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Marijuana: Mendocino County Coalition Moves to Further Restrict Cultivation -- But Late-Breaking Judge's Ruling May Undo Their Earlier Victory

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outdoor marijuana grow in California, harvested early (from NDIC via usdoj.gov)
In June, foes of Mendocino County, California's relaxed marijuana cultivation ordinance, managed to narrowly repeal the eight-year-old Measure G, which made marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority and barred prosecution of anyone growing fewer than 25 plants. Now the Yes On B Coalition is seeking to tighten the screws even further on marijuana cultivation.

Measure B, which won with nearly 52% of the vote, undid the lowest law enforcement priority and no prosecution policy by repealing Measure G. Under the new law, only medical marijuana patients and providers are exempt from prosecution, and only if they do not exceed county limits of six mature or 12 immature plants and eight ounces of dried marijuana, the same as the minimum provided for by state law.

In a press release last Friday, Yes On B announced it planned to ask county supervisors this week to further restrict grows in the county. According to the release, the group plans to ask the supervisors to:

  • Amend the existing county nuisance ordinance to name off-site marijuana odors as a nuisance.
  • Amend the nuisance ordinance to name off-site visibility of marijuana plants as a nuisance.
  • Amend the nuisance ordinance to make violation of the ordinance a criminal offense, rather than merely a civil offense.
  • Adopt a new ordinance to prevent dispensing of diesel fuel into unsafe tanks.
  • Adopt a new ordinance establishing a Medical Marijuana Impact Fee to be paid by all medical marijuana growers, with proceeds going into a Medical Marijuana Impact Fund to be used

"The work we began with Measure B is still incomplete, and will be incomplete until reasonable protections are available to all residents from the impacts of nearby marijuana growing," stated a portion of the release.

Expect a battle over this in Mendocino, which takes in somewhere between $500 million and $1.5 billion a year from marijuana crops. Opponents of restrictions came late to the battle over Measure B, but are now organized and mobilized.

Update:A judge's ruling Friday appears to have overturned Measure B's plant limits.

Marijuana: Fayetteville, Arkansas, Lowest Priority Initiative in Signature Drive

An initiative that would make adult marijuana offenses the lowest law enforcement priority in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is now in the signature-gathering phase. Canvassers in the Ozarks college town need 3,600 signatures to make the November ballot. If it makes it to the ballot and is approved, Fayetteville would become the second Arkansas town to approve such a measure. Eureka Springs did the same thing in 2006.

Directed by Sensible Fayeteville, the initiative would mandate that:

  • Fayetteville law enforcement officers shall make law enforcement activity relating to marijuana offenses, where the marijuana was intended for adult personal use, their lowest law enforcement priority. Law enforcement activities relating to marijuana offenses include, but are not limited to, investigation, citation, arrest, seizure of property, or providing assistance to the prosecution of adult marijuana offenses.
  • Fayetteville's prosecuting attorney shall make marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia offenses, where the marijuana and paraphernalia was intended for adult personal use, the lowest prosecutorial priority.
  • This lowest law enforcement priority policy shall not apply to driving under the influence.

It would also order the city clerk to send letters every year to state and local representatives calling for marijuana law reform. That letter reads: "The citizens of Fayetteville have passed an initiative to de-prioritize adult marijuana offenses, where the marijuana is intended for personal use, and request that the federal and Arkansas state governments take immediate steps to enact similar laws."

"You know, in Arkansas, if you get caught a second time with marijuana, no matter what amount, it's an automatic felony. That destroys lives. That means you can't vote and you lose your financial aid to college," Sensible Fayetteville campaign director Ryan Denham told KNWA Fox 24. "This is clogging the court and jail system here in Washington County and it's taking away precious police resources," he said.

Lowest priority initiatives have already passed in six California cities (Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, West Hollywood), Seattle, Denver, Columbia, Missouri; Hailey, Idaho; and Missoula County, Montana.

Marijuana: Mendocino County Move to Restrict Grows Passes, Barely

Two weeks ago, we reported on the battle over Measure B in California's Mendocino County. At that time, 10 days after voters there went to the polls to weigh in on the bid to undo the county's groundbreaking Measure G, which allowed anyone to grow up to 25 marijuana plants, Measure B was leading by a margin of 52% to 48%, but more than a third of the votes had not been counted.

