As noted in a just-published blog, the Cannabis Therapy Institute has called on Boulder DA Stan Garnett to forgo prosecuting anyone ticketed for smoking weed at CU's annual orgasm of cannabis consumption.
If Garnett decides to go ahead anyway, despite the prospect of alienating pro-weed voters otherwise likely to support him in his campaign for Colorado Attorney General against John Suthers, the handful of ticketed tokers will have someone in their legal corner. Medical marijuana advocate Rob Corry has pledged to represent them free of charge.
Corry, who hasn't had anyone take him up on his offer yet, sees smoking marijuana on 4/20 from a First Amendment perspective. "If the law allows you to burn a flag, and that's construed as free speech, and a defense against any criminal charge for burning that flag, perhaps the law will allow you to burn a joint as a political statement, too," he says.
Some of those ticketed complain in today's Boulder Daily Camera about feeling singled out by law enforcement, even though CU-Boulder police warned in advance that people could be ticketed for smoking on their way to or from the event. Perhaps that's why he emphasizes that "I don't want to express a blanket opinion on all the cases yet. I'll have to judge each ticket or case on the facts, and I'd also need to talk to the people who were there."
Still, he was troubled by the comments of CU regent Tom Lucero, who urged police to ticket 4/20 tokers. Corry responded by contacting Alex Douglas, executive director of NORML@CU, with his free representation deal. (Note: According to the Cannabis Therapy Institute, Boulder attorney Jeff Gard will do so as well.)
As Corry notes, he's made similar offers each of the past three years, but he hasn't had to make good on it due largely to the lack of citations at Denver's annual 4/20 bash at Civic Center Park, where he spent Tuesday. "I didn't see anyone get ticketed there," he points out, "and we commend the Denver police for their restraint and sense of proportion."
He's not nearly so upbeat about what happened across the street at the state capitol -- namely, several changes in a medical-marijuana-regulatory bill that advocates like Matt Brown see as regressive. He was particularly displeased with language that appears to allow local municipalities to ban dispensaries.
"I thought we had solid commitments that wasn't going to come back into the bill," he says. "That's politics for you. But in terms of the merits, I just think it's blatantly unconstitutional. The legislature cannot empower locals to ban a constitutional right any more than they can empower locals to ban all churches in their jurisdiction. I don't think this could pass constitutional muster."
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Of course, a lot still has to happen for this section to become law. But he's ready to challenge it should the planets align.
"If both chambers pass it, and if the governor signs it, we'll be looking at what we what we need to do to protect patients' access to medicine their doctors say they need," he says. "So we're already looking at the possibility of legal action."
On more fronts than one.