Voters say “no” to pot

Nov 072006
Authors: KEVIN JOHNSON The Rocky Mountain Collegian

DENVER – The state’s pot-legalization effort got smoked Tuesday night.

Amendment 44, which would have made possession of up to an ounce of pot legal for adults age 21 and older, was shot down 39 percent to 61 percent as of midnight today.

It was a long, gritty campaign, marked by an array of publicity stunts by the pro-legalization SAFER (Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation) and plenty of help from CSU students, several of whom gave up large chunks of their lives to collect signatures and campaign.

“I’m confident that this campaign has been successful,” said Mason Tvert, campaign director of SAFER. “Our goal has been to educate Coloradans that marijuana is safer than alcohol.”

And in that sense, it’s been one of the most successful campaigns ever, he said – one that will continue.

“This isn’t the last you’ve heard of SAFER or me by any means,” Tvert said.

The pot legalization group began on the University of Colorado-Boulder and CSU campuses when it authored resolutions that students passed calling on the universities’ administrations to lessen penalties for students caught with pot.

Months later, the group pushed through Initiative 100 in Denver, legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana in the city.

The drug remained illegal under state and federal laws.

The SAFER campaign and supporters gathered in Quixote’s True Blue in Denver, where the smell of marijuana floated in the air alongside optimism to the very end.

“I think it’s gonna pass, I’ve got a good feeling,” said activist Kenny Griffin, who was also the DJ of the event, before the results were announced. “But if it doesn’t, I’m forking out the first $500 out of my pocket to get it back on the ballot.”

Gov. Bill Owens was against the measure.

“Legalizing marijuana would only make people use it more and I’m strongly opposed to it,” he told the Collegian at a campaign rally in Denver.

Anne Zeiler, a Denver resident, said that the campaign was a success.

“It’s baby steps,” she said. “This is the first of many battles.The eyes of the nation were on Colorado tonight. We’re not done here.”

Richard Ellis, 62, scarfed soup around the corner. He smoked the weed all through the 70s and during his college years.

“This is the first step toward major legislative changes concerning pot legalization nationwide,” he said.

Denver resident Natasha Miller said the outcome of the vote won’t affect her.

“I’ll still get high regardless,” she said. “I’d rather my friends go out and get baked than get drunk. The results of getting stoned are far less severe than getting drunk. It’s no secret.”

Staff writer Taryn Clark contributed to this report.

Staff writer Kevin Johnson can be reached at

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