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Denver legalizes marijuana for use on private property

Published time: December 10, 2013 20:38
Reuters / Andres Stapff

Reuters / Andres Stapff

The City Council in Denver, Colorado voted on Monday to permit residents to smoke marijuana on private property, even if others can see them doing so from the street or sidewalk.

According to ABC 7, the council voted 10-3 to allow pot smoking in front yards and balconies two weeks after a measure had passed banning the practice if the drug could be seen or smelled by other residents. The new measure is final, and also bans the possession of marijuana by anyone younger than 21.

Under the new rules, anyone under 21 who’s found possessing marijuana will be fined $150. A repeat offender will be charged with a $500 fine, while each violation thereafter will carry a $999 penalty.

On January 1, 2014, Colorado and Washington will become the first states in America to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. As Denver continues to debate and develop pot regulations, Councilman Charlie Brown said that modifications would continue to be made even after legalization day arrives.

"In 22 days, the image of our city and state will change," he told the Denver Post. "Some won't be pleased with what we've decided, and some will. We are going to watch very closely what will happen. ... If we need to make adjustments, we will."

Additionally, the council instituted a limit on the number of marijuana plants an individual can grow. Each resident will be allowed to grow up to six plants, with a 12-plant maximum per household. According to Councilwoman Jeanne Rob, the parameters have been set in place as zoning requirements, and won’t be targeted as criminal offenses.

"It's not going to be a police state, where officers are going to go in and inspect your house," she said to the Post. "It's going to be complaint-driven."

So far, more than 100 stores have applied for licenses to sell pot in Denver, but the city expects fewer than 12 to open their doors on January 1. Council leaders don’t really know if the city is ready to deal with the momentous event, which could potentially draw thousands, but Police Chief Robert White said that officers will be on hand to help with the situation.

In the meantime, the Denver Post has even appointed Ricardo Baca as its marijuana editor to expand coverage of the law and its impact on Colorado. Baca is currently looking to hire a pot critic, and told the New York Times his section will be “extremely credible” and “professional.”

Still, Baca said pot smoking won’t be permitted at the office.

“I will never come to work stoned,” he said. “I will never try and write anything under the influence.”

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