Editorial: City takes right approach toward cannabis consumption
November 20, 2013
When voters in November 2012 approved Amendment 64 — which makes it legal for an adult to possess as much as 1 ounce of marijuana — who knew that it would create such divisiveness among the state's towns, cities and counties?
Indeed, communities throughout the state have haggled over everything marijuana, from banning the sale of marijuana to fining users whose pot smoke can be smelled by others.
For a substance that has been deemed legal, it sure doesn't seem that way in many communities.
The city of Aspen, however, deserves accolades for keeping an open-minded philosophy toward the use of marijuana. A good example is its approach toward open marijuana smoking on private property.
The city's community development director, Chris Bendon, said the city has no designs to go after residents who are smoking cannabis — it is legal, after all — on their private property, be it inside or outside.
Bendon likened marijuana's use to alcohol: The city's open-container law prohibits the consumption of alcohol on public property such as streets, parks and sidewalks. Likewise, residents are allowed to openly drink alcohol on their private property. The same approach will be made toward smoking pot.
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"The law prohibits open public consumption, but so do the laws surrounding alcohol," Bendon told The Aspen Times. "You can't wander down the pedestrian malls with a beer in your hand. But if you're sitting on your porch having a beer, that's fine. Our approach was, if the whole intent was to model the (marijuana laws around the) liquor code, then that seems to work."
At the same time, those enjoying a toke on their deck should also be respectful of their neighbors and others. There's no sense flaunting pot consumption when others are nearby, just like a considerate person wouldn't puff a cigarette in their neighbor's face.
This is a great opportunity for visitors and residents of Aspen to show that responsible, considerate pot smoking is the norm rather than the exception. Marijuana's time has finally come — but tokers can all act like they've been there much longer.
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