Denver Pot Vote Mostly Symbolic

Denver Pot Vote Mostly Symbolic
Posted by CN Staff on August 04, 2005 at 07:54:58 PT
By Lynn Bartels, Rocky Mountain News
Source: Rocky Mountain News
Colorado -- There are grass-roots organizations and then there are grass-roots organizations, like the one that wants Denver to allow adults to possess less than an ounce of marijuana. The November ballot initiative is mostly symbolic: If voters agree to get rid of the city ordinance making possession a crime, police would charge violators under state laws, which is what they do anyhow.
Members of Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, which gathered signatures to put the issue on the ballot, maintained at a news conference Thursday that marijuana is much less of a societal problem than alcohol. "We are not encouraging the use of marijuana," said Mason Tvert, the group's executive director. "We are defending the right of every adult in this city to make a rational choice about how they choose to relax and recreate." It still would be illegal to grow or distribute marijuana, or drive under its influence, Tvert added. Denver police denounced the measure, which comes on the heels of two controversial citizen-initiated Denver ballot issues, one that would have banned circuses featuring exotic animals and another that would have required the city to promote peace and tranquility. Both attracted international attention and failed. "If it weren't for these initiatives, it might be kind of dry down here," Denver City Councilman Doug Linkhart said. He predicted a "fun and interesting" debate - which Tvert said is part of the goal. "Our campaign, whether we win or lose in November, will engage the citizens of Denver in a much-needed dialogue," Tvert said. The 23-year-old Denver resident declined to say he if smoked pot, saying he would follow President Bush's lead about remaining mum on questions regarding the ingestion of illegal substances. The City Council will discuss the initiative and take testimony at a public hearing this month, Linkhart said, but can't stop the group. That's because backers collected enough valid signatures to put it on the ballot. At their news conference, some SAFER members held signs with statistics to bolster their contention that alcohol, not marijuana, is the more dangerous. Denver police later offered competing studies that show marijuana is a bigger problem. Attorney Rob Corry, who supports the measure and attended the news conference, denounced laws making possession of less than an ounce of pot a crime. "It's pointless. It's a waste of money," said Corry, a defense attorney. "And most cops and prosecutors - off the record - would agree." Don't count Denver police Division Chief Dave Fisher in that group. "We already have a problem with drug users coming from the suburbs to purchase drugs in Denver, and it's ruining the fabric of our neighborhoods," the officer said. Fisher said he fears that if the measure passes, it will bring more people to Denver who don't understand that police can still bust them for possession of less than an ounce.Note: Ballot issue wouldn't change state charges.Source: Denver Rocky Mountain News (CO)Author:  Lynn Bartels, Rocky Mountain NewsPublished: August 4, 2005Copyright: 2005 Denver Publishing Co.Contact: letters rockymountainnews.comWebsite: Article & Web Site:Safer Choice To Ask Denver Voters To Legalize Pot CannabisNews -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #3 posted by OverwhelmSam on August 05, 2005 at 03:15:00 PT
It's Simple, It's Easy, And That's All It Takes.
Change the laws in one city at a time, one state at a time, all across the nation. What are the Feds going to do when no state or municipality in the nation will enforce their ridiculous laws against marijuana? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The People determine the laws in this country, not the government.
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on August 04, 2005 at 09:24:27 PT
Democracy? Self-governing?
Yeah sure. Right.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on August 04, 2005 at 07:57:23 PT
Related Article from a Snipped Source
Measure on Pot May Not MatterIssue likely to be on Nov. ballotBy Christopher Ortiz, Denver Post Staff Writer August 4, 2005 
Colorado -- Voters in November likely will have the chance to make Denver the first major city in the country to legalize marijuana possession. But even if the measure passes, it is unlikely Denverites will be able to smoke scot- free. The City Council Safety Committee, given petitions with signatures of 10 percent of Denver voters, recommended Wednesday putting the marijuana initiative on the ballot. The measure, being sought by a group that has tried to get penalties for marijuana use eased on two Colorado college campuses, would amend city ordinances to legalize possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana for people at least 21 years old. But even if voters approved the change, state laws against marijuana use still would be applicable and Denver police still would enforce those laws, Assistant City Attorney David Broadwell said Wednesday. State law classifies marijuana possession of less than an ounce as a Class 2 petty offense, punishable by a fine of up to $100. Although a court recently ruled that Denver has home-rule authority, giving its pit-bull ban precedence over state law, Broadwell said the city would not contest state authority on marijuana laws. 
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