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Pot Initiative Gets Backing

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Fallen Cannabis Warrior
Plan Would Make It Lowest Priority for Denver Police

Denver voters appeared to be approving an initiative to make adult possession of less than an ounce of pot the "lowest law enforcement priority" in the city.

Initiated Question 100 was put on the ballot by SAFER, the same group behind a successful 2005 initiative that made the possession of small amounts of marijuana legal in Denver.

Votes in favor led by a 5-to-4 ratio in incomplete counting.

"The voters of Denver have made it very clear that they do not think our city's limited law enforcement resources should be used to arrest and prosecute simply for possessing small amounts of marijuana," said Mason Tvert, the executive director of SAFER or Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation.

But opponents doubt the initiative, if it passes, will have much impact, and said it appears to violate the city charter.

"Our city charter says neither the public nor the City Council can tell the police how to enforce the laws," said Denver City Council President Michael Hancock, who opposed the measure.

Similar lowest-priority laws passed in other communities have not faced court challenges, although there were "rumblings," said Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. The group has provided money to finance the ballot measures.

Tvert said he originally feared voter turnout could hurt I-100 because early returns showed older voters and Republicans were voting in high numbers.

He said those kinds of voters were likely to oppose the pot proposal.

He said he was surprised when the first results that were posted showed the measure easily passing.

"I think it just goes to show there's an attitude shift taking place in this city, and hopefully the state and the country," he said.

Among those voting "yes" was Daniel Barrett, a structural engineer who lives in Green Valley Ranch.

"I think a lot of people are starting to realize how many people are in jail for petty crimes," he said.

Barrett said he wouldn't have supported the measure if it had extended to anyone under age 21.

"At a certain age, if you can die for your country you should have a certain leniency in the choices you make."

Source: Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO)
Copyright: 2007 Denver Publishing Co.
Contact: letters@rockymountainnews.com
Website: Rocky Mountain News - Denver and Colorado's reliable source for breaking news, sports and entertainment
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