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Denver To Pay $25,000 To Marijuana Legalization Signature Gatherer For False Arrest


signature gathering marijuana reform initiativeGathering signatures is hard work. Anyone who has done it for hire or as a volunteer will tell you that. However, it’s a worthwhile gig because a signature gatherer for a citizen’s initiative is on the front lines of democracy. As long as signature gatherers are operating in a public area, they should be free from harassment, and definitely shouldn’t be arrested. Sadly, that wasn’t the case for Regina Ann Petkus in 20111.

Regina was gathering signatures for Colorado Amendment 64 in 2011, and was arrested after she was told by an off duty police officer to cease what she was doing. The request by the off duty officer was made despite the fact that Regina was operating in a public area. After spending a night in jail, Regina sued, and has won a $25,000 settlement. Per The Cannabist:

Her lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, said Denver Police Department Sgt. Hubert Martin Vanover arrested her while he was working off-duty security for the Ogden. He ordered her to stop collecting signatures near the Ogden, the lawsuit says, even though Petkus was standing in a public alleyway, where such activity was allowed.

The suit says Petkus spent a night in jail and later won dismissal of charges of giving false information, trespassing and loitering under a deferred judgment.

The settlement, approved 12-0, provides $14,600 for Petkus and $10,400 for her attorneys at the law office of Killmer, Lane and Newman in Denver.

Although I’m sure we will never know, I’d wish there was a way to know if the off duty police officer was just mad that Regina was collecting signatures in general, or if it was specifically because she was gathering signatures for a marijuana initiative. Like I said, I’m sure we will never know. I’m glad that justice will finally be served, as arresting someone for participating in democracy is inexcusable. Hopefully this serves as a lesson to anyone else that tries to falsely arrest a signature gatherer, for marijuana initiatives or otherwise.


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Johnny Green


  1. Okay with your idea, but he should also spend a night in jail as did Ms Petkus. Hopefully he would be cell mates with a particularly well endowed serial rapist.

  2. I have to concur with Tony: The only way things of this nature will cease and desist is when the money lost comes from the arresting officers’ pockets. There needs to be real accountability when these unlawful actions are taken by law enforcement officials.
    As it stands local tax revenue is going to pay for his criminal act: just plain shameful.

  3. So happy to see article about Mass., I’m here in Mass.,, just got my med. mar. certification from a doc in the box cuz myBoston hospital, where my Dr.’s are (Rheumatoid Arthritis) can’t, after I’ve seen them 17 years, write a simple letter of certification for DPH to be able to allow me to be legal. So I paid $220 out of pocket to Doc in the Box. Believe me, was a sleezy storefront. But, now, PoPo’s can’t come after me. Going to get in touch w/that atty. and see if I can help THE CAUSE

  4. That just shows how stupid the little piggies are. They are afraid of losing their jobs if marijuana is legalized and the money coming in from the Gov. They are to stupid and afraid to go after real crime they afraid that they might get hurt.

  5. Some, or preferably all, of that settlement should come out of the cop’s own pocket. As long as it’s the city’s money, I’m sure he couldn’t care less how much his misconduct costs.

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