A gathering of friends who know the amazing healing power of Marijuana, working toward it's legalization. Marijuana is to humanity a gift from a loving, compassionate God Who wants to see His children healthy and happy!
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Previous versions of The Industrial Hemp Farming Act were introduced in both the 108th and 109th Congress, but failed to receive a public hearing or a committee vote. Please write your members of Congress today and tell them to end the federal prohibition of industrial hemp production. For your convenience, a prewritten letter is available below and online at our Activist’s Alerts page.
These links do not work, directly. Please go to the http://stash.norml.org link, that is the link to the NORML page. To reach the Actions, go to the "support the industrial hemp farming act" link or the "Activist'sAlerts" link above, and you should THEN be able to reach all the Actions cited! Thank you for however many of them you choose to do! Keep checking the NORML pages for the latest updates on legislation in all the States, in YOUR State, as well as Federal updates. =================================
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Liverpool, United Kingdom: Long-term administration of Sativex, an oral spray consisting of natural cannabis extracts, reduces neuropathic pain without inducing tolerance in multiple sclerosis patients, according to clinical trial data published in the journal Clinical Therapeutics.
Twenty-eight patients completed the two-year, open-label extension trial. Investigators reported that patients required fewer daily doses of Sativex and reported lower median pain scores the longer they took the drug.
Authors also reported that drug’s administration was not associated with an increase in patients’ use of other analgesics – noting that several of the study’s participants reduced or ceased their use of pharmaceutical pain medications while taking Sativex. It has been estimated that more than one out of four MS patients suffer from neuropathic pain.
"[Sativex] was effective, with no evidence of tolerance, in … patients with central neuropathic pain and MS who completed two years of treatment," investigators concluded. "The use of [Sativex], per se, did not lead to a … major increase … in the use of new analgesics, which over at least two years is … a further indirect measure of sustained effectiveness in [this] population."
Previously reported data on the long-term efficacy of Sativex has shown the drug to decrease spasticity and bladder dysfunction in patients with MS.
NORML Senior Policy Analyst Paul Armentano called the extension trial results significant. "Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, degenerative disease; its symptoms become more severe over time," he said. "Therefore, one would assume that patients would be increasing their daily drug administration in order to maintain their initial levels of pain relief. That they are not doing so indicates that patients are not becoming tolerant to the drug’s therapeutic effects. More importantly, this result may also be evidence that cannabinoids are, in fact, moderating the progression of this debilitating disease. "
Makers of the drug are seeking regulatory approval for Sativex in the United Kingdom, the European Union, and in the United States.
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at: email@example.com. Full text of the study, "Oralmucosal delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol/cannabidiol for neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis: an uncontrolled, open-label, two-year extension trial," appears in the September issue of Clinical Therapeutics.
US Marijuana Market “Saturated,” Pot Prices To Fall, Federal Report Says
Washington, DC: Domestic marijuana production has risen dramatically in recent years and will likely result in reduced retail prices for pot, according to the US National Drug Intelligence Center’s (NDIC) 2008 "National Drug Threat Assessment" report.
"[R]ecent increases in cannabis cultivation and marijuana production within the United States coincide with the continued flow of marijuana from foreign sources," the report finds. "[This] may lead to market saturation in major markets, [which] could reduce the price of the drug significantly."
Since 2000, the total number of domestic marijuana plants seized by US law enforcement has increased from 2.8 million to over 5.2 million, the report finds. Authors speculate that a significant portion of the increase in pot production is due to commercial growers relocating their operations indoors, which allows them to increase their total number of harvests per year and produce higher-quality cannabis.
"[Though] the demand for marijuana appears to be relatively stable, … many users now prefer … higher-potency marijuana over commercial-grade marijuana," authors state. Nevertheless, the report concludes that "most" of the marijuana available in the United States continues to be "lower-potency, commercial-grade marijuana produced in Mexico."
In 2006, law enforcement seized more than 1.1 million kilograms of pot along the US/southwest border, according to the study. By contrast, law enforcement seized fewer than 4,200 kilograms of pot along the US/Canadian border.
