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Denver City Council considers new ways to cut down public use of marijuana

While adults over the age of 21 can still legally possess and use marijuana in Douglas County, commercial marijuana operations have been banned in the conservative county.

DENVER — City Council is considering new ways of cutting down on public consumption of marijuana.

A new ordinance would ban the open use of pot in the city and outlaw the use of pot in city parks and along the 16th Street Mall.

A Council committee took up the matter Monday, two-and-a-half months before the first recreational marijuana stores are allowed to open in the city.

“We understand that in general in the public and around Denver people can possess an ounce but there are particular places we don’t want them to do that,” said Asst. City Attorney David Broadwell during the hearing.

The bill would forbid the open use of pot in a way that’s obvious through sight and smell to the public. Opponents say that’s outrageous.

“The state constitution allows individuals to possess an ounce of marijuana,” said Brian Vicente, an Amendment 64 proponent. “We’re now saying well not in certain parts of Denver. I mean, that is a direct violation of the constitution and undoubtedly will lead to costly litigation for the city.”

Supporters said the bill would help make marijuana use discreet, as voters intended when they passed Amendment 64. But others worry that it could criminalize private behavior.

“I am really concerned about the private, in my pocket, in my purse, in my house,” said Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz. “As long as it doesn’t leave my property line and offend somebody else, then to me that’s kind of off-limits for us.”

No decisions were made on the bill on Monday. The Council will resume discussions on the proposal in the weeks ahead.