Ex-Cop and Judge in Denver Push to Legalize Pot

By Tony O'Neill 08/03/11

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition in high-profile Colorado campaign today.

Denver Goes to Pot

Something's happening in Colorado today that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Former Denver cop Tom Ryan, and former Lafayette judge Leonard Frieling will take part in an unusual photo opportunity: Collecting signatures in front of the Denver City and County Building at 1pm, local time, in support of a new initiative by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. Says ex-Denver PD cop—and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition  board member—Tony Ryan: "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 Lafayette judge—and LEAP member—Leonard Frieling adds: "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. ...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." California may attract hype for being the most pot-friendly US state, but Colorado may well deserve the crown. The Denver Westword newspaper made headlines recently when it hired a full time medical marijuana reviewer, and High Times editor Dan Skye endorsed the state as the “capital” of the medical marijuana movement. Colorado activists are pushing to make their state the first to fully legalize the plant, in 2012.

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Tony O'Neill, a regular contributor to The Fix, is the author of several novels, including Digging the VeinDown and Out on Murder Mile and Sick City. He also co-authored the New York Times bestseller Hero of the Underground (with Jason Peter) and the Los Angeles Times bestseller Neon Angel (with Cherie Currie). He lives in New York with his wife and daughter. You can follow Tony on Twitter.