Rocky Mountain high

There’s a new reason to call Denver the Mile “High” City. The people of Denver, Colo., voted on a proposed law that would make it legal for persons over 21 years of age to possess up to an ounce of marijuana.

The law was passed with 53.46 percent approval earlier this month, according to Posted on the same Web site is a press release that stated, “(Marijuana) is still illegal for persons under 21, and state and federal penalties still apply to all Denver residents.”

The law was lobbied for primarily by an organization in Denver known as Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, or SAFER. According to, the organization includes many students from the Denver region. SAFER’s viewpoint, in a nutshell, is that people who use marijuana instead of alcohol are less likely to commit violent acts or cause harm through car accidents and other incidents that are often related to the consumption of alcohol.

“Alcohol is far more harmful than marijuana, both to the user and to the society, and Denver citizens are fed up with a system that punishes them for choosing to use a safer substance,” stated. “It is time our government stops driving people to drink and allow them to make the safer choice.”

Americans will have to wait and see what this shifting attitude could mean for the rest of the country. Is this just a silly law that will have no real effect? Or is Denver taking a sensible stand with the legalization of marijuana, and might they be followed by other cities or even states?

“I think it would be hard to find one student on this campus that has not tried smoking marijuana,” said a female junior majoring in French. “Out of all the countries in the world, the U.S. has the poorest attitude towards individual personal freedom with drugs such as marijuana. The punishment for having marijuana on you is, in my opinion, extreme for the amount of people who use that drug.”

Other cities such as Seattle, Wash., and Oakland, Calif., have already passed similar laws placing marijuana possession at the bottom of local law enforcement’s to-do list. No cities in Florida have yet passed initiatives such as this, though one student interviewed hopes changes will happen right here at home.

“I think they should, puff, puff, pass that law in Tampa,” joked a male sophomore majoring in economics. “I have a hard time thinking of friends I have that don’t smoke (marijuana). It doesn’t make sense that people should be arrested for small amounts of weed. We could spend taxpayers’ money more efficiently than that, I’m sure.”

Opinions on the idea of the decriminalization of marijuana varied across the USF campus, however. Some didn’t think marijuana legalization was such a good idea.

“(Legalization of marijuana) will open the doors to other drugs getting legalized,” said a female humanities senior. “Today, it’s marijuana, and tomorrow, who knows what.”What this small change means in the future is the most important aspect of the legislation, according to one student.

“The fact that they’re legalizing it in certain cities almost seems like a stepping stone towards people becoming more acceptant of people smoking marijuana,” said a female junior majoring in international business.

Whether the passage of the law in Denver will change the day-to-day lives of that city’s residents has yet to be seen. The immediate effects of the Denver vote seemed to resonate through out the country, however, sparking questions and discussion about issues that could possibly propel the decriminalization of marijuana to the forefront of larger political arenas.