Marijuana: $1K fine, year in jail for possession possible but unlikely, says Lakewood PD

Thumbnail image for marijuana in bong.jpg
Last week, while examining the claim that passage of Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, would eliminate 12,000 Colorado pot arrests per year, we spoke with attorney Warren Edson, who said some communities set a maximum $1,000 fine and a year in jail for petty possession. A police rep confirms that's the case in Lakewood, although he says such penalties are unlikely.

"We have a city ordinance for anything under eight ounces of marijuana that someone would be in possession of, and it would be the equivalent of a petty offense," says Lakewood Police Department spokesman Steve Davis. "The maximum would be $1,000 and a year in jail, but the city attorney tells me it would be pretty unusual for someone to receive that for what is essentially a petty offense."

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Steve Davis.
However, he goes on, "it's certainly possible if some kind of circumstances existed where a judge wanted to really send a message."

Possession of more than eight ounces of marijuana exceeds the limit of the Lakewood ordinance and would result in a state charge, Davis adds.

For the most part, people who are found to possess fewer than eight ounces of marijuana in Lakewood are given a summons -- similar to a traffic ticket -- as opposed to being arrested. The most probable exception, Davis notes, "is if they were arrested for a larger crime and this was an added-on offense. Like if someone was arrested for an assault and they've got a little bit of marijuana on them, and they would add that charge. But to be arrested specifically for petty marijuana possession would be very, very rare."

As for Lakewood's numbers, Davis says there were 380 marijuana-related charges in 2010 -- a total that would include those who received a summons and arrestees. In 2011, the sum was very similar: 389. And as of this week, stats show 173 allegations under the ordinance. If the pace racked up during the first two-thirds of the year holds steady for the final third, the 2012 amount will be lower that the previous two years -- around 260.

"Who knows how much impact the medical marijuana stuff has had on those numbers," Davis says. "It'd be interesting to look at them in a few years and see if there's any kind of a trend, and if they drop off."

By the way, we've also reached out to police in Westminster -- another community mentioned by Edson -- for information about its marijuana penalties and statistics. No response thus far.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: Would Amendment 64 really prevent 12,000 pot arrests?"

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10 comments
RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

Yes, Warren discussed the issue of the municipalization of criminal charges in Colorado at the Marijuana Activist Boot Camp in 2008.  Colorado is shunting a variety of criminal cases from the State system to municipal courts (often run by non-judges) in order to save money.  In the case of charges for cannabis, this means that those cited or arrested under municipal prdinances face a year in jail and a $1,000 fine rather than no more than a $100 fine under State statute.  Because the maximum penalty for all municipal ordinances is fixed at a year in jail and a $1,000 fine by State law, most municipal ordinances make no reference to penalty and allow the judge or magistrate full discretion in the imposition of sentence.  You can go to jail for possession of small amounts of cannabis in Colorado, and this underlines (yet another) error in the claims of the fringe that because simple possession of less than two ounces of cannabis is only a petty offense under State law, we should not declare possession of one ounce not unlawful.  Regardless of how unusual it may be for municipal courts to jail cannabis-users, passage of Amendment 64 will mean that small-town cops cannot arrest people for simple possession anywhere in Colorado (and that podunk magistrates cannot jail or fine them).

 

Vote to legalize a little cannabis for adults:

 

*******   Vote Yes on Amendment 64!   *******

 

 

P.S.  Donkey must be at death's door -- or his CDIA grant has run out.

Monkey
Monkey

 @RobertChase Trust cops and vote for A64, because it might stop the unusual. A great reason to vote for something.......If you are insane.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

 @RobertChase 

I respect few people in these blogs

as I do both you and Donkey . I've

learned a great deal from you both .

I do side w/ you on 64 , but I see

Donkey's argument as well . His

major issue is w/ it covering those 21 & over .

He believes it should be 18 & not 21 .

ANY ground made IS A VICTORY .

Passing Amendment 64 can't be

logically seen as a TOTAL FAILURE

as Donkey would have everyone believe .

When it passes , our state Government needs 

to stand up to the Feds for the people or Donkey

is %100 right .

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

 @Monkey You may not be clinically insane, but you sure write a lot of crazy things:  "Trust cops and vote for A64" makes zero sense; most police and certainly those in charge of them are absolutely opposed to the Amendment -- IF one trusts cops, one is more likely to vote against the Amendment than for it.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

 @RobertChase  @Monkey Monkey is another who more often than not , provides evidence to support many of his theories . Yes , I agree some are out there but what is wrong w/ 

a man challenging people to think for themselves ? Ultimately , this is Monkey's intent and judging by response , he's doing a fine job !

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

 @Monkey I know at least as much about the issues involved as anyone, attended the meeting between proponents and staff of the Legialtive Council on Amendment 64, attended the Title Board hearings on Amendment 64, and have conferred with its proponents and opponents.  I have spent a tremendous amount of time trying to explain what I know so well to those who have not been as intimately involved in the process as myself.  You are welcome to argue with me about any specifics in my case you believe to be inaccurate, but to claim that I am "easily confused" is deranged.

Monkey
Monkey

No one cares about A64 except the people who have been fooled into thinking it means legalization, or the people who think A64 will somehow make cops more trustworthy. I don't trust cops, A64 or you, but I do trust the majority of voters are not as easily confused as you.

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