Denver’s Sexy Pizza declares war on drug war

Marijuana articles giving you the munchies? Now you can turn the need to feed into a donation to fight against the war on drugs. Denver’s Sexy Pizza is donating a portion of its sales to LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), a group of police officers, judges and others in law enforcement who think the war on drugs is counterproductive.

Sexy Pizza, 1018 E. 11th Ave., has created the “LEAP Pizza,” a Hawaiian-style pie with Canadian bacon, pineapple and mozzarella cheese, to benefit the organization.

“Sexy Pizza is a proud supporter of marijuana law reform on every level, so to be able to offer this perpetual gift to the activists in law enforcement is truly an honor,” said Kayvan S.T. Khalatbari, owner of Sexy Pizza and a longtime supporter of marijuana reform efforts.

“The members of LEAP have chosen to use rational, reasonable thought in lieu of the failed philosophies of the drug war. These people see the pain this costly ‘war’ dishes out every day and they have chosen to speak up for what is right, not what is status quo,” Khalatbari said in a press release.

Sexy Pizza up until now was best known for offering free pizza to a man who had the police called to his home by a pizza delivery driver who saw him smoking marijuana legally in his home. Sexy Pizza offered the medical marijuana user a free pizza every month until voters decide a 2012 Colorado marijuana regulation initiative. The incident and subsequent campaign caught the attention of Jimmy Fallon, who featured it on his late night comedy show on NBC.

Retired Denver police officer Tony Ryan


“As a 36-year veteran of the Denver Police Department, I’ve seen firsthand that the marijuana prohibition laws don’t do anything to reduce marijuana use, but do cause a host of other problems in our society,” said Tony Ryan, a LEAP board member and a retired Denver police officer who is campaigning for the 2012 marijuana initiative. “The donations generated by the new LEAP pizza will help us law enforcers end a policy that causes so much illegal market violence and wastes too many police resources.”

“Kudos to the folks at Sexy Pizza for supporting LEAP and the countless law enforcement officials speaking out in support of ending marijuana prohibition,” said Mason Tvert, executive director of SAFER and a lead proponent for the marijuana regulation initiative. “They are invaluable members of our coalition and will play a critical role in the historic 2012 Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.”

LEAP is currently working with The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona to fight the firing of a probation officer who lost his job after signing a LEAP letter supporting decriminalizing marijuana. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit in federal district court on behalf of a former Mohave County Probation Officer.

“More and more members of the law enforcement community are speaking out against failed drug policies and they don’t give up their right to share their insight and engage in this important debate simply because they receive government paychecks,” said ACLU of Arizona Legal Director Daniel Pochoda in a press release. “In this case, Mohave County Adult Probation officials decided to punish a public servant who works on the frontlines with communities most affected by drugs, rather than respect his right to speak out on his own time about the need to reform marijuana laws.”

At issue is the termination of Joe Miller, who worked as a probation officer for the Mohave County Adult Probation Department from January 2007 until December 2010. In June 2010, Miller added his name to a Law Enforcement Against Prohibition letter endorsing California’s Proposition 19, an initiative on the state’s November ballot that would have allowed adults age 21 and over to possess and grow small amounts of their own marijuana for personal use. LEAP, which states that its mission is to “educate the public, the media and policy makers about the failure of current [drug] policies,” released the letter on September 13, 2010 and held press conferences in Oakland and Los Angeles declaring its support for the ballot measure.

Miller, who lives in Needles, Calif., was one of 32 current and retired members of the law enforcement community who signed the letter titled, “Law Enforcers Say Control and Tax Cannabis to Protect Public Safety.” Co-signers included the District Attorney for the County of Humboldt, California, an Oakland City Attorney, a retired Judge for the Superior Court of Orange County, and the former Chief of Police for the Seattle Police Department. Although the letter identified the law enforcement agencies where the signatories worked, it specifically included a disclaimer stating that: “All agency affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.”

Miller’s supervisor – Chief Adult Probation Officer Friend Walker – found out about the LEAP letter in November, two months after it was released, and then immediately notified him that he failed to comply with the probation department’s code of ethics, which states that employees should “[d]istinguish clearly in any public statement those that are personal views and those that are statements and positions on behalf of an agency.”

Despite the letter’s disclaimer that Miller was not speaking on behalf of the county, Miller was later terminated on December 10, 2010, for “fail[ing] to maintain neutrality in action and appearance when [he] gave permission to the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) organization” and for failing “to include [his] job title and department ‘Deputy Probation Officer, Mohave County Probation Department’ with [his] endorsement of a California ballot proposition posted on-line [sic] on September 13, 2010 . . . .”

“I was terminated not because my service was inadequate, but because my views on drug policy didn’t align with those of Mohave County or my superiors in the Probation Department,” said 54-year-old Miller. “As law enforcement agents and public servants, we swear to uphold the Constitution and it’s only fair for our government to respect our First Amendment rights as well,” he said.

“There’s no question Mohave County officials targeted Miller based on his political views,” said ACLU of Arizona cooperating attorney Daniel Bonnett, of the Phoenix-based law firm of Martin & Bonnett. “Government employees have a First Amendment right to speak out on matters of public concern and retaliating against them for exercising their free speech rights is simply un-American.”

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About the Author

Scot Kersgaard

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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