By David Montero, Rocky Mountain News
October 27, 2006

They weren’t mellow or takin’ it easy when Gov. Bill Owens talked on the Capitol steps Friday morning in opposition to a statewide ballot measure seeking to legalize marijuana possession.
About 50 people of all ages shouted him down as he and Attorney General John Suthers cited statistics declaring pot dangerous.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is a sad day for Colorado," Owens said. And then he had to repeat what he said over the chant, "What do we want? A safer choice. When do we want it? Now."

Suthers couldn’t even be heard much of the time he spoke.

For about four minutes, he plowed through data showing the dangers of marijuana, but it was lost in the din of another chant, "Hey, ho, you say drink, we say no."

The crowd never let up and cheered when Suthers finished his speech. They taunted the governor: "Lie louder Bill, we can’t hear you."

Owens and Suthers were also joined by Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener, who became famous during the Platt Canyon High School shooting in Bailey that resulted in the sexual assault of several girls and the murder of 16-year-old Emily Keyes.

Wegener tried to link the amendment to the tragedy.

"What about the possibilities of this individual being a pilot or a bus driver?" he asked the crowd. "The potential consequences of their actions are too horrific to ignore. Couldn’t happen? That’s what was said about a school shooting in Bailey."

The crowd jeered.

Amendment 44, the ballot measure that seeks to legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older, has been largely opposed by law enforcement officials. On the steps, a line of uniformed officers, including sheriff’s and police chiefs, watched the chanting crowd mock most of the speakers.

Amendment 44 sponsor Mason Tvert said the elected officials and law enforcement officers were being disingenuous.

"Clearly they haven’t done their jobs. They haven’t educated people about drugs," Tvert said. "They’ve simply pushed people from one drug they don’t like to the other one they do."