To Voters, Issue was Freedom of Choice

To Voters, Issue was Freedom of Choice
Posted by CN Staff on November 03, 2005 at 06:57:05 PT
By Sarah Langbein, Rocky Mountain News
Source: Rocky Mountain News
Denver, Colorado -- What were Denver voters thinking when they passed an initiative to legalize small amounts of marijuana? Were they too consumed with the munchies to think clearly? Was the voting booth so smoke-filled that they couldn't see the ballot? The jokes rolled in Wednesday - like the joints - as Colorado and the rest of the country learned that a day earlier Initiative 100 actually won, allowing adults to possess 1 ounce or less of marijuana. Television reports cashed in with Denver's slogan, saying that voters truly put the "high" in Mile High.
But for many Denver residents, the vote was nothing close to a joke. One man, Jordan Dieterich, said he took the vote so seriously that he even prayed on it. In the end, he said, he followed the Bible. Quoting Genesis, Dieterich said that God created vegetation, and that includes marijuana plants. "The earth brought forth vegetation," Dieterich read from the Bible, "plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good." Dieterich, 39, said he no longer smokes pot but has an elderly friend who does for medicinal purposes. "She's terrified that police will find out," he said. "She's afraid they'll knock on her door and arrest her. "I feel like it should be a personal decision, that adults can make their own decisions." That appeared to be the reasoning of most pro-pot voters in Denver. Justin Nucci, 32, believes adults can make decisions for themselves. "I've always been a person that felt that if somebody is willing to do something like that to their body, then it's their prerogative to do so," he said. "It doesn't need to be regulated, for a personal-use quantity, by the police." Cynthia Munson, 58, agreed. "I wouldn't smoke marijuana, but it seems like everyone else does," she said. "And it seems like the police would have more time to go after real criminals instead of piddly amounts of marijuana here and there." Denver law enforcers, including the police and district attorney's office, say Initiative 100 will not change the way they handle pot cases. Marijuana possession cases will continue to be prosecuted under the state law. Tuesday's vote was followed closely by pro-pot organizations across the country, including the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project. Spokesman Bruce Mirken said Denver's decision shows there is a change in how the nation is viewing marijuana. "It shows that voters of all stripes are ready to grapple with this issue," he said. He believes many voters compared pot to alcohol and wondered if it is really necessary to treat pot consumption harsher. Mirken believes adults should have the choice of whether to unwind after work with a martini or a joint. Tom Severance, 54, voted for I-100 - he doesn't think pot is any worse than alcohol. "I just felt it was high time that pot was legal," he said. Note: 'Adults can make own decisions,' backer says.Staff writer Kevin Vaughan contributed to this report. Source: Denver Rocky Mountain News (CO)Author:  Sarah Langbein, Rocky Mountain NewsPublished: November 3, 2005Copyright: 2005 Denver Publishing Co.Contact: letters rockymountainnews.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Safer Choice Issue Gives New Meaning To Mile High City Pot Issue Passes By Thin Margin Measure Wafts To Victory 
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