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Breckenridge decriminalizes marijuana, paraphernalia

ROBERT ALLEN
Summit Daily News
Breckenridge, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Mark FoxGabby Thomas is one of the supporters that has been out on the streets of Breckenridge in the past week encouraging people to vote for measure 2F, which would decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use for adults 21 and over in the town limits of Breckenridge.
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BRECKENRIDGE, Colorado – Breckenridge residents voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and paraphernalia Tuesday under town law. In early returns, some 72 percent of voters approved the measure.

The vote means that, effective Jan. 1, people 21 and up in Breckenridge will be able to legally possess one ounce or less of the drug.

Possession remains illegal under state law, but Breckenridge Police Chief Rick Holman said his department will “still have the ability to exercise discretion.”



“It’s never been something that we’ve spent a lot of time on, so I don’t expect this to be a big change in how we really do business,” he said.

Currently, the petty, non-jailable offense under town code carries a maximum $100 fine. In 2008, Breckenridge Police Department ticketed 10 people under the town marijuana possession law, according to BPD ticket statistics.

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For drug paraphernalia – which carries the same penalty – four were ticketed in 2008.

Under the state law, BPD issued three tickets for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. Holman said that after Jan. 1, issuance of tickets under state law will “vary dependent on the situation.”

“We’ll still have tools at our disposal,” he said.



The decriminalization won’t change laws prohibiting smoking in public, use by minors or driving under the influence.

In 2006, 72 percent of Breckenridge voters supported the unsuccessful Amendment 44, which had language similar to the town initiative but applied to the entire state.

Arguments for decriminalization included the impact of possession on one’s criminal record, which can affect job opportunities and student loans.

In 2005, Denver became the first major city to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana after voters approved legislation similar to that in Breckenridge.

And like many other towns in the state, Breckenridge could soon be home to a medical marijuana dispensary. The town passed a set of regulations for such businesses in October, and the dispensaries already exist in Frisco and Silverthorne.

Holman said that while his department may still ticket people for possessing marijuana, people who want to smoke it legally can obtain a state-issued medical marijuana card without much difficulty.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or rallen@summitdaily.com.


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