Boulder County prosecutor dropping marijuana cases

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett announced today via Twitter that his office would drop all pending prosecutions of adults for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and/or possession of marijuana paraphernalia.

An office spokesperson confirmed the decision but did not know how many cases would be affected.

Prosecutors in Washington State’s two largest counties made similar announcements Friday.

Last week, majorities in Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana. Although Colorado’s law does not officially take effect until Governor John Hickenlooper certifies the election, Garnett told Colorado Springs Gazette reporter John Schroyer that it would be unethical to continue pursuing possession cases.

Mason Tvert, co-driector of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, issued a press release this afternoon calling on Denver DA Mitch Morrissey and other Colorado DAs to take a similar action.

“A strong majority of Coloradans made it clear that they do not believe adults should be made criminals for possessing small amounts of marijuana,” said Tvert, in the press release. “Colorado prosecutors can follow the will of the voters by dropping these cases today and announcing they are no longer taking on new ones.

“We applaud District Attorney Garnett for respecting the will of the voters, and we hope his colleagues across the state will follow his lead,” Tvert said. “We do not see why District Attorney Morrissey or any other prosecutor would want to continue seeking criminal penalties for conduct that will be legal in the next month or so.”

Denver DA spokesperson Lynn Kimbrough told the Colorado Independent that, since the law legalizing possession of marijuana in Colorado has not yet taken effect, the Denver DA’s office has not made any formal changes in how they handle such cases. She said the office would discuss the issue later this week.

A spokesperson for the Denver City Attorney’s office did not quickly return a phone call.

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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