Saturday, September 30, 2006

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Feds Won't Take Over Colorado -- They Even Said So

The Aspen Daily News recently ran an account of the Board of County Commissioners of Pitkin County's unanimous decision to endorse Amendment 44. We took issue with one thing, however, and that was the assertion that federal law supersedes state law and could be enforced if 44 is approved.

Fortunately, the following letter from SAFER Camapaign Director Mason Tvert appeared in today's Aspen Daily News and clarified the situation:
Thanks for marijuana article

Editor:

Thank you for covering the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners endorsement of Amendment 44, an initiative which would make the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults in Colorado. It is great that your readers were informed about this important development.

Assuming this will not be the last time you cover this issue, I just wanted to clarify one point you made in the article. You said, "Even if Amendment 44 passes, however, adult possession of marijuana would be illegal under federal law."

While it is true that marijuana possession would technically remain illegal under federal law if Amendment 44 passes, the federal government does not arrest people for marijuana possession.

According to Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, who was formerly a U.S. Attorney, the federal government does not handle marijuana cases involving less than 100 plants. It is simply not worth investing federal resources in marijuana possession cases, which would have to be brought to federal court.

I hope you appreciate the importance of this distinction. When people in favor of changing marijuana laws see a statement like, "Marijuana possession will still be illegal under federal law," they may conclude voting for Amendment 44 is useless. In fact, passage of Amendment 44 would eliminate any chance of arrest on the state or federal level.

Mason Tvert
Denver

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A Picture Is Worth 70+ Years of Words

This photo (generously contributed by Tim Tipton) shows New Yorker Steve Steiner of Dads and Mad Moms Against Drug Dealers (DAMMADD) going berserk on SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert. The photo magnificently captures the essence of the current debate on marijuana.

Steiner disacknowledges all the booze that is just sitting out for the world to see, and is focusing all his attention and fury on marijuana. The information in his hand is ludicrous and does not cite a single legitimate source, and the "No Smoking" sign in the background is almost like a quote bubble.

Steiner and DAMMADD generally focus their attention on keeping sick people from getting medical marijuana -- the DAMMADD site even has a narc hotline -- but for some reason he made the trip all the way out to Denver for what appears to be the sole purpose of giving us blog fodder.

Steiner's story is certainly a sad -- and bizarre -- one, and it really brings to light the irrationality of our pious opponents. After trying marijuana, Steiner's son died of an Oxycontin overdose. Steiner believes marijuana is responsible for his son's death because it was the "gateway" to the dangerous prescription drug. But wouldn't you know it, Steiner and DAMMADD are funded by Purdue Pharmaceuticals, which is the producer of -- you guessed it -- Oxycontin.

So this "Dad Against Drug Dealers" is actually taking money from the dealers of the drug that killed his son in order to make sure those who use marijuana -- a drug whose use has never killed a person -- are punished for it. Steiner -- like Attorney General John Suthers -- preaches sobriety and abstaining from using marijuana and alcohol.

Perhaps if he had spent as much time teaching his son the truth about the harms of drugs as he did the lies, his son might still be alive. This is exactly what SAFER and the Amendment 44 campaign are trying to stop. It's time parents get honest with their children about ALL drugs so that they are better prepared to make safe decisions when they inevitable face them down the road.

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Hickenlooper and Coors: Yellow as the Beer They Sell

Supporters of Amendment 44 rallied in front of the Denver City-County Building on Thursday to challenge booze-selling Mayor John Hickenlooper and beer baron Pete Coors to a "Drug Duel."

SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert arrived prepared to go hit-of-a-joint for chug-of-a-beer to prove once and for all that marijuana is far safer than alcohol. After all, there is little doubt they would have vomited, passed out or died before Tvert finished dialing for pizza.

The set-up included boxes of Coors's beer and growlers of Wynkoop beer from the mayor's pub. Oh yeah, and that box of strawberry daquiri wine coolers was there in case Attorney General Suthers showed up.

The event coincided with the kick-off of the Great American Beer Festival -- the world's largest -- in Denver. Hickenlooper was the key note speaker and guest of honor at last year's festival, and Coors is once again sponsoring the event.

Yet somehow our opponents say allowing adults to use marijuana in Colorado would make it a "major drug tourist destination." Too late...

Tvert brought along a "graphic representation" of a marijuana cigarette to illustrate (get it...nyuk nyuk nyuk) the irrational nature of laws that make it illegal to publicly display one joint, but allow the public display of an infinite amount of alcohol.

Friday, September 29, 2006

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Colorado Hemp Activist Tells It Like It Is

This incredibly informative letter from Laura Kriho of the Colorado Hemp Initiative Project (COHIP) appears in today's Boulder Daily Camera. Kudos to Laura for writing such a great letter that they couldn't help but publish it in its entirety. In fact, we liked it so much we're going to do the same thing.

Colorado should repeal prohibition

Colorado was the first state to vote to repeal alcohol Prohibition in 1932, and we have the chance to be the first state to vote to repeal cannabis (marihuana) prohibition with the passage of Amendment 44. In 1932, forward-thinking Colorado citizens put an initiative on the ballot to repeal alcohol Prohibition. It passed by 56 percent of the vote.

However, in 1937, Congress enacted cannabis prohibition via the Marijuana Tax Act. Cannabis prohibition created a new black market in cannabis, which has led to the same violence and corruption seen in the alcohol Prohibition era. It also gave rise to government agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration, which not only use your tax dollars to arrest and imprison non-violent cannabis users, but also to actively campaign for cannabis prohibition in our democratic elections.

In over 10,000 years of almost constant human use, cannabis has never caused a single overdose. It is safer than aspirin and has many more medicinal uses. In 1988, the DEA's chief administrative law judge called it the "safest therapeutically active substance known to man." Cannabis, like alcohol, should be legal for adults to use in the privacy of their own homes for recreation as well as medicine. It is prohibition that causes harm to society, not the substance.

Alcohol Prohibition lasted only from 1920 to 1933, a mere 13 years. Cannabis prohibition has lasted an amazing 69 years. Why has it taken so long to learn, again, that prohibition doesn't work?

In 2005, Denver voters ended cannabis prohibition for small amounts possessed by adults in the city. In 2006, Colorado voters have the chance to do the same thing. Let's uphold our proud tradition as a bellwether state and be the first state to vote to repeal cannabis prohibition and end this failed policy.

The last day to register to vote is Oct. 10. Bring your friends to the polls on Nov. 7 and vote yes on 44.

LAURA KRIHO
Nederland

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When Will CSU Administrators Learn They Can't Mess With SAFER?

As you might know, SAFER got its start organizing students at CU and CSU.

Given the issue at hand, it was hardly a surprise when CSU oficials tried to keep our student initiative off the ballot back then by changing the election rules mid-game. But we informed the ACLU of the scenario and they stepped in on our behalf to express their concern. Needless to say, the measure was put on the ballot and went on to win quite handily.

Once again, the ACLU was intrigued to contact CSU officials to ensure they were playing fair. But this time, it wasn't the rules the administration was changing. Rather, it was their story.

It all began when CSU students working on the Amendment 44 campaign -- primarily the Libertarian Party of CSU and the CSU chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy -- sought to follow University protocol by seeking permission to post a campaign flyer in the residence halls. They were informed they could not use a flyer with the YES on 44 logo because the mere presence of a marijuana leaf indicated it was "promoting drugs."

The students were vigilant, however, and contacted the campaign and the ACLU to take this head on. Lo and behold, once press calls and ACLU inquiries began to flood the University, they changed their tune and announced they'd approve the flyer. Unfortunately, they were too proud to admit they made a boo-boo and tried to lay blame on the students. The administrator said the flyer we wished to see posted was somehow different than the original one she rejected. Of course she could not tell just what was different about it, but only that it couldn't possibly be her or the school's fault.

Fortunately, however, the budding young journalists at the Rocky Mountain Collegian, CSU's campus newspaper, refused to accept this silly excuse (or lack thereof) and called it like they saw it in this case.

The shenanigans also garnered a story in the student-run paper, as well as as a story in the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

Hopefully the university's authorities will think twice before trying to stifle students' free speech rights -- or SAFER's efforts -- again.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

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Pitkin County Commission Takes a Stand For 44

According to a story in today's Aspen Daily News, the Pitkin County Commission has officially (and unanimously) endorsed Amendment 44.
The commissioners' resolution supporting Amendment 44 says "it strikes an appropriate balance between public safety and individual choice that persons 21 years of age or older who can legally possess and consume alcohol should be able to choose to legally possess and consume small quantities of marijuana in non-public places."

That's basically the argument of the group that successfully petitioned to put the initiative on the ballot. Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, or SAFER, argues that marijuana should be treated the same as alcohol, and that booze is actually much more harmful than pot.
It is nice to see a group of elected officials that actually represent the people who elected them (unlike some others we know).*

* Note: We are neither Republicans nor Democrats, but we are NOT supportive of officials who think the majority of their constituents should be criminals for simply using a less harmful drug than they do.

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Aurora Editor Gets It (Sort Of)

There is a pretty good editorial in today's Aurora Daily Sun-Sentinel by the managing editor. He agrees marijuana is safer than alcohol, that current marijuana laws are a waste of time, money and life, and that people need to hear the facts about marijuana. However, he goes schizo in the middle and manages to make the squarest-looking marijuana activist in history (as depicted in this editorial cartoon) sound like Tommy Chong.

He says we are attention freaks, and perhaps we are, but there is no doubt this is an issue that deserves attention. After all, if we hadn't made this "childish" challenge, would he have still given this issue his attention and written this editorial?

We look forward to the day when we no longer have to shock the press into covering and criticizing the lunacy of current marijuana laws.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

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Tvert Challenges Denver Mayor and/or Colorado Beer Baron to 'Drug Duel'

Running alongside the story on the DU debate was a little gem of a story detailing the "challenge" issued by SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert yesterday to booze-dealing Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and Coors Cartel leader Pete Coors. More or less, we requested they put their mouths where their money is. In other words, if they can profit from selling beer, but for some reason oppose allowing adults to make the safer choice to use marijuana, we feel they need to stand up for their products and do some explaining.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, we have provided the press release we sent out yesterday below. Note: We need volunteers and supporters of Amendment 44 to come out to this event Thursday!

MEDIA ADVISORY

For Immediate Release -- Sept. 26, 2006

Amendment 44 Proponent Challenges Head of Coors Cartel and/or Drug-Dealing Denver Mayor to Drug Duel

Tvert willing to go hit for chug -- at high-noon on Thursday -- with prominent beer-peddling Coloradans

Demonstration outside Great American Beer Festival location to follow duel

DENVER -- In order to prove once and for all that marijuana is safer than alcohol, SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert is issuing a challenge to two of the leading alcohol dealers in the state. At high-noon on Thursday -- the day the Great American Beer Festival kicks off in Denver -- Tvert will be outside the Denver City-County Building prepared to take a hit of marijuana for every alcoholic drink downed by either Pete Coors, CEO of Coors Brewing Company, or Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, founder of the Wynkoop Brewing Company.

Alcohol is toxic and can produce an overdose death within hours. By contrast, marijuana has never caused an overdose death in over 5,000 years of use. Despite this fact, businessmen like Pete Coors and John Hickenlooper are allowed to sell tons of alcohol every year, while individuals who simply choose to use a less harmful substance are punished by the government. In fact, Mayor Hickenlooper has ordered Denver police to continue punishing adults for marijuana possession under state law, despite the fact that a majority of Denver residents voted last November to make marijuana possession legal in the city.

"Enough is enough," said Tvert. "We have done everything in our power to convince elected officials and university administrators that policies pushing people to drink are not only wrong, but also dangerous. Yet nothing has changed. Perhaps this dramatic demonstration of the relative harms of each substance will snap our state's leaders into action."

Following the high-noon showdown, supporters of Amendment 44 -- which would make the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults under state law -- will proceed to the Colorado Convention Center to hold a demonstration to highlight the hypocrisy of Denver officials, like Hickenlooper, who oppose our initiative yet allow the Great American Beer Festival to be held in the city. Hickenlooper, who spoke to the "connoisseurs" as the guest of honor last year, is not scheduled to speak again at this year's event. He is, however, proclaiming the week of October 30 - November 5 Denver Wine Week to coincide with the Denver International Wine Festival at Mile High Station.

"We are not 'protesting' the Beer Festival," Tvert said. "If people want to drink, that is their business. We will merely be making the point that marijuana is safer than alcohol. This is a message the public needs to hear."

What: Drug duel to prove that marijuana is safer than alcohol

When: Thursday, September 28, 12 p.m. (high-noon)

Where: Duel in front of the Denver City-County Building (1437 Bannock), then the group will walk down 14th Street to the front of the Colorado Convention Center at 14th Street and California Street

Who: Mason Tvert, SAFER Campaign Director
John Hickenlooper, Democratic Denver mayor and alcohol vendo, invited
Pete Coors, Republican politician and Coors Brewing chairman, invited
Amendment 44 volunteers and supporters

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DU Debate Makes Instant Headlines

It hasn't been more than a few hours, and wor
d of the debate between SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has already made headlines.

