The DEA In Colorado

Usually, federal drug agents make the news by arresting people. On the DEA’s website, there are many pictures of disheveled captives wearing handcuffs, who are thought to be involved with things like a narcotics “conspiracy” or a drug “kingpin.” There is also a list of the most wanted international fugitives, who come from countries all around the globe.

It’s not exactly the kind of attention you’d expect a state like Colorado to get.

But according to an e-mail sent by a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, federal officials have plans to campaign against a state ballot initiative that would make possession of up to an ounce of marijuana legal. And proponents of the measure aren’t happy about it.In the e-mail, a DEA agent named Michael Moore says that he is looking for a campaign manager to head an organization called “Colorado’s Marijuana Information Committee,” to oppose the ballot measure.

The letter goes on to say that the hired campaign manager must start immediately, and that the committee already has $10,000 dollars available. The e-mail message also came from a US Department of Justice address, and included the agent’s cell and work number.

“We think it’s pretty absurd that our federal government is spending money fighting our ballot initiative when they cut money from programs to prevent underage alcohol consumption, which is obviously a much bigger issue in Colorado,” said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), the group that brought the pot initiative up for a vote.

According to Tvert, SAFER first found out about the e-mail last week. Then, it was reported and confirmed in the Boulder Daily Camera last Sunday.

After the story, SAFER put out a press release contending that the DEA’s actions are illegal under federal regulations, and that the agency is not allowed to be involved with a non-partisan election because it would compromise the agency’s neutrality.

The name “Colorado’s Marijuana Information Committee” is not registered with the Secretary Of State’s office, meaning that the group’s funding is not disclosed.

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