Breckenridge Votes to Decriminalize Pot and Drug Paraphernalia

Breckenridge, Colorado tonight became the first town in the country to vote to decriminalize possession of drug paraphernalia. It also decriminalized possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use.

The vote was 3 to 1, or 73 percent to 27 percent.

"This votes demonstrates that Breckenridge citizens overwhelmingly believe that adults should not be punished for making the safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol," said Sean McAllister, a Breckenridge attorney who proposed the ordinance.

Even though existing state law punishes personal possession of pot -- and bongs, pipes, etc.-- by a $100 fine rather than jail time, it still leaves those convicted with a criminal record. Thanks to voters in Breckenridge, that will no longer be the case. So it is a big deal.

The new law takes effect Jan. 1.

< Denver Rejects Vehicle Impound Law | Maine Votes to Legalize Medical Marijuana Dispensaries >
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    Grassly Amdt to Webb Crime Bill (none / 0) (#1)
    by Ben Masel on Tue Nov 03, 2009 at 11:29:57 PM EST
    would bar the National Criminal Justice Commission from "considering legalization."

    Senate Judiciary marks up the Webb bill, S.714 on Thursday.

    please call your Senators if on the Committee, or use LEAP's widget to send a prewritten email asking for votes against the Grassley Amendment (text not yet up.)

    More at LEAP's copssaylegalize blog

    Here's the Amendment (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 12:14:30 AM EST

    The Commission shall have no authority to make
    findings related to current Federal, State, and local criminal justice policies and practices or reform recommendations that involve, support, or otherwise discuss the decriminalization of any offense under the Controlled Substances Act or the legalization of any controlled substance
    9 listed under the Controlled Substances Act.

    Madison (none / 0) (#8)
    by kaleidescope on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 12:07:35 PM EST
    Back in the early seventies when I moved to Madison, the City Council made possession of up to a quarter pound a simple $5 fine.  Living near Madison East High School, I remember smoking a joint while taking a walk, coming upon the scene of an accident, and striking up a conversation with a cop while holding a lit joint.  

    Is possession of up to a quarter pound still a $5 fine in Madison?


    How does that work? (none / 0) (#3)
    by jbindc on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 07:14:01 AM EST
    Even though existing state law punishes personal possession of pot -- and bongs, pipes, etc.-- by a $100 fine rather than jail time, it still leaves those convicted with a criminal record.

    If someone is busted in Breckenridge by someone other than a city police officer for possessing a bong and personal use quantities of pot, wouldn't they still be prosecuted under county or state law, where (according to how I'm reading your post) pot and paraphinalia are still illegal?

    Like who? (none / 0) (#9)
    by scarshapedstar on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 12:59:42 PM EST
    someone other than a city police officer

    Like... a state trooper? If you're busted on the highway, yeah, you're gonna end up with a rap sheet. And I suppose the sheriff can try to catch you in the 'burbs.

    I think the question you're asking is whether the city laws supercede state laws; if they don't, it wouldn't matter who arrested you, because as soon as the state and county see that you've been fined for pot then you've violated their laws and they can pile on and prosecute you for possession. Kind like the "states' rights only applies to lynchings" mentality of the Bush administration, when the feds kept shutting down medical marijuana dispensaries in California.

    I have no idea what the answer to this would be, and it may well depend on the state constitution. Any lawyers out there...?


    Hm (none / 0) (#10)
    by Steve M on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 10:22:26 PM EST
    State and local prosecutions are the same sovereign, so I think that would be double jeopardy.  The state and federal governments can each prosecute you for the same act, though.

    Breck cop... (none / 0) (#11)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Thu Nov 05, 2009 at 10:43:08 AM EST
    ...on the news last night said they have discression to not charge under local ordinance or charge under state law dependent on the situation.  

    stoners paradise (none / 0) (#4)
    by freedomusa on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 08:17:14 AM EST
    Business is tough. Especially in the destination industry. Breck is trying to get the 20 something stoner crowd to ski there! Nice nitch.

    The breach is widening (none / 0) (#5)
    by SeeEmDee on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 08:54:25 AM EST
    When Breckenridge's businesses begin to reap the economic windfall from their electorate's decision, surrounding communities will become envious. And then they'll enact their own local repeals. Then entire counties. The States.

    Cannabis prohibition has always been based on two things: lies and economics. The lies about the 'dangers' of cannabis (which has never had a "Lethal Dose - 50" assigned, in which half of all people given a set dose die from it, as has been established for such drugs as alcohol and nicotine) continue to be told, but only the dimmest bulbs believe them.

    The economics were dependent upon a healthy and robust economy able to support the 'expendable income' necessary to fund a DrugWar. That;'s vanished in all but name. Now we're down to the brass tacks and the nitty-gritty; very soon, there will be no more champagne and caviar for DrugWarrior budgets, as the rest of the nation is forced to make do with beanie-weenies...when they're available.

    And woe betide the professional DrugWarrior who seeks to justify the continued expense of taxpayer funds for a failed program when Joe Taxpayer is looking at the end of his unemployment bennies and is worried about feeding and housing his kids. Joe needs that dough, and right frakkin' now.

    Joe's not gonna want to hear some fat-faced bureaucrat telling him he needs Joe's unemployment money to keep Joe's kids 'safe from druuuuugs!' when Joe's more worried about that feeding and housing.

    A perfect storm is brewing for ending cannabis prohibition (and by extension, drug prohibition en toto) and what's happened in Breckenridge will be repeated around the country until it's all over but for the shouting. And sadly, as usual, it was the money that did it, not sweet reason.

    Is there reliable establishing people (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 10:15:48 AM EST
    who smoke pot do not consume alcohol?

    Will Breckenridge ski resort also reduce the price of lift tickets?

    Will the DEA abstain from enforcing federal law in Breckenridge?

    Not very reliable.... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 04, 2009 at 10:27:55 AM EST
    only anecdotal, but my reefer consumption certainly limits my alcohol consumption to social occasions, where it is coupled with reefer consumption.  

    And I have a friend who was an everyday man like me till he had to quit for a job...no he's an everyday drinker.  That gig might kill him:)