At the time of this posting, the front page of the Rocky Mountain News site featured a story recapping the debate and a huge photo, and the Denver Post had just chimed in with a piece featuring a similar photo.


We will discuss the debate more in-depth tomorrow once the final stories have come out.

John Suthers just crapped his pants and Mason Tvert knows it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

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SAFER Campaign Director on Tom Martino Show Today

SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert will be a guest on the Tom Martino Show today. The show airs on KHOW in Colorado and is syndicated across the nation. Mason is scheduled to be on around 10 a.m., and you can listen on-line.

Tom Martino is nationally reknowned as the "Troubleshooter."

Tom blasts liars and cheaters, exposes rip-offs and investigates consumer complaints...
Liars? Cheaters? Rip-offs? Let's hope Martino investigates the rip-off that is marijuana prohibition in this country. We think it's safe to say Mason will do plenty of "consumer complain[ing]"...

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First GOCAM 'Marijuana Lecture' a Snoozer

Actually, nobody fell asleep. But that's only because nobody showed up, press or otherwise. Apparently there's far less of a market for imported marijuana propaganda in Colorado than was expected.

We sent an operative to check out the scene and distribute flyers to any attendees. Lo and behold, when he showed up it was just Dr. Andrea Barthwell and a couple other prohibitionist cronies picking their noses. In fact, they jumped at the opportunity to talk to somebody, anybody about marijuana. That is until they realized he was not quite in line with their beliefs, at which point they tossed him out of the (empty) room, then forced him to leave the lobby.

So this makes us wonder. Do you have to already agree with our opponents that marijuana is bad to get into these lectures about how bad marijuana is? This doesn't sound too educational to us.

If you would like to infiltrate a marijuana lecture, hand out flyers to anyone in attendance, or simply ask some hard questions of the speakers, please contact us. We cannot promise you will see any other people there, but you can certainly send the message that we are going to make it as miserable as possible for Dr. Barthwell to grace the State of Colorado and peddle her nonsense here.

Monday, September 25, 2006

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Tvert vs. Suthers, Round II

This Tuesday, September 26, at 7 p.m., NBC 9 will be hosting a forum on selected ballot issues at the Gates Concert Hall in the Newman Center for Performing Arts at the University of Denver.

"Ballot Measures 101: Issues and Insights" will be free and open to the public, and it will include a very interesting debate on Amendment 44. SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert will be speaking in favor of Amendment 44 and Attorney General John Suthers will be present to speak in opposition.

As you might know, Mason and Suthers (along with Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente and North Metro Drug Task Force Commander Lori Moriarty) debated the issue April on KBDI's "Colorado Inside-Out" back in April. Representatives and opponents of a few of the other initiatives will also be present, including Blue-Book-debacle shill House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.

Please come take part in this event and show your support for the Colorado marijuana initiative. Amendment 44 will likely be one of (if not the) last issues discussed, as it is the last issue on the ballot this year. Thus, you might wish to arrive a little late if you do not wish to see the other issues. Please also consider that seating might be limited and we do not know exactly when Amendment 44 will be up.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

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Replace Romanoff?

A couple interesting letters-to-the-editor appeared in the Rocky Mountain News last week.
Dishonest voter guide; dishonest Romanoff

My thanks to the News for highlighting the false information regarding Amendment 44 in this year's voter guide ("Ambushing the pot initiative/Blue book language will mislead voters," Sept. 15).


I was counting on the Blue Book to get the straight facts on this year's ballot issues before heading to the polls. But apparently facts are of little or no importance to the Legislative Council and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who oversaw the drafting of the booklet and apparently went out of their way to mislead voters on the initiative pertaining to marijuana.

I could not care less if voters approve Amendment 44. But I agree with the News that this manipulation of the Blue Book could have a lasting and detrimental effect on voter's trust in the system for years to come.

As a result, I must now seek an honest opinion about the initiatives somewhere other than the state's voter guide this year. But on the bright side, this was a wake-up call that my district is in need of an honest representative to replace Romanoff. Like the voter guide, I can no longer take him at his word.

Bridget Girard
Denver

Apparently this author does not use marijuana, but a whole lot of folks (and many voters) in Romanoff's district do. We hope he is prepared to explain to them why he thinks they should be branded as criminals.

It also appears he has some splainin' to do when it comes to upholding his duties as the Speaker of the House. He clearly chose to put politics in front of policy in this case and should be reminded by his constituents that they are watching. This is a pretty good idea:

Return Blue Books

I encourage all Colorado voters to return their voter guides - or Blue Books - as they receive them. The Legislative Council and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff are misleading voters - oops, I mean lying to the voters - about Amendment 44 ("Ambushing the pot initiative/Blue book language will mislead voters," Rocky Mountain News, Sept. 15).

When voters receive the guides, they should write on them or include a note about the intentionally misleading language in the arguments against Amendment 44 and send them back to The Legislative Council, Room 029, State Capitol Building, Denver, CO, 80203. Request that the council and Romanoff fix the language or call for a recall of the misleading voters guide.

Kenny Griffin
Leadville

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DEA: Amendment 44 Doesn't Go Far Enough

The Montrose Daily Press published an article Friday, in which DEA Special Agent Jeffrey Sw-E.T.-in laments:
“Why the ounce? If it’s so safe, why isn’t SAFER trying to legalize it (pot) at any level?”... It’s a silly law. It’s not going to change anything."
"[N]ot going to change anything?" This is the same guy who had this to say in an interview on CBS 4 just a day earlier:
Your viewers should understand if this passes, we're really legitimately legalizing an ounce of marijuana.
Roger, Agent Sweetin; over and out...

DEA's Sweetin............. American Dad's Roger

Friday, September 22, 2006

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Coincidence or Pure Evil?

Shortly after posting the photo below of Save Our Society From Drugs and Drug Free America Foundation Director Calvina Fay, our Web site hosting provider's servers all went down.

This could be a coincidence or it could be a conspiracy. But it's more likely the 21st century version of the camera breaking upon taking one's picture.

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Amendment 44 Climbing In the Polls

According to a recently released Rocky Mountain News/CBS 4 poll, support for making marijuana legal for adults in Colorado is on the rise.

Whereas a Denver Post poll some months back found that 37 percent of Colorado voters would approve of the initiative, about 42 percent of likely voters now say they will vote YES on 44.

Reasons not to sweat these numbers:

1) This was a poll conducted via home telephone, and it did not take into account the fact that most younger people rely solely on cell-phones instead .

2) We were polling worse in Denver just prior to passage of Initiative 100 (I-100) last year ...

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Does Calvina Fay Live in Colorado?

Fortunately for Coloradans, no. But for some reason the out-of-state marijuana prohibitionist has decided to talk like she does.

From the Colorado Springs Gazette:
"The change proposed in Amendment 44 has terrible consequences for our state, particularly for our children.”
Does she think Coloradans are stupid?

For some reason she thought she could pull that off, despite the fact the article is filled with descriptors of her and her cohorts like "based in Florida" and "Chicago-based."

As SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert points out in the article:
“It appears our opponents were unable to find competent people in the state to debate the merits of our initiative...”
Apparently they couldn't find any out of the state either.


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Take Me to Your Weeders

This Rocky Mountain News photo shows extraterrestrial-looking DEA agent Jeff Sweetin busting out a fat sack of dank. But judging by that scowl of Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, she ain't interested nor has she ever been.

The Rocky article quotes Sweetin:
"Right now, a smaller amount of focus is on pot, but if this passes, we will be able to focus less and less on other drugs, and pot will become a major focus."
So, according to Jeff "Our Favorite Martian" Sweetin's moon-talk, marijuana is not worth focusing on, but it is worth it if the people in Colorado agree it's not worth focusing on.

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Amendment 44 Opponents Line Up to Tout Measure's Effectiveness

CBS 4 aired a story yesterday that focused on whether federal marijuana laws would be enforced in Colorado if voters approve Amendment 44 in November.

Surprisingly enough, our opponents TOLD THE TRUTH!

According to Attorney General John Suthers:
"They could write somebody up, but they would then have to go to the United States attorney and ask them to prosecute the case... And I'm telling you right now, the United States attorney has a threshold, I used to be the United States attorney, and I think their threshold used to be about 100 plants. They're not going to take possession of an ounce cases."
According to DEA spokesman Jeffrey Sweetin:
"There aren't enough federal resources on the entire planet to handle ounce size marijuana possession... Your viewers should understand if this passes, we're really legitimately legalizing an ounce of marijuana. They're not going to be prosecuted."
Not to worry Jeff, we understand. This shit's the real deal...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

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Out-of-State Anti-Marijuana Crusaders Try to Sell Propaganda Campaign, But Coloradans Won't Buy It

Yesterday our opponents held a press conference to launch the campaign opposed to Amendment 44. The event was hosted by Save Our Society From Drugs (SOS).

The leader of this Florida-based organization is none other than Calvina Fay, one of the leaders of the Drug Free America Foundation. Ironically enough, these extremist groups who claim to have children's best interests in mind got their start as a chain of child torture camps across the country.

Appearing with Calvina was former Deputy Drug Czar Andrea Barthwell, who is now peddling a liquid marijuana-based medication for GW Pharmaceuticals. She was also more-or-less fired from her job at the ONDCP for making public cracks about a gay employee. Classy, Andrea. Classy.

And then there is press conference organizer John Pastuovic, another individual with strong GW Pharmaceutical ties, who also ran the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign in Illinois. Other Illinois campaigns coordinated by Pastuovic include defeating a medical marijuana initiative
by putting on "marijuana lectures" along with fellow Illinois resident Andrea Barthwell. Hmmm.... marijuana lectures. Sounds familiar.

Perhaps that's because we just read about plans to hold these "lectures" in Colorado these next few weeks in Pastuovic's press release for yesterday's event:
Dear Media Representative:

On Wednesday, September 20th, local physicians will be joined by Colorado Lieutenant Governor Jane E. Norton and national drug policy and prevention experts to conduct a news conference to announce a grassroots campaign urging voters to vote no on Amendment 44. If passed, Amendment 44 will make marijuana legal in Colorado.

At the news conference, opponents of Amendment 44 will discuss statistics that reveal today’s marijuana is much more powerful and much more addictive than it was a generation ago. They will also discuss the fact that, of all teenagers in drug treatment, about 62 percent have a primary marijuana diagnosis.

Plans will also be unveiled to conduct a series of educational presentations called
Colorado Marijuana Lectures designed to educate Colorado citizens on the dangers of Marijuana. Additionally, experts will say that legalizing marijuana will make Colorado the number one drug tourist destination in America. That distinction will come with significant costs to Colorado citizens.

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release -- September 20, 2006

Amendment 44 Backers Decry Involvement of Outside "Experts" in Marijuana Misinformation Campaign

Initiative proponents challenge "experts" to answer one simple question: Is marijuana less harmful than alcohol?

Lt. Gov. involves herself in campaign activity against the marijuana initiative

DENVER - According to sources in the media, today "local physicians [were to be] joined by Colorado Lieutenant Governor Jane E. Norton and national drug policy and prevention experts to conduct a news conference to announce a grassroots campaign urging voters to vote no on Amendment 44." Amendment 44 proponent Mason Tvert was present outside of the event to highlight the distortions put forward by the so-called experts.

The event was organized by John Pastuovic, a communications professional from Illinois who helped coordinate an anti-marijuana propaganda campaign to undermine a medical marijuana bill in that state. Interestingly, Mr. Pastuovic has done work for (and may still be a consultant paid by) GW Pharmaceuticals, a company in the UK that has developed a liquid cannabis spray for medical purposes. This means Mr. Pastuovic may have a financial interest in keeping marijuana illegal in the United States.

Two of the nation's leading anti-marijuana propagandists were flown into Colorado to be present at today's press conference. Leading the charge was Calvina Fay, executive director of the Florida-based "Save Our Society from Drugs." Also in attendance was Andrea Barthwell, a former Deputy Drug Czar in the White House and currently a consultant with GW Pharmaceuticals,. Ms. Barthwell, who lives in
Illinois, worked with Mr. Pastuovic on the anti-medical marijuana campaign.

"It is interesting to note that Ms. Barthwell is paid by GW Pharmaceuticals to make liquid marijuana legal in this country, while she travels around the country fighting to keep 'dangerous' marijuana illegal," said SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert. "Whereas she claims she is protecting children, she appears to be protecting her own financial interest."

"Nevertheless, it is clear our opponents were unable to find competent people in the state to debate the merits of our initiative," said SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert. "So they have brought in so-called 'experts' from Illinois and elsewhere to spread some professional propaganda. We hope the media will thoroughly examine the political and financial interests of those outsiders coming to Colorado to directly campaign against our initiative. We would also like to know who is providing the financial support for these activities. We look forward to seeing their campaign filings in the near future."

