Steamboat Springs As the busy winter tourism season approaches, Steamboat Springs police want to make sure those visitors seeking a Rocky Mountain high are following the rules.
Since Amendment 64 was passed a year ago and marijuana consumption was legalized for those 21 and older, Colorado communities have been crafting their own rules.
On Monday, the Denver City Council discussed where marijuana can be smoked. The council voted, 7-5, in support of rules that would make it illegal to smoke from private property — including lawns, porches and balconies — that could be visible from public property, such as a street or sidewalk, according to The Denver Post.
In Steamboat, the rules are more lax.
“Denver went a step further,” Steamboat Springs Police Department Capt. Jerry Stabile said Tuesday.
Stabile said the rules adopted Sept. 3 by the Steamboat Springs City Council allow marijuana to be smoked on private property, such as a deck, even if it is within public view.
Amendment 64 prohibits marijuana from being consumed in public, and communities like Denver have been narrowing the definition.
“What’s surprising is certain jurisdictions interpret very clear legislation differently,” said Kevin Fisher, co-owner of the Rocky Mountain Remedies marijuana dispensary in Steamboat.
While the rules in Steamboat are not as restrictive as those proposed for Denver, Stabile asked people to be responsible with marijuana and to be cognizant of exposing children to the drug. Fisher acknowledged that while smoking from a deck at a private home may be legal, it might not be the best idea.
“Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it,” he said.
While the consumption of marijuana currently is legal, the next chapter in Colorado’s marijuana journey begins Jan. 1 when retail marijuana shops can begin operating. Fisher said Rocky Mountain Remedies is on track to begin selling marijuana for recreational use Jan. 1 across the parking lot from its current facility on Downhill Plaza. Plans to move the business from west Steamboat to closer to the mountain area are on hold, Fisher said.
Fisher and Stabile said educating visitors about the marijuana laws will be important this coming ski season.
“I think resort towns in Colorado stand to gain a larger proportion of cannabis users compared to other communities,” Fisher said.
Stabile said he thinks the marijuana culture will be more noticeable than in past years and expects there will be people who do not understand the rules. For instance, they might think it is fine to smoke in a car parked at a grocery store parking lot.
“No bueno,” Stabile said.
Stabile said the police will be working with Grand Futures Prevention Coalition on educating the public.
“I think we have a duty to educate people on what’s acceptable and what’s not,” Stabile said.
Fisher said brochures will be given to Rocky Mountain Remedies customers that outline the marijuana rules.
Stabile anticipates police will be fielding some marijuana-related calls this ski season. He said that last season, there were a couple of incidents where people complained about the smell of marijuana coming from neighboring properties.
Stabile thinks issues that arise might have to be revisited by the City Council in the future.
“I think it’s going to be like anything that’s new,” Stabile said. “It’s going to be tweaked along the way.”
Private businesses might have to make adjustments, as well, Stabile said. For instance, resorts and rental property managers will have to make their “no smoking” policies clear.
“I’m sure that is marijuana smoking, too, but I’m sure it’s going to be tested,” Stabile said.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland
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