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Pot Petitions Seek Reduced Enforcement


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A pro-marijuana group Wed nesday turned in well over the number of signatures needed for a ballot issue that would make marijuana possession Denver's "lowest law-enforcement priority."

"People here are sick and tired of their city police and prosecutors punishing adults for using a drug less harmful than alcohol," said Mason Tvert, spokesperson for SAFER (Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation) Denver.

The initiative, which will be on the ballot in November if enough of the more than 10,000 signatures are verified, applies to adults over age 21 and possession of 1 ounce of marijuana or less.

In 2005, the group spearheaded the measure that made it legal for adults in Denver to carry a small amount of the drug.

But people continue to be arrested and prosecuted for marijuana possession in Denver, a citation that according to state law carries a $100 fine.

Denver police follow Colorado state law, said Sonny Jackson, a Police Department spokesman.

"A law violation is a law violation," he said.

But the proposed initiative could change how police approach marijuana possession. SAFER is asking that they ignore a marijuana infraction as they would jaywalking, Tvert said.

Similar laws have been adopted in cities in Washington, California, Montana and Arkansas.

In Seattle, the law led to a significant drop in marijuana arrests and allowed police to focus on more-serious crimes, Tvert said.

While crimes against people take priority, Jackson said, there is no pecking order when it comes to crime.

"You don't turn your head on one crime versus another," he said.

News Mod: CoZmO - 420Magazine.com
Source: The Denver Post (CO)
Author: Simona Gallegos
Contact: sgallegos@denverpost.com
Copyright: 2007 The Denver Post
Website: The Denver Post - Pot petitions seek reduced enforcement
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