Naked City

Weed Watch: ONDCP won't take a hit

The Colorado nonprofit group Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation has announced that it will be seeking to secure a spot on Denver's fall municipal ballot for an initiative that would legalize pot possession by adults over 21. SAFER has already been successful with two referendum efforts that "equalize" the penalties meted out to students for alcohol and marijuana-related offenses at the University of Colorado and Colorado State University. Similarly, the proposed Denver municipal initiative, called the Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative, is seeking parity in enforcement. "Alcohol is far more likely than marijuana to lead to premature death or crimes of violence," SAFER Director Mason Tvert told the Drug Reform Coordination Network. "The initiative expresses the sense of the people of Denver that the private adult use of marijuana should not be a law enforcement priority." If the Denver Elections Commission accepts the ballot language, SAFER will have to collect 5,400 voters' signatures in order to secure a place on the November ballot. Currently, Alaska is the only state to have legalized marijuana possession by adults.

In other news, the drug war took a decidedly recreational turn last week when the nation's drug czar declined to hit a few softballs – his press conference specialty – with his drug reformer counterparts. For years the nation's drug war agency, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, has declined to debate drug policy with any reform groups, despite numerous challenges to do so. The stalemate took a twist last week when drug czar John Walters' ONDCP softball team – We Czar the Champions – removed from its schedule a June 8 game against the NORML-sponsored team, the One Hitters, made up of players from a host of D.C.-based drug policy reform groups. On May 17, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported that the ONDCP removed the game from its roster because the office couldn't come up with enough players – still, the paper noted that the czar's team didn't have any trouble finding players for any of its other games. The reformers offered to reschedule – any day, any time – but the czar's team declined, claiming "they couldn't find the time." ONDCP spokesman Tom Riley first told Roll Call the cancellation was the result of a player shortage, then reversed his position, saying it was in fact a policy-related decision. "I wouldn't think we would play any team that promotes drug use," he told the paper. "That includes teams that promote smoking meth or smoking crack."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

war on drugs, Weed Watch, SAFER, marijuana, ONDCP, John Walters, Tom Riley, Roll Call, NORML, Mason Tvert

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