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Colorado marijuana consumption policies won’t change within city or on campus

Amendment 64 has changed some elements of regulation regarding marijuana in Fort Collins, but consumption of the substance continues to be illegal openly and publicly within the city and university.

A federal regulation called the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act prohibits CSU from allowing marijuana on campus, despite the passage of Amendment 64.

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If CSU chose to not adhere to that act, federal funding would be revoked, according to Mackenzie Whitesell, executive director of health for the Associated Students of CSU. Because of this, there has been little to no discussion of a change in the university’s or ASCSU’s stance on this issue.

“There is not particular exploration around marijuana going on right now at CSU because it’s not something that’s an option,” Whitesell said. “It’s already banned and will continue to be that way as long as the (Drug Free Schools and Communities Act) is in place.”

The conversations that CSU Police Department is having about enforcement of marijuana laws haven’t changed, according to Lieutenant Dave Hurley, head of campus police’s support and event unit.

If a student is caught with marijuana on campus, they are issued a summons based on the quantity that is found on their person. The policy is enforced by the patrol division of CSUPD, according to Hurley.

“We have people that are patrolling but not for specific items. But if they come across (the consumption of marijuana) on the course of their duties they are going to take enforcement action,” Hurley said.

The City of Fort Collins also has no plans to change the rules pertaining to consumption and use of marijuana apart from some possible additions to their policy, according to Ginny Sawyer, policy and project manager for the city.

“Denver is looking at not allowing the display or transfer of marijuana anywhere in public, so we’ll have that conversation and see if that makes sense for us as well,” Sawyer said.

Display of marijuana includes having any form of marijuana openly visible to the public, including presentation or consumption of the substance in public places. The transfer of marijuana, in this case, refers to handing the drug from one person to another, not necessarily selling or purchasing, which is already illegal.

Denver is also looking at some policies regarding smoking on private property, because of concerns it may be an odor issue or visibility issue, according to Sawyer. A regulation such as this would prohibit sitting on one’s front porch and consuming marijuana in a manner visible to the public.

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“Obviously marijuana smoke is pretty odiferous,” Sawyer said. “So, we’re looking at, ‘Do we place any regulations on that?’.”

The city is having conversations about regulation concerns within homes and buildings, in response to the section of Amendment 64 that allows adults older than 21 years of age to grow their own cannabis plants.

The main conversation of the city, at this point, is centered around retail stores selling recreational marijuana, according to Sawyer.

“What we’re really focusing on is the retail stores and if they are allowed, where they are allowed,” Sawyer said.

The ban on retail stores will be lifted March 31, 2014, but these stores could be open as early as January.

The city has received questions about whether private cannabis smoking in clubs will be legal. Sawyer said these clubs will be prohibited because of regulations already set in place by the city.

Public consumption of marijuana will be enforced in a similar way to tobacco smoking violations, but will be viewed by police as a more serious offense, according to Sawyer.

“We have code enforcers out of our neighborhood services office who do actually dedicate time both in the evenings and during the day, particularly downtown to enforce (tobacco smoking) regulations, and they enforce them on a complaint basis,” Sawyer said.

Tobacco smoking will still be handled by these code enforcers but when complaints arise about marijuana smoking, those incidents will be handled by the police.

Collegian Green Beat Reporter Laren Cyphers can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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