Denver council takes 1st step toward banning marijuana smoking in public view on private property

DENVER - Despite opposition from marijuana advocates, Denver's City Council voted initial approval Monday night of an ordinance prohibiting people from using pot in a private yard or on a balcony, if the user can be seen from the street or sidewalk.

In a 7-5 vote, the council passed the measure on first reading. But council members knew they were making people unhappy.

"Everyone up here tonight is going to make some enemies," Councilman Charlie Brown told his colleagues.

While outspoken on the need to regulate marijuana, Brown said: "I can't support it. I believe in individual private property rights."

One opponent of the ordinance told the council, "I would rather see police going after serious drug problems than playing security patrol for the Stepford wives."

On the other side of the issue, a parent argued that allowing residents to smoke pot in their front yards "undermines our conversations with our children by making it appear OK."

The head of City Council's Amendment 64 Committee earlier told 7NEWS there was enough votes to ban consumption outdoors on some private property.

Marijuana advocate Mason Tvert, however, says it is ridiculous that people can drink on their own property but would be prohibited from smoking marijuana in the same locations.

"There's no reason to put into place a virtually unenforceable law," Tvert said.

Tvert argues the right way to handle this issue is through nuisance abatement laws or homeowner association rules.

"The answer is to allow communities to handle this like they do everything else," he said.

Whatever happens, Brown says, people will need to communicate with their neighbors.

"Government can't solve all these problems," he said. "And neither can our police department."

The council is expected to easily approve the second vote on the measure next Monday night.

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