The Breckenridge Town Council voted on the first reading of two ordinances regarding recreational marijuana at the regular meeting on Tuesday Sept. 24. The ordinances will go into effect if they are approved after the second reading at the next council meeting.
These amendments modify the town’s smoking and open container ordinances to include marijuana. The ordinance also outlines modifies the drug paraphernalia ordinance to accommodate Amendment 64 provisions and details specific marijuana offenses.
Those offenses include: consuming, using, purchasing or transporting marijuana to violations for those under age 21, and open and public display or consumption of marijuana by those over age 21.
The council discussed a part of the ordinance that would have limited the consumption of marijuana on private property if visible from a public street.
“I don’t want my son smoking pot in the house, I’d rather he go out back,” councilman Mike Dudick said.
Council members said between different neighborhoods and residences, it didn’t seem to fit the spirit of the law to limit consumption on private property.
So, at the work session, town council agreed to remove the following language before the first reading: “The exterior balconies, decks, lawns, grounds, outdoor recreational areas, and other outdoor portions of residential structures not constituting rooms designed for actual residence if visible from a public street, sidewalk or alley by a person of normal visual acuity.”
The council unanimously approved the first reading of both ordinances — implementation of Amendment 64 and residential marijuana growing.
(Councilman Gary Gallagher was not present at the meeting.)
Mayor John Warner also expressed concerns about where people could consume marijuana and if things like e-cigarettes or vaporizers were an issue.
Councilman Mark Burke agreed with Dudick, stating: “To me, public space is not private property that can be viewed by the public.”
Dudick said he believed the council should be regulating public marijuana consumption along the lines of tobacco smoking.
“There should be no difference between cigarette smoking and smoking marijuana or drinking a beer,” Dudick said. “We aren’t saying people can’t drink a beer on their balcony or in their yard.”
Police Chief Shannon Haynes reassured the council that public consumption will be illegal no matter what method people use.
However, councilwoman Wendy Wolfe had concerns about edible forms of marijuana, which would be difficult to tell apart from regular food or drink.
“What happens if it’s a brownie, or a gummy bear?” she asked.
The council agreed having regulations in place would help the police to make those determinations in the future. These regulations do not have a specific deadline and do not have to be approved before Oct. 1.
The ordinance also prohibits the burning, smoking, inhaling of vapors, or any other from of consumption of marijuana in any place of business, prohibits open containers and consumption of marijuana in a motor vehicle. The ordinance regarding marijuana growing operations follows state guidelines about allowing individuals to have up to six plants.