Harvey Ginsberg, the initiative made it to the ballot following a citywide petition campaign. Coming in the wake of the successful statewide medical marijuana campaign in California, the initiative made national news, but also prompted a considerable local backlash. The Hays Caldwell Council went into high gear \(Sue Cohen ous hoax” of medical marijuana, and giving presentations at schools, libraries, and local businesses. Medical marijuana, business owners were told, would be bad for economic development. The D.E.A. sent in personnel, also for “educational purposes,” blitzing the town with cautionary flyers. Neither the D.E.A. nor the Hays Caldwell Council is legally permitted to use federal or state funds for politicking or lobbying. “We walked a fine line,” Sue Cohen admitted. “Actually, [the initiative] was the best thing they ever did for us, because people came out of the woodwork to get involved.” But in fact, Professor Ginsberg recalled, voter turnout for the initiative was only slightly higher than typical for any San Marcos election. Out of 20,000 registered voters, about 2,100 came to the polls: roughly 700 voted for the initiative, and 1,400 against. Ginsberg, relying chiefly on the 45-watt radio station to spread the word, was considerably outspent. Despite the result, the low turnout seemed to show more than anything that most people didn’t care one way or the other. The spectre of sick people smoking pot even if it might have been, as Cohen insists, a smokescreen for legalization failed to move Hays County residents to the polls in large numbers. The controversy definitely got the state’s attention, however. In the next legislative session, Hays County State Senator Ken Armbrister, a former police officer, sponsored a bill to ban consideration of any local initiative that would contravene a federal drug law. It passed easily. Ginsberg says he has no intention of trying again, despite subse Drug Arrests 1980-1995 1,600,000 1,400,000 1,200,000 2 1,000,000 ::C. 800,000 aMM 600,000 400,000 200,000 I I IIIIIIIIIIIIII 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1981 1983 1985 1987 1989 1991 1993 1995 Note: These skyrocketing arrests would seem to reflect a national increase in drug use. But in fact, standard drug surveys indicate that between 1979 and 1990, the percent of the population which reported “using drugs in the past month” dropped from 14.1 to 6.7 percent falling to 6.1 percent by 1995. Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Preliminary Results from the 1996 Household Survey on Drug Abuse, July 1997. Chart Source: FBI data provided to Mark Mauer. Race to Incarcerate, The Sentencing Project, New Press, 1999. OCTOBER 29, 1999 .A. 1.14,40,11e Jana Birchum quent successful initiatives in Washington, D.C., Oregon, Arizona, Maine, and the recent defection of New Mexico’s Republican Governor to the legalization camp. Meanwhile, the federal education money keeps coming, and the battle continues; Red Ribbon week, the Hays Caldwell Council’s biggest campaign of the year, descended on every school in the county in mid-October. KIND radio, meanwhile, has begun broadcasting the names of suspected drug informants. \(A few days after the bust, KIND was the first to break the true identity of the Wimberley confidential informant, based on a tip remarked Cohen, who says all of her employees have attended the citizen police academy, and gone on police ride-alongs in many cases. “We have a very professional organization here,” she said of the task force. When asked if the raid on Windle’s house might have been overkill, Cohen shakes her head. “Marijuana is illegal,” she said simply. “Whether it was twenty ounces or twenty pounds, they are still obligated to enforce the law.” Rusty’s death was a waste, she conceded. But “if a law officer had been killed or injured, that would have been a triple bad deal.” MAKING THE CASES The gun that got Rusty killed may also have been responsible for drawing him into the task force’s net in the first place. Rusty and several other electricians spent last winter at Rio Bonito, a Blanco River resort where they rented cabins at off-season rates. One of Rusty’s neighbors, a middle-aged electrician named David Stringfellow, had befriended a man known to him as Roger Dalton, who was living at the nearby 7-A Resort in Wimberley. Although the district attorney’s office has yet to reveal that Dalton was the informant, or release the terms under which he was retained, a comparison of warrants and court records obtained by the Observer confirm Dalton’ s role in the arrests, as well as his true identity: one THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11
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