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Marijuana activists decry "sniff test" proposal, possible year in jail for home pot smoking

Today at 2 p.m., marijuana activists Mason Tvert and Brian Vicente will hold a press conference decrying a new proposal that would potentially criminalize marijuana smoking in one's own home if its odor can be smelled outside it.

In a press release announcing the event (see it below), Tvert and Vicente denounce the concept as unconstitutional and charge Mayor Michael Hancock, who backs the policy, of hypocrisy by announcing it during this week's Great American Beer Festival.

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

According to the Denver Post, the ordinance, which is expected to be presented at Monday's Denver City Council meeting, "would prohibit smoking on private property if it is visible to the public, such as on a front porch or in a car, or if the odor of pot could be detected from a neighboring property."

Those who violate this edict would face a fine of up to $999 and up to a year in jail.

Speaking in support of the measure, Mayor Hancock told the Post, "Your activities should not pervade others' peace and ability to enjoy. Marijuana is one of those elements that can be quite pervasive and invasive. I shouldn't have to smell your activities from your backyard."

Brian Vicente celebrating Amendment 64's passage this past November.
Brian Vicente celebrating Amendment 64's passage this past November.

Vicente rejects these assertions. In a statement, he says, "If this ordinance is adopted, the Denver city marijuana tax will pay for police to look in people's windows and snoop around their homes sniffing for a reason to put them in jail for up to a year for doing something legal under the state constitution."

Here's the release about this afternoon's press event:

Mayor Hancock and Denver City Council Allies Float Blatantly Unconstitutional Measure to Criminalize Marijuana Use on Private Property

Proposed ordinance would impose a penalty of up to one year in jail if police see -- or smell -- Denver residents using marijuana in their homes

Amendment 64 proponents will hold news conference TODAY at 2 p.m. MT in front of the Denver City-County Building

DENVER -- Mayor Michael Hancock and his allies on the Denver City Council are proposing a blatantly unconstitutional measure that would criminalize adult marijuana use on private property.

Proponents of Amendment 64 will hold a news conference TODAY at 2 p.m. MT in front of the Denver City-County Building (1437 Bannock St.), where they will explain why the measure is a direct violation of the Colorado State Constitution. They will also discuss the hypocrisy of city officials who are floating this measure, yet publicly consume a more harmful substance -- alcohol -- and promote its use in public. The nation's biggest celebration of beer, the Great American Beer Festival, is taking place in Denver this weekend.

"The hypocrisy of this proposal is astounding," said Mason Tvert, a proponent of Amendment 64 and co-director of the Yes on 64 campaign. "As Denver wraps up Beer Week with the nation's largest beer celebration, city officials are proposing a crackdown on adults' legal, private use of a far less harmful substance. Mayor Hancock should explain why he thinks it is okay for him to publicly consume and even serve alcohol, but feels it should be a criminal offense for adults to use marijuana in their own homes."

Amendment 64 proponents plan to tie this proposed ordinance to a measure on the ballot in Denver next month to impose a city sales tax on marijuana.

"If this ordinance is adopted, the Denver city marijuana tax will pay for police to look in people's windows and snoop around their homes sniffing for a reason to put them in jail for up to a year for doing something legal under the state constitution," said Brian Vicente, a proponent of Amendment 64 and co-director of the Yes on 64 campaign. "City officials would not just be squandering these much-needed tax dollars. They would be putting the city at risk of a costly lawsuit that it is sure to lose.

"Denver voters have repeatedly called for an end to arrests for private adult marijuana possession," Vicente said. "Should voters really have to cover the hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees the city will spend to defy them?"

WHAT: News conference to address the blatantly unconstitutional measure proposed by Mayor Hancock and City Council members that would criminalize adult use of marijuana on private property

WHEN: TODAY, Friday, October 11, 2 p.m. MT

WHERE: In front of the Denver City-County Building, 1437 Bannock St.

WHO: Mason Tvert, Amendment 64 proponent and campaign co-director Brian Vicente, Amendment 64 proponent and campaign co-director

More from our Marijuana archive: "U.S. Attorney John Walsh declines to take position on pot-tax measure."


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