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Public MJ Use is Illegal but Seldom Punished

Denver police have written more tickets for public marijuana use so far this year than in all of 2012, but the crime is rarely punished, according to new statistics from the city. Though Colorado voters in November legalized marijuana use by adults, consuming marijuana in public remains illegal, under both state law and Denver municipal ordinance. It brings a $100 fine under the state law.

According to figures provided by the Denver Department of Safety, police in the city wrote just 20 tickets for public marijuana consumption during the first half of 2013. Fifteen of those tickets came in May and June. Officers wrote only eight tickets in all of 2012, all but one of those pre-legalization.

“Nothing has changed for us policy-wise,” Denver police spokesman John White said. “If individuals are observed consuming marijuana in public, they will be cited.”

It’s difficult to determine whether public pot use has actually increased. There have been no scientific studies about public marijuana use in Denver, either pre- or post-legalization.

But people concerned about the impacts of marijuana legalization say, anecdotally, they have noticed a significant increase in open marijuana consumption.

“We’ve heard from a lot of people in the community that they’re seeing more and more of that,” said Diane Carlson, an organizer for the group Smart Colorado.

Carlson said she saw people smoking marijuana at the Denver Zoo’s Zoo Lights event in December as children walked nearby. Some visitors to the city also say public marijuana use is a problem in Denver, with one Chicago resident writing in a letter to The Denver Post that he and his family observed pot smoking “literally every block” on the 16th Street Mall.

Visit Denver spokesman Rich Grant said the tourism office has received several letters from visitors dismayed at the public pot smoking they saw in the city. But Grant said the number of those letters isn’t any more than letters Visit Denver receives on other topics. The office even receives letters from people concerned that — with bans on public consumption and prohibitions on marijuana use at many hotels — they won’t have a place to puff.

“At this point, nobody really knows what it’s going to be like or a lot of the details,” Grant said.


Complete Article:

Source: Denver Post (CO)
Author: John Ingold, The Denver Post
Published: August 2, 2013
Copyright: 2013 The Denver Post

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