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More Details on Operation Gargoyle and Capturing El Chapo

Patrick Keefe, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, writing in the New Yorker, has an 11 page article with several new details on the capture of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, mostly from law enforcement sources.

Keefe's interviews with law enforcement contain some new details. For example, why did El Chapo's most trusted associates flip so fast when arrested in the days preceding El Chapo's capture? U.S. law enforcement sources tell Keefe they were tortured. They say the Mexican Marines are known for that. [More...]

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Poll: Coloradans Happy With Legalized Marijuana

Quinnipiac has released a poll of Coloradans about their views on marijuana since it became legal in the state. A clear majority view it as positive:

  • Voters support the law legalizing marijuana 54 – 43 percent;
  • 49 percent of voters admit they’ve tried marijuana(only 15 percent admit using it
    since it became legal January 1);
  • Driving has not become more dangerous because of legalized marijuana, 54 – 39 percent;
  • Legalized marijuana will save the state and taxpayers a significant amount of money, 53 – 41 percent;
  • Legalized marijuana will have a positive impact on the state’s criminal justice system, 50 – 40 percent;
  • Legalized marijuana “increases personal freedoms in a positive way,” voters say 53 – 44 percent;
  • Legalized marijuana has not “eroded the moral fiber” of people in Colorado, voters say 67 – 30 percent.

The only naysayers disapproving: Republicans (63 - 28 percent) and voters over 65 (62 - 28 percent.)

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Saturday Open Thread

I'll be at the jail most of the day visiting a client. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Thousands Celebrate 4/20 in Denver

This is the first year of the 4/20 rally that marijuana is legal in Colorado, so it's not surprising there is a huge turnout at Civic Center Park in Denver. At 4:20 p.m., the tens of thousands of celebrators are expected to light up, even though it is still illegal to smoke pot in public. Organizers say between 50,000 and 80,000 are expected to attend over the two days.

There is also beefed-up police security for the two-day event. Yesterday, police issued 22 tickets for public consumption. Today, as of 4:10 pm, 37 were issued, with 31 of them for public consumption violations. (It's a civil, not criminal violation.)

Here's a photo of the Denver Police Command Center as they watch events in real-time, "using about 50 TV screens that can flip back and forth to 138 HALO and 38 traffic cameras." (via Denver Post)

Check out Westword's gallery of photos of the epic event. [More...]

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Murdered Denver Woman On Phone With 911 for 13 Minutes

Why did it take Denver Police officers more than 15 minutes to arrive at the home of Kristine Kirk? She was dead by the time they got there. She spent her last 13 minutes of life on the phone with 911.

Kirk called 911 at 9:31 pm. She grew more panicked as the call progressed. She told the operator her husband was hallucinating and had taken drugs, there were kids in the house, he said he wanted her to shoot him, he went to take the gun out of the safe, and then, that he had the gun and she didn't know where to go. Those were her last words before being shot to death. Police finally arrived but it was too late.

The Kirk's home is 1.1 miles from the local police station -- a 3 minute drive. [More...]

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Colo. Earns $3.5 Million in Marijuana Taxes

The Colorado Department of Revenue released the January, 2014 sales tax figures for marijuana today.

The state took in $2.9 million in sales and excise taxes and another $600,000 in licensing fees, for a total of $3.5 million.

The state distributed $2.1 million of the sales tax to county and local governments. Denver received the lion's share. The actual numbers are here. [More...]

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Colorado Marijuana Taxes Produce Windfall

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper released a proposal this week on how he intends to spend the taxes collected from marijuana sales.

Marijuana sales have greatly exceeded expectations. For the fiscal year beginning in July, marijuana sales are expected to reach $1 billion, with $600,000 coming from the sale of recreational pot.

In the proposal, Hickenlooper's budget office says it expects the recreational and medical marijuana industries will pump nearly $134 million in tax and fee revenue into state coffers in the fiscal year beginning in July. Extrapolating from those figures, the proposal estimates sales in all marijuana stores to approach $1 billion for that fiscal year. Recreational pot shop sales are estimated to account for more than $600 million of that — a more than 50 percent increase over a previous projection.