Domestically, California continues to lead all US states in pot production, with an estimated 2.9 million plants having been eradicated by law enforcement so far this year. This record total is more than four times the total number of plants seized in 2005.
Among California’s counties, Lake County, Humboldt County, and Shasta County report the largest numbers of pot seizures.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500, or Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Full text of the NDIC report, "National Drug Threat Assessment 2008" is available online at: http://www.usdoj.gov/ndic/.
Join NORML This Month For The 24th Annual Key West Legal Seminar
Washington, DC: NORML is still accepting registrations from practicing attorneys for its 24th annual Key West Legal Seminar – taking place Thursday, November 29 through Saturday, December 1, at the Pier House Resort and Caribbean Spa in downtown Key West.
Topics to be covered at this year's conference include: constitutional limits on roadside police encounters; special jury instructions in drug cases; current efforts to provide for the legal distribution of medical marijuana; and many more. The conference agenda and speaker bios are available online.
NORML's annual legal seminar is fully accredited in every state that requires continuing legal education (CLE) for attorneys.
RIVERSIDE COUNTY: New medical marijuana clinic coming
K Kaufmann • The Desert Sun • November 10, 2007
Riverside County is about to get a new clinic for medical marijuana patients.
And Lanny Swerdlow, president of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project, is going to be running it.
Swerdlow, also a registered nurse, announced he will be opening the clinic, to be called THCF Medical Clinic, at 647 N. Main St., Riverside. The clinic should be open by early December, he said.
THCF stands for The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation, a nonprofit that runs similar clinics in Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. The clinics issue letters of recommendation to patients. They do not sell marijuana.
The Riverside location "is right in the heart of the Inland Empire; nobody's more than 30 minutes away from clinic," Swerdlow said.
Swerdlow said he decided not to open the clinic in the Coachella Valley because the area already has at least one other doctor, Dr. Joseph Durante of Rancho Mirage, writing letters of recommendation.
Ryan Michaels, a medical marijuana patient in Riverside, said most people seeking letters in the Inland Empire now go to Los Angeles or the desert.
"I had to go to Hollywood," Michaels said. "I was looking for someone who would be in accord with the law. I didn't want a fly-by-night."
California law allows medical use of marijuana for patients who have a doctor's letter of recommendation. Federal law bans all use of the drug.
Swerdlow said the Riverside clinic may require patients to submit medical records even before making an appointment.
He did not release the names of the doctors who may work at the clinic, but said all patients will receive a physical examination.
Ingrid Wyatt, spokeswoman for the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, said as long as the clinic follows state law, it should have no problems.
"I don't want to put our seal of approval on it," Wyatt said. "(But) as long as a medical doctor is making the recommendation and there's no dispensing, it falls within the confines of the law."
Derived drug's place unclear under medical marijuana statutes
RUTH LIAO Statesman Journal
November 10, 2007
The details concerning a Marion County grand jury's refusal to indict a Keizer man for turning his medical marijuana into hash oil remain secret by law, but the decision has rekindled the debate about interpretations of Oregon's medical marijuana statutes.
Advocates of medical marijuana providers said some law enforcement officials still have a hard time accepting legal medicinal users.
"It's still difficult for people to get used to the fact that it was once someone they were putting in jail," said Brian Michaels, a Eugene-area lawyer who is a member of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act advisory committee.
But prosecutors and law enforcement officers said that hashish is illegal under federal controlled-substance guidelines, which Oregon has adopted. Oregon's medical marijuana act allows for marijuana derivatives, but hashish is considered a separate substance, said Deputy District Attorney Courtland Geyer.
"It is classified as a separate drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act," Geyer said. "And they are treated as separate drugs in Oregon's entire network of drug laws."
Anthony Wyatt Beasley, 28, of Keizer was arrested Oct. 19 after police were called to his home on a report of a possible bomb threat, police said. Officers found PVC pipes filled with a concentration of marijuana and police thought hashish was being made.
Beasley, a medical marijuana patient and provider, told police he was extracting tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, from his medicinal marijuana.
Michaels thinks hashish is a compound of marijuana and should be considered legal.
"It's become common to distinguish in the lexicon of our culture marijuana -- bud and hashish -- but they're both represented under marijuana," Michaels said.
