POLITICS
09/10/2013 02:25 pm ET

Denver City Council Upset No Arrests Made During Rally That Gave Out Free Marijuana Joints

No arrests were made during a Denver rally where hundreds of free joints were handed out to attendees in protest of Colorado's proposed taxes on recreational marijuana, much to the dismay of some Denver City Council members who were upset over some attendees lighting up their legal weed.

While handing out the marijuana cigarettes is legal under Amendment 64, public consumption is not and, as Councilwoman Jeanne Robb told The Denver Post, the city has the resources -- though perhaps not the willpower -- to enforce the law.

"If we are not enforcing now, I can see why people are skeptical that we won't enforce them after we pass this," Robb told The Denver Post.

Organizers reported that about 600 marijuana cigarettes were passed out during Monday's rally, meant to call attention to Proposition AA and protest the proposed minimum 25 percent state tax on recreational marijuana beginning in 2014. Funds from the tax would go to school construction and regulatory marijuana oversight and enforcement.

"I'll give you a joint when I finish my statement," Marijuana attorney Rob Corry told the crowd that had gathered in Denver's Civic Center Park. "We got some fat ones for you."

In response to an inquiry from The Huffington Post asking about why no arrests were made, Denver Police Department spokesman Detective John White said, "After taking into consideration the number of event participants, public safety and the crime (petty offense), the decision was made to not take enforcement action."

The group behind "No On Proposition AA" argues that the taxes are higher than those for alcohol and would end up pushing users back into the black market, defeating the purpose for Amendment 64's passage.

But Mason Tvert, communications director at Marijuana Policy Project and one of the backers of Amendment 64, has argued in favor of the taxes, saying that "this is a sensible tax that has been designed to cover the regulatory needs of the system."

Colorado voters approved the use of recreational marijuana for adults 21-and-over last November. Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice would allow the new marijuana laws "trust but verify approach" to take effect. The department is reserving its right to file a preemption lawsuit at a later date because marijuana possession and sale continue to be illegal federally, under the Controlled Substances Act.

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