: Denver Post (CO)
Author: Kris Hudson, Denver Post Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Copyright: 2005 The Denver Post Corp
Colorado -- A group that advocated to ease penalties for marijuana use on two Colorado college campuses is taking its fight to Denver.
The executive director of SAFER - Safer Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation - said Monday the group intends to ask Denver voters to make marijuana use legal in some cases.
Mason Tvert, SAFER's executive director, said the group will file paperwork with the Denver Election Commission today in preparation for a petition drive to get on the November ballot.
SAFER proposes that Denver legalize possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana by anyone 21 or older.
But Assistant City Attorney David Broadwell said that even if such a measure passed, state law outlawing marijuana possession as a Class 2 petty offense, punishable by a fine of up to $100, would still apply in Denver.
If the commission approves the petition and ballot-question language, SAFER would need to gather 5,383 signatures from registered Denver voters to get the question on the November ballot. That threshold represents 5 percent of the votes cast in Denver's last mayoral runoff.
Tvert said the group supports legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana to free police resources to combat a more damaging substance: alcohol.
"Using the limited resources of the city to arrest and cite minor marijuana use seems to be a misallocation of resources given that there are so many alcohol- related (infractions) going on in Denver," Tvert said Monday.
Students at the University of Colorado and Colorado State University this year overwhelmingly approved SAFER-sponsored referendums to lighten penalties for marijuana. But the referendums were nonbinding, and university officials declined to make the changes.
Some city officials on Monday deemed SAFER's newest proposal half-baked. City Councilman Charlie Brown said SAFER will have difficulty swaying voters.
"The goal is not just to get on the ballot," Brown said. "You don't want to go through all of this unless you think you have a chance of winning. And I think they're going to have a serious uphill battle to do that."
Council President Elbra Wedgeworth said the city will handle the petition and ballot proposal as it does any other.
"We, of course, will follow what the law is if they turn in the proper signatures," Wedgeworth said. "Would I support something like (the proposal)? Probably not."
Note: Effort would allow up to an ounce.