Mitch Morrissey’s Marijuana Mayhem

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey just cannot accept the fact that most Colorado voters – and a vast majority of Denver voters – disagree with him when it comes to marijuana policy. The latest sign he is still clinging to the past is the ridiculous video posted this week on his YouTube page to defend his dubious and widely criticized attempt to link Colorado's medical marijuana law to murder and violent crime. See this scathing column from Vincent Carroll of the Denver newspaper for background.

The video, "Deadly Impact of Medical Marijuana in Colorado," is basically "Reefer Madness" meets the infamous 1988 Willie Horton ad, complete with scary background music and pictures of victims. It highlights 12 homicides involving medical marijuana caregivers and suggests the nearly 13-year-old program, as opposed to the violent criminals who carried out the crimes. It's on par with calling into question laws that allow the sale of alcohol because 12 liquor stores were robbed. The real question to ask here is why Mitch Morrissey's office is using these murders (some of which are unsolved) to raise doubts about the law, as opposed to raising doubts about his and other law enforcement officials' ability to uphold the law.  Moreover, you'd think the district attorney's office of a major American city would have more pressing business to attend to than creating anti-medical marijuana propaganda videos.

The vast majority of Colorado voters approved the state's medical marijuana law, and what's more, a strong majority decided to expand upon it and allow marijuana sales for all adults 21 and older. It's time for Mitch Morrissey to start respecting the marijuana laws approved by the voters who elected him to uphold them.

Officials Statewide Follow Stan Garnett’s Lead on Amendment 64

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

(Disclosure: I was a proponent of Amendment 64.)

As reported here on Pols yesterday, Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett announced that his office will be the first to begin conforming to Amendment 64 by dismissing cases of adult marijuana possession. Since then, prosecutors and police in Denver, Mesa, and La Plata counties have indicated they will be following his lead.

The Denver paper reports this morning that Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey’s office will no longer charge adults 21 and older for private marijuana possession, and it is reviewing pending cases to determine whether they fall under the law.

In Grand Junction, KREX CBS 5 reported last evening that Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger’s office will begin taking Amendment 64 into consideration police will no longer be citing adults for possession:

The Grand Junction Police Department recently stated: “Although the final certification of the election results have not yet occurred, effective immediately it is the policy of the GJPD not to cite persons age 21 or older that possess and/or consume marijuana, 1 ounce or less of marijuana, and/or cultivate and possess six or less plants as allowed by the amendment.”

And in Durango, the Horse Gulch Blog reported last evening, that La Plata County District Attorney Todd Risberg’s office is also going to take action to follow the initiative:

“Realistically, even if we proceed those cases to be able to seat a jury who says we think this should be against the law at this point, you know we don’t have a reasonable likelihood of success, and we ethically shouldn’t prosecute those cases,” said Risberg [Emphasis added]. “Any new cases coming in, they wouldn’t get to even a hearing before the law is in effect and they wouldn’t be illegal then, so there’s no point in that.”

Police Orgs, State Pubic Defender Endorse Amendment 64

(Disclosure: I am a proponent of Amendment 64)



The initiative on this year’s ballot to regulate marijuana like alcohol, Amendment 64, received endorsements today from two major police organizations – the National Latino Officers Association and Blacks in Law Enforcement of America – and Colorado State Public Defender Doug Wilson, who heads “the state’s largest law firm,” with 400+ lawyers in 21 offices across the state.

A group of cops and prosecutors joined the campaign at a news conference today to announce the endorsements and release a letter in support of the initiative signed by several former Colorado law enforcement officials. Among them were a former Denver Police lieutenant., a former Colorado assistant attorney general, a former deputy district attorney from Colorado’s Fifth Judicial District, a former Lafayette municipal judge, and a former Colorado deputy town marshal and detention officer.

In a statement, Lt. Tony Ryan (Ret.), a 36-year veteran of the Denver Police Dept., said:

Law enforcement officers know better than anyone that keeping marijuana illegal and unregulated means the gangs and cartels that control the illegal trade win, and the rest of us lose. Our current marijuana laws distract police officers from doing the job we signed up for – protecting the public by stopping and solving serious crimes. They also put us at risk by forcing us to deal with an underground marijuana market made up of gangsters, cartels, and other criminals.”

Statements from a former Denver deputy district attorney, the National Latino Officers Association, and Blacks in Law Enforcement of America after the jump.

