The Boulder County District Attorney announced his office is dismissing marijuana possession cases under 1 ounce, and other Colorado counties are following suit. Prosecutors are responding to the passage of Amendment 64, which allows the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for those 21 and older.
Amendment 64 does not go into effect until December 6, but prosecutors across Colorado are dropping pending marijuana cases that involve less than an ounce and refusing to prosecute new cases. Along with the dismissals comes a stern warning that driving under the influence of drugs (DUI-D) will still be prosecuted to the fullest.
Boulder and Denver County First to Drop Marijuana Possession Cases
Boulder County DA Stan Garnett was the first to announce that his office is dropping possession cases legal under Amendment 64. Garnett told the Daily Camera his office is dismissing pending cases because the law makes a guilty verdict highly unlikely.
Boulder County is not only dismissing pending cases that involve less than an ounce of marijuana—they are also dismissing cases that involve the possession of drug paraphernalia.
Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey announced that his office will also not prosecute any future marijuana cases that are legal under Amendment 64. The Denver DA office will review about 70 marijuana possession cases to decide whether or not they should be dismissed. Morrissey was strongly opposed Amendment 64, but his office is taking a “cost-effective” approach to the new law, according to the Westword blog.
Counties Respond to Amendment 64
The University of Colorado and Longmont, a home-rule municipality, have both announced they will not prosecute marijuana cases involving less than an ounce. Meanwhile, Routt County, Jefferson County and the Denver District Attorney’s Office are still deciding whether or not to drop cases before Governor John Hickenlooper certifies Amendment 64. It is also unknown whether Adams, Arapahoe and El Paso Counties will drop similar charges, according to the Westword blog.
Resistance to Amendment 64
Not every municipality in Colorado is taking Amendment 64 in stride. Jefferson County will not drop any cases until the amendment is certified. Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck told the Westword blog he will continue to prosecute small possession cases until Hickenlooper signs the act. Weld County will also continue to issue citations for marijuana possession until the Amendment is signed. Buck was a major opponent of Amendment 64. He said that his office is continuing to prosecute cases because they were crimes at the time that that occurred.
Larimer County will continue to prosecute pot cases, according to The Coloradoan. The Larimer District Attorney Office said that Amendment 64 is unpopular in the county, unlike in Boulder County, where the measure passed by a 2-to-1 margin. In Loveland, a home-rule municipality in Larimer County, city council is also seeking to opt out of licensing marijuana stores in the city.
When Pot is NOT Legal in Colorado
It’s important to note that Amendment 64 only allows for small amounts of marijuana. If you possess more than 1 ounce and are caught by police, you will need to speak with a criminal defense attorney who is up-to-date in the changing marijuana laws. If you are under 21, you will be prosecuted for possession charges, even if you have less than 1 ounce.
Likewise, you will be cited if caught smoking marijuana in public. Smoking marijuana in public is similar to laws that forbid drinking beer in the street—it’s ok to possess pot, but you can’t smoke it in public or while driving.
Finally a driving under the influence of drugs charge carries as much penalty as alcohol related criminal charges. DUI attorneys in Denver are strongly advising their clients not to drive while under impaired by marijuana.