In a move sure to enrage just as many people as it will pacify, the Denver City Council is set to reverse its stance on just where someone is allowed to smoke pot on their property. The Council previously voted to prohibit the smoking of pot on areas of your property where others could see you (e.g., on the porch or in the front yard). Now an 8-7 majority wants to effectively rescind that decision with a formal vote set for next week to allow home owners the ability to smoke marijuana on any part of their property.
Setting the stage for all this drama was Councilwoman Jeanne Robb, who last week successfully proposed an amendment that made it illegal to smoke pot anywhere on one’s property where the activity could be seen by passersby. The Denver police were not thrilled by this, as it would be very difficult to enforce, and the enforcement of such a law would be pretty low on their list of priorities.
On Monday, Councilwoman Susan Shepherd offered a measure that should secure for her the vote of every hipster lounging on a front porch sofa across town. She considered the ban that was passed last week something that simply disregarded the will of the people. Shepherd also was concerned about creating an enforcement environment with neighbors “snitching” on one another to the police, so she created her own amendment that essentially nullified Robb’s effort from last week.
District 8 Councilman Albus Brooks proved to be the swing vote, as he described conversations that occurred over the Thanksgiving holiday prompting him to switch his vote. Private property rights and the proper allocation of police resources were two considerations that influenced his change of heart.
Don’t think this is over – not by a long shot. There are more interest groups circling the Colorado pot ecosystem than any reasonable person can keep track of. Issues such as taxation, marketing to children, where you can light up, home growing vs. retail/wholesale, and federal law are just several of the many considerations that will need to be hashed out in the coming months and years. But until then, we can expect raw emotions from a sharply divided citizenry on this one.