Marijuana sniff-test ordinance nullifies much of Amendment 64, councilwoman says
Amendments to Denver's marijuana ordinance have been decried by critics, including the ACLU, as a "sniff test" that would recriminalize behavior made legal by Amendment 64, which lets adults 21 and over use and possess small amounts of cannabis.
Big photos and more below.
Denver City Councilwoman Susan Shepherd also has grave doubts about the proposal -- and she's hopeful that enough of her colleagues feel the same that the controversial elements in the current draft can be removed or repaired before it takes effect.
The amendments represent a collaboration between Denver mayor Michael Hancock and councilman Chris Nevitt. We've included the current draft below, along with a PowerPoint presentation and a fact sheet touting it. The following excerpt from the latter outlines its main provisions:
Photo by Kate Levy Denver mayor Michael Hancock in a photo from his election-night victory party.
• Similar to existing city laws that already limit alcohol possession in city parks, this ordinance will explicitly make it unlawful to possess, consume, use, display, transfer, distribute, sell, transport, or grow marijuana within any park, mountain park, parkway or recreational facility. That prohibition will also apply to the 16th Street Mall.Shepherd, who wasn't involved in the crafting of the measure, calls it "very, very broad and far-reaching. In essence, it's basically an attempt to nullify much of Amendment 64 by making the ordinance so overly restrictive in regard to where and how marijuana could be consumed.
• While it has previously been unlawful to openly or publicly consume one ounce or less of marijuana, this ordinance clearly defines "openly " as occurring in a manner that is obvious through sight or smell to the public.
• The ordinance also clearly defines publicly to mean occurring or existing in a public place or in a location where members of the public can observe or perceive through sight or smell, including in vehicles.
• The ordinance repeals language enacted following a 2007 ballot measure that calls for arrest and prosecution for possession of marijuana to be the lowest law enforcement priority. Because Amendment 64 made possession of 1 ounce of marijuana or less legal for anyone 21 and over, this language is no longer necessary.
• The ordinance will allow the city to prohibit "pot giveaways" in city parks.
"The most glaring part of it," in her view, "is that consumption on private premises was going to be so tight as to basically exclude being able to smoke in your backyard or on your front porch or even inside your home. Let's say you're sitting on your couch in your living room with your windows open, and the smoke comes out. And then there's how it would effect multi-unit dwelling structures, like condominiums or apartment buildings. If you really said you couldn't consume on private property if others could detect the smell, a condo owner would literally have no place in the city where they could consume legally, quote-unquote, under that particular ordinance."
She's also troubled by language that would prohibit anyone from carrying marijuana through a park, parkway or the 16th Street Mall, whether it can be seen by others or not.
"The words 'possession' and 'transport' are used way too liberally," Shepherd maintains. "You could argue that there's a reasonable concern about displaying it publicly, and public use. But having it be against the ordinance just to have it on your person is ridiculous."
Continue for more of our interview with Denver City Councilwoman Susan Shepherd about amendments to the marijuana ordinance, including the current draft and more.