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Denver City Council Votes to Decriminalize Pot for 18-21 Year Olds

The unanimous vote greatly reduces punishment so those caught with marijuana won’t face lasting legal consequences.

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By Shawn Dwyer

12/19/13

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It was the humane thing to do. 

On Monday evening, the Denver City Council voted unanimously to decriminalize weed for people between 18-21 years old. Even with the passage of amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in Colorado, those under 21 would have faced high fines and up to a year in jail for possession.

With January 1, 2014 looming on the horizon – the date when anyone over 21 will be able to smoke weed recreationally – the city council sought to limit the punishment for those just on the cusp, reducing penalties for getting caught with pot from jail time to fines. “As a criminal offense, it will stay on your record,” said Councilman Albus Brooks, who sponsored the law. “Just because they did something silly, which a lot of us have done, we don’t want that to ruin them for the rest of their lives.”

The fight for reducing punishment for under age users without pushing to actually lower the age limit came earlier in the year, after the buzz of amendment 64’s passage wore off.  Once the ordinance reaches final passage, anyone 18-21 years caught possessing weed will face up to $150 in fines for the first offense, $500 for the second offense, and $999 for any offenses thereafter.

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