Drug Policy

Drug War Democracy

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• In 2005, the city of Denver passed a ballot measure removing the criminal penalties for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana. But because possessing the drug is still illegal under Colorado state law, actual arrests for possession actually went up the next year.

Last year, the city of Denver passed another initiative calling on Denver police to make marijuana enforcement their "lowest priority."

Possession arrests went up again. In fact, they've jumped about 50 percent since 2004, the year before the first initiative passed.

• The New Hampshire house voted this week to decriminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana for personal use. Gov. John Lynch is likely to veto.

• Despite conceding at the time that overly aggressive drug laws contributed to the injustice done to Richard Paeyâ€"and admitting that he himself has smoked marijuanaâ€"Florida Gov. Charlie Crist announced this week that he has no interest in reform. “I feel that our laws are good in Florida," Crist said. "They were thoughtfully put in place.”

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  1. Our laws jest fine – they drink pretty good don’ they?

  2. Well, look at the bright side. Taking drugs is now [url=http://www.bakelblog.com/nobodys_business/2008/03/international-d.html]cheaper[/url] than smoking or drinking…

  3. The fact that marijuana arrests went up alone is not enough to know if Denver police are taking the initiative seriously unless we know if these relations were higher in relation to other arrests. Furthermore, a populace that thinks no Denver cop will arrest them for pot is more likely to smoke openly, and therefore more likely to be caught.

  4. In 2005, the city of Denver passed a ballot measure removing the criminal penalties for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana. But because possessing the drug is still illegal under Colorado state law, actual arrests for possession actually went up the next year.

    Last year, the city of Denver passed another initiative calling on Denver police to make marijuana enforcement their “lowest priority.”

    Possession arrests went up again. In fact, they’ve jumped about 50 percent since 2004, the year before the first initiative passed.

    Public servants?

  5. Close damn tag! Close I say!

  6. Possession arrests have come down in Seattle since we passed our “lowest law enforcement priority” measure – so, not sure what the hell happened in Denver.

  7. @ JMR

    Well, if I were a cynical man I might say the boys in blue decided to show those hippie scum that they’re not getting away with it. Why should cops care what mere citizens think? Now if there were only some way to get the Border Patrol to set up checkpoints?

  8. Thanks again Radley. You know I’m having a hard time drinking fast enough to forget everything you tell me about.

  9. The New Hampshire house voted this week to decriminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana for personal use. Gov. John Lynch is likely to veto.

    C’mon liberaltarian dopers….Name that party!

  10. Sounds like the city council committed POC. “They can take their low priority and…” Thanks a bunch, NeonCat.

    Of course if the city council really wanted to accomplish something, they’d pass a rule that apprehending someone for possession of MJ would no longer be counted in the arrest statistics.

  11. C’mon liberaltarian dopers….Name that party!

    Considering that Republicans have trained Democrats to cringe cravenly at the “soft on crime” smear, I’d put the blame on law-and-order GOP assholes. But I imagine, SIV, you had a different target in mind.

  12. Screw arrest statistics. Maybe the next initiative should reduce funding for police by the amount spent on MJ arrests. Will a cop be as anxious to make a MJ arrest if he doesn’t get paid for the hours involved with hauling the perp down to jail, filling out paperwork, and making court appearances?

    Since the cops have been told over and over that there are more productive uses of their time, maybe the power of the purse should be used to make them see the light.

  13. “They were thoughtfully put in place.”

    Yeah, they thought about it and said screw those lazy dope-smokin hippies! Some time in jail is what they need!

  14. Denver needs to make arresting a marijuana user a criminal offence. 20 years in jail ought to be enough.

  15. LarryA: POC??? Please clarify.

    Radley: Thanks again, etc. Why do you think the Denver arrests went up?

  16. I ran the initiatives in Denver so I can provide some insight here.

    Generally, arrests have gone up because 1) other arrests/police stops have gone up, so more people are being found in possession, and 2) they were already going up. Arrests were trending up before we passed any initiatives, so in essence nothing has changed. And that is what we recently learned when we got the Denver City Attorney’s Office and Denver PD to specifically admit they have changed nothing since passage of these initiatives.

    So, arrests were already increasing, and they simply kept increasing. The question, then, is how do we get them to turn things around.

    The problem is not so much the police as it is the city attorney’s office. The police are able to enforce state laws – don’t get me wrong, they don’t HAVE to enforce state laws, but they are able to.

    The city attorney’s office also does not HAVE to prosecute these cases. In fact, they really aren’t supposed to be doing so. They are handling them under an agreement with the district attorney’s office, by which they are acting as deputized DAs.

    After all, this is a city office prosecuting state charges (remember, it’s no longer a crime under Denver ordinances).

    So the key is to get the city attorney’s office to stop doing the DA’s dirty work. This is exactly what we’re trying to do via the Marijuana Policy Review Panel established under the latest initiative. At the last meeting there was a recommendation proposed that directs the city attorney’s office to stop handling these cases for the DA. The panel will vote on it at its next meeting.