It appears that these "experts" will avoid the central argument in the Amendment 44 campaign by focusing only on marijuana. The campaign does not claim that marijuana is harmless; it merely puts forth the argument that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and, therefore, adults should not be punished for making the rational choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol. The "experts" should go beyond talking about the alleged harms of marijuana and should address the question of whether marijuana is, in fact, less harmful than alcohol. If they agree with all of the objective evidence, they will acknowledge that it is. They should then explain why they think adults should be prohibited from using marijuana and why they think it is beneficial to convince children that marijuana is more harmful than alcohol.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Jane Norton has taken the questionable step, as a state employee, of helping to coordinate a grassroots campaign against Amendment 44. The campaign will be interested to hear what her role in this campaign will be.

The "experts" were apparently planning to say that legalizing marijuana will make Colorado the number one drug tourist destination in America. This statement, coincidentally, comes just eight days before the start of the Great American Beer Festival - the world's largest - and a month prior to Denver Wine Week, which will be formally proclaimed by the mayor. Colorado actually seems to use alcohol to attract tourists. As the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau notes in its advertising materials, "In Denver's mile high altitude, a golf ball goes 10 percent farther. So does a cocktail. Because your lungs have to work harder to get oxygen into the blood system, alcohol is absorbed into the blood faster, meaning drinks will hit you harder and quicker."

There were also rumors that our opponents were planning to demonstrate how many joints there are in an ounce by dumping out 60-100 joints. This is another example of our opponents exaggerating the truth. Perhaps the most objective measure of a standard joint is the weight of the joints distributed by the federal government to a handful of legal medical marijuana patients. Each of these joints weighs .849 grams. Since there are 28.5 grams in an ounce, this means there are approximately 33 standard joints in an ounce. Of course, the most important point is that no matter how many joints there are in an ounce, a person could smoke the entire ounce of marijuana without doing significant harm to himself. On the other hand, if the same person drank a bottle of vodka...

Among the distortions included in the release promoting this press conference --

Today's marijuana is "much more powerful" than it was a generation ago. Opponents tend to cite the higher average THC levels in today's marijuana as being especially dangerous. The truth, however, is that THC itself has not changed. Thus, individuals smoking marijuana with higher THC levels do not need to inhale as much smoke as previously, in a sense decreasing the harms associated with marijuana use. Most importantly, for comparison sake, there are varying levels of alcohol in beer, vodka, and other beverages. People understand this and adjust their consumption appropriately. Marijuana use is no different.

Today's marijuana is "more addictive than it was a generation ago." (We would have to ask them what this statement in the press release means. We are not aware of a study proving this exact hypothesis. They may be basing this on the misleading treatment figures, below.) According to the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine's 1999 report, Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base, "Millions of Americans have tried marijuana, but most are not regular users, ... [and] few marijuana users become dependent on it." Marijuana is generally considered about as addictive as caffeine and significantly less addictive than alcohol.

More teens are in treatment for marijuana than for all other drugs combined. This is one of the favorite distortions from anti-marijuana advocates. The clear implication is that marijuana must be a terribly dangerous and addictive drug if so many youths are in treatment. The truth, however, is that the large number of youth in treatment for marijuana is due to a dramatic rise in criminal justice referrals. These teens are not "addicts" but are individuals given the choice between enrolling in treatment and receiving a harsher sentence. According to government data (The DASIS Report: Treatment Referral Sources for Adolescent Marijuana Users, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, March 2002), in 1992, the number of youth (aged 12-17) sent to treatment by the criminal justice system was about 10,000. By 1999, that number had risen to about 40,000. While easily decipherable data is not available, it appears likely that in 2004 there were more than 50,000 criminal justice marijuana treatment referrals for youth.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

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Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate Criticizes Speaker Romanoff for Choosing Politics Over Principle

In a statement released Monday, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Dawn Winkler criticized House Speaker Andrew Romanoff for choosing to defend his political party instead of Colorado's children.

Because Ms. Winkler is a working mother in Gunnison, she was unable to stand with GOCAMP and Amendment 44 proponents at their Tuesday press conference. She did, however, provide the following
I would like to say I find it shocking that Speaker Romanoff would prohibit the Democratic caucus from supporting legislation that would increase penalties for distributing marijuana to a minor. Unfortunately, this is just another example of how elected officials from the two major parties value politics over principle. They are so afraid of doing something wrong, that they often find themselves unable to do what is right.
The whole story behind this situation with Sqeaker Romanoff is quite long and complicated, so here is a brief explanation from the campaign's press release for the Tuesday press conference:
The two groups [Amendment 44 proponents and GOCAMP] together will propose legislation that would erase any doubt about the impact of Amendment 44 on individuals under the age of 21 should it pass in November. This legislation would ensure that the current fine for transfers of small amounts of marijuana to individuals 18 to 20 years old is retained, and the statutory fine for transferring less than an ounce of marijuana to individuals 15 to 17 years old is doubled. (Note that the "contributing to the delinquency of a minor" statute will also be in effect, which would give prosecutors another tool in the event of such an occurrence.)

Given his prominent role in the controversy over the Blue Book language, the proponents of Amendment 44 have sought the assistance of Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in this matter. He has, to this point, refused to do anything to clarify the intent or the eventual real world impact of Amendment 44. In fact, he has taken steps to prevent others from taking action to help rectify the situation.

"We hope the fact that we are proposing increases on specific penalties for transferring marijuana to minors will make our position clear," said SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert. "We do not support youth marijuana use and will encourage the legislature to adopt this legislation after passage of Amendment 44. Speaker Romanoff, with one brief statement, could have endorsed this legislation and given assurances that it would be enacted if and when Amendment 44 is approved. This would have taken the questionable language from the Blue Book off the table. He refused."

"There can be no easier position to take politically than opposing marijuana transfers to minors," continued Tvert. "Unfortunately, Speaker Romanoff, like many other elected officials in this state, wants the debate over Amendment 44 be about kids, not adults. The problem is, Speaker Romanoff did not just make this decision for himself, and, in order to keep this distortion alive, he actually prohibited members of his caucus from saying they would push through this kind of legislation if Amendment 44 passes. This occurred at the same time his committee was inserting into the Blue Book the false language about minors designed to deceive the voters of the state. It's time these elected men and women stop hiding behinding children when it comes to marijuana and start treating the people who elected them like adults."

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Breaking News: Denver Drops All Charges Against Damien La Goy in I-100 Test Case

According to KCNC CBS 4, Denver city officials will be dropping all charges against David "Damien" La Goy, the Denver man who challenged a citation for private adult marijuana possession following the passage of Initiative 100 (I-100) in Denver. CBS 4 broke the news during an extensive story on the La Goy case that appeared at 10 p.m. Tuesday.

A CBS 4 reporter contacted Denver city attorneys after conducting extensive interviews with La Goy and his attorney for a story Tuesday afternoon. The City Attorney's Office informed her it was in the process of dismissing all the charges against La Goy.

The case will be formally dismissed Wednesday, and La Goy, his attorney and the lead proponent of I-100 will be holding a press conference today in front of the Denver City-County Building.

SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert made the following statement in a press release yesterday upon hearing the news:
Denver officials have all but conceded publicly that they have no legal basis for charging individuals with private adult marijuana possession under state law. This is their second opportunity to defend their position in a court of law, but each time they have backed away before having their actions judged.

Yet they continue to issue citation after citation to Denver residents, spending thousands of tax dollars and city resources to collect a $100 fine. It is time for the Denver law enforcement community and city leaders to respect the will of the people and stop harassing harmless adults like Damien who make the rational choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol.
Stay tuned for more details...


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GOCAMP Encourages Honest Debate on Amendment 44


GOCAMP Co-founders Jessica Corry (behind podium) and Barbara Harvey (w/ sunglasses) stand with Amendment 44 supporters at a press conference in front of the State Capitol Building on Tuesday.


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Parents PO'd With Marijuana Prohibition Launch GOCAMP

Parents, professionals and even some of their children gathered in front of the Colorado State Capitol Building yesterday to announce the launch of Guarding Our Children Against Marijuana Prohibition (GOCAMP).

This new organization -- not to be confused with our opponents over at Guading Our Children Against Marijuana (GOCAM) -- will support Amendment 44 by educating the public about the harm marijuana prohibition and anti-marijuana propoganda have on our children and communities.

This event garnered a swarm of media attention, and the press conference was attended by the WB, CBS, NBC and FOX affiliates; Univision and Telmundo; the Rocky Mountain News, the Durango Herald, and the Pueblo Chieftain; KOA 850 AM; and Colorado Confidential; among others.

The segment from CBS 4 was viewable on-line at the time of this posting. Go to this site if you don't see a man holding a bag of joints in the video box on the right, go to "See All" and you should be able to find our clip. This played at the top of the 6 p.m. news.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

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Amendment 44 Has Big News Day at CSU

The second we saw this eery caricature of SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert we knew we were in for a treat...

Yesterday, the campaign to make marijuana legal for adults in Colorado was all over the Rocky Mountain Collegian, CSU's student-run daily newspaper.

The featured story was about Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, who was in town touting his energy-saving accomplishments, and hizzoner's position on Amendment 44.

Hickenlooper stunned Collegian editors when he discussed how marijuana prohibition appears to be on schedule to end up like alcohol prohibition.
[I]t took legislators 100 years to realize they made a "terrible mistake."

"I think this process is going on again with marijuana," he said.
Hick loses a few points for continuing to adhere to the "Gateway Theory," although he's taken the step of distancing himself from the flawed logic and now attributes this stance to what he's heard from law enforcement officials. Not very groovy, Hick.

But otherwise, it appears he's straightened up his act a little when it comes to taking a position on the issuue of marijuana legalization. Rather than flat-out opposing Amendment 44 and throwing out the "Gateway Theory" as his reasoning, Hickenlooper thought his answers through and made sure he didn't draw the wrath of SAFER.

When asked about his position on Amendment 44 by Collegian reporters:
"I'll stay out of it," he said after his speech. "It's like the war in Iraq. You don't need some mayor talking about it."
And, as the editors reported:
Collegian reporters pretty much ambushed him after the interview with a rough question for any politician: "How would you vote on Amendment 44 (the statewide marijuana legalization measure)?"

His answer - an honest, thoughtful and candid opinion on the subject at large - was classy, thought-provoking and appropriate. He even apologized to reporters for sidestepping the question about how he would vote on the issue, and gave an understandable reason for doing so.

It wasn't the stuff of pre-packaged, partisan politics. Hickenlooper is a thinker, and by most accounts, good for Denver.

Whatever his stance on pot legalization, Hickenlooper's good by us.
SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert expressed his respect for Hick despite their differences on marijuana policy:
"On a personal level, I think he's a great guy," he said. "I agree with him on a majority, if not a supermajority, of his priorities when it comes to city government."
Tvert said that he has faith in Mayor Hickenlooper.

"He's a cool guy," Tvert added. "If he wasn't currently the mayor, he'd probably be standing here with us."
This is not to say he let Hick off the hook entirely:
Tvert criticized the philosophy that many politicians have adopted: that law enforcement policy should be left to law enforcement agencies. He said city officials should wield that power.

He also lamented that opponents of his campaign have "been lied to, to believe marijuana will lead to harder drugs when there's no data to support it."
The Collegian then launches into a barrage of evidence that concluded marijuana is not a "gateway drug" based on its particular physical effect, but it is a "gateway drug" in terms of its illegality -- it is a gateway into a black market in which other illegal products are sold.

Here's to Hick hopefully coming around even more and representing his city on this issue sometime soon!

In fact, there is a new bad-guy in town when it comes to elected officials screwing around with marijuana initiatives. That would be House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who got torn a new you-know-what in this Collegian column for his active opposition to Amendment 44.

Seeing as this piece was very similar to the last bunch that criticized the Speaker and Legislative Council for the whole Blue Book fiasco, I will just skip to the highlights.

A good point:
Somehow, the Legislative Council, a body made up of people who should be experts in state law, managed to miss this fact.
And this rant is classic:
Nevermind the fact that over 130,000 people signed the petition to get the initiative on the ballot (almost twice the needed amount). Nevermind the fact that last year the city of Denver decided to legalize marijuana. Screw them!

Their opinions don't matter! Let's stack the odds so unfairly against them in whatever way we can, even if it means telling a bold-faced lie!
It almost appears as if the Speaker is trying to give progressives a reason to vote against him should he seek higher office:
Now my pot-smoking friends and I aren't the only ones who think the Legislative Council and Andrew Romanoff are full of it (again, I'm restrained in my language). An editorial in Friday's Rocky Mountain News takes the same stance. It calls the Blue Book decision "misleading" and "false" and stated, "that's simply not right, whatever your opinion of the merits of Amendment 44.
And in conclusion...
Democracy has been subverted in Colorado.

