Denver council votes to allow pot smoking in public view

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DENVER — After a few hours of testimony from a passionate public, the Denver city council voted 10-3 Monday night to allow citizens to smoke marijuana on their front porches and on any private property even if it’s in view of the public.

It’s the final vote on one of several ordinances related to public consumption of recreational marijuana, which will become legal on Jan. 1, 2014.

Later Monday night, the council voted to limit Denver residents to grow 12 marijuana plants in their homes, the same zoning code currently applied to medical marijuana patients allowed to grow plants in their homes.

Earlier Monday, Mayor Michael Hancock’s office announced a new website, www.MariujuanaInfoDenver.org, to keep the public informed about new ordinances and regulations as they evolve.

“We promised the people of Denver that we would implement Amendment 64 in a responsible manner, protecting our neighborhoods, our children and our quality of life,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “We continue to work hard to balance the divergent needs and wants of many in the community.”

For months, the council has been grappling with the many questions that come with the legalization of marijuana, from taxation rates to permits, rules and regulations.

But the question of whether private citizens should be allowed to smoke marijuana on their own private property but within public view is one that divided council members, many of whom were conflicted on the issue and changed their position after hearing from constituents.

Last month, Denver council members initially voted to prohibit pot smoking in public view; but, after an outcry from the public, the council reversed course last week to throw out the proposed restriction.

“I just don’t think it should be wrong for someone to smoke on their own private property,” Councilman Paul D. Lopez said.

Other council members, like Debbie Ortega, refused to change their votes.

“It will be far easier to loosen things than to take those flood gates and try to close them at some point and time later,” Ortega said.

Ortega, Chris Herndon and Jeanne Faatz were the only council members who voted to restrict front porch pot smoking on Monday night.

But enough council members, including Albus Brooks and Robin Kneich, did reverse their votes, angering those like Gina Carbone with Smart Colorado.

“Kowtowing to the marijuana industry,” Carbone said. “That’s what it’s all about in Colorado, I guess.”

The issue likely won’t be completely resolved until someone challenges the statute in court.