Police departments changing pot policy in advance of Amendment 64 signing

In light of Amendment 64's passage, district attorneys and city attorneys across the state have announced that they will be dropping possession and paraphernalia charges. And even though the ballot measure has not yet been signed into law by the governor, local police departments are already re-examing their own approach to marijuana.

Grand Junction Police were among the first to enact changes. On November 9, GJPD Chief John Camper sent a memo to officers advising them that "effective immediately it is the policy of the GJPD not to cite persons age 21 or older that possess and/or consume 1 ounce or less of marijuana and/or cultivate and possess 6 or less plants as allowed by the Amendment."

While this may seem like a somewhat progressive step for a city that enacted a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries last year, Camper, who called the amendment "crappy" while speaking with a Grand Junction Sentinel reporter last week, goes on to say that GJPD officers can write federal offense reports and forward them to the U.S. Attorney's office with a supervisor's approval -- thought he notes that he doubts they'd be prosecuted.

And last week, in the wake of Boulder DA Stan Garnett saying he would not prosecute pot users, law enforcement agencies across Boulder County announced that they will no longer be writing tickets for possession-related offenses, either. That list includes the Boulder Police Department and the Boulder Sheriff, as well as the University of Colorado Police Department.

Both possession and use of marijuana remain violations of the student code of conduct at the university, however, and CU police will still be reporting violations on campus to the university, CUPD spokesman Ryan Huff points out. He also notes that the campus and all buildings are smoke-free, and that the Amendment doesn't allow for public use out in the open -- no doubt a reference to CU's famed 420 smoke-outs of the past. So in essence, all marijuana use, cultivation and possession is still frowned upon at CU.

The Longmont Police Department has also announced that it will no longer be citing people 21 and up for possession of under an ounce. While marijuana possession is still a crime at the municipal level in Longmont, the city council is expected to bring that ordinance in compliance with Amendment 64 in the coming weeks.

Not all police departments are as quick to make changes, however. Officials with the Denver Police Department say they are still in talks with the Denver City Attorney's office, but that no decision has yet been made regarding any changes in marijuana enforcement.

More from our marijuana news archive: "Amendment 64: Are drug-free businesses actually required to have drug tests?" ; "Videos: Marijuana Amendment 64 meets the Last Twinkie on Earth."

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes