Rocking the vote?
Dan May's been nothing if not consistent in his portrayal of the MMJ center business, stating repeatedly that a crime wave has surely followed its expansion. Recently, that stance drew criticism from City Councilor Sean Paige, who wrote in an online post, "If anyone needs an independent fact-checker, or a visit from the Truth Police, it's Mr. May."
He's referencing the DA's main problem: City and county peace officers report that the feared "wave" is actually a ripple — if that.
So in what context do we put the recent arrests of the so-called "Beacon Street growers" who were raided back in May? For answers, we turned to criminal defense attorney Clifton Black.
"I have a suspicion that the reason why they're doing all these Beacon Street arrests now is to possibly up the statistics," says Black. "I think it's going to be interesting to see if the number of arrests are publicized right before the vote."
Black's been providing criminal defense for over eight years, and says his firm is currently defending three individuals related to the Beacon grows, in addition to a handful of others. Each individual charged with cultivation of marijuana faces two to six years in prison, though the attorney says first-time offenders typically aren't jailed.
"It's a really tricky situation, because my clients are facing [Class IV] felony charges," Black says. "They're concerned about their regular jobs finding out they have felony charges against them; they're worried about their neighbors finding out. So it really puts us in a predicament."
Scare stats from the district attorney or not, polling data commissioned by the Independent shows medical marijuana enjoying as much support as it ever has locally.
Amendment 20 was passed statewide in 2000; El Paso County voters came in a tick under the rest of Colorado, supporting passage by 51 percent, as opposed to the overall 53-47 margin.
In early September, locally based Luce Research asked 600 El Paso County voters, "Should medical marijuana be legal for adult patients who have a written recommendation from their doctor?" for which 72 percent of respondents answered "Yes;" 21 percent said "No;" and seven percent were unsure. Notably, the question's outcome was similar whether within the city or in unincorporated territory.
Other questions revealed that 24 percent of those polled knew someone with a red card, and that support for outright legalization has swept dramatically upward from 2006 levels, when El Paso County voted 64-36 against Amendment 44: Now, 48 percent favor legalization, 47 percent oppose and 5 percent are unsure.
The poll has a margin of error of 4 percent.
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