SAFER Turns In 129,000 Signatures

Denver, CO–A state-wide initiative to decriminalize marijuana will likely be up for a vote this year, with the announcement that the measure has collected nearly double the amount of signatures required to make the ballot.

Standing behind seven white office boxes-filled with signed petitions-Mason Tvert, with the group Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), held a morning press conference in front of Denver’s City and County Building before the campaign turned in signatures to the Secretary of State’s office.

The white boxes containing the petitions.

“There’s no doubt amongst any of the scientific evidence that marijuana’s a less harmful drug than alcohol, and there’s no doubt that a policy that allows people to use a more harmful drug and prohibits them from using a safer one doesn’t make sense.” Tvert said.

According to the campaign, SAFER was formed in response to a string of alcohol related deaths on college campuses in 2005. The group made history later that year when voters successfully passed a city ordinance in Denver, making it legal for adults 21 years and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis.

Shortly after the vote, city officials made it clear that police officers and prosecutors would still abide by state law however, which defines marijuana as an illegal drug. This in turn motivated SAFER to push for a state-wide ordinance that accomplished the same thing.

“As a result of the city of Denver’s refusal to acknowledge the will of the voters last year when the city became the first to make marijuana legal for adults, we embarked on a state-wide initiative,” Tvert continued.

Approximately 68,000 signatures are needed to get an initiative on the ballot this year. This means that the Secretary of State’s office, which regulates what petitions are valid, would have to find over 60,000 invalid signatures in order for the measure to not make it to a vote.

Tvert speaks to the press.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at