The first $40 million go to school construction, as required by law. Above that, But Hickenlooper's office expects to have "$28 million this fiscal year and $101 million next fiscal year left over to spend on other things."[More...]

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Friday Night Open Thread

I won't catch up on the days' news for a few hours as I'm finalizing a motion I've been working on yesterday and today.

In the meantime, here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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From Denver to Telluride, Colorado Makes History

Colorado made history yesterday, becoming the first government to allow marijuana to be purchased by adults for recreational use.

From Denver to Telluride, the lines were long. Here's a look at the day in photos.

The stores are projected to generate a lot of income, as well as jobs.

Colorado projects $578.1 million a year in combined wholesale and retail marijuana sales to yield $67 million in tax revenue, according to the Legislative Council of the Colorado General Assembly.

I'll be keeping track of emerging marijuana legal and policy issues, both federal and state, at a new blog on marijuana laws I launched yesterday. Take a look. (It also looks good on mobile devices.)

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Denver Wants You To Know (Pot Laws)

The City and County of Denver has a new website on marijuana. Not surprisingly, it concentrates on what is not legal. The six things it wants you to know:

  • It is illegal to consume marijuana in public.
  • It is illegal to take marijuana out of state.
  • Only licensed establishments can sell retail marijuana products.
  • It is illegal for retail establishments to give or sell marijuana to minors.
  • You must be over 21 to possess or use "retail marijuana.
  • It is illegal to "drive high".

Some other things Denver would like you to know [More...]:

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Colorado Issues 136 Marijuana Business Licenses

Christmas comes early to Colorado....The Denver Post reports the state made history yesterday when it became the first state to issue businesses licenses to sell marijuana for recreational use. So far, 136 licenses were issued. The licensed stores can begin selling pot to adults on January 1.

In addition to the retail licenses, the Post reports Colorado issued licenses for "178 marijuana-cultivation facilities" and "31 marijuana-infused products makers."

Here's a map of the stores that received licenses. Here's an article about one Colorado pot bakery whose business is already booming.

Meanwhile, tickets for pot consumption are up sharply from 2012. The new laws do not allow people to smoke pot in public.

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Colorado Loses Long-Time Underdog Champion

R.I.P. Ken Gordon, former long-time State legislator, Senate majority and minority leader, adjunct law professor and public defender. He really was one of the good guys.

Ken, age 63, was on his way to work out Sunday but drove to the emergency room instead. He collapsed outside his car, and was pronounced dead a few hours later, apparently of a massive heart attack.
His son Ben says:

...[I]t was completely unexpected; his father was extremely fit, ate a healthy diet and worked out daily. "I thought he was going to outlive us all....He was the most fit person I knew. He was so strong."

More on Ken's life and legacy here and here.

While I didn't have any contact with Ken in recent years, I remember him well from his time as a public defender and in private practice, and his early years as a legislator. He was dedicated, caring and principled -- always fighting the good fight. You can read his bio in his own words here. [More...]

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R.I.P. Claire Davis

Arapahoe high school student Claire Davis has died of her shooting injuries. Her family released this statement:

"It is with heavy hearts that we share that a 4:29 p.m. this afternoon, Claire Davis passed away, with her family at her side. Despite the best efforts of our physicians and nursing staff, and Claire's fighting spirit, her injuries were too severe and the most advanced medical treatments could not prevent this tragic loss of life. Claire's death is immensely heartbreaking for our entire community, our staff and our families.


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One Direction Sends Video Message to Claire Davis

For days following the Araphoe High School shooting, supporters of Claire Davis, who was shot by shooter Karl Pierson and remains in a coma, posted pleas on Twitter for One Direction to let Clair know they supported her. The hashtag was #get1Dtoclaire.

The band complied, privately sending the video message above to her family. It was Claire's boyfriend, Alex Chapman (not the band, as reported here) who uploaded it to You Tube.

The group recorded a 13-second video message and sent it directly to Claire's family, a source close to One Direction told CNN Thursday. While it was not intended to be shared online, her boyfriend apparently uploaded it to YouTube, the source said.

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Wednesday Open Thread

How about an open thread? All topics welcome.

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