Denver City Council Flip-Flops, Voting to Allow Pot Smoking in Front Yards

Denver City CouncilDenver City CouncilLast night the Denver City Council, which last week voted to ban pot smoking in outdoor areas on private property that are visible from streets or sidewalks, reversed itself. The council approved an amendment introduced by Councilwoman Susan Shepherd that restores a provision protecting marijuana consumption on private residential property, whether indoor or outdoor, as long as the consumer has the owner's consent. Assuming the current version of the ordinance wins a second vote next Monday, Denver residents will be allowed to consume marijuana on their front porches, patios, and balconies.

The vote was 7 to 6, thanks to a switch by Councilman Albus Brooks, who told The Denver Post he changed his mind after hearing from community leaders during the Thanksgiving break and thinking about the potential for discriminatory enforcement. "Their concerns were about private property rights and overpolicing in some of our neighborhoods," Brooks said. "It's a tough issue. Fear sometimes causes us to protect and doesn't allow our city to grow."

The council had already eliminated the widely ridiculed "smell test," which would have prohibited pot smoking even in fenced back yards if the odor could be detected by neighbors or passers-by. It also nixed a ban on mere possession of marijuana in parks and other recreation areas, which would have barred people from carrying legally purchased cannabis on public biking and walking trails. Likewise, the current version of the bill allows mere possession on the 16th Street Mall, so that people who buy marijuana there do not have to leave immediately.

The bill does seem to prohibit marijuana consumption in outdoor areas of bars and restaurants that are "clearly observable from a public place," such as patio tables adjoining a sidewalk. The state legislature has amended the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act to cover pot smoking inside bars and restaurants, and consumption will not be allowed in or near marijuana retailers. That still leaves a few possibilities for people hoping to consume marijuana in social settings other than private residences. By its terms, the state smoking ban does not cover vaporizers or edibles, and even pot smoking might be legal in outdoor areas of Denver bars or restaurants that are concealed from public view, such as courtyards or fenced patios.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Property deeds are not a suicide pact!

  • Sevo||

    Dope is legal, and the council has decided to let people smoke a legal substance on their own front lawns?
    Well, screw you very much!

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Good Lord! Anybody who says that Colorado legalized anything should be found guilty of an English language felony.

    If it was LEGAL it would be LEGAL to consume on any property with the consent of the property owner. If it were LEGAL, there would be no risk to liberty or property for possession of any quantity large or small. ETC!

  • Acosmist||

    Yes, thank you. Odd to see Reason call this legalization. I'd expect a non-libertarian to call this legalization, or pot Somalia, or some such.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Shameless self-promotion and if anything in there looks like a blanket legalization statement, I throw the editor under the bus in my defense.

  • Pelosi's Rabbit||

    The vote was 7 to 6, thanks to a switch by Councilman Albus Brooks, who told The Denver Post he changed his mind after hearing from community leaders during the Thanksgiving break and thinking about the potential for discriminatory enforcement. "Their concerns were about private property rights and overpolicing in some of our neighborhoods," Brooks said. "It's a tough issue. Fear sometimes causes us to protect and doesn't allow our city to grow."

    I know what he's saying, and I believe he's 100% correct. However, wouldn't you think that a city councilman of color who suspected police of racial profiling and abuse would already be tackling the issue head on? Or is it somehow magically only with pot that selective enforcement would occur?

  • Nwallins||

    The correlation between pot smoking and flip flops is well over 1.0

  • Capo||

    Banning it in bars, and prohibiting food service were two very stupid ideas. Why in the world wouldn't you want to promote people going to an actual bar to consume their pot rather than throwing them out in the street is beyond me.

    It's baby steps I suppose.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    It's the same stupidity that says that it's better to have people drive to bars to watch football (and drive home afterwards) than to allow beer to be sold on Sunday.

    Logic and law are only close in the dictionary.

    ... Hobbit

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