Denver Officials Ignore Marijuana Votes

Remember when Denver’s voters decided back in November to make pot “the city’s lowest law-enforcement priority?” The ballot measure joined another, passed in 2005, saying that residents had the right to carry less than an ounce of marijuana, leading to hopes that marijuana arrests were about to become a thing of the past in the Mile High City.

But precisely the opposite has happened. More people are being arrested these days than before the measures passed, according to one disappointed backer who spoke to The Denver Post:

Mason Tvert, a proponent of the marijuana initiatives, said that 1,600 adults faced charges of misdemeanor marijuana possession in 2007, an increase of 18 percent from 2006, an increase of 36 percent from 2005 and an increase of approximately 50 percent from 2004.

Mr. Tvert, who belongs to a group called Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation, told another newspaper: “It’s very simple. There’s no excuse for it.” Clearly, it was time for the government to explain itself, which it did on Wednesday by confirming that the ballot measures have been ignored.

“There has not been a policy change,” Vincent A. DiCroce, an assistant city attorney, said at a meeting of Denver’s Marijuana Review Panel, according to Rocky Mountain News.

Say what? Isn’t this a democracy? “The people voted for change,” Mr. Tvert said.

For Mr. DiCroce, the people also voted for his boss. “The city attorney’s office is under the direction of the District Attorney,” not the voters, he asserted, and besides, “these are state-level charges, not city ordinance violations.” he added.

Cleverly, Mr. DiCroce also suggested that the disagreement was not so vast. While voters consider marijuana arrests the “lowest priority,” Mr. DiCroce called them “not high-priority.”

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