Denver Marijuana Arrests Increase

Marijuana arrests in Denver have risen since the passage of a local initiative to legalize the drug.

This is according to data obtained from the Denver Police Department by legalization proponents, which shows that arrests in 2006 had risen almost 20 percent when compared with the average for the last three years.The data also show a disparity between ethnicity and arrests.

While African-Americans make up approximately 10 percent of Denver’s population, the data shows the group made up 30 percent of misdemeanor marijuana arrests. Whites made up 35 percent.

During the election in 2005, voters approved Initiative 100, which legalized the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and over.

There were 1,912 arrests in 2004, more than 2,000 in 2005, and a total of 2,446 last year.

The information was released by Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), an organization that campaigned for a ballot measure to legalize pot statewide last year. SAFER also worked to pass the Denver initiative.

The arrests do not reflect the number of convictions. The data represents all non-felony marijuana arrests, which includes possession of up to eight ounces of the drug.

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