Pot smokers busted at A-Basin parking lot
October 21, 2009
SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County sheriff’s deputies have ticketed half a dozen people for possessing small amounts of marijuana at the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area parking lot since ski season started Oct. 9.
“If you’re going to flaunt it in our face and do stupid things while we’re on foot patrol, you sometimes get caught,” Sheriff John Minor said Tuesday. “This is not uncommon the first few ski days.”
Four of the summonses – each for possession of less than an ounce – were the result of deputies on foot patrol noticing the odor of burnt marijuana. Two were issued to friends of a man who was shouting expletives across the parking lot, according to reports from the sheriff’s office.
Breckenridge attorney and marijuana-decriminalization advocate Sean McAllister said the incidents exemplify how local law enforcement continues to ignore the will of the voters.
“It’s just not believable to me that the courts, police and district attorney’s office would use resources to prosecute people in this county which is 62 percent in favor of (decriminalization),” he said.
In 2006, Summit County voted 62 percent in favor of an unsuccessful statewide referendum (Amendment 44) to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for private use.
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“Clearly these people are not endangering other people and should have been left alone,” he said.
Until recently, sheriff’s office reports seldom included marijuana busts on foot patrol; the drug is more frequently confiscated from people pulled over for other violations on local highways.
Minor said A-Basin is a family ski area and it’s his deputies’ duty to watch for people who break the law.
“It’s not uncommon to have foot patrols in the area from time to time for a whole bunch of reasons: That’s our job,” he said.
He said the sheriff’s office tries to have as much a presence as possible, particularly when limited runs are open – in case of skier incidents, thefts and other ski area issues.
The recent incidents occurred on Oct. 9 and the following two Saturdays.
“Don’t attract attention if you’re going to smoke dope, especially in a public place, because we’re going to bust you,” Minor said.
Amounts confiscated ranged from about 2 grams to about 14 grams. Those who received summonses were not arrested.
Breckenridge residents will vote Nov. 3 whether to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for private use. In 2006, 72 percent supported Amendment 44.
McAllister said he hopes that after the election, “police both in Breckenridge and the county as a whole will think about it a little harder before they waste taxpayers’ dollars on people with smaller quantities than an ounce of marijuana.”