Well, now they have, and the results are the same: Measure B was approved by voters by a margin of 52% to 48%. Now, if the measure is found to be constitutional -- which is in doubt because of a recent California appellate court ruling -- only medical marijuana patients and caregivers can grow, and they can only grow six plants per patient.

Still, opponents of Measure B claimed a "moral victory," as Dale Gieringer of California NORML put it in a press release. "The final margin was so close that opponents would have won in a general election, where turnout is larger, younger, and more liberally inclined. Marijuana proponents intend to return to the county with more workable proposals for legally regulating the county's marijuana industry," Gieringer wrote.

Spurred in part by cultural opposition to marijuana, in part by worries over crime and quality of life issues associated with the county's $500 million a year (lowball figure) pot crop, and in part by complaints that local employers could not find workers because they were making more money in the pot trade, the initiative was expected to win convincingly. The measure was placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors, with support from the city councils of Willits and Ukiah, the district attorney, the county's leading newspaper and major media, and local development interests upset by the difficulty of paying competitive wages.

"Everything was stacked against us from the beginning," said No on B campaign director Laura Hamburg. But the No on B campaign managed to raise serious doubts about whether Measure B would have any impact on the large commercial grows that stoked much of the concern, turning the election into a horse race.

Look for a quick legal challenge to Measure B from the Mendocino activist community, which has already vowed to go back to voters with new measures aimed at taxing and regulating marijuana production and sales there.

Feature: Mendocino Marijuana Battle Waits for Election Results, Restrictive Initiative Draws Strong Opposition

Eight years ago, voters in Northern California's Mendocino County passed the groundbreaking Measure G, which allowed people to grow up to 25 marijuana plants for medical or personal use and directed local law enforcement authorities to make marijuana offenses their lowest enforcement priority. Since then, the already well-established Mendocino cultivation community has exploded, and with the size of the crop estimated to be somewhere between $500 million and $1.6 billion a year, marijuana is now the backbone of the local economy.

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outdoor marijuana harvest in California (from NDIC via usdoj.gov)
But with the boom have come problems, and now the backlash. Some of it is purely ingrained cultural opposition to marijuana, but other Mendocino residents have complained of environmental damage from commercial grows, diversion of water supplies, trash in the forests, neighboring backyards with valuable crops that attract thieves and armed robbers, the smell of growing marijuana wafting into schools and homes, and the disturbing of rural tranquility by pot-enriched ne'er-do-wells roaring around back roads in their high-dollar SUVs.

Last week, Mendocino residents went to the polls to vote on a measure that would undo Measure G and set cultivation limits at six plants, as mandated by state law. (That portion of the law was recently declared unconstitutional by a state appeals court; see our coverage here.) Known as Measure B, the initiative had the support of most of the county Board of Supervisors and the rest of the political establishment and prominent local media, and polling suggested it would easily pass.

But despite media reports on election night that the measure had passed by a margin of 52% to 48%, the election is by no means over. Nearly 11,000 hand-delivered absentee ballots, or about 38% of the total vote, have not yet been counted. The county has until the end of the month to count them and certify the election, although the final results could be announced any day.

Opponents of Measure B think that they will prevail when all the votes are counted. Supporters of Measure B say the same.

"The margin right now is only 710 votes, and we think we will win in the end," said Laura Hamburg, spokesperson for the insurgent movement to defeat the initiative known as the No on Measure B Coalition.

"One reason for optimism is that those last minute ballots are coming from people who were very concerned about making sure the registrar got their votes, and we have been stirring those people to get out and vote. The second reason is geography. The county seat of Ukiah is more conservative, but the outlying areas of the county have been much more liberal and sympathetic to mom and pop personal and medical use. These rural areas are where the hand-delivered absentee ballots are coming from."

"There are a lot of conservative voters who take voting seriously and don't trust the Post Office and want to hand deliver their votes," argued Ross Liberty, spokesman for Yes on Mendocino County Measure B Coalition. "And our strongest district is District 1, which is where most of the uncounted votes are coming from. This is still doable," he said, while conceding that some of his allies consider his prediction of a 60%-40% win "overly optimistic." Still, said Liberty, his team all agrees they are odds on favorites to win.

