Denver Votes To Abolish Pot Penalties

Denver, CO: Denver voters yesterday approved a city-wide measure to eliminate all civil and criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by citizens age 21 and older.

Fifty-four percent of voters decided in favor of I-100: the Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative. Campaign proponents, SAFER (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation), argued that local laws should treat the private adult use and possession of marijuana in a manner similar to the private adult use and possession of alcohol, and that its use by adults should not be subject to criminal penalties.

“While cannabis is not harmless, its potential risks to the user and to society do not warrant the blanket imposition of criminal prohibition any more than alcohol’s relative risks justify re-instituting alcohol prohibition,” said NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre. “Yesterday’s vote illustrates that most Americans do not support arresting 750,000 Americans a year for minor marijuana offenses, and that they would prefer that society address cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol.”

Last fall, voters in Oakland, California approved a similar ballot initiative that sought to “tax and regulate the sale of cannabis for adult use.”

Next week, voters in Ferndale, Michigan will decide on Proposal D, which seeks to “exempt” patients from local criminal penalties if they use medical cannabis under a physician’s supervision. Traverse City, Michigan voters will decide on Proposal 3, which would require police to make the prosecution of medical cannabis patients the town’s “lowest law enforcement priority.”

A Telluride, Colorado municipal proposal (Question 200) that sought to make “the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of marijuana offenses … the town’s lowest law enforcement priority” failed yesterday by 24 votes.

For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500.

Additional information is available online at NORML’s Video Blog at: