Marijuana now legal in Denver… sort of

The citizens of Denver, Colorado voted yesterday to make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana non-punishable under city ordinances.

The initiative’s language puts the city on record in support of treating private, adult use and possession of marijuana “in the same manner as the private use and possession of alcohol.

From a practical standpoint, very little changed, as marijuana is still illegal under state law and that’s how arrests would be prosecuted (so Denver residents should not rush out and start smoking pot in public).
However, from a symbolic standpoint, this is pretty big, and something worth celebrating.

“A few years from now, this vote may well be seen as the proverbial ‘tipping point,’ the beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition in the U.S.,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. “Replacing the failed policy of prohibition with common-sense taxation and regulation of marijuana has become a thoroughly mainstream issue, with the voters of two major U.S. cities endorsing such an approach within one year. Even the Denver Post, which opposed I-100, said in its editorial, ‘We think it probably would be preferable for the state and federal governments to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana use.’

“Last year, there were more than three-quarters of a million marijuana arrests, an all-time record,” Kampia added. “That’s equivalent to arresting every man, woman, and child in the state of Wyoming plus every man, woman, and child in St. Paul, Minnesota. The public understands that this simply makes no sense. Regulating marijuana will take money out of the pockets of criminals and free police to go after violent crime, and the voters of Denver took their first step in that direction today.”

Even if we have to do it one state at a time, one city at a time, or just convince one person at a time, I believe that momentum will eventually build enough to end marijuana prohibition.

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