December 17, 2012
El Paso County commissioners on Tuesday will consider measures to outlaw marijuana on county property and ban recreational sale and cultivation of the drug in unincorporated areas.
The measures, a resolution and ordinance, were crafted in response to the passage of Amendment 64 in November, which legalized the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and six marijuana plants for adults over 21. It also legalized retail sales of recreational marijuana, beginning in January 2014.
The resolution, a binding legal measure, would prohibit the display, possession and use of recreational marijuana on county property.
The ordinance would prohibit the cultivation and retail sale of recreational marijuana in unincorporated El Paso County.
Amendment 64 allows local governments to prohibit recreational marijuana cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, and retail stores.
The amendment passed in El Paso County by 10 votes. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed it into the state Constitution on Dec. 10.
County Commissioner Dennis Hisey said it’s possible the commission might pass both measures into law Tuesday. The commission could also vote them down, postpone the matter, or direct the county attorney to alter the measures.
Though it’s unclear exactly where on “county property” the resolution would ban possession, display and use, Hisey said he thinks what the commission has in mind are county parks and other public places.
Public consumption of recreational marijuana is already illegal, under Amendment 64’s provisions.
Hisey also said the phrase “display” is somewhat ambiguous, but that the county attorney pulled that word directly from Amendment 64’s language.
Neither Hisey nor Commissioner Peggy Littleton would predict an outcome of Tuesday’s hearing, though Hisey said he’s leaning toward supporting both measures. Littleton said she’s going to listen to public testimony before making any decision.
Mason Tvert, Denver-based communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said he thinks the commission’s move to ban pot on county property will prove unconstitutional, since Amendment 64 doesn’t give local governments the power to ban possession of marijuana.
“They just can’t do that,” said Tvert.
The commission's agenda can be viewed here.
Contact John Schroyer: 476-4825
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