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Dale Gieringer (courtesy pot-tv.net)
"No matter what the final outcome, this is a moral victory for us," said Dale Gieringer, executive director of California NORML, which opposes Measure B. "We were opposed by the board of supervisors, city councils, the sheriff, the DA, the monied civic groups, and the leading local media. We had the deck stacked against us, we were supposed to lose, but this has turned into a really close contest," he said.

Liberty said he was not opposed to medical marijuana or even recreational marijuana use, but that the situation in Mendocino County was intolerable. "I'm a libertarian," he said. "I would think I'd died and gone to heaven if federal marijuana prohibition were lifted, but I don't want Mendocino to be the only place doing it. These people aren't growing despite it being illegal, but because it's illegal. They're growing and dealing because its illegal and has a federal price support program."

Liberty said he was not personally impacted by marijuana growing -- although he complained about "the trained helplessness that dependence on federal marijuana prohibition brings to our community" -- but that other supporters of repeal were. "People who live near me grow, and it doesn't bother me, but there are quite a few people who can't stand the smell of it -- it really reeks in the summer -- and it can make their lives miserable," he said.

"It's also dangerous because it's worth so much money," Liberty continued. "One lady I know, within a hundred yards of her house, there's collectively a million-dollar marijuana crop in her neighbors' back yards. You have people with guns going through yards just following their noses looking for marijuana to steal. How do you let you kids out to play when that's going on?"

Liberty mentioned yet another problem, too. "I've had people grow on my property without my permission," he said. "It's not medical marijuana, it's just dope growers and outlaws." But, Liberty said, that incident predated Prop. 215.

Measure B doesn't address the real problems created by commercial growing, said opponents. "This initiative isn't aimed at the problems created by the large commercial grows -- the growing on public land, the environmental damage -- but at the people growing fewer than 25 plants," said Gieringer. "They're cracking down on the small growers, not the commercial growers. With even our opponents conceding it shouldn't be illegal, we should be about dealing with the problems associated with those big grows, and Measure B doesn't do that," he said.

"We've seen an increase in criminal profiteering with commercial grows and growing on federal land, so there was a backlash from that," Hamburg acknowledged. "People started feeling like the energy was different, they saw all this profiteering. We're in our fourth decade of marijuana farming here, and we do it well, it is one of the glues that holds this county together, but there had never been any public venting of tensions about these changes," she said. "People wanted to DO SOMETHING, and many of them initially supported Measure B, but that has been changing as they really think about what it means," she said.

"This measure targets the wrong people," argued Hamburg. "If you want to address marijuana, why turn on the community? Why don't we see instead how we can thwart those big commercial grows? Mom and pop growers are community-minded people; if they are compensated by the dispensaries, they report their income. They're proud of being organic gardeners. We think we should put resources and energy into fighting crime, not backyard grows, and that's what's been happening."

Indeed, with the election of a new sheriff and district attorney in late 2006, marijuana law enforcement has come down harder, and asset forfeiture numbers are rising through the roof -- up from $100,000 in 2005 to $1.6 million last year -- but it's not the illegal large national forest grows being targeted, said Hamburg.

"When the sheriff goes after those big commercial grows, all they typically find is some guys living in tents in the woods -- there are no assets to seize," she noted. "We're very concerned that they are targeting smaller growers. Don't turn on law-abiding citizens who are part of the fabric of this community," she pleaded. "Don't turn us into criminals. We don't want to be felons for growing one plant for personal use or seven for medical."

It wouldn't just be mass criminalization that Mendocino would have to worry about if Measure B passes, it could be economic recession. Marijuana is by far the most important economic activity in the county, and Liberty freely admits that victory could lead to hard times, or, as he put it, "a period of adjustment."

"To the extent that we move the needle, we will have to adjust from an economy dependent on federal prohibition to one that is driven by the free market," he said. "Now, you don't see regular jobs coexisting with this marijuana economy. Basic industry jobs that must be globally competitive cannot compete with the wages driven by the price support program we know as federal prohibition."

Whatever the final election result, the Mendocino marijuana wars are far from over. And proponents of a more open system of regulated growth and sales are feeling emboldened. "After we came back in this campaign, we have a lot of bargaining strength," said Gieringer. "We expect to make some really forward-looking proposals for regulating the industry in Mendocino and moving closer to a legally regulated market that makes money for the county and keeps the criminals and fringe element at bay."

