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Denver: criminal defense needed for pot use?

It seems difficult for some people, particularly those in public service, to resist their natural temptation to tell others what to do and how to live. Last year a majority of residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana in Colorado. Now it seems that Denver's Mayor wants to complicate matters by introducing a series of restrictions that will strictly prohibit the use in certain locations and situations, and provide a severe criminal penalty for people who violate it, necessitating once again a criminal defense to marijuana use.

Some observers accuse the mayor of trying to recriminalize marijuana. Earlier in October, he and a few members of the Denver City Council presented a new city ordinance that contained strict rules regarding the open consumption and possession of marijuana. One measure would prohibit using it anywhere in public view even if the activity is done on one's own private property. Additionally, a fine of $999 and up to a year in jail would be faced by anyone who smokes and allows the odor to travel to an objector's property.

The proposal also doesn't distinguish between recreational or medical use, which makes it possible for a medical user to be arrested. Public consumption in parks or elsewhere would be banned. The mayor made it clear that he wanted the activity kept private, period. He shouldn't have to smell it coming from your property, he said. The Denver Post reported that the mayor and a few council members are afraid that public marijuana displays will deter city tourism.

However, others express serious criticism about the proposal. The legal director for the ACLU of Colorado called the proposal an overreach that was unnecessary and unconstitutional. He explained that it would stop consumption in the privacy of a person's living room if the windows are open or if the person can be seen from the street and would require a criminal defense in a myriad of potential circumstances. This could once again make marijuana usage more serious than alcohol and elevate the dangers by bringing criminal prosecutions into the picture again.

Source: mintpressnews.com, Denver Mayor Pushes Measure To Recriminalize Marijuana, Katie Rucke, Oct. 17, 2013

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