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Denver's official marijuana website: Welcome to the world of "No!"

Yesterday, the City of Denver launched a marijuana website on Colorado.gov" -- a key element in what a release calls "a public education effort" prior to the January 1 kickoff of retail pot sales. But while the assorted pages sport apparently non-ironic references to Denver as "the Mile High City," the tone of the graphics and text is the opposite of welcoming, with the vast majority of the info focused on what people can't do as opposed to what they can. The result suggests officials frankly terrified by what will happen just over three weeks from now. See examples aplenty below.

The landing page of the site features flash graphics that cycle through the following six warnings:

Denver's official marijuana website: Welcome to the world of "No!"
Denver's official marijuana website: Welcome to the world of "No!"
Denver's official marijuana website: Welcome to the world of "No!"
Denver's official marijuana website: Welcome to the world of "No!"
Denver's official marijuana website: Welcome to the world of "No!"
Denver's official marijuana website: Welcome to the world of "No!"

The rest of the site is divided up into four sections using a question-and-answer format. We've reproduced the first of these -- "Residents & Visitors" -- in its entirety below, but here's a sample that'll give you a feel for the don't-push-your-luck approach:

Can I consume marijuana in a licensed retail store?

Answer -- No, it is illegal to consume marijuana in or around a licensed store. It is also illegal to smoke at indoor-but-public locations such as bars, restaurants and common areas in buildings.

Are marijuana "social clubs" or "coffee shops" permitted?

Answer -- No. These businesses are not permitted.

What are the consequences if I violate marijuana laws?

Answer -- Penalties range from a fine to a possible jail or prison sentence. Colorado State Statutes and Denver Revised Municipal Code spell out the specific penalties for various violations.

Other pages on the site take a similar tack.

Continue for more about Denver's official marijuana website, including additional posters and graphics.  

This is a printable postcard available on the Denver marijuana website.
This is a printable postcard available on the Denver marijuana website.

The site's "Parents, Neighbors & Guardians" section features repeated admonitions to keep children and pets away from pot and includes numerous numbers to call if there are marijuana-related concerns: 911 for emergencies, 720-913-2000 for non-emergencies and 311 "if I live near a marijuana cultivation center (grow facility) and the odor is bothersome."

As for the "Business & Property Owners" section, its four questions are all answered "yes" -- because they're about the rights of such folks to crack down on pot smokers. Here they are:

Can individual property owners restrict or prohibit marijuana use or possession on their property?

Answer -- Yes. Any property owner can limit retail marijuana use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growth of marijuana on his or her property.

Can a business owner or manager weigh in on whether a new marijuana retail store can open in its neighborhood?

Answer -- Yes. Only existing medical marijuana centers that are eligible to convert to retail stores can change their license before 2016. Centers that are eligible must participate in a public hearing process. CLICK HERE to access the public hearing calendar.

Does marijuana smoke fall under provisions of the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act (including those related to hotel/motel rooms and restaurants)?

Answer -- Yes. The Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking in restaurants and limits the number of hotel rooms in which smoking is permitted. A hotel or motel wishing to permit marijuana smoke in individual rooms would still need to keep 75 percent of the rooms smoke free.

Can employers restrict or prohibit marijuana use or possession by employees at the workplace?

Answer -- Yes. Employers are allowed to regulate or prohibit the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growing of marijuana in the workplace. Employers may also enact policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees.

By comparison, the "Marijuana Retailers & Home Growers" page is relatively benign. Still, anyone thinking about selling weed they've nurtured at their residence is warned that "home grown marijuana, no matter the form, may not be sold to others."

The takeaway? At this point, Denver doesn't want to be seen as embracing the retail sale of marijuana for its tourism or general revenue potential -- something like a year-round Great American Beer Festival, except with cannabis. Rather, the city is trying to come across as exceedingly sober in its approach -- pun intended.

A statement by Denver mayor Michael Hancock makes that clear.

"We promised the people of Denver that we would implement Amendment 64 in a responsible manner, protecting our neighborhoods, our children and our quality of life," he's quoted as saying. "We continue to work hard to balance the divergent needs and wants of many in the community.

"That means respecting the will of the voters, who last year approved Amendment 64, which allows people 21 and older to have and consume small amounts of marijuana, while also striving to keep our city enjoyable for those who do not and should not be impacted by this substance."

The new website sends this message loud and clear.

Continue for the complete "Residents & Visitors" Q&A from the site, supplemented by two more official graphics.  

This postcard from the site is aimed at Spanish speakers.
This postcard from the site is aimed at Spanish speakers.
Residents & Visitors

How old do I have to be to purchase, possess or consume retail marijuana?