While Beasley's case was dismissed this week, other cases in Marion County regarding the use of hashish are pending, Geyer said.
Beasley's case initially drew attention because he was growing 24 plants in his backyard, which bordered a parking lot of McNary High School.
Former Keizer City Council Charles Lee wrote a letter to Keizer City Council, asking if it would consider an ordinance prohibiting medical marijuana from being grown within a 1,000 feet of a school.
The outcome of Beasley's case did not affect his opinion, Lee said.
"It's just the concept of safety and welfare of kids and keeping those things within 1,000 feet of a school," Lee said.
Lee said he also talked with Marion County commissioners about adopting a similar ordinance for the county.
Madeline Martinez, executive director of the marijuana advocacy group Oregon NORML, said law enforcement officials should be trained about understanding the legal interpretations of the law.
Martinez said she's offered to conduct training for law enforcement officials and promotes continual education of medical marijuana providers.
The Clash Between Federal Drug Law and California's "Medical Marijuana" Law: How Two Interesting Recent Events Illustrate Their Interplay
By VIKRAM DAVID AMAR ---- Friday, Nov. 09, 2007
Two news items during the past couple of weeks in California highlight the complicated legal and political tangle that is American federalism - the relationship between federal and state governments -- today. Both incidents involve the interplay between, on one hand, California's (now decade-old) decision to decriminalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes, and, on the other hand, the continuing illegality under federal law of all marijuana cultivation, possession, distribution and use, for any purpose.
The two events present radically different facts: One involves an alleged criminal conspiracy that is far-flung and linked to violence, whereas the other involves a civil lawsuit brought by a seemingly productive employee against his employer. Yet the two episodes, taken separately and together, nicely illustrate key aspects of the ongoing tug-of-war between so-called "states' rights" and federal supremacy.
The First Episode: The Criminal Charges Against Two Entrepreneurial Brothers
On October 30, federal drug agents executed numerous search warrants against Winslow and Abraham Norton, two young brothers (Winslow is 26 and Abraham 23) who are alleged to have sold an estimated $49 million of marijuana at various locations in the Bay Area during the past three years. The Nortons' medical marijuana dispensary was registered and given a permit to operate under the regime prompted by California's Compassionate Use Act ("the Act"), a 1996 initiative measure adopted statewide by voters that decriminalizes, under state law, marijuana cultivation, distribution, and use in those instances where a physician has given a written or oral recommendation or approval to a patient to use marijuana.
Under the Act and subsequent implementing legislation, an Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy regularly visited the Nortons' facilities to ensure that only those persons with physician recommendations were being given the drug.
According to press accounts, the Nortons paid state and federal income taxes on (at least some) of their income, rewarded their workers well and gave them benefits, and even contributed charitably to the community.
Nonetheless, the Nortons appear to have been flagrantly violating the federal Controlled Substances Act, which designates marijuana as an illegal contraband substance whose manufacture, distribution and use is prohibited in virtually all instances.
The Constitutional Reason Federal Law Trumps California Law Here
How, some people in California are asking, can the feds impose their will on the people of California, who have chosen a different answer than has Congress to the controversial and vexing question of whether marijuana use should ever be allowed?
The answer is short and sweet: The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution makes validly-enacted federal statutes the "Supreme" law of the land, along with the U.S. Constitution itself. So, as long as the Controlled Substances Act is within Congress' constitutional powers to enact (as the Supreme Court held it was a few years ago, in Gonzales v. Raich), Californians can have no state-conferred immunity to be free from federal restraints and prosecution.
Readers who don't easily see why federal statutes ought to be supreme over - and not constrained by - inconsistent state laws may want to consider the example of Southern resistance to federal civil rights laws in the 1950s and 1960s. There too, proponents of local authority argued that the national legislative policy adopted by Congress in Washington DC - in that instance, that racial discrimination in employment and housing should be barred - should not be imposed on states and localities that had reached a different resolution as to how they believed the races ought to interact. In that setting, federal law won out. So too here.
