Fri November 16, 2012

Marijuana Cases Still On The Docket in Some Colorado Counties, Dropped in Others

Colorado prosecutors and law enforcement officials are mulling their options when it comes to what to do with pending marijuana possession cases.

Boulder County this week became the first county in the state to announce it would drop pending cases for adults over 21 charged with possessing an ounce or less, the limit established by Amendment 64. Denver prosecutors followed suit, saying they will no longer charge adults caught with that amount. According to the Denver Post though, they won’t dismiss cases without review. Likewise, Broomfield/Adams prosecutors say they plan to approach the issue on a case-by-case basis.

In contrast, other counties are taking different approaches. Both Routt County District Attorney Brett Barkey and Weld County DA Ken Buck say they have no plans to drop pending possession cases.

Buck, who was one of the leading opponents of the marijuana measure, says the offenses were crimes at the time they occurred. Larimer County DA Larry Abrahamson is taking a similar stance, noting that Amendment 64 gives no indication it was to be retroactive for offenses that happened before its effective date.

There are lots of eyes on Washington state as well, where voters also legalized marijuana for recreational use. Seems everyone there is asking the same questions.

The Seattle Police published a guide to answer questions in that city, and Planet Money looked at another issue -- whether the expected marijuana businesses will be able to avail themselves of banking services.

In any case, all sides are waiting are waiting to see what the federal government is going to do. Colorado and Washington’s new laws both conflict with federal drug law.