Monday, September 18, 2006

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Gazette Shines Spotlight on Colorado's Relationship With Alcohol

The Colorado Springs Gazette has been running a multi-part feature on the costs of alcohol use, abuse and misuse in Colorado.

The first part discusses the costs associated with booze and the problems typically associated with it. It begins with some pretty familiar rhetoric:
You and every other American will pay about $620 this year for the consequences of alcohol abuse, whether you take a drink or not.

You pay for police officers, firefighters and ambulance drivers. For emergency room nurses and doctors. For detox. For lost work days and family violence and fetal alcohol syndrome.

You pay for the DUIs after office parties and the fights outside bars. With chronic alcoholics, you pay these costs again and again...

Drugs like meth and crack seem so much scarier. Alcohol is so mundane, so mainstream, so legal. And that's why it's the drug that costs us the most.
The second part discusses how alcohol -- despite the serious healh and social problems to which it contributes -- benefits society in many ways, particularly as a source of tax revenue.

Tax an intoxicating product that millions of people want to use and are going to find whether it's legal or not? What a NOVEL idea!

The third and final piece in the Gazette's series on alcohol use in Colorado should be appear ing today.

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Letters-to-the-Editor Regarding Amendment 44

This weekend, letters-to-the-editor regarding Amendment 44 appeared in both the Denver Post and the Daily Camera.

The Camera letters included one from Colorado Freedom Report editor Ari Armstrong in response to the Camera's editorial containing false information about the Blue Book containing...well... false information.

The other letter points out how poorly the DEA handles everything, whether it's eradicating opium in Afghanistan or campaigning against a citizen-initiated ballot measure in Colorado.

The letters in the Denver Post include one from SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert, who chides Post columnist Cindy Rodriguez for embodying the intellectual dishonesty of our nation's marijuana laws. He points out that her message -- that children must think marijuana is more dangerous than it really is -- is actually responsible for young people distrusting the information they hear about alcohol and other harder drugs. He fortifies the argument with recent national survey data that shows young people consider using marijuana once or twice per week to be more risky than binge drinking once or twice per week. This is despite the fact that binge drinking can kill you and there has never been a single marijuana overdose death in history.

A second letter from a concerned citizen calls out Rodriguez for redirecting a debate about adult marijuana use on adolescents and marijuana. The author points out how the current prohibition on marijuana actually causes more harm to young people than it does good.

Finally, there is a classic letter from Julie Kazimer of Westminster that accuses SAFER of being misleading in its argument that marijuana is safer than alcohol.
SAFER knows firsthand about misleading the public. How exactly does the decriminalization of marijuana protect Coloradans? The name SAFER is itself misleading, as are the political campaign signs asking people to vote "yes" on Amendment 44 to "Make Colorado Safer."
How does the decriminalization of marijuana protect Coloradans? Well, not acquiring a criminal record for using a drug less harmful than alcohol in the privacy of your own home is a start. Then there is the whole not-losing-your-job thing. And not losing federal tuition assistance. And not losing custody of your children. And, perhaps most importantly, not resorting to the use of alcohol -- a more harmful drug to both the user and to society -- simply because it is legal and marijuana is not.

After all, if we know alcohol leads to countless acts of violence in Colorado (50 percent of domestic violence cases in Denver, for example), would it not be fair to say that many of these incidents might be averted if the perpetrator had been allowed to use marijuana instead of alcohol? Call it a stretch -- although we might disagree -- but don't call it misleading.

Misleading would be asserting that SAFER has political campaign signs that say vote "yes" on Amendment 44 to "Make Colorado Safer" when in fact no such signs exist...yet. Although she has no evidence that such signs were even being produced, Ms. Kazimer feels it is perfectly honest to discuss them as if there is already one in the yard of her next-door neighbor.

While we unfortunately cannot ensure Ms. Kazimer's neighbors get those "YES on 44" signs, we certainly can do whatever we can to make sure folks know how to get in touch with her if they have questions.

Julie Kazimer
Administrative Assistant, Regis University
jkazimer@regis.edu
303-458-4044

We're tired of seeing nonsense in print as if it were fact, and we are not going to take it lying down. So let this serve as a warning to any would-be-letter-writers who think they can just spew gibberish about Amendment 44 on the pages of our newspapers. If you wish to go out of your way to make us read your letters, we have no problem going out of our way to make you read ours.

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Denver Post Columnist Disputes Amendment 44 Opponents' Claims That Laws Should Be Public Service Announcements

Denver Post columnist Ed Quillen had a great column in Friday's paper criticizing opponents of reforming marijuana laws for continuing to cite "the message being sent to children" as their reasoning for wanting to keep marijuana illegal for adults.

Mr. Quillen begins with a pretty accurate summary of the effect Amendment 44 would have if passed:
Nor does it affect any of the federal government's stupid marijuana laws. Nor does it affect marijuana laws passed by Colorado home-rule cities, which would still be free to waste police time and public money.
He also gives a pretty accurate description of the DEA:

The DEA is a federal bureaucracy which likes to protect its turf and make work for itself. Realize that we live in a "free country" where the oxygen in the air that we breathe is a controlled substance, and you can better understand the DEA.

Mr. Quillen goes on to discuss how our laws are not supposed to be used to send messages to children, but rather govern the people and the activities in which they participate.

He discusses his reasoning, including the fact that most of drug laws disproportionately affect minorities and generally do not represent the beliefs of the people. But this is by far our favorite:

Our drug laws have no discernible connection with the risk of the drug. Thousands of people die every year from tobacco-related diseases, and an alcohol overdose can kill. Yet those drugs are legal.

In all of history, there is not one recorded death from a marijuana overdose. That drug is illegal.

So the main thing kids learn from our drug laws is that our country is run by morons.

We encourage folks to take a quick second and thank Mr. Quillen for injecting some good old-fashioned common sense into the debate about our nation's marijuana laws.

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Colorado Freedom Report Editor Criticizes Camera's Freewheeling Editorial

The Daily Camera ran a great letter this weekend from Colorado Freedom Report founder and editor Ari Armstrong in response to the Camera's misleading and inaccurate editorial about SAFER's challenge to the Blue Book language last week.

We also found this great analysis of the Blue Book fiasco posted in the "Elevated Voices" section of Denver magazine 52
80's blog by Colorado attorney and legal analyst Jeralyn Merritt.

But back to the Camera. We thought it was rather odd that it ran an editorial with the subheadline, "Blue book doesn't 'lie' about pot measure," when that very same day the Rocky Mountain News ran an editorial with the subheadline, "Blue book language will mislead voters."

As Mr. Armstrong points out in his letter, the Camera selectively uses quotes and fails to provide the very differenct contexts in which they were made, thus leading readers to believe our campaign is the one acting irresponsible.
Oddly -- or not so oddly -- enough, this argument made by the Camera mirrors that of Legislative Council attorney Richard Kaufman on the Caplis & Silverman Show following the hearing -- or should I say lack of a hearing -- on Wednesday.

Apparently the Camera didn't look any further into the story than what they heard reported on the radio, and they failed to even contact the campaign to allow it a chance to explain the other side of the story. In our opinion, this is irresponsible journalism at the very least, as well as a disservice to the Camera's readers and the voters. Thus, we encourage you to follow Mr. Armstrong's lead and contact them and let them know you don't appreciate it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

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Rocky Editorial Calls Out Legislative Council and Speaker Romanoff for Intentionally False Blue Book Language

The Rocky Mountain News editors call 'em like they see 'em, and this pretty much sums it all up:
The Legislative Council and its staff have made a serious mistake that will cloud the reputation of the Blue Book for years to come, not to mention tilt the playing field so far against Amendment 44 that the angle resembles a cliff.
Another pertinent point:
But thanks to this Blue Book blunder...Did we say blunder? Strike that: The line was deliberately placed in the Blue Book and is defended to this day by the Legislative Council as a legitimate interpretation.

It is also great to see a major newspaper shine a spotlight on such clearly deceptive language from Speaker Romanoff, who is obviously going out of his way to try to hurt Amendment 44 while not appearing like too much of a dick to the people in his district. House District 6 includes Capitol Hill and downtown Denver, and there is little doubt a clear majority of voters there support Amendment 44, as they did Initiative 100 (I-100) in Denver last year.
House Speaker Andrew Romanoff told us "every single word" of the controversial line "is true" because "it is accurate in terms of the laws on possession of marijuana."

Romanoff says this because state law makes it a felony to give anyone under 15 marijuana, and that law would remain in place if Amendment 44 passes. And since there is no explicit prohibition against transferring pot to anyone older, the council felt justified in maintaining that an adult could give "up to one ounce of marijuana to another individual 15 years of age or older" under the amendment.

Unfortunately, the clear implication of that statement - that the amendment decriminalizes such transfers, at least insofar as the state is concerned - is simply false. It is a crime in Colorado to help any juvenile break any federal or state law, and under both federal and state law it will continue to be illegal for minors to possess marijuana even if Amendment 44 is approved. So someone giving a minor marijuana would be breaking the law as well.

The Blue Book does acknowledge that 44 "addresses state law for possession only; enforcement of other marijuana laws would not change." But contributing to the delinquency of a minor is not a marijuana law, meaning the Blue Book fails to remind voters that such a law exists
When it comes down to it, this is what it's all about:
Sponsors of Amendment 44 tried to have the offending language struck this week in court, but a Denver judge said he had no authority to do so. We understand the judge's reluctance to meddle in a legislative prerogative, but the result is that voters will be misled. And that's simply not right, whatever your opinion of the merits of Amendment 44.
We couldn't have said it better ourselves...


Thursday, September 14, 2006

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Legislative Council Does Everything Possible to Ensure Voters Receive False Information On Amendment 44

It's been a long day, so we are just going to go ahead and provide links to the few news stories that have come out thus far, as well as the press release we sent out following our hearing (or lack thereof).

Rocky Mountain News
Colorado Springs Gazette
Colorado Confidential
ABC 7

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release - September 13, 2006

Court Dismisses Complaint from Marijuana Initiative Campaign Based on Lack of Jurisdiction

Legislative Council uses technicality to avoid a decision on the merits

Blue Book to be sent to printer tomorrow with false statement included

Campaign urges members of the media not to repeat false claims made by initiative opponents based on Legislative Council's faulty analysis

DENVER - Today, a district court judge - before hearing the merits of the case - dismissed a complaint from proponents of Amendment 44, which alleged the Legislative Council included a false and misleading statement in its analysis of the initiative for the state-sanctioned voter guide. Judge John McMullen, sitting in Colorado's Second Judicial District, granted a motion from the Legislative Council's attorneys to dismiss the case based on a lack of jurisdiction. Thus, the erroneous language will now be included in the Blue Book, which will be sent to approximately two million households in the state.

The Legislative Council's analysis indicates that Amendment 44 would make it legal for adults to give small amounts of marijuana to minors. This ignores the fact that an existing state law banning contributing to the delinquency of a minor - which would in no way be affected by the Amendment - would keep such an act illegal.

Statement from SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert:

For the past five days, the Legislative Council has done everything in its power to avoid having any substantive review of its false and misleading language. Legislative Council Director Kirk Mlinek deferred to his own staff instead of examining the issue on his own, Speaker Romanoff refused to reconvene the Legislative Council to consider the matter, and now attorneys for the Council have succeeded in having the court dismiss the complaint before a decision on the merits. They must be very proud of themselves for successfully completing their plan to deceive the voters.

The judge in this case clearly was not thinking the court lacked jurisdiction when he called for a hearing today. Perhaps it does, perhaps it doesn't. The main point is that the judge was prepared to hear the issue on the merits. The Legislative Council clearly was not interested in this. This was an opportunity to have a neutral third party decide which side is right in this extremely important matter. The Legislative Council was afraid to have its language examined in that manner. If it was so confident its language was correct, why run and hide?

We now know that this was not an impartial analysis. The Legislative Council has been working hand-in-hand with our opponents for weeks. The language which will now officially be a part of the Blue Book was not in the initial draft and was only inserted and retained after multiple requests from initiative opponents. It is illegal now and will be illegal after passage of our initiative for an adult to transfer any amount of marijuana to a minor. Despite this, Legislative Counsel decided it was necessary to tell the voters that our initiative, if passed, would allow adults to transfer small amounts of marijuana to minor. It is a sad day when our elected officials neglect their duty to act in an impartial manner and intentionally mislead and deceive the people they are elected to serve.

We now expect that our opponents will repeat the Legislative Council's false statement throughout the campaign. We can only hope that the media will be more responsible than the Legislative Council and will not repeat this lie as if it were fact.

# # #

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

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Vail Voters Join Aspen Voters in Supporting Amendment 44

Should marijuana use be legal?

