Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett recently announced his intention to challenge John Suthers for the Colorado Attorney General gig -- and his comparatively progressive views on marijuana presumably meant he could count on support from pro-weed voters.
Maybe not. Yesterday, Laura Kriho of the Cannabis Therapy Institute, a strong supporter of what she refers to as "marijuana re-legalization," wrote Garnett a letter discouraging him from prosecuting the handful of people ticketed for publicly smoking pot at CU's annual 4/20 orgasm of cannabis consumption. Read the letter and Garnett's response below.
While Kriho doesn't threaten to withdraw support from Garnett if prosecution goes forward, she makes it clear that she would look upon such action as a step backwards.
"We look at 4/20 as an act of civil disobedience," she says. "Everybody knows they're not supposed to smoke pot in public, and they do it as a public protest.
"It's a civil rights issue," she continues. "Before blacks and women got the right to vote, people had to get arrested to prove their point. This is the same thing -- and there's nothing really new about it. There have been smoke-outs for forty years."
Moreover, Kriho sees taking marijuana tickets to trial as a silly waste of taxpayer dollars. "Boulder County jurors probably aren't going to hand down a conviction," she argues -- especially in light of the fact that at least 8,000 other people received no sanction whatsoever for toking on campus that same day.
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Here's Kriho's letter to Garnett, followed by his polite but noncommittal response:
Congratulations on your candidacy for Attorney General. As a lifelong Democrat, I look forward to an active campaign.
As you know, medical marijuana will be a large issue in the AG's race. Suthers has a long history of antagonism to cannabis. Your record started out poorly with the prosecution of patient Jason Lauve. It improved when you dropped the charges against patient Sherri Versfelt.
The 4/20 acts of civil disobedience on the CU Campus in Boulder are yet another challenge for your office. The Daily Camera reports that at least 11 people were ticketed for marijuana possession. As you know, this is a petty offense punishable only by a $100 fine. If these 11 people pay their fines, the County will get $1100 in revenue. However, if these 11 people chose to take their case to trial, that will cost the County thousands of dollars. There are several attorneys ready to take these cases on pro bono.
I sat through the entire jury selection in the Jason Lauve case. I saw firsthand how soft on cannabis those jurors were, from all parts of the County. I think you will have a tough time convicting anyone of the 4/20 offenses. These were acts of civil disobedience aimed at protesting marijuana prohibition. The cannabis re-legalization movement has built support for cannabis through events such as these for over 40 years. Even though the focus was not "medical" marijuana, I believe that Boulder jurors will still acquit these defendants of these acts of civil disobedience. Boulder County citizens are very well-educated and don't like to see their tax dollars wasted on pointless prosecution of otherwise law-abiding citizens.
If you want to be the most progressive DA in the state on cannabis issues, then I hope that you will drop these cases swiftly so that we can move on to getting Suthers out office.
Thanks for your attention.
Laura Kriho, Director
Thanks for your e-mail. You make some good points.
My staff will review the facts of the cases and make disposition decisions depending on the facts.
Stay in touch,