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November 7, 2007

Denver voters approve initiative busting up pot busts

The Denver Post reports here on the results of an interesting criminal justice initiative that appears to have been passed by city voters:

More than half of Denver voters favored an initiative making marijuana the city's lowest law enforcement priority.  With just a handful of ballots left to count, the measure had captured 55 percent of the vote.  The result means the mayor must appoint a panel to monitor how marijuana cases are handled by the police and city prosecutors and issue a report.

"It appears as if it is going to pass, and it shows there is a wealth of support around the city," said Mason Tvert, campaign director of Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, the group behind the initiative.  Tvert says the measure was motivated by what he says are overzealous police who continue to cite adults for possessing under an ounce of marijuana despite a law that allows simple pot possession in Denver.

Denver police and prosecutors say possessing marijuana still violates state and federal laws. A spokeswoman for Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper has said that enforcement of laws governing small amounts of marijuana is already a low priority.

Similar initiatives passed in Seattle in 2003 and in Missoula, Mont. last year.  Seattle's marijuana panel reported that marijuana prosecutions and arrests are down, but Seattle's city attorney says the group cannot agree whether the initiative caused the drop.  In Missoula, the city attorney has told prosecutors in his office not to pursue simple marijuana possession cases involving adults.

I love that the acronym for this campaign was SAFER, but wouldn't Really Excited Enthusiasts For Enjoyable Recreation have been a more appropriate name for the group?  Also, would we have expected any other result from the Mile High City? 

More seriously, I am intrigued by various efforts to wage populist counter-attacks on the war on drugs through the initiative process.  I wonder if anyone is working on these ideas for the big 2008 election cycle.

November 7, 2007 at 09:39 AM | Permalink


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I always thought it interesting the outrageous and feeble attempts to ban Mother Nature. If we're going to keep doing that, can we get a law against poison ivy and those trees that drop those little purple doodads onto my car? I've had more harm from them than I ever had from marijuana.

Posted by: babalu | Nov 8, 2007 8:43:42 AM

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