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Denver Appoints Marijuana Panel

Herb Fellow

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Ten members of an 11-seat pot panel were appointed this morning by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, with the lone remaining seat open because the Denver district attorney's office declined to participate.

The appointments fulfill a mandate created by the passage of Initiated Question 100 in November's Denver election.

More than half – 57 percent – of Denver voters favored the initiative, making marijuana the city's lowest law-enforcement priority.

"We commend Mayor Hickenlooper for appointing the Marijuana Policy Review Panel and taking a step toward a more rational marijuana policy in Denver," said Mason Tvert, executive director of SAFER, a marijuana-reform group which spearheaded the ordinance.

"It is unfortunate that the district attorney's office is refusing to work with the rest of the city," Tvert said.

Lynn Kimbrough, a spokeswoman for Denver DA Mitch Morrissey, said her boss talked to the mayor last week about the panel and "politely" declined inclusion.

"He let the mayor know that he is bound by the Constitution and his oath of office to exercise independent judgment," Kimbrough said. "It's a simple fact of law that he couldn't participate in a panel whose goal is to prioritize criminal prosecutions."

The Marijuana Policy Review Panel must meet quarterly and issue a report on marijuana arrests and prosecutions.

Appointed to the panel by the mayor, according to Tvert, are: Doug Linkhart, an at-large member of the Denver City Council; Tvert and Brian Vicente, two Denver residents; Crystal Noel, a drug and alcohol-abuse and prevention counselor; Paula Hammond, a member of the Denver Metro Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee; Mary Malatesta, a representative of the Denver Police Department; Frank Moya, a public defender; Sandy Mullins, executive director of the the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar; Phil Cherner, a criminal defense attorney; and Vince DiCroce, of the Denver city attorney's office.

The mayor's office did not return phone calls today seeking comment.

Denver police and prosecutors have said possessing marijuana continues to violate state and federal laws.

Last year, SAFER pushed for an initiative that would have legalized possessing small amounts of pot statewide, but it did not pass.

Kieran Nicholson: 303-954-1822 or knicholson@denverpost.com

Source: The Denver Post
Copyright: 2007 The Denver Post
Contact: Kieran Nicholson: 303-954-1822 or knicholson@denverpost.com
Website: The Denver Post - Denver appoints marijuana panel
 
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