Denver DA sent letter to California, warning voters about negative side of legal weed

DENVER -- Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey sent a letter to No on Prop 64, California's recreational weed ballot measure, warning voters about what he called the negative impacts of legal weed.

"Was this a political move?" asked Denver7 Reporter Jennifer Kovaleski.

"A political move? One, I can't run for this office again and two, I have absolutely nothing to do with California," said Morrissey.

Morrissey said the anti-pot campaign asked him to write the letter and answer two questions: have crime rates gone down since pot became legal? And has it allowed officers to spend more time on other crimes?

In both cases, the DA said: "Absolutely not."

"What I was trying to do is accurately reflect the facts as we know them since we have legalized commercial marijuana," he said.

The letter states: "In the city of Denver since the legalization of recreational marijuana the number of crimes in Denver has grown by about 44%, according to annual figures the city reported to the National Incident-Based Reporting System. In 2015 in Denver alone crime rose in every neighborhood in the city. "

It also says, "California voters are also being told that legalizing recreational marijuana will free up law enforcement to work on other criminal activities. Again that has not been the case in Denver."

"During this period of time our crime rates have gone up, and our cops have been more busy on marijuana-related crimes than any time in the history of this city," said Morrissey.

He also said he is not making the correlation that crime is up strictly because of marijuana, and noted there are several other factors.

"I'm not doing anything but answering the questions," said Morrissey.

The letter also states that marijuana emergency room visits are up, according to data from Rocky Mountain HIDTA and the amount of legal weed seized by Denver Police is also up.

"It's gone from pounds to tons, said Morrissey. "Are these statistics disturbing? I think they should be."

However, pro-marijuana advocates have a different opinion about Morrissey's motivations.

"I don't think there's any evidence that suggests that there's been an increase in crime associated with marijuana," said Mason Tvert with the Marijuana Policy Project. "The DA is politically campaigning to paint a negative picture of the marijuana laws in Colorado that doesn't actually exist." 

Read the entire letter:

 

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