Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Council approves new pot ordinance

BARBARA COTTER Updated: March 12, 2013 at 12:00 am

In case anyone thought Amendment 64 made it OK to toke up in public, the city of Colorado Springs wants to underscore one message: No, it’s not.

On Tuesday, Colorado Springs City Council approved an ordinance that amends the city code to prohibit marijuana use in public or in vehicles. The ordinance also specifies that people cannot have more than an ounce of pot, and it’s off limits to those under the age of 21.

It’s the first batch of local regulations to come out of Amendment 64, which Colorado voters approved in November to allow the recreational use of marijuana.

The City Attorney’s office came up with the proposal after meeting with Police Department officials to address some of the issues likely to arise. Public consumption was obviously high on the list.

But at Tuesday’s meeting, Mark Slaugh, CEO iComply and director of membership for the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council, said other issues may need to be addressed under the amendment, which calls for pot to be regulated like alcohol. If, for example, organizers of events such as Territory Days can get a special permit for a beer garden, can they do the same for marijuana? Can the passengers in a hired limousine be allowed to use marijuana, since they’re allowed to drink?

“It’s something for you to think about,” Slaugh said.

Vincent Niski, deputy police chief, said the new city law makes it a misdemeanor to possess more than an ounce of marijuana, up to 12 ounces. Violators will be subject to up to a $500 fine and 90 days in jail. Possession of amounts over 12 ounces would be a felony, and state courts would have jurisdiction, he said.

The new laws don’t affect regulations stemming from the passage of Amendment 20, which legalized medical marijuana. People who have their cards for medical marijuana are allowed to possess up to 2 ounces.

In other action Tuesday, Council:

• Approved a resolution supporting the TOPS ballot measure, which would allow more money from the voter-approved tax to be used for parks maintenance. Included in the resolution is a commitment to maintain the city’s share of parks maintenance funding, barring an emergency. A group that wants to see more money for parks maintenance has come out against the measure because it doesn’t codify the city’s commitment to keep paying for parks maintenance. The resolution, while not binding, underscores council’s intentions. Mayor Steve Bach sent a letter to the group also pledging to maintain city funding for parks maintenance.

• Approved the first nine members to serve as the board of trustees for the new Colorado Springs Health Foundation, an outgrowth of the lease of Memorial Hospital to University of Colorado Health. The board, which is charged with investing and spending proceeds from the lease, will have staggered terms for the Board of Trustees. The members are Kathy Boe, Deborah Chandler, Lynette Crow-Iverson, Philip Lane, David Lord, Zack McComsey, Jon Medved, BJ Scott and Thayer Tutt. The city attorney is an ex officio member.

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