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Marijuana is still illegal at Breckenridge Ski Resort, dudes

three breckenridge skiiers.JPG
Have these guys heard it's still illegal to toke at Breckenridge Ski Resort? Doubt it.
In November, voters in Breckenridge approved the decriminalization of marijuana in the community -- and the town council has now approved regulations relating to the measure. As of January 1, 21-and-older adults can possess up to one ounce of weed and transfer a like amount to someone else without breaking the law.

But that's not the case at Breckenridge Ski Resort. Notes ski area spokeswoman Kristen Petit: "In conjunction with the town, we're trying to make it very clear that the passing of the ballot question doesn't legalize marijuana at the resort, and state and federal laws still apply."

Petit underscores this comment by referencing the Colorado Ski Safety Act, which states the following:

(9) No person shall move uphill on any passenger tramway or use any ski slope or trail while such person's ability to do so is impaired by the consumption of alcohol or by the use of any controlled substance, as defined in section 12-22-303 (7), C.R.S., or other drug or while such person is under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance, as defined in section 12-22-303 (7), C.R.S., or other drug.

Adds Petit: "We have zero tolerance for skiing or riding under the influence at any of our mountain resorts. We want to make sure we're focusing on providing exceptional gues experiences for families and all the different kinds of people who come to Breckenridge."

Reports have surfaced suggesting that more Breckenridge cops could be on the lookout at the resort for people violating the ordinance. As for resort personnel, Petit says no new approaches are envisioned at this point. Rather, "we're just going to continue to enforce our policies connected with the Ski Safety Act" while doing outreach to spread the word that the ski area isn't a toke-'em-if-you-got-'em zone.

Some examples of these communication efforts can be found below. They include a statement from Breckenridge Ski Resort COO Pat Campbell, a news release from the Town of Breckenridge, and a roster of frequently asked questions:

Pat Campbell statement:

Breckenridge Ski Resort Comments on Outcome of Vote on Legalizing Possession of Marijuana

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. -- Nov. 3, 2009 -- Today, Breckenridge Ski Resort commented on the outcome of yesterday's municipal election in which voters in the Town of Breckenridge approved a measure to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and paraphernalia.

"In spite of the outcome of this vote, the possession and use of marijuana other than for medical use remains illegal under Colorado State law and using any ski lift or ski slope or trail while under the influence is prohibited under the Colorado Ski Safety Act. The safety of our employees and guests is our highest priority and we will continue to enforce our policies," said Pat Campbell, chief operating officer and senior vice president of Breckenridge Ski Resort.

Town of Breckenridge release:

BRECKENRIDGE CLARIFIES MARIJUANA ELECTION

Breckenridge, CO -- November 4, 2009 -- In an effort to clarify the passing of the Question 2F, the Town of Breckenridge releases this statement:

On November 3, 2009, the voters approved a citizen-initiated ballot question which decriminalizes the private possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and related paraphernalia by adults (ages 21 or older). It is important to note that the passing of this ordinance does not legalize marijuana, but merely removes criminal sanctions through the Town's municipal court.

It is still a violation of federal and state law to possess, cultivate, or distribute any amount of marijuana in the Town of Breckenridge. It is still illegal for minors (those under 21 years of age) to possess or use marijuana. It is still illegal to be under the influence of marijuana while operating a motor vehicle. It is still illegal to openly display or use marijuana in public areas.

The Town believes that the passing of this ordinance is mainly symbolic and will not result in a noticeable change in our community. The Breckenridge Police Department may still exercise, at their discretion, the authority to charge those in violation of state or federal law.

The Breckenridge Ski Resort, a separate entity which operates within both Town of Breckenridge and Summit County boundaries, stated that they will continue to enforce state and federal laws and that it is illegal under the Skier Safety Act to use any trail, ski slope or lift while under the influence.

FAQs on Breckenridge's decriminalization of marijuana:

In the Summit County, Colorado election on Tuesday, November 3, 2009, the voters of Breckenridge approved Question 2F, which asked: SHALL THE ELECTORS OF THE TOWN OF BRECKENRIDGE ADOPT AN AMENDMENT TO THE BRECKENRIDGE TOWN CODE, EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2010, REMOVING ALL CRIMINAL PENALTIES UNDER TOWN LAW FOR THE POSSESSION OF ONE OUNCE OR LESS OF MARIJUANA AND RELATED PARAPHERNALIA BY PERSONS TWENTY ONE YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER?

History:

Breckenridge is governed by a home rule charter. The Charter gives electors of the Town the power to propose any ordinance to the Town Council through a petition process. In July 2009, a citizens' initiated petition was submitted by Sensible Breckenridge to, and then certified as valid by, the Town Clerk. The petition called for an ordinance to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and related paraphernalia by persons twenty one years of age older. Breckenridge Town Charter requires the Town Council to either adopt the proposed ordinance or call a special election to allow the voters to approve or reject the ordinance.

In August 2009, the Council voted not to pass the citizen initiated ordinance and therefore by law, was presented to the voters for the Summit County Coordinated election on November 3rd. The Breckenridge voters approved the citizens' initiated petition which decriminalizes the private possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and related paraphernalia by adults (ages 21 or older). Unofficial election results from Summit County reported 617 (71%) voted Yes, and 253 (29%) voted No. Full election results can be found here.

What this means:

It is important to note that the passing of this ordinance does not legalize marijuana as per federal and state laws, but merely removes criminal sanctions through the Town's municipal court. The Town believes that the passing of this ordinance is mainly symbolic and will not result in a noticeable change in our community.

• It is still a violation of federal and state law to possess, cultivate, or distribute any amount of marijuana in the Town of Breckenridge.

• It is still illegal for minors (those under 21 years of age) to possess or use marijuana.

• It is still illegal to be under the influence of marijuana while operating a motor vehicle.

• It is still illegal to openly display or use marijuana in public areas.

• It is still illegal to possess more than one ounce of marijuana.

• Selling, dispensing or cultivating marijuana is still a violation of Colorado state law, except as allowed by Amendment 20 of the Colorado Constitution concerning medical marijuana.

• The Breckenridge Police Department may still exercise, at their discretion, the authority to charge those in violation of state or federal law.

Why doesn't federal law, which prohibits marijuana possession and use, apply?

The possession of marijuana is still a federal crime. Recently, however, President Obama has announced that his administration will not prosecute persons who possess marijuana pursuant to a state law allowing for the possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Denver voters approved a similar measure in 2005; however, Colorado law still prohibits marijuana possession and use. How will this work?

These laws basically decriminalize private possession of marijuana of one ounce or less but only on the municipal level. The possession of marijuana is still a violation of state law (classified as a petty offense), and a person who is found to be illegally in possession of marijuana in violation of state law is still subject to a fine of $50, plus court costs.

What is the ski area's stance?

The Breckenridge Ski Resort, a separate entity which operates within both Town of Breckenridge and Summit County boundaries, has stated that they will continue to enforce state and federal laws and that it is illegal under the Skier Safety Act to use any trail, ski slope or lift while under the influence.

When will the passage of 2F be enacted?

It becomes effective January 1, 2010.


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