Pot measure put on city ballot
By Lou Kilzer, Rocky Mountain News
August 23, 2005
Denver City Council members held their collective noses Monday and approved putting marijuana legalization on November's ballot.
They had no choice.
The measure's backers had collected enough signatures to force the matter on the ballot - but city law still said the council had to give its approval.
Members lost no time in teeing off on the measure.
Councilwoman Jeanne Robb said smoking three marijuana joints was equal to smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. She said it also kills brain cells.
Councilman Charlie Brown warned that political opponents would be "lower than a snake's belly" if they tried to use the vote against members. Brown and others noted that almost 99 percent of marijuana cases in Denver are prosecuted under state law. The city ordinance would not change that, they said.
If there is strong opposition to the measure, it wasn't evident at the City Council meeting Monday night. Six people asked to speak at the announced public hearing - all in favor of the legalization initiative.
Dr. Robert Melamede, former chairman of the biology department at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, said he's smoked marijuana for 41 years. He said marijuana-like chemicals occur naturally in the body and that the real thing might well save brains cells while slowing aging.
After the meeting, Melamede called some council members "flat earthers" for their alleged lack of knowledge about the substance.
The measure would legalize possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by adults.
The supporters' main argument Monday was that smoking marijuana was better than drinking alcohol.
That line of reasoning did not appear to impress council members.
Councilman Michael Hancock spoke out the loudest against the measure. He said he has seen firsthand that marijuana use leads to harder drugs and can be devastating.
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