Marijuana Legalization Supporters Call Out Coors

The Denver City Council may have unwillingly referred a marijuana legalization initiative to metro voters last week, but the battle is far from over if pot proponents have their say.

This time, the Coors Brewing Company is joining council members in the cross hairs, with the campaign behind the legalization initiative wanting a chance to speak out against the city renewing its business partnership with Coors.  At issue is a bill set to to be heard at the next council meeting that would extend the existing sponsorship agreement with Coors to provide beverages at various city venues, including the Denver Performing Arts Complex and the Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

Citizens for Safer Denver, the campaign backing the legalization proposal, has long contended that marijuana is safer than alcohol, along with using the argument as their core message for legalization. The organization has also raised concerns over children being exposed to alcohol at certain events.

But one thing the group doesn’t have is the projected $140,880 in starting cash (PDF)  Coors would give the city for 2007 if the bill is passed. The amount would then escalate annually until the end of 2011, when the contract is up.

Safer Denver has called for a public hearing to opine on the issue, and at least one city council member is required to ask for such a meeting before it can be held.

In 2005, Denver voters approved an initiative legalizing up to an ounce marijuana for a adults 21 years and older by 54 percent. After a statewide amendment failed to accomplish the same thing in 2006, legalization supporters successfully campaigned to put an initiative on Denver’s 2007 ballot to make adult pot possession the “lowest law enforcement priority. “

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

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