Although the Denver District Attorney’s Office only has the power to prosecute local and state laws, its employees are held to a higher standard when it comes to marijuana.
Specifically, they aren’t allowed to possess, grow or sell pot, since all of those things are illegal under federal law. But the office has taken its prohibitions a step further than that. In February, it updated its conduct policy to include a provision that prevents employees from benefiting from “income derived from a household member’s ownership or financial interest in, or employment by” a marijuana business.
“Each one of my deputies is sworn to uphold state and federal law. This puts my office in an ethical dilemma,” says Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey. “We don’t prosecute federal statutes, but we still take that oath — and that oath still means something to me. The fact that the federal government doesn’t do its job is not my business.”
The federal illegality of marijuana creates conflicts of interest for his staff, Morrissey says, laying out a hypothetical situation in which one of his deputy’s spouses owned a marijuana business: What if his office had to prosecute a competing business for operating without a license or with an expired license or for violating some other part of Colorado’s marijuana laws? In that situation, the DA’s office could be accused of having an unfair bias, “and I am not going to get into that,” Morrissey says.
The Latest Word has more.