Marijuana: Denver Man to Challenge Pot Arrest After Legalization Ordinance in Effect 12/9/05

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When Denver voters passed I-100, the SAFER initiative making possession of up to an ounce of marijuana legal for persons 21 or older, Denver officials vowed to ignore the will of the voters and continue to prosecute people under the state marijuana law. They have lived up to their word, filing state charges against at least 12 adults for simple marijuana possession since then the ordinance went into effect on November 16.

Now, one of them is fighting back. On December 1, Eric Footer appeared in court in Denver to plead not guilty and demand a trial. Footer was cited a day after the ordinance became city law, and he accuses city officials of "thumbing their nose" at voters. A three-man legal team led by Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente will provide his defense.

"I was just angry and confused," the 39-year-old Footer told the Rocky Mountain News. "I didn't understand how the [voter-passed] law could be in effect and not be enforced," he said. "It doesn't make sense. It either is or it isn't the law."

"This is about forcing the Denver police and the Denver DA to enforce this law and respect the will of the voters," said Vicente during the same interview. "Based on the passage of I-100, Mr. Footer made a reasonable assumption that adult marijuana possession was protected in Denver... that law enforcement and the DA would follow the will of the people. "This is a city ordinance now; it's not theoretical."

Assistant City Attorney Vince DiCroce disagreed. "The state law is still in effect and cases will be prosecuted now, just like they were before ( I-100 ), under the state statute," said DiCroce, director of the city attorney's Prosecution and Code Enforcement Section, which prosecutes marijuana cases. "We're going to just continue to do what we've done," he told the News.

The Colorado courts will sort this out. A first hearing is set for January 18.

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Issue #414 -- 12/9/05

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Update and Appeal: DRCNet in 2006 | Feature: Vancouver Keeps Leading the Way on Drug Reform, Despite Bumps in the Road | Feature: Seattle Conference on Drug War Exit Strategies Gets Down to Nuts and Bolts | Feature: Washington Legislature to Consider Bill to Examine Alternatives to Prohibition | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Marijuana: Denver Man to Challenge Pot Arrest After Legalization Ordinance in Effect | Chronic Pain: South Carolina Pain Doctors Lose Appeal, But Get New Sentencing Hearings | Medical Marijuana: Judges Growls at More Possible Prosecution Misconduct in Bryan Epis Resentencing Hearings | Medical Marijuana: San Diego County to Sue to Overturn California Law | Latin America: Prison Sentence for Dying Woman, 79, Sparks International Appeal | Australia: Australian Government Goes After Rave Ecstasy Testing Group | Europe: Czech Lower House Passes Drug Reform Measure, Including Decriminalization of Marijuana Possession and Personal Grows | Canada: With Elections Looming, Conservatives Talk Tough on Drugs | Europe: Dutch Political Parties Call for Regulated Pilot Program to Supply Marijuana to Coffee Shops | Web Scan: After I-75 in Seattle, re-launched web site from Bolivia's coca country | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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