    If the city attorneys stop prosecuting these cases, it will be up to the DAs to do it themselves. They clearly don’t have the time or interest in doing so, and if the cases are not being prosecuted, it would only make sense for police to stop wasting their time writing the tickets.

    Then again, that would require the common sense of a 2nd-grader, so we’ll have to wait and see whether they put 2+2 together.

    (I apologize for this being a bit choppy — I was in a hurry, but wanted to give interested readers/posters this info)

  17. C’mon liberaltarian dopers….Name that party!

    I thought “(R) of course.” Imagine my chagrin when it turned out that the Governor was a “libertarian on social issues” Democrat.

    Comments from team blue are now being taken.

  18. C’mon liberaltarian dopers….Name that party!

    I’m not sure who should occupy the lower rung of hell – the R’s who have mindlessly been pushing for the WoD for years, or the D’s who have rolled over time and again. I do know this is the reason I’ll be voting LP in November, no matter what clown they nominate.

  19. I’m not sure who should occupy the lower rung of hell – the R’s who have mindlessly been pushing for the WoD for years, or the D’s who have rolled over time and again.

    The thing is both Parties push and implement the WoDs.The Dems aren’t “slightly better” or rolling over just because they fear the soft on crime stigma.

  20. Sounds like the Denver DA has dreams of being the Colorado State DA one day. Now how would it look if he was soft on potheads come election time?

    I still laugh about the headline about the second round of voting on this issue.

    Once again, this time with feeling.

    It just doesn’t matter what “the people,” think at all. This demonstrates that politicians are not public servants but dictators who care less about the vote of the majority. I can only hope they all get remembered come election time and get sent home.

  21. Balko: “The New Hampshire house voted this week to decriminalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana for personal use. Gov. John Lynch is likely to veto.”

    Balko’s Source: “New Hampshire residents could possess one-quarter ounce or less of marijuana without facing jail under a bill headed to the state Senate.”

    An easy mistake to make, according to this article the bill had originally decriminalized 1.25 oz. or less but was then amended to decriminalize .25 oz or less.

    Although Gov. Lynch does oppose the bill, it seems most likely that he won’t have to veto it because the bill will fail to pass in the state Senate.

  22. POC = “Pissing Off the Cop.”

  23. The 4th District Court of Appeals in Richmond heard arguments Wednesday on the David Ruttenberg v. Frank Jones case.

    Ruttenberg, who is in the process of selling his Manassas Park billiards club Rack ‘N Roll, claims his civil rights were violated in a June 2004 raid of his club. The lawsuit was dismissed in the U.S. Eastern District Court in December with the judge stating that his claims did not amount to a constitutional violation.

    The lawsuit includes mayor Frank Jones, police chief John Evans and two undercover Manassas Park police officers. A decision will be rendered by the panel of judges in at least 60 days, said a representative of the clerk of courts office.
    […]

    Appeals court hears arguments in Ruttenberg case

  24. Kenner City Council members broadcast their support for Councilwoman Michele Branigan against criticism of photographs showing her with members of the scandal-rocked SWAT team from Hoboken, N.J.
    […]
    Their comments came after two Kenner residents asked Branigan to resign or apologize because of the photos, which appeared in a New York broadcast news report and on the station’s Web site. In one picture, a Hoboken official holds a napkin with eyeholes over Branigan’s face, mimicking what some critics say is a Ku Klux Klan hood. In the other, which appears to have been taken at a bar, Branigan is seen facing the same official’s lap while he squirts red liquid from a bottle into her open mouth.

    Council members Maria DeFrancesch and Joe Stagni said the photos didn’t appear to show Branigan in her capacity as a council member. Black and Councilman Ben Zahn said critics should speak privately to Branigan about such a sensitive matter, rather than in front of a microphone and television camera at a City Council meeting.
    […]
    The napkin photo was taken at Bull’s Corner restaurant in LaPlace during a meal shared by SWAT team members and Kenner representatives, Branigan has said. Hoboken Lt. Angelo Andriani had poked holes in a white napkin and donned it as if it were a KKK hood, according to a lawsuit filed by five Hoboken officers who accuse Andriani of racism. Branigan said she was angry at Andriani’s action. Reacting to her anger, she said, Joel Mestre, deputy coordinator of Hoboken’s Office of Emergency Management, then held the napkin over her face in a failed attempt to lighten her mood.
    […]
    Many Hoboken officers have been disciplined, after photos surfaced showing the officers posing with scantily clad women and letting women at a Hooters restaurant and at real estate developer Henry Shane’s Kenner home hold their weapons.

    Branigan said the pictures of her were leaked in retaliation for her helping a Hoboken city attorney investigate Andriani.
    Circling the wagons for Michele Branigan

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