Friday, November 04, 2005

Denver "legalizes" marijuana

From Rob Kampia, Executive Director, Marijuana Policy Project

On Tuesday, Denver voted to allow the possession of small amounts of marijuana ... and a national Gallup poll showed that 55% of Americans want to see the same thing happen nationally.

Denver voters passed a local ballot initiative -- by a 53.5% to 46.5% margin -- that eliminates all city-level penalties for the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults aged 21 and older.

Denver is now the third major U.S. city to vote to allow the possession of small amounts of marijuana. In September 2003, 59% of Seattle voters passed an initiative that made marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority in the city. And, in November 2004, Oakland voters passed a similar initiative with 64% of the vote.

Denver's campaign, which was run by Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), was built around the large volume of scientific evidence showing that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol. The initiative's language puts the city on record in support of treating private, adult use and possession of marijuana "in the same manner as the private use and possession of alcohol."

Unfortunately, in Telluride, Colorado, a proposed ordinance that would have made marijuana possession the lowest law enforcement priority was narrowly defeated by a 52% to 48% margin -- which was a mere 24 vote difference!

In a national Gallup poll released Tuesday, a record number of Americans -- fully 36% -- said that "the use of marijuana should be made legal." (And 60% said it should not be, with 4% undecided.)

When asked whether "the possession of small amounts of marijuana should or should not be treated as a criminal offense," a solid majority -- 55% -- said it should not be. (43% said it should be.)

And 78% said they favored "making marijuana legally available for doctors to prescribe in order to reduce pain and suffering" (versus only 22% who opposed this).


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