Answer -- You must be 21 and older to buy, possess or use retail marijuana. It is illegal to give or sell retail marijuana to minors.

What is the difference between medical and retail marijuana?

Answer -- Only licensed retail marijuana stores may sell retail marijuana, and only to those 21 and older.

Medical marijuana requires a state red card, which can only be obtained by Colorado residents with a recommendation from a doctor that a patient suffers from a debilitating medical condition that may benefit from medical marijuana. Medical marijuana patients can obtain marijuana from a licensed center, a primary care giver or self grow. For more information about medical marijuana, please visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.

Where can I purchase retail marijuana?

Answer -- Those 21 and older can purchase retail marijuana at licensed retail stores.

Other municipalities in Colorado also allow retail marijuana stores. Please go to each city's website to determine specific marijuana sale and consumption laws.

Where am I allowed to consume retail marijuana?

Answer -- Retail marijuana is intended for private, personal use. Such use is only legal in certain locations not open or accessible to the public. Marijuana may not be consumed openly or publicly.

Can I consume marijuana in public?

Answer -- No, it is illegal to consume marijuana in public.

This includes but is not limited to areas accessible to the public such as transportation facilities, schools, amusement venues, parks, playgrounds, sidewalks and roads. It is also illegal to smoke at indoor-but-public locations like bars, restaurants and common areas in buildings.

Can I possess marijuana? And how much?

Answer -- Since Amendment 64 went into effect in late 2012, adults 21 and older have been allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of retail marijuana.

How much marijuana can I purchase at one time?

Answer -- Colorado residents 21 and older can purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of retail marijuana at a time.

Non-residents can purchase up to ¼ ounce at a time.

Can I consume marijuana in a licensed retail store?

Answer -- No, it is illegal to consume marijuana in or around a licensed store. It is also illegal to smoke at indoor-but-public locations such as bars, restaurants and common areas in buildings.

Are marijuana "social clubs" or "coffee shops" permitted?

Answer -- No. These businesses are not permitted.

What are the consequences if I violate marijuana laws?

Answer -- Penalties range from a fine to a possible jail or prison sentence. Colorado State Statutes and Denver Revised Municipal Code spell out the specific penalties for various violations.

Schools, universities and employers are allowed to put in place their own disciplinary actions for marijuana-related infractions.

Please visit the Denver Public Schools website for information on local school policies.

Are the rules different for possession and consumption of edible marijuana than for marijuana that can be smoked?

Answer -- No. Possession laws are the same for all retail marijuana types, and public consumption is always illegal, regardless of form.

Can I have marijuana in my car?

Answer -- Yes. Marijuana may be carried in cars but it may not be in an open container. It is illegal to use or consume marijuana in a motor vehicle and it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana.

Is there a DUI-like equivalent for driving under the influence of marijuana?

Answer -- Yes. It is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana and it can result in a DUI, just like alcohol. Anyone with 5 nanograms or more of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (known as THC) per milliliter in whole blood (CRS 42-4-1301) while driving can be arrested for DUI. The consequences of DUI is dependent on the driver but they can include fines, jail time and a revoked license.

A bilingual poster from the site.
A bilingual poster from the site.

Can I take marijuana through airport security or travel out of state with it?

Answer -- No. It is illegal to take marijuana across state lines.

Can I consume marijuana on public transportation (buses, light rail) in Denver?

Answer -- No. It is illegal to consume marijuana in public, which includes public transportation.

Can I smoke marijuana in a taxi or limousine in Denver?

Answer -- It is illegal to smoke marijuana in a taxi, limousine or any form of government-operated mass transportation.

Do the laws of Denver apply elsewhere?

Answer -- Denver ordinances only apply within the City and County of Denver. Please go to each city or county's website to determine specific marijuana sale and consumption laws.

Does Denver have additional prohibitions on use or display of marijuana?

Answer -- It is illegal to consume, use, display, transfer, distribute, sell or grow retail marijuana at or within any park, parkway, mountain park (including Red Rocks) or other recreational facility and on the 16th Street Mall (including any city street or sidewalk one block in either direction from the mall).

Are there additional restrictions on public consumption of marijuana in Denver that I should know about?

Answer -- On residential private property, retail marijuana consumption in any outdoor location is illegal unless the person is the property owner or lessee or has been granted express or implied permission by the property owner or lessee. On private non-residential property, marijuana consumption is illegal in any outdoor location if it is clearly visible from a public place.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Marijuana archive circa October 2012: "Marijuana: Michael Hancock rips Amendment 64, campaign responds (update)."


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