Stay tuned.

Marijuana: Hawaii County Council Rejects "Green Harvest" Eradication Program

By the narrowest of margins, the Aloha State's Big Island Hawaii County Council has rejected a state and federally funded marijuana eradication program known as "Green Harvest." The action came during a council meeting last week, when the council tied 4-4 on whether to continue to support the widely criticized program. The tie vote meant the motion to accept the funding failed.

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Volcano National Park, Hawaii Island
"Green Harvest" began in Hawaii three decades ago and has been controversial ever since. Many residents opposed the program, saying low-flying helicopters searching for pot fields disrupted rural life and invaded their privacy. Others argued that the program has done little to eradicate marijuana and even promoted the use of other, more dangerous drugs.

By the 1990s, council members heeding public complaints began expressing reservations about the helicopter missions. In 2000, they rejected $265,000 in federal eradication funds, two-thirds of the program's money that year. But the following year, they once again accepted the full amount offered.

But last week's vote means the council will say "no thanks" to $441,000 in state and federal funds for "Green Harvest." It also means the county will save the $53,000 from its own budget that would have been its share of the operation's financial burden.

Last month, the council had narrowly approved "Green Harvest" on a 5-3 vote, but that vote had to be redone because the council failed to publish the legislation in local newspapers, as required by law. That provided the opportunity for Councilman Angel Pilago to change his vote and kill the program.

"This will have long-term impacts," Pilago said. "When we institute programs we, the county government, need to look at if they are detrimental to people's rights and the health and safety of the community. That's what we do," he told the Associated Press after the vote. "It's about home rule," he said. "The county must be assertive and aggressive and not defer certain powers to the state and federal governments. We must not cede those powers."

Pilago is running for mayor of Hawaii County, and his vote on "Green Harvest," as well as his support for a lowest law enforcement priority initiative currently underway there, could help him draw a contrast between himself and incumbent Mayor Harry Kim, who is a "Green Harvest" supporter.

"My position is no secret," Kim told the AP. "I support eradication, as long as it's done in a way that is not harmful to people who should not be harmed, as far as noise and catchment systems and all those concerns. I'm against all drugs. Marijuana is an illegal drug."

Marijuana: Idaho Resort Town Passes Three Initiatives -- Again

For the second time in less than a year, voters in the Sun Valley town of Hailey, Idaho, have approved a trio of marijuana reform initiatives. A measure legalizing medical marijuana, another legalizing industrial hemp, and a third directing the city to make marijuana law enforcement its lowest policing priority all passed. A fourth initiative that would have directed the city to tax and regulate marijuana distribution failed.

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Selkirk mountains, northern Idaho
Voters passed the same three initiatives in November, but city officials balked at enforcing them. That stance was strengthened by a December opinion from the Idaho Attorney General's office that the local initiatives conflicted with state law.

But Ryan Davidson, chairman of the Idaho Liberty Lobby, the group that organized both efforts, put the initiatives back on the ballot. Another round of ballot box victories would make it "politically less viable" for local officials to oppose the will of the voters, he told the Idaho Mountain News.

Where things will go from here remains to be seen. The Hailey mayor, a city councilor, and the chief of police sued the city earlier this month over the initiatives in search of a judgment the city can use as a guide for dealing with them.

