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City adopts penalties for underage possession of paraphernalia, D-11 releases marijuana offense stats


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Councilor Gaebler: ' ... now we're playing catch-up trying to protect our kids.' - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Councilor Gaebler: ' ... now we're playing catch-up trying to protect our kids.'

Not for kids

If you're under 18, don't get caught with marijuana paraphernalia in Colorado Springs. You could face harsher punishment here than anywhere else in the state.

On Tuesday, City Council adopted an ordinance that imposes a maximum fine of $500 on minors found in possession of paraphernalia, broadly defined to include "equipment, products or materials of any kind which are used, intended for use or designed for use in propagating, manufacturing, compounding, converting, production, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, inhaling or otherwise introducing marijuana into the human body." The new local law reiterates a state law passed in 2014, but with added teeth at the recommendation of local law enforcement, prosecutors and the municipal court.

According to a statement from the city, this ordinance will give convicted minors more education and treatment options under a state grant program the Colorado Springs Probation Department joined this summer. Around 50 young people have already gone through the program, according to city communications specialist Kim Melchor, who can't yet provide recidivism data. "We're also working to connect youth with some sports or other organized activities such as writing workshops, nature walks, and training in some vocational areas," she tells the Independent.

Council President pro tem Jill Gaebler, who has two teenagers at Palmer High School, sees the ordinance as a way for the community to take control of its own fate. "I think everyone's concerned about short-term consequences of just legalizing marijuana," Gaebler told the Independent. "We did it very quickly as a state and now we're kind of playing catch-up trying to protect our kids." It's just better to adjudicate the issue at the lowest possible level, Gaebler thinks.

Bill Murray was one of two dissenters on City Council (the other being Helen Collins.) He worries the ordinance strays too far from its original intent, which was to deal with the prevalence of vape pens in schools. "You have to think of how these things play out," Murray said. "If you have a legal marijuana grow at home for whatever medical condition and your kids have access to paraphernalia, is that probable cause? One woman asked me, now are they going to arrest all of my kids?"

The ordinance does not apply to minors with medical marijuana cards. — NS

Student marijuana offenses stable in D-11

School District 11 has released data on marijuana-related offenses that occurred prior to the passage of Amendment 64. Legalization hasn't caused much change, or so it appears.

Devra Ashby, D-11's director of communications, has provided the Indy with the district's marijuana-offense statistics from fall semester 2010 through fall 2015. The data suggests the number of marijuana offenses per semester has remained stable. Over those 11 semesters, D-11 saw a median of 111 marijuana offenses per semester, with the count spiking at 151 offenses in fall 2014. In fall 2015, the district had just 104 marijuana offenses. (This data doesn't account for changes in enforcement procedures or the number of campus resource officers.)

When we wrote about cannabis offenses in Fort Collins' Poudre School District (CannaBiz, Dec. 30, 2015), we noted state law now requires school districts to track and report all marijuana offenses. D-11, however, tracked its students' marijuana offenses before that law went into effect last July. As a result, the district is able to provide some insights into how legalization is impacting marijuana use among its students. — GS

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