by Pam Zubeck
As Colorado Springs and El Paso County officials wrestle with how to regulate the medical marijuana industry, Breckenridge is welcoming pot smokers — not just those needing medical marijuana, but everyone — with open arms.
On Friday, Jan. 1, the high-profile ski town will enact an ordinance removing all penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia by adults 21 and older. The measure stems from a ballot initiative approved by 71 percent of voters in the November 2009 election.
"There is no sense in criminalizing a substance that is far less toxic, less addictive, and less problematic than alcohol," said Sensible Colorado Executive Director Brian Vicente, who coordinated the Breckenridge campaign. "This is a huge step toward more a more sensible policy, in which adults are no longer punished for making the rational, safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol."
Citizens throughout Colorado are now expressing interest in running similar initiative campaigns, and momentum is building toward a 2012 statewide ballot initiative that would regulate marijuana so that it is treated similarly to alcohol, according to the press release. A similar "tax and regulate" initiative in California qualified for the 2010 ballot earlier this month, and one in Nevada is headed toward the 2012 ballot.
"Colorado has emerged as a worldwide leader in the realm of common-sense marijuana policy reform," Vicente says. "It's only a matter of time before marijuana prohibition crumbles entirely."