Say "Thank You" : Denver Police Realize Lowest Priority for Cannabis Enforcement

[Courtesy of Denver 420 Coalition] [Denver] -- Congratulations to the Denver Police Department and the Mayor's Office for accomplishing a "low priority" event at the 4/20 Rally in Civic Center Park this year. 4/20 is International Cannabis Day, celebrated by millions of people throughout the world. Every year on 4/20 at 4:20 pm, citizens worldwide gather together to celebrate their favorite plant. The Denver 4/20 Rally was the first 4/20 Rally to be held since the passage of a "lowest priority" law in 2007 that makes cannabis possession the "lowest priority" for law enforcement in the city of Denver. Denver citizens have been outspoken in favor of legalization of cannabis for adults. In addition to the lowest priority vote last year, they voted in 2005 to make small amounts of cannabis legal for adults and voted in 2006 to pass the same measure statewide. Despite these 3 votes, cannabis arrests have continued to rise. Participants of the 420 Rally in Civic Center Park were happy to see that the Denver Police were present, but not actively enforcing state laws against marijuana possession as they had in the past. The numbers are not yet finalized, but estimates are that only a handful of people experienced any interaction with law enforcement at all. Last year, there were over 100 police that made over 60 arrests. Perhaps this signals a change in policy for the Denver Police and arrests will continue to drop overall. Since opponents of cannabis relegalization are likely to be vocal in their opposition to the police standing by while thousands of people smoked cannabis openly, we are encouraging supporters of cannabis to contact the Denver Police, Mayor's Office and City Council and to say THANK YOU for making marijuana law enforcement a low priority on 4/20/08 in Civic Center Park. Also tell them that they hope they maintain the same non-confrontational tactics when thousands of protesters converge on Denver for the Democratic National Convention, Aug. 25-28, 2008. Denver Police Department Internal Affairs Division (handles compliments and complaints) 720-913-6019 Click below to fill out an online ommendation form: ttp://www.denvergov.org/OIM/ComplaintCommendationForm/OnlineComplaintCommendationForm/tabid/425496/Default.aspx Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper Phone: 720-865-9000 (Denver 311) Ask for the Mayor's Office E-mail: [email protected] Website: www.denvergov.org/mayor Denver City Council Phone: 720-865-9534 Email: [email protected] Website: www.denvergov.org/CityCouncil *************************************************************************** Presented as a Public Service by the: Denver 420 Coalition Promoting Cannabis-related Tourism in Denver and Colorado http://www.denver420.com/ *************************************************************************** VIDEOS Vflog video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6XqSzjL7_E CapnCannabis Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3X1Mavc63s
Location: 
Denver, CO
United States

Marijuana: Idaho Balks at Town's Pot Initiatives

Last month, voters in tiny Hailey, Idaho, approved three municipal initiatives that legalized medical marijuana, cultivation of industrial hemp, and ordered the city to make enforcement of state and federal marijuana laws the lowest law enforcement priority. Now, city officials have delayed acting on the initiatives, and Idaho's attorney general says the first two initiatives conflict with state law and are invalid and the third "is likely not an allowable subject for an initiative, and therefore invalid."

In the brief written by Deputy Attorney General Mitchell Toryanski, Toryanski said that in addition to conflicting with state law, the initiatives were also problematic on free speech grounds and because they affected the constitutional division of powers between the state and municipalities.

In the brief, Toryanski wrote that: "The Idaho Constitution guarantees that 'every person may freely speak, write and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty. The right to free speech includes the right not to speak.'"

Toryanski also cited Idaho case law on the division of powers to invalidate the lowest law enforcement priority initiative, noting that "while subjects of a legislative nature were allowable for local initiatives, subjects of an administrative nature were not."

"None of this surprises me in the least," Hailey city attorney Ned Williamson told Sun Valley Online. "There are at least three issues, three problems with the initiatives."

"The provision in the initiatives that require you guys to advocate for changes in law violate your freedom of speech and freedom of political discretion," Williamson said, referring to the requirement imposed on city officials to attempt to persuade officials in other cities, the county and anyone else to promote legal use of marijuana.

"The bottom line is that major provisions of the initiatives are illegal and are invalid," Williamson said. "It coincides with what I said in the past, and we have to decide how to proceed." Williamson said the city can choose between litigating, repealing or amending the initiatives.

Now, city officials have put off any decisions even on whether to move ahead with the oversight committees mandated by the initiatives. No word yet from the Idaho Liberty Lobby, the group that sponsored the initiatives.

Marijuana: A Week After Initiative Vote, Denver Bites the Bullet -- Sort Of

A week after voters in Denver for the third time in as many years sent a strong signal that they don't want adult marijuana smokers arrested, the city of Denver is moving to comply with the will of the voters. In response to the 57% passage of an initiative making adult marijuana possession offenses the city's lowest law enforcement priority, Mayor John Hickenlooper announced this week that he will create an 11-member panel to oversee and implement the initiative.

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Denver skyline (from denvergov.org)
The panel, whose composition was mandated in the text of Initiative 100, the lowest priority measure, will include one representative each of the Denver City Council, the Denver Police Department, Denver County District Attorney's office, the Denver City Attorney's office, as well as three criminal defense attorneys (one of who shall be a public defender), two Denver residents selected by SAFER Denver, the group that organized the drive, one drug abuse prevention counselor, and one member of the Denver Metro Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee who is not also a member of law enforcement.