Yes
81 %81 %81 % 81.13% (86)
No
18 %18 %18 % 18.87% (20)

Total Votes: 106

Last week we reported on an on-line Aspen Daily News poll that showed Aspen-area voters overwhelmingly support Amendment 44. A similar on-line poll conducted by the Vail Trail this week shows that support for the marijuana initiative is even stronger in the Vail area.

More than 80 percent of the votes were in support of Amendment 44 (versus 71 percent in Aspen), and they even topped it off with a cover story all about the initiative, to boot.

The piece is fantastic and for the most part it is entirely positive. The only criticism of all the people interviewed was Eagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy:
"I think it’s bogus," he said. "I think it’s just a small group of individuals who think it’s their right to enjoy marijuana …"
Just a small group of individuals, eh? Perhaps Sheriff Hoy should consider the fact that 130,815 people in Colorado signed the petition to put Amendment 44 on the ballot. Yet only 6,027 total people voted for him in the 2002 election (not to mention 5,041 people cast ballots against him). In other words, more than 20 times as many people in Colorado think it's their right to enjoy marijuana...

And when it comes to the "Gateway Theory," Sheriff Hoy's quote demonstrates his inexpertise on marijuana and drug policy:

"We know through studies that marijuana is one of the gateway drugs that can lead to the stronger drugs and we still know there is a huge market, and trafficking, for marijuana."
Sheriff Hoy's quote clearly demonstrates his inexpertise on marijuana and marijuana policy. After all, the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine reported in 1999 that...
"There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs … There is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping stone on the basis of its particular physiological effect … Instead, the legal status of marijuana makes it a gateway drug."
Clearly Sheriff Hoy has not done his homework, so perhaps he should begin worrying more about enforcing marijuana laws and less about developing marijuana policy.

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BS of the Day

The press from yesterday contained some pretty absurd comments from our opponents and those folks on the other end of this lawsuit. Without further ado, we present to you our first installment of the BS of Day:

1. GOCAM Campaign Manager and Bev Kinard lackey Robert McGuire in the Longmont Daily Times-Call:
But Robert McGuire, an attorney for Guarding Our Children Against Marijuana, said adoption of Amendment 44 would amount to “legalizing a favorite marketing tactic” of drug dealers, “giving away free samples.”
Earth to Robert McGuire: This is the real world, not a D.A.R.E. video. There are no dark sand shady creeping into the playground and giving away free samples of marijuana. And if they did, they would be cited for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a felony in Colorado. It will also remain illegal for ANYONE under 21 to possess ANY amount of marijuana. Good try, Rob, but this old-school scare tactic is....BS.

2. Legislative Council Director of Research Kirk Mlinek in the Rocky Mountain News:
"If I knew it was wrong, then the first person you'd find outside the House speaker's door with a proposed change is [sic] me," Mlinek said.
This really couldn't be further from the truth. When we confronted Mr. Mlinek with the fact that they had included a false statement in the Blue Book, he acknowledged that he was already fully aware of it. He even said he would go back to talk to his staff about it, only to report back that his staff "stands behind the [flawed] language."

We asked to resolve the issue amicably by going in to court with the Legislative Council to point out and rectify the error, but despite the fact that he directs the staff -- and not vice versa -- he said he could not do anything about it.

As for the House speaker, he could have simply reconvened the Legislative Council for about five minutes to make the necessary change in the language. Lo and behold, House Speaker Andrew Romanoff was not interested in ensuring the accuracy of the Blue Book when it came to Amendment 44. Now we are forced to go to court as a result of Mr. Mlinek's...BS.

3. Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff on ABC 7:
"It's not the job of the Legislative Council to fix flawed ballot measures on their way to the ballot."
It sure isn't. But it IS the job the Legislative Council to fix flawed ballot measure analyses on their way to be printed in the state-sanctioned voter's guide. Speaker Romanoff is fully aware that the language in the Blue Book is incorrect, yet he prefers to play politics here and accuse us of not making his job and the jobs of the Legislative Council staff easy enough.

Seeing as the Legislative Council under Romanoff bungled the analysis of this initiative -- a five-word amendment, which is probably the clearest question on the ballot -- it is scary to think what they might do when it comes to more complex legislation.

4. And since Speaker Romanoff was SO full of BS today, he gets a second entry:
"And I think that sort of behavior is reckless, unwarranted, and deeply disappointing to me," Romanoff said.
So, it's reckless to request that the voters receive factual and accurate information pertaining to the effect of a ballot initiative -- as required by law -- but it is not reckless to completely disregard the facts when drafting this information? It sounds warranted to us, and we are deeplu dissapointed in the speaker's BS.

5. Drug Free Schools Coalition spokesman David Evans, in just about every story:
Initiative opponent David Evans said supporters want to eliminate the crime of possession of marijuana, and he said that would allow juveniles to possess the drug.
From his home and office OUTSIDE OF COLORADO, Mr. Evans is clealy not in the loop on what's happening. He is quoted or paraphrased in just about every story, noting that the initiative will undoubtedly lead to children using marijuana.

The National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine disagrees, however, as it oncluded on page 102 of its 1999 report, "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base," that "there is little evidence that decriminalization of marijuana use necessarily leads to a substantial increase in marijuana use." Given Mr. Evans's apparent lack of evidence or explanation (not to mention a soul), it baffles us that they even report on this BS.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

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Marijuana Initiative Filing Suit Against Colorado State Legislature's Legislative Council

Yesterday we announced we would be filing an injunction to halt the publication of the state's voter information guide -- known as the "Blue Book" -- because the State Legislature's Legislative Council INTENTIONALLY included language that is completely false.

Our press conference was attended by CBS 4, ABC 7, WB 2, Univision 50, the Associated Press, the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News, not to mention staffers from the House Republican Communications Office and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff's office (he is the unidentified guy taking notes in the foreground of the picture that accompanies the Rocky article). A story also appeared in the Longmont Daily Times-Call yesterday, as well as on Fox 31.

Here's why we're pissed:

The analysis of Amendment 44 as drafted by the Legislative Council staff and approved by the legislators on the committee, erroneously states that the measure would make it legal for individuals 21 or older to transfer less than one ounce of marijuana to individuals under 18.

Here's why we have a right under the Colorado State Constitution to be pissed:

Under the Constitution, he Legislative Council is charged with providing "fair and impartial" analyses of initiatives to the voters in the state-sanctioned voter guide.

Here's why our opponents and the Legislative Council have no right to be pissed:

They were fully aware of the fact that the language was incorrect when they put it in there!

Multiple staff members (Legislative Council Senior Analyst Cathy Eslinger and Legislative Council Director of Research Kirk Mlinek) told us straight up that there was extensive discussion regarding whether the language in question should be inserted.

Perhaps it was because they received comments from the following opponents of Amendment 44, all of which suggested they include this inaccurate and misleading language:

Robert McGuire - attorney, former staffer and current lackie of Gov. Bill Owens, and campaign manager for Gaurding Our Children Against Marijuana (GOCAM)

Beverly Kinard - McGuire's boss at GOCAM, wacky Canon City anti-marijuana crusader, testifier to the "fact" that exposure to hemp products immediately causes skin cancer

Tom Gorman - director of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA), a federal law enforcement agency

Lori Strain - executive secretary of RMHIDTA

Ms. Strain even went to the trouble of saying in one E-mail to the Legislative Council:
On line 13 through 16, please know that the wording used is very much appreciated. PLEASE PLEASE leave it in.
What, no emoticon? ;)

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Vail Trail Conducting On-Line Poll on Amendment 44

Poll Update: We're pulling ahead! Be sure to cast your vote

The Vail Trail is conducting an unofficial on-line poll on Amendment 44.

Please cast your vote today and help us ensure a good showing...not that it hasn't been good already...


Should marijuana use be legal?

Yes
82 %82 %82 % 82.95% (73)
No
17 %17 %17 % 17.05% (15)

Total Votes: 88

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Denver Police and Officials Caught Having It Both Ways

After Denver voters approved Initiative 100 (I-100) last November, Denver officials made it very clear they would continue citing adults in direct defiance of the will of the voters.

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrisey and Denver City Attorney Cole Finnegan explained they absolutely HAD to keep punishing adult marijuana users because despite the city's home-rule status, laws pertaining to issues of public safety (eg. assault weapons, pit bulls, and smoking a joint) had to be equal to or STRICTER than the corresponding state laws.

On the other hand, an article in Monday's Rocky Mountain News paints a very different picture. The headline really says it all:
Denver ignores DUI law
Apparently the Denver PD cannot refrain from enforcing state laws pertaining to the possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults over 21 -- a victimless crime no matter how you look at it -- but it can refrain from enforcing laws pertaining to drunk driving, a misdemeanor (or felony, depending on the case) that clearly endangers everyone. And apparently they've been doing it for some time:
For more than a decade, Denver has ignored a state law...

The consequences of this catch-and-release policy can be serious, say those involved in the criminal justice process.
And it's not as if everyone is doing it.
Denver appears to be the only metro-area jurisdiction ignoring the law...
So why couldn't Denver be the only metro-area jurisdiction ignoring the law when it comes to private adult marijuana possession?

After all, if it can spell out in the police manual that "the policy of the Denver Police Department is to limit the incarceration of individuals for traffic offenses," and so "no individual will be jailed on misdemeanor traffic charges, including DUI," why can it not install a similar policy mandating that police follow the will of the voters when it comes to a LESS HARMFUL drug-related offense?

Monday, September 11, 2006

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Which Will Get Out First: The Story of the DEA's Interference in Amendment 44 or the DEA?

A lengthy story about the DEA's involvement in a campaign against the Colorado marijuana initiative appeared today in The New Standard.

The article quotes DEA Special Agent Jeffrey Sweetin, who heads up the DEA's Denver operations, and it appears the DEA is now trying to distance itself from the entire situation.
According to Sweetin, the DEA was involved in an "informational" campaign called the Colorado Marijuana Information Committee, but the agency pulled out after the Committee became a political organization and started fundraising. Sweetin said a member of the Committee sent the e-mail after the DEA resigned as an official participant. He said the agency still provides research upon request to the Committee...

There is no question the agency was involved in starting the Committee, which is now formally opposing Amendment 44...

Sweetin said the DEA has not been campaigning against Amendment 44, but rather providing information to the public about what the agency sees as the dangers of marijuana. He says the informational campaign was launched to counter what he describes as a misleading ad campaign by SAFER in favor of the ballot initiative. SAFER’s campaign claims that legalization is a matter of making alcohol and marijuana regulation equitable.
So, apparently it is a misleading ad campaign when we suggest that marijuana should be treated like alcohol, but it's not misleading for the federal government to run TV ads about how buying marijuana from someone who grew it in Colorado is contributing to terrorist activity, or smoking marijuana will make you shoot yourself or drive over a little girl on a tricycle.

And by the way, isn't the DEA supposed to be charged with ENFORCING drug laws and not influencing policy regarding them? SAFER Executive Director Steve Fox says it best in the article:
Typically, the [White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy] is a little more of an advocacy arm," he said. "I’m not defending them, but their mission is to fight drug abuse in this country, whereas the DEA is purely a law-enforcement arm, which is supposed to enforce the laws as they are, not advocate for laws to be stronger or weaker or with different priorities on different drugs."
Oh, and did we mention that the article once again exposes DEA super-agent Sweetin as a bold-faced liar?

The New Standard, September 11:
There is no evidence that the $10,000 advertised in the e-mail comes directly from the DEA budget, and Sweetin said it was donated by private individuals.
KGMH ABC 7, August 29:
"We don't have $10,000 in money. There may be organizations that are raising money," said Sweetin. "There is no $10,000 in money that I've ever heard of."
You might be asking if perhaps Sweetin could have "learned" about the $10,000 SINCE he said he had not heard of it. But then again...

Daily Camera, August 27:
Sweetin said the $10,000 the committee has to spend came from private donations, including some from agents' own accounts. He said the DEA isn't trying to "protect Coloradans from themselves" but that the agency is the expert when it comes to drugs.
The other thing we still can't figure out is why the DEA has taken no action against the "private individual" who used a DEA special agent's name, office and cell number, and Dept. of Justice E-mail address without permission to engage in political solicitation. Perhaps we will produce a piece announcing the DEA supports Amendment 44 and include Agent Sweetin's info on there. We highly doubt it would be acceptable in that case, which is why we do not understand why it is not in this one.

But for now, all you need to know is this:

The DEA is NOT "campaigning" against Amendment 44, but they have launched an "informational campaign."

The DEA did NOT authorize the use of a DEA agent's name and contact information, but they do not mind it being used.

And finally, contrary to their mission statement, the DEA is apparently a policymaking and informational agency and not just a policy enforcing agency.

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Denver Post Columnist's Infatuation With Pot and Kids Persists

The Sunday Denver Post included another reefer madness piece from columnist Cindy Rodriguez. If it looks familar, perhaps that is because it is virtually identical to her ludicrous piece about two weeks ago. Ms. Rodriguez must have received a whole lot of correspondence regarding criticizing the absurd point she was trying to make in her first column.