Statement from Titus Peterson, former Deputy District Attorney for Colorado’s Fifth Judicial District:

In Colorado, virtually every single person who is arrested for a marijuana-related offense must appear in court. That means they must take time away from their jobs and their families. They must take time away from the prosecutors, who could be handling far more serious cases. They must take time away from judges and court staff, and oftentimes from those fulfilling their civic duty of serving on a jury. It is difficult for active prosecutors to be outspoken in support of ending marijuana prohibition, but I have no doubt many of them agree that marijuana prohibition is wasteful and ineffective.

Statement from Blacks in Law Enforcement of America:

Keeping these outdated prohibition laws on the books accomplishes nothing to reduce marijuana use, but it does cause incredible damage to our communities of color. Even though African Americans use marijuana at a rate virtually identical to that of whites, people from our community are arrested, sentenced and jailed at a much higher rate. Passing Amendment 64, while it won’t solve all our problems, is a great step toward ensuring equality for all under the law.

Statement from National Latino Officers Association:

Right now, communities of color see the police as aggressors rather than as protectors. People are unwilling to come to us, to give us information, even to report crimes, because they see us as the enemy. When Amendment 64 passes, we’ll be one step closer to rebuilding that community trust that allows us to effectively perform our jobs.

NAACP Endorses Amendment 64

(A significant endorsement IMO.   – promoted by ClubTwitty)

(Disclosure: I am a proponent of Amendment 64)

According to a story this morning in the Denver newspaper, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), will officially endorse the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Colorado, Amendment 64:

At a morning press event, the head of the Colorado, Wyoming and Montana conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is expected to announce the conference’s support for the initiative, Amendment 64. The conference’s president, Rosemary Harris Lytle, said Wednesday the endorsement comes not out of an interest in marijuana use but instead from a concern over the lopsided numbers of African-Americans arrested for marijuana offenses.

Statement from Harris Lytle:

The NAACP Colorado Montana Wyoming State Conference believes in fairness and equity. We are committed to changing criminal justice policies that result in the disproportionate arrest and prosecution of African-Americans and other people of color. Marijuana prohibition policy does more harm to our communities than good. That is why we have endorsed Amendment 64 which presents a more effective and socially responsible approach to how Colorado addresses the adult use of marijuana.

The numbers in Denver are particularly staggering. According to a report prepared by the Denver Police Dept. for the the city’s Marijuana Policy Review Panel, African-Americans accounted for more than 31.5% percent of arrests for private adult marijuana possession, despite making up less than 11% of the city’s population.

Report: Amendment 64 Would Produce Big Bucks for Colorado

(Disclosure: I am a proponent of Amendment 64)

An economic analysis conducted by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy has concluded that the initiative on this year’s ballot to regulate marijuana like alcohol, Amendment 64, would generate tens of millions of dollars in new revenue and savings for the State of Colorado and its localities.

According to the CCLP report, passage of Amendment 64 would:

• initially result in $60 million annually in combined revenue and savings for state and local governments in Colorado, which could double to more than $100 million within the first five years of implementation;

• save local and state law enforcement officials more than $12 million in the first year of operation;

• generate $24 million annually in state revenue for the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) capital construction program; and

• create more than 350 new jobs, the majority of which will be in the construction industry.

New Poll: Support Increasing for Amendment 64

(Disclosure: I am a proponent of Amendment 64)

A poll released today, by Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows support is growing for Amendment 64, the initiative on this year’s ballot to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Colorado.

Talking Points Memo reports:

The latest survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that 47 percent of likely Colorado voters support Amendment 64, which will appear on the state ballot in November. That’s a small uptick since PPP’s June survey, which showed 46 percent support, but opposition to the measure is dropping. Only 38 percent of voters oppose Amendment 64 in Wednesday’s poll, down from 42 percent in June.

Among the results:

• the initiative is leading 44-35 among women voters.

• support is slightly greater among voters ages 30 to 45 (59%) than among those 18 to 29 (58%); among those 46 to 65, 41% are in support and 43% are opposed.

• among voters who identified themselves as “moderate,” the initiative is leading 50-32; of those who identified as “somewhat liberal,” 59% are in support and 18% are opposed; among those who identified as “somewhat conservative,” 38% support the initiative and 55% are opposed.

