Marijuana is legal, but strict rules still exist
July 31, 2015
Along with the rest of Colorado, it's now legal in Aspen to smoke marijuana for recreational purposes.
But many questions surround its use and sale, as municipalities and counties across Colorado, including Aspen and Pitkin County, have taken steps to restrict and limit its consumption. Where can a local or a visitor smoke legally without fear of arrest or citation? How much legal weed can an individual purchase? Is it illegal to buy "black market" pot?
Other concerns have arisen around the safe consumption of marijuana-infused food and drink products, or what are commonly referred to as "edibles." Since recreational use of marijuana and related retail sales became legal following the passage of a statewide referendum in November 2012, many media outlets have placed their attention on instances of abuse and misuse.
Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo has spent much of the past year meeting and speaking with community stakeholders and the public as part of a concerted effort to address misconceptions about the laws pertaining to marijuana as well as the effects of the drug.
DiSalvo advocates safe, responsible use of marijuana by adults who wish to try it. He hopes that users will take a common-sense approach to consumption. DiSalvo's primary concerns: People who drive while impaired from marijuana products and those who smoke marijuana or consume edibles around children.
"I think we need to be responsible adults with this," he said. "On a social level, please purchase, consume and dispose of marijuana responsibly. On a criminal level, my No. 1 concern is driving. So far, we've only had one arrest in the county for driving under the influence of marijuana."
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DiSalvo also pointed out that visitors flying in and out of Aspen this winter should take heed of the Sheriff's Office's "amnesty box" at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport. It's a receptacle where people can leave their marijuana products before passing through security lines and boarding their outgoing flights without fear of retribution.
"If you're visiting here, you better leave it here," DiSalvo said. "Dispose of it properly. Flush it. Use the garbage disposal. And if you're at the airport, the amnesty box is alive and well."
Technically, marijuana users are only allowed to smoke on private property with the consent of the landowner or land manager. DiSalvo said his deputies have been told to take a reasonable approach to enforcement.
"I would hope that if it was my deputy who came across someone smoking on county public space, including open space, they would tell them to please use discretion. This is not something we want to see in public. Be more considerate of others in the future, and make sure you're not driving from here," DiSalvo said.
This story originally appeared in Winter in Aspen, a winter guide-style magazine available on racks throughout town.
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