Cannabis News Media Awareness Project
  Pot Law Backers Draw Flak
Posted by CN Staff on October 14, 2005 at 07:20:03 PT
By Alan Gathright, Rocky Mountain News 
Source: Rocky Mountain News 

cannabis Colorado -- Backers of a Denver ballot measure to legalize marijuana for adults were accused Thursday of exploiting crime fears and deceiving voters. "Reduce family and community violence in Denver. Vote Yes on I-100."

Nowhere does the ad mention that Initiative 100's passage would amend Denver law to make it legal for adults to possess 1 ounce or less of marijuana.

Earlier this week, Denver Councilman Charlie Brown blasted I-100's sponsor, Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation - or SAFER - for campaign signs that declare: "Make Denver SAFER, Voter Yes on I-100."

Brown said the slogan is designed to fool residents into thinking the measure on the Nov. 1 ballot is about highly publicized efforts to combat rising crime and falling arrest rates by boosting police staffing.

He was so furious because the red-and-white signs were illegally scattered in his Observatory Park neighborhood and along street medians that he spent an hour Saturday yanking them out.

Now a political analyst and an activist who fights domestic violence are criticizing the billboard sponsor for using the emotionally charged image of the brutalized woman with a black eye to "distort" the goals of the pot legalization campaign and exploit Denver residents' fear about growing crime and police understaffing.

All political advertisers are "pretty liberal with the truth" as they strive to grab people's attention and deliver the message, said veteran Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli on Thursday. "But this is probably on the very far edge . . . in terms of a political accuracy and honesty.

"They're not even identifying what the issue is at all."

And while the group could make a strong argument for its central claim - that adult marijuana is a safer alternative than violence-fueling alcohol - the billboard's message "is pretty distorting," Ciruli added.

But Change the Climate founder Joe White said the Greenfield, Mass., nonprofit group's Denver billboards reflect dozens of marijuana-reform advertising campaigns it has run from California to Washington, D.C.

He said his group independently spent less than $10,000 to post the billboards in support of the I-100 campaign. One billboard will be at Santa Fe Drive and Alameda Avenue, another will be outside Invesco Field at Mile High and a third will be at 5500 Colorado Blvd.

The goal, White said, is to get political leaders to rethink the wasteful expenditure of $50 billion nationwide to combat nonviolent marijuana users, when many American cities are hard-pressed to fund police, fire, libraries and other social services.

"Our ad is seeking to stimulate debate and raise new ideas for political leaders to consider in an era of extremely tight and almost nonexistent funding for social services," White said Thursday.

But Councilman Brown said the billboard sponsors are using the smoke screen of domestic violence to mislead voters.

"Domestic violence is not on the ballot," Brown said. "Why can't they be grown-up about this issue and be straight with the Denver voters?

"If you want a marijuana initiative, use the 'M' word. Don't hide behind these other issues. Yeah, alcohol causes problems, there's absolutely no doubt. But alcohol is not on the ballot, and alcohol is a legal drug."

White said the group isn't hiding its pro-pot message.

He said the billboard directs people to its Web site where "you'll see (their marijuana reform crusade) front and center."

The head of the Yes-on-100 campaign, SAFER's Mason Tvert, defended the billboard's imagery, even though his group wasn't involved in crafting it.

"The fact of the matter is, if people used marijuana instead of alcohol, fewer crimes, instances of domestic violence, fights and traffic fatalities would occur," he said.

"This is a more honest campaign than any you will ever see."

Randy Saucedo, advocacy director for the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence, issued a sharp rebuke of the billboards.

"I find it pretty offensive that we're getting some out-of-state types trying to further their goal by masking the tragedy of domestic violence, when the issue has nothing to do with domestic violence," Saucedo said.

"I find it very appalling, especially that they're deceiving the voters of Denver."

Note: Initiative foes assail billboards that will show battered woman.

Source: Denver Rocky Mountain News (CO)
Author: Alan Gathright, Rocky Mountain News
Published: October 14, 2005
Copyright: 2005 Denver Publishing Co.
Contact: letters@rockymountainnews.com
Website: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/

Related Articles & Web Sites:

Safer Choice
http://www.saferchoice.org/

Change The Climate
http://www.changetheclimate.org/

Grass-Happy Group Leaves Denver Up in Smoke
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread21066.shtml

Pot Measure Put on City Ballot
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread21052.shtml

Group To Ask Denver Voters To Legalize Pot
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread20656.shtml


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Comment #3 posted by runderwo on October 14, 2005 at 17:06:13 PT
gateway
If the gateway drug is the best counter-argument they can come up with, we are doing VERY well.