Pols poll after the jump…

[poll id=”1481″]

Ken Buck Caught Between Pot and a Hard Place

(Disclosure: I am a proponent of Amendment 64)

Ken Buck has some explaining to do, either to the voters of Colorado, or to the campaign he is now leading against Amendment 64, the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

According to Lynn Bartels of the Denver newspaper, members of Buck’s group sent a letter yesterday to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, asking the federal government to join their effort to defeat Amendment 64. Unfortunately for Buck, the request stands in stark contrast to the position he took while running for the U.S. Senate a couple years ago.

As the Centennial Citizen reported on May 23, 2010:


“If the State of Colorado decides it wants to legalize marijuana, the marijuana is grown in Colorado, it is distributed in Colorado, it is used in Colorado, it is none of the federal government’s business what happens here,” [Ken Buck] said. “The federal government needs to understand what the 10th Amendment says.”

Today, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol called on Buck to stand behind his past statement. Specifically, the campaign is asking Buck to disavow the letter his group sent to the Feds.

The campaign issued a press release with the following statement from advocacy director Betty Aldworth:


“We are simply asking Mr. Buck to stand behind what he told Colorado voters during his statewide campaign in 2010 – making marijuana legal in Colorado is ‘none of the federal government’s business.’ His very clear statement directly conflicts with the letter his group sent to the U.S. Attorney General, asking that they get directly involved in Colorado’s marijuana policy decisions. We hope Mr. Buck will disavow this letter or explain his sudden change of position.

“We are pleased that District Attorney Buck is among the many thousands of Coloradans who believe the state should be able to exercise its right to regulate marijuana like alcohol without federal interference. We sincerely hope he will stand up for his beliefs and disassociate himself from the letter sent by his campaign, as well as refrain from working with federal officials to dictate marijuana policy in Colorado.”

Yes on 64 Campaign Welcomes Ken Buck

(Disclosure: I am a proponent of Amendment 64)

The Denver newspaper reported this morning that former senate candidate Ken Buck has been tapped to head up the opposition to Amendment 64, the initiative on the November ballot to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Betty Aldworth, advocacy director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, responded to the news with the following statement:

We welcome the news that Ken Buck has been selected to be one of the public faces of their campaign. From the day we turned in our signatures, we have been talking about the importance of reaching out to female voters. We know the decision about whether to continue the policy of marijuana prohibition is a very personal one for many women. As Mr. Buck’s poor performance among women voters in his recent senate bid demonstrated, he is challenged in terms of connecting with women and respecting their concerns. I don’t believe the women of this state will be swayed by Ken Buck telling them how they should vote on this issue. They will consider the facts and make thoughtful decisions on their own. We are comforted by the fact that if as many women support Amendment 64 as opposed Ken Buck in 2010, we will cruise to victory in November.

Mr. Buck joins ‘volunteer’ professional spokespeople and staff who have been trying to make their campaign about youth. We are happy to have that discussion. The simple truth is that marijuana prohibition is the worst possible system in terms of protecting the health and safety of teens. It is easier for teens to find and purchase marijuana on the streets than it is for them to purchase alcohol, and the marijuana being purchased is unregulated, not tested, and not labeled. To make matters worse, those teens who are inevitably going to use marijuana must seek it out in an underground market where they might be exposed to more dangerous drugs like cocaine and heroin. We want to take marijuana out of that market, and establish a controlled system where sales are strictly limited to those 21 and older and vendors demand proof of age. Our opponents want to keep the current, failed system.

Amendment 64 Airing First TV Ad Just in Time for Mother’s Day

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

(Disclosure: I am a proponent of Amendment 64.)

The first television ad in support of the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol, Amendment 64, will air tomorrow. The Mother’s Day-themed spot is titled “Dear Mom,” and will run during NBC’s “The Today Show” and “Ellen,” as well as a special Mother’s Day episode of “The Doctors.”


Scot Kersgaard at The Colorado Independent reports:

The ad features a young woman sitting at a laptop sending an email to her mother, explaining why she prefers marijuana over alcohol and asking her mother if she would like to talk about the issue. In particular, she tells her mother that marijuana poses less harm to her health than alcohol and that she feels safer around people using marijuana than she does around those using alcohol.

“Our goal with this ad is to start a conversation – and encourage others to start their own conversations – about marijuana,” said Betty Aldworth, advocacy director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “As more people talk to their family and friends about marijuana, more people understand that marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol and ought to be regulated like alcohol.”

The ad directs viewers to TalkItUpColorado.org, a website in support of Amendment 64. The site complements the campaign’s strategy of encouraging young pro-legalization voters to talk about the issue with their parents, grandparents and other older voters.