While Denver officials are taking steps to comply with the will of the voters, they still sound a bit grumpy about it all. "Given that adult possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is already one of the police department's lowest priorities, it is unclear what substantive impact, if any, the initiative's passage will take," Hickenlooper said in a statement.

Denver voted to legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults in 2005, but city officials have refused to recognize that act, instead ticketing people on the basis of the state marijuana law. They could still do that, Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman said in a statement.

"When an individual is cited for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana -- as Colorado state law requires -- it is generally because the marijuana was uncovered by police during the course of investigating another crime," said Whitman.

"We are glad to see our mayor and city officials will be respecting the will of the voters, and we look forward to working with them toward a more sensible marijuana policy in the city of Denver," responded SAFER leader Mason Tvert.

Denver had nearly 1,400 marijuana possession cases last year. Seattle, a similarly-sized city which passed a lowest priority initiative in 2003, and whose municipal officials have cooperated with it, had just 125.

Feature: Denver Votes to Make Marijuana Offenses Lowest Law Enforcement Priority

For the third time in as many years, voters in Denver told local officials to quit arresting people for marijuana offenses. An initiative that would direct the city to make adult marijuana possession offenses the lowest law enforcement priority won Tuesday with 57% of the vote.

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SAFER rally, August 27, 2007
The vote came two years after the marijuana reform group SAFER (Safer Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation) pulled off a successful initiative to legalize the possession of up to an ounce in Denver -- a win city officials have ignored by continuing to arrest people under state law -- and one year after Denver voters gave majority support to marijuana legalization in a failed statewide initiative.

The measure rolled to easy victory despite the opposition of Mayor John Hickenlooper and other city officials who said it was meaningless and would not be enforced. It was also opposed by the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News, both of which editorialized against it.

Denver now joins cities like Seattle; Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood, California; Missoula, Montana; Eureka Springs, Arkansas; and -- also on Tuesday -- Hailey, Idaho; that have embraced the lowest priority movement.

The question now is how city officials will respond to a third rebuke from voters. The mayor's office did not respond Wednesday to inquiries from Drug War Chronicle. SAFER executive director Mason Tvert said officials were huddled Wednesday afternoon trying to draft a response.

But Tvert wasn't waiting to celebrate. "The people of Denver have made it unmistakably clear they do not want their city wasting its limited law enforcement resources arresting and prosecuting adults for possessing a drug less harmful than alcohol," he said. "Whereas marijuana users were once the law-breakers in the Mile High City, city officials will now be the ones violating the law if they do not respect the will of the voters."

In Seattle, arrests for adult marijuana possession plummeted following passage of the initiative, and in Missoula city officials recently adopted an official policy directing police to stop citing adults for possession and encouraging prosecutors to treat any cases as their lowest priority. That shows it can work in Denver if officials cooperate, Tvert said.

"The experiences of these other cities proves that Denver can make changes in how they handle adult marijuana possession," Tvert said. "We hope city officials will respect the will of the voters who elected them and direct police to stop arresting adults for simply possessing small amounts of marijuana. It's not a matter of whether they can do this, but a matter of whether they will. If they do not, they are officially breaking more Denver laws than any adult marijuana user."

Tvert wasn't the only one crowing, nor was he the only one warning elected officials to take heed. Spokesmen for leading national marijuana reform organizations used almost identical language when contacted by the Chronicle.

"This is good news, but not unexpected," said Keith Stroup, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). "The mayor should be looking at who he represents. In three election cycles now, Denver voters have clearly said don't arrest pot smokers."

"We're very, very pleased," said Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Hopefully, this time Denver city officials will listen to the message the voters have so clearly sent them."

That hasn't happened so far. Tvert and SAFER are waiting to see if it will. "At this point we're just wondering what they're going to do," he said. "The big tough city officials who were willing to say how they were going to ignore this have been mum all day, waiting for the mayor to take the lead. Will they challenge this in the courts, or will they announce they will follow the will of the voters?"

Stay tuned. All the dust hasn't settled yet in Denver. But the voters have spoken loud and clear for the third time. Perhaps it will take a city official getting defeated in the next election, but perhaps city officials won't want to take that chance now.

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