Consider another example in which federal supremacy seems quite intuitive and attractive. Suppose Congress outlawed use of a particular environmental pollutant that many considered dangerous. If a majority of voters in any one state nonetheless wanted to allow persons within the state to use that pollutant, then those voters could decriminalize use of the pollutant under state law, but could not prevent the federal government from punishing those within the state who emit the dangerous chemical.
Is Federal Supremacy Regarding Civil Rights and Pollution Meaningfully Different from Federal Supremacy Regarding Marijuana?
One way to attempt to distinguish the civil rights and pollution examples from example taken from the marijuana setting would be to point out that unless there is federal enforcement in the civil rights and environmental law areas, innocent victims who happen to live in the permissive state may suffer. In other words, there are spillover effects from a state's decision to go its own way concerning racial discrimination and pollution - effects that may harm individuals both in that state and in other states.
But the same can arguably be said for marijuana. If, for example, marijuana use does create a risk that some persons may drive unsafely or do other unwise things while under the influence, then the effects of this behavior are not limited to the marijuana users themselves, nor are the effects even limited to Californians.
California's medical marijuana scheme undoubtedly affects the marijuana market in bordering states, and creates spillover effects in those other states. Drivers cross state lines, as does the violence that tends to follow business enterprises that are illegal in some places. It does not seem coincidental that the Norton brothers' operations involved many young, seemingly healthy customers who nonetheless have physician recommendations. Nor does it seem coincidental that the Nortons have been plagued by armed robberies; news reports suggest that, at least four times, armed assailants have either killed, shot or robbed the Nortons themselves or their employees or customers. This kind of violence rarely can be confined to one small location, or even one state.
Indeed, in upholding Congress' power to regulate all marijuana, including medicinal marijuana, the Supreme Court in Raich noted that the federal government cannot count on California to keep its medicinal marijuana - or the effects of this marijuana - within state boundaries.
The Second Event: The California Supreme Court Hears Ross v. Ragingwire Telecommunications Inc.
The second illustration that helps frame federalism issues in this area is the Ross v. Ragingwire case, in which the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments this past Tuesday. Ross is a U.S. Air Force veteran who sustained disabling injuries as a result of his military service. Since 1999, he has been taking marijuana on the advice of his physician to alleviate back pain. He was hired by the Sacramento technology company Ragingwire, which, pursuant to company policy, required him to submit to a drug test.
Ross complied, and was very open about his medicinal use of marijuana. But when his drug tests came back and they were (predictably) positive for marijuana, he was terminated. Ross then brought an action under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). FEHA, a state law similar to the Americans With Disabilities Act, requires employers in California to accommodate the physical disabilities of an employee or would-be employee so long as the employee can, with accommodation, perform the essential functions of the job. Ross argued that since he was disabled but could, through the use of medical marijuana, perform the essential functions of his job, Ragingwire violated his state law rights in terminating him on account of his marijuana use.
The lower courts ruled in favor of the employer, reasoning that FEHA does not generally bar employers from using drug tests or from requiring that all employees refrain from illegal drugs. Since marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law even though its use by Mr. Ross was not criminal under California law, the lower courts reasoned, employers can terminate marijuana users.
How Is the California Supreme Court Likely to Decide the Ross Case?
Now, the California Supreme Court must decide how to interpret the FEHA in light of this complicated interaction with the federal Controlled Substances Act.
A few things seem clear. One is that federal law could, if Congress wanted it to, explicitly empower employers to discriminate against marijuana users, even if marijuana use is decriminalized under state law. In legal parlance, Congress could, if it wanted to, "preempt" state FEHA claims based on Ross' theory.
But nothing in the federal Controlled Substances Act or elsewhere in federal law seems to say or do that. In other words, there is no federal preemption or (as in the Norton case) federal enforcement of federal law. Instead, there is only the question of whether FEHA claims, as a matter of California state law, can be based on failure to accommodate medicinal marijuana users, given that marijuana is a federally-proscribed substance.
In deciding what FEHA means, or should mean, the California Supreme Court needs to balance a number of factors. First, if Ross prevails, then at a minimum, California employers who are constrained to allow medicinal marijuana should not be held liable under state tort claims for any injuries traceable to the marijuana use. (The state Supreme Court should have the power to confer this tort immunity, since it fashions California tort law. In contrast, the California Justices cannot immunize employers from liability under federal law, but hiring medicinal marijuana users wouldn't seem obviously to violate any federal law.)
