writes itself.