On Tuesday, Breckenridge, Colorado could become the latest American city to legalize recreational use of marijuana for adults.
The legalization measure, placed on the ballot after campaigners turned in a petition with almost three-times the number of signatures required, would also permit adults to posses bongs, pipes, bubblers and other so-called marijuana paraphernalia.
Allowing paraphernalia would be a first for U.S. voters, according to Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Bruce Mirken, who spoke with the Associated Press. "I don't think there's anywhere else in the country that has legalized paraphernalia," he said.
In Colorado, the current penalty for being caught with marijuana paraphernalia is $100.
According to Colorado's Summit Daily News, the Breckenridge petition needed 500 signatures, but over 1,400 were collected. If the measure passes, the town will remove all penalties for adults found in possession of up to one ounce.
"It will not make it more available to minors, won't make it legal to smoke it on the street, won't get you out of trouble if you're stoned behind the wheel," the Daily News opined in an editorial supporting the measure. "What it says is that if you, as an adult, choose to possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use, you won't be busted for it. It's still a much more stringent law than those that apply to alcohol — a substance you can own as much as you want of and consume in public."
The paper added: "Eventually, it seems these small possession busts will be a thing of the past state-wide, which makes us conclude some kind of 'nuisance pot smoke' ordinance needs to take their place — roughly analogous to public intoxication statutes."
"'We don't want to spend our tax dollars prosecuting this, so we're saying, let's just stop it,' said Sean McAllister, a Breckenridge attorney who proposed the ordinance," according to ABC 7 News in Denver.
The town's police chief has said he opposes the measure because it places Breckenridge at odds with state law. Should the town legalize marijuana, municipal police officers who choose to make an arrest would be required to transport their prisoners to the Summit County Sheriff's Department, AP noted.
However, the measure would not truly pose much of an inconvenience for officers, as the county's sheriff is located mere moments away from the town's police department.
The odds that this measure will pass appear to be quite strong. While an effort to legalize marijuana state-wide failed during the 2006 elections, Breckenridge voters supported it by a margin of nearly 3-to-1, ABC noted.
Breckenridge, a famous winter get-away for skiing enthusiasts, has roughly 3,300 registered voters.
By Stephen C. Webster
October 31, 2009
The Raw Story