While we do not have ANY problem with marijuana reform supporters contacting writers of such pieces to let them know they and others disagree, we do agree with Ms. Rodriguez that name-calling and nastiness does nothing for our movement and is hardly persuasive. Thus, we would like to take this opportunity to request that any and all letters or comments you send the press or columnists regarding their work are respectful and send the right message about supporters of reforming marijuana laws.

Please keep this in mind if you choose to contact her, as you will likely have plenty to say to her if you read this latest piece.

SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert contacted the Post following Ms. Rodriguez's first column, requesting the opportunity to respond with a small op-ed piece. He was informed he could not, but he could send a 200-word letter instead. It was not published. Following the latest column he replied once again with pointed comments to the content of her piece.

We have taken the liberty of posting Ms. Rodriguez's column here in its entirety (in black) along with the comments Mason sent along to her (in green). ** Mason's views -- especially those on other political issues -- are entirely his own and in no way represent SAFER or the non-partisan campaign for Amendment 44 **
Potheads, chill. This is about kids
By Cindy Rodrigzez
Denver Post Staff Columnist

Pot smokers: Stop sending me nasty e-mails. Relax. You're ruining your laid-back reputation.

Right off the bat you assume that everyone who contacted you with critical comments regarding your column on marijuana is a "pot smoker." What if conservative icon William F. Buckley -- a longtime opponent of marijuana prohibition -- had sent you comments? Former U.S. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders? Former Republican governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson? Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper?

After all, if you wrote a column with an anti-immigration slant, would you expect every critical comment you receive to be from an illegal immigrant? Of course not. In fact, I am very critical of those who take strong anti-immigration stances and I am not generally considered to be an immigrant (despite the fact we all are). I am also passionately opposed to limiting women's right to reproductive choice, yet I have never had a partner who received an abortion, let alone morning-after contraception (another choice I support). And consider the minimum wage decision before voters in Colorado this year. I certainly support that, despite the fact I do not receive minimum wage.

Clearly many people have strong feelings on all of these controversial issues regardless of whether they are directly or personally affected by them. So why do you assume one must be a "pot smoker" to take offense to your column criticizing an effort to change marijuana laws?


Besides, you're not going to get busted unless you smoke in a public place or do something stupid to call attention to yourself.

Please tell this to 47-year-old, 95-pound AIDS patient Damien La Goy, who was cited for possessing about one (1) gram -- one-twenty-eighth of an ounce -- of marijuana in the privacy of a friend's home in Capitol Hill. He was not doing anything "stupid," and police only arrived because his friend had missed an appointment with regard to receiving court-ordered medication. Damien is challenging his ticket based on passage of Initiative 100 in Denver last year, and his 6-person jury trial will be Oct. 25.

Even if you do, in the state of Colorado possession of an ounce of marijuana - a heck of a lot of pot - will get you at most a $100 fine. It's not even a misdemeanor. It's considered a "petty offense."

"No one is going to jail for possession of less than an ounce," state Attorney General John Suthers told me.

See above case regarding Damien La Goy. The City of Denver has now used the following resources to cash in on a $100 fine:
  • at least four to six uniformed police officers on the scene to deliver the citation
  • a prosecutor to speak with La Goy at his arraignment, a legal staff to proces his citation, and a magistrate to hear his plea
  • scientific testing on the confiscated substance, which La Goy readily admitted was marijuana, just to ensure it actually is marijuana
  • a motions hearing involving a judge, three prosecutors, and court and legal staff
  • on Oct. 25, a six-person jury comprised of Denver citizens taking time away from their jobs, a judge, prosecutors, and witnesses (all officers involved, possibly Denver Health employees, etc.)

While nobody goes straight to jail in Colorado for simply possessing less than an ounce of marijuana, they will be branded with a drug charge that could cost them custody of their children, their job and/or employment prospects, federal tuition assistance, public housing assistance, etc. Furthermore, I strongly encourage you to consider the impact this argument has on the rest of your piece. You say marijuana must remain illegal because young people fear the penalties associated with its use and refrain from using it as a result. Yet your argument here -- that it's just a small fine and "not even a misdemeanor" -- suggests that young people need worry less about marijuana citations than speeding tickets (another minimal fine to which young people are often subjected, but at least in this case its because they actually endangered others). As you point out later in your article, the fine for using marijuana ($100) is less than a speeding ticket.

You're confusing yourself with poor kids exploited by drug dealers who pay them less than the minimum wage to peddle drugs. They're the ones going to jail for years for selling small pebbles of crack, not you.

Again you jump to quite the conclusion here. Do you know who the folks who are contacting you are or about their life experiences? Perhaps they have not been in jail, but what if they have had irreparable damage done to their lives as a result of our country's marijuana laws? What if they lost their child because they chose to smoke a joint, whereas millions of people around the country were out at bars legally taking tequila shots? Perhaps if we stopped arresting 700,000-plus individuals each year -- the most in history, as the number increases every year -- we could focus more attention on keeping those "small pebbles" out of the hands of young people. There is NO doubt our government spends more time and resources on marijuana than ANY other illegal drug.

None of this, really, is about you.

It's about kids.

Is it about kids? Or is it about you? Do you have kids? If so, have your children somehow been adversely affected by marijuana? I happen to know many people with children who support ending marijuana prohibition. I figure at least some of that majority of Denver voters that approved I-100 must have children. Are you suggesting that the voters of Denver do not care about their own children? In other words, you seem to suggest that EVERYONE in favor of reforming marijuana laws cares nothing for children and EVERYONE against it has their children's best interests in mind. I encourage you to check out these two articles, which might shed a little light on the issues of motherhood and marijuana: this Denver Post guest column from former Republican state senate candidate and conservative scholar Jessica Peck Corry, and this Denver Post feature that appeared last November.

After I wrote a column two weeks ago explaining that passage of Amendment 44 - which would legalize possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana - would inadvertently lead to an increase in use among teens, I was deluged with vile hate mail.

As a columnist I am sure you expect your readers to respond to your pieces. I have no doubt some were out of line, which I apologize for despite their independence from our campaign. But I must assume you are ready to accept the bad with the good. And if you received more mail on this than normal, perhaps that is something you should consider when it comes to your readers -- they clearly disagree with you on this one. Nevertheless, when you print a column on a controversial issue and include your E-mail address on the bottom of it, you cannot cry foul when people take you up on the offer to comment on it. As for "vile hate mail," I can almost guarantee the amount of trash that pours into my mailbox for working on this issue (whether it is threatening my life, calling me "swine," or making some derogatory Jewish comment (despite my agnosticism)) I am certain it would appall you. Unfortunately I have but one way to vent and it's not via one of the nation's largest newspapers, but simply working harder to educate more people on the issue.

After doing more research on this topic, more than I can squeeze into a 600-word column, I'm convinced I'm right - even if I sound to some of you like a "terrorist" and a "right-wing fascist." (So much for the "liberal" label.)

I was surprised at how many of you couldn't articulate your thoughts without resorting to name-calling, though I appreciate all 14 of you who took the time to argue your points intelligently.

Once again I apologize for these comments and I do not believe they accurately represent the millions of people around the country who support marijuana reform. Rather, they appear to be from those who fall all the way on way on one side of the ideological spectrum. And if you'd written a column (or columns) as strongly in favor of marijuana reform as you did against it, there is no doubt you'd get similar responses from those on the other side of this issue.

Study after study shows that legalization leads to an increase in use among teens.

It happened in Alaska when the state decriminalized marijuana possession in 1975. Marijuana use among teens soared to twice the rate of teen use in the rest of country, according to a 1988 University of Alaska study.

According to the RAND Drug Policy Research Center:

"Several lines of evidence—on the deterrent effects of marijuana laws, and on decriminalization experiences in the United States, the Netherlands, and Australia—suggest that eliminating (or significantly reducing) criminal penalties for first-time possession of small quantities of marijuana has either no effect or a very small effect on the prevalence of marijuana use.

"There are several statistical analyses of survey data on marijuana use in decriminalization and non-decriminalization states. Survey analyses in decriminalizing states have found either no change in marijuana use, or an increase that was slight and temporary. Decriminalization was not associated with any detectable changes in adolescent attitudes toward marijuana. Most cross-state comparisons have found no difference in adolescent marijuana use in decriminalization vs. non-decriminalization states."

Sources: Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., & Bachman, J. G. (1981), Marijuana decriminalization: The impact on youth, 1975-1980 (Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research); Maloff, D. (1981), "A review of the effects of the decriminalization of marijuana," Contemporary Drug Problems, Fall, 307-322; National Governor's Conference (1977), Marijuana: A study of state policies and penalties (Washington, DC. U.S. Government Printing Office); Single, E. (1989), "The impact of marijuana decriminalization: An update," Journal of Public Health Policy, 10, 456-466; Dinardo, J., & Lemieux, T. (1992), "Alcohol, marijuana, and American youth: The unintended consequences of government regulation" (NBER Working Paper 4212); Thies, C., & Register, C. (1993), "Decriminalization of marijuana and the demand for alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine," Social Science J., 30, 385-399.

After the Dutch began allowing "coffeehouses" to sell marijuana legally to adults, use among 18-to-20-year olds tripled from 15 percent in 1984 to 44 percent in 1996.

For one thing, a higher percentage of people in the United States use marijuana than in the Netherlands. So clearly if our goal is to make fewer people want to use marijuana, they are light years ahead of us. Furthermore, there is far less use of harder drugs like heroin and crack, which just goes to show why marijuana might actually be a gateway drug in the US. The millions of people who want to use marijuana are forced to get it in an illegal marketplace where there are other illegal products.

In fact, the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine reported in 1999:

"There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.... There is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping stone on the basis of its particular physiological effect.... Instead, the legal status of marijuana makes it a gateway drug."


"The figures for cannabis use among the general population reveal the same pictures. The Netherlands does not differ greatly from other European countries. In contrast, a comparison with the US shows a striking difference in this area: 32.9% of Americans aged 12 and above have experience with cannabis and 5.1% have used in the past month. These figures are twice as high as those in the Netherlands."

Source: Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Drug Policy in the Netherlands: Progress Report September 1997-September 1999, (The Hague: Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, November 1999), pp. 7-8.

And the No. 1 reason kids cite in the annual Monitoring the Future studies for not smoking pot is "because it is illegal."

There are countless activities we as a society do not want kids to engage in, but we do not prohibit among adults. Obviously alcohol and tobacco use come to mind, but also consider sex, gambling (which includes the lottery), marriage, driving, etc. Just because they're legal for adults does NOT mean they should be legal for kids. And conversely, just because an activity is illegal for kids does not mean we should make it a crime for adults.

The Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse published a survey in August 2003, which found that teens can get marijuana easier than they can get alcohol. Perhaps it's because there is a legal drinking and smoking age, and there is NO legal marijuana age. The "We Card" program has been a huge success in driving down teen tobacco use, so why couldn't this same concept (closing down or levying HUGE fines against those who sell to underage individuals) apply to marijuana? I admit our initiative does not set this type of controlled system up, but I do not think Colorado voters are ready to do that yet and our first priority is to remove the threat of arrest from adult marijuana possession. Marijuana possession is already happening regardless of marijuana's legal status, both among adults and kids. But we must consider why we focus so much time and attention on keeping adults from using marijuana and start using it to make sure kids are not.

Legalization also gives teens the impression that the drug isn't harmful.

I disagree. Teens get the impression that the drug isn't harmful because when they try it, as many inevitably do, they realize it isn't nearly as big a deal as they have been taught. After all, they constantly see commercials on TV about marijuana and they NEVER see anything about meth or cocaine. Are they going to trust the warnings we give them about other, harder drugs? How about alcohol? How many commercials on TV do you see telling young people that one night of drinking can kill you?

"At the brain and cellular level it causes acute neurotoxicity," said Dr. Paula Riggs, associate professor of psychiatry and director of psychiatric services for adolescents at the Addiction, Research and Treatment Services at the University of Denver. "It impairs cognitive functioning. And if you're a kid who smokes regularly you won't progress developmentally at the same rate as kids who aren't smoking."

I thought it was interesting that your statistic regarding Dutch drug policy refers only to 18-20 year-olds. While I do not think 18-20-year-olds need to be using marijuana, all the mental health research pertains only to much younger individuals. By the time a person is 18 -- of age to fight and die for their country, gamble away everything they own, use tobacco, etc. -- they are not at such risk for these problems.

Not to mention marijuana users are much more likely to drop out of high school.

The World Health Organization noted that, while some studies indicate that adolescents who use marijuana might be more likely to drop out of high school and experience job instability in young adulthood, "the apparent strength of these cross-sectional studies . . . has been exaggerated because those adolescents who are most likely to use cannabis have lower academic aspirations and poorer high school performance prior to using cannabis, than their peers who do not."

