Legal Pot Activists Angry at Police
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Denver, CO -- Marijuana legalization advocates say they are furious with Denver police for arresting more people for misdemeanor possession after city residents voted to legalize the weed in 2005. Mason Tvert, who led the charge to get marijuana legalized, said the group will hold a noon news conference today at the steps of City Hall to decry the findings.
Arrests for most minor crimes rose in Denver last year, and rose faster than marijuana arrests, following a change in policing philosophy.
But Tvert said nothing can justify an 11 percent spike in marijuana possession arrests last year.
"If there's one, it's too many," Tvert said. "They (police) have the discretion not to arrest."
Although 54 percent of Denver voters approved legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults, it is still illegal under state law. Denver police have always said that they would continue to enforce state law.
By December of last year, Denver reported that arrests for all crimes were up 14 percent, more than the increase in marijuana arrests.
And misdemeanor arrests were up even more.
Tvert said that blacks make up 32 percent of those arrested for possession, while comprising 11 percent of the city's population.
Tvert plans to have retired Denver police Lt. Tony Ryan on hand to speak for retired law enforcement officers who favor legalization.
Ryan said that many lawmen have known for years that "marijuana is not the evil, demonic gateway drug that some want you to believe it is."
One person not sharing that idea is City Councilman Charlie Brown.
"It's still state law," Brown said. "We can't be selective about the laws we enforce."
MISDEMEANOR POT BUSTS
* 2003 2,151
* 2004 1,912
* 2005 2,196
* 2006 2,446
Source - Denver Safety Office Of Policy Analysis
Copyright Denver Publishing Co.
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A hotbed of cannabis activism, Washington State is home to many organizations working to bring about rational drug policy. Here are some things to get involved with:
Cannabis Defense Coalition has been very active lately. They focus on courtroom observation and medical marijuana activism.
The November Coalition, based in Colville, is a national reform group and works with prisoners and families.
SpoCannabis is a medical marijuana activist group in Spokane.
King Co. Bar Association Drug Policy Project has done amazing work educating the "suits" about the failure of our prohibition model of drug policy, and the need for a regulatory model of drug policy.
Seattle Hempfest is the third weekend in August on Seattle's waterfront.
Olympia Hempfest is a week after Seattle's big bash.