Colorado Democratic Party supports Amendment 64

(Color me pleasantly surprised. (It’s a kind of periwinkle, with shades of orchid.) – promoted by ProgressiveCowgirl)

POLS UPDATE: As clarified by Westword’s Michael Roberts, this has become a bit of a semantic quibble between supporters of Amendment 64 and the Colorado Democrats:

Just received a call from Matt Inzeo, communications director for the Colorado Democratic Party, and he says the claim that the CDP has endorsed Amendment 64 is technically inaccurate despite the actions in Pueblo this weekend.

According to Inzeo, a formal endorsement can only come from the state central committee, not the state convention and assembly. As such, the votes that took place over the weekend “indicate support, but not an endorsement,” he says.

In other words, this is a matter of semantics. With that in mind, variations on the word “endorse” that appeared in this item’s headline and text have been changed to “support.”

We’ve edited this user diary’s title to reflect this clarification, and it’s probably worth restating that the word “endorsement” has a precise and formal meaning.

—–

(Disclosure: I am a proponent of Amendment 64.)

The Colorado Democratic Party adopted a platform at its state convention and assembly on Saturday that includes an endorsement of Amendment 64, the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Michael Roberts at Westword reports:

Last month, a majority of attendees at the Denver Republican Assembly backed Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act. And enthusiasm is even more widespread among Democrats. Saturday’s Dem state convention and assembly in Pueblo formally endorsed Amendment 64 — an action that proves to proponent Mason Tvert that the measure has growing appeal across party lines.

“While there may be more support among Democrats and independents, this is quickly becoming a popular position,” Tvert says. “Supporting an end to marijuana prohibition and regulating marijuana like alcohol is a position that spans the political and ideological spectrum.”

This view is echoed by Cindy Lowery-Graber, chair of the Denver Democratic Party. In a statement, she argues that “this is a mainstream issue. Polls show that more than 60 percent of Democrats and a solid majority of independents believe marijuana should be treated like alcohol. A broad coalition is forming in support of Amendment 64 and I am proud to say that it now includes the Colorado Democratic Party.”

The endorsement is in part the product of a strong grassroots effort that resulted in hundreds of precincts and more than a dozen counties adopting resolutions in support of the endorsement.

Indeed, fifteen counties, including eight of the ten largest, have adopted resolutions supporting the regulation of marijuana like alcohol. They are: El Paso, Denver, Jefferson, Larimer, Boulder, Douglas, Weld, Pueblo, Garfield, Eagle, La Plata, Delta, Routt, Elbert and Pitkin.

Amendment 64 billboard stirs conversation

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

(Disclosure: I am one of the two formal proponents of the statewide initiative discussed in this post.)

The campaign in support of Amendment 64, the statewide initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol, unveiled a billboard yesterday that is quickly making its way across the Web.

The Raw Story reports:

Colorado’s Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has just fired its first big advertising salvo, and it looks to be an effective one.

A new billboard unveiled Thursday by the group just blocks away from Mile High Stadium in Denver shows a smiling woman with her arms folded, next to the text: “For many reasons, I prefer… marijuana over alcohol. Does that make me a bad person? RegulateMarijuana.org.”

“That’s what we want to talk to Coloradans right now,” Betty Aldworth, advocacy director for the campaign, told Raw Story on Friday. “We’re trying to educate them about why it is that marijuana is safer than alcohol. If you look at every objective study comparing the safety of the two, you’ll see that marijuana is clearly safer than alcohol.”

Not only is the billboard near Mile High Stadium, it’s also right next to Mile High Liquors. The group said on its website that the location was optimal because it will force some drinkers to confront their bias toward marijuana users.

The billboard is part of broader grassroots public education effort that also includes the distribution of similar campaign flyers in communities throughout the state.  

ACLU of Colo. Endorses 2012 Marijuana Initiative

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Disclosure: I am one of the two formal proponents of the statewide initiative discussed in this post

The 2012 statewide initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Colorado picked up a strong endorsement yesterday.

As Scot Kersgaard of The Colorado Independent reports:

The ACLU of Colorado Thursday announced it has endorsed the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol.

