COLORADO: Before Denver City Council’s decision Monday to ask voters to approve a 5 percent sales tax for marijuana, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey held the floor and presented a startling statistic about the pot industry.
“We have had 12 homicides related directly to medical marijuana,” Morrissey said. “We have had over 100 aggravated robberies and home invasions. Many of you probably didn’t read about the double execution-style homicide that we had here in Denver, where people were laid down on the floor and executed because they were running a medical marijuana outlet.”
But on Tuesday, Morrissey said the numbers he presented the day before to the council were “loose figures” and none of the homicides were in established medical marijuana facilities.
Medical marijuana industry officials in the meeting were taken aback by Morrissey’s statements.
Michael Elliott, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, argued after the meeting that the district attorney was unfairly casting a bad light on the legally regulated storefronts when the city is preparing its regulatory framework for a new industry to sell marijuana to adults in retail facilities.
“All of this violence associated with marijuana is being blamed on the good players,” he said. “The implication is that it is our fault. There needs to be a distinction (of those incidents) between those who are doing it legally and those who are doing it illegally.”
Morrissey’s office on Tuesday sent an e-mail containing news accounts of nine homicides since 2007 that it said were marijuana related. The Denver Post interviewed homicide detectives in Denver and Aurora to review his claims.
The Post found that many of the cases were home invasions — not robberies of brick-and-mortar businesses — and it was unclear whether victims in the homes were legally growing and selling marijuana.
On Monday Morrissey stressed that the council must know about the violence exploding in the cash-driven medical marijuana industry and that council members should expect the same thing when Colorado begins selling retail marijuana.