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #2 posted by runruff on October 14, 2005 at 09:48:41 PT:

Knees jerking.
This guy propably looks like Kramer, Jerry's neighbor, with his hair on fire. Talk about your knee jerk reactions to something he knows nothing about. Like I said and it is well documented. Doctors once prescribed cannabis for men who abused their wives and also to help curb alcoholism. Now we find it helps us drive safer and stimulates brain cell growth. Just a little known but interesting fact. Hemp seed milk is exactly the same as mothers milk except it has one less fat molocule. New borns could go direcly to hemp milk and grow very healthy. Hemp milk even helps build the immune system. So antis would say to hear us tell it hemp is a miracle plant. Well so help me, it is!

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #1 posted by FoM on October 14, 2005 at 08:39:07 PT
Related Article from The Rocky Mountain News
Denver Councilman Calls Pro-Pot Signs 'Devious'

By Alan Gathright, Rocky Mountain News

October 13, 2005

Correction:

An information on this story wrongly reported that Denver ballot Initiative 100, which would legalize adult marijuana possession, would also spare minors arrested for possession jail time and allow judges to impose treatment instead of a fine. The juvenile clause is part of existing city law.

Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown is fuming about the "Make Denver SAFER" message on campaign signs pushing a city ballot measure to legalize adult marijuana use.

He says the wording is designed to fool residents into thinking that Initiative 100 on the Nov. 1 ballot is about highly publicized efforts to combat rising crime and falling arrest rates by boosting police staffing.

The slogan is so vague, Brown said Wednesday, "I had no idea what they were for" until he read the small print at the bottom of the sign.

It states: "Paid for by SAFER and authorized by the Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative Committee."

SAFER stands for the I-100's sponsor Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation. The measure would amend Denver law to make it legal for adults to possess 1 ounce or less of marijuana.

"It is incredibly misleading, it is devious, it is deceptive," Brown said of the campaign signs. "This initiative does not put more cops on the street. It puts more marijuana on the street."

Supporters of the ballot measure say the slogan speaks to their mission to amend city ordinances to make adult use of an ounce or less of marijuana a legal and "safer" alternative to alcohol, which they contend fuels violent crime and deaths caused by drunken-driving collisions and alcoholism.

SAFER's Web site - www.safer choice.org - cites national studies that show alcohol-related disease and crime kill more than 85,000 Americans annually, while marijuana causes zero deaths.

"It is our belief that if people were allowed the opportunity to legally use marijuana instead of alcohol we would see drastic declines in . . . domestic violence, sexual assault and DUI," said SAFER Executive Director Mason Tvert. "We don't see people breaking out in fights in bars and on the streets because of marijuana use. Those are alcohol-related problems."

Denver City Council members, however, strongly oppose the marijuana measure as a bad idea that will only encourage drug abuse and tarnish the city's image.

The council was forced to put I-100 on the ballot after supporters collected more then 12,000 signatures.

Brown called claims that marijuana is a safe alternative "a myth."

"Marijuana is a gateway drug," he said. "You start using that and where do you end up?"

Denver police and the city attorney say an ordinance change would have little impact because the vast majority of Denver's pot possession cases are prosecuted under state law as a petty offense, punishable by a fine up to $100.

Denver police Division Chief David Fisher is worried that passage of I-100 will "create a perception that something will be different in Denver as far as law enforcement, when in fact . . . the Denver Police Department will continue to enforce the law as we always have."

An undaunted Tvert said: "Our job is not necessarily to try to win a campaign. It's to educate voters about this issue. And if we're successful in that, we have no doubt that we can be successful in this election."

Marijuana Initiative:

Initiative 100: Would amend Denver law to make it legal for adults to possess 1 ounce or less of marijuana. It would also spare minors busted for possession from serving jail time and allow judges to impose drug treatment instead of a fine.

The catch: Denver officials say changing local law will have little impact, because they'll continue prosecuting the vast majority of pot-possession cases under state law as a petty offense with a maximum $100 fine.

The origin: The City Council was forced to put the measure on the Nov. 1 ballot after supporters collected more than 12,000 signatures.

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_4157197,00.html

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