The Denver Marijuana Policy Review Panel approved a recommendation to city officials today that the Denver City Attorney's Office should adopt a formal policy to stop prosecuting cases of private adult marijuana possession.
The panel meeting and recommendation have already received coverage in the Rocky Mountain News, on Fox 31 news, and on NBC 9 news.
Mayor John Hickenlooper appointed the panel after voters approved a
city ordinance designating adult marijuana possession the city's
"lowest law enforcement priority." The purpose of the panel is to
ensure the ordinance is implemented to the greatest extent possible and
monitor the number of marijuana possession arrests/citations and
prosecutions taking place in the city.
In Missoula, Mont., where a similar "lowest law enforcement priority" measure was adopted in 2006, Missoula County Attorney's Office adopted an official policy to uphold the initiative and stop prosecuting in cases of simple adult marijuana possession. Seattle also adopted a "lowest priority" initiative in 2003, and since then the city has seen arrests and prosecutions for marijuana possession drop dramatically.
Also during the Denver Marijuana Policy Review Panel meeting, Denver City Attorney Vincent DiCroce announced that the city would be changing its policy so that adults cited for marijuana possession would be able to pay their fines via mail and would no longer be required to appear in court.
The panel voted 5-4 in favor of the following recommendation:
The Marijuana Policy Review Panel shall, in its first report issued to the Denver City Council, recommend that in order to implement Denver City Ordinance 38-176 to the greatest extent possible, the office of the Denver City Attorney shall adopt the following policy: The office of the Denver City Attorney shall not seek conviction in a city prosecution for the petty offense of possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for adults 21 and older absent compelling reasons articulated on the record in open court.
Voting in favor
Phil Cherner, defense attorney and member of the Denver Crime Commission
Frank Moya, defense attorney and Denver public defender
Sandy Mullins, executive director of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar
Mason Tvert, executive director of Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER)
Brian Vicente, defense attorney and executive director of Sensible Colorado
Lt. Ernie Martinez, Denver Police Dept. and president of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association
Vincent DiCroce, Denver City Attorney's Office
Doug Linkhart, Denver City Council
Dora-Lee Larson, Denver Domestic Violence Coordinating Council