Second, even if the specter of state tort liability is removed from employers, it is still not clear whether they should be forced to hire persons who are breaking federal law. Should an employer be forced to bear the (small but perhaps non-trivial) risk that his employee will be arrested by the feds (and thus unavailable for work)? Or that the workplace may be the target of a federal law enforcement search? Or that residual marijuana in the employee's physical system will affect his job performance?
On that last point, recall that FEHA claims are viable only if the employee can perform the essential job functions. So ruling for Ross wouldn't require employers to hire employees whose medical marijuana use deeply impairs job performance. Still, there is a difference between performing the essential functions of a job and excelling at the job, and there is an argument that an employer should be free to pursue excellence, not bare competence, when a federally-proscribed drug is responsible for any lapse in job performance.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the California court will have to consider what the California legislature intended when it enacted a provision in 2003 that made clear that employers did not have to accommodate medical marijuana "use" on the jobsite "premises" or during the hours of employment. Does this provision suggest that accommodation is required so long as the medicinal marijuana is ingested off the employer's property? Or does this language create no such strong inference? And what does "use" mean here, anyway? Is a person "using" marijuana on the jobsite if it is still in her bloodstream when she is on the job, even though she inhaled it at home?
These and other questions are the ones the California Supreme Court's Justices will grapple with, as they issue an opinion some time in the next few months trying to make sense of the federal-state medicinal marijuana hash. Whatever result the Court reaches, both the decision and the fallout should be very interesting.
Vikram David Amar is a professor of law at the University of California, Davis School of Law. He is a 1988 graduate of the Yale Law School, and a former clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun. He is a co-author, along with William Cohen and Jonathan Varat, of a major constitutional law casebook, and a co-author of several volumes of the Wright & Miller treatise on federal practice and procedure. Before teaching, Professor Amar spent a few years at the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
Those Rocky Mountains are getting higher. Two municipalities — Denver, Colorado, and the small town of Hailey, Idaho — passed pro-marijuana measures on election day this week, joining a growing number of liberal localities that are reducing or removing penalities on using pot. It's part of a slowly evolving populist rehabilitation of the drug. San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Monica in California, along with Missoula, Montana, and Seattle, Washington, have previously passed laws that give the lowest priority to enforcing existing marijuana laws.
Federal regulations, which supercede local ordinances, continue to prescribe heavy penalties — even in some cases death — for major dealers of illegal drugs, including marijuana. The federal penalty for possession of even a miniscule amount is a misdemeanor punishable by one year in prison and $1,000. Penalties are higher with cultivation, sale and crossing state lines. However, magistrates generally use state and local laws as sentencing guidelines — unless there is federal intervention, which doesn't occur in every drug case because they would increase court time and costs.
Not every attempt at liberalizing the laws has been successful. Last year, the pro-marijuana lobby tried to pass legalization laws in Nevada and Colorado; both failed. But this week's results in Denver heartened pro-pot activists: 57% of voters in the city approved "lowest law enforcement priority." Coming after a 2005 vote removing all penalties for possessing small amounts, Denver joins Alaska to become only the second place in the U.S. offering a free ride to users caught with less than an ounce. Denver's local and political culture has been amenable to such legal re-orientations. Last summer, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and four of the 13-member city council told a local newspaper they had smoked pot in the past, while another six councilmen refused to answer and only three said no.
The Denver measure was pushed by a single activist: Mason Tvert, who organized SAFER, Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, on the University of Colorado and Colorado State University campuses, and now runs it from his Denver home. He was funded in part by the Marijuana Policy Project, which received $3 million this year from Peter Lewis, the heir of the Progressive Insurance Companies, who helps fellow billionaire George Soros support liberal causes.
