Amendment 64 proponent says Denver sniff test might give him no legal place to smoke pot

Might Denver City Council's proposed sniff test, which would outlaw residents' use of marijuana on their porches and balconies if others could see or smell it, give one of Amendment 64's main proponents nowhere in his hometown to legally smoke? That's among the contentions of Mason Tvert, and to dramatize his concerns, he's holding a press event on the balcony this morning, in advance of the council once again discussing the proposal at a meeting this evening. Get details and see the latest draft of the measure below.

The backlash against the sniff test concept from critics such as council member Susan Shepherd led to some tweaking of the ordinance. However, the latest draft included on the Denver City Council website page devoted to this evening's session (see it below) still states that "it shall be unlawful for any person to openly and publicly display or consume one (1) ounce or less of marijuana."

Moreover, the terms "openly" and "publicly" are defined, respectively, as "occurring or existing in a manner that is unconcealed, undisguised or obvious" and "occurring or existing in a public place; or occurring or existing in any outdoor location where the consumption of marijuana is clearly observable from a public place," with the latter including but not limited to "streets and highways, transportation facilities, schools, places of amusement, parks, playgrounds and the common areas of public and private buildings or facilities."

Tvert's take, particularly as it applies to pot use on porches and balconies, where it might be seen or smelled by passersby?

"The biggest issue is that they are still trying to prohibit the use of marijuana by adults on private property," he says. "It's currently legal for adults to consume alcohol or smoke cigarettes on their porches or balconies, so we fail to understand why it should be illegal to use a far less harmful substance there."

As for the reason he's holding his press conference on the first-floor balcony of his home, on the 1400 block of Humboldt Street, he notes that "I don't have a private backyard; the backyard is a common area. And if my building were to decide people can't use marijuana inside their units, for whatever reason, I wouldn't have anywhere I could legally use marijuana as an adult."

Moreover, he continues, "the voters made it clear they think marijuana should be treated like alcohol, and adults should be able to use it responsibly. And there's no compelling reason to prohibit adults from using marijuana outside on their own private balconies and porches."

Continue for more of our interview with Mason Tvert, including the latest draft of the so-called sniff test ordinance.  

Mason Tvert at a press event earlier this year.
Mason Tvert at a press event earlier this year.
Photo by Sam Levin

According to Tvert, "the proponents of this ordinance say they don't want kids to see adults using marijuana out on their porches -- that's their justification. But it's incredibly lacking in logic. We don't understand why the same people who feel we must ban adult marijuana use on their porches feel it's perfectly okay for kids to see the consumption of alcohol or cigarettes in those same areas. And secondhand smoke from tobacco products has been shown to actually cause harm to people. There's no such evidence with marijuana."

When Tvert is asked if the city council supporters of the ordinance are trying to turn back the clock on Amendment 64, he suggests that they're actually moving even further into the past. "These members of the council are still living in 2004, before voters overwhelmingly demanded on multiple occasions that adults be allowed to use marijuana. And I think any member of the city council who supports this should explain why they believe it's okay for them to drink openly on their porches, but it must be illegal for other adults to use marijuana in those same areas."

He remains hopeful that the council will further amend the ordinance rather than passing it as is. "Obviously, the first iteration of this law was tossed out because of how exceptionally over the top it was," he points out. "But this is still an overreaching, and it's unjustifiable."

Tvert's press event takes place at 10 a.m., while the council meeting is slated to get underway at 5:30 p.m. Look below to see the current draft of the proposal.

Denver Public Consumption of Marijuana Draft November 12

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Marijuana archive circa October 15: "Marijuana sniff-test proposal recriminalizes pot, invites lawsuits, critic says."

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