“In Colorado we believe our laws should be practical and they should be fair. Yet we are wasting scarce public resources in our criminal justice system by having police, prosecutors and the courts treat marijuana users like violent criminals. It is unconscionable for our state to spend tax dollars to arrest, prosecute and crowd the courts, and jail people for possession of a small amount of marijuana, especially when those being arrested and jailed are disproportionately people of color,” said the ACLU in a statement on its web site…

…Moreover, [ACLU-CO Communications Director Rosemary Harris Lytle] said the effort to legalize small amounts of marijuana is in keeping with the ACLU’s mission of promoting and defending individual rights and freedom…

The ACLU of Colorado is one of the state’s most widely recognized and well-respected organizations working on criminal justice issues, so this should give quite a boost to the initiative effort. The campaign is just over two months and 60,000 signatures into its petition drive.  

Colorado Candidates Answer Marijuana Survey

Just as ballots went out last week, Colorado’s largest marijuana advocacy organization released the first-ever marijuana voter guide listing state candidates’ positions on marijuana legalization.

 The SAFER Voter Education Fund, the lobbying arm of Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) delivered a single-question survey to every candidate for governor, attorney general, and the state legislature. The question:

Do you agree with the following policy statement excliusively as it appears below:

Marijuana should be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol, and adults twenty-one (21) years of age and older should NOT be subject to criminal penalties for private use and possession of up to one (1) ounce of marijuana.

Click on the links below to download PDFs of the respective candidate surveys:

Governor and Attorney General Survey

State Senate Survey [NOTE: District 13 candidate Ken Storck is mistakenly listed as “Gary” Storck]

State House Survey (Districts 1-32)

State House Survey (Districts 33-65)

Several major candidates (and some incumbents) responded favorably, including  gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo and attorney general candidate Stan Garnett. Unfortunately, a majority of candidates (including most incumbents) failed or refused to respond to the one-question survey despite having more than a month to do so. Every candidate received a hard-copy survey with a stamped return envelope, as well as multiple follow-up e-mails and phone calls.  

Quite frankly, those candidates who failed to respond to the survey ought to be embarrassed.  Either they’re too scared to publicize their viewpoint or they were unable to take the time out of their campaigns to complete a one-question survey on a major political issue facing Coloradans.

Perhaps more upsetting is gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper’s continued opposition to reform. In the five years since his city became the first in the nation to remove all penalties for adult marijuana possession he has yet to explain why it was okay for him to make a fortune selling alcohol, yet it should be a crime for adults to use a far safer substance instead. The Democratic candidate to become the state’s next top law enforcer agrees that marijuana should be regulated and treated similarly to alcohol, so why does the Democratic gubernatorial candidate disagree?

At Least It’s Not Your State

(Watch the ad below, and then check out the hysterical parody from Funny or Die. – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Alabama has become the new rage in political campaign ads.

Earlier this month it was a television ad attacking GOP gubernatorial primary candidate Bradley Byrne for believing in evolution and not believing in every single word of the Bible. The ad made headlines, especially after Byrne denied believing in evolution and swore he interpreted the Bible literally (resulting in this humorous segment on Bill Maher last week).

Now, it’s an ad from this gun-toting hard-ass who’s “naming names and taking no prisoners” that has gone viral:  

The bad news: it’s possible these guys will actually get elected.

The good news: this kind of stuff makes the goofballs and nincompoops  who run for governor in Colorado look like geniuses.

Marijuana Tops All Gubernatorial and Senate Candidates in Colorado

In my latest piece on The Huffington Post piece, I discuss how marijuana legalization is currently more popular among likely Colorado voters than any one gubernatorial or senate candidate.

Rasmussen Reports recently conducted a statewide poll that found 49 percent of likely voters support marijuana legalization, and just 39 percent oppose it.

Meanwhile, Rasmussen’s polls on the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate match-ups finds no candidate with more than 48 percent support.

A rundown on the polling numbers follows and you can read more at the Huffington Post.

  Marijuana legalization — 49%

   Senate

   Jane Norton (vs. Bennet) — 48%

   Jane Norton (vs. Romanoff) — 46%

   Ken Buck (vs. Bennet) — 48%

   Ken Buck (vs. Romanoff) — 45%

   Tom Wiens (vs. Romanoff) — 45%

   Tom Wiens (vs. Bennet) — 44%

   Michael Bennet (vs. Wiens) — 42%

   Michael Bennet (vs. Norton) — 41%

   Michael Bennet (vs. Buck) — 41%

   Andrew Romanoff (vs. Buck) — 40%

   Andrew Romanoff (vs. Weins) — 40%

   Andrew Romanoff (vs. Norton) — 39%

   Governor

   Scott McInnis (vs. Hickenlooper) — 47%

   John Hickenlooper (vs. McInnis) — 41%

   Marijuana prohibition — 39%