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Former Denver Cop And Former Lafayette Judge Collecting Signatures For Full Pot Legalization In Colorado

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 08/03/11 03:02 PM ET Updated: 10/03/11 06:12 AM ET

A former Denver Police officer and former Lafayette judge will be collecting signatures to support the new full recreational use of marijuana legalization initiative by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. The pot legalization advocates are hoping to gather enough signatures to get the initiative on the state 2012 ballot.

According to a Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) press release, Tony Ryan, a former Denver Police officer and board member of LEAP will be gathering signatures at the Denver City and County Bldg. on Wednesday, Aug. 3 at 1 p.m. Ryan will be joined by former Lafayette judge Leonard Frieling, also a member of LEAP.

Both Ryan and Frieling are former criminal justice professionals who once enforced Colorado’s marijuana prohibition laws, but they have changed their ways and are now advocates for the legalization and regulation of marijuana. Frustrated with ineffective drug policy, Ryan said this in a press release:

During my 36 years as a Denver cop I arrested more people for marijuana than I care to remember, but it didn't amount to one bit of good for our citizens. Keeping marijuana illegal doesn't do anything to reduce marijuana use, but it does benefit the gangs and cartels who control the currently illegal marijuana trade.

Former Judge Frieling expressed similar sentiments in a press statement about the valuable resources spent on an ineffective war on drugs and the toll it takes on the criminal justice system:

When so many murders, rapes and robberies go unsolved, it makes absolutely no sense to keep taking up space in our courtrooms and jails with people arrested for marijuana possession. And even on the distribution end, no matter how many drug cartels and gangs we bust, there are always more criminals willing to step up and risk their lives and freedom for a chance at lucrative black market profits. Our state's voters have the power to strike a bigger blow against organized crime with this initiative to treat marijuana like alcohol than any amount of skill and dedication in the criminal justice system ever can.

Supporters of legal recreational-use pot in the state need approximately 86,000 signatures to get a measure on the ballot for next year, according to The Denver Post. If the amendment were to get approval by voters, pot would be legal in Colorado, in small quantities, for adults aged 21 and over starting as early as 2013.

Currently, sixteen states allow medical marijuana, but full legalization for recreational use would set up a federal showdown over the often contentious disparity between state and federal pot laws, according to The Huffington Post.

LEAP represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate marijuana after fighting on the front lines of the “war on drugs” and learning firsthand that prohibition is not only ineffective but causes violence and crime. Learn more about LEAP and their various events and advocacy efforts here.

The efforts of these Colorado pot advocates is part of the Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a collective of marijuana activist groups and individuals including SAFER, Sensible Colorado, NORML and others.

The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012 makes the personal use, possession and limited home-growing of marijuana legal for adults aged 21 and older. It establishes a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol is currently. The act also would allow for the cultivation, procesing, and sale of industrial hemp.

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