More remarkable is Tvert's counterpart in Idaho, Ryan Davidson of Boise. Davidson operated without any MPP money after failing to get measures on the ballot in 2004 in a number of Idaho cities. This past year, he got it on Hailey's ballot after winning a ruling in federal district court that overturned Hailey's law preventing nonresidents from circulating petitions. "This was the least funded campaign in history," he says. "I spent maybe 20 bucks. I got the signatures on the petitions on my own dime. I spread the word through e-mail and phone calls and posting on blogs, I printed some fliers off my computer, photocopied them at Kinko's and put them under car windshield wipers on Monday."
Jim Spinelli, executive director of Hailey's Chamber of Commerce, insists there is no grassroots pro-pot movement and expressed surprise that three of four pro-pot measures passed: legalizing medical marijuana and decriminalizing both marijuana itself and industrial hemp. (The only measure that failed asked for a straight-out legalization of marijuana.) A town of 8,500, Hailey is 12 miles from the Sun Valley ski area. When Spinelli worked Tuesday's election, he says he saw a lot of older affluent voters and young people from the service sector. In Idaho, being under the influence of pot in public draws a six-month sentence and $1,000 fine. At least in Hailey, if the local police — as opposed to the state police — handle an arrest, local ordinance will be applied.
In 38 states, incarceration still awaits even first-time offenders possessing small amounts of marijuana. In Connecticut, possessing a "useable amount" is punishable by a year in jail and $1,000 fine. Nevada sends its pot users — possessing any amount — into rehab or treatment and imposes a $600 fee. Federal law calls for a year in jail and $1,000 for anyone caught with any amount. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) says there are 65,000-85,000 people incarcerated in this country for cannabis-related reasons.
But NORML spokesman Allen St. Pierre points out that the law is growing increasingly lenient in many other places. In Alaska, there's no jail or fine for holders of an ounce or less in their homes. In Nebraska, possession of less than an ounce is simply a civil citation. In Ohio, no criminal record is kept of a minor misdemeanor, that is, possession of less than 100 grams. Since the 1970s, the home-rule cities of Ann Arbor and Madison — who are allowed by their states to let city regulations supersede state laws for the most part — have simply imposed $25 fines for possession. St. Pierre says NORML and related organizations expect 2008 to be "much busier" for pro-pot activism and referendums. And even though federal law is the final word, St. Pierre says that when campuses, municipalities, counties and states vote, politicians listen. "It speaks to the mores and values of those administering justice. As Tip O'Neill said, 'All politics are local.'"
COLORADO: Legal fight seeks to set precedent for marijuana law enforcement
Student stands to lose financial aid after caught with a gram of pot
by Eli Stokols, News2 November 10, 2007
DENVER (KWGN) — Just days after voters passed an ordinance designating the enforcement of marijuana possession laws the city's lowest law-enforcement priority, the activists behind the new ordinances headed to court hoping to force the issue.
Hayley Jaquah is fighting a misdemeanor charge for possession of marijuana from September, when a police officer found just over a gram of marijuana in her purse on the 16th Street Mall.
Jaquah, 25, stands to lose her financial aid money -- and thus her ability to earn her anthropology degree at Metro State -- because of a federal provision that strips financial aid from any recipient found guilty of a drug-related charge.
"It was actually legal for me to have the amount [of marijuana] I had since I'm over 21," Jaquah said.
And, according to a city ordinance passed by voters in 2005, she's right. That ordinance made possession of an ounce or less of marijuana legal within city limits.
Since then, however, lawmakers have deferred to the state law that renders any quantity of marijuana illegal.
"It's confusing," said Brian Vicente, Jaquah's attorney. "Which law are citizens supposed to believe."
Jaquah's now could be come an interesting test case, as a jury would be asked to decide whether or not she was in violation of the law.
"If an individual relies on a local law for how to act, they cannot be found guilty of breaking a separate law," Vincente said.
After Tuesday's passage of another ordinance calling for leniency in enforcing marijuana laws, Vincente and Jaquah believe that the city, by even taking this case to trial, is slapping voters in the face -- not to mention wasting their tax money.
"It's in direct violation of the will of the voters," Vincente said. "It's irrational and a waste of taxpayer dollars. The city stands to gain $100 fine; and Hayley stands the very real possibility of losing her ability to go to college."
The City Attorney's office declined to comment on this story.