Denver Says Citizens Can Toke Up on Lawns

By Shawn Dwyer 11/26/13

Public outcry dampened a proposal that would have banned the mere smell of pot even if it came from one’s own property.

Hi-Yo nasal ranger, away!
Photo via Nasal Ranger

On the heels of a proposed ordinance criminalizing the mere scent of marijuana, Denver’s city council has given preliminary approval to allow residents to smoke pot on their own property.

The new proposal came after a public outcry erupted over a much stricter ordinance that would have made the smell of marijuana a crime punishable with a fine of $999 or one year in jail. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock threw his weight behind that measure, telling The Denver Post "Marijuana is one of those elements that can be quite pervasive and invasive. I shouldn't have to smell your activities from your backyard.”

But public outcry over the initial proposal led to the change. Denver City Councilwoman Susan Shepherd decried the ordinance as an attempt to nullify Amendment 64, Colorado’s ballot initiative that amended the state constitution to legalize pot after passing in 2012. "The most glaring part of it," she said in an interview with Denver Westword, "is that consumption on private premises was going to be so tight as to basically exclude being able to smoke in your backyard…or even inside your home.” Backers of Amendment 64 went further and called the strict proposal unconstitutional.

Final passage of the new ordinance is expected in early December, while retail marijuana shops are gearing up to open business on January 1st.

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.