Source: Hall, W., Room, R., & Bondy, S., WHO Project on Health Implications of Cannabis Use: A Comparative Appraisal of the Health and Psychological Consequences of Alcohol, Cannabis, Nicotine and Opiate Use, August 28, 1995 (Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 1998).

Yes, kids also are doing other harmful drugs, including drinking alcohol, which is legal if the person is of age. But she said the drug of choice for the majority of teens coming in for treatment is marijuana.

"I can't remember the last time I saw any kid for treatment - whether court-ordered or referred by a teacher or parent or came in voluntarily - who didn't have marijuana use or dependence," Riggs said.

There is no doubt that the majority of people seeking treatment for marijuana are doing it to avoid criminal penalties, stay in school or keep a roof over their head -- it's being forced on them.

Here's why there are now more people seeking treatment for marijuana than other drugs: 1) there are more people being arrested for marijuana each year -- it peaked in 2004 with 771,605, 2) with the growing prison population and strain on the criminal justice system, there are more and more drug courts popping up around the country that sentence people to treatment instead of incarceration, and 3) the idea of punishing people so harshly for using marijuana has become less and less popular, so it would be too unacceptable to continue punishing people with criminal sanctions instead of treatment.


Drug, nicotine and alcohol use among adults is a huge problem, but what most people don't realize is that studies show that the earlier the onset of use, the more likely the person will become a chronic user as an adult.

Exactly. Young people should NOT have access to marijuana so that they are less likely to use it when they are adults. This is exactly why it makes sense to treat marijuana like alcohol so fewer young people can get their hands on it. Right now, young people can get their hands on marijuana easier than alcohol. So if we specify that only adults can have marijuana and treat it like alcohol, it is safe to say it would be just as hard to get marijuana as it is to get alcohol.

Adults are pushing for passage of this amendment, saying that they should have the right to possess a "recreational drug" without having to worry about getting busted and paying a $100 fine - far less than most speeding tickets.

I am going to go out on a limb and assume you have an alcoholic beverage from time to time (this is based on your discussion of going out in LoDo from your previous columns). Do you think you should have to be fined and branded with a drug crime on your record if you have a cocktail at a party? A glass of wine at dinner? A beer while watching a sporting event? I hate to break it to you, but alcohol is nothing other than a "recreational drug."

They're in denial - and downright selfish - if they think their casual use doesn't have a devastating trickle-down effect on teenagers.

Again, do you use alcohol or tobacco? Coffee? These are all substances ranked more addictive than marijuana by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. And the use of alcohol is far more harmful -- as you admitted in your previous columns on this issue. So do you ever have a drink? Do you think your casual use has a devastating trickle-down effect on teenagers? Or are you simply for the drug you use and against the drug others might prefer? Sounds selfish to me.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

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Hate to Say We Told You So

UPDATE: According to the Denver CBS affiliate, the CU-CSU game saw:

- 1 pseudo-riot with pepper spray, rubber bullets and tear gas
- 26 arrests

- 38 sent to detox
- 52 ejected from game
- a clear majority of the 76,000 attendees drunk or drinking in public

Despite all this, Denver police only issued 5 citations!

So, apparently it's worth the City of Denver's time to cite a 47-year-old AIDS patient who possessed a gram of pot in the privacy of a friend's home, but not to cite those people who were openly drinking in public, needed to be sent to detox, caused enough problems to be ejected from a public sporting event, or even got arrested for their behavior.

SAFER called on Denver Police Thursday to issue a moratorium on marijuana citations for the Colorado State University-University of Colorado football game at Invesco Field on Saturday.

The game is traditionally fueled by alcohol and has had its fair share of alcohol-related problems in the past. For example, police in riot gear had to fire tear gas into the stands following the 1999 game to make drunk and violent fans disperse. As a result, alcohol sales inside the "Rocky Mountain Showdown" were completely banned.

Q: If everyone wants to be drunk at the game but cannot drink INSIDE the game, what are they likely to do?

A: DRINK EVEN MORE INTENSELY BEFORE THE GAME!

Fans began tailgating at Invesco Field early in the morning and it wouldn't take long before a dispute between drunken fans led to beer bottles and cans being thrown at one another, as well as at police. At least eight people were arrested, and the police -- after initially using pepper spray failed -- began to fire rubber bullets filled with tear gas into the crowd.

Now, if those individuals who started this drama had smoked a joint instead of funneling 10 beers, do you think they'd have acted in such a manner?

We don't think so, and clearly the voters in Denver don't either. This is not to mention the students at CU and CSU, who also collectively expressed their opinion that marijuana is safer than alcohol when they passed student SAFER referendums at their respective campuses last year.

Nevertheless, Denver police failed to heed our warning. They went ahead and informed the public that anyone caught with marijuana at the pre-game tailgate parties would be punished, and ONLY the use of alcohol -- a far more harmful drug -- would be tolerated.

Brilliant...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

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Austin Chronicle Chronicles Feds Chronic Campaigning Against Chronic

The Austin Chronicle's Jordan Smith wrote this great article about the pattern of federal interference in state marijuana initiatives that has emerged once again this election year.

She discusses the DEA's recent foray into Colorado state politics, as well as the Drug Czar's recent visit to Nevada to campaign against the Committee to Regulate and Contol Marijuana's initiative to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.
The czar's boldness here is a little surprising, given that his office – and his leadership of it – have come under increasing scrutiny in recent months.
She also brings up the Government Accountability Office's recent report that the ONDCP's youth anti-drug media campaign is a complete and utter failure. In fact, studies have even shown that exposure to these advertisements tends to make young people even MORE likely to try marijuana.

Partnership for a Drug-Free America
President and CEO Steve Pasierb quickly jumped to the defense of the ONDCP's efforts, which is kinda scary seeing as he is defending advertisements that made young people MORE likely to be non-drug-free. Shouldn't he be joining in with the GAO, the White House Office of Management and Budget, both senators from Iowa and the millions of Americans around the country who think it's time we tried something new?

According to the USA Today, Pasierb made this statement in defense of the ONDCP's failed media campaign:
...the drug czar's office "is being held to a standard that no other ... advertiser can be held to."
One need not be an advertising genius to realize how ridiculous this comment is. If the drug czar's office were any other advertiser they'd be OUT OF BUSINESS! After all, that's what happens when nobody actually buys the crap you're trying to sell, especially with a $100 million ad campaign.

It's times like these that we must wonder what the ONDCP is truly interested in maintaining. Sobriety? Or their jobs?

Friday, September 08, 2006

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Rocky Reports on Our Opponents' Losing Arguments

Today's Rocky Mountain News discusses yesterday's Legislative Council hearing and our opponents attempts to inject reefer madness into what is supposed to be unbiased, fact-based ballot analysis and commentary for the state's official voter guide.

Amongst the losing arguments:
Republicans and opponents failed in their attempt to insert language in the Blue Book stating one ounce of marijuana could make between 30 and 50 cigarettes, arguing that most voters may be unaware of such a fact.
As we mentioned in an earlier post, these Republicans and opponents did not suggest it include the "30 to 50 cigarette" language. Rep. Mike May (R- ) actually proposed an amendment to have it read that one ounce of marijuana is "31 to 84" cigarettes. It failed, as did his attempt to have it read "at least 31" cigarettes.

Also rejected at the hearing were the erroneous statements of our favorite drug warrior.
Beverly Kinard, of Students Against Drugs, lost a bid to include language that reads "marijuana has been proven to be a gateway drug leading to use of other illegal drugs."
Perhaps this is because it is an utterly false statement. According to the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, which conducted one of the most thorough reports on marijuana to date (Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base):

There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs … There is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping stone on the basis of its particular physiological effect … Instead, the legal status of marijuana makes it a gateway drug.

In fact, the World Health Organization reported that any gateway effect associated with marijuana use may actually be due to marijuana prohibition because "exposure to other drugs when purchasing cannabis on the black-market, increases the opportunity to use other illicit drugs."

So, while Beverly Kinard continues to claim she is an expert on marijuana and its effects, she clearly...well...isn't.

But this is not to say the long-time anti-marijuana activist should give up hope. After all, how could college students NOT flock to a senior citizen's political committee titled Students Against Marijuana?

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Denver Police: Alcohol Use Only for Those Celebrating CU-CSU Football Game

Photo courtesy of Jason Small

SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert publicly called on Denver law enforcement officials to issue a moratorium on marijuana citations this Saturday (Sept. 9) when the University of Colorado faces off with Colorado State University at Invesco Field in Denver. Initial coverage of the press conference appeared on CBS 4, WB 2 and Univision.

The "Rocky Mountain Showdown" is traditionally an alcohol-infused and riotous event, and two years ago CSU student Samantha Spady died from an acute alcohol overdose following a day of drinking before, during and after the game.

Thus, SAFER simply encouraged the Denver police to respect the will of the voters, who approved Initiative 100 (I-100) last November, and focus their attention on more serious problems, many of which involve the use and misuse of alcohol. After all, if party-goers are not as fearful of being punished for using marijuana instead of alcohol, perhaps more of them would make the safer choice and fewer alcohol-related issues would arise.

This is not a new concept, as police in Portugal used this approach during a EuroCup soccer match in 2004. They openly announced they would not be citing adults for using marijuana, and wouldn't you know it, there was far less alcohol use and, as a result, far fewer problems.

Of course the Denver police are maintaining that they will continue to cite adults as usual, and they even issued public statements warning revelers against using marijuana this weekend. In other words, they have made it very clear that there will be one drug used this weekend and one drug only: alcohol.





Thursday, September 07, 2006

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BREAKING NEWS: State's Political Establishment Opposes Marijuana Legalization

Today the lead proponent of Amendment 44 appeared before the state senators and representatives of the Joint Legislative Council for a hearing to finalize the ballot analysis and comments to appear in the state's official voting guide (known as the Blue Book).

The two days of hearings covered all the referenda questions and ballot initiatives, and wouldn't you know it, Amendment 44 was the very last item on the agenda.

The members of the council appeared to have their minds on two things: 1) whether they could continue accepting gifts from lobbyists, which would be banned if Amendment 41 passes, and 2) whether this meant they'd actually have to pay for their own booze.

Assistant Minority Leader Ted Harvey (R-43) complained about the fact that he would no longer be able to accept free beers, and another Republican legislator was curious if this meant he would have to forfeit all those gift baskets with bottles of wine.

Perhaps it was the clearly biased manner in which Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff (D-6) handled the affair, or perhaps our elected officials simply prefer alcohol to marijuana, an undoubtedly less harmful drug, but these elected officials spent hours (literally) huffing and puffing about their personal taps being shut off and barely inhaled when it came to the marijuana initiative.

What was more frightening was many of the council members desire to just throw anything our opponents said into the final draft.

Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RHIDTA)
director Tom Gorman actually testified that "one ounce of marijuana will make between 56 and 84 marijuana cigarettes." What's even funnier is how he arrived at this number. Keep in mind this is a guy who worked as a narc in California for 20-some-odd years and now runs an executive branch entity responsible for coordinating the anti-drug efforts of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in four states.

Apparently he asked "some people he knows who use marijuana" how many joints they could roll out of an ounce. He conceded that the first few people he asked did not know, but then one of the people told him that he actually sat down and rolled up an entire ounce. The result: "a whole lot of joints."

The Amendment 44 proponent explained to the committee that the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), the government agency that supplies marijuana to federally approved medical marijuana patients, reports that one ounce of marijuana is equivalent to approximately 31 joints, or roughly a pack-and-a-half of cigarettes.

This sure is a strange twist: the marijuana legalizers are spouting government statistics and the federal government's "expert" on marijuana is getting his policy advice from unidentified potheads he somehow isn't compelled to arrest. Now, we don't care what Mr. Gorman does or who he associates with in his free time. We just wish he and his friends would return the favor.

But this was not the end of the craziness....not even close.

House Minority Leader Mike May (R-44) requested that the official Blue Book comment state that -- get this -- one ounce of marijuana was equal to 31-84 marijuana cigarettes! Other legislatures objected, and because Rep. May is such a fair guy, he decided we should just split the difference between fact and fiction and proposed an amendment to have it read "31-86 marijuana cigarettes." Wouldn't you know it, it failed.

But Rep. May wasn't done yet. He then proposed an amendment to have it read "at least 31 marijuana cigarettes," which is close, but not nearly the same as "approximately 31" marijuana cigarettes. As a result, this one got shot down, too.

In the end, we left the two-day hearing with the same final draft we went in with. Your tax dollars at work folks...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

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Denver Post Readers Defend 'Losers' Behind Amendment 44

A few letters-to-the editor appeared on the back-page of the Perspective section in Sunday's Denver Post, along with a good-sized stock photo from when we first introduced the initiative back in December.

There were three criticizing Cindy Rodriguez's modern-day "Reefer Madness column. Then there was one commending the Post editors for their editorial criticizing the DEA for using tax dollars to campaign against our initiative. A similar letter also appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette commending the editors for their thrashing of the DEA's actions.

But best -- or at least most entertaining -- of all, was this little gem, which was clearly submitted by a real winner:
I would like to say two things to Jeff Sweetin, special agent in charge for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's Denver office.
We have a little something to say to Jeff Sweetin, too, but the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, Colorado Springs Gazette, Boulder Daily Camera and Aurora Sentinel already said it.
First, thank you for your continuing efforts to clean up the state of Colorado.

Despite the resistance you face from liberal mountain communities for your enforcement efforts...
Liberal mountain communities like Colorado Springs and Aurora...
...most citizens sleep better knowing your agents are up there too.
That is until the DEA mistakenly kicks down the doors during a botched no-knock raid and "accidentally" kills the family cat.
Second, how can the general public make donations to help you keep marijuana illegal in Colorado?
It's called paying taxes, and unlike donating voluntarily to a political campaign, it is compulsory regardless of your beliefs on this highly contentious issue.
I can only hope the general public is smart enough to see the campaign by SAFER for what it is. SAFER is clearly a bunch of losers with barely the ambition to put on a suit and come up with a misleading acronym.
Yeah, because introducing a statewide ballot initiative and collecting more than 130,000 signatures to place it on the ballot (when fewer than 68,000 are required) is hardly ambitious. We are the first to agree we are losers, but that's only because we are ambitious enough to put on a suit, file that committee with a "misleading acronym" and spend all of our free time campaigning for a statewide measure.
There are many people in our state whose dangerous drug knowledge comes solely from what they see on television.
We couldn't agree more!

SAFER/Amendment 44's 2006 TV advertising budget: $0

Office of National Drug Control Policy TV advertising budget: $100,000,000

Need we say more? Probably not, but we will anyway.

The ONDCP's ad campaign, which focuses almost exclusively on marijuana, is set to receive an additional $70 million in 2007 (for a total annual budget of $170 million). This is despite the fact that it 1) has been completely ineffective, and 2) has been found to increase the likelihood that young people will try marijuana.
Thankfully, the DEA is being responsible and exercising its role as non-partisan experts on the subject.
Is spending federal taxpayer money campaigning against a state initiative -- a potentially illegal activity -- responsible? Is it responsible to lie to kids about the effects of a relatively benign drug like marijuana, so that they do not trust us when we try to talk to them about other, more harmful drugs? Is it responsible to condition young people to think that using alcohol is OK and using marijuana -- a much less harmful drug both to the user and to society -- is not.

The only time the DEA took responsibility for anything was back on August 27, when he special agent in charge of the DEA's Colorado operations, Jeffrey Sweetin, actually admitted his agency was actively campaigning against Amendment 44. But then he changed his story and took that back on August 28.

As for the DEA's "expert" an purportedly unbiased opinion that marijuana absolutely must remain illegal, I believe Upton Sinclair said it best: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

As for the letter's author...
Matthew Hayes, Aurora
If you know him, or anyone else who shares his opinions, please let them know their ignorance is our inspiration.

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Likely Aspen Voters Support Amendment 44

UPDATE: The Aspen Daily News unofficial on-line poll has closed. The final results:

Will you support the state measure, which goes to a vote this November, that would allow people 21 and older to have up to 1 ounce of marijuana?

Yes - 71.26% (528 votes) 71.12 %

No -
28.74% (213 votes) 28.88 %

Total votes: 741



Monday, September 04, 2006

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Shameless Fundraising Plug

The campaign for Amendment 44 has really begun to pick up this past week and we have been working on producing a variety of campaign materials to be distributed around the state during the next two months. We will soon be mobilizing the hundreds of Coloradans who have volunteered to help the campaign, but we are still in need of funds to produce enough of these materials to go around.

So, if you think marijuana is safer than alcohol and support the initiative to make marijuana legal for adults in Colorado, please visit our site's donation page and make a financial contribution today.

After all, you're already supporting our opposition with your federal tax dollars, so it's only fair that you contribute a little to the campaign to even things out.

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Aspen Readers Approve Amendment 44

An unofficial poll conducted on-line by the Aspen Daily News shows there is a great deal of support for Amendment 44 amongst its readers.

Will you support the state measure, which goes to a vote this November, that would allow people 21 and older to have up to 1 ounce of marijuana?

Yes - 7
1.12% (394 votes) 71.12 %

No -
28.88% (160 votes) 28.88 %

Total votes: 554


Assuming the readers of the Aspen Daily News are voters in Aspen, this could mean trouble for Aspen community safety officer Rick Magnuson, who is challenging five-term Sheriff Bob Braudis for the seat of Pitkin County's top law enforcer. Braudis is well-known and well-respected by many, including the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, for his opposition to the government's war on marijuana users.

Magnuson has made it very clear he will be making drug policy the focus of his campaign, and according to this poll it appears he might have a hard time convincing voters in and around Aspen that even more of the county's time and resources should be diverted toward hunting down and punishing adult marijuana users.

In fact, Magnuson has gone to some pretty extreme lengths in his quest to control what Aspenites are putting into their bodies. This includes posing as an Aspen Daily News editor on a call to a private health clinic in hopes of obtaining private information on Braudis's stay there.

So, let's take a look at the reasoning of these two candidates.

Braudis:
"If you take the money we spend on interdiction, incarceration investigation, probation, -- all these -ations -- if you take that amount of money and invested it in research and treatment for addiction, we would probably have an anti-addiction drug just as we have a boner pill. Leave it to America to come up with a boner bill before a cancer pill. Right now treatment and education are so poorly funded in relation to incarceration, it is almost embarrassing. So should local law enforcement train their finite resources to try to tell an adult you can't smoke that or you can't ingest that? I personally believe it's a losing battle. It's a waste of money. We try to hand off certain drug investigations to the DEA and most of their responses are: 'Oh, we know about that guy but he's too small for us. Well if he's too small for an agency that has nothing else to do than to adhere to their mission statement to enforce drug laws, it's probably too small for a very tiny department like the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office. There are a million laws on the books. We can't enforce them all. I decide which laws we're going to emphasize and citizen input is very important to me. I have been criticized by a very small minority of Pitkin County residents for our drug enforcement policy. If I had 80 percent of the residents here say, 'We want you to crank it up,' I would have to crank it up or say this is not my job anymore."
Sounds pretty reasonable to us. And what does Magnuson P.I. have to say?

Magnuson:

...Magnuson said if he were sheriff, he would be open to bringing in outside agencies, such as the DEA, to crack down on the county's drug problems.

"The bottom line is I was trying to find out the truth and I did. You can question those tools or techniques of finding out the truth, but often times in law enforcement that's what you have to do to find the truth. ... I probably made a mistake...."
Hmmm.... the DEA sure isn't too high up on our list of favorite government entities these days.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how this election plays out, both in terms of the Pitkin sheriff's race and Amendment 44, not to mention any crossover that could very well occur.

As Braudis noted:
"...I'm taking the high road in this campaign. I'm not going to throw any mud at Rick or spear him. I'm more than anxious to debate these issues you have raised and any other issues that bubble up through the campaign process. ...This has energized me. I'm looking forward to it and the day after they count the votes, we'll know which philosophy appeals to the most people."
Thanks to the Aspen Daily News poll, we know which philosophy that will likely be.

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'Drug election agency'

Yesterday the Daily Camera in Boulder published an editorial criticizing the DEA for meandering in the Colorado state election and actively campaigning against the Colorado initiative to make marijuana legal for adults. As you might recall, the Camera originally broke the story about a DEA agent sending out an E-mail seeking a campaign manager for an effort to oppose Amendment 44.

While the Camera went much easier on the DEA than its Colorado Springs counterpart, the Gazette, it arrived at the same conclusion.
The question is whether it is proper for a federal worker to invoke his employer's name and use a government phone line and e-mail account to try to defeat a citizen initiative. And the answer is "no."

Sunday, September 03, 2006

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Meet Our Opposition

Although a number of media outlets picked up on the case of the DEA campaigning against Amendment 44, one reporter dug just a little further. Erin Rosa at Colorado Confidential revealed that the mysterious DEA E-mail the Daily Camera first reported on last week was not actually sent from DEA Special Agent Michael Moore (despite its including his title, office and cell phone numbers, and Department of Justice E-mail address).

Rather, according to DEA spokeswoman Suzanne Halonen, the source of the troublesome E-mail was drug warrior extraordinaire Beverly Kinard of the Christian Drug Education Center in Canon City. This is the same Beverly Kinard who tried to derail Amendment 44 in the ballot title process.

According to the DEA, however, it is not directly supporting efforts to defeat our initiative. Yet we must wonder what the DEA's response would have been if our committee had been caught red-handed sending out E-mails under the guise of an official DEA agent. I doubt it would be something like this:

“There’s a committee they started called Guarding Your Children Against Marijuana and they’re a group of really wonderfully minded citizens, but they might not be the most politically savvy,” said Suzanne Halonen, when explaining the mistake.


They sure got that right...

And apparently the DEA could use a little help itself, as Bev's group is not "Gaurding YOUR Children Against Marijuana," but rather Guarding OUR Children Against Marijuana or GOCAM. After all, the DEA and GOCAM wouldn't want to give the impression that they are telling YOU how to raise YOUR children.

So GOCAM is politically inept, and apparently the DEA can relate. But does this explain why some "non-politically savvy" woman opposed to a statewide marijuana initiative is getting backed by a federal government agency that us taxpayers have to pay for? Since when does our executive branch provide campaign consulting to random citizens who happen to be lacking in expertise?

It gets worse for the DEA, though. The article discusses how Bev is known for making wild claims and working with national and international anti-drug agencies to oppose the reform of marijuana laws.

...Kinard was caught making erroneous statements about the properties of hemp; like that it caused overnight skin cancer in laboratory animals. It also says that she cited an organization, the Dutch National Board of Drug Prevention, that didn’t even exist.

So, she's not politically savvy. And she's not factually savvy. And she makes up fake sources for the information she is peddling. Boy am I glad she's being sponsored by our federal government to "guard our children."

While we respect Bev's passion, we do wish she would focus her yarn-spinning on sweaters with kittens on them instead of marijuana policy. In other words, we think GOCAM should GOCAMpaign elsewhere.

Friday, September 01, 2006

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CSU Students Gather to Discuss YES on 44 Campaign on Campus


Students at Colorado State University took time out of the first week of the fall semester to discuss the YES on 44 campaign that will soon be ramping up on campus and in Fort Collins.

The meeting was sponsored by the Libertarian Party of CSU (LPCSU) and the CSU chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). The members of these two great organizations, along with a number of other CSU students, played an instrumental role in the petition drive campaign, collecting thousands of signatures on and off campus over the summer.

Now they are poised to make the difference in this campaign by registering and turning out thousands of new and younger voters at CSU and around Fort Collins. Expect to see bright green flyers, images of marijuana leaves and other campaign chotchkes slowly begin to pop up until everyone at CSU and in town can no longer help but be aware of the chance to legalize marijuana for Colorado adults November 7.

Colorado State has been a breeding ground for campaign volunteers and a wealth of positive media coverage of SAFER's efforts. You might remember it was the first of five colleges at which we coordinated successful student referendums that asked university officials to equalize penalties for student alcohol and marijuana violations. Now it could very well make all the difference when voters decide on Amendment 44 in November.

If you are a CSU student and you would like to help out on the campaign, please contact us or sign up on-line at our campaign Web site -- http://www.safercolorado.org. We are also seeking students interested in taking on larger roles or serving as interns on the campaign.

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Colorado Springs Gazette Blasts DEA for Meddling in Colorado Marijuana Initiative

On Wednesday, the Colorado Springs Gazette added its voice to the chorus of Colorado newspapers criticizing the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for poking its federal nose into our state initiative.

We especially enjoyed this part:

...one would think that the frontline soldiers in that effort at the Drug Enforcement Agency would have better things to do with their time, manpower and money than to try to sabotage a marijuana-legalization measure on Colorado’s ballot this fall.

And this one:

If the DEA wants to make itself look hard-headed, hardhearted and ridiculous prosecuting medical marijuana users, that’s one thing. But when it begins meddling in the political process, to influence a policy decision that only Colorado voters can and should make, that’s another.


And this one:

The DEA should immediately put a stop to such activities and butt-out of Colorado’s business. If it can’t find better uses for the taxpayers’ money, Congress should slash its budget accordingly.

This is a welcome voice in this debate because the Gazette is considered by most to be a pretty conservative-leaning paper. Same goes for the Rocky Mountain News. Toss in the Denver Post, which is generally considered to be left-of-center, and it becomes clear that the DEA's actions appear pretty slimy regardless of one's political persuasion.

While none of these newspapers actually endorsed or voiced direct support the initiative, it is nice to see they are at least opposed to the ridiculous tactics being used by our opponents.

After all, as the Gazette so eloquently put it:

It’s outrageous, plain and simple.

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