Skip to main content

Boulder DA Stops Marijuana Possession Prosecutions

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #759)
Politics & Advocacy

The district attorney in Colorado's Boulder County announced Wednesday he will dismiss all pending small-time marijuana and paraphernalia possession cases, saying that given overwhelming support for Amendment 64 in Boulder County he would be hard pressed to find a jury to convict.

Boulder County DA Stan Garnett (
"You've seen an end to mere possession cases in Boulder County under my office," DA Stan Garnett told the University of Colorado student newspaper the Daily Camera. "It was an ethical decision," Garnett said. "The standard for beginning or continuing criminal prosecution is whether a prosecutor has reasonable belief they can get a unanimous conviction by a jury. Given Amendment 64 passed by a more than 2-to-1 margin (in Boulder County), we concluded that it would be inappropriate for us to continue to prosecute simple possession of marijuana less than an ounce and paraphernalia for those over 21."

While Amendment 64 will not go into effect most likely until sometime in January, Garnett said the high level of support for the measure in the county convinced him to begin dropping cases.

"We were already having trouble sitting a jury anyway," Garnett said. "That overwhelming vote total, that's where we get our juries from."

Boulder police Chief Mark Beckner told the Daily Camera that his department would now stop issuing tickets or making arrests for mere marijuana possession of less than an ounce and paraphernalia.

"We will not be issuing any summonses for the offenses cited by the Boulder DA," Beckner said. "We had already told our officers it was a waste of time to issue summonses for those offenses anyway, given the passage of the amendment. We are in a wait and see mode on how the state will regulate sales and possibly use in public places."

Garnett's stance came the same day Amendment 64 proponents called on other prosecutors, particularly Denver DA Mitch Morrisey, to follow his lead.

"A strong majority of Coloradans made it clear that they do not believe adults should be made criminals for possessing small amounts of marijuana," said Mason Tvert, a proponent of Amendment 64. "Colorado prosecutors can follow the will of the voters by dropping these cases today and announcing they are no longer taking on new ones. We applaud District Attorney Garnett for respecting the will of the voters, and we hope his colleagues across the state will follow his lead," Tvert said. "We do not see why District Attorney Morrissey or any other prosecutor would want to continue seeking criminal penalties for conduct that will be legal in the next month or so."

Prosecutors in some Washington counties, where marijuana legalization also passed, have also dropped pending pot possession prosecutions.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Uncle Bob (not verified)

Still hard to grasp that this is really happening... but it is, and it's a great thing.  God bless America!  To HELL with the war on drugs and the greedy exploiters who support it.  Send a clear message from sea to shining sea, if you are called upon to serve in a jury, DO NOT CONVICT.  When you are given the opportunity to vote, SPEAK WITH YOUR VOTE.  A government "by the people, for the people" cannot deny the will of the American people.  To do so would undermine the most basic of its functions.

Wed, 11/14/2012 - 9:55pm Permalink
sicntired (not verified)

In reply to by Uncle Bob (not verified)

If what you say is true then the last 100 years must have been a terrible mistake.Can I have my 12 years back,please?The drug war took them.I'm sure if it was all just a mistake I'll get them all back,right?

Thu, 11/15/2012 - 3:00am Permalink
Carl Darby (not verified)

In reply to by sicntired (not verified)

The problem is that the concept of jury nullification has not only not been taught as part of our legal heritage it has been actively discourage by "professional" jurists. Most juries are told that their only job is to make a determination of the facts in a case; questions concerning the law are to be directed to the bench. But this is not true.

Virtually no one knows that they have not only a right under common law but a moral obligation to evaluate the LAW -- as well as the facts when arriving at a verdict. In addition this determination can be made privately, involving only your conscience and it is not subject to questioning or scrutiny by anyone.

The sad reality is that this DA is throwing in the towel because he is tired of prosecuting cases that clearly go against the majority of the people, even though he could still prosecute them and win because our legal system (we don't have a justice system) is so perverted.

Thu, 11/15/2012 - 2:51pm Permalink
sicntired (not verified)

Remember who just got re elected President?If Obama allows this to stand it will be his second 180.I think it's Michelle who is behind his first switch.Now we'll see who wears the pants in the WH.My money's on the girl.

Thu, 11/15/2012 - 2:56am Permalink

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.