Colorado Springs council scraps ban on marijuana from city buildings

February 25, 2014 Updated: February 26, 2014 at 5:06 am
photo - FILE - This Nov. 8, 2012 file photo shows marijuana plants flourishing under the lights at a grow house in Denver. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)
FILE - This Nov. 8, 2012 file photo shows marijuana plants flourishing under the lights at a grow house in Denver. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)  

The Colorado Springs City Council scrapped a proposed ordinance that would have banned marijuana from city buildings because it did not distinguish between recreational and medical marijuana.

The council voted 6-3 against the ordinance on a second reading. The ordinance would have banned pot from city buildings and reduced the penalties for people who brought pot into city facilities.

The council had approved the ordinance on first reading Feb. 11. But council member Jill Gaebler said she is concerned that people who need medical marijuana will be penalized if they have pot in city buildings. Gaebler and council member Jan Martin changed their earlier votes.

"I believe we should separate out medical marijuana and recreational marijuana," Gaebler said.

Council members Joel Miller, Helen Collins, Andy Pico and Val Snider also voted against the ordinance.

Gaebler said she did not want to attempt to amend the ordinance Tuesday but would rather bring a new ordinance back to the council.

No council member voiced objections to the part of the ordinance that lowered fines from as much as $2,500 to no more than $100. Under that proposed ordinance, there also would have been no jail time for having pot in a city building, only confiscation of the marijuana.

At the Feb. 11 meeting, resident Bob Wiley urged council members to reconsider the proposed marijuana ban because there are about 1,500 people in El Paso County who use marijuana for medical reasons. Those people should not have to worry about their medicine being confiscated if they enter a city building, he said.

Deputy city attorney Britt Haley had argued then that the city operates under a federal drug-free workplace, which is directly tied to receiving federal grants. City employees cannot bring drugs or alcohol into city buildings, she said.

The Council did approve in an 8-1 vote, on second reading Tuesday, a ban on marijuana at the Colorado Springs Airport. In that case, they said, the ban is tied to federal law. Pot is an illegal controlled substance under federal law and cannot be taken on commercial aircraft. Passengers will be allowed to take their pot out to their vehicle or drop it into an "amnesty box" before boarding a plane with no questions asked. Refusal results in a trespassing charge, confiscation of the pot and up to a $100 fine.

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