In Breckenridge and other mountain towns, legalizing pot won't make much difference

After Breckenridge voters overwhelmingly chose to decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot two weeks ago, the move generated considerable chatter in the national media, including coverage in The New York Times last Friday. The story speculates as to what impact the move will have on tourism, positive or negative. Some think it will attract even more rowdy, party-hardy types. Others fear it could scare away families.

I doubt it will have much effect either way. As the story says, pot isn't exactly new to Breckenridge -- or anywhere else in Colorado's high country.

A majority of voters in almost all Colorado counties with ski resorts went for Amendment 44, the statewide decriminalization bill that failed in 2006. Durango could be next to decriminalize, with a Breckenridge-like ballot initiative in the works for 2010. And other ski towns, namely Telluride and Aspen, are notoriously hands-off in terms of marijuana enforcement.

I can't imagine the popularity of weed in ski towns is a big shocker to anyone, except perhaps the source from the year-round Christmas store in The Times story who said: "I don't think that's the type of person we want flocking into Breckenridge."

Really? Haven't stoners have been flocking to Breckenridge -- and pretty much every Colorado ski town  -- for several decades running?

And, as The Times story notes, pot hasn't caused too many problems on the slopes: James H. Chalat, the Denver lawyer quoted in the story, said in his 30 years of personal injury litigation, marijuana has been a factor in just one skier